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Lessons on using the prospect of failure to succeed from Seth Godin

Seth Godin

The saying “Winners never quit and quitters never win” from Vince Lombardi is famous for inspiring determination and persistence. But according to entrepreneur and best-selling author Seth Godin, Lombardi was wrong. Winners, Godin said, quit all the time—it’s just about being strategic when it comes to what and when you quit. 

“What it means to be a strategic quitter is to say, has anyone standing where I’m standing, trying to go where I’m going, gotten there? Because if no, well then I’m wasting my time.” And one of the biggest keys to success is welcoming, acknowledging, and understanding failure, Godin said.

Another Godin-ism that goes against conventional wisdom? Talent is overrated. 

“I believe that talent is dramatically overrated and almost doesn’t matter at all. Skill is acquirable, and if you choose to earn a skill and bring passion to what you’re doing, you can develop a practice. And that practice is what separates a successful, leading edge restaurateur with 10 restaurants from somebody who tried doing one thing and failed.” 

This ideology reaches far beyond just the hospitality industry and can apply to any business. By understanding and finding the points of potential failure early, it’s easier to prepare for what could lie ahead and make adjustments on the fly, keeping one’s business afloat in uncertain times like these. 

And with such an unknown future, business owners have to stay agile and get past one of the biggest hurdles on the road to success: worry. 

“All the time we’re spending worrying, we’re trying to control an outcome that is out of our control”, said Godin. Often, he said, we are worrying about things like weather or if the community will support our endeavors.

“That’s out of our control. All of the time you’re doing that, you can’t do anything about it anyway. So you should write it down, use it to make a decision, and then go back to being the creative professional you set out to be in the first place.” 

To learn more about Godin’s essentials for business success, listen to the full episode of Josh Kopel’s Full Comp below, and listen or subscribe on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

Ready for more? Check out more episodes of Full Comp:

Episode 1: Building a Restaurant Empire in a Recession: Tender Greens’ Erik Oberholtzer

Episode 2: Creating Opportunity from Tragedy: Serial Restaurateur Darin Rubell

Episode 3: Redefining Cocktail Culture: Death & Co’s Alex Day

Episode 4: The Art of the Pivot: Iron Chef Eric Greenfield

Episode 10: How to build a $10 million restaurant: Chef Sam Marvin of Bottega Louie

Episode 14: The Benefits of Community Building: Chef Nina Compton, Chef/Owner of Compère Lapin

Episode 22: The Art of the Pivot: Mark Canlis, owner/operator of Canlis

Episode 26: The Future of Restaurants: Dean Alex Susskind, Cornell University

Episode 28: The Road Back: Adam Perry Lang, Celebrity Chef & Restaurateur

Episode 34: Becoming a Brand: Celebrity Chef Jet Tila

Episode 36: Fighting the Good Fight: Celebrity Chef Rick Bayless

Episode 45: Revolutionary Leadership: Kat Cole, COO of FOCUS Brands


Full Comp, episode 56 transcript
12 Things Every Restaurateur Needs to Hear: Seth Godin

[Josh Kopel]

Today’s episode is presented by Yelp. Yelp’s mission is to connect people with great local businesses. They also offer great solutions for restaurants looking to streamline their front of house and increase sales. Millions of diners are already using Yelp, and these products are a great way to capitalize on that network. Head over to restaurants.yelp.com/fullcomp to claim your free page and learn more about these powerful tools for your business. Now, here we go.

[Seth Godin]

There are people in the world who are hustling. The thing is you will never hear anybody say, “Oh, I really like that person, they hustle. I really like that brand, they hustle.” Hustle, when you are talking about hockey, is one thing. That’s trying hard, but in our world of too many voices, and too many come-ons, hustle is not attractive.

[Josh Kopel]

Welcome to Full Comp, the show offering insight into the future of the hospitality industry. Featuring restaurateurs, thought leaders, and innovators served up on the house. Are you ready to level up? The Pineapple Post is launched and I’d like for you to be a part of it. It’s a newsletter for people like you, people who want to learn and improve. It’s delivered every Sunday, and it’s packed with stories, videos, and audio content from the brightest minds in our industry. We’re covering the latest news, innovations, and trends to inform and inspire the way you do business. When you’re serious about your work and you’re ready to take it to the next level, The Pineapple Post is here to help. You can sign up at pineapplepost.news. I hope you check it out.

