Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Free and Worth Every Penny: 'What Matters Now' by Seth Godin

People need help. I know I often do. Lots of us are stuck in schlubby jobs, wage slaves to the man. While we can find some consolation in knowing we are not alone (a report from the Conference Board research group tells us only 45% of Americans are satisfied with their work, and only 51% find their jobs interesting), or can lose ourselves in youTube/Facebook/Twitter reveries of low-to-no productivity, we can also strive and aspire to something greater.

Online personalities like Gary 'Cash in on your Passion' Vaynerchuck and Guy 'I worked on the Mac team in the 80s' Kawasaki, blessed with some sort of genetic high-energy levels and delusional unchecked optimism are out there inspiring us, and thanks to the Internet access most of us have at our shitty jobs, it is easier for these guys to get their messages out than ever.

Seth Godin, motivational speaker, internet personality, and writer of lots of books, recently released the book 'What Matters Now', and it's free! I downloaded it myself, because I am always keen to find free stuff to put on my Kindle.

The book consists of 200-word essays about 'big ideas', so we're already in oxymoron territory right out of the gate. I don't care how your Twitter-Fu is, really great ideas can not be crammed into 200 words. Sometimes a 200 word bite will pique your interest and inspire you to dig further, but most of the essays are about single words (Enough. Productivity. Focus.) It is unlikely somebody is going to get on Amazon and start shopping for 'Focus' books.

There are many hotshots and celebrities of the inspirational/self-help/internet world within: both Vaynerchuck (THNX) and Kawasaki (Evangelism), and even good ole Tom 'In Search of Excellence' Peters (his essay is on Excellence, and every third character is an exclamation point! It's annoying! I get it! You! sound! like! a! fucking! Henry! Rollins! SONG!!!! AAUUUUGGGHHHHHHHH!), and many more. I was somewhat surprised that there's no essay from Oprah, but she is mentioned twice.

Ultimately the book comes off like a lot of feel-good 'Chicken Soup For The Short-Attention Spanned Soul' empty calorie bullshit. I felt like Seth was sharing something personal with me, specifically, he was showing me his high school yearbook and pointing out all the cool and popular people who signed it and wrote cool things in it.

I suppose I shouldn't be so negative and am only hurting myself with my curmudgeonly ways. Actually and sincerely I'm happy all these people have been successful and gotten rich and made it happen for themselves. But as surely as they didn't get rich by writing a lot of checks, most of them got rich by working, not by writing empty fake bullshit, and probably not by reading really vapid value-free garbage, either.

As far as free books go, I like the book of Elric stories Amazon was giving away a few weeks ago a lot better. Believe it or not, when Elric says 'Arioch! My Lord! I give you blood and souls!' it is somehow less corny than every single essay in 'What Matters Now'.

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