More and more of what Seth Godin said yesterday at his presentation on The Dip keeps surfacing.

He asked everyone to raise their right hands in the air as high as they could.  then he asked us to raise them one inch farther- and guess what- we could.  A clear metaphor that we can all do a little better if we try.

He talked about how he differentiated people in small groups when he was looking for new employees. He asked them “How many gas stations are there in the US?”  Inevitably, there were three responses.  Some people decided this was immediately impossible to know, ‘you’ll never be able to figure that out’ types, and folded their arms. Another few would give a quick answer or insist on more information before they could begin to answer.  The last group would start trying to calculate it, looking at variables, estimates and parameters.  Who would you hire and why?

Another thing that stuck was the concept of Souvenirs.  People buy souvenirs of trips, at various costs, ranging from cheap to expensive, as reminders of experiences they’ve had.  Books at book signings.  Ridiculously priced t-shirts, mugs and pictures at amusement parks.  Jewelry.  You name it.  You can go hear someone speak, but the notes, the memories, the person’s book all act as souvenirs of the experience.  These are the touchstones and the reminders that bring the feelings, concepts, and experiences back to you in a tangible way.  [How else can you explain the number of plastic cups from Disney, Hershey Park, Niagara Falls, and the like in my cabinet?  Besides having young children, that is.]  As a business person, you can make a fair amount of money off these souvenirs- if they are worth something to someone else.  Isn’t this the whole thrust of podcasters/bloggers/websites having Cafe Press stores in the first place?  Online, print on demand souvenirs.

Souvenir comes from the french word that means to remember.  It means a memento, a recollection, or the act of remembering itself.  If we are all trying to be remarkable, we have to make an impact on the memory of others, make it so they want to talk about us, refer their friends and collegues.  We want them to come back and have a new experience, as good as or even better than the last.  We want them to take our ideas with them like souvenirs.  And where do we get compensated for the experience?  By selling souvenirs in other forms- books, speaking engagements, products, and the like.

If you get right down to it, the whole concept of gift giving is based on this concept of souvenirs and remembering.   You give someone a gift on a special occasion as a remembrance of the importance of the day (such as an anniversary or birthday) but also so they remember you in the future.  I can still tell you who gave me most of our wedding gifts, and the special gifts given to each of my children when they were born- hand-knit items, keepsakes, and the like.  I remember authors and brilliant phrases because they made a deep impact on me, like a gift handed to me for reading their book.

We remember what our brains tell us is important; we forget what is trivial or fails to make an impact. There is a lot more to this concept than you might think- This one will stay with me for a very long time- a great souvenir in itself.  Thanks, Seth.