He felt that we are all living through a revolution in business, which clients are certainly ignoring. To describe the nature of change today, he introduced the concept of "Perfect and Impossible," using the example of the music industry.
Then all of a sudden, a few short years ago, something impossible happened, and music industry as we all knew it is dead, due in large part to digital media.
Of course, while the revolution started in media, it is spreading to everything else - even eyeglasses - by creating consumer alternatives that previously were impossible.
How are legacy players responding? Seth brought out another metaphor: they are defending the castle, but the superhighway bypasses the castle. In other words, their first response is to work harder at their original tasks, but that doesn't solve the problem. What does?
Seth cited Adam Smith: scarcity creates value. In the case of ad-supported media, there is no longer any scarcity:
- number of ads viewed approaches infinity
- total ad spending flat, crushing unit prices
- media players can no longer hold their audiences hostage
- the cost of media delivery is approaching zero
The problem is that, as the economy developed, industries shifted from being capitalists to being industrialists - the emphasis was on being smooth and polished instead of being risk-takers.
In today's economy, companies have a choice - engage in a race to the bottom or to the top. The top will consist of a category of one. In a race to the bottom , the winner is the cheapest provider. In that case, the winner could actually be the loser - the risk could be that you win!
By contrast, a fashion-related business is a race to the top and to be the sole winner, presumably with premium margins as well. For example, Seth views Apple competing by using the fashion model.
Seth's recommendation to the room, therefore, was: Stop waiting to be selected for an established job, stop looking for an industrialized role in today's economy. The alternative: pick yourself, just as a fashion brand establishes itself.
He sees that true value is in The Connection Economy because connections are scarce. Value is therefore established by the number of people who listen to you and how many would miss you if you were gone.
Not surprisingly, Seth feels that big brands are blowing the opportunity to create real connections, but that it will take time and effort. If they don't have time to do it right, then they don't have time to do it over.
While industrialists own assets and want to defend them (see: Castle, above), the artists of the new economy ask what is the next interesting project. There is a land grab aspect to his because it is important to select a niche - as he said, it would be hard to be the next Seth Godin, and it probably best to look for the next category instead. For example, he does not use use Twitter, and someone else - Chris Brogan - took it instead.
Fortunately, Seth feels that there are lots of niches that need to be filled. Hopefully, that means that there are plenty of opportunities for those willing to take on the challenges of the new economy.