Poke The Box: A Review and One Question to Seth Godin

Last year, Seth Godin showed us a way to become a Linchpin. This year, he urges us to “Poke the Box” – to act, to start, to initiate, to experiment, to try (and fail and learn from it) and most importantly to finish and deliver. Poking the box is about taking initiatives, not just waiting for someone to delegate them to us.

Seth has packed a lot of punch into this book, so much that the passion and force in his writing almost instigates us to start/act.

With Poke the Box, Seth is also challenging the traditional methods of content distribution adopted by the publishing industry. He started “The Domino Project” – his new publishing venture with Amazon that is aimed at changing the the way books are built, sold and spread. He leads by example!

Here are some gems from the book

“The job isn’t to catch up to the status quo; The job is to invent the status quo.”

“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.”

“Excellence isn’t about working extra hard to do what you’re told. It’s about taking the initiative to do work you decide is worth doing. It’s a personal, urgent, this-is-my-call/this-is-my-calling way to do your job.”

One question to Seth Godin

After reading this book, I thought about reasons why people stay away from taking initiative in organizations and what could leaders do about it. This led to me to ask one question to Seth Godin:

Tanmay: The readers of my blog are people who are leaders, aspiring leaders and the ones who are willing to make a difference. How can a leader prepare others so that more people from their circle of influence initiate meaningful things and poke the box?

Seth Godin: Simple, but scary: don’t punish failure, reward it. Reward smart initiative, even when it doesn’t work.

Thanks Seth, for nudging us (or rather pushing us) to initiate.

Over to you

I think anyone who is willing to make a difference by doing meaningful work should read this book. You can read Q & A with Seth Godin at the Amazon page and learn more about The Domino Project.

So, what are you doing to poke the box? What are you initiating? Great questions for the mid week.

Pursuing your conviction – Entrepreneurship lessons from Guy Kawasaki

Naysayers are important people – who push you to do more and do better. When they reject an idea, you have an opportunity to do more and prove a point to them. When I decided to take up a career in IT/Software almost a decade back – many people tried putting me off saying that there is no future in IT (they said so based on their limited perception of IT and also based on the IT scenario in India prevalent then). As years went by, their perception changed and they started looking at IT as a successful career.

There will be people who would cast their doubts on all professional /entrepreneurial initiatives that someone undertakes.  Some do that occasionally and some do it habitually. Treat them well – for they are the ones who can become your biggest source of inspiration.

The bottom line is that if you convinced and have strong belief in something that you have undertaken – it is almost a best idea to ignore naysayers – so what if they are so-called experts? Sometimes, the cost of lost opportunity is much higher than the cost of failure!

In this context, I cannot disagree with what Guy Kawasaki has written in his last post on Sun Microsystem’s blog titled “Five most important lessons I’ve learned as an entrepreneur.” While you can check out the blog post yourself, here is an excerpt of what he writes about naysayers or “Schmexperts” as Guy calls them. Very insightful!

4. Ignore schmexperts. Schmexperts are the totally bad combination of schmucks who are experts–or experts who are schmucks. When you first launch a product or service, they’ll tell you it isn’t necessary, can’t really work, or faces too much competition. If you succeed, then they’ll say they knew you would succeed. In other words, they don’t know jack shiitake. If you believe, try it. If you don’t believe, listen to the schmexperts and stay on the porch.

Ultimately it all boils down to your own understanding and conviction of initiatives you are pursuing. If it does not work at first shot, some immediate course corrections can happen, fine tuning can happen – but not giving it a try just because someone else says it won’t work – is a bad idea!