Takeaway: More inspiration about how to start something new from whatever position you are in. Godin is about innovation and if we want a strong economy, we need people at all levels that follow through with this book.
I am a mixed relationship with Seth Godin. On the one hand I think that he is very inspirational, a good writer and has been very good at communicating to a large group of people.
But I have been frustrated with some of his concepts in the past. But there is not a lot controversial in this book. Essentially, the book is giving people permission to start something new, be innovative and ‘poke the box’ to see if there is a better way to accomplish or create something.
That is really all that the book is about. It is worth reading because Godin has the ability to really get at the heart of a matter. Accomplishing something big is about actually starting something, seeing it to the end and learning from failure, then trying something else.
I appreciate that he focused on people being innovative and creative from any point in an organization. And he openly acknowledges that not all innovation will be well received. But he makes a strong case that innovation is the root of economic growth and needs to be the focus of every company that wants to be strong in the long term.
The one area that I wish he spent more time on, or at least moved further up in the book is fear. Clearly fear is the biggest reason people do not do something. Godin spends about 3 pages in the back of the book talking about fear. His only real advice is that we should not fear, because there are things to fear about not acting as well. So if we do fear, we should fear not doing something more than we fear doing something. I get the point, but I do not find it all that helpful.
Since Godin is taking his own advice and is rejecting the traditional publishing industry and publishing books on his own, I think we will see a lot more books around a single idea like this. A book does not need to be over 100 pages to be good. And a book does not need to be priced high to have value. I picked this up on pre-order for kindle for $0.99. It is now $4.99 for kindle, but still probably worth the price.
The price for Poke the Box is now $7.99 for Kindle and $8.04 for Hardcover. Not nearly the deal it was when I bought it. But he has already published a companion book Tales of the Revolution: True Stories of People who are Poking the Box and Making a Difference (it is currently free for Kindle)