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Poke the Box Hardcover – March 1, 2011

4.1 out of 5 stars 379 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Book Description: If you're stuck at the starting line, you don't need more time or permission. You don’t need to wait for a boss’s okay or to be told to push the button; you just need to poke.

Poke the Box is a manifesto by bestselling author Seth Godin that just might make you uncomfortable. It’s a call to action about the initiative you’re taking-– in your job or in your life. Godin knows that one of our scarcest resources is the spark of initiative in most organizations (and most careers)-– the person with the guts to say, “I want to start stuff.”

Poke the Box just may be the kick in the pants you need to shake up your life.

Love the ideas in Poke the Box? Check out our Domino Project page for other format options, such as a 5-pack or 52-pack carton of books to share or the limited deluxe edition, which includes the book with a letterpress jacket, a specially designed signature plate signed by Seth Godin, and a letterpress poster. Be sure to also visit TheDominoProject.com for the latest news and special offers.
Daniel H. Pink Reviews Poke the Box

Daniel H. Pink is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Drive and A Whole New Mind, which together have been translated into 31 languages. Read his guest review of Seth Godin's Poke the Box:

Let me begin with a professional and personal disclosure: If Seth Godin weren’t a friend of mine, I would probably hate his guts.

He makes those of us in the word-slinging, meme-spreading trade look like a bunch of ne’er-do-well slackers. He is so preposterously creative and so endlessly productive--a new blog post every day, a new book every year, dozens of efforts to raise money for charity, Squidoo, the Domino Project, and more--that I once suspected "Seth Godin" was really a cover name for an army of elves toiling in a work camp near the Hudson River.

But after reading this remarkable book, I’ve discovered Seth’s secret: He’s willing to poke the box. To start. To initiate. To begin. That’s all.

Indeed, the message of this book is so profoundly simple and so simply profound, I can encapsulate it in a single word.


Don’t cogitate. Don’t ruminate. Don’t plan on getting started or wait for permission to begin.


Of course, that’s a little scary. Starting is a risk. Things might not work out. You could flop. But one theme of this book--and it’s a theme that you should write on a rock, imprint on your brain, and inject into your bloodstream--is that we ought to be much more concerned about mediocrity than failure. "If you can’t fail," Seth writes, "it doesn’t count."

Like the man who produced it, Poke the Box is inspired and inspiring. I’ll place it on my shelf alongside two other extraordinary books: The War of Art by Steven Pressfield and Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. If you enjoyed those two, you’ll love this one. It will simultaneously stir your heart and kick your butt.

Which brings us to a final question: When should you get started on that project, that business, that work of art only you can deliver to the world?

Seth has the answer to that, too: "Soon is not as good as now."

In other words, go. --Daniel H. Pink

A Q&A with Seth Godin

Question: What does it mean to Poke the Box?

Seth Godin: Conformity used to be crucial--fitting in, not standing out. Compliance used to be the heart of every successful organization, every successful career. The reason? We all worked for the system, in the factory, doing what we were told. Now, though, compliance is no longer a competitive advantage.

Poke the Box is about the spark that brings things to life. We need to be nudged away from conformity and toward ingenuity, toward answering unknown questions for ourselves. Even if we fail, as I have done many times in my life, we learn what not to do by experience and doing the new.

This isn’t the same thing as taking a risk. In fact, the riskiest thing we can do right now is nothing.

I’ve had an extraordinary run, creating a dozen nationwide bestsellers, starting Internet companies and giving speeches around the world. The key thing I bring to the projects I take on is not more talent than most (I don’t) or even more hours than most (hardly). My contribution is a willingness to poke, to start, to lean into the project and to get it out the door.

Question: What will I learn from reading Poke the Box?

Seth Godin: Hopefully you will learn lots but do more. Start thinking about when you’ve taken initiative in a way that really meant something to you and your team, your family. When was the last time you did something for the first time? How did it feel?

There are no step-by-step how-to instructions in Poke the Box. Instead, you’ll find a series of layers, a foundation for taking a different approach to your work. Instead of learning to be more compliant, I want to push you to be the one who takes initiative.

Question: Why did you write this book?

