Photo by Andy

Seth Godin Response: What Have You Got?

I’m a Seth Godin fan. His writing has challenged me in ways I never thought possible.

If you haven’t heard of him, you can check out his bio. He’s best known for his bestselling books and popular daily blog. Every single day he posts something new. Often times they’re succinct. Other times they’re flushed out.

Most of his posts are delightful or provocative. Going forward, from time to time, I’m going to jot down my thoughts here instead of letting them stay in my head.

This first one is in response to “What Have You Got?,” published over the weekend.

When you act like a short-order cook at a diner, people rarely ask you for something interesting. Instead of trying to figure out what will get us picked, we might figure out if there’s a way we can sell people on dreaming about what we have instead.

In college a mentor gave me job interview advice I’ve been using for years: when the interviewer asks “do you have any questions for me?” ask this question:

Given what you’ve learned about my background over the past few minutes, what challenges are you facing right now that I might be able to help solve?

I always thought this was brilliant. It gets the interviewer actively thinking about 1) your skill sets, and 2) how they could be used to help solve a problem their facing right now. It’s like giving them two pieces of a puzzle and asking them to solve it.

The problem with this approach is it’s passive. It removes your ability to prove yourself. As Seth says, it’s looking for a way to get picked. It’s taking the role of short-order cook, asking, almost desperately, WHAT CAN I DO FOR YOU?

Maybe a better approach is to sell your vision. Sell your idea. Show what YOU have to offer. This can be done tactfully. It involves thorough research of the industry, business, and if you dig deep enough, the types of people that make up the organization.

I did this once. It didn’t work, but I was proud of what I created. And since they didn’t love what I had to offer, it’s best that they passed on me. It wouldn’t have been a good fit.

But it doesn’t mean I’m going to stop trying.

Everyone has unique talents, a unique vision, a unique set of skills to offer. It’s up to us to find a way to sell them.

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