Break Out of the System with ‘Poke the Box’

poke the box coverYou’ve heard the expression “think outside the box.” But what about “poke the box?” “People believe they have to wait to be chosen to do something” says Seth Godin, a marketing and business writer, author, entrepreneur and blogger. “Authors wait for a publisher. Entrepreneurs wait for an investor, employees wait for a boss. Reject the tyranny of being picked. Pick yourself.” Godin’s latest book, Poke the Box (Do You Zoom, Inc.; 2011) is a call to action. He asks the reader to stop putting off work and life initiatives. To succeed in your profession, including real estate, or to reach your life goals, it often requires you being the one to say, “I want to start stuff,” Godin says. BUY THE BOOK Q&A with Seth Godin: Question: What does it mean to Poke the Box? Seth Godin: Conformity used to be crucial–fitting in, not standing out. Compliance used to be the heart of every successful organization, every successful career. The reason? We all worked for the system, in the factory, doing what we were told. Now, though, compliance is no longer a competitive advantage. Poke the Box is about the spark that brings things to life. We need to be nudged away from conformity and toward ingenuity, toward answering unknown questions for ourselves. Even if we fail, as I have done many times in my life, we learn what not to do by experience and doing the new. This isn’t the same thing as taking a risk. In fact, the riskiest thing we can do right now is nothing. I’ve had an extraordinary run, creating a dozen nationwide bestsellers, starting Internet companies and giving speeches around the world. The key thing I bring to the projects I take on is not more talent than most (I don’t) or even more hours than most (hardly). My contribution is a willingness to poke, to start, to lean into the project and to get it out the door. Question: What will I learn from reading Poke the Box? Seth Godin: Hopefully you will learn lots but do more. Start thinking about when you’ve taken initiative in a way that really meant something to you and your team, your family. When was the last time you did something for the first time? How did it feel? There are no step-by-step how-to instructions in Poke the Box. Instead, you’ll find a series of layers, a foundation for taking a different approach to your work. Instead of learning to be more compliant, I want to push you to be the one who takes initiative. Question: Why did you write this book? Seth Godin: I’ve been fortunate enough to hear from almost a million people over the years, to talk with CEOs and bosses and customers around the world. And they all tell me precisely the same thing: it’s the motive force they demand, the person who will shake things up and move them forward. Static is not an acceptable state. The status quo is no longer something we want at work or in politics or in any organization we care about. The market is just waiting for people to step forward. I wrote the book for those people, the ones who’ve been hesitating to take the leap. Question: Why did you start The Domino Project? Seth Godin: The Domino Project is my latest attempt at “poking.” It’s an independent publishing imprint founded by me and powered by Amazon. This is an opportunity to publish “idea manifestos” committed to readers, rather than being bookstore friendly. It’s named after the domino effect–where one powerful idea spreads down the line, pushing from person to person. I have two audacious goals: I want to change the people who read (not enough do) and I want to change the way books are published (they’re too hard to find and spread). I honestly believe that a book can change a mind like nothing else, and that’s our focus. To help anyone to do work they’re proud of and to make a difference. Question: Why Amazon? Seth Godin: I partnered with Amazon so we could leverage what we both do best–Amazon is the leader in global distribution, multiple format production capabilities, and reaching people in the right way, and I want to spread powerful ideas to the people who want to read them. For 15 years, Amazon has been building an audience and gaining our trust. Many surveys identify them as the most-trusted new brand in the world. Now that Amazon is interacting with more people more often, they have a chance to bring those customers new ideas in innovative ways. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to bring ideas worth spreading to a huge and eager audience. Excerpt from Poke the Box: The seven imperatives that all successful organizations are built on: The first imperative is to be aware. Aware of the market, of opportunities, of who you are. The second imperative is to be educated, so you can understand what’s around you. The third imperative is to be connected, so you can be trusted as you engage. The fourth imperative is to be consistent, so the system knows what to expect. The fifth imperative is to build an asset, so you have something to sell. The sixth imperative is to be productive, so you can be well priced. But it’s still possible to do all of these things and still fail. A job is not enough; a factory is not enough; a trade is not enough. It used to be, but no longer. The world is changing too fast. Without the spark of initiative, you have no choice but to simply react to the world. Without the ability to instigate and experiment, you are stuck, adrift, waiting to be shoved. Author David Meerman Scott interviews Seth Godin: Seth Godin on his new book Poke the Box from David Meerman Scott on Vimeo. About the Author: Seth Godin has written 12 bestselling books translated into more than 30 languages. He writes about marketing, quitting, leadership and the way ideas spread. American Way Magazine calls him, “America’s Greatest Marketer,” and his blog is among the most popular in the world written by an individual.

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