Review: The Dip

I read The Dip by Seth Godin because it promised to be a short book on self-improvement. It’s supposed to teach its readers how to decide to follow through on a personal or professional project, right there in the subtitle: A little book that teaches you when to quit (and when to stick).

It lies.

Well, it doesn’t lie about its length; the book is only ~90 pages, and it took me about half an hour to flip through its content. What’s there, however, is not particularly insightful or even well-written. Basically, the premise is that you — the reader — should want to be the best1, and in order to be the best you need to work hard. Working hard means powering through the hard stuff, which he calls The Dip. Hence the title of the book.

But…that’s pretty much all the book offers. It’s padded out to 90 pages on a bunch of random anecdotes and shallow examples of major tech companies, and a puzzling insistence on saying the same thing over and over in slightly different words. There’s no real instruction on how to separate Dips from dead ends (which he calls Cul-de-Sacs), and no real explanation of what makes being the best at something worthwhile. Even the “work really hard” sections don’t feel motivating, lacking in examples and style and relatable experiences. From that standpoint, The Hard Thing about Hard Things is much better literature about working hard for great rewards.

  1. Except that the author realizes that it’s impossible for everyone to be the best, so he qualifies “best” with a bunch of extra parameters so the reader can customize their bestness to fit their own skillset.

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