It may not be wrong, it may be inappropriate

I follow Seth Godin on Twitter.

Every day he posts really thought provoking articles.

This is one of my favourites.

I like binary thinking.

I like things simple, even over-simplified.

It’s not always right.

But it’s right most of the time.

It’s a good way to think fast, in broad brushstrokes.

And clean up the details later.

This is a great piece of binary thinking from Seth Godin.

He starts by explaining the difference between two types
of personality.

Hunters and Farmers.

Until about 50,000 years ago, people had survived by


“….civilization forked.

Farming was invented and the way many people spent their
time was changed forever.

Clearly, farming is a very different activity from

Farmers spend time sweating the details, worrying about
the weather, making smart choices about seeds and breeding and working hard to
avoid a bad crop.

Hunters, on the other hand, have long periods of
distracted noticing interrupted by brief moments of frenzied panic.

It’s not crazy to imagine that some people are better at
one activity than another.”

Seth Godin references the educational specialist Thom

Who feels an inability to understand the Hunter
personality may be why some children have problems at school.

“A kid who has innate hunting skills is easily
distracted, because noticing small movements in the brush is exactly what you’d
need to do if you were hunting.

Scan and scan and pounce.

That same kid is able to drop everything and focus like a
laser–for a while–if it’s urgent.

The farming kid, on the other hand, is particularly good
at tilling the fields of endless homework problems, each a bit like the other.
Just don’t ask him to change gears instantly.”

I think it’s enlightening to look at ourselves and our
environment this way.

Do we see ourselves as a Hunter or a Farmer?

Does our behaviour reinforce our view, or contradict it?

What do we think of the people we work with, or for?

Art Directors, Copywriters, Planners, Account Handlers,
Clients, Media (Buyers and Planners).

Should they be they Hunters or Farmers as a group?

Have we got Farmers doing jobs that Hunters should be
doing (say new business).

Or vice versa?

As seth Godin says, “Farmers prefer productive meetings,
hunters want to simply try stuff and see what happens.

Hunters want a high-stakes mission, farmers want to avoid
epic failure.

One of the paradoxes is that it takes a hunter to get
(something) going and a farmer to patiently make (it) work.”

Of course, certain clients are Hunters and some are

But that’s also true for different ad agencies.

If you can define the context you can identify what’s
wanted and/or needed.

Also there may be a real opportunity for a different kind
of attitudinal briefing for advertising.

Are we trying to sell a Hunter product in Farmer media?

Is our advertising failing because we’re delivering a
Farmer message to a Hunter consumer?

As Seth Godin says, “Hunters are in sync with Google, a hunting
site, farmers like Facebook.”

The main thing to realise is, it isn’t a case of one being
good and the other bad.

But by recognising the difference we can stop seeing
something (or someone) as right or wrong.

We can begin to look at whether the situation is
appropriate or inappropriate.

That’s a much more powerful way to handle anything.

As Seth Godin says, “Bill Gates is a farmer. Steve Jobs
is a hunter.”

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    Variant on the fox and the hedgehog idea.

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    Interesting. Although I can see in some ways I’m a combination of the two, part Farmer, part Hunter.

    No wait, that would make me a Farter…

    Sheepskin boots help you to keep warm and comfortable .It is also very fashion and cheap here.Sheepskin boots have been popular for long time with people in rural occupations, such as sheep shearers, who have ready access to the raw materials. In the 1930’s, the farmers liked to wear sheepskin boots when they were on the farm in wild winter. Since 1960’s, the surfers liked to put on the sheepskin boots to warm their feet after they came back from riding the waves.

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    Some of the best people in advertising are women. Where do they fit in, in this evolutionary take?

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    Hi Paulc-c,
    Personally I think women split between the two just the way men do.
    I think it’s gender neutral.
    By Seth Godin’s definitions, Maggie Thatcher, Cherie Blair, Elizabeth I, Mary Wolestonecraft, Emily Pankhurst and Germaine Greer would have been Hunters.
    Whereas Hilary Clinton, Anita Roddick, Queen Victoria, Elizabeth II, Victoria Beckham, Meryl Streep, and Madonna would have been Farmers.
    And John W,
    Someone else also mentioned Fox and Hedgehog.
    I don’t know that, I’ll have to check it out.

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    That’s a great story Dave.
    Where does the hunter-gatherer fit in in all of this?
    Is he/she an obsessive hunter who likes to farm trophies
    or is he/she a farmer who has cultivated the kill?

