The Secret Sauce

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Several months back, I saw Seth Godin speak as one of the keynote presentations for the CMA – Canadian Marketing AssociationNational Convention and Trade Show (full disclosure: I am the co-chair for this event and sit on the Board of the Directors as well). In the question and answer segment of his presentation, one of the attendees asked Seth about where he gets his ideas for his books and his Blog postings from. Seth went on to explain that he follows what’s happening in the space, does a lot of reading, uses many of the tools I wrote about here: Online Chatter – Six Free Tools To Monitor What The Public Is Saying About You, etc…, but the attendee kept on prying into the thought process.

Seth simply replied, "that’s my secret sauce."

What he meant to say is, "who knows? It just comes to me."

It’s the perfect answer.

Most of us know the seven notes that make up all music. None of us are able to put them together quite like John Lennon.

Lennon’s ability to weave those seven notes together was his secret sauce.

Each one of us has our own secret sauce.

I think part of life’s mystery is one’s ability to figure out, exactly, what their own secret sauce is.

My guess is that some people find out really early, some figure it out only later in life and the vast majority of us never ever do (which is sad). So, when we see someone who has found it – whether they are an artist, project manager, scientist, speaker or plumber – we all marvel at the skill set, result or constant ground-breaking passion they bring to whatever it is that they do.

Brilliant ideas come out of this lifeforce, but they have to be nurtured, practiced, pushed, prodded and questioned. I think a lot about this lately. When I see a new businesses idea proposed to me, when I see a rock band live, when I read certain Blog postings, when I see specific marketing campaigns, I don’t ask, "how did they come up with that idea?" I let it all soak in and ask myself: "what’s their secret sauce and how did they discover it?"

We tend to think that only celebrities, famous people and the rich have discovered their secret sauce. It’s not the case. We’ve all seen people from all walks of life who just do what they do in their own – very unique and special – way. Knowing your secret sauce is not correlated to a hefty bank account. I also happen to think that it’s not about how much self-reflection you do either. I think it’s about doing lots of stuff you’re passionate about and playing full out (especially when you’re working). We tend to look at people who have embraced their secret sauce as having an easy life. My guess is, life is easy for them because they’re doing what comes naturally and what keeps them inspired.


  1. I like what you say about the “discovery” that goes into finding out what one’s secret sauce is.
    I think it’s the culmination of many things…of experience, of finding out who you really are, and what drives, insipires and motivates you.
    Once you find that space, it does become easy to speak, write, compose or do whatever it is you do to get your message out to the world.
    Great post, Mitch – look forward to seeing/meeting you at Podcamp Montreal in a few weeks!

  2. My secret sauce is…well…secret.
    I CAN tell you that it’s made up of a LOT of different ingredients, found in far remote corners of world, and as close to home as what’s inside my heart.
    However, what’s interesting is that even when I mix all the ingredients together, it doesn’t always turn out the same. It’s sometimes way better.

  3. Well said. Thanks. A nice spin on the ‘Unique Abilities’ notion.
    Plays to helping people get to the top of their own Maslow pyramid to self-fulfillment.
    ‘He who knows others is learned;
    He who knows himself is wise.’
    Lao-tzu, Tao te Ching (sixth century B.C.)

  4. Finding your ‘secret sauce’ is an interesting topic …
    I’d say it’s a ‘sauce’ that a lot (if not most) never find.
    How do you know when you find it? How do you even know when you are on the right track? … And if you are not on the right track … How do you make corrections if you are not sure what to correct?
    Personally I think i’m on my way and headed in the right direction … we shall see how it all turns out. Your post definitly helps keep the conversation moving along in my head.

  5. Great post Mitch.
    When we sat down for lunch a few weeks ago Mitch, I remember you speaking of the Secret Sauce. It stuck with me since then. Glad you blogged about it.
    I’ve shared it with a few of my close friends, customers, family. Really makes one think. It was wicked to see how it spawned off so much conversation when I brought it up within my circles.
    From athletes to rock stars. They all got something that no one, not even them, can fully explain. It just happens. Its the secret you just can uncover.
    You should write a book about this. It’ll give hope to many – perhaps sparking them to discover what they’ve got, that makes ’em special.

  6. Brilliant post. I think it has a significance to people that work in technology. All these same tools are available to all of us. Sure it’s more than 7 notes, but only in our minds. The brilliance is what we do with whichever 7 notes we use.
    The challenge is how to make others see the brilliance of our take on the 7 notes. How do we get paid for our secret sauce?

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