Book review #2: The Icarus Deception

The Icarus Deception: How High WIll You Fly? was a tough one to read because it lacked flow and precision, which is naturally off-putting. However, as I got further into the book things became slightly clearer and the tone was more direct.


Seth Godin is the author of 18 books and is a successful executive and entrepreneur. His extensive knowledge in business provide a great platform for sharing ideas and insightful experiences on marketing, personal development and entrepreneurship.

The book is split into 6 sections each addressing various concepts in relation to art. The sections are:

  1. Art, the Comfort Zone, and the Change of a Lifetime
  2. The Connection Economy Demands That We Create Art
  3. Myths, Propaganda, and Kamiwaza
  4. Grit and Art and the Work That’s Worth Doing
  5. Shame, Vulnerability, and Being Naked
  6. To Make Art, Think Like An Artist. To Connect, Be Human.


Throughout the book Godin utilises a few analogies. The first is in the title: the story of Icarus. Icarus lost his wings as he and his father were escaping Crete. Against his father’s warnings Icarus flew too close to the sun. His wings melted away, he fell into the sea and then drowned. The moral of the story: don’t fly too close to the sun.

What Godin argues is that as a society we have taken this lesson and flipped it on its head. That is, we don’t even bother taking the risk of flying and consequently we fly too low or not at all. We are complacent and continue to operate within our comfort zone.

Another analogy Godin uses is the idea of being an artist. Art requires creativity and courage. In order to solve problems, find freedom and utilise our skills, we need art and we must be like the artist. We need to create and think outside of the box.

There are additionally many references to the industrial era and the mindset that was essential for success during this period of history. Industrialists did the same thing over and over again, sought ways to increase productivity and lower costs. In contrast, in what Seth calls ‘the connection economy’ (i.e. today’s global economy), art that is truthful, art that goes against the status quo, art that redefines, art that creates, builds and maintains connections, is that kind of art that we all ought to produce.

The concepts and lessons discussed in the book are interesting and writing this review I can see that Godin’s arguments are indeed inspiring and entirely valid in today’s world. Nevertheless, the book did drag on because we hear the same, repetitive message in a very mundane and disjointed format.

I’m glad I got to the end of The Icarus Deception: How High WIll You Fly?, but I’m sure there is a concise seminar or presentation on Youtube that can provide a more engaging alternative to reading the whole book.

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