Act: Inspiration

What Could Possibly Go Right?: Episode 85 Seth Godin

September 27, 2022

Show Notes

Seth Godin is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, and speaker. In addition to launching one of the most popular blogs in the world, he has written 20 best-selling books, including The Dip, Linchpin, Purple Cow, Tribes, and What To Do When It’s Your Turn (And It’s Always Your Turn). His book, This is Marketing, was an instant bestseller in countries around the world. The newest book, The Practice, came out at the end of 2020 and became another bestseller. Most recently, he organized the all-volunteer community project, The Carbon Almanac.

By focusing on everything from effective marketing and leadership, to the spread of ideas and changing everything, Seth has been able to motivate and inspire countless people around the world. 

He addresses the question of “What Could Possibly Go Right?” with thoughts including:

  • The Carbon Almanac project and book, “a powerful tool to help us create change, right here and right now”
  • That humanity finds ways to solve problems and live with situations, and perseverance is our best (and only) option
  • That we’re not just in the audience; we’re participants with power
  • The Rogers Curve of idea adoption and how it applies to activism
  • That systemic change will come not from solo personal action, but from organizing groups towards common goals


Connect with Seth Godin





My best day is a day spent trying to solve a problem. If we want to, we can wring our hands, say we’re all doomed. Or we can say, I did my best. I showed up today and I made a contribution.

Vicki Robin

Hi, Vicki Robin here, host of What Could Possibly Go Right, a project of the Post Carbon Institute. We interview cultural scouts and social artists, to help us all see over the horizon and act on behalf of the common good.

My guest today is Seth Godin. Seth is an entrepreneur, speaker and best selling author of 19 books translated into 35 languages that have changed the way people think about marketing and work. I invited Seth to be our guest because of his most recent book, The Carbon Almanac. When representing the book Your Money or Your Life for a decade, driving it to being an international best seller; to address consumerism, I used to say the future belongs to the marketers, that ideas worth spreading don’t spread if they misaligned with human motivation and needs. Seth knows how to sell and, in this case, remove the barriers to everyone everywhere selling the changes needed to preserve our beautiful life on earth.

He says of this book – and I want to read it so that you have an orientation – and I will say that the conversation you’re going to hear is really powerful. He says, the climate is the fundamental issue of our time. And now we face a critical decision whether to be optimistic or fatalistic, whether to profess scepticism or to take action. Yet it seems we can barely agree on what’s really going on, let alone what needs to be done. We urgently need facts, not opinions; insights, not statistics; and a shift from thinking about climate change as a me problem, to a we problem.

The Carbon Almanac is a once in a lifetime collaboration between hundreds of writers, researchers, thinkers and illustrators that focuses on what we know, what has come before and what might happen next. Drawing on over 1000 data points, the book uses cartoons, quotes, illustrations, tables, histories and articles to lay out carbon’s impact on our food system, ocean acidity, agriculture, energy, biodiversity, extreme weather events, the economy, human health, and best and worst case scenarios. Visually engaging and built to share, The Carbon Almanac is the definitive source for facts and the basis for global movement to fight climate change. This isn’t what the oil companies want, or the marketers and activists or politicians want you to believe. This is what’s really happening right now.

Our planet is in trouble and no one concern group, corporation, country or hemisphere can address this on its own. Self interest only increases the problem. We are in this together and it’s not too late for concerted collective action for change. And now Seth.

Seth Godin, thank you for joining me for What Could Possibly Go Right?, conversations with cultural scouts and social artists to help us see over the horizon and act for the common good. So first, let me join the chorus in thanking you for your new book The Carbon Almanac, a resource for climate change makers. Besides the well researched and accessible short essays, it is the how of the book that fascinates me. You’re a best selling author, wildly bestselling author, but you hosted the book with 300 contributors in a global community eager to make change. You host it, and your website is set up for constant updating and correction of the data. It is a living project and the book is the initial, not the ultimate source for it. It’s like the sequel is built into the website and expanding community. It’s a book, it’s a call to action and actions and activists, and a learning community all in one. But that is not where I want to focus.

