How Seth Godin Manages His Life — Rules, Principles, and Obsessions (#138)

Seth Godin (Photo: Brian Bloom)
(Photo: Brian Bloom)

“We can’t out-obedience the competition.” – Seth Godin

I expected this episode to be amazing, and Seth 10x’d expectations. He’s incredible.

Seth Godin (@thisissethsblog) is the author of 17 bestselling books that have been translated into more than 35 languages. He writes about the way ideas spread, marketing, strategic quitting, leadership, and — most of all — challenging the status quo in all areas. His books include Linchpin, Tribes, The Dip, Purple Cow, and What to Do When it’s Your Turn (and it’s Always Your Turn).

Seth has founded several companies, including Yoyodyne and Squidoo. His blog (which you can find by typing “Seth” into Google) is one of the most popular in the world. In 2013, Godin was inducted into the Direct Marketing Hall of Fame. Recently, Godin turned the book publishing world on its ear by launching a series of four books via Kickstarter. The campaign reached its goal in just three hours and became the most successful book project in Kickstarter history.

If you only have a couple of minutes, you should definitely listen to this segment on how to handle life transitions.

In this episode, we cover dozens of topics and stories, including some he’s never discussed publicly before. Here’s a small sample:

  • A list of the audiobooks he listens to repeatedly, some once per month
  • His morning routine, breakfast, dietary habits, and email processing
  • Meditative practices
  • Why he’s fixated on and mastered coffee and vodka, despite the fact that he consumes neither
  • Suggestions for going from “wantrepreneur” to entrepreneur
  • How to determine if you’re better off a “freelancer” or “entrepreneur,” and the differences in his mind
  • Why he has the most impressive cookbook collection our mutual chef friends have ever seen
  • His rules for saying “no” to opportunities, how he thinks about public speaking, etc.
  • His recipe for honey oatmeal vodka, and his favorite chocolates in the world
  • Thoughts on improving how parents educate their children
  • General philosophies and guidelines he uses for life management


You can find the transcript of this episode here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

#138: How Seth Godin Manages His Life -- Rules, Principles, and Obsessions

Want to hear another podcast related to leadership and marketing? — Listen to my conversation with Derek Sivers. In my conversation with Seth Godin, he mentions that this was his favorite episode. “I love Derek,” were his exact words. In this podcast, Derek discusses developing confidence, finding happiness, and saying “no” to millions (stream below or right-click here to download):

#125: Derek Sivers on Developing Confidence, Finding Happiness, and Saying "No" to Millions

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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What advice from Seth did you find most helpful? More importantly, how will you apply it to your life? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Selected Links from the Episode

Show Notes

  • How Seth Godin prepares coffee and vodka [5:05]
  • The story behind the most impressive cookbook collection [9:37]
  • Seth’s most recommended cookbooks and methods [11:32]
  • On railing against various industrial complexes [15:07]
  • How Seth Godin consumes media [18:07]
  • Seth Godin’s rules for speaking engagements and why he developed them [20:42]
  • How to navigate big transitions in life [28:07]
  • On the decision to publish a daily blog [31:24]
  • Seth Godin’s writing process [33:07]
  • Seth Godin’s top business decisions [38:44]
  • Discerning between good and bad ideas [42:44]
  • Determining if you should not become an entrepreneur [48:30]
  • How Seth Godin processes email [51:44]
  • The philosophy of categorically saying ‘no’ to specific distractions [57:32]
  • Why everyone should blog every day [1:01:42]
  • The opportunities Seth Godin is happy he said ‘no’ to [1:04:49]
  • The story of money [1:06:38]
  • When you hear the word successful, who is the first person that comes to mind and why? [1:09:49]
  • Things that Seth Godin has changed his mind about [1:10:40]
  • Things that Seth Godin believes that most people would find crazy [1:11:52]
  • Most gifted books [1:12:24]
  • What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted Seth’s life [1:24:34]
  • Seth Godin’s eating habits and morning rituals [1:30:34]
  • The value of having an office [1:32:37]
  • What would Seth do to educate children [1:34:22]
  • Suggested practices for overwhelmed parents [1:37:34]
  • Seth Godin’s current projects [1:38:52]
  • Who helps tell Seth Godin when he is wrong [1:43:32]
  • What advice would you give to your 30-year-old self [1:45:49]
  • How Seth Godin gets over periods of discomfort [1:47:29]
  • Seth Godin’s meditation process [1:49:47]
  • If you could put one billboard anywhere, with anything on it, where would it be and what would it say? [1:53:01]
  • Seth Godin on commencement speeches [1:53:02]
  • Asks or requests of you, the listener [1:54:58]
  • Talking about the almond cookies [1:56:38]

People Mentioned

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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142 Replies to “How Seth Godin Manages His Life — Rules, Principles, and Obsessions (#138)”

  1. Great podcast Tim, so much truth into it. I admire Seth for a long time and it literally opened my eyes with the online courses .. being a non completer myself. Thank you so much !

