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Excellent Input From Seth Godin

Twice in the last week Seth Godin's daily emails have really inspired me and put me in my place (in a very good way). The first email is about where to put the fear when it is time to ship. This reminds me of my favorite quote by Mark Twain: "Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear - not absence of fear."

Fear of shipping

Shipping is fraught with risk and danger.

Every time you raise your hand, send an email, launch a product or make a suggestion, you're exposing yourself to criticism. Not just criticism, but the negative consequences that come with wasting money, annoying someone in power or making a fool of yourself.

It's no wonder we're afraid to ship.

It's not clear you have much choice, though. A life spent curled in a ball, hiding in the corner might seem less risky, but in fact it's certain to lead to ennui and eventually failure.

Since you're going to ship anyway, then, the question is: why bother indulging your fear?

In a long distance race, everyone gets tired. The winner is the runner who figures out where to put the tired, figures out how to store it away until after the race is over. Sure, he's tired. Everyone is. That's not the point. The point is to run.

Same thing is true for shipping, I think. Everyone is afraid. Where do you put the fear?

The second email is a good grounding reminder. There are times when I (and I know I'm not alone) start to think dreamy dreams about what will happen with my projects. Somehow I'll be the luckiest person and win the magic Hollywood lottery! Well...

Hope and the magic lottery

Entrepreneurial hope is essential. It gets us over the hump and through the dip. There's a variety of this hope, though, that's far more damaging than helpful.

This is the hope of the magic lottery ticket.

A fledgling entrepreneur ambushes a venture capitalist who just appeared on a panel. "Excuse me," she says, then launches into a two, then six and eventually twenty minute pitch that will never (sorry, never) lead to the VC saying, "Great, here's a check for $2 million on your terms."

Or the fledgling author, the one who has been turned down by ten agents and then copies his manuscript and fedexes it to twenty large publishing houses--what is he hoping for, exactly? Perhaps he's hoping to win the magic lottery, to be the one piece of slush chosen out of a million (literally a million!) that goes on to be published and revered.

You deserve better than the dashed hopes of a magic lottery.


Starbucks didn't become Starbucks by getting discovered by Oprah Winfrey or being blessed by Warren Buffet when they only had a few stores. No, they plugged along. They raised bits of money here and there, flirted with disaster, added one store and then another, tweaked and measured and improved and repeated. Day by day, they dripped their way to success. No magic lottery.

Click the title of this part to read his entire post. I really recommend it.

It is an excellent reminder to work hard on making your product (no matter what it is) as good as it can possibly be and to keep your audience with you, no matter how small you may start out. 

I will read these both again when I'm hanging on the lottery idea as well as when I get nervous about shipping.