I don’t mind admitting it – I’m a big fan of Seth Godin. So, when he announced his new book We Are All Weird in his September 21 blog post, I immediately bought the hardcover.
I thought I needed it – not sure why. Maybe it’s because there was suddenly an empty space among all the other Seth Godin books on my shelf. Maybe it’s because I’m a member of his “tribe” (though, like Groucho, I’m not much for joining tribes). Or maybe it’s because I love to be challenged by people who are much brighter, more educated, more culturally aware, and yes, even more open-minded than I… especially when we agree. (jk)
We Are All Weird is not Purple Cow, or Permission Marketing, or Tribes. It’s more of a provocative rant, filled with pithy comments like, “the choice to push all of us toward a universal normal merely to help sell more junk to the masses is both inefficient and wrong,” and “average is for marketers who don’t have enough information to be accurate.” In his own words, Weird is “a manifesto about the end of the mass market. About the end of mass politics, mass production, mass retailing, and even mass education.”
Weird pulls no punches: “When people in power tell other people what to do with their hobbies, their work, their passion and their lives, we run the risk of enforcing the status quo by pretending we’re talking about morality when we’re actually using fear or corporate greed as a motivator.”
Weird takes on the powerful: “Humans have an ingrained need to do the right thing. We succeed as a civilization because we’re wired to be open to morality, to avoid being desensitized selfish entities. Marketers and leaders often take advantage of that openness to create new standards that feel to us like moral imperatives. In other words, we believe it’s moral to comply.”
Weird challenges the status quo: “The simple alternative to our broken system of education is to embrace the weird. To abandon normal. To acknowledge that our factories don’t need so many cogs, so many compliant workers, so many people willing to work cheap…. My proposed solution is simple: don’t waste a lot of time and money pushing kids in directions they don’t want to go. Instead, find out what weirdness they excel at and encourage them to do that. Then get out of the way.”
Weird exposes the deceptive: “Marketers (and organizers, politicians, and manipulators) have discovered that one way to create mass is to define normal as “us” and abnormal as “the other guys.” If you can alienate and demonize, then by definition, the remaining group is yours to do with as you choose.”
In an age when business authors race to regurgitate yesterday’s ideas, Weird is different. Weird is worth reading. Which, for Seth Godin, is anything but weird.