Seth Godin’s #Inbound15 keynote: the Tecmark review

By Stacey MacNaught
“Can we open by acknowledging the fact that golf is a really terrible spectator sport?”

As someone who considers golf one of the most bizarre things people engage in (it’s Fetch for humans), Seth Godin immediately had my attention.

If you’ve ever done anything in marketing, you’ve probably read at least one of Seth Godin’s 17 books. Certainly, a good portion of the thousands of people waiting for Seth’s keynote in the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center’s Grand Ballroom had.

When I go to a talk, I feel like I’ve taken something away if a) I either come across a tool or tactic I haven’t tried before that might make me better at my job or b) I leave with a new way of thinking or explaining something. And it was the latter that Seth Godin delivered at Inbound15’s opening keynote.

Here are some points and stories that most resonated with me.

“Here’s how to become qualified – do things you aren’t qualified to do.”

The main thing that resonated with me was the point Godin made about leaving the culture of “we’ve always done it this way,“ and moving to a culture of “let’s give this a try“.

As marketers in digital, our environment is so fast moving that not trying something new is setting ourselves up for failure. And yet I imagine many of us are guilty at times of looking for the proof that something has worked before we try it ourselves.

Godin’s verdict? “Harper Lee had written no books before To Kill a Mockingbird.”

He made the point that everyone is unqualified when they first do something. It’s effectively how you get qualified. And certainly, the best people I’ve worked alongside have been the people who just try it – just go and test things and look at things differently.


Godin talked about a study where high-school children were presented with five jobs and asked which they would most like. They included things like president of the US and chief of a huge company. There was also “PA to a celebrity”.

43% chose PA to a celebrity.

Godin describes the reason for this as being that you get all the credit of talking about your job but don’t have to take any responsibility.

He talked about people who “go around” authority to find a way to do the things that matter. He advises people to “create tension” and be accountable.

Create things for some people

Godin highlighted that bestsellers all have one-star reviews on Amazon because they are written for some people – not all people.

He pointed out that art gets into museums because some people hate it.

It’s OK to create things for some people.

As marketers, how many of us are guilty of trying to create things that will appeal to everyone? Is it because we don’t like to be disliked?

Sometimes, simply reminding ourselves of who we’re creating for helps us to focus better.

Different ways of thinking

Of course, trying new things, taking accountability and creating for a specific audience are not new concepts.

But Godin’s engaging, story-led talk left thousands of people feeling inspired and revisiting some of these incredibly important principles – myself included.

What a great way to get everyone pumped up and looking forward to the hundreds of talks taking place over the week.

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Tecmark Author Stacey MacNaught

About the Author

Stacey MacNaught: Search Director

Stacey joined us in 2009 as a junior copywriter; now she’s a recognised figure on the global speaking circuit, having wowed audiences in the UK, Europe and US – including at MozCon 2014. She leads our search team and works with clients to deliver high-level campaign strategies.

Visit Stacey's Page
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