Seth Godin: I’ve been fortunate enough to hear from almost a million people over the years, to talk with CEOs and bosses and customers around the world. And they all tell me precisely the same thing: it’s the motive force they demand, the person who will shake things up and move them forward.

Static is not an acceptable state. The status quo is no longer something we want at work or in politics or in any organization we care about.

The market is just waiting for people to step forward. I wrote the book for those people, the ones who’ve been hesitating to take the leap.

Question: Why did you start The Domino Project?

Seth Godin: The Domino Project is my latest attempt at "poking." It’s an independent publishing imprint founded by me and powered by Amazon. This is an opportunity to publish "idea manifestos" committed to readers, rather than being bookstore friendly. It’s named after the domino effect--where one powerful idea spreads down the line, pushing from person to person.

I have two audacious goals: I want to change the people who read (not enough do) and I want to change the way books are published (they’re too hard to find and spread). I honestly believe that a book can change a mind like nothing else, and that’s our focus. To help anyone to do work they’re proud of and to make a difference.

Question: Why Amazon?

Seth Godin: I partnered with Amazon so we could leverage what we both do best--Amazon is the leader in global distribution, multiple format production capabilities, and reaching people in the right way, and I want to spread powerful ideas to the people who want to read them.

For 15 years, Amazon has been building an audience and gaining our trust. Many surveys identify them as the most-trusted new brand in the world. Now that Amazon is interacting with more people more often, they have a chance to bring those customers new ideas in innovative ways. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to bring ideas worth spreading to a huge and eager audience.

Question: Who is Seth Godin?

Seth Godin: I’m an author, entrepreneur, and a person who starts things.




—Annie Duke, world poker champion, author, and talk show host

—Sarah Jones, playwright

—Jill Greenberg, photographer, manipulator.org --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: The Domino Project; 1 edition (March 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1936719002
  • ISBN-13: 978-1936719006
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (379 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #353,432 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Related Media

More About the Author

Seth Godin is the author of eighteen international bestsellers that have been translated into over 35 languages, and have changed the way people think about marketing and work. For a long time, Unleashing the Ideavirus was the most popular ebook ever published, and Purple Cow is the bestselling marketing book of the decade.

His book, Tribes, was a nationwide bestseller, appearing on the Amazon, New York Times, BusinessWeek and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists. It's about the most powerful form of marketing--leadership--and how anyone can now become a leader, creating movements that matter.

His book Linchpin came out in 2008 and was the fastest selling book of his career. Linchpin challenges you to stand up, do work that matters and race to the top instead of the bottom. More than that, though, the book outlines a massive change in our economy, a fundamental shift in what it means to have a job.

Since Linchpin, Godin has published two more books, Poke the Box and We Are All Weird, through his Domino Project. He followed these with The Icarus Deception via Kickstarter, which reached its goal in less than three hours. Joined by Watcha Gonna Do With That Duck and V is for Vulnerable, those books are now widely available. In late 2014, he announced his latest, What To Do When It's Your Turn, sold directly from his website.

In addition to his writing and speaking, Seth was founder and CEO of Squidoo.com,. His blog (find it by typing "seth" into Google) is the most popular marketing blog in the world. Before his work as a writer and blogger, Godin was Vice President of Direct Marketing at Yahoo!, a job he got after selling them his pioneering 1990s online startup, Yoyodyne.

You can find every single possible detail that anyone could ever want to know at sethgodin.com

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Poke the Box should have been titled Tribes: The Remix as Godin brings nothing new to the table other than a relationship with Amazon and some promotional pricing gimmicks. It's his usual mix of paper-thin insights and exhortations to be bold! to lead! to ship! -- but with notably less energy or conviction than usual, as if he wrote it in between blog posts over a rare quiet weekend.

I pre-ordered the Kindle version and read it in a total of about 2 hours, and would still rather pay full price for the hardcover version of Tribes, a far superior book that I not only devoured and raved about 2.5 years ago, but bought copies for my entire staff at the time, and still recommend to people on a regular basis.

Perhaps the most interesting idea in the book gets buried in his Stuart Smalley-esque shtick:

"One reason organizations get stuck is that they stick with their 'A' players so long that they lose their bench. In a world that's changing, a team with no bench strength and a rigid outlook on the game will always end up losing."