  2. What an episode. I made an appointment with myself and spared one-to-one time for this episode to give it the attention it deserves.

    Seth Godin is so on target about social media sites. I tried to use them for networking but finally realized they are just waste of time. I quit fb completely. I now use twitter only to follow updates from some writers, artists, and local events. People just drain your energy with their constant complaints, entitled attitudes and self-absorbed selfies. Look at me culture. I keep wondering how come people never get tired of seeing the same people’s faces over and over every single day. I need to miss people.

    As for inspiration to write, once a famous comedian said (can’t remember his name) that he lost inspiration after being famous and rich because he lost touch with ordinary life where he used to get his ideas, like getting in subway and observing people. Something to think about. I feel so inspired since I moved to New York last summer. It is a melting pot. Glad Godin also mentioned it as one of the greatest cities in the world.

    Have a great weekend. xx

  3. One of the best interviews of Seth Godin I’ve ever had, and one of the best podcast episodes. Thank you TF!

  4. Thanks, Tim! I love you both… You guys are self-engineered Gurus. I try every day to build habits and mindset to get the best out of myself. Thanks for so many great podcasts 🙂

  5. G’day! this has to be the best podcast you’ve done so far, and the best i think i’ve ever heard. SO much good stuff in there, like life altering stuff. it’s one i’ll re-listen to a couple of times. Great interview mate.

  6. EXISTENTIAL CRISIS ADDICT: tell me more. Tim, what’s the deal with this? It’s not an easy concept to deep dive google search – that powerful and scary and untethered and epic adrenalized feeling that comes from telling your partner you’re done, saying “f you” to a job before you have the “f you” money saved, even listening to a song or seeing a movie during which you REALIZE you are about to do those things I just mentioned, or—dare I say it—falling in love. They are all similar, and often temporally linked.

    And I think that feeling is (probably unfortunately) habit-forming.

  7. Hey guys! Absolutely obsessed with this podcast!! I’m so excited that I’m going to be able to hear Seth Godin speak in person this August, if any fellow New Yorkers want to join me he will be speaking at StartingBloc’s Institute this August in NYC!

  8. Absolutely love Seth! Can’t wait to hear him in person this upcoming August! If any other Seth Godin fans want to join me, I’ll be attending the StartingBloc NY’17 Institute that Seth is speaking at!

  9. Amazing. A great reminder to focus on a passion and dive deep instead of spreading yourself too thin. Sometimes you have to slow down to go faster.

  10. Hello There, Thanks Tim. I Have been a huge fan since 2007.What is the deck of cards that Seth refers to around 39 min into the interview? I am an artist and this would be of great interest. Yurik

  11. Tim and Seth, it was a pleasure to listen to your conversation. You asked very good questions, Tim.

  12. When Seth describes how he wore out 72 cassettes of his mentor Zig Ziglar, and had to buy a whole new $500 set….back in the days when he could barely afford to buy such a thing….reminds me of how I have begun to use this one podcast interview of Seth Godin by Tim Ferriss. I am a forty something mom of four and have to dig hard to find anything worth listening to up here in suburbia, and this ONE podcast episode I have saved on my phone for over a year and listened to more times that I can count. I have found that it grounds me and makes me feel like the world is a good place that is ready for my quirky innovations. Honesty never goes out of style… I need to say thank you to Tim and Seth for being yourselves and being generous enough to share your journey in spoken word.

    Peace in Christ,


  13. Tim – you need to revisit Seth’s recommended book “Debt”, and then get Tony Robbins to punch himself in the face (yes, Obama deserved it too, but despite Robbin’s excellent work on “Money” he remains under the debt/money/deficit mythology which Graeber comes oh so close to destroying). Please reach out to Cullen Roche of Give him 20min’s of your time. Your mind will be blown. Or find the “Debunking Economics” youtube vids by Steve Keen where he reads from Harvard level text books as the audience laughs at the ridiculousness of it, which really ought to be all the evidence anyone needs that economists are living in an alternate reality, which explains why they can’t predict anything accurately. Or get your staff to read Roche’s “Understanding the Monetary” system paper. And for the love of G, don’t read with a filter. Do what Tim Ferris does best… uncover the truth and dumb it down in a way that Roche can’t.

  14. After listening to the most recent podcast with Seth Godin, I was so excited to try Rogue chocolate…and see that it is shutting down [Moderator: see Rogue Chocolatier article at]! Too bad! Perhaps Seth should purchase it and keep it going!