[Josh Kopel]

When you hear truth, it resonates. The first time I read a book by Seth Godin, I knew in my heart he was speaking the truth. And I just read his newest book, The Practice, and I had to talk to him about it. See, I believe the right mindset is what will help us prevail in these difficult times. And this is the book that helped me get back on track. We talk about The Practice and much more in today’s far-reaching conversation. But first, we start with Seth defining himself in his own words.

[Seth Godin]

Lots of people need an elevator pitch. The thing is, no one ever bought anything on an elevator. So it’s not really useful to try to say in the shortest number of words, what you do, if your hope is to get someone to buy something from you. So if you want to say, “We’re the least expensive Thai restaurant in South Dakota,” well, now you’ve said what you are, but that doesn’t mean you’ve said anything that’s going to get someone to want to come to your restaurant. You’ve just labeled herself.

[Seth Godin]

So for me, the elevator pitch is useful if it opens a conversation, either with ourselves or with the people we’re trying to serve. So when I wake up in the morning, I give myself the elevator pitch of I’m a person of great privilege who has been super lucky. What can I teach someone today? And so that’s my story to myself. When I am talking to somebody about my new book or to talking to someone about a workshop, my story is, “You are more capable than you think. You’re more capable than you’ve been told. What skills could you learn? What attitudes could you adopt that would help you make the change you seek to make in the world?” And if you need to call me a marketer, then that’s okay. But I don’t think of myself as a marketer.

[Josh Kopel]

I don’t think of you as a marketer either. I think of you as a teacher, and two central themes that you preach that have carried me through the last several months are, the first is strategic quitting. And the second is the importance of earning the trust of the people you’re trying to serve. Huge, right? Especially huge in the middle of a pivot. Can you talk to me about those two ideas?

[Seth Godin]

Sure. They’re related. Everyone has quit in their life, unless you’re still wearing a tutu and taking ballet lessons, you’ve quit. And you probably don’t play the trombone anymore either. So we came to associate quitting with failure at a young age. Vince Lombardi was so wrong about winners never quit, and quitters never win. Winners quit all the time. What we quit is the right thing, not the wrong thing. And we quit at the right time, not the wrong time. What it means to be a strategic quitter is to say, has anyone standing where I’m standing, trying to go where I’m going, gotten there? Because if no, well then I’m wasting my time. On the other hand, if there’s a path from here to there, then I can follow that path as long as I acknowledge that there’s a dip along the way.

[Seth Godin]

So for example, almost nobody succeeds in climbing Mount Everest. And for a while, it became a fad, but here’s problem number one: getting to Mount Everest. That takes a long time, it takes a lot of money, et cetera. Problem number two: when you’re about two thirds of the way up, there’s the last tea house where people are, you can just walk there. You and I could have no trouble walking to this tea house. But after that tea house is when most people quit. Sometime between there and the top. If you go to climb Mount Everest, without acknowledging that there’s going to be a dip, you’re going to fail. You have to go knowing that the hard part is ahead of you.

[Seth Godin]

And so what does that mean? It means if you’re a good cook and you want to own a restaurant and you think that owning a restaurant is about cooking and the soup you’ve been making for your family times 10, you don’t understand the dip in front of you and you’re going to get burned. But if you can realize where the dip is and quit before you get there, or not quit when you hit it, either one is fine. So strategic quitting is about choosing to put in the extraordinary effort to come out on the other side, which is where the trust comes from, because there’s a lot of people who want to steal our attention, hoping that it will become trust, but it almost never does. It’s way better to earn trust and hope that people talk about you so that you can also earn attention.

[Josh Kopel]

I love that. You have new concepts and a new book coming out. And before we talk about what the book says, I want to talk about when. When did you start writing the book and what was the objective?

