Poke the Box - Seth Godin

Poke the Box - Seth Godin

Do you have ideas that never got off the ground? Learn here how to make them come true!

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How many times have you failed to take the first step for fear of making a mistake? How many opportunities have you missed out of attachment to your comfort zone?

In this summary you'll find a lightweight, fast-reading text that at the same time brings dense and thought-provoking content that can get you thinking and especially acting.

It is a true manifesto of the initiative, a call for people to step out of their comfort zones and put their best into action at the service of their own aspirations.

Keep reading and discover how Godin's ideas can impact the way you face your dayly challenges.

About the book "Poke the Box"

The original book, published in 2011, is one of many bestsellers ever published by Seth Godin.

The work contains a collection of short texts that cast a critical eye on common everyday situations and behaviors that can produce the success of achievements, the learning of failure or the emptiness of non-action.

In all, 94 short texts, some of them even minimal, contained in 113 pages. Each short text is independent and contains its own insights for different situations.

About the author Seth Godin

Seth Godin is a writer, speaker and entrepreneur born in 1960 in New York, United States. He has written no less than 18 bestsellers on marketing, entrepreneurship, and leadership.

Among his many activities, Godin has developed an intensive 4-week management and leadership course that has already taken senior executive students from some of the largest companies in the world, such as Nike, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, and Sony, for example.

Its brilliant trajectory begins in the 1990s, with its own venture, already focused on innovation. His company, Yoyodine, caught the eye of the market so much that it was acquired in 1998 by giant Yahoo for $ 30 million. Godin became vice president of direct marketing for the group.

Some other works from the author are:

To whom is this book indicated?

The reading of this book is for those who want to undertake, but have difficulty taking the first step and launching themselves in pursuit of their goals.

Seen from a broader angle, Godin's tips apply to other situations in life, not necessarily business and professional issues.

Main ideas of the book "Poke the Box"

Among the author's observations, we highlight the following ideas:

  • In times of highly connected economy, what drives people and organizations is the initiative, the attitude of starting something;
  • Fear of making mistakes is one of the major barriers that keep us from reaching the "start something" stage;
  • Making mistakes is a great source of learning and is much more valuable than non-action;
  • An error remains incompatible with quality, but the equation currently adopted on the market is to fail right away to correct it as soon as possible;
  • In industrial society, employees were indoctrinated to obey, never to innovate. It is for this change that people and businesses need to awaken;
  • The attitude of starting something requires the presence of someone with a "starter" profile and not necessarily managers with a controller profile;
  • Organizations experiencing growth tend to settle at some point. But the momentum of "starting something" must be maintained;
  • Just as important as starting something is finishing it. In fact, the ending is inseparable from starting;
  • Individually, it's up to us to cultivate the habit of starting.

So, let's start this journey!

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[Book Summary] Poke the Box - Seth Godin

Overview: The Importance of Getting Started

In today's economy, there is less and less room for intermediaries, secretaries and investors. In other words, either the resources provided by these agents become unnecessary or easily accessible to those interested in using them.

In this scenario, what makes the difference is the initiative. Out of it come organizations capable of offering better and cheaper products, more accessible knowledge and innovations.

It is also by the initiative that people excel in their work environments.

To take initiative, it's important to start something, take the first step, make it happen, commit to it, reach the point where there is no turning back.

Overview: Fear of making a mistake

When it comes to accomplishing something, Seth Godin says that many people associate risk with failure. Then they associate the flow, the movement, with the risks. Contributing to the lack of initiative is also resistance, a primitive feeling of fear and a search for security.

Result: To avoid failures, the risk is avoided. To avoid scratches, flow is avoided. To avoid the flow, the initiative is avoided. Popularly, there is a true culture of association between failure and initiative.

On the other hand, the economy depends on the flow. And there is no inevitable association between flow, risk, and failure. You need to be clear that avoiding failure is a counterproductive attitude.

For example, successful people have trajectories marked by moments of failure. But their failures are the result of well-intentioned attempts to get it right. There is a tendency to hit.

To overcome the possibility of failure there is no better way than to work persistently.

Overview: Mistakes vs. Quality

Historically, the quality was a differentiator for excecuted performed. Today, it is uniformly present in almost all the work being done. The difference is now in what is new and different.

