News & Views

Seth Godin / The Icarus Deception - Live at the Mermaid

by Contagious Team

Make art, not work advises author, marketing provocateur and cake enthusiast Godin

'We need to learn how to see the world like a blank slate,' suggested Seth Godin at the start of his talk last night at London's Mermaid theatre, before proceeding to unpack exactly why it's just so damn hard to do so. And why we should all try anyway.

The event was staged by his publisher, Penguin, to help launch his latest book, The Icarus Deception. Based around Godin's belief that the Industrial age has created a work culture that depends on people who are willing to behave like machines, the book argues the case for change - change which he sees as essential as the Connection Economy gathers momentum.

It seemed a shame to sit there taking notes while such an engaging speaker tried his utmost to impart some wisdom; so much better just to watch him in action. Godin is great at holding people's attention. What might have seemed an uncomfortably life-affirming call to creative arms (for the average Brit, anyway) was gleefully received by a crowd of acolytes already clearly just itching to stick it to the man. 

Although preaching to the converted, Godin makes his case well, inciting independence through the unlikely medium of smoked Texas brisket and explaining value by comparing the relative merits of home-baked, store-bought and Michelin-standard cake. The audience was also encouraged to do its bit for the Connection Economy: we each received two copies of The Icarus Deception, one to keep and one to pass on to 'the person it will make the most uncomfortable'. 

Specially printed bookmarks were distributed too, with the exhortation for each person to write a description of a passion project in response to the heading 'This is my art', and for the bold to include their contact details too. Step Two of this project? Next time you're in a bookshop, slip it into a copy of The Icarus Deception for a stranger to discover...

As the writer behind one of the world's most successful blogs, where people can access much of his thinking for free, Godin set himself a question to answer that will have gladdened the hearts of his chums at Penguin; Why publish a book at all? The answer, he suggested, is that in a world of change and distraction, it's simply that much harder to ignore: 'If it's a book then the whole argument will be there on the shelf staring at you for the next twenty years...' 

Some ideas are built to last.