[Seth Godin]

I probably started it two years ago to make a workshop called the Creatives Workshop, which we’ve run a couple times. And the objective was, I believe some things that a lot of creative people do not want to talk about. And when I say creative people, I mean, anyone who wants to make a change happen. Not artists, but anyone who wants to do something that makes things better, because that means you’re doing something new. Many people who have succeeded in whatever they’ve done would like others to believe that they can’t do it. That you need to wait for the muse to arrive, that you need some special sort of qualification, that it’s not your turn. And part of the reason they do that is to limit competition. And part of the reason they do that is because they’re afraid. They’re afraid that if they acknowledge the work that went into doing it, they’ll have to do the work again next time.

[Seth Godin]

And I believe there’s no muse. There’s no, as Bob Dylan calls it, ghost that comes in, writes your songs for you. I believe that talent is dramatically overrated and almost doesn’t matter at all. And skill is acquirable. And that if you choose to earn a skill and you bring passion to what you’re doing, you can develop a practice. And that practice is what separates a successful leading edge restaurateur with 10 restaurants, from somebody who tried doing one thing and failed, because the practice says I’m not always going to get it right, but I always have a way to come back to the practice and move forward.

[Josh Kopel]

And there’s so many parts of this book that would directly benefit the hospitality industry. I read it, cover to cover. And I was talking to my wife about it, and this is how I’m a terrible salesperson. I turned to her and I was like, “This book is so inspiring. One of the central themes is that you have to embrace the creative process, understand that it’s a process step-by-step, and you also need to understand that it might not work, that you might actually fail.” And she looked at me and the blood drained from her face. And she was like, “I don’t think you explained that well,” right? Because I was totally inspired. And she was like, “I don’t think you’re doing this right.” And so-

[Seth Godin]

She’s wrong, and you explained it beautifully. The thing is, reassurance is futile. We have been brainwashed into wanting reassurance. Reassurance can never be delivered in sufficient quantity. And since it can’t be delivered, it’s like delivering kegs to a fraternity. You’re going to run out. And so the alternative is to say, “I don’t need to be reassured. I simply need to do the work.” As soon as you do that, it’s so freeing because now instead of doubting the person who says, “Everything’s going to be okay,” you can acknowledge that everything’s not going to be okay. How could it all be okay? Unless you’re willing to define whatever happens as okay.

[Josh Kopel]

Well, and you make a clear distinction in the book. You say, I hope I’m not just reading the book aloud for people, but there are just so many amazing moments I had in it. And one of those is the clear distinction between do what you love versus loving what you do. And I think it’s such a huge takeaway, right? Is that the reward is the process, right?

[Seth Godin]

So many people in the hospitality business and the music business don’t understand this. First, they get into the business because they think it’s their passion. And then when they get into business, they discover they’re spending a lot of time filing or changing sheets or dealing with grumpy customers. And now all of a sudden, it’s not their passion and they’re trapped and unhappy. Well, you should go into the music business because you like business, not because you like music. You should go into the hospitality industry because you want a chance to be in a certain kind of job, doing a certain kind of work, that you can choose to be passionate about, not the other way around.

[Seth Godin]

And it’s really interesting to watch hospitality travel places try to mechanize and industrialize everything that they do. The poor housekeepers who have to go from room to room cleaning sheets or the busboys or the dishwashers or whatever it is, how do we mechanize this? How does McDonald’s make it so that all I have to just press this button and then this button? And then they worry and wonder why their employees aren’t engaged. Well, they’re not engaged because you didn’t give them any humans to be passionate about, and the opportunity to be passionate about connecting with other people, whatever industry you’re in, that’s the home run. And so there’s an entire generation of people who are showing up saying, “Yeah, I just want to do what I’m passionate about.” And I’m like, “Well, that’s a hobby. You’re allowed to have a hobby, but if you want to be a professional, you should make a promise and then decide to be passionate about keeping the promise.”

[Josh Kopel]

Well, and you bring up the word opportunity, and for the hospitality industry, this is the opportunity. We’re in the midst of a full reset. So if your goal was to make a shit ton of money, if your goal was to get that Michelin rating, it’s time to put all of that on the shelf and maybe go do something else, right? Which goes right back to strategic quitting. But if you’re going to do it, if you’re going to grind, it’s got to be love of the game. Right? Love of the day in, day out process.

