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Originally published on Monday, August 21, 2006 in The Miami Herald

Guru shares his insights on business, life.
Blog postings by provocative and influential author Seth Godin are free, but this compilation is well worth paying for.

Small is the New Big. Seth Godin. Portfolio. 323 pages.

You do not have to buy this book even if you're compelled to do so by reading this enthusiastically favorable and persuasive review. I will tell you how to read it without paying for it. Normally, this might upset an author, but in this case, I am confident he won't care. And if he does, he will surely let me know and I will tell you. That's the kind of guy he is. But I'm not worried because most -- if not all -- of the content of this book is already online.

Seth Godin is a consultant, speaker and author. His previous books -- Purple Cow, Permission Marketing, Big Red Fez, Free Prize Inside and Survival is Not Enough -- were provocative and influential. If you haven't read them, you should. His insights and observations on business and life in general are well worth your time and attention.

Godin is also a blogger whose brief observations (''riffs,'' he calls them) appear several times a week on one of his websites. This book is made up of many of those blogged riffs plus some bonus material that originally appeared as downloadable e-books. It's a less painful way of writing a book, no doubt, but such a compilation must be of sufficient value and apparent marketability to satisfy the demands of a publisher and persuade them to produce a dead-trees version of this material.

So what's so good about all this stuff?

Godin's keen insights on the nature of business in this early part of the 21st century are extremely practical and relatable. Though he's a big thinker, there's nothing eggheaded or esoteric in his writing. For example, here's a short riff inspired by a mundane product: ``I was dishing out some Marshmallow Fluff yesterday (this is a great product) and I saw the recipe for Fluffernutter on the back. What did that invention net them? It's almost as good as putting baking soda in your fridge. Suddenly, there's a reason for every household with kids to have Fluff in stock, all the time. The Fluffernutter turns it from a desert topping into a daily staple. Do you think you could invent a new use for your product?''

Despite the fact that I've never kept this white goo in my house -- or fed it to my kids -- I like the way Godin takes a seemingly insignificant, personal observation like this and turns it into an insightful bit of marketing advice.

He does the same thing throughout the book as he riffs on various factors affecting modern business: the Internet, time deficits, scarcity, the power of stories, the value of authenticity, the death of mass marketing, excellence, incompetence and how these things create challenges and opportunities for people and companies.

For all Godin's savvy, the one thing he rarely gets credit for is his writing. The simplicity and clarity with which he conveys his ideas is assumed, but it's not easy to do, believe me. I try every week and succeed only occasionally. Plus, every once in a while, he'll throw in a rarely used bon-mot like ungupatch, a Yiddish word that means ''a thrown-together mess.'' Priceless!

If you want to read Godin's blog (for free), go to www.sethgodin.com and click on his head. Or you could just buy this superb book.

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