The Dip - Seth Godin

Subtitled "The extraordinary benefits of knowing when to quit (and when to stick)", this is more of a large pamphlet than a book that I obtained from a lovely second hand book stall in Shrewsbury market. I'm indecisive around career stuff, vaguely recognised Seth Godin as an author, and thought this sounded intriguing.

The core thesis is composed of several ideas that work together: 1. That being the best at something has outsized benefits compared to being an also ran. 2. Specialisation and focus is how you achieve that. 3. That getting to be the best is a long, hard slog, which many people give up on. 4. Keeping going through that slog through to being the best is your advantage, your distinguishing factor. 5. If you're not going to make it through that Dip, give up and give up early rather than waste time.

There's a pleasant simplification here, and I think there's real value in examining how you're doing and knowing when to make a change because you're not making progress and cannot make progress. On the other hand, I don't really buy the whole package.

Working at Google means you get to observe a fair number of very bright, successful people. Indeed, world's best people for specific areas. There's less specialisation than one might think. People have hobbies and interests, they switch areas from time to time. Perhaps they're the world's best at being adaptable, or applying an analytic mindset, or always learning. It doesn't look like monomania, though.

On the other hand, as a book about business, rather than people, it's interesting. Being the best at something can be viewed as being about differentiating yourself in the market, rather than racing to the bottom on a commodity. The dip is your competitive advantage - whatever it is that's stopping the competition doing what you do. Of course the dip is hard - it's hard for you, but it should be harder for the competition.

It's short. It's thought-provoking. I don't particularly agree with it. Meh.

Posted 2019-08-16.