Are You A Victim of The Icarus Deception?

If you buy something through our links, we may earn money from our affiliate partners. Learn more.

If you are a Seth Godin (@ThisisSethsBlog) fan, then you may already have his latest book, The Icarus Deception – How High Will You Fly, and if you’ve already read it – I would LOVE to hear your thoughts and comments on the book.

I received a review copy recently and decided to read it for review.   While I’m familiar with Seth Godin’s work, I wouldn’t call myself a rabid fan (as I know some of you are).  I check into his blog from time to time and I’ve read several (but not all) of his books.  That is the extent of my exposure to Godin.

I’m telling you all of this because this review is written from that point of view.  You may read this and think – DUH! You may read this and completely disagree with my opinion.   That is all terrific because that creates a terrific opportunity to discuss your opinions on this book as well.

On Godin as a Business Philosopher

I’m not sure if there is such a thing, but I’d say that Seth Godin is what I’d call a business philosopher.  When I first encountered his work in Fast Company articles and in the books Permission Marketing and Purple Cow, I put him in the same category as Reis and Trout, the authors of Positioning.  I had him sitting in the box of “marketing expert.”  But with the launch of his last few books and projects, I don’t see him as a marketing visionary (as so many do) as much as a business philosopher.

Wait – maybe even an economic revolutionary.

Seth Godin, to me, is first and foremost a big thinker of big ideas.  As his ideas are consumed and implemented, they take on a more pragmatic, systemic quality and before you know it, they are the accepted way of doing and thinking about business.  As I write this, I’m thinking specifically of his work in Permission Marketing.  It was a big idea that has evolved into standard marketing practice.

But it was in Linchpin, with it’s message that the old model of employees being nothing more than machines and the advent of work as an expression of art, that I first realized that Godin was seeing trends and thinking bigger than I had even realized or given him credit for.  He was pushing all of us to look at our world of work in a new light – through new lenses.

I’m sure you can say that he’s had this philosophy a long time, but it wasn’t until Linchpin and now, The Icarus Deception, How High Will You Fly, that I could really see and feel the urgency in his writing.  It’s as if with each book he’s trying to grab you by the shoulders, shake you and say:

“Hey!  The world of work is not what you thought it was – snap out of it!”

What is The Icarus Deception and Why Should We Pay Attention to it?

In the myth of Icarus is a cautionary tale.  Don’t challenge the experts.  Stay in your safety zone.  If you fly too close to the sun, your wings will burn and you will die.   The idea of “the artist” that Godin talked about in Linchpin is reinforced in The Icarus Deception.  In this book, Godin encourages everyone to get out of their safety zone and take risks, make mistakes because that is what todays economy will reward.

Read it for Yourself, Live it for a Successful Future

Usually, I would tell you about the different chapters in the book and what the book covers in detail.  Somehow, this book just doesn’t lend itself to that.  In his Kickstarter video and page Godin shares that this is his most personal book.  The passion with which he writes will be very rewarding for Godin fans and perhaps eye-opening to those who have watched him from afar.

There are people who like Godin and people who don’t.  If you’re a fan, you will love this book and cheer at every page.  If you fall on the other side of the spectrum, I would say read this book – but not because it’s written by Seth Godin.  Read this book because Godin is tearing down the curtain to reveal the true nature of the Wizard of Oz.  He’s doing his very best to show you something important and to prepare you for success in the future.  Read this book to challenge your thinking and to propel yourself in a direction that is not only satisfying, but rewarding.

Godin is telling you that you are so much more than you ever thought you could be.  You are no longer encumbered by what you thought were limitations.  You are only limited by your ability to overcome your fear of what’s outside your comfort zone.

Get discounts and special offers on new and classic business books with an Audible Premium Plus membership. Learn more and sign up for an account today.


Ivana Taylor Ivana Taylor is the Book Editor for Small Business Trends. She is responsible for directing the site’s book review program and manages the team of professional book reviewers. She also spearheads the annual Small Business Book Awards. Ivana publishes DIYMarketers, where she shares daily do-it-yourself marketing tips, and is co-author of "Excel for Marketing Managers."

