Elizabeth's Reviews > Poke the Box

Poke the Box by Seth Godin
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's review
Mar 10, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: nf-business, nf-self-help
Read in March, 2011

POKE THE BOX is mainly for entrepreneurs (both social and business), but since the author claims: "This is a Manifesto about Starting," it could also be a book about Life. It features Seth Godin's hallmark style of taking every day things and helping you see them from a fresh and motivating perspective. The title comes from thinking about a child with a buzzer box (the kind with switches, some lights, and other controls that result in lights blinking, buzzers buzzing, etc.). A child will start poking at the box, trying one switch and then another. From doing different things, he learns. So Seth Godin says, "Life is a buzzer box. Poke it." He's begging us to just "Start Stuff." And if we're running a company, he submits we need to encourage and empower our employees to Start Stuff.

He touches on Leadership: "Human nature is to need a map. If you're brave enough to draw one, people will follow...Please stop waiting for a map. We reward those who draw maps, not those who follow them."

He touches on the relationship between doing and failing: "The more you do, the more you fail...The person who fails the most usually wins," ...and then the failures will have been just stepping stones. "Of course, the challenge of being the initiator is that you'll be wrong. You'll pick the wrong thing, you'll waste time, you'll be blamed...This is why being an initiator is valuable." "Failure is an event, though, and with rare exceptions, is not fatal."

He ties his theme in with the theme of a previous book (LINCHPIN) in which he refers to our "lizard brain" that is always holding us back. "For many of us, the resistance is always chattering away, frequently sabotaging our best opportunities and ruining our best chance to do great work. Naming it helps you befriend it, and befriending it helps you ignore it...The purpose of this manifesto is not to magically extinguish your fear. It's to call its bluff."

He has an interesting take on ego: "Somewhere along the way, ego became a nasty word. It's not...It's okay. Let your ego push you to be the initiator."

One of Godin's important points: you can be an initiator wherever you are in your organization's hierarchy. He has some great examples of what this "looks like."

Another gem sprinkled in: "Reject the tyranny of picked [e.g.picked by an investor, picked for a promotion, picked to lead a project)]. Pick yourself."

Godin asks, "When can you start?" And he believes "Soon is not as good as now."

This book may not be for everyone, but I needed and appreciated it.

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