I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a couple days.
I just have to say that Seth Godin is truly one hec of a stand-up guy! I’ve met a few celebrities in my life and I’ve NEVER been impressed – they’re usually arrogant and full of their own importance. On top of that, I’ve read multiple blog posts over the years that kind of rip on Seth and talk about that he’s full of himself, a re-hasher, or whatever. So, when we started this whole thing with bringing Seth to Utah and I was the one that made first contact with him, I wasn’t expecting much. In fact, I was expecting a lot of ‘do everything for me’ and ‘I’m important, you’re not’ kind of responses. I was also expecting that I would have to work REALLY hard to prove the merit of coming to Utah for a bunch of nobody’s who were fanboys. Now, I’m very happy to report that the exact opposite happened.
I’m not being a drooling fanboy here – although I could be – although he truly doesn’t need it, now that I’ve spent some time with Seth, I feel like I should write a post about the experience and counter the negative posts about him that I’ve seen on the web.
From my first contact with him, Seth was extremely kind and agreeable. He had laid out very specific terms about getting him to come speak and I had outlined for him how we hoped to meet those objectives. Throughout the next month, I exchanged a LOT of emails with Seth and had several phone conversations with him. Whenever we came up on a self-imposed benchmark that I had arranged with him, I would email him and say ‘We didn’t make our goals, if we need to cancel I understand, but here’s what we want to try next’. Every single time, he replied very happily, was very positive and confident in us. He continually extended our deadlines and in the end, said ‘you know, you guys have worked your hearts out on this, I’m coming no matter what’.
Through it all, he was very complimentary and friendly and honestly, put me at enough ease with him that I could have called him a good friend. Once he arrived at the Salt Palace after a crazy couple days, I went up to introduce myself to him – he was very distracted, but shook my hand and said ‘hi how you doing?’. Then I said “Hi Seth, I’m Phil Burns”. His face immediately lit up and he turned our handshake into a double clasp and said “PHIL! It’s so great to finally meet you!” And we went into a conversation as normal as you would with anyone else.
At the begining of his presentation, he clearly remembered and mentioned several personal things about me that he had learned through the last month – that I had had food poisoning and been very ill, that I have 8 children and that I have more than one company. He had clearly internalized personal things about me and not just blown through them as I expected.
Afterwards on the way back to the airport, his first question to me was “What can I do to help you?” and we discussed several things. Then the car died which is another story – here. Through the whole car incident, he was clearly frustrated but still had a great sense of humor and understanding about it. In Jimmy and Brian’s copies of The Dip, he signed them with personal and humorous notes about the experience of them picking us up on the side of the road.
Finally, the whole head shaving thing. I emailed Seth and proposed he shave our heads on stage as a gig for our sponsors. None of us were sure what he would say, but most of us figured he wouldn’t do something so silly. He wrote me back with “Sure I’ll shave some heads!” He was a great sport about the whole thing and even had a lot of fun doing it, making up an impromptu commercial while he shaved.
So, next time someone wants to say something negative about Seth as a person, especially if they haven’t met him – I’m calling you out. Seth Godin is one hec of a guy!