Sunday, September 27, 2015

Book Review: We Are All Weird

We Are All Weird: The Myth of Mass and the End of ComplianceWe Are All Weird: The Myth of Mass and the End of Compliance by Seth Godin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Weird is a word in need of a new brand, and Seth Godin is endeavoring to make one for it.  Weird means "not normal" in Godin's world, but that does not connote bad or defective.  Unusual. Different. Not run of the mill.  You get the picture.  Godin's thesis is that on nearly every indicator, more and more of us are farther from the center than we used to be. Further, we are increasing our ability to express that uniqueness.  That, in turn, is influencing more people to leave the center. And so on.

Imagine the bell curve your high school science teacher drew to explain how the grades were distributed.  There were a few A's, a few more B's, a large bump of C's, then down the other side.  The same curve could be drawn for political leanings, eagerness to buy an iPhone, preference in wine, interest in gardening, and the likelihood of following instructions from the doctor.  Now imagine that a giant pregnant elephant from Antwerp (yes, that's how he writes) has just stepped on the center of the curve, squishing all the normal individuals out to the edges.  That is what Godin contends has happened to our society in recent decades. 

His main purpose in pointing this out to us is to focus our attention on some important implications for marketing and other forms of persuasion efforts. Marketers and other business people whose bread and butter has always been in appealing to the mass in the center are increasingly wasting their time and money.  Persuasion efforts must now be targeted to specific audiences. He says, "humanity and connection are trumping the desire for corporate scale." That's a pretty big shift in how we've been doing business.

I combined my short summary of this one with a 2008 book by Godin called Tribes: We Need You To Lead Us. It's about how people with shared interests find each other, collect together, and make change happen. We Are All Weird expands on some of the same themes.  My two-page summary of both books is available for free download by clicking here, but neither bok takes much time to read and I recommend them both.

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