Poke the Box by Seth Godin

Poke the Box

RATING: 5/10…READ: February 28, 2011

An 84-page quick read on starting and becoming an initiator. If you have become stuck and feel you are not doing meaningful work, this book is the kick in the ass. It seems repetitive at times (and I believe that is Godin’s point), but you will definitely not finish this book without feeling guilty for staying idle. As Godin puts it, we have an obligation to start things.

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“The Job isn’t to catch up to the status quo; the job is to invent the status quo.

The posture change is when you make that critical decision to become an initiator

Money, access, and organizational might aren’t the foundation of the connected economy; initiation is.

The 7 imperatives: 1. Awareness 2. Education 3. Connection 4. Consistency 5. Assets 6. Being Productive 7. GUTS AND HEART TO SHIP

The Elements of Production: an idea, people to work it, a place to build or organize it, raw materials, distribution, money, marketing…

All of these elements are cheaper and easier to find than ever before…what matters is saying GO

Become the one when asked what do you do, say “I start stuff.”

Start small…if there is a noisy door hinge, fix it; a better way to answer the phone…do it; person in need…help them out.

You survive in the economy if you innovate on your innovation

Flux is flow – things moving…risk comes with flux, but it doesn’t mean its bad…if you’re not in flux, you’re moving backwards

Give the fear in you a name (its scientifically proven a part in your brain has fear hardwired in)…accepting this is a start.

Make your schedule before you start – Isaac Asimov wrote and published more than 400 (!) books by typing nonstop from 6 am to noon, every day for forty years…also build in constraints and end your day at a certain time.

If you have quality and they have quality and that’s all either one of you offers, you’re selling a commodity and the marketplace will take the cheapest – you got to move beyond just quality.

There’s a lot of “good enough” (mediocre) products that get the job done without a hitch…the challenge is to find the energy and will to challenge the mediocre.

A creative person is satisfied once they see how a trick is done. The initiator won’t rest until he does it.

Become a promoter, not an organizer. An organizer must pitch a promoter. A promoter picks the organizer.

The obvious challenge of being the initiator is that you’ll be wrong and many people will shy away from it, thus its scarce, thus its valuable.

When the cost of poking the box (ptb) is less than the cost of doing nothing (0), then you should poke! { ptb<0 à poke }

Behind the initiative you must define 1. Why? And 2. Don’t be a dick

Start looking at the things you do as project; companies like Apple, James Cameron’s team, Ideo, Pixar, etc.

The boundary is in your head…a dog with a shock collar removed will respect the boundary of shock collar even though it’s off.

If you had to give a TED talk, what would it be about?

Poking doesn’t mean right. It means action.

Take Google search queries, blogs that spell processes out, and blogs that outline every step in a 13 steps book with a grain of salt…there is no certainty other than “let’s see,” and “try.”

Yoda: “do or do not, there is no try.” Godin: Yes there is a try; it’s the opposite of hiding.

If you don’t finish what you start, you’re stalling, you’re hiding…and what you’re doing is merely a hobby.

The person who fails the most usually wins…fail, succeed, fail, fail, fail, succeed, fail, etc. —and of course learning from your mistakes.

Almost all-real job growth in a new company comes in the first 5 years, then many stop…those that keep going keep growing.

Part of initiating is being willing to discover that what you end up with is different from what you set out to accomplish. If you’re not willing to discover that surprise, it’s no wonder you’re afraid to start.

If you could build anything (and you can), what would you build? An institution, a religion, an idea that spreads, a relationship, cash, a practice, a job, art, tools, a legacy, change that matters?

If you can’t fail, the poking doesn’t count.

The purpose of this manifesto is not to magically extinguish your fear. It’s to call its bluff. Identifying the “fear of go” is the first step on the road to making the fear go away.

The person who constantly asks questions, interrupts, takes endless notes, and is always in your face isn’t just annoying – she’s self sabotaging, a form of hiding. If you’re not making a difference, its almost certainly because you’re afraid.

Don’t confuse poking the box with the flat out stupid, ie. if you run into Elton John at a diner and say, “Hey Elton, will you sing at my daughter’s wedding.” The decision to ask a question that is certainly “no” are just a work of the lizard brain setting you up to fail, because its easier than succeeding.

-Flying is not safe. You and I both know a dozen or a hundred ways an angry person can wreak havoc.

-Selling is not safe. You might (in fact will) be rejected

-Golf is not safe. Seth’s grandfather died playing golf

-Speaking up Is not safe. People might get offended.

-Innovation is not safe. You’ll fail. Perhaps badly.

Now that we got that out of the way, what are you going to do about it? Crouch in a corner and work as hard as you can to fit in? That’s not safe, either.

Might as well do something that matters instead.

“There are two mistakes once can make along the road to truth. Not going all the way, and not starting.” –Siddhartha Gautama