Derek Sivers

Poke the Box - by Seth Godin

Poke the Box - by Seth Godin

ISBN: 1936719002
Date read: 2011-03-15
How strongly I recommend it: 7/10
(See my list of 320+ books, for more.)

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Awesome short manifesto about getting into the habit of starting things. Inspiring as hell. Go go go!

my notes

1. be aware of the market, of opportunities, of who you are.
2. be educated, so you can understand what’s around you.
3. be connected, so you can be trusted as you engage.
4. be consistent, so the system knows what to expect.
5. build an asset, so you have something to sell.
6. be productive, so you can be well-priced.
7. have the guts and the heart and the passion to ship. ****

The challenge is getting into the habit of starting.

When we blindly accept what’s given, we lose all power. Only by poking, testing, modifying, and understanding can we truly own anything. No one has influence, control, or confidence in his work until he initiates change.

An obsession with changing the status quo merely to see what happens.

- Financial capital: Money in the bank that can be put to work on a project or investment.
- Network capital: People you know, connections you can make, retailers and systems you can plug into.
- Intellectual capital: Smarts. Software systems. Access to people with insight.
- Physical capital: Plant and machinery and tools and trucks.
- Prestige capital: Your reputation.
- Instigation capital: The desire to move forward. The ability and the guts to say yes.

Nobody criticizes worthy failure: good intent, seeking connection and joy and the ability to make a difference.

Continue on the initiative path when others fret about “quality” and “predictability,” you will ultimately succeed because you’ll be making a difference and using your newfound leverage to do more and more work that matters.

The first rule of doing work that matters: Go to work on a regular basis. Make your schedule
before you start. Don’t allow setbacks or blocks or anxiety to push you to take a nap.

Isaac Asimov wrote and published more than 400 (!) books by typing nonstop from 6 am to noon, every day for forty years.

We love to point out how broken things are, but we rarely look at merely mediocre products and wonder why they aren’t great. Why is this mediocre?

Initiative is a little like creativity in that both require curiosity. An insatiable desire to understand how something works and how it might work better. The creative person is satisfied once he sees how it’s done, but the initiator won’t rest until he does it.

Entrepreneurs initiate, but also use money to build a profitable business that’s bigger than themselves. The goal of the entrepreneur is to build an entity, something that can grow and thrive once it’s moving. It involves using money, people, and assets to create a new, bigger, entity.

Initiative is scarce. Hence: valuable.

How often do our heroes stand still? It’s hard to imagine Spock and Kirk landing on a planet and just relaxing for a month or two.

Not-allowed lists: The park near my house doesn’t allow dogs, non-residents, or birthday parties. The allowed list is harder to remember and to write down. I think we might be afraid of how much freedom we actually have, and how much we’re expected to do with that freedom.

It’s comforting to live with a list of what’s not allowed. We remember it, we push against it, but ultimately, we enjoy the confinement that the limits bring us. When revolutions appear, when the list gets much shorter, it’s surprising how long it takes for us to take action.

“Ladies and gentlemen, in the center ring, high above you on the trapeze, they will now attempt a triple flip....” The way he said attempt led us all to believe that this might not work. Attempt. Not perform. Not display. We weren’t there to see the acrobats do something great that they had done again and again. No, we were going to see something new, something risky, something interesting. Yoda was wrong: Yes, there is a try. Try is the opposite of hiding.

Starting demands finishing. Starting means you’re going to finish. If it doesn’t ship, you’ve failed. To merely start without finishing is just boasting, or stalling, or a waste of time.

In short-term thinking, following the rules, rewarding someone who has done it before
is a great way to win. Long-term, though, all you’ve done is taught conformity and punished initiation. You can’t optimize your way to surprising growth.

People with credibility and resources are so busy trying to hold onto them that they fail to bring their provocative ideas to the world.

What a relief to Bob Dylan when he was booed at the Newport Folk Festival. There, that’s out of the way. Now let’s make some art.

Identifying the sophomore slump, the challenge of expectations - writing it down, talking it up, and relentlessly working to destroy it - is the best way to get back to the reason you set out to do whatever it is you do in the first place.

Starting something is not an event; it’s a series of events. You decide to walk to Cleveland. So you take a first step in the right direction. That’s starting. You spend the rest of the day walk- ing toward Cleveland, one step at a time, picking your feet up and putting them down. At the end of the day, twenty miles later, you stop at a hotel. And what happens the next morning? Either you quit the project or you start again, walking to Cleveland. In fact, every step is a new beginning. Sure, you’re closer than you were yesterday or last week, but you’re still heading toward Cleveland. Keep starting until you finish.

You couldn’t be a star at PARC unless you started something audacious. During a two-year period, they invented the laser printer, the high-resolution screen, the mouse, on-screen windows, and even the frame buffer that led to all special effects in the movies.

Every spring, every crack in every pavement is filled with dandelions. That’s the goal: for every crack to be filled with your ideas and innovations and creativity. The only way to achieve this is to be prepared for many of them to fail, to land on pavement, to be perfect yet cease to grow. We can cry about these failures, but that will lead us to hold back on the next idea. Or we can celebrate them, realizing that it’s proof that we’re being promiscuous in our shipping, putting the best work we can into the world, regardless of whether this particular idea actually works.

Jay Gatsby: “What would be the use of doing great things if I could have a better time telling her what I was going to do?” It’s easy to fall so in love with the idea of starting that we never actually start.

“There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth. Not going all the way, and not starting.” - Siddhārtha Gautama