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Of Course There’s A Map! (Why Seth Godin is Wrong)

Of Course There’s A Map! (Why Seth Godin is Wrong)

Tammy May 18, 2010 7 comments

Beadwork Necklace: amethyst geode, aquamarine dangles, my lampwork beads, swarovski crystals by Tammy Vitale $397

 I’ve spent the past month browsing coaches and marketing folks on line and in books – a lot of Seth Godin because he often seems to make lots of sense to me in his daily blogs.

But with Seth it seems a little (quotes as opposed to text) is better than a lot. 

When you read him in depth, you discover he is really introducing old concepts with new names.


Dreaming the Dark : Magic, Sex, and Politics,   Starhawk’s writing on how activist units (including covens) are formed and spread (1997). 


Check out Christina Baldwin who’s been writing about the power of circles  since 1998: Calling the Circle: The First and Future Culture


Patrick Baker:  Chaos, Order and Sociological Theory (1993)

 Jurassic Park  (the book) (1991) to see Chaos theory in action.

 Seth states that there is no map for “artists” – a word he uses broadly for anyone who is innovative (I applaud that use, by the way.  Perhaps visual and fine artists can now see themselves as movers and shakers and not wait around for a patron or gallery to “make” them.). 

 Anyways, I beg to differ about there being no map.  So I did some research to see what the mood is out there about maps:

IttyBiz:  [f-word alert]:  Of course there’s a fucking map. It might be a stupid map and you might realize, having followed the map, that it would have been more fulfilling to figure out the way on your own. But don’t tell me there’s no map. [Love this woman’s writing.  I think the cussing is a bit faux edgy- and not because I can’t match her.  In person I can and often do.  I just don’t think it’s necessary on the written page.  But hey – it’s a niche.  Don’t let her language scare you off from her very real and very good insights and advice].

Dan Miller suggests that a compass is more useful than a map (and one might argue Seth is a compass, to give Seth his due), and Mark Jones Jr, commenting, says:  A map is not a purple line between point A and point B. A map has much, much, more information than that. It has information that we will never use, but someone may. A map has many of the details about what we DO know about the world, about what lies on our journey.

Tamsen S. McMahon:   Art isn’t navigating without a map. That would suggest that art is serendipitous, a product of accident.  But art has intention. “Art” is about navigating a map in a new way. Your way.

We need maps. Maps give us context. They show us the options, and the obstacles (“Here there be monsters…”). They help us find where we are. They help us understand what lies between where we are and where we’re going.   But there’s no shortage of maps out there. Indeed, Linchpin is a map. What it isn’t is a route.

All of which is saying that I’m not the only one who disagrees with “there is no map.”  (There are more who agree but I’m not writing about them).

There most assuredly is a map. 

Mostly we’re ignoring it because we’re afraid of picking the wrong direction or creating a new route (where we might run into monsters).  We might be wrong.  We might get laughed at.  Or we could be Chris Columbus and discover that the world is round and there is no edge to fall off of.

Okay – Seth would argue here that those who are afraid aren’t artists (linchpins).  That it is the artists/linchpins who would sail off the edge of the world only to find it is round.

I would argue that, with the right map anyone can be an artist (and you can define that any way you want…I still mean anyone).  Being an artist (whatever your definition) is so not an elitist thing   It can be taught.  There are maps.

 We are all traversing topography that has been traversed before.  And it has all been mapped.

Why Seth doesn’t know there’s a map: 

Seth is defining “linchpin” as leader.  He’s wrong.  A Linchpin is an organizer.  There’s a difference.  Do you know the difference?  I do.

More on thursday – this discussion is longer than one post.

Want to know how to sell your art?  There’s a map for that too.  Here.  But that’s about to disappear as soon as we fill up the last slots on on May 21, whichever comes first.

