Review: Poke the Box by Seth Godin

Down and Dirty: 4.5 out of 5

Short, sweet and to the point, Poke the Box challenges and cajoles you into taking initiative.

When we are young, we strive to explore – to try out new things and see what happens. The world was our delight, but for many of us it is now our greatest fear. Fear of the unknown. It’s easy to feel that burrowing into a dead-end job or dead-end market or dead-end life and plugging away until retirement is the safe option, but it’s not.  Not in this world of layoffs, cut backs and change.

Seth puts it like this: What suffers more turbulence? A rock stationary in a stream of a log drifting along the current?  The answer of course is the log, but the log is changing and it’s the rock that’s staying put!

You should say “This might not work” and be ok with it.  You should also say “This might work” and be ok with that too.  Very often we sabotage ourselves for BOTH reasons: fear of success and fear of failure.

Seth also challenges ‘permission’ for initiatives. He explains his dog still obey the boundaries of the electric fence that broke over a year ago. She associates the collar with the boundaries and won’t break the invisible fence unless the collar is removed. Likewise, how long did it take us to use the internet for blogging and sharing our ideas freely? Most of us, including myself, didn’t get onto it for a long time.

Don’t say “I can’t” because that usually means “I don’t want to.” Go.. go go go! Do something, try something new! Reward initiative in your company, punish people who fight for the status quo.

Try and fail and fail a LOT.


Because failing a lot also means you’ll start piling up successes along the way.

I highly recommend this book for those of us who sometimes hedge, hem and haw around taking action. Seth’s message of ‘be the map maker’ is revolutionary and pretty darn difficult to pull off, but it’s an aspiration I agree we should all be shooting for, especially if you’re running or marketing a company.

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