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Poking the Box

When an Amazon box showed up in the mail last week, I couldn't remember what I had ordered. While having Amazon Prime occasionally results in such experiences, it happens more often than not with pre-orders. I had no clue in this case, even after opening the box to find this odd little man staring back at me.

Poke the Box cover

It turned out to be a book by Seth Godin, and the first book to come out of the Domino Project, the brainchild of Godin that takes aim at traditional publishing in an attempt to spread ideas without being encumbered by obsolete institutions. Actually, Poke the Box is billed as a manifesto. It's about starting things. About breaking free of the factory mindset and stepping outside of social norms to make things happen. It speaks to a world where signs that say "If you see something, say something" have become necessary, because people have been taught not to speak up.

To some degree, this is the same message that you hear in most entrepreneurial circles: shipping trumps stagnation, learn from your failures, etc. It was still a worthwhile read. It's a short read, too, at around eighty pages, but you know what? It took me over a week to read it. And not because I'm notorious for dragging out the books that I read, but because every time I picked it up, I'd get three or four pages in and want to get up and work on something. For most authors, the goal of writing is to draw your readers into the writing, but for Godin, it seems his goal was just the opposite. With ever word I read, he seemed to be saying, "Stop reading this book, dummy, and go make something."

If you ever have trouble staying focused and getting things done, or if you have lots of ideas that never get implemented, Poke the Box might be the fire starter for your ambitions that you need. It's motivational in way that I haven't found before, empowering even the lowest corporate minions to stir things up and make a ruckus. This is clearly the direction the world is going: if you can't be an innovator and a starter, your place in this world is being quickly diminished. It may not happen in this generation, but it seems certain to by the next.

Maybe when you order yours, you won't have to resort to such a literal interpretation of Godin's message when it arrives in the mail.