It's a concept worth exploring further, and one that fits perfectly under Tribes' philosophical umbrella, but in Poke it's an odd aside that gets glossed over.

One of Godin's running themes throughout Poke is to be an initiator, and that risking failure is the best road to achieving success, and by making Poke the Box the first offering from The Domino Project, he's practicing what he preaches. He initiated, he shipped, and he pretty much failed to deliver a good book.

Now the question will be whether or not "Powered by Amazon" and his marketing gimmicks have introduced him to a wider audience than Portfolio, his previous publisher, could have, and whether or not The Domino Project's bench is deep enough to give this publishing experiment real legs.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Not too long ago, I read and reviewed Seth Godin's "Tribes." While it was very thought-provoking and filled with an incredible array of ideas, it was also wrong- headed in many ways, I felt.

So I ordered "Poke the Box" with some trepidation. What I've learned is to re-calibrate my expectations from Seth Godin. While I might want a well-thought-out and researched treatise proving the latest idea to me, Seth Godin overwhelms me with his passion and force. Rather than resisting and arguing with Seth (I do this especially as I read what he writes!) I decided this time to listen carefully and take away from the book what I could. Besides, for one dollar as a Kindle book, how could I go wrong! This, by the way, is part of Seth's exciting new strategy for getting books out to people through non-traditional means. "Poke the Box" is the first book being marketed by Seth using the Domino Project and its strategies. It is, in fact, the first is a series of manifestoes.

If "Poke the Box" communicates nothing else, it presents this one message with a megaphone voice: "Go!" "Start now." "The worst thing you can do is nothing." Already, I find myself arguing, since I know that just doing things without careful planning first has led to many disasters. But I keep reading because Seth is so insistent, and he has such a large tribe following him, telling me that maybe he's worth listening to.

But I think I know what Seth means: he means that you've got to be out there trying and risking failure, or you'll be irrelevant. There are too many people out there and too many tribes so that if you do nothing or are too cautious, thinking that you can control the whole process, the chances are you'll end up marginalizing yourself.
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As background, I absolutely love Seth's work. I read his blog daily and within the past year finished The Dip, Tribes, and Linchpin.

Having said that, I'm hard pressed to give this manifesto more than 3 or 3.5 stars. While the content is certainly motivational and inspiring, the overall message and theme felt the same as his other aforementioned books. In other words, the material didn't seem fresh. There were several sections that I felt were extremely similar to his earlier work (sometimes even the examples were the same) but just not in the same depth/detail.

For seasoned Godin readers, I think you can safely skip this one.
For new readers to Seth's work, I'd steer you towards Tribes and Linchpin first instead of this manifesto. You'll get more information, understanding, and background story to many of his key points.

In the end, it's still a nice kick in the pants to get started. Do something. Now.
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I bought this book as a last minute add on to another purchase. An impulse purchase like buying a candy bar while checking out at the grocery store. My advice to you is "put the candy bar down." I don't mind wasting $5 dollars ( which is the most insightful thing I learned from this book), but I am upset at the other reviewers for letting me down. I kept reading this book wondering why it had 4+ stars.

The punchline of the book is, Just start doing something. I just did. I hope this helped you.
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Format: Hardcover
I picked up Seth Godin's "Poke the Box" in the new arrivals shelf at my local library. It's a neatly packaged book - 5"x7"; 84 pages long with 95 headings written in what I guess is 12pt font. Why is this important? It hopefully gives you an idea of the depth to which the author bothers to explore any of his points.

The "book" comes across as a stream-of-conciousness rant that randomly but frequently repeats "start something" as a mantra or a nag: "Blah blah blah, start something. Blah blah blah initiate." Irritating. It is ill organized with little to no connectivity between ideas which often contradict each other. It's as if the author collected loosely related blog posts and threw them together in a book. Lazy. The coup de grace is his suggestion on how to share the ideas in his manifesto: "Give away copies [of the book]. Lots of them." The audacity!

The tragedy for me with respect to this book is the opportunity wasted by the author to truly inspire and motivate his readers. The again, maybe this was an experiment by the author & publisher to see if it's possible to feed attractively packaged crap to blind followers to check if they will not only eat it, but call it delicious. Insulting.
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