Poke The Box. Just do it in private.

Ian Lurie

“Are you OK sir?”

The guy next to me at SeaTac gate S8 was eyeing me dubiously as I sat reading Seth Godin’s Poke The Box. I’d just finished yet another passage that made me think “Hell YES!” Apparently, I was also nodding vigorously. My inner monologue was showing. It creeped out my fellow traveler.

He didn’t call the TSA. Instead, he called me ‘sir’. Sir? SIR? Should I get my walker?!

Take this story as a warning: Reading Poke The Box while conscious, thinking and/or breathing may lead to strong feelings of “Hell yeah” and “Damn right”. It may also get you off your ass. If you’re leading a large, publicly-traded company or a political party, avoid this book at all costs.

Otherwise, read it in private, or people may think you’re nuts.

Like many of Seth Godin’s books, Poke The Box (PTB) is a series of small, digestible ideas written to inspire. As he explains, he’s not providing a blueprint or a map—that’s your job. He’s explaining why it’s so important that you make things happen. He encapsulates that idea in the first of several great quotes in this book:

Please stop waiting for a map. We reward those who draw maps, not those who follow them.

And about adaptation:

“Part of initiating is being willing to discover that what you end up with is different from what you set out to accomplish. If you’re not willing to discover that surprise, it’s no wonder you’re afraid to start.


Later on, he writes about the moral obligation to start:

“_Once you’ve engaged with an organization or a relationship or a community, you owe it to your team to start. To initiate. To be the one who makes something happen._

To do less is to steal from them.


Ahem. Sorry.

I won’t say that Poke The Box broke new ground for me. If you’re the target audience, it won’t be revolutionary for you, either. Instead, it will reinforce values you probably already have:

  • Change is important.
  • Without it, the best organization dies.
  • You have to innovate. Have to. It’s not an option, it’s a moral imperative.

If you’re not the target audience, read Poke The Box, and you might join it. Read this book and you’ll want to create a ruckus.

And that’s good.

Poke The Box, by Seth Godin
Kindle Edition
Paper Edition

Start call to action

See how Portent can help you own your piece of the web.

End call to action


  1. I am not sure if I should buy this. The first book I read was great, the second was… something near great and the third one which he suggested to me, the Lynchpin, I bought it almost 3 months ago and haven’t finished even half, boring. I hope this one isn’t that thick in size.

  2. Oh my gosh, I’m loving this book! (And a special thanks to Seth Godin for making it free on my iPhone!!!)
    I’m reading it in the morning while I eat my breakfast, and it’s such an inspiring, energizing way to start the day. And, on the plus side, at least my cats are used to the occasional shouts – more so than fellow airport travelers… 🙂

  3. Charles, I’ve never found anything by Seth to be boring.
    His latest stuff (Linchpin and newer) has been a bit more cerebral than the previous stuff, and that may be what you’re reacting to.
    Like Ian said above, if you’re the target audience most of the concepts in there aren’t particularly earth-shattering – but it is a good swift kick in the hind end. 🙂
    And sometimes that’s exactly what somebody needs.
    Ian, I like these type of posts – probably because I like to see what’s going on in peoples’ brains. Keep up the good work!

Comments are closed.

Close search overlay