The Dip by Seth Godin

I just read The Dip a couple days ago. Briefly, most of the book had to do with the idea that there is an extended period of struggle along the path to achieving great success. You might have some initial success, but to really get to the top, you have to go through the dip first.

I liked the book more than I thought I would, but it left me with some of the big questions unanswered. Mainly, how do we know we’re going to get past the dip? If it’s a career, how do we know? If it’s a startup, how can you tell?

The second question I was left with had to do with “is it worth it?” but somehow the question is tied to, and maybe the same as, the first.

We all can relate to relationships, so let’s use the dating analogy. Most long term relationships go through a dip at some point. Knowing whether you’re going to get to the other side is almost the same as knowing it’s worth it. Obviously, if you’re not sure it’s worth it, you’re probably in the dip or maybe haven’t even gotten to the dip. Then again, maybe you can’t know it’s worth it until you’re well into the dip.

To me, an early stage startup mirrors this. How do you know if a market is going to emerge that will make the dip worth it? Many startups begin based on an optimistic view of an uncertain future.

The part of the book that stuck with me was the well presented arguments around being the very best at something in particular. (which, typically requires progressing through a dip — thus the relevance to the book’s name.) Indeed there is a very significant multiplier effect when you get to the status of “best.” Why? The best are in very high demand and by definition, the “best” is a scarce bunch. I think over time, this may get even more extreme because in many areas, with technology, the best can be spread further and further, negating the need and demand for second best.

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