What I noticed is that at this 11th hour and 59th minute, leaders like you from many fields are bringing your knowledge and networks to bear on this global threat. The proverbial cavalry has arrived is or is arriving, and the movements for the last half century have tried many things. From congressional testimony, to the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit, to the world scientists’ warning to humanity, to many hundreds of conferences and thousands of academic papers and speeches, to protest movements that have grown to hundreds of thousands of people on the street, to Greta’s school strike, to Extinction Rebellion, and here we are on the brink.

So now you bring your brilliance at marketing and motivation. I want to know about your theory of change, your observation about what’s been missing and the assumptions behind The Carbon Almanac strategy. I noticed in the book that you cite the Everett Rogers Curve of social innovation that posits that cumulative, individual adoptions of change will, at a certain point, make change unstoppable. So you promote many individual citizen actions, most about the embedded energy consumption, our way of life, but a sense that you are more interested in people are working together in groups and movements, that collective action is the key.

So what does your approach to change bring to motivate and collective action at the scale we need? Is it information well presented, political pressure, consumer pressure, citizens strikes, buzz, intersectionality, influencers, Tik Tok, more activists? Or is it not actions, but something else? So here we go. In the midst of all that seems to be going awry, Seth,  what could possibly go right?

Seth Godin

What a beautiful rant and riff, I could listen to you all day. And I haven’t said this in public and forgive me. But your book about the story we tell ourselves about money has changed the lives of so many people. If anyone who’s listening to this who hasn’t read this, you go buy three copies and give two of them away. It’s so powerful, and so thank you for that as well.

What could possibly go right? One of the things that social media and then traditional media following in their footsteps have sold us, is that if we are not upset and sad, we don’t care. And therefore, if you want to be someone who cares, you have to be angry, upset, or sad. They sort of took out from that rant, the fact that, A) they make a profit from that a significant profit every day, that they exist to make us upset and eager for the next piece of news. And B) you can still care, but make today count.

And so what could possibly go right is simple. When I was born, we were less than 10 seconds away from the Earth ending in a nuclear disaster. When I moved to Buffalo, New York, when I was five, there was – thanks to Holkar chemical – a giant toxic waste dump at Love Canal that was causing unnumbered birth defects, and was a triumph of industrialism over humanity. Go down the list of the things that we survived in the 60s, in the 70s, in the 80s, a war that killed millions of people around the world and on and on. Through it all, what we learn is that perseverance is not only the only option, it is our best option; that humanity when faced with a problem that they understand, tends to figure out a way to solve the problem. And also tends to live with a situation because there are lots of situations in our life we can’t do anything about, and there are also problems that we can solve.

My take on it is this. I don’t know if it’s a problem or a situation, all I know is my best day is a day spent trying to solve a problem. If we want to we can wring our hands say we’re all doomed, go ahead and pump some methane into the air, what the hell. Or we can say, I did my best. I showed up today and I made a contribution, that I spoke up, that I led, that I connected, that I contributed. It feels to me like if we do that with an open heart and an open mind, we can actually live a powerful life.

So what could go right seems to me is that we can get back to the days that we’re proud of, and not be sports fans in a professional wrestling arena, but instead realize we’re not just in the audience. We are participants and each of us has way more power now than any human has had in the history of the world. The real question is, what are you going to do with it? Do you want to be a pawn of someone who’s divisive? A pawn of a media company that’s trying to make you sad? Or do you want to realize today’s the only day you get and you could possibly probably powerfully do something with it?

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So that’s why I hosted – your word, a beautiful word – this project. And as you and I talk, we need to divide me Seth Godin – who is a marketer who looks at culture and who I think understands science, I’m a trained engineer – and the 300 now 1900 colleagues I had, who built this Almanac because every page in the Almanac is footnoted. But every page in the Almanac was not written by me, not by a longshot.

So, you mentioned Everett Rogers, and we should rant about that a little bit. But I have a point of view personally, about what people who care can and should do. I’m happy to share that. But the purpose of the Almanac is not to have a point of view. It’s simply to say, the oil companies, the plastics companies, and the politicians don’t want you to understand what is actually happening. They want you to believe it’s too complicated, too complicated and you can’t be dealing with it. Let someone else do it. The purpose of the Almanac is to decode it in a simple way, for 15 bucks. We don’t make a penny, so that you can be smart enough to have a conversation. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Vicki Robin

Wow, there’s a lot in what you just said. You did a litany that was very revelatory. You said, if people will speak up, if they will lead and if they will be connected – I actually think that – and you said the word conversation. So I think those four things are actually your theory of change. In a way, if you look at sort of the graph, of the people who will stand by an accident, and say, Oh, but do nothing. And the people, even if they’re not a trained EMT, who will crouch down next to the person and see what they can do. That relationship of uh-oh to action is probably about 95% to 5%, or 99% to 1%.

