Monday, July 11, 2011

Seth Godin's: Poke the Box

It's difficult to argue with Seth Godin's logic. What he says makes a lot of sense. And, he is incredibly quotable. Whenever I read one of his books, I find sentences here and there than I have to post on Facebook or add to my website or post to my bulletin board or share with a friend. Yet, in the back of my mind I have the nagging impression that he isn't saying anything I don't already know. This seems truer in Poke the Box than in any of his other books.

I'm not sure that he would even argue with that statement. In fact in Poke the Box, he basically says that very thing when he encourages his readers to do what they see needs to be done. It should go without saying. But if everyone knows it, why aren't they doing it?

Loosely, this is the same principle as "why am I always the one that has to refill the toilet tissue holder, paper towel dispenser, etc.?" Except in place of laziness the answer in Seth Godin's opinion seems to be fear. But, the more I think about it, maybe the two aren't so very different after all.

If nothing else, Godin is clever. At one point in Poke the Box he comments on perfectionism and how that can prevent someone from "shipping". He writes about how some readers might be upset about a typographical error -- this comment comes, of course, right after a typographical error which you realize must have been intentional to make a point. Okay, I'll admit, I'm one of those readers who thinks that the books I buy should be free of typographical errors. Isn't that what proof readers and editors are for? The thing is, the intentional "typo" wasn't the first in the book, nor was it the last. But, suddenly I found myself trying to second guess whether or not the others might also have been intentional. Once again this proves what a clever man he is. What better way to get the focus off of the book's minor imperfections, and make the reader who even dared to notice them feel somehow petty and wrong for even giving them a moment's thought.

I had the feeling, despite all the great one-liners and quotables in Poke the Box that he had just pumped out another best seller of re-hashed material. If you or I had written this book, I don't know that it would have been successful. But, since the author of Poke the Box is Seth Godin, the book is sure to become yet another best seller.

In the end, I felt as though the most original idea of this book was the cover design--a picture only with no title. In a strange way, the logo reminds me of Godin himself. I wonder if that's just me.

If you're new to Seth Godin, you will probably love this book. It's a quick, easy read. There is a lot of good stuff in Poke the Box. If you have read several of his writings you may enjoy this book as a sort of quick refresher. But, if you have read a lot of Seth Godin, you'll probably find this latest offering a bit thin.

On the other hand, if you're a hard-core Seth Godin junkie, you'll probably rave about how, bold, and original Poke the Box is, and praise him for "shipping" once again.

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