Libro 2/52 :: Poke The Box by Seth Godin

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“This guy is a genius. Buy all his books. Read them once each year.”



I wrote that about Seth Godin here.

And I’m following my own advice.



But before I dive into Poke The Box, I’ll briefly explain my (very) unscientific scoring system to grade the books in the Libro 52 challenge.




Over the course of 2013, I will surely forget to what degree I liked these Libro 52 books and for what reasons. Sure, I could re-read my posts, but that’s a lot of, ahem, reading. To solve this problem, I came up with a scoring system.



There are 4 weighted components to the score:

Libro 52 Score



Each component receives a score of 1-10.

1 is the worst.

10 is the best.



Highlightability: 50%

My primary goal for reading is Insightwhat can I learn to make my life easier/better/more understandable? For this reason I read with a highlighter close by. I highlight ideas I find insightful and sometime down the road, I revisit the text.


The downside here is I become a book hoarder. The only books I share are the un-insightful ones with nothing to offer my future self. My problem – not yours. Unless I give you a book I’ve already read. Fair warning.


Entertainability: 20%

Pretty straightforward.

Yes, I know it’s not a word.




ROI-T: 20%

Return on Investment for my Time. How valuable is the insight provided compared to the time spent reading it? I will not read Atlas Shrugged again this year, but at 1100 pages… the classic tome would get dinged here. Sorry.



Memorability: 10%

Will I remember this book in 5 years? This score will be either a 10 for and a 1 for No.



This scoring system is my own personal BCS Standings demon. There are plenty of problems with it (“If you’ve done a lot of highlighting and found it entertaining, why wouldn’t you remember it in 5 years?”) and I could argue all day about it. So if you disagree with it… great. So do I. Make good use of the Comment section below and we’ll chat.


So there it is.



How’d Libro #1 do?

Chris Matthews’ Kennedy & Nixon book?



Kennedy & Nixon: The Rivalry that Shaped Postwar America.




Is that score good or bad? 



I don’t know. The sample size with only 2 books is a bit small. We’ll see how it stacks up against the other books. For instance – we do know how it fared against Seth Godin’s Poke The Box.



Poke the Box



To set the table, watch this short video of Godin explaining the premise of Poke. He’s better at it than I am.




The BIG IDEA in Poke is simple: Go. Quit procrastinating. Get on with it. Don’t be afraid of failure because it’s the best way to learn and really – what’s the worst that can happen? 


That sums it up in 27 words.



The book isn’t much longer.

It’s only 96 pages.

You can knock it out in 2 hours.



That’s why the ROI-T score was 9/10.

There is a lot of bang-fer-the-buck if you need a kick in the pants. And really – we all need a kick in the pants about something.



There isn’t a Marianas Trench of depth to Poke, but that’s not the point. The point is to start taking control of your project/career/marriage/life and do something. Don’t allow life to just happen to you. Be the lead actor in your life on stage.


From the Poke The Box Workbook

From the Poke The Box Workbook



For obvious reasons, this book is popular among entrepreneurs. It validates and motivates the very thoughts we’re already thinking. But this book should be required reading for everyone – even those who would rather test waterboarding than test the waters of entrepreneurship.



Especially in a down economy, we all need to take action and lead, even if you plan on never leaving the cubicle farm. Poke may be even more important for those who prefer Intrapreneurship.



Yeah, I know Intrapreneurship is a made-up MBA word for the entrepreneurial spirit within an existing company, but it does express the idea pretty well….



Anyway, Poke is a manifesto for The Company Man just as much as it is for Startup Steve because in down economies, it’s even more critical for individuals within companies to overcome fear.



Poke The Box can help the Corporate Death Spiral.



When business is bad, people get scared.

Scared of being wrong.

Scared of looking dumb.

Scared of losing their jobs.



So what do they do?



They lay low.

Keep their heads down.

Keep on keeping on.



And what does this get you?

The Death Spiral.



Sales are down


Scared employees

Lack of innovation and creativity

Uninspired, undifferentiated products

Sales are down

More Layoffs

Scareder employees….




You get the idea.



Bottom line: Poke The Box, with fewer than 100 pages, has essentially no downside and may just help change your life.





Bradley Hartmann is El Presidente at Red Angle ( He plans on reading 52 books this year and will report back on his progress with posts similar to these.




Categories: Libro 52 Challenge

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36 replies


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