Wylde Women’s Wisdom

I hate decision.  Oh, and sweet mother of prairie dogs, I hate being wrong…When I was deciding what career direction to move in, I was terrified of making a mistake.  I didn’t want to waste my time, so of course I wasted my time by obstinately not doing anything.  I didn’t want to go forward in the wrong direction.  But the problem was – I wasn’t going forward in any direction.  Tama Kieves


  • Joined:
    2009-10-19 15:07:50
    May 19, 2010

    Seth Godin is highly over-rated. And I’m quite tired of him…

  • Joined:
    2009-10-19 15:07:50
    May 23, 2010

    Ah, yes. The map thing. I’ve been looking for an excuse to talk about that for months. On one level, Linchpin excited me beyond reason. On another, he kept saying things like, “there is no map.”

    I think there’s some confusion about what a map is. In my opinion, it’s a… map! Like, I’d like to rent a cottage in Providence. Can you tell me how to get there?

    It seems like the There Is No Map crowd thinks that means I’m asking them to tell me what house to stay in and guarantee I will be happy and there will be no roaches and it won’t get cold at night. Um, no. I just want to know where to turn off the highway. To avoid being accused of ridiculous promises (no roaches and lots of cute boys!), they end up sounding awful smug when they’re refusing to tell you whether Rhode Island is east or west of Lincoln, Nebraska.

  • Joined:
    2009-10-19 15:07:50
    Tammy Vitale
    May 23, 2010

    Naomi – Linchpin excites me too. Except for the map thing. And for except for the “leader” thing. Because a leader is just a leader, but an organizer is a linchpin. There’s a difference – and IMO it’s huge.

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  • Joined:
    2009-10-19 15:07:50
    June 4, 2010

    I had the privilege of seeing Seth Godin speak about Linchpin, and it was interesting to see. He seems to know that there are maps, but he’s incredibly impatient with folks who just want to copy the map of others.

    Thanks for pulling together so many like minds….

  • Joined:
    2009-10-19 15:07:50
    June 4, 2010

    @Tammy — I think if you looked at what Seth said closely, you two aren’t really saying anything that different. Are you? He is merely saying that to each “project” or “destination” there is a beginning, journey, and end point — but any two people who have chosen that same destination point will not choose to get there exactly the same way.

    Sure there are some guidelines, but there is lots of wiggle room, and there is a lot of different routes you can take on a map to get to your destination, which will make both your trip different, and perhaps even your end point somewhat different!

    That’s what I’ve learned as a blogger. Sure, you have to do CERTAIN things an established way to create a successful blog, and be very meticulous in doing them, but there is so much you must do in a blogging career that is not established, if you want to remain noticed among a plethora of blogs — millions of new ones being created all the time! Remember, each blog is totally unique, and got that way by following a slightly different path.

    To have evolved to the special piece of art I believe a long-existing blog is, each blogger had to make his/her blog a real creation. To do this, each blogger had to make many creative and artistic decisions. In merely writing a post daily one has to be creative and artistic, and if one wants to monetize their blogging, one must be doubly creative, artistic, and often forging their own path — making MANY decisions along the way, often without a map.

    If a new blogger follows someone else’s map, he will drive right into a saturated field, and not be able to monetize, nevertheless survive. Bloggers must come up with so many of their own ideas today, some of which include ideas for –niche blogs, posts, and ways to monetize. Surely you agree?

    There will be many decisions along the way for each blogger to make, hence causing their end creation to be different, proving they didn’t all follow the same map!

    I think Seth is merely saying that we each must make each of the decisions we are forced with ourselves, and this will shape the end product. Then the destination and our destiny will be in our own hands!

    And we must always make these decisions, and then go immediately forward, even if we fear. If we don’t immediately act, we’ll never have a finished project of our own.

    We want a finished project. A project of our own making. Not a project so mapped out that it’s somebody else’s. And not a feeling of regret that we didn’t finish a project after we decided what we should do, but never proceded. Then we would be most miserable!

    And THAT is what I understood Seth to be saying from reading a Linchpin interview he did, and from frequently reading his blog posts.

    Surely you two are not that far apart?

    krissy knox 🙂
    follow me on twitter:

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