Poke the Box

Seth Godin, a man with an interesting mind who wrote several books, including “Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable”, “The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)” and “Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers Into Friends And Friends Into Customers” has just published a new book: “Poke the Box”.When I saw the title, the author’s name, and read a few comments about the book, I knew I wanted to read it. I was not sure if I could find this book in a bookstore because it has no title on the cover — just a drawing of a man in a hurry — so I decided to purchase it from Amazon.com. When you see the cover it sparks your curiosity, prompting you to open it or “poke the box”.
Children and adults exhibit different behaviors. When children see a closed box, they poke it and play with it until it opens or shows some function. In comparison, adults will leave the box untouched.
Ordinary people only follow the orders; they don’t take initiative in their businesses or their own lives.
Godin categorizes investment capital into six types. Financial capital is the money itself that can be put into a project. Network capital is the people you know and business connections you make with others. Intellectual capital describes the smart, talented people, the software, the expertise, and the systems belonging to a company. Physical capital can be the plant and machinery, trucks, or other tools of a business. Prestige capital is the reputation of the founders. These are the first five types of capital, but the last one is the most important. Instigation capital is the desire to move forward, the marching power that makes the other five types of capital work in harmony. The founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama, once said, “There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth: not going all the way, and not starting.” Godin, in his book, emphasizes two things about instigation capital.
The first point is starting. We have to start something new in our personal or professional lives. We should not be afraid of risks, because in a constantly changing world, doing nothing is a bigger risk than doing something. We will never know our possibilities if we do nothing. Take for example the successful company Google: they are always trying. They have experimented with many different products, with only a few being successful. They tried “google.docs”; some people use it, but not many. If you search Wikipedia for a full list of Google projects, you will be shocked when it seems to never end. From this we can understand one thing. As Godin mentions, the successful ones are not the people who nap but those who struggle all the time.
The second part to instigation capital is to keep it up. In the case of rejection, most people give up. This is not so with children; no matter what, they keep on poking. Godin says people should make planned attempts. So, if you plan to send 100 job application letters, receiving 20 rejections should not stop you. You should continue applying.
Godin left us with an excellent metaphor about juggling: “Juggling is about throwing, not catching. That’s why it’s so difficult to learn how to juggle. We’re conditioned to make the catch, to hurdle whatever is in our way to save the day, to — no matter what — not drop the ball.” Paradoxically, if you get better at throwing, the catches take care of themselves. So, throw the ball. Poke the box. Take action in your life, for your company, and for the world.


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