Sometimes, Seth Godin is Wrong
It pains me to write that sentence. I love Seth Godin. I’ve read all his books and I once spent a fascinating day at one of his seminars. I have learned tons of things about marketing my business from Seth Godin. But every time he writes about finding a job, I just cringe. Because, as a died-in-the-wool entrepreneur who hasn’t looked for a job in decades, Seth just doesn’t understand job seekers or the job search process. I say this with love – truly I do – but when it comes to job search advice, Seth Godin is clueless.
The latest evidence? His guest post over on What Would Dad Say? where he tells everyone to just stop looking for a job and start their own business. His reasoning is as follows:
There are a few reasons for this. The first is that the act of trying to get a job corrupts you. It pushes you to be average, to fit in and to do what you’re told.
The second is that this act moves the responsibility from you to that guy who didn’t hire you. It’s his fault. As soon as you start spending your day trying to please the guy, you’ve blown it.
The third is that the economy is terrible and the best jobs you’re going to get are lousy.
Wow! So much to disagree with in so few words.
First, the act of looking for a job doesn’t corrupt you or force you to fit in – not unless you conduct a certain kind of job search, where you basically change yourself to try and please others. Not a wise idea. Instead a job search should be like shopping for a new pair of jeans – you’re looking for just the right fit and you know it when you find it.
The second point ties into the first. Seth seems to equate looking for a job with trying to please other people. But it’s only that way if you make it that way. There’s nothing about looking for a job that inherently means you have to sell yourself out.
Third, yes the economy is terrible, but how on earth does that mean that all the vacant jobs are bad jobs? In a bad economy, do all good employers just shut up shop while all bad ones stick around? Of course not! There are fewer jobs overall during a bad economy and you have to be more proactive in your search, but the proportion of good to bad jobs stays about the same. In fact, in the last few weeks I’ve helped several clients who are literally applying for their dream jobs.
As for starting your own business … I have my own business. I love it. I don’t think I would be happy if I had to go back to working for someone else. But I would never advise everyone to do the same – this life isn’t for everyone – and I certainly wouldn’t assume that every job seeker is able to just drop the search for a regular job with a salary and benefits to pursue selling “coffee from a truck at the train station” (one of Seth’s suggestions).
If you have always wanted to have your own business and didn’t take the leap because you wanted a ‘safe’ job, then maybe now is the time to look into that idea again. (There’s definitely no such thing as a safe job anymore!) But there is nothing inherently better about running your own business over working for someone else. One is for some people, one is for other people, and Seth Godin is wrong to suggest that what works for him will work for you. Don’t listen to him. (But if you do decide that you want to start your own business, you really should read his books -that he knows about!)