And so, one of the things I’m thinking about from what you said, because you said a lot, and that little bit is that, what is it that’s going on for the 99% of people who just say, Oh, and you said something about, we need to be proud of ourselves. I wonder if there is something like a collective shame, that we are ashamed of ourselves in the presence of something we should be doing something about we haven’t, and it’s getting worse. And we know in our individual psychology, how toxic shame is. Shame will prevent you from doing anything, because you don’t want to feel more of it, so it’s a formula for burying.

So what is the invitation? It’s not the expectation get up, have a conversation. It’s not the expectation, because we’ve known exhorting for a long time. But is it a healing of the sort of collective psyche, of the despondency? How in your own life when you’re despondent, you sink into the very actions that are creating the despondency? So what is the heart intervention?

Seth Godin

There are forces in our country that have been shaming women for a really long time. One of the most recent ones is the whole issue of reproductive freedom. They turned a personal choice into something that they said was shameful. It actually led a large number of people to not speak up. When we think about carbon footprint; carbon footprint, which I believe, is one of the single most effective marketing campaigns of my lifetime, was invented by British Petroleum and Ogilvy and Mather to make people feel shame.

The reason they invented it, and the reason it works, is simple. Because if you feel like a hypocrite, you are less likely to speak up. So therefore, the message is clean up your own house, make sure you’ve never been on an aeroplane, you don’t own a car, you’re vegan, you compost everything, you have no children; until you’ve done all those things, we don’t want to hear from you. That’s why they invented it. And the thing is, that was 40 years ago, pushing the wealthy privileged people of the West to consume a little bit less, so they feel a little bit less shame, has worked beautifully for the oil company. Because during that 40 year period of time, what we have not done is eliminating the $50 billion in annual tax subsidies that go to the beef industry. We have not organized to remove the huge tax breaks to go to the oil and gas industry. We have persisted in standing by when they build coal plants because no one felt clean enough to speak up.

So what I believe is that it is not too late. But it will require systemic change, not individual change. The systemic change is very, very simple, and really hard to do. What we need to do is organize and charge a fair price for carbon. That’s it, that if we charged a fair price for carbon, meaning we incorporated in the price of everything you bought, what it would cost us to breathe the air after you buy it, dispose of it after you use it, and live a life 10 years from now after the repercussions of the carbon you burned or in the air, we charged a fair price for carbon, on market, which is incredibly powerful.

Capitalism, which is a brilliant market-sensing device, would take less than a week to shift gears. What would happen is, if things cost what they were supposed to cost, people would make the decisions that they should make not a few people who care, but all the people. That’s not going to happen if we just shame ourselves or our neighbor, because they bought a Corvette. That’s not the way we’re going to make this problem better.

We’re also not going to make it better if we fall for the story of direct air capture for carbon, which is physically impossible using the technology that we know. We’re not going to do it when we listen to an oil company say they intend to be carbon neutral by 2030, because they’re putting up a bunch of solar panels. They know they’re not going to be, but they also know there’ll be retired before that. So what I am personally believing is that the simple act is we simply need to have a conversation to people, five people, 10 people, 40 people, 100 people. It only takes 3% of the population to change the way democracy rules. If 3% of the people show up and show up and show up and show up, the democracy will change what it does.

Any politician is running for any office, the first, second and third question they should get asked needs to be about the price of carbon, over and over and over again. That when people decide to protest an issue, the first issue they need to protest is what’s the price of carbon. That if we organize around that 10 million of us could change the course of this country.

Vicki Robin

So there’s a lot to unpack in what you just said. What I hear is the strategy of the Citizens Climate Lobby, which people can look up, I’m not going to explain it right now. But sort of identifying the single most important action and organizing people in communities to write op eds, to raise the question with their politicians. Frankly, that hasn’t taken off yet. So that’s the first thing I want to say. Even though that’s a brilliant idea, there’s a missing piece here.

