The most important lesson from Seth Godin

. 2 min read

After randomly exploring Seth Godin's book Poke the Box last Thursday, I remembered an interview he gave to Tom Bilyeu on Impact Theory last December. It was a good interview, especially the part in which he said something very profound. It's something that every artist should hear and remember throughout their careers. It's an important note, and furthermore, a comforting one. Here's what he said:

A one-star review means "this book wasn't for me."

With this he means that all feedback is not equal; that he's never met an author who said "I read all my one-star reviews and now I'm a better writer." This is because people who hate your art aren't the best source of constructive feedback.

Here are a few things I would call facts:

  1. There isn't a single artist, living or dead, who is adored by literally everybody. Every successful author, painter, sculptor, YouTuber, musician, philosopher etc. has "anti-fans" - those that seem to have nothing better to do than to criticize the artist anonymously online. The only way to not have these is to not make art or to not give your art out to the world.
  2. Haters speak louder than lovers. Those who bought your art and loved it are more likely to just think about it positively, remember it for a long time, or speak well of it to a friend. It's as if they know the art is good, so they don't need to shout it from the rooftops. Haters, on the other hand, fear that no one else will agree with them, so they're more likely to leave those one-star reviews and negative comments in an attempt to influence people.
  3. Having your art divide people into lovers and haters is infinitely better than having everyone think your art is "okay." It means people feel strongly about your art, and when people feel strongly about your art, you're bound to succeed.

Embrace those one-star reviews, dislikes, and negative comments. Know that you're inducing a reaction in people. However, there's no need to dwell in the details of the feedback - in fact, you don't have to read them, ever - just knowing you have haters is enough. As said, a one-star rating doesn't mean your art is objectively bad; it means it wasn't the individual reviewer's cup of tea.

In the words of Theodore Roosevelt: It's not the critic who counts.

So who do you take feedback seriously from? Those who want you to succeed; people who gain from your success: your editor, agent, manager. Trust those who know the industry and customer psychology.

And always trust yourself.