“Be extraordinary.” That’s the challenge High Point University issues to its students every day, and it was recently echoed by best-selling author Seth Godin at HPU.
Godin spoke to a packed house at HPU’s Hayworth Fine Arts Center. With humorous and ironic slides, a little history and a lot of energy, Godin challenged the audience to look at the world differently, because it is different.
The marketing pioneer argued the new “connection economy” isn’t about selling an average product to the masses, but finding something remarkable for one key group.
Using the example of a cake, Godin explained how people are willing to pay more for something if there is a personal connection to whatever they’re buying. Consumers can go the cheapest route and make their own cake, or they can go and pay $15 for a slice that looks like art and was handcrafted just for them.
“No one wants average,” said Godin, challenging students to put everything they have into whatever they’re passionate about. “We only pay extra if you’re different.”
To be different, Godin said people have to be willing to try the impossible, to work together and be willing to fail.
He said to be successful you need a new and remarkable idea that people will talk about, but that’s not easy. He argued there are so many choices, that for something to be remarkable, it has to start out as “impossible.”
“If failure is not an option, then neither is success,” he said.
“The future is ridiculous,” said Godin. He said the world needs leaders, not people who just do what they’re told.
“If someone says ‘this is how you do it,’ then that’s not how you do it,” said Godin. “We need you to lead us.”
In between events, he took time to talk with members of HPU’s Entrepreneurs Club.
“Meeting such an innovative mind like Seth Godin was an amazing experience,” said Entrepreneur Club vice president, Cameron McGraw. “He asked some of our entrepreneurship students about their business ideas and instantly started giving advice on how to stand out and realize our dreams. It was impressive to see how quickly his mind works. To meet the man behind one of the most famous business blogs and top selling books was an experience I will never forget.”
Named one of the top 21 speakers for the 21st century by Successful Meetings magazine, Godin draws on his best-selling books and years of changing the landscape of marketing. He writes about the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, quitting, leadership, and most of all, changing everything. He has written 14 books that have been translated into more than 36 languages, every one of which has been a best-seller. His books include “The Purple Cow,” “Poke the Box” and “Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?”
Godin has also founded several companies, including Yoyodyne, which pioneered permission marketing, and Squidoo, which is among the 100 most visited websites in the United States.
Godin, whose personal blog can be accessed by simply typing “Seth” in Google, joins an impressive lineup of previous thought leaders who have visited campus, including Steve Forbes, Malcolm Gladwell, Former First Lady Laura Bush, Bill Cosby and Coca-Cola Company Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent.