We Are All Weird Kindle Edition
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For generations, marketers, industrialists and politicians have tried to force us into little boxes, complying with their idea of what we should buy, use or want. And in an industrial, mass-market driven world, this was efficient and it worked. But what we learned in this new era is that mass limits our choice because it succeeds on conformity.
As Godin has identified, a new era of weirdness is upon us. People with more choices, more interests and the power to do something about it are stepping forward and insisting that the world work in a different way. By enabling choice we allow people to survive and thrive.
Jacqueline Novogratz Reviews We Are All Weird
Jacqueline Novogratz is founder and CEO of Acumen Fund, a non-profit global venture capital fund that uses entrepreneurial approaches to solve the problems of global poverty. Acumen Fund has invested over $50 million of patient capital in 50 businesses that have impacted more than 40 million people in the past year alone. Any money returned to Acumen Fund is reinvested in enterprises serving the poor. Currently, Acumen has offices in New York, Mumbai, Karachi, and Nairobi. Read her guest review of Seth Godin's We Are All Weird:
Seth Godin's latest book We Are All Weird is a song of freedom, an exuberant manifesto with the richness of choice that comes with wealth, the markets, the internet, our increasing connection with one another across the globe. He argues that the era of mass marketing is over (thankfully) and that as humans we seek not just to consume but to "connect," and therefore we find those who love what we love and, when it works best, create or join "tribes." We are allowed, indeed, encouraged to be individuals, to specialize rather than fit in or be "normal" and this is where richness begins. As Seth says, "Stuff is not the point." Connection, choice, pursuing what we love is.
Seth has advised the organization I founded, Acumen Fund, for many years. He constantly reminds us to be unafraid to focus on a small group of believers who make the choice to opt-in; and I can see that lesson elucidated brilliantly in We Are All Weird. We have the extraordinary luxury of choice and, for the most part, of doing what we want to do. How we use that choice to make the lives of others around us the richer for being connected to us is critical to Seth's evolving understanding of marketing and creating systems that release rather than stifle our energies—regardless of who we are, where we live, or what language we may speak. Read this book slowly and read it again for the lessons are rich and wise. I couldn't feel prouder to be a part of Seth's tribe.
--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
INTRODUCTION: THE PREGNANT ELEPHANT
Ad legend Linda Kaplan Thaler tells the story of a zoo in Belgium, down on its luck. The crowds had stopped coming.
With the emergence of so many alternative amusements, diversions, and novelties, the zoo had fallen on hard times. Attendance was down, but the animals still needed to get fed.
Then their elephant got pregnant.
Alert ad agency geniuses leapt into action. They put a sonogram of the baby elephant on YouTube. They ran polls and contests (girl or boy?). Attention was paid. Hoopla was generated. The zoo was back on track, and attendance climbed.
The elephant gave the zoo its mass back. Mass reach, mass excitement, mass crowds. An apparent triumph for new media.
The story is told because it harks back to a happier time, to an era when ad agencies could easily do what they were paid to do: get the attention of the public. It reminds us that our economy is built on the back of mass, on public amusements, on factories organized to create widgets or services or entertainment for anyone (and everyone) with money to spend.
Marketers can be forgiven their nostalgia. Mass is no longer a scalable, predictable way to engage with the public. Success like the zoo’s is rare (because pregnant elephants are an oddity). From now on, mass market success will be the exception, the black swan.
Mass is dead. Here comes weird.
Mass, Normal, Weird, and Rich
This is a book about four words and how the revolution we’re living through demands we change our understanding of what they mean.
MASS is what allowed us to become efficient. Mass marketing and mass production and mass compliance to the rules of society have defined us. Mass is what we call the undifferentiated, the easily reached majority that seeks to conform and survive.
NORMAL is what we call people in the middle. Normal describes and catalogs the defining characteristics of the masses. Normal is localized—being a vegetarian is weird in Kansas but normal in Mumbai. What’s normal here is not what’s normal there. Finding and amplifying normal is essential to anyone who traffics in mass. Over time, marketers have made normal a moral and cultural standard, not just a statistical one.
WEIRD is what we call people who aren’t normal. Your appearance or physical affect might be unusual by nature or by birth, but, like me, you’re probably mostly weird by choice. Different by nature isn’t your choice, and it’s not my focus here. Weird by choice, on the other hand, flies in the face of the culture of mass and the checklist of normal. I’m interested in this sort of weird, people who have chosen to avoid conforming to the masses, at least in some parts of their lives.
RICH is my word for someone who can afford to make choices, who has enough resources to do more than merely survive. You don’t need a private plane to be rich, but you do need enough time and food and health and access to be able to interact with the market for stuff and for ideas.
The swami I met in a small village in India is rich. Not because he has a fancy house or a car (he doesn’t). He’s rich because he can make choices and he can make an impact on his tribe. Not just choices about what to buy, but choices about how to live.
• • •
Human beings prefer to organize in tribes, into groups of people who share a leader or a culture or a definition of normal. And the digital revolution has enabled and amplified these tribes, leaving us with millions of silos, groups of people who respect and admire and support choices that outsiders happily consider weird, but that those of us in the tribe realize are normal (our normal).
My argument is that the choice to push all of us toward a universal normal merely to help sell more junk to the masses is both inefficient and wrong. The opportunity of our time is to support the weird, to sell to the weird, and, if you wish, to become weird.
The Battle of Our Time
It’s not between men and women . . .
or the left and the right . . .
or even between the Yankees and the Red Sox.
The epic battle of our generation is between the status quo of mass and the never-ceasing tide of weird.
It’s difficult to not pick sides. Either you’ll want to spend your time and effort betting on mass and the status quo—and trying to earn your spot in this crowded mob—or you’ll abandon that quest and realize that there are better opportunities and more growth if you market to and lead the weird.
Two decisions you’ll need to make within the hour:
1. Do you want to create for and market to and embrace the fast-increasing population that isn’t normal? In other words, which side are you on—fighting for the status quo or rooting for weird?
2. Are you confident enough to encourage people to do what’s right and useful and joyful, as opposed to what the system has always told them they have to do? Should we make our own choices and let others make theirs?
PART 1: CAPITALISM, INDUSTRY, AND THE POWER OF MASS—AND ITS INEVITABLE DECLINE
It’s not an accident that our instincts, expectations, and biases are organized around honoring the masses. We shun the outliers, train students to conform, and reward companies that create historically efficient mass market products.
The Mass Market Redefines Normal
The mass market—which made average products for average people—was invented by organizations that needed to keep their factories and systems running efficiently.
Stop for a second and think about the backward nature of that sentence.
The factory came first. It led to the mass market. Not the other way around.
Governments went first, because it’s easier to dominate and to maintain order if you can legislate and control conformity. Marketers, though, took this concept and ran with it.
The typical institution (an insurance company, a record label, a bed factory) just couldn’t afford mass customization, couldn’t afford to make a different product for every user. The mind-set was: This is the Eagles’ next record. We need to make it a record that the masses will buy, because otherwise it won’t be a hit and the masses will buy something else.
This assumption seems obvious—so obvious that you probably never realized that it is built into everything we do. The mass market is efficient and profitable, and we live in it. It determines not just what we buy, but what we want, how we measure others, how we vote, how we have kids, and how we go to war. It’s all built on this idea that everyone is the same, at least when it comes to marketing (and marketing is everywhere, isn’t it?).--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B00NLPJBJM
- Publisher : The Domino Project (September 14, 2014)
- Publication date : September 14, 2014
- Language : English
- File size : 357 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 114 pages
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #824,975 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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He summarizes well the theme of this book on page 4: "The epic battle of our generation is between the status quo of the mass, and the never-ceasing tide of weird." This emphasis on the end of the efficacy of mass marketing builds upon his earlier book "Tribes." I recently reviewed a book by Sebastian Junger called "Tribe," in which the author makes a similar point about the role of tribe and close tribal relationships in engendering emotional health and healing from short term PTSD for warriors. Tribal dynamics apply to the field of warfare, and to the field of business. And the growing awareness of our need to identify and utilize the power of small tribes stands in sharp contradistinction to the traditional American ethos of independence and individualism.
Advances in technology, marketing, manufacturing, communication, and distribution now make it easy for any enterprising person or company to offer their unique services and goods to small niche markets of tribal members who appreciate something that is not geared for the unwashed masses. This is true of the commodities we buy, the foods we eat, the hobbies we enjoy, the politics we embrace, and the lifestyle we choose to pursue. Godin's book is a manifesto to push the envelope as far in the direction of tribal and weird as one dares to go.
It is the end of mass marketing, mass production, mass communication as we have know it. In a sense, Seth is saying, with a smile on his face and a glint in his eye: "Go in peace. The mass is ended."!
He traces history of normalcy and weirdness. Before specialization, people couldn't be as weird because they had to spend time on surviving. Mass marketing through things like 3 TV channels made it easy to promote one way of being. Standardized industrialization made it profitable to encourage everyone to be the same – then you could sell to everyone. People internalize this, and a culture of normalcy became self perpetuating.
Today, we're seeing a massive increase in weirdness. People are richer now than before, so we can spend time and money and niche things unrelated to survival. The internet lets us find communities (and products) that validate our weird quirks, which makes us more comfortable being weird. The internet and other technologies allow everyday people to produce unique things rather than only allowing big organizations to produce things (which happen to be standard). Also, weird people are a good market because they're obsessed about their particular niche.
Now, we don't have a cultural center that unifies us. We're all weird.
I thought that most of the book accurately described our current epoch. However, there was little attempt to describe why people are weird. That is, the book assumes that people, as unique individuals, are very different from one another and that it is unnatural, external limitations (factories, mass media) that encourage normalcy. From what I have seen, people are mostly the same, and the few differences that are there are superficial. People believe in difference because we, culturally, place a large value on individualism and because certain people want to create different niche markets.
My other problem with the book is that there wasn't much attention paid to ethics. There are people who are exploited. There are injustices. Ethics is a fairly normalizing force – if people generally believe that hate crimes are wrong, then few people will commit hate crimes against others, and weirdness (committing hate crimes) is strongly discouraged with cultural outrage and with legal punishment. Certainly, that ethic should be compatible with pluralism (the ethic should accept that people are different from one another), but that is different from moral relativism (not that Godin advocates relativism).
My concern is that when people focus on what makes them unique, they lose track of what keeps us together. When I was enamored with postmodern philosophy in high school, I read philosophers who were skeptical of large, homogenizing structures. In debate in general, students grow accustomed to advocating issues from many sides, and they often don't develop a strong opinion about what they believe or what might be the real truth of the issue. I think that people need to know what they believe and stick to it, and I think that people need to believe in some of the big things that keep us together.
Top reviews from other countries
I enjoy Seth Godin’s blog and have read the odd book by him. Often his enthusiasm and skewed way of looking at things can find fresh insight, even where he lacks any great depth of knowledge. With this book I felt that he what he was offering was not strong enough to counter the lack of structure or research.
The basis message is a variation on the long tail hypothesis about the bulk of sales are no longer in the best selling lines, but in the formerly niche items. This is a worthwhile thought, and worth exploring, but I did not feel that Seth had really thought through the issues sufficiently to offer a whole book on this. There may well be another really good book to be written on this subject, taking forward the thoughts in The Long Tail, but I’m afraid that this is not it. The core of the story is not really about marketing or customer behaviour, but about reconfiguring an economic system, something that Godin has little to offer on.
Seth is well worth reading and listening to, and I cannot help feeling that the world is much the better place for him being in it, but this is one of his weaker efforts. I would recommend Poke the Box or Purple Cow above this one.
To explain further the author is saying that the Bell Curve of marketing strategy that has been the plan of business for a long time has gone flat. The idea of Mass production and bulk selling has worked in the past because it relies on the way society creates the market through popular culture and fashion. It has worked because we are manipulated into wanting things and we have been taught that we must conform to what the author describes as a tribe. Or a group of people or to just do what everyone else does so that we do not miss out or look weird. Anybody in the past under that model of marketing that wanted something different to the rest of the tribe would be Weird.
The author suggests that things have changed because we now have more choice than ever before and we can choose without being so manipulated if we actually stop and think about it, The author is trying to remind us that we should think for ourselves. We can all choose even the things that mass marketing would have ignored in the past. That is to say that we all now can pick things that once were thought of as weird and therefore we are all weird.
Now I do not see that the "bell curve" has actually changed much, if at all. I think there is still the same marketing strategy as always. Society has not changed either and marketing depends on the manipulation of society. In fact there are benefits from it as well as the not so good elements.
But I do agree that society is all powerful and manipulative and that we are often told what we want or what we should do or buy. And I agree that we can all forget to think for ourselves. And therefore the examples of the manipulation that the author uses are good examples and they are interesting.
The author also has a better understanding of Individualism that many sociologists and psychologists would have us believe. Some of these so called distinguished professionals argue that there is no true individualism since we are all part of a collective. I don't agree. The author advocates that within a collective we can still be individuals by making our own choices. I agree with this. Further the author suggests that we have much to choose from and that we have choice and that, in itself, makes us individual if we choose something on our own terms.
The author also suggests that we have such a choice that marketing should be more diverse to cater for our diverse needs. He points to things as the internet as examples of the choice we have and therefore we are more likely individuals than ever before. I believe the author is right that we have more choice and we do have more choice to be individual and that is where the book is great. However the threat of the suppression of our individualism is greater than ever because of the choice that actually society puts there in order to manipulate us. And so although the author is looking in the right direction I also think it is too simplistic as a notion. The threat of collectivism against individualism is greater than ever.
The biggest problem with the book is that the author is looking at marketing as a subject and then studying how it needs to change in order to catch up with how we have changed. His priority is marketing and that is fine but does not interest me as much as the sub plot of his observation which is that we can all have the potential to be true individuals even if it does seem "weird" that we choose something different to the collective of society fashion. The author is actually saying that we are all weird now because we
all choose things that are outside of the collective fashion these days and therefore marketing needs to catch up with that. I don't agree that we are all thinking to that level of individualism since clearly most people still follow the fashion of marketing.
However the author does get the reader to think about things and to ask questions. He also gets us to see what is happening around us and in that this book is really good.
The book is interesting, funny in places, and thought provoking. It is also well written and is easy to read.
I thought that it would be more looking into the subcultures that have become more evident in the last couple of decades. I say become more evident as subcultures or weird tribes as the author likes to refer to, have always been there, but never to the forefront.
To me the whole term 'weird' in this book was used to try and attract people, but to me it felt more like the people that go around saying 'I'm mental me, look at me!'. This book couldn't decide whether to address marketers directly, to address the people it was trying to reach because of the title or to discreetly try and sneak in a pointless message made clear in the foreword 'Buy various copies and give them to colleagues'.
At least it is a small book and it will not waste too much of your time, but I personally found it incredibly disappointing and misleading.
But this is really poor, very slight and nothing actionable in it. Extremely disappointing to say the least.