But the other thing I want to say is that, and this is when I was like promoting Your Money or Your Life for a decade, every time I would get on an aeroplane, I would make a prayer for the pilot when we took off. Then I would have another prayer for landing which was, may all the people who are in this aeroplane achieve what they are travelling to achieve, even if it is all self-cancelling. In other words, in other words, the one about “Never doubt that a small group of concerned citizens can change the world.” Yeah, we have very large groups of concerned citizens that are in the thrall of the Maga crowd, the election was stolen.

So, one of the things that – I’m sort of in the motivational businesses – one of the things that we don’t take into account in raising consciousness and encouraging people to get out there is that there’s lots of other people getting out there with completely contrary messages, that you could say are dupes of the industry, and they think we’re dupes of something as well. So there are forces bearing down on us that are resisting the good concerted effort of people who’ve had their consciousness raised. So, Seth?

Seth Godin

So here, let’s do an advanced PhD level marketing class here, because you’re asking really good questions. This is Rogers Curve. For those of you who are listening, what it shows is that there’s a bell curve, and all bell curves look the same. There’s about 68% of the people in the middle of the bell curve, that’s the big bulge of the snake who just had a gerbil beat. That’s the early majority.

And the late majority, these are people who do stuff because it works. Now they have Netflix. They didn’t have Netflix three years ago, they have Netflix now. Then there’s 2.5% percent of the people, these are innovators. These are people who get stuff because it’s new, not because it works. And then there’s the early adopters who listen to the innovators, but they wait until it’s ready for primetime.

Then there’s about 15% of people who don’t want any change, they have a 12 flashing on their VCR. The thing that’s important to understand about this is that when you show up and say to a group, we’re doing something new, who wants to come? Never, ever, ever will more than 3% of the people raise their hand. They just won’t, because they are the small group of people that like to go first when it’s an exploration. That last group, the 16% of the laggards, the ones who don’t want to change, those are the people who are fighting tooth and nail to keep things the way they are.

We need to shun the non-believers, just ignore those people. It’s not about them, it’s not for them. The real question is, what do we say to people who care about their lives – their families, the things around them – are willing to change, aren’t sitting there watching tapes on their VCR, but are confused by what’s happening around them? One of the challenges is that environmentalism for a really long time has been trying to sell less, do less, because you are shameful. And everything else in our culture is about more. Right? When you show up to people who are living a life that they are enjoying, and you say you’re doing it all wrong, you should feel shame. Well, what a surprise that they don’t want to hear from you.

So the question is, how do we say to people, that leaf blower you’re using, it’s noisy, it’s expensive, it’s hot, and it’s inefficient. This electric leaf blower is not only faster and cheaper and quieter, but it will make you look cool in front of the neighbors. That conversation augmented by the fact that in our town, leaf blowers are against the law, means that there’s a whole bunch of people that are ready to embrace an electric leaf bow.

That when we think electric cars were around long before the Tesla ship, but what the crazy Elon Musk did with the Model S was brilliant, which is as soon as the first Model S started driving in California, it broke every Mercedes on the road. The way it broke the Mercedes is the person who’s driving the Mercedes five minutes ago thought that they were wealthy, high status and efficient. Then they got passed by a car that was quieter, faster and more efficient, and higher status. So it didn’t take long for it to be the number one best selling luxury card of California. Because it wasn’t, hey Mercedes driver, you’re doing a shameful thing you should do less. It was an offer about how to do more.

So now we’ve got coal. Now you got wind and solar that’s cheaper than coal or gas. So the pitch to people is, would you like more for your money? Or do you want to stick with the old thing that’s broken? And so there are lots of ways to tell a story that isn’t about shame and less. It can be about opportunity. It can be about status, and it can be about affiliation. So when Ford Motor brings out the F150 Lightning pickup truck this month around now, a whole bunch of people who aren’t environmentalists are going to buy one because it has five electrical outlets, because it’s $38,000, because it’s a great truck, and it will also raise their status with people they want their status raised with. Those same people we’re burning diesel fuel and make them black smoke because that raise their status.

So we need to decode what is on offer. There are politicians who have been terrible about this in the past, and others who have sort of lucked into it. But human beings care about status and affiliation. We need to do a better job of telling them stories that resonate, as the ideas spread, because most stories don’t spread. Most stories get stuck. A bunch of early adopters buy it because it’s new, and then it doesn’t go anything after that. It’s only a few stories that crossed Jeff Moore’s chasm and reach larger numbers of people.