13 Reactions
  1. I’ve delayed in adding one more book to my list even though I’ve considered this one and V is for Vulnersble. Now I have to read them because Anita Campbell whim I admire set me up for the possibility of benefit.

  2. I enjoy reading Seth Godin, but afterward I’m always let asking “So what do I DO about this?” Getting people to think big picture is great, but success is found in implementation.

    • Hi Robert — I totally understand what you are saying. I have the same experience. But I don’t read Godin for practical how-tos – mostly for trends.

    • Robert, I hear you too. I think many of Seth’s zingers have helped me when I had pieces to a puzzle. It is possible, particularly with computer language, to start with one technical feature but not have a full idea as to where to implement. Seth has an overview that can spark some ideas. That’s what I got from Linchpin, and I am sure Icarus continues the trend.

      • Hi Pierre – I think you hit the nail on the head! Godin is terrific at being a sort of canary in the coal mine — to let you know what big trends are coming around the bend, but it’s totally up to you to figure out what to do about it.

  3. Ivana,

    Great review – that quote regarding work not being the same reminds of his Linchpin observation – “Lots of people can lift. That’s not paying off anymore. A few people can sell. Almost no one puts in the effort to create.” I liked that you highlight the artist perspective – he’s very big on creation, which makes sense. Steve Jobs was a creator, so is Bill Gates. It does not have to be a computer app, but small businesses and entrepreneurs must find was to be creative rather than a copy-cat.

    • I’m so glad you responded, Pierre — because you reviewed Linchpin and it seems like he really focused on the artist in that book as well. I’ve been of the opinion (for a LONG time now — like since the 90’s) that the new world of work was going to look like a modern cottage industry; with lots of small business owners who specialize in specific areas. The internet allows us to work in virtual teams and this, in turn allows us to create truly unique services and deliverables to customers.

      A few weeks ago a friend asked my why I didn’t hire full time employees and my answer was that they “limited” the kinds of work that I can do and the clients I can work with. I’ve found that so much of today’s marketing requires unique talents and skills for each project and that means that I have to be able to have access to all kinds of skills and specialties. I suppose you can say that each of us small business owners is an artist of sorts.

  4. This book really disappointed me. Nothing new here.

  5. I loved the early Seth Godin because the trends he was noticing (or maybe even predicting) were based in reality. Things like Idea Virus and Permission Marketing. They were a truly revolutionary take on how the world was changing or could be changed.

    But starting with Linchpin (and maybe The Dip) his stuff is sounding more to me like self help twaddle. Being an artist is great for people who really have artistic talent. But following your passion is no guarantee of actual skill. Or market acceptance – many artists who look great, and revolutionary only seem so to people who live a decade or two after they died in poverty.

    In a similar vein, not everyone can be a tribe leader. Some people just stand for things that not that many people want to follow. It’s like the saying you don’t hear much anymore “Information wants to be free” – the idea was writers should give away their stuff and make money on personal appearances and consulting etc. That’s fine for people who have talent in those areas but you have to understand it’s a different skill (and requires different marketing ability) than writing.

    I do think Seth is doing some interesting stuff pushing the envelope of the publishing industry. (Interesting how much he’s doing with books after predicting their death a while ago.) But the idea that his accomplishments are a pattern that everyone can follow or even a trend is not true. He seems to be capitalizing on people’s desire be in the presence of a superstar. Even if that star is not making music, or creating art, but just telling you that you can do it too.

  6. It is interesting to see how Seth Godin’s books are creating a buzz and a debate! 😉 The first book I started to read was Linchpin, so I am late in the game.

    Ivana: I like how you describe him as a business philosopher. That is how I am differentiate my work, compared with other in the social media field. I am a trader in matter and spirit and I want to spread better ideas on new media and worklife.

    Phil: I value your book on the integrated platform, so I am interested to hear that you think is disappointing with Seth Godin’s new book.

    • Thanks, Martin. If “Icarus” was my first Godin book, then I’m sure that I would have felt differently. It’s not. I agree with John’s assessment.

      I’d like to see something new and truly groundbreaking from Seth.

  7. if you’ve read anything by Seth Godin, you’ll no doubt appreciate this new book, The Icarus Deception. If you’re not familiar with him, this book would be a great start. this book is about the art of creating something of value – something new that matters.