[Seth Godin]

Exactly. So the business near my two restaurants, right near where I live, one of them in the first week of the pandemic months ago, looked at the future correctly and said, “We give up,” and they quit. And the other one looked at the future correctly and said, “What if we could invent a new kind of fish store? And what if we could invent a new kind of way to do takeout? And what if we could invent? And what if we could invent?” And I don’t think they’re happy about how the world has been, but they have learned a lot. They have earned trust and they’re in a position as the world gets ready for its next round to say, “We were here for you. Now come with us as we do the next thing.” Both institutions made decisions. The ones who got into a lot of trouble are the ones who didn’t make a decision, who said, “I insist that the world be the way I want the world to be. And please come here right now under my conditions. And the world said, “No, thanks.”

[Josh Kopel]

Well, there’s also a stress release, right? There’s a physical benefit to letting go of the outcome. A great example that you bring up in the book is the example of the locksmith, right? How would you describe that? The dispassionate…

[Seth Godin]

Yeah. So when you call a locksmith, something we still have to do in 2020, which is amazing, because you locked yourself out of your apartment, they come and they just try one key after another. And when a master key doesn’t work, they don’t get upset. They don’t take it personally. They don’t say, “I’m a horrible locks because this lock key didn’t work.” They just try the next key. Right? Well, what’s the difference between that, and someone’s trying to break in to sell songs on a Spotify or the iTunes store? There’s no difference. “Oh, I made a song like this. It didn’t work. Maybe I’ll make one like that.” It’s not that you’re a bad person. It’s that you had the wrong key.

[Josh Kopel]

Well, and let’s unpack that further. Two other big ideas that come out of the book are that outcome is a choice, or attachment to outcome is a choice, right? Can you explain that ideology?

[Seth Godin]

So you need to make enough money to put food on the table. You need to make enough money to not go out of business. That’s not a choice, that’s true, but it was a choice to open the business you opened. You could have done something else. So you already made that choice. Now the question is, when I’m putting together this dish, if I’m reverse engineering it and willing the food critic to love it, I’m no longer making it with empathy. I’m no longer making it with passion and joy. I’m just trapped, trapped into imagining all of these unstated rules and emotions that I don’t understand. And if I get hooked on that and it doesn’t work, now, I got nothing. I have nothing to lean into. I have no way to do it again.

[Seth Godin]

Whereas if I can establish standards for myself about what good is, standards for myself about what promises I’m making, I can lean into that, do that, and if it doesn’t work, at least I can look at what my compass is pointing at and adjust. And so when I started out in the book business, I got so many rejections in a row. And every time I was working on a proposal, trying to imagine how to will somebody into saying, “Yes, I did a bad job.” And once I took a deep breath and said, “Wait a minute, what would I be proud to make?” Here, I made this, everything got better.

[Josh Kopel]

Well, then we can unpack further, right? You also described worrying as a quest.

[Seth Godin]

Yeah. So worry is a really good place to hide because all the time we’re spending worrying, we’re spending trying to control an outcome that is out of our control. We don’t worry about things that are in our control. We worry about the weather on our wedding day. We worry about whether or not the community we’re in will be able to support what we’re doing. That’s out of our control. So all of the time you’re doing that, you can’t do anything about it anyway. So you should write it down, use it to make a decision, and then go back to being the creative professional you set out to be in the first place.

[Josh Kopel]

Well, it’s hard to do. In the hospitality industry, we’re all people pleasers, right? For the most part. That’s just the nature of the beast. We want to make everyone happy. And one of the big takeaways I had from the book was you were like, “You’ve got to consider the audience,” and your art is not for everyone. It needs to be for someone. You used television is a great example. I’d love for you to share that.

