A few weeks ago Seth Godin announced a KickStarter project that was quite successful in a matter of hours! He has since raised well over a quarter-a-million dollars for his new book, The iCarus Deception. The real kicker, his goal was only $40,000 ca-ching. (BTW Seth, what are you planning on doing with the overage from your goal? I’m thinking a philanthropic contribution, maybe books for underprivileged kids, or the Stop Stealing Dreams Foundation, just a thought……)
Godin created the KickStarter project as an experiment. He wanted to demonstrate a new method of publishing and marketing where you engage your audience, test interest and proceed with the big launch (or not) accordingly. He did it to prove a point to his publishers and boy did he ever; he built the project, “they” came and he succeeded in exceeding his goal. It kind of feels like a true Field of Dreams moment!
Allow me to recap the premise of the movie. This crazy Iowa farmer (played by Kevin Costner) starts cutting down his crops to build a baseball diamond. He keeps hearing a voice that whispers, “If you build it, he will come.”
So the guy continues down this insane path, all-the-while he’s jeopardizing his family’s livelihood. The weird thing is, he’s not even sure why he was doing this but he just has this strong compulsion to persevere and the hopes of an allusive vision coming to him from some mysterious voice.
Low and behold (spoiler alert), he completes the field and all these old school players making right on their shattered dreams appear…. There’s Shoeless Joe Jackson, Archie Graham……And people drive from all over to pay to see it because it reminds them of their youth. Oh, and he amends the tattered relationship with his father (no one ever seems to remember that part of the story though)!
The movie has sensationalized this notion that if you follow a dream, even a crazy one, and build something, the people will follow. By build something I mean a business of sorts. And by people I mean customers that quite literally just appear, which will of course make you rich. But were not in Hollywood and building a baseball field (or website, storefront, KickStarter project, etc) isn’t enough in-and-of-itself. What you build has to be deeper then that, more meaningful than bricks and mortar (physical or digital).
If you want to build something “they” will come to, then you have a lot of work to do. You have to create a movement of sorts, around an inspiring vision. You know, you have to lead the effort and market that Purple Cow! I think it is safe to say that Seth Godin is a modern thought leader. By my own observations, he’s followed these six steps for building his Field of Dreams.
- Inspire a shared vision (Kouzes and Posner) – You need to have a vision the your working to create for making the world better. I don’t actually know Seth Godin’s a vision for what he seeks to create in the world. But this is a vision I feel he has conveyed: Innovators in business that build relationships, are dedicated to learning, make creative use of technology and adept to change succeed.
- Challenge the process (Kouzes and Posner) – Well, if we’re going to be innovative that means we have to question the status quo and find new, better ways of doing things. You know, to boldly do something no man has done before!
- Build your tribe – The reality is, some people will love what you’re putting forth and other’s will think it is hogwash (forget about them). Connect with the people that get it, and want to be a part of your movement. Have a system to communicate with them. Provide value. Appeal equally to their emotions and their intellect.
- Demonstrate credibility, and expertise – This is a continual process of striving for improvement, delivering on your promises, walking the talk and practicing what you preach. It doesn’t mean you have to be perfect, but you have to admit fault and maybe even be vulnerable.
- Engage your tribe – Create timely calls to action. Give them something to do to contribute to your movement while giving them latitude to choose how to get involved. Ask for the sell!
- Keep at it!