The Dip Summary
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The Dip by Seth Godin Book Summary and Review

Book Summary of The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)

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Seth Godin’s Perspective

Seth Godin is an American author and former ‘dot com’ business executive. Seth Godin is the author of over 18 books. Free Prize Inside won Forbes’ Business Book of the Year in 2004, while The Dip was a Business Week and New York Times bestseller. In 2018, Godin was inducted into the American Marketing Association’s Marketing Hall of Fame. He also runs a blog named in 2009, by Time, as one of the 25 best blogs. 


What is The Dip About?

The Dip builds on Seth Godin’s insights introduced on his blog titled ‘The four curves of want and get.’ Every new project starts out exciting and fun. But after this initial excitement, the project will get harder and less fun. Eventually, you will hit a low point in your pursuits. Seth Godin calls this challenging period a dip. This dip is one of three things: an opportunity, a cul-de-sac, or a cliff. You must quit the cul-de-sacs and cliffs so you can reallocate resources. You must persevere with all other pursuits, no matter how hard, so that you can become the best in your world.

StoryShot #1: Be the Best You Can Be

Our society obsesses over those who are number one. We give plaudits to the song or sports person that sits at the top of the charts. Similarly, we reward those employees that are performing the best. But the result of this obsession is that rewards are heavily skewed. Godin points out that, on average, first place generally gets ten times the winnings of whoever places tenth. This is Zipf’s law and is found in almost all fields. Zipf’s law suggests a non-linear relationship whereby rewards reduce exponentially. With limited time and opportunity to experiment, we intentionally narrow our choices to those at the top. 

Therefore, you need to do everything in your power to become the best. If you are not going to be the best, then you should just quit. Crucially, Godin does not necessarily mean the best anybody could ever be. Instead, he explains you need to be the best for you, right now, based on what you believe and know. You need to be the best in your world. 

StoryShot #2: The World Is Changing

When considering becoming the best in the world, you have to accept that the world is changing. The internet has made the world considerably bigger than it used to be. 

Being better than 98% of the competition used to be fine, but it’s useless in the world of Google. The competition is always one click away. So, you have to be better than a considerably larger number of people. Conversely, the world is getting smaller in other ways. For example, niches and specialization are becoming increasingly important. We no longer look for the best wine. Instead, we are looking for the best Merlot from a specific region that can be delivered to your home later that day. 

StoryShot #3: The Curves

Curve 1: The Dip

The dip is your best friend. The brave thing to do in life is tough out the dips and end up on the other side. On the other side, you will benefit from being the best in the world. As well as being brave, you also have to be smart. Godin suggests the smart thing is to not bother starting tasks that are too difficult. If you do, you will be too ill-equipped to make it through the dip. Several people do what Godin calls the ‘stupid thing’ when encountering the dip. The stupid thing to do is start something and waste time and money into overcoming the dip. Then, quitting right in the middle of the dip. Never quit until you fall off. If your pursuit is worth doing, then it is worth fighting through the dip.

One of the most essential features of a dip is that others within your domain will likely be struggling too. So, dips create scarcity, and scarcity creates value.

Curves 2 and 3: The Cul-de-Sac and the Cliff

The biggest obstacles to success in life are the Cul-de-Sacs and the Cliffs. Godin uses an analogy to explain this point. A woodpecker would be more successful by tapping 20,000 times on a single tree than tapping twenty times on a thousand trees. So, choose your ‘tree’ appropriately and persevere if it is not a cul-de-sac or cliff. To be highly successful, you should find as steep a dip as you can and quit all pursuits with a dead-end (cul-de-sac).

The Cul-de-Sac

This curve occurs when you work extremely hard, but nothing changes. Things won’t get better, but they also won’t get considerably worse. So, it simply is what it is. A typical example of this is a dead-end job. You are going nowhere, but you are unlikely to lose your job. If you identify that your decisions today are not moving towards your ideal future, then you’re in a cul-de-sac. After identifying this cul-de-sac, you must get off it quickly. Investing your life into this pursuit is wasting your opportunity to pursue something where you can move forward.

The Cliff

The cliff occurs when an opportunity initially appears promising. Then, all of a sudden, it drops off rapidly, and you suffer. The cliff is also associated with not quitting until you fall off the other end and everything falls apart. Fine examples of cliffs are behaviors that are enjoyable in the short-term but have a significant drawback if you fail. For example, smoking is enjoyable until you get lung cancer.

StoryShot #4: The Seven Most Common Failures When Pursuing Success

  1. Running out of time.
  2. Running out of money.
  3. Getting too scared to fight through the dip.
  4. Not being serious enough about your pursuit.
  5. Losing interest, enthusiasm, or settling for mediocrity.
  6. Focusing on the short- rather than long-term.
  7. Picking the wrong pursuit for your talents.

StoryShot #5: The Eight Dip Curves

Some systems are dependent on dips. Use this knowledge to decide whether to start pursuing something. Seth Godin outlines eight dips with each relevant to a specific field:

  1. Manufacturing dip – Your product is complicated to manufacture at scale.
  2. Sales Dip – You are finding it hard to upgrade to a pro salesforce.
  3. Education dip – You find it hard to learn something new, to reinvent or rebuild your skills.
  4. Risk dip – Your entrepreneurial ventures are risky. Know the difference between investing to get through the dip and investing in something that will never work.
  5. Relationship Dip – To get what you want out of relationships requires hard work upfront and relationship building when it’s difficult.
  6. Conceptual dip – Industries have to abandon the operating assumptions of their world. They have to get through to the other side when no one believes they will succeed.
  7. Ego dip – Give up control and your spotlight to obtain success.
  8. Distribution dip – Getting into extensive distribution channels is complex.


We rate The Dip 4.4/5.

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The Dip PDF, Free Audiobook, Infographic and Animated Book Summary

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