Poke The Box by Seth Godin – Review

As usual, I’ll start off with a quote that I feel best encapsulates the idea of the book. Since this book is about starting, I found the quote at the end of the book most apt.

There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth. Not going all the way, and not starting. – Siddhartha Gautama.
Initiate Don’t Wait.
The core message of the book (manifesto actually) is to start and get to the point of no return. Make things happen. To ship your finished work. That takes guts and passion. It is not always easy to ship but a cursory study of successful people will prove that successful people always ship. For example, world class programmers do not become masters of their fields until they start to learn through poking and observing/studying how the box reacts to their pokes. The thing to start does not have to be earth shattering or world changing. In face, it can be simple things. Obvious things. And NOW is the time to start. Start. Don’t stall.

  1. Flux is defined as movement and risk is defined as having good or bad outcomes. One of the main reasons that people don’t start is they confuse flux with risk and think any kind of movement has the potential to lead to failure. However, the truth is even risk does not always lead to failure and in fact, avoiding failure is a great risk. Successful people and companies show us time and time again that they always start and fail a lot. Google is not napping, it is always initiating projects. Project World.
    We live in a project world where projects are starting almost on a daily basis. So the smart thing to successfully start a project is to be egoistic about your projects and put your name on the line. This is the world where assembly line is dead and quality as a differentiator has become the status quo. This leaves us with no choice but to start poking, striving for excellence and pursuing being remarkable. Don’t wait to be picked to start a project. Pick yourself. Pick yourself again and again. Just because poking is essential does not mean you can’t be smart about poking. Always look at the two variables:
  • A. Cost of poking B. Cost of doing nothing

If A < B then POKE. Also explain the need to poke because people usually do not understand why you need to initiate and start. Don’t be a jerk and think people should understand just because it is self-evident to you.

Ship It.
Poking or starting should imply you finish strongly. Know that there is no map and like all successful people you must create your own map as you go along. Be wrong and do not let that stop you from starting. Just start and drop irrational fears. Sure there will be scrutiny. There will be criticism but keep in mind that chances of finishing are higher if you start and who fails most…WINS.

START… will you?.
As if you did not hear the words poke and start too many times, the book ends with a final push to start. Remember the market is obsessed with novelty so starting often and always is a good thing. Start early because growth happens early and when it fails just answer with a big fat SO? Initiate and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the awesome outcomes you never expected.

Last few caveats to starting..

Don’t control Don’t start for the sake of starting Don’t start to make an excuse for failing Now, GO GO GO!

Next Steps.