December 13, 2019

Seth Godin and his advice for getting through the hard things

Seth Godin, one of my all time favourite authors, podcasters and marketers wrote a book called The Dip which inspired my friend (Shawn) and I to create our own podcast, called by the same name. Before we started though, we wanted to make sure that Seth was okay with us using this name for our podcast so I decided to e-mail Seth.

I honestly didn’t expect him to reply or maybe he would reply with a threat to sue us if we went forward with the name. But none of those things actually happened – he replied back within a few days and told us that he was perfectly okay with us using The Dip as the podcast name, as long as there was no association with his book of the same name or with him.

I was absolutely amazed that I got a direct response from Seth. I forwarded it over to my friend who was also equally as shocked. It’s like contacting President Obama with a handwritten letter and getting a handwritten letter back from the President himself. How did he have the time to handwrite a response? To this day, I still don’t know why Seth replied back.

This post isn’t about our podcast though, it’s about the book.

What is the dip?

The dip is something that we all face when we are working on something worth doing. It’s that grind. It’s the challenge. It’s the obstacle. When you go to write your book, it’s the procrastination, it’s the competition of other authors writing about the same subject, it’s your editor sending back your book multiple times for revisions, it’s that cover designer who is just out of your price range. It’s all the things that make you want to quit. Because it’s easier to quit, a lot of people in fact do quit. That also means that if you can get through the dip, all of the benefits are there for you.

Is the dip good?

It can be both a boon and a burden. Think about the dip as that barrier between you and passing the bar. The bar exam may be getting tougher and tougher every year, there may be additional pre-requisites and requirements that you need to pass to become a lawyer and there may be other things (I’m not a lawyer but I’m guessing). All of those things between you and becoming a lawyer is the so-called ‘dip’. In this case, the dip is good because it makes being an existing lawyer so much better. It’s not great because becoming a lawyer is that much tougher.

Being #1 should be your goal

Interestingly, Seth shares a few examples where being #1 gives significantly more benefits than being #2 or lower. He talks about movies – the #1 grossing movie makes at least 2 – 3 times more than the next highest grossing movie. He then talks about ice cream flavours – vanilla is 5 – 6 times more popular than other flavours. Being #1 gives you significantly more market share and benefits.

When Jack Welch took over GE, he realized that while there were billion dollar departments at the company that were #4 in market share, these would need to be cut. Why? They needed to focus their time, attention and resources into being or staying #1 in the departments that they dominated in.

Quitting can be good

We may have all heard that advice – quitters never win. That’s true that they don’t win at the thing they quit at. But quitting gives them the time, energy and space to win at things that they can win at. If only one person or company can be #1 in the market, then the other companies are arguably wasting time and money being #2 or lower when they could be #1 in another market and get significantly more revenue and profit (for example, read the Jack Welch anecdote above).

Quitting isn’t a good decision if you are in the dip though. If you feel like you will quit in the dip (before you get all the benefits of getting past the dip!), then Seth argues, you might as well not even try to get through the dip. Quit early and find something that you can get through.

Quitting is not the same as failing


A final piece of advice that I think about all the time: if it scares you, it’s probably worth trying.

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