Summary of The Dip, by Seth Godin

Summary reading time: 7 min

Book reading time: 1h46

Score: 8/10

Book published in: 2007

Main Idea

The best way to avoid quitting is not to engage in things you will quit.

To do so, only engage in activities where you have the potential to be the best.

If the activity has short-term difficulties but long-term rewards, go through with it and don’t quit.

If the activity has neither, quit.


About The Dip

The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When To Quit (And When To Stick) is a book written by Seth Godin.

My first Godin’s book was This Is Marketing, which I passionately hated.

The same thing happened with The Dip. Kinda. Let me explain.

The information dispatched in the book is crucial. It explains the behavior that differentiates successful people from the rest.

The Dip is an important book as it helps evaluate the chances of success of your projects. It tells you whether you should persevere, or quit.

BUT, Godin’s writing style is absolutely awful.

Take the following excerpt:

“Quitting feels like a go-down moment, a moment where you look yourself in the eye and blink. Of course you are trying your best. But you just can’t do it. It’s that whole Vince Lombardi thing. If you were just a better person, you wouldn’t quit.”

Why make it so hard? Why so many metaphors? Why such an indirect style of communication?

Despite the mere size of the book, the author still felt obligated to drag on and repeat 87383 times his thesis exposed in a few lines at the beginning.

When he is not focused on his subject, Godin speaks about random topics like how to do sales successfully.

Despite the appearances, I enjoyed the book. But to quote Tim Denning, “most books should have been a blog post”, which is the case with The Dip.

If you enjoy Godin’s style, by all means, buy the book.

If you want to spare money and save time, read the summary.

Style: 0/10.

Content: 10/10.

Make of this score what you wish.


Summary of The Dip Written by Seth Godin

Being the Best in the World Is Seriously Underrated

Despite the belief that “winners never quit”, winners do quit. They quit the stuff they shouldn’t be doing, and never quit the stuff they should be doing.

Winners become winners because they stick with their activity for a long time and focus on it.

Other people do the opposite. They pursue the wrong stuff and quit the right stuff.

Most of the time, they quit because the system was designed to make them quit – and profit from it.

-> if you learn how the system works, you can know when to quit, and when not to – so you can become the best in the world.

Why is it important to be the best in the world?

Because returns are asymmetric.

Market shares in a market. The leader gets twice as many customers as the second contender.

The leader always has a disproportionate volume in the market. Winners win big because the market is interested in the best– not in the second one.

-> you want the best doctor, not the second-best doctor.

Now, the best is not universal. It’s subjective.

The best song or movie are subjective. They are the best for you. If you have a certain amount of money, you won’t pay for the best doctor in the world. You will pay for the best “within your means”.

-> the worldwide market is fractionalized into millions of tiny markets.

The market decides who is the best. Your job is therefore to find something you can be the best at.

If you hope to be the best, you need to quit what you won’t be the best at.

Society told you two lies.

First lie: being a generalist at everything is great. The truth is that it is not.

The market doesn’t reward those who are average at everything. It rewards those that are really good at one thing.

Second lie: you should do what is easy. It’s wrong. Successful people do what is hard.

If you want to succeed, you need to understand when and what to quit.

There are two curves that will help you do so.

Curve 1: The Dip

An activity worth pursuing is controlled by the Dip.

The dip

In the beginning, anything you learn is fun. Then when you want to reach mastery, there will be a period when it will be very hard. That’s the dip.

The dip is the period of suffering when life tests you to make sure you are worthy of the reward.

It’s when “nothing works and we are two inches from going bankrupt”.

The unworthy quit in the Dip. The worthy go through with it.

Usually, successful people double down when they are in the dip, in order to get out of it faster.

Curve 2: The cul-de-sac

The cul de sac is the situation where despite all of your efforts, nothing changes. It doesn’t get better, it doesn’t get worse.

The cul-de-sac

Cul-de-sac means dead-end in French.

When you are in a dead-end (most 9-5 jobs), you need to get out as soon as possible.

Curve 3: The Cliff (rare, but scary)

The cliff explains what smoking cigarettes is like. The more you do it, the better it feels and the harder it is to quit – until you get cancer and don’t have a choice anymore.

