You, as a Verb. Part One
I still remember it, vividly. It was a hot Sunday morning in August, 2010. I noted how it was already “hot” as I sat on my deck, having coffee. Little did I know, I was about to have a life changing moment. My “Seth” moment.
(Please follow the “cut and paste” of my email exchanges below; I sanitized some of it for obvious reasons.)
On Aug 1, 2010, at 8:08 AM, Thomas A. Capone wrote:
I saw you on Ted.com and now I am off to buy all of your books. I hope to catch you live when you are in the NYC area. Good stuff. < ...and I hit………*send >
*******That was it. Done. I just felt compelled to send off this little missive to someone I did not know, so I did. I certainly did not expect a return. And now, back to my Cheerios.
From: Seth Godin
Sent: Sunday, August 01, 2010 8:46 AM
Subject: Re: thank you
45 Main Street 3R
Hastings on Hudson, NY 10706
Wait, what??? In less than an hour, on a Sunday morning, I’m getting a response to “that” email? Was this an auto-responder? If so, why the delay??? And so, I must return the volley!
On Aug 1, 2010, at 8:57 AM, Thomas A. Capone wrote:
I don’t know if this is “really Seth” or an autobot, but here goes....... I never bought any of your books. After watching you on Ted.com I am now compelled to buy them all. And I will – promise. I’ll fax you the receipt. My question is this: since you have so many books, would you recommend that one read them in any particular order? I thought that the order that I read them might make a difference, since things do change. I really am a “salesman” at heart, and I love the science of sales and marketing. If I could just sell sell sell all day long, I would be a happy camper. I am now signed up on your blog. Very cool stuff; I am in sync with your style.
So, if this is really Seth, you have a new fan.
If this is an autobot email responder, take the rest of the day off. Go ahead, Seth will understand.
Thomas A. Capone
Chairman & CEO
And then……… his return:
Sent: Sunday, August 01, 2010 9:17 AM
Subject: Re: thank you
salespeople will like All Marketers are Liars (new title All Marketers tell Stories) the most, followed by the Dip and Linchipin and Tribes and Purple Cow
45 Main Street 3R
Hastings on Hudson, NY 10706
fax 914 674 XXXX
Oh……….my……….God. I knew it was “him” since he misspelled Linchpin! A robot would not do that! I am emailing back and forth with Seth Godin. This is...happening.
And so, it began. I have a new pen pal. Sunday, August 1st, 2010. A day, that will live in infamy. No, wait. What is the OPPOSITE of infamy? Dignity, goodness, innocence, morality, righteousness, virtue? Oh, never mind. The ball was now in play!
I did not “know” this man; I knew “of” him. And, I knew enough about him that he must get a million emails from a million people, daily. And here he was, on a Sunday morning, hitting the email tennis ball back and forth across the net. With me.
2149 days have passed since that original email exchange.
A few days ago, my email to Seth:
Date: Fri, Jun 17, 2016 at 7:58 PM
Subject: 4th row
I was in the 4th row at Sales Machine. We were a sponsor.
Why would ANYONE ever agree to follow you on stage???????? ;-)
Simon pulled it off. But really, never follow Seth.
Date: Fri, Jun 17, 2016 at 9:36 PM
you're very kind, sir
and I think Simon did great!
Wow, approximately 90 minutes later, I get a response. From Seth. Not an assistant, but him. Maybe one of the busiest, most “in demand” people on the planet, replied to my email. As he has done dozens of times before. Folks, process this. By the way, we were talking about the amazing Simon Sinek of Ted.com fame, who followed Seth on stage.
After 2149 days of “Seth being Seth” he is still Seth. How many keynotes has he agreed to do, since August 1st, 2010? How many (more) best selling books has he published? He commits to writing and posting a daily blog. And to him, daily means - every day. Over the past 2149 days, we have become friends. Over the past 2149 days, we have added Seth (and all things Seth) to the NYDLA.org because it felt like the right thing to do for our global community. Introducing the world to “Seth” and all that he stands for, feels like a duty. My job. Introducing the world to Seth is like giving someone a shortcut to things that matter. Keeping Seth a secret feels, well, wrong. Seth Godin certainly does not need my help to “spread” his brand - but he does not turn it down, either.
And now, over the past 2149 days, many of Seth’s friends have become our friends.
You, as a Verb: Part Two
You hear it in movies, TV shows, among your friends and you probably say it yourself: "I Googled her before I called her." "I know because I Googled it." "What's the temperature in Fargo? Google it!"
But Google wants you — and the world — to stop using Google as “a verb” for looking up anything on the Internet — unless you actually used Google's search engine to do so.
Google became so good at what they do, that even if you used “another” search engine, you would be thinking you “Googled it”. With Google as the leading search engine, there's little doubt that we mean Google when we say we Googled something. As comedian Ellen DeGeneres said on her show, talking about technology's impact on our lives, "If you need to know something immediately, you can Google it now .... Ten years ago, if you said you were going to 'Google' someone, you got written up by Human Resources."
So, what can be bad about using "Google" as a verb for saying you looked up information on the Internet?
Ironically, because of Google's "significant brand recognition," the company "has started down the path of becoming synonymous with search engine services and, accordingly, towards the genericization of a trademark," wrote attorney Matthew Swyers, founder of a law firm specializing in trademark rights, in an article for Inc. last year.
A generic trademark, also known as a genericized trademark or proprietary eponym, is a trademark or brand name that has become the generic name for, or synonymous with, a general class of product or service, usually against the intentions of the trademark holder.
And becoming generic is bad because it threatens a company's legal right to a trademark.
Aspirin was originally a trademark of Bayer. Escalator was originally a trademark of the Otis Elevator Company. Even the word Zipper, at one time, was a trademark owned by B.F. Goodrich. Now, because of their respective fame and genericization, they merely refer to classes of products we see every day and do not identify the source of those goods.
Google became “a verb” because they honed their craft. Google became much better than the rest; they were understood to be “so good” that it simply became “the way” to do it.
I feel that there are many life (and business) lessons buried in today’s blog. As you can tell, I have become a huge fan of Seth Godin’s work, and it is still climbing. But the one lesson that stands out to me the most, the one concept that resonates, the one thing about this man that “should spread” (as Seth would say) can be summed up in only one word:
< Mic drop >
Simon Sinek following Seth Godin on stage