October 14, 2007

Thoughts on The Dip by Seth Godin

A woodpecker can tap 20 times on 1,000 trees and get nowhere but stay busy. Or he can tap 20,000 times on one tree and get dinner. --- Seth Godin

Seth Godin stole my ideas. Rather, we share ideas in common. His book is The Dip: A little book that teaches you when to quit and when to stick.

The Best In The World
Seth says that to succeed, be the best in the world.

But how?

The solution is to pick a small enough world. That's not cheating because your clients define "world" and "best". For example, we got food poisoning after visiting the Corvette factory in Bowling Green, Kentucky. So we looked for the best medical care that was nearby, available and affordable.

(The paperwork took longer than the treatment. Have you ever been treated by a doctor wearing a paid shirt, jeans and open-toed sandals? That's a story for another time.)
So we picked the best choice available to us there, not scanning the entire planet.

When To Stick

Just about everything you learned in school about life is wrong, but the wrongest thing might very well be this: Being well rounded is the secret to success. --- Seth Godin
The dip creates scarcity and scarcity creates value. So barriers-to-entry are your friend once you get through them. Too many people compromise and fail. When the going gets tough, they start something new. Rather than specialize, they diversify. They become "well-rounded". They become average.

Average people are in the majority, but they're not in demand. --- Seth Godin
Because we have too many choices and too little time, we want the best. So We want to deal with specialists. Any other choice is risky. We don't care if our accountant is a good gardener and a decent golfer. Ditto for our car mechanic, dentist and violin teacher.

Thanks to markets getting smaller and smaller, it's getting easier to be the best at something

When To Quit

There are times when quitting is the best option. Did you study French in school? I did well because language is like mathematics: obscure rules to memorize and apply. In 2005, I got a tutor to help me relearn the language. After a dozen lessons, I was still far from proficient. So I quit. Better to get better at something I was already good at.

Sometimes we stick to the wrong things because we're too lazy to quit. You see people working on getting a degree or designation but failing. Again and again.

Winners Win Big
The dip is the gap between starting and mastery. Most quit in the dip or stick in a dead end. Instead, we need to stick through the dip and quit the dead ends. Winners get disproportionate rewards. Success goes to those who obsess.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm with you. There's an article in Business Week: In Praise of Quitters. Worth reading.