[Seth Godin]

Let’s just give a specific example, the people who are in the food service business, right? That you have a cheesesteak business in Philadelphia and you sell two kinds of cheesesteaks. And someone comes up with a window and says, “I’m a vegan, and I’m gluten free. What do you have?” And you say, “I have the address of the place three doors down.” And they get really mad at you, right? They are really angry. “How dare you not have a gluten-free, dairy-free, kosher, vegan alternative for me?” And the answer is not to tell them that they’re a bad person, nor is the answer for you to think you’re a bad person. It is simply to realize if you had a hardware store, you also wouldn’t have a vegan, gluten-free cheese steak. You’re a hardware store. So you make what you make and you don’t make what you don’t make. And the way we can tell that you have confidence is when you recommend a competitor to somebody, right?

[Seth Godin]

So if you look at the back of books, you’ll notice that authors endorse and blurb books for each other all the time. You never see the CEO of Samsung blurbing an iPhone. They just don’t do that, because there’s a, “It’s us or them.” Whereas people who write books say, “Read a bunch of books,” right? So when a restaurant tourist says, “Oh, that restaurant over there, they’ll do much better for you. You want me to walk you over there?” That act of generosity is also an act of ownership of your creativity and of the work you sought to do. There’s the famous diner in New York City called Shopsin’s, and Shopsin’s, famously, little tiny place, had a menu that was hundreds of pages long. And basically he would make you anything. The thing is that other than being cantankerous and interesting, Shopsin’s did not have a lot to recommend, because it wasn’t the best this, or the best that. It was just, “We have everything.” Well, there’s room for that, but that’s probably not why you got into the business.

[Josh Kopel]

Absolutely. Well, and once you’ve decided who you are, then you bring up this example of cowboys in the book, which is just awesome. The way you explain it, I know I’m fanboying again, but the way you explain it really, really makes sense because it’s not about, can you walk me through it? You were like, “How do cowboys herd?”

[Seth Godin]

So I stole that idea from a book I read 20 years ago, but the short version is, how do three cowboys get 10,000 head of cattle to do what they want? Because there’s only three of them and there’s 10,000 cattle. Well, the answer is, if you heard 10 cattle, they will be followed by 100 cattle. And if you’ve got 100 cattle following you, that’s how you get the 10,000. Just worry about 10. Don’t worry about 10,000. And the same thing is true if you’re going to do any work that matters. You need the smallest viable audience, not the biggest possible audience. And if you overwhelm the smallest viable audience with the magic of what you do, they will tell the others.

[Josh Kopel]

That is so pertinent for the restaurant industry. You also bring up this idea of a receptionist, and I kind of wanted to tell you a story about me, just because there are these moments when you’re reading a book and I’m sure everybody’s been there, where it just resonates with you in your life and your life experience. I opened my restaurant six years ago and about a year in, it was in the toilet. And so I did this huge shift change. I let go of the GM. I became the GM. I let go of the executive chef, brought in a new executive chef, and we worked really hard for a year to make the restaurant great. So by the end of year two, the restaurant was great, but it didn’t make any money. And so you have a choice. Do we just close up shop or do we figure out how to double down?

[Josh Kopel]

And so what I did was, was I took out $150,000 AmEx loan, I know. Terrible. But I spent it. I spent every penny of it and I spent it all in four months. I got a valet. I changed out the lighting that I didn’t like from when we had initially opened. I got better seating. I shut it down and retrained the staff just to make sure everything was perfect. I decided that if I was going to lose the restaurant, I was going to lose the restaurant I had always envisioned, and I wasn’t going to lose the shitty, watered-down version that I had created because I didn’t have enough time and I didn’t have enough money. And what I focused on, and it speaks directly to the receptionist example that you bring up in the book was, it’s focused on that customer service experience.

[Josh Kopel]

It didn’t matter how much it cost to see the valet outside, or then to double the labor on that, just to make sure that you didn’t have to wait for your car or to do all of these little nuances that really, subconsciously and probably consciously, affect the customer service experience. You’ve always been a customer-focused, guest-focused individual. And I’d like to dig into that now, because I think that’s especially important in this moment.

[Seth Godin]

So let me first congratulate you because I’m assuming that after you did that, it worked?

[Josh Kopel]

We kicked ass, yeah, it was a party ever since.

