On the shelf: 'The Icarus Deception' by Seth Godin

William Hill, chief marketing officer Kristof Fahy reviews The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin.

On the shelf: 'The Icarus Deception' by Seth Godin

Published by Portfolio Penguin.

Having liked Tribes and Purple Cow, penned by the same author, I was looking forward to reading this. But sadly (or brilliantly, depending on your point of view) this is one of those books where you just read the back cover and you are pretty much done.

I have to put my hand up and say I am not a fan of self-help books. I like reading about people who have done things you can learn from, but not books the success of which seems to spread around the globe via daytime talk shows before they quickly end up on the shelves of an Oxfam shop.

Having said that, what do you need to know about this book? Basically, it says we are all brainwashed products of an industrialised era that has standardised everything - from food production to education, ambition and creativity. What we view as success is just a product of this industrialisation. We have been programmed to follow the leader and not make a fuss, settle down and avoid flying too close to the sun.

This leads us to "the Icarus deception" of the title. Godin explains that we have been told only that Icarus flew too close to the sun; but, according to the original myth, he should also have avoided flying too close to the ground. Mind-blowing stuff. Godin also tells us that we are not happy as we are just cogs in the machine.

So now we know that, what do we do? It all sounds a bit depressing. Well, we create art, we disrupt and we follow our dreams. We take our own fear in our hands, be vulnerable, do things differently and accept failure as part of the artistic approach. Above all, we break free (a quick blast of Queen, anyone?) and take a leap from the industrialised economy to the connected one. Here we have to back ourselves because "if not enough people doubt you, you are not making a difference".

Got it. But this is a really disappointing book. There are some simple, but known, truths in here: be brave; tell the truth; be creative; don't be held back by rules; connect with people; don't replicate; create. But it just goes on and on and on - and then on some more.

There is a real lack of content in this book until you get to the appendix, where we are presented with stories from real artists - people who have taken the leap.

It would have been great to have had less lecturing (although I think this is meant to be the challenging bit) and more on the people who have been or who are "artists". But, on the other hand, if you wanted to get into the T-shirt business, there are enough life-coach-type slogans to keep you busy for years.