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    Hi Kevin,
    My guess is that we are each a combination of both.
    But probably dominant in one area.
    And in asking the questions, we reveal more about ourselves and our situations.
    And what could be working or not working in each case.
    I think that’s always a good conversation to have with ourselves.
    But it’s never a formula or a solution.
    We still have to work it out for ourselves.
    The most interesting split for me is Farmers being averse to failure (Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch).
    Or Hunters enjoying risk (Steve Jobs, Richard Branson).

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    Hi Dave,

    It’s an interesting one.

    Farming has that idyllic allure from afar, but any farmer will tell you
    when you get close to it, James Herriott is just a pipe dream.

    I knew a French farmer who used to milk the cows at 4am every day
    come in from the fields at 6am, crack open a bottle of red wine at 7am…
    and I was still having breakfast!!!
    By 3pm he’d become a hunter and we’d go fishing.
    His father was still pasturing cattle in wooden clogs at the age of 97!

    As you say, there’s no magic formula.
    It’s that fine seesaw: the work / play balance.

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    @ Simon Jordan – very good!

  • My 2c: Farmers. Hunters. Democrats. Republicans. Liberals. Conservatives. If your entire approach can be labled and boxed, you’re probably an android with programmed responses. No one person is either/or anything. We’re more than X in some ways, less than X in others. And those parameters shift with as much information and experience as we allow ourselves to enjoy. Idealistic? Maybe. Realistic? Definitely. I think Mr Godin has oversimplified his view for the sake of his argument but while it’s an entertaining thought, life isn’t 1’s and 0’s.

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    Hi Amod,

    Now that’s an interesting thought.
    The X-factor.
    I watched this programme (note TV programme for all you twitterheads out there) where some professor of maths revealed this amazing thought.
    Infinity plus 1=Infinity.
    Infinity minus 1 does not equal infinity.

    I like to think of it as God having a laugh.

  • Dave,
    Before I left Swindon I thought everyone was a farmer.

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    phew.. i’m back, i was blocked but now i think i’ve been unblocked??

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    I would add that a Creative Director can be both a hunter and a farmer at different times . Or both at the same time.When a CD is getting a brief or having a brainstorm he can be an participating hunter. Out of the room ,he can transform into a farmer,to see how to nurture the idea.Back in his cozy corner he’ll slip into hunter mode , scanning the archives and so forth .Best of all, at the presentation, he can be furiously hunting down a client’s nod of approval yet sowing the seeds to a big idea. Like Gordon said,it is a fine seesaw…

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    Jayne, I have a large black plunger on standby.

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    …and if it’s inappropriate, there’s always semtex.

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    Grilla it seems you are a gentlegrilla although a little unorthodox at times, which is a definite plus. you rock my world.. and i am woman hear me roar.. grr..

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    ps this one’s for you G.. to keep you going until you can go on holiday 🙂

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    Riding a tube looks a whole lot more fun than surfing the web, Jayne.

    My only concern is getting trampled by white horses, and the “He’s waiting” guy, with the weird eyes.

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    Confucius says, if you wait to long, you miss the boat. besides, i was TOLD repetition is boring by an ‘insssidiousley dissscreet’ earth mother, parading as the Virgin Mary, singing flirty folk songs, whilst stealing from the collection tin (when no one’s looking). no chance of white horses from the man with the ‘Wild’ in his eyes, my insurance policy isn’t strong enough coz..

    Kevin’s been gone for two days, i hope i didn’t scare him off, i LOVE Kev, he’s a really good egg is Kev 🙂

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    An egg bread-crumbed and Scotch.

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    Jayne, two of the advantages of not wearing clothes are: no need to follow freaky fashion and, no pockets to pick.

    You have a good excuse for not buying a round of drinks ‘swell – nowhere to keep money seeeeeeeeeeeee.

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    Grilla, if you think that’s a cue for a NAKED clip, think again (besidesi’msureyoudofineonyourown 🙂 but i will BARE (intentionalmisspellunlikeprevious’to’:) your tip in mind when i’m living in my hut on the beach.

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    You might wanna put a door on your hut, Jayne… you could get visitors; me, Dave, gotnoteef and Kevin…

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    so many men, so little time.. it’s a shame i’m not ambidextrous.

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    Were you Ambi Pur you could enhance the air in your hut and turn it into a real sensory experience.

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    indeed as.. “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away”

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    thanks Kev, i need all the help i can get, so nice to see you back, we missed you! 😉 X

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    are we all off on holiday – where to folks – Grilla’s been warned of Tring already and I’ve had my fill of London village this week.

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    Gotnoteef, somewhere cheaper and better as my old Dad would say, with a cabin that’s big enough for all of us 🙂