Poke the Box by Seth Godin

When Seth Godin released Linchpin, it was the culmination of his life’s work, effectively encapsulating all his previous books and blog posts. I sensed he would spend the next few years expanding upon the thoughts in Linchpin, instead of debuting entirely new works, and that’s essentially what’s he’s doing with his latest book, Poke the Box.

While Linchpin was a broad appeal for becoming an artist in whatever you do, Poke the Box focuses on the “starting” part of executing that artistry. Godin himself summarizes the book as rant for those seeking permission to start things.

Like Linchpin, Poke the Box is also available in workbook form. The Linchpin workbook proved useful in my last few projects, but I haven’t tried the Poke the Box workbook yet.

A few key points to remember from the book:

  • Never wait to be picked for a project. Always choose to be in a position to pick others for projects. Don’t be the meeting organizer, but the promoter hiring the organizer.
  • He tells the story of a real band who tours relentlessly, in any bar that will have them, selling CD-Rs to pay for gas money and eventually finding success touring around the world and getting their music in stores and on the radio. He then contrasts this with the typical band performing in the same place every night and complaining about not getting a record deal. Again, never wait to be picked.
  • What if you’re not in a position to start? Organizations with human cogs, who follow a manual, make it near impossible to really wow a customer.
  • “The relentless act of invention and innovation is the best form of marketing.”
  • How do you know if starting a particular project (or even task) is important? If you can’t fail at it in some way, it isn’t worth your time. Seth means this for every part of your day that takes time away from your projects as well. For instance, if a tweet can’t fail, don’t post it.