I’ve been lucky enough to get a free copy of the new book, ‘Poke The Box’ by Seth Godin (I’m doing well at the moment after also getting a copy of Guy Kawasaki’s ‘Enchantment’ earlier this year). I’m going to try to look at the book itself seperately from The Domino Project – Godin’s attempt to disrupt the publishing model with support from Amazon and a team of very nice people. It’s a project that I wholeheartedly support as an example of someone going out to do something different and disruptive, rather than just talking about it…
My review of Poke the Box by Seth Godin:
Like most people with any interest in digital marketing, I’ve been reading Seth Godin’s books and blog as a fan for several years now. It’s safe to say that he’s been a significant inspiration and influence on a lot of the practitioners and commentators on the future of marketing, business innovation, and the disruption of the traditional way of doing business – and it’s also been interesting to see how he’s used social networking as a tool. For instance, he’s avoided Twitter for various reasons and disabled comments on his blog, but was actively involved in a closed social network created for purchases of his Tribes book, for example.
Poke The Box is the first ‘manifesto’ published via The Domino Project, and like most Godin books, it’s fairly short, punchy and aims to provoke and inspire you to action with a mixture of examples and prompts. Running at 85 pages, it’s true to the Godin style of proposing an idea or statement, backing it up with an example or anecdote and then moving onto the next idea in pretty short order, and concenrates on inspiration rather than prescribing practical applications – which is a logical approach given that it’s aimed at getting you ff your backside and producing something. It’s a book you could get through in a couple of hours, and then follow the instructions at the end to pass it on to colleagues and friends.
Whether or not I’d recommend you purchasing it really depends on whether or not you’ve read the last couple of Godin books, Tribes and Linchpin. At just £5.49 for the hardcover (also available for Kindle and in audio editions), it’s a very affordable espresso shot of inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs, or those wanting to innovate within larger companies. But at the same time, I have to admit I didn’t see a lot which hasn’t already been covered to some extent by Tribes and Linchpin. Both of those books dug deeper into becoming someone who initiates and delivers on change, and although some of the examples are new in Poke The Box, many of the suggestions, and the overarching ideas, are pretty much the same.
Where it succeeds is as an introduction to those ideas – if it had preceded the earlier two books, or if you’re looking for an inspirational, idea-generating primer, then it’s a good choice. Or if you want to inspire a friend or colleague, and suspect that the other books are a little too lengthy, then it’s a great choice.
Having browsed through the fairly exensive Godin section on my bookshelf, if you’re looking for something more in-depth in marketing, then I’m a big fan of Unleashing The Ideavirus (There’s something very odd with one of those Amazon listings – as much as I like the book, and know Seth often does very special editions and offers, I’m not sure the paperback listed at £114 is right). The Big Red Fez is also a good choice for the specifically digital marketer. And in terms of innovation, disruption and changing your personal circumstances, the aforementioned Tribes and Linchpin are definitely worthwile. I’d actually say either of them make a good accompaniment to Guy Kawasaki’s Enchantment - Seth inspires you to not only start making changes but to deliver on them, and Guy provides some more detail examples about how you might become the type of person who can engage and enchant the people you will be interacting with to make it happen.
And rather than following up with books that aim to tell you exactly what you should do to create a Facebook page or a Twitter account (If you really want people to give you a supposed recipe for success, you’ll find countless blog posts via Google with the same info), I’d complete the set with some practical guides to either the mechanics of business, or the mechanics of measuring and analysing what you’re doing to allow you to work out quickly and effectively what you’re doing (Start with Web Analytics an Hour a Day by Avinash Kaushik).
I said that I’d try to seperate The Domino Project from reviewing Poke The Box, but it’ll be really interesting to see the second manifesto appear, which is entitled ‘Do The Work’ by Stephen Pressfield, who previously wrote ‘The War of Art‘. The electronic version is actually available to pre-order for free for a limited time, if you don’t mind downloading the Amazon Kindle software for your device (If you don’t already own a Kindle/Kindle App). It’ll be interesting to see how other authors adapt to the manifesto length and format.