Seth Godin’s The Dip

This past Tuesday, I had the pleasure of attending Seth Godin’s The Dip talk at the Michigan Theater. Here’s a photo from Seth’s blog:

It’s been a busy week, so I haven’t had a chance to write about this until now.

The first thing I want to say is this: if you’re still doing presentations with bullet points, you need to see someone like Seth Godin speak. It will give you a whole new appreciation for how best to present material. Bullet points ain’t it. If you’ve ever seen me present, you’ve probably noticed that I don’t use bullet points. I’m definitely still honing my technique, but Seth has achieved master level. If you can’t catch Seth live, I’d recommend checking out An Inconvenient Truth. Al Gore’s presentation in that movie is bigger budget and less readily attainable than Seth’s technique, but it will still give you an idea of what to shoot for.

I’d imagine that Seth would consider himself a failure if I just wrote about his presentation style and not the content he was presenting. After all, it’s not a very effective presentation if the flash gets ahead of the substance. I read The Dip before seeing the talk, and the talk was a nice companion to the book. The Dip is a small book (under 100 pages), which I appreciate. Many business books have an idea that can be readily condensed into a 5 page summary, but they carry on for 200, 300 or more pages just repeating the same idea over and over in slightly different styles with or without actual supporting evidence. I often get the feeling from business books that they’re trying to perform “proof by repeated assertion”. At 100 pages, The Dip felt about right in terms of size. The one thing that I felt was missing was personal anecdotes. It’s the perfect kind of book for stories about how Seth himself has tackled “The Dip”, but instead we get stories about how well-known others have successfully tackled The Dip.

So, what is “The Dip”? Don’t worry, I’ll get there. This is one of the other interesting aspects to Seth Godin in general: he likes for his ideas and terminology to spread. Whether it’s a purple cow or an ideavirus, Seth wants people to learn and use these terms. To that end, everyone who attended The Dip (live!) received 5 copies of The Dip (book), to pass around. Each copy of the book includes a page in the back where you can put a list of names to try to get a group of people to pass it around. I have no idea if that technique works, but the 5 copies per person idea certainly does. People will inevitably think of friends and colleagues who might benefit from The Dip and pass it on. Thus, Seth’s ideas and terminology claim some more vic—-, I mean supporters. If you Google “The Dip” or just “dip”, Seth has the #2 link. The idea has spread.

At last we get to the point where I contribute to the spread of the idea. “The Dip” is the point in an endeavor where the going gets rough. Seth makes the point that quitting in The Dip is what most people do, and it’s exactly the wrong thing to do. You should anticipate the Dip. If you’re not going to put forth the effort to get through it, you shouldn’t even start the undertaking. But once you make it through the Dip, you’ll be among the best in the world. And that is what the book “The Dip” is truly about: quitting the things that you aren’t going to master and becoming the best in the world at the thing that matters most.

For me, personally, The Dip’s message about quitting excess things is timely and relevant. I’ve had so many things going on and so many things vying for my time outside of work, that maintaining focus is important. Some post-The Dip reflection has identified a couple of things that I’ve been able to quit. And it feels good.

While Purple Cow remains my favorite among the Godin books that I have read, The Dip is a potentially more broadly useful quick read for stories and thoughts about being the very best. Your investment in time in reading the book will be well worth it. I’d also highly recommend seeing the live show if Seth will be coming to you. (And a big “thanks!” to the folks who organized the Ann Arbor event!)

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