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To persist or to quit? That is the question.

Seth Godin has two types of readers. Those that are in marketing and those that aren’t. I’m from the second camp. That’s probably why he’s such a popular web dude. His blog and books appeal more to a general audience because they have a “self-helpish” tone to them. That is: they make you feel good about yourself. They make you feel like you’re acquiring a knowledge that will bring nothing but success to your life.

I haven’t read all his books and I’m very new to his blog. There’s no doubt that he’s a very smart man. His blog is a must read and almost every day he posts a great insight about something that you can immediately apply to the real world. But his greatest insight so far, for me at least, is this one sentence he said: “No one cares about you“.

That’s one of the reasons why I enjoy his blog so much. He cuts through the crap and tells you in the simplest words exactly what you need to know. For a complex subject like marketing, his blog post are usually very short.

That’s why I had such high hopes for The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick). But a book so short about knowing when to “quit” was too good to be true. It’s a good read, but it has a misleading title. It’s silly, but he never really answers the questions of when to quit. Yeah, he talks about dead ends, calling them “cul de sacs”, but if you’re in a “dead end”, you don’t really have to read about it to decide to quit. That’s something that’s self evident.

He talks about “the dip”, that plateau when you stop seeing progress, but I found his take on it confusing and contradicting. On some things he says that persisting is a bad strategy. He writes:

When was the last time you heard about someone who stuck with a dead-end job or a dead-end relationship or a dead-end sales prospect until suddenly, one day, the person at the other end said, “Wow, I really admire your persistence; let’s change our relationship for the better”? It doesn’t happen.

But he also writes that “quitting when you hit the dip is a bad idea.”

The problem is that being in a “dip”, unlike a “cul de sac”, is not self evident and his examples of  knowing when you are in one aren’t clear either. You can graph a dip like he does in the book but only in hindsight. In the actual moment, you can only guess if you’re there.

The question that I wanted answered, is a question that probably no one can truly answer, and it’s this: How do you know that you have done enough, that you have done everything possible and persisted enough, to make X happen? Not even Seth Godin can answer that.

The book is not awful and there are many valuable lessons in it like the importance of being number one, “settling for mediocre or average”, etc., but you can get a lot of what he talks about in the book just by browsing through his blog as well. Persistence and quitting are topics better left to psychologist than to marketing gurus.