This curve is rare.

The Cliff

Anything worth doing contains a dip.

Curves 2 and 3 are failure curves. If you face them, you need to quit what you do as soon as possible.

If you are in curve 1, you should go through with it.

The harder the Dip is, the better it is, as the less competition, you will have.

The dip is why you exist. It makes things harder, hence, justifying your value. If there were no dips in your job, you would be replaceable.

The Lie Of Diversification

Diversification is what happens when an individual or company cannot go through the Dip. In order to avoid doing nothing, they start something new and diversify.

Before you do so, always imagine how it would be if you went through the Dip?

Sometimes, the Dip is too big, and quitting is best. Sometimes, it’s worth persisting.

Remember, quit if you can’t be the best, even if quitting is hard. Most people prefer being mediocre than quit because they don’t want to feel like failures. Don’t do that. Quitting isn’t failing.

Superstar Thinking

Winners get all the work and money they want because they’re the best, which means they are rare, which means everyone wants to work with them.

They exist in fields with big dips. The bigger the dip, the less competition, the more reward you get.

Seven Reasons Why You Will Fail to Be the Best

  1. Lack of time
  2. Lack of money
  3. Fear
  4. You’re not serious
  5. You lose interest
  6. You focus on the short-term instead of the long-term
  7. You chose the wrong thing to be the best at

Why Is the Curve With a Dip so Prevalent?

The Dip is based on a pyramid scheme. Meaning: the people at the bottom support the people at the top.

How gyms make money.

Not everyone with a gym membership goes to the gym. Their contribution enables the gym to remain open so that the people that go to the gym can go train.

Those that train, train at the expanse (literally) of those that pay. A lot of things in life are like that (people that buy books they don’t read, pay for Netflix that they don’t watch, etc).

Most of what we do has quitting engineered in it. Quitting creates scarcity, which creates value.

Find below a bunch of systems with dips in them.

  1. Manufacturing Dip: it’s easy to build a bike in your garage, less so to build a bike factory. People that struggle here struggle to get their occupation to the next level.
  2. Sales Dip: when you need to get sales to the next level.
  3. Education Dip: some learn and reap the rewards, some don’t.
  4. Risk Dip: self-explanatory
  5. Relationship Dip: building a network is painful at first, but great later.
  6. Conceptual Dip: “what got you here won’t get you there”. Sometimes, you need to rewrite the rules.
  7. Ego Dip: those that can’t give up control to lean in fail here.
  8. Distribution Dip

The art of quitting is also the art of not starting what you are likely to quit later. For the rest, quit the things you are bad at, and focus on where you can be great.

Average Is For Losers

Most people start to perform even worse when they are in the dip. Winners do the opposite. They double down.

What Business Are You In?

Be careful what you quit. It’s not because your product doesn’t work that you have to quit the market. Quit the product, sure, but then make another one if the market is great. Quitting the product is likely part of the market’s Dip.

Eg: Procter and Gamble killed hundreds of products.

The Opposite of Quitting Isn’t “Waiting Around”

The Dip will react to your effort. Big efforts can make it worse, or better. The only way you’ll go through it is by working.

Quitting in the Dip is often a bad idea. The individual sees in quitting short-term gains, but fails to see that they are also quitting on reaping long-term advantages.

To avoid that, think about what’s on the other side of the Dip before quitting.

“Never Quit” Is Bad Advice

You should definitely quit sugar, and all of these bad habits and relationships.

But you shouldn’t quit projects that have long-term potential. Quitting well is not about never quitting. It’s about quitting what you should and not quitting what you shouldn’t.

Three Questions to Ask Before Quitting

1. Am I panicking?

Quitting when you panic is dangerous. The best quitters make plans that determine the conditions under which they will quit, to make it easier – and not be tempted.

2. What are you doing that doesn’t work?

Often, it doesn’t work because you’re not using the right method.

Assess your situation.

3. What progress have you made?

Are you moving forward, regressing, or standing still?

If you are not moving forward and if there is no potential for moving forward (eg: the product you sell is outdated), then quit.

For more summaries, head to auresnotes.com.

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  • Post category:Summaries
  • Post last modified:May 26, 2022