The book "Poke the Box" states that to innovate, we must experiment, test new possibilities. So, going back to the previous topic, there is no innovation free of the risk of mistakes.

What happens, however, is that the risk is calculated, predicted. The error is allowed provided it is promptly corrected. Incidentally, the error that is quickly detected is valued so that it can be quickly corrected.

Overview: Obey X Innovate

In the old industrial society, between a model of organization that encouraged its employees to innovate and a model that required only compliance with predefined rules, the latter prevailed. The result was the emergence of organizations condemned to stagnation.

People became so indoctrinated about obedience that they lost their curiosity about how things work. On the other hand, a person with initiative will not be satisfied to know how to do it, they will look for ways to do better.

However, there is a growing number of creative people who seem to have been waiting until they are given the opportunity to showcase their work. But the best time for an initiative in Seth Godin's view is always now.

In this context, we can differentiate the roles of the organizer and the promoter. The first is waiting for an opportunity or a permit to do things your way. The second accomplishes things in its own way.

Overview: Who is responsible for starting?

With all the division of tasks that exist in companies, there are responsibles for all kinds of activity and this is how people see themselves. But who is responsible for starting it all?

It is a mistake to think that initiative is something that is exclusive to entrepreneurs and that it is up to them to play this role. After all, having initiative is not something that applies only to large projects. Instead, you can apply it to the most trivial of problems around you.

Thus, the habit of taking initiatives should be encouraged in a team. One way to do this is to get people to realize and face the fear that comes with them.

Finally, starting something is also different from controlling it. So managers can be great controllers, but they won't necessarily be good starters.

Overview: The Continuous Restart

Seth Godin in the work "Poke the Box" highlights that high-growth organizations tend to settle into their new position.

However, in today's economy, innovations are spread and outgrown very quickly, then, we need to adapt to this rate of ever shorter and more frequent cycles.

In other words, after an innovation cycle, you need to go back to the starting point for the next cycle.

Overview: Every Beginning Must Have an End

Finishing must be part of the act of starting something. When you start something and don't finish it, there really wasn't something done. There was only a fuss, a waste of time.

For something to be done, it must reach the market or the people to whom it is addressed.

Now, something that has not been completed will never reach this destination. It's like it never existed.

Overview: Cultivating the habit of starting

We get used to criticizing what is mediocre, but we do not develop the habit of questioning and correcting the causes of this mediocrity. The bright side of this state of affairs lies in the possibility of finding a willingness to face it.

So our challenge is not to know when to start or to wait, but to cultivate the habit of beginning. Backing away from this opportunity (and responsibility) is a risk.

According to Seth Godin to have mastery over something, you need to know it well, what only happens when you explore it thoroughly, testing, stirring, modifying and understanding.

For this purpose, the ego, often perceived as negative, is an important stimulant. The ego only has to accept that its victory lies in seeing the initiative happen and not in taking credit for the work.

What do other authors say about it?

In the book "Entrepreneurship for Subversives" the author Facundo Guerra harshly criticizes some models imposed on today's business and teaches how you can escape these "pitfalls". In addition, it offers a guide for those who want to start their own business, revealing their mistakes and successes.

In the book "Innovation and Entrepreneurship", the author Peter Drucker defends the theory that creativity and innovation are not acts of genius, but a study, a search and planning that requires discipline to follow systematic steps. He believes that to innovate requires discipline to apply the right techniques.

Finally, Eric Ries, in the book "The Lean Startup", explains that it is important that the word "innovation" be understood broadly. These can be original scientific breakthroughs, a new use for existing technology, creation of a new business model, among others.

Okay, but how can I apply this to my life?

The essential in the author's proposal is to cultivate the habit of starting. As pointed out, starting is not an exclusive attitude of this or that professional and does not even apply only to this or that environment.

  • Look around and find a problem to solve;
  • Dedicate yourself to understanding it and try new possibilities for a solution;
  • Correct mistakes, complete your intervention;
  • Get into the habit of doing this;
  • Leave the posture of waiting for someone to tell you what and how to do it.

Did you like this summary of the book "Poke the Box"?

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Book 'Poke the Box'