[Seth Godin]

I feel relieved. There is no universal access here. I used to live in Mount Vernon, New York. It’s actually where I was born. Mount Vernon, New York used to be the Beverly Hills of New York in the 1920s and thirties. It’s right next to New York City. Anyway, there were two businesses right next to each other. They’re both gone. One was called Johnny’s Pizza. And the other one was a Portuguese-Brazilian chicken place. If you called Johnny’s Pizza on Sunday, there was no answer. And if you went there thinking they were too busy to answer the phone, you just discovered they were closed on Sundays and didn’t have an answering machine. And if you called Johnny’s Pizza any other day of the week and ordered  pizza for pickup, they would take your order and they would say it’d be ready in 20 minutes.

[Seth Godin]

And it didn’t matter when you got there. As soon as you walked in the door, they would start making your pizza. It took us five years before they trusted us enough to start making our pizza before we got there. They had no customer service whatsoever. And they had a line out the door, because they stood for something. You went to Johnny’s Pizza because it was Johnny’s Pizza. It wasn’t commodity pizza. Right next door was this Portuguese place. And my wife used to like rotisserie chicken, and the service there was so kind, we had to stop going after 20 visits because they kept bringing us extra food and they were expressing their gratitude for our loyalty with extra food. And we started feeling badly that we couldn’t eat. We would bring a secret bag and that wouldn’t work. The point is, there are lots of ways to stand for something when you have a restaurant, and you picked one of them, but there are lots of other ones.

[Seth Godin]

I was friends with Al, the soup guy from Seinfeld, and he was acting the way he wanted to act when he was mean to people when they would order soup. But he was authentic in that he could consistently show up being Al. And it was good enough that he was slandered and libeled on nationwide television and world made him miserable thereafter. But the point still remains. Customer services is a tool. It is a choice. And if you’re going to do it, doing it 80% of the way is stupid. You got to figure out how to do it all the way, farther than anybody else is willing to go. That’s how you build an empire like Danny Meyer did. That’s how you build a restaurant like yours did, is there’s no rule book about how long I should wait for my car. You just decided no one would wait for a car at all. You went to zero, and that cost you a lot, but it paid off.

[Josh Kopel]

The next big topic I wanted to talk about is the alt-MBA, because if there was ever a time for people to educate themselves, to focus on self-improvement, to focus on betterment, this is it. And so can you talk about the inspiration behind it, the methodology?

[Seth Godin]

Sure. I have an MBA. This is not like that. The alt-MBA is a 30 day intensive. People do it for two or three hours a day for 30 days in a row, online in 80 countries around the world. And I built it as an antidote for online courses, because online courses, five and a half, six years ago were widespread, they had a dropout rate of 95%. 95% of the people who started did not finish. And they didn’t cause any change at all. So I said, “What could I build as an experience that would help people learn to make better decisions, learn to level up, learn to see more accurately, learn to get people to follow them? And most of all, teach ourselves that we are capable of more than we have been brainwashed into believing?”

[Seth Godin]

And so we’ve run more than 40 sessions, so far, small groups, 120 to 125 at a time. And what we know is it changes people’s lives because the people who come are people who want to be there. We surround them with each other. We have alumni coaches in a ratio of one coach for every five or six people. And at the end, you will look at yourself differently in the mirror. That’s why we built it. And that’s why we keep running it. You can find out altmba.com. I’m not in it. I am not there live. It is not filled with videos. It is about the work each person does, the practice of doing that work.

[Josh Kopel]

I want to talk about this moment, this moment that we’re seated in as individuals, as a community, as an industry, as a species. There’s an opportunity here, right? This great pause has given us all time to reflect. And what you’re advocating for is that everyone go out there and make a ruckus. And I want you to tell people what that means and how they could do it.

[Seth Godin]

Yeah. I don’t think I’m advocating that everyone do anything, except maybe be kind. What I’m advocating is if you are frustrated with the status quo and you think things could be better, and you believe in yourself enough that it’s worth a try, I would really like you to do something about that, because the only way our world changes is when our culture changes. And what makes our culture change is human beings who stand up and say, “Follow me.” Not because you got elected, not because you’re the CEO, but simply because you can. And we can change the culture in tiny ways, or in big ways, that if you are a server at a struggling food service institution, and there are people you work with who are cruel or who don’t treat each other with respect, a quiet word from you could change everything. You don’t have to have a mass demonstration.

