Godin's Poke the Box: manifesto demands that you go do something now!

Seth Godin's Poke the Box is a breezy, short manifesto that extols the virtue of taking initiative and doing stuff, even though you might fail or annoy the people you work with. At first, it seems awfully glib -- after all, Doing Stuff is easy to talk about, harder to make happen. But as the book goes on, it's clear that Godin has anticipated many -- if not all -- of the roadblocks to rising up and making things happen, and writes about how to overcome them with humor and simplicity.

Godin's short blog-posts are interesting little nuggets that can sometimes stick with you all day long, but time and again, Godin's shown that these really work best when they're strung together into longer essays. This is really quite an inspirational 88 pages.

Poke the Box


  1. I don’t know… I’ve heard Godin described as one of the most brilliant marketers of our time. And for some reason that makes me squirm. I imagine him sitting alone in a room, contemplating, and every now and then he’ll scribble something down “Brand yourself, not your cattle…” The business world then gasps and nods.

  2. Humm…he must be brilliant since I’m the one who wrote “Branding Only Works On Cattle!” Sniffle…

  3. I hope I am not being to nitpicky. But the failure to disclose that you were quoted in this book and that BoingBoing was thanked. Has slightly rubbed me the wrong way. I purchased and read this book based off this blog post. I felt I was tricked a little when I came to the part where Seth quoted you. I don’t necessarily think you or BoingBoing were trying to knowingly mislead anybody. But I felt that this should have been disclosed in your review.

    I enjoyed the book. Thanks for posting this review.

    1. Also, the Amazon link is an affiliate link (meaning somebody is getting money if you buy this book after clicking through). (“downandout” indicates maybe Cory… but who knows if that just gets piped back into the site or his pocket. I don’t care, actually).

      I probably have had hours and hours of entertainment value from Cory’s boingboing posts, so I’m not as bothered by the self-serving links (subtle, hidden, or blatant self-promotion).

      The team at boingboing have put together a very successful marketing platform over many years and they can use it however they want.

      You should weigh the obvious lack of bias against the value of the content you get for fun or for learning or for whatever metric you like; that goes for most sites.

      I tend to take most of the content here on face-value and just assume that I am getting a stream of pointers to interesting things from interesting people. Maybe I should be more critical, but frankly, the 5 minutes I spend scanning the recent posts here isn’t anywhere near the most important part of my day.

      Buyer be informed, in any case.

  4. “I felt I was tricked a little when I came to the part where Seth quoted you”

    Seth is known for talking about cool stuff in his books, and Cory Doctorow is cool stuff.

    I don’t see a problem

  5. I would like to like this book. Especially if its argument were based on facts rather than the typical factless advice how to reconvince yourself regularly, “readjust your attitude” in the absence of good information.

    More info? Also, links other than amazon (post-WikiLeaks)?

  6. “People don’t believe what you tell them.
    They rarely believe what you show them.
    They often believe what their friends tell them.
    They always believe what they tell themselves.”

    – Seth Godin

    Godin, Gladwell, et all make a living by skillfully crafting and preaching phrases that sound clever, but often have little merit.

    The irony in this particular quote is that Godin’s entire existence is due to the fact that people *do* believe what you tell them. As is evidenced by the fact that so many people
    believe what Godin says (and pay him handsomely for it)

    But to illustrate how easily this works – consider the following, equally valid quote I just made up:

    “People generally don’t believe in themselves.
    They rarely believe what their friends tell them.
    The often believe what you show them.
    They always believe what you tell them”

    1) People’s beliefs are complex, but they are indeed based largely on what people tell them. 99% of what we know is what we are told.
    Hence religion. Hence politics. This fact is precisely why the multi- trillion dollar advertising industry exists.

    2) Most people are far more likely to believe what you show them, than what their friends tell them. Think about it.

    3) People are plagued with self-doubt, second guessing themselves,
    often consumed with regret, often paralyzed making decisions, etc. This is a huge part of the human condition, and it is exactly why
    we seek advice, care about what others think of us, and pay money to people like Seth Godin.


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