I admire Seth for his books and insight on subjects. I read a few of his books: The Tribe, Unleashing the Ideavirus, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? lastly, The Dip.
My initial reason to buy and read this book (let me say: I bought both versions Audible and iBook) was a post I shared on LinkedIn saying: “Is ‘Failure’ a ‘Success’ but misspelled?”
One of my connections on LinkedIn answered my post with: “No such thing as failure unless you give up.”
I started to wonder and try to find an answer and debunk such a thing called “Failure.” I wanted to know what other people think about this and their point of view. I turned to my favorite authors for an answer. Hence, The Dip is in my hand to read.
It took me 3 hours to read. I was trying to find, learn, understand, and look for exit strategies from a point of few for a startup in internet technology.
I understood his point of view on success and learned a few terminologies like: “The Dip”, The “CUL-De-SAC” which is a Dead End in French, and “The Cliff’ which I believe is a re-packaged version of what Daniel Kahneman calls “Loss Aversion Heuristic” that many people suffer from. You get roped in by small achievements and fear losing. Seth uses the example of cigarette smoking and how people get addicted to smoking and can’t quit.
Seth promotes the idea that success is to be number #1; citing, for example, our culture rewarding celebrities and superstars. The juicy share of the market belongs to the people at the top, in contrast to Christ Anderson’s book The Long Tail. His strategy in becoming #1 is to be a “Quitter of the wrong stuff.” You need to quit the stuff that makes you mediocre and wastes your time. He provides the example of Hannah Smith, a law clerk at the Supreme Court, which he calls her: “A very lucky woman…and She’s the best in the world” in page 8. In page 15, he brings the example of an accountant who is good at driving and a decent golfer. He indicates the indirect way that you do not need such people.
I would like to write few words of disappointment against Seth’s point of view on success and philosophy. In short, he promotes the idea to be best in the world:
a) You have to quit what he calls, “Wrong Stuff”.
b) Focus on being the best in one thing only, because you don’t have time for other things.
c) Don’t be average because people don’t have time and don’t like to take risks.
My disappointment can be discovered on Page 33, where bluntly states, “Average is for losers”.
Reading that statement, it moved a strong feeling inside me to write this blog as an answer to his incorrect, weak philosophy. In short, I found that he uses what is called: “The Procrustes Bed,” a metaphor introduced by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his bestselling book Antifragile. A metaphor used to slice data and change variables to fit models and arguments that we understand to serve our benefit. For example, Seth gives an example of the accountant who spent time learning golf. He believes this is a waste of time, because the accountant is not striving to be the best in the world at it.
Secondly, an answer to his strategy which is to be invests energy and be extremely good in only one and not be well rounded to what he calls it a “Biggest Mistake”. Does he realize that being extremely focused in one skill makes a person fragile? What happens tomorrow when JAVA is gone and a new programming language became popular? It happened to so many old programming languages. I recommend that Seth Godin read the Antifragile book.
As for wasting my time learning to swim because at best I will be a mediocre, how about so many people want to experience and learn new things for enjoyment and breaking boredom? As I am sure in his great guy example of Hannah, I am sure he missed and sacrificed a lot of things in her life. Is she divorced, married very late, kids, missed her kids birthdays, thanksgiving, traveled, has a hobby?…and more….
Thirdly, his major argument for being anti-average is because people don’t have time and don’t like to take risks. He brings a strong example of a person being diagnosed with Cancer, a person visiting town looking for the best restaurant in town to eat. I was shocked! I thought to myself, is he serious? I am wondering does he live on what I call planet Earth? Or what is his zip code? Does he not know that some people can’t afford best doctors and not rich enough to eat in expensive restaurants? Hum, maybe can’t even stay in best hotels. I am wondering if he sees me coming out of an average hotel from the Cannes, France, will he think about me being a loser? I am sure he is rich to afford what he calls “Top Guy” on page 12 for a graphic designer to design his cover book.
If I am an average guy with average English yet sees and bring faults in your TOP arguments in your TOP writing book, then I feel good to know as an average guy feel that way. Yet, the TOP society of people wearing empty suits pays you so much money as I am sure you charge TOP fees for private consulting.
At the end, maybe being average is not a bad thing; it gives me leverage to do other things and makes me antifragile, and a success of being on Top of the tail is just a matter of skills and random act of luck.