Cool Friend: Seth Godin

We consider it much more than charming that Seth Godin has joined us a third time for a Cool Friends interview. His keen eye for "noticing things and giving them a name" keeps us tuned into his blog, his books, and his projects. His latest book, The Dip: The Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick) is the subject of the current interview. Here's an excerpt:

Q: What is "the dip?"

SG: It's the hard spot; the place where most people quit. It's organic chemistry on your way to being a doctor. Lots of people announce that they're pre-med. Their grandmother gets excited and they have fun until they take organic chemistry.

Q: You say that there's a simple way to tell if you should quit.

SG: There are some things that are a dip and other things that are a dead end. Once you understand that quitting is a choice, that quitting in the dip is the worst moment to quit, you'll quit a lot less because you'll fall in love with mastery. You'll fall in love with becoming the best in the world by investing enough resources to get out the other end. Figure out how many resources you have and pick a dip that matches them. It's foolish for a startup to say, "We're going to make a better search engine than Google," because the dip's too big.

The dip is your friend, because if the dip isn't there, you're on a dead end. There is no dip for a longshoreman. There is a dip for making a profit by selling your product at Wal*Mart. Once you get through that dip, on the other end is success.

Q: Val Willis recently posted here about projects that are doomed to failure. People don't have the patience anymore to work on something when they realize it's dead in the water.

SG: Cycles are shorter. People twenty years ago said, "This may be doomed, but it's going to be ten years before they figure it out. I'll be fine." But now people realize that it could happen in sixty days. The opportunity cost of sticking around at the wrong place is too high. If you're working on a dead end, you're wasting your personal brand and your resources.