Vicki Robin

Right. So this is a great message, fundamentally, for people who have surplus, money and attention and status. It’s an argument for people like us, usually light skinned, educated wealthy people. And yes, it may trickle down to that, fourth quarter, the later adopters…

Seth Godin

I have to interrupt you. I’m so sorry. No, you misunderstood. Laggards are not poor.

Vicki Robin

No, I’m talking about the late adopters, not the laggards,

Seth Godin

The laggards and the later adopters are not poor. They are not. There are plenty of rich people who live in red states. It’s not about… well, so I’ve worked with Acumen for 20 years, a nonprofit that has helped hundreds of millions of the poorest people in the world, $3 a day around the world. If you show up in a village, and you say, Water Health International now has a pump where you can get clean water, instead of dirty water, which takes you a long time to get and make you and your family sick. You can see right there in this little village in India, where nobody has a PhD and nobody looks like me. 20% of the people will line up to get the water the first day it’s available. 15% of the people will get the water after they hear from the 2.5%. 16% of the people will never get the clean water.

And it’s exactly the same curve. Exactly. I saw it with my own eyes. So how do you get how do you get the people in the middle of the masses, to get the water? Well, here’s what you do. Number one, you don’t let anybody get the water in the jerrycan that they’re used to using when they go to they have to get with their first order. A bright yellow jerrycan. Why is that? Well, they say it’s because we don’t want to fill up a dirty container. That’s not really the reason. The reason is because as you’re walking around the village with your yellow container, you have more status, because you are able to say, without using any words, I care about my family.

Secondly, what they did is they bought microscopes for the fourth grade, in whatever village they entered, because the fourth grade teacher could then run a class putting drops of water on a slide, projecting it on the wall and showing the kids what was in the water that they had been drinking and what could be in the water. Those kids go home to their parents and they say my friend’s parents are getting this water, why aren’t we? A status opportunity.

And then once enough people in the village who have status are carrying around a yellow container, the other people say, wait a second, it would pay for itself in medical bills, it’s going to pay for itself in the time it takes me to walk two hours to pick up the water. I’m going to do it too. I was right all along. I just didn’t do it first. And as a result, the idea of moves to the community.

This has nothing to do with schooling, or income or skin color. It has to do with what lens do you see the world through. How are you choosing to spend your time and your money? And what happened in the environmental movement is, it goes all the way back to there was a schism in the 1940s and 50s, where the loudest voices were coming from the zero population growth people and the anti-capitalism people because at some level, they were right. But another level they were trying to sell something that other people didn’t want to buy.

And what is happening now is this confluence thanks to technology, culture, marketing, all at the same time, where you can actually increase your income, your status and your affiliation, more joy, more stuff, by figuring out how to systemically change the world so that you’re off the grid. Right? There are plenty of people in Missouri and Texas who want to be off the grid. That’s not a political issue. But being off the grid means you’re now getting your power from somewhere other than on the grid, add that up, add that up, add that up. But it has to happen systemically, we’re not going to have it happen because you and I voluntarily become vegetarian.

Vicki Robin

I sit corrected, thank you very much. Still, so what I’m hearing now is that a an innovator, like this organization Acumen informed by Seth strategies is sort of the positive pathogen of change, if you will. An innovator. So is one of the things that you’re hoping to happen is that more people have confidence in their own cool ideas, and try to vet them in the marketplace of possibility, and so more innovators, more innovations surface? Or is it teaching innovation mindset in villages, so that they come up with the yellow jerry cans? I mean, we’re talking about it’s the 11th hour, 59th minute, and I think 59th second.

So I feel like what you have the capability of doing and aiming at is a scaling strategy, that you’re not just interested in sort of an arithmetic change, you’re interested in logarithmic change. So let’s dig. If we take Vicki’s example, she’s here, hair has been on fire for 30 years, so she’s not a good example. But, somebody says, Okay, I’m going to talk to my neighbor, I’m going to screw up my courage and I’m going to talk to my neighbor. So that conversation strategy has to be part of a bucket of strategies or a basket of strategies. It’s a piece, that’s what I’m talking about. I’m interested in your theory of change. How are we, who care so deeply, spent decades of our lives… what’s that secret sauce, that thing that takes us over?

