What might have served as Seth Godin's tipping point for dispensing strategic career advice is instead a weakly argued, barely credible excuse for building the blogger's brand. With "The Dip," Godin spends 80 pages dissecting the moment when, several weeks or months into a project, you ask yourself, "What's the point?"
You could analyze such existentialism to death (and you probably have). Just don't ask Godin for the final answer. He offers a plethora of reasons to stick it or quit it -- leave if you can't be the best, stay if it will up your echelon -- but never identifies the red flag to signal "Get out."
Maybe it's simply a way to play it safe with today's office politics, but to me advice like "If you can't make it through the Dip, don't start" is just plain indecisive. Only in the last dozen pages does the author attach a useful warning label to all of this flip-floppery, offering up "Three Questions to Ask Before Quitting."
Funnily enough, "The Dip" has a Dip. About halfway through I asked myself what I could possibly take away from this book. Applying Godin's method, I decided this wasn't a Cul-de-sac, that things would change and fresh material would spring up after toiling through several chapters. And it certainly wasn't a Cliff -- I wasn't going to finish the book and quit my job. I'm not that easily inspired.
I survived the Dip (and according to the rules, I'm one of few!), but the results were disappointing.
There's a fistful of decent points -- namely Godin's big theory that scarcity equals value -- but nothing more "thought-provoking" (as the book's jacket attests) than our own fantasies of walking out on the chief, chin held high and without turning back.
One might think in the time it takes to skim "The Dip," you could patch things over with your boss through a nice tete-a-tete -- something Godin suggests, but only when you're sure there's "nothing left to lose."
I trust the author's readership is smart enough to forgo this book for their own instincts. For the worrisome bunch who always need a good push in life, know that you won't leave the text with a well-informed decision, just a bunch of what-ifs. --Matt Kinsey
A SECOND OPINION (OR: SECOND VERSE SAME AS THE FIRST)
It might seem like piling on, but this book evoked in me such a visceral response that I absolutely had to respond. Thumbing through "The Dip," I kept expecting to come across the phrase "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough and, doggone it, people like me." But that line, from Al Franken's Stuart Smalley character, is too funny and too clever to be found in this so-called book. And Smalley's line, which appears in, go figure, I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!: Daily Affirmations By Stuart Smalley also touches, in its own odd way, some sort of human truth.
But "The Dip" is little more than hollow self-motivation pap, the sort of stuff that late-life losers spend hundreds of dollars on at seminars across the country in some desperate hope to pull their lives together. I'd say "The Dip" reads like a bunch of disjointed blog posts, but that would be an insult to the hundreds of bloggers out there crafting thoughtful, insightful essays about business. Are there any actual editors still working at publishing houses? And, if so, have they all become so afraid of being called squares by the Web 2.0 crowd that they're reluctant to demand such quaint notions as cohesion, insight or, at a bare minimum, paragraphs? The blurbs in this book are written in that slightly convoluted way that obscures meaning and tricks the reader into thinking if he just concentrated a little harder, he'd get it. But zen koans these ain't.
What's most distressing about reading a work like this is that it reminds the reader how many people in this industry practically slobber over Godin's words -- which in turn only confirms the suspicion that the business pool is very shallow indeed.
A word to the wise: Spend your 10 bucks on Franken's book. That way you won't get the wrong idea that you've picked up some wisdom. And at least you'll get a laugh for your money. --Ken Wheaton
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