[Seth Godin]

You could just say, “Not around here, please. That’s not the way we like it.” Because if three people say that, as Arlo Guthrie would point out, you got a movement. And that’s the way we start to make change happen. So I call that making a ruckus. Generously showing up to make things better. And there’s a lot of trauma right now. The overdue spotlight on racial injustice and the Black Lives Matter movement, the number of people who got sick needlessly, the cultural schisms that were caused on purpose by media companies trying to make a living. All of it is really painful. Okay. So that happened. Now, what do we do with it? And I think what we have is the chance to say what things are like around here, not winning and losing, but in it together, what is it like to be in it together? And we can model that for people. And what else could we do, right? If enough of us model that, I think we’re going to end up on the other side of this better than where we are right now.

[Josh Kopel]

On a personal level, have there been any “aha” moments since the pandemic began and the ensuing quarantine? Have you learned anything about yourself that you didn’t know before? Have there been opportunities afforded to you?

[Seth Godin]

I have “aha” moments almost every single day, and it’s been really painful, and really eye-opening. I’ve learned a lot about all the things I didn’t have to say to myself every morning when I look in the mirror that other people do. And I’ve learned about the fact that I love the pace and this game that I get to play of trying to build a lightweight institution that makes things better, but not everyone goes at the same pace. I’ve learned that health is really frail and fragile and that we need to not necessarily come to the conclusion that our job is to work for capitalists. I think capitalism’s job is to work for us. And we have a chance to build a foundation for our kids and our grandkids and our great-grandkids so that they’ll be glad we did what we did.

[Josh Kopel]

In the book, you mentioned Derek Sivers, Kevin Kelly, Chip Conley. Who do you look up to? You’re obviously one of my mentors. Who are your mentors?

[Seth Godin]

Well, you certainly listed some right there and I’m lucky enough to know all of them. I think there’s a difference between mentors and heroes. I think we all need heroes, and I have tons of them, and so do you. A hero is somebody we never have to meet and we can ask ourselves, “What would that person do?” Right? What would Sarah do? And without their even knowing it, they’re helping us. Mentors on the other hand are in short supply. They don’t scale. I have no interest in signing up to be someone’s mentor. I can’t live up to that. So if you can find heroes and know when to use their example, that’s a really good thing to have in your quiver, to know that there’s a dozen or 20 voices, and you can call on the one you need in any given situation and say, “This person, they would know what to do right here.” And I’m so lucky to have a long list of those. And every once in a while, I get to meet one, or maybe publish his book, but that’s just a bonus. That’s not required.

[Josh Kopel]

At the end of every episode, I give the guest an opportunity to speak directly to the audience, directly to the industry. Do you have any words of advice or encouragement for the folks listening?

[Seth Godin]

Well, I hope this is a reminder that we have the best supply chain in the world still. And the number of people who actually need food is smaller than you would expect. But the number of people who need dignity and joy and connection is huge. And we just use food as an opportunity to deliver those other things. And so we get this chance to go back to our primordial nature and say, “In this moment that you need food, I’m here to offer you those other things too.” And it’s not going to be easy to do that for a living for a while to come, but we need it, because it’s part of community and culture. And I thank you for showing up and I thank you for doing it with grace. So I appreciate you.

[Josh Kopel]

That’s Seth Godin. Be sure to pick up his new book, The Practice, available wherever you buy books. If you want to tell us your story, hear previous episodes, check out our video content, or read our weekly blog, go to JoshKopel.com. That’s J-O-S-H-K-O-P-E-L.com. Thank you so much for listening to the show. You can subscribe wherever you get your podcasts, and while you’re there, please leave us a review. A special thanks to Yelp for helping us spread the word to the whole hospitality community. I’m Josh Kopel. You’ve been listening to Full Comp.

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