Seth Godin

So I wrote 20 books about what you just described, trying to teach people who I gave the benefit of the doubt, were trying to make things better, how to show up and change the culture. Some of my biggest thrills are watching nonprofits do that. Some of my biggest heartbreaks are watching evil politicians misuse what I’ve written about. That’s not what we’re saying in the Almanac.

What we’re saying the Almanac is, there are a group of people, let’s call it a million Americans, who are already living a life where they are trying through example, to make a difference. They’re composting, they’re vegetarians. They’re doing this, they’re doing that. What I personally am saying to them is, just make it Meatless Monday in your school next week, or the week after that? How many people would you have to organize, to get your school cafeteria to have a Meatless Monday? And after you do that, the group you organized, do you think you could ban leaf blowers in your town? And after you do that, the group…

So it’s not a me problem? It’s a we problem. So we’re just talking to the people who already get the job, not one person who doesn’t care about the environment is going to buy this book. But if someone buys this book, and hands it to five people who are simply uninformed, not opposed but uninformed, something will change. And now, and then you can say, this is the thing on our list.

If I look at how cultural change has happened in our country, whether it’s gay marriage, or gun rights, whichever side you want to look at; it takes two decades. And you don’t have an emergency. Day after day after day, you say, this group – not very big – is going to change this little system and this little system until people say, How did that happen? They boil the frog. And so we’ve been talking about 2030 for a long time, but it hasn’t worked. I wrote my first blog post about climate change 16 years ago, it didn’t work. Because saying it or personally lowering your footprint isn’t the answer. The answer is who you are going to organize.

Well, I spent a year of my life. I organized over 1000 people, we produced the thing to enable the next group. If that happens with 10,000 people, not one, you will have 10,000 times the impact. Who are you going to organize? What systemic change? Are you going to lead? That is what we need not for you to make a donation to one candidate, not for you to change your personal bank, I hope you do, because it will send a message. But to figure out how to organize a protest in front of the bank, that is funding all the fossil fuel companies because… you know how many protests they’d have to have a Chase Bank before the CEO would know about it? A dozen, right? Sooner or later, the CEO of Chase is gonna say that it’s not worth it. The return isn’t that good. Just stop. That’s what’s missing.

Vicki Robin

I want to challenge you on that one, because I’ve stood in front of Chase Bank. I know that so many groups are in the divesting movement, in the protesting movement. So many people have stood in front of so many branches of Chase Bank. And I don’t know, whether you’re saying, Oh, well, it just hasn’t happened yet. You know, it’s just one more protest.

Seth Godin

I’m saying that we, as culturally aware, people might be more aware of what is happening right on our doorstep and in our kitchen, then the world is. I have been in the boardrooms of a very, very big company, and they know, when people are calling them on the phone, there is a level of noise that they live with, or that they don’t live with. I know how many phone calls need to have come in, how many accounts need to be lost, before the brand manager is freaking out. And then the brand managers boss is freaking out. And corporations, Milton Friedman being the fake Nobel Prize-winning evil narrator for them, care a bunch about making a profit, but they mostly care about being able to do their job again tomorrow. They don’t want to get in trouble.

And the thing is that even the biggest corporations understand that their future depends on not getting in trouble tomorrow. They keep their head down and they don’t want to have a fight. So no, I am not arguing that we need violent protests in the streets. What I’m saying is, if the people who cared actually spend time organizing, instead of spending time comparing one vegan option to another, it would make a bigger difference. That’s my data.

Vicki Robin

So I’m going to tell you a little bit, I’m actually sort of requesting coaching because I have your attention, but not exactly. So here’s a story that’s unfolding right now in my community. I live on Whidbey Island, on South Whidbey Island, a long, skinny island. South Whidbey, there are four shopping plazas. One of them, weakened by the pandemic, not the upscale one, was identified in 2021 by a venture capital company as a target to turn it into self storage. So when our thrift store that supports our food bank, announced that it had to close because their rent had gone up by $7,000. The community started on social media to have their hair on fire.

I’ve done enough organizing, I didn’t want to lead the charge. But I said, Okay, I will host one Zoom meeting, whoever wants to show up. We’re going to divide into interest groups, and if leadership emerges and projects emerge, great. That’s happening now. And we’ve identified this venture capital company, we found their website and their public face is this Osprey management from Las Vegas. We went to their website, we saw their commitment. We’re buying shopping malls, and we’re protecting mom and pop shops. And we’re calling b.s, and now letters and phone calls are going to that company saying, Are you living your values? So basically, this part of the strategy, which I did not create, it’s created out of the group, is exactly that kind of reputational cost. So what’s the next thing that we need to do?

Seth Godin

We are off the topic. I’m rooting for you. My short version is, you’re not their customer. And because you’re not their customer, they understand they can outlast you. And their reputational risk is tiny, because what they care about is their reputation with the banks that give them money, and the partners who do business with them. There’s a long history of outlasting people online whose hair is on fire. So the challenge, then the differentiation that I’m trying to make is this. We, as people who want to be progressive and careful, have over the last 60 or 100 years, demonstrated that we wait ’till it’s an emergency and then we run around like crazy.

Slacktivism is rife. And the issue… you know, the baby seals? When’s the last time someone talked about the baby seals, right? They were all the rage, Greenpeace and everything else, and they went away. So people who are seeking profit maximization in a certain direction, understand there are certain things that they can outlast. What we are trying to do in our conversation right here is say, how can we build a systemic, long term shift? So that it becomes clear to rational profit seeking individuals that they cannot outlast that movement? You could not last the fight against Moore’s law, or the internet, if you’re a travel agent. No way it was over. And if you were smart, it was over. If you’re a newspaper, you saw what’s happening, you can’t beat that.

So how do we make this happen? Because guess what? The chemistry, the planetary science, that’s all going in one direction, it’s clearly going to keep getting worse. What are we going to do, to amplify to bring that into the present, so that our fellow humans who have to live on the same planet, as we do will realize that the path toward more the path toward better is actually the same path that we would like to be on? Right? That is what is going to shift the way these organizations behave.

I need to wrap this up. But the short version is this. If anybody is listening to you, it’s because they care. And if you’re frustrated, and I was, and if you’re feeling under informed, and I was, and if you’re not sure about how to talk about things with confidence; that’s why we made the Almanac. And the Almanac doesn’t have a plan, it doesn’t say, step by step, this is what to do, because if we had a plan, the problem would have gone away already.

It’s a problem that doesn’t yet have a clear step by step solution. That’s what we need you for, which is how is the reader of this gonna organize 5 or 10 or 15 people to book group, and then turn that book group into a group that changes one law or principle or changes the way one member of Congress acts or changes the way one airline decides to price things? And then we will multiply that, but we’re not going to get there by treating this emergency like an emergency. We’re gonna get there by treating it like a movement.

Vicki Robin

Wow, thank you so much, is it sort of like a collective coaching session, I use my example not for personal trying to get my thing in. But of course, very good to hear your response to the best we’ve been able to do it on an emergency basis here on our island. I sort of have some clues here. But not only that, I think that everybody who listens to this podcast, the executive director of Post Carbon Institute calls “the walking worried”, and in a way, they’re people who if I only have more information, I’m just going to keep having more information. This, I think, is taking us out of the information will help bubble and into something where we can actually change things. So I really appreciate the sets so very much.

Seth Godin

Thank you so much. I appreciate you, Vicki.

Vicki Robin

Vicki Robin is a prolific social innovator, writer, speaker, and host of the What Could Possibly Go Right? podcast. She is coauthor with Joe Dominguez of the international best-seller, Your Money or Your Life: Transforming Your Relationship With Money and Achieving Financial Independence (Viking Penguin, 1992, 1998, 2008, 2018). And author of Blessing the Hands that Feed Us; Lessons from a 10-mile diet (Viking Penguin, 2013), which recounts her adventures in hyper-local eating and what she learned about food, farming, belonging, and hope. Vicki has lectured widely and appeared on hundreds of radio and television shows, including “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” “Good Morning America,” and National Public Radio’s “Weekend Edition” and “Morning Edition.” She has also been featured in hundreds of magazines including People Magazine, AARP, The Wall Street Journal, Woman’s Day, Newsweek, Utne Magazine, and the New York Times. She currently lives on Whidbey Island in the Puget Sound and is active in her community on a range of social and environmental issues including affordable housing, local food, and community investing. For fun, she is a comedy improv actress, sings in a choir, gardens, and nurtures a diverse circle of friends.

Tags: environmental activism, social change, theory of change