Posted on Apr 10, 2020

The Dip Summary

PDF, Chapters & Review of Seth Godin’s Book

The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When To Quit (And When to Stick)

Author: Seth Godin

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The Cul-de-Sac ( French for “dead end” ) … is a situation where you work and work and work and nothing much changes

The Dip’s Big Idea

Don’t be afraid to quit the wrong stuff and have the conviction to stick with the right stuff.

A woodpecker can tap twenty times on a thousand trees and get nowhere, but stay busy. Or he can tap twenty-thousand times on one tree and get dinner.

On Being the Best

Vanilla is far and away the top ice cream flavor – 22% of all sales, (Chocolate is 8%)

The top movie of the week usually has 2x the ticket sales of the 2nd movie

Being the best in the world matters – no one wants an average product or service

Yet it’s easier to be the best in something than ever before – so many micro niche markets exist today

Jack Welch and GE – part of the transformation was making only #1 or #2 acceptable

Superstars – agents, dealmakers, artists, etc, get way more than everyone else, because they are the best

Average is for Losers – quit or be exceptional – those are the only two choices


On the Dip

The Dip is the hard part, the “moat” the prevents most people from being the best

The Dip is organic chemistry, law school, agent rejections, the last few pushups

Successful people don’t just “just ride out the Dip…They lean into it, changing the rules as they go”

If it is worth doing, there is probably a Dip

Woodpeckers don’t diversify – they peck one tree 22,000 times to get dinner

Men’s Health cover models pushed through the Dip to get washboard abs

Being mediocre sucks – and so many people and organizations have simply settled for this

8 Dips:

  1. manufacturing on a larger scale
  2. growing a sales team
  3. getting more education
  4. taking a risk to venture big
  5. investing in a longterm relationship
  6. giving up ego/control
  7. reshaping one’s worldview
  8. getting your product into better distribution channels like Walmart.

The space shuttle is not a Dip, it’s a cul-de-sac, because it’s going nowhere and NASA needs to drop it

Stick with the Dips that are likely to pan out, and quit the Cul-de-Sacs to focus your resources

Further Advice

Market acceptance is a big Dip, but worth pushing through

There is a difference between quitting a tactic (action or behavior) versus quitting a strategy (or long-term goal/outcome)

Don’t quit in the Dip – push through short-term pain by visualizing the great long-term results – AKA no one quits the Boston Marathon at mile 25

“Never Quit “– this is a terrible piece of advice

Never quit something with great long-term potential just because you can’t deal with the stress of the moment.

“Don’t quit something with great long-term potential because of the stress of the moment” – much better advice!

Michael Crighton quit medicine after graduating Harvard Med and doing a prestigious fellowship. If he can quit – so can you.

Before quitting ask yourself:

  • Am I just panicking, scared or hurting? All three are bad reasons to quit.
  • Who am I trying to Influence? A single person is hard to bring around, but a market is almost always climbable.
  • Am I making measurable progress? As long as you are making some forward progress, there is hope.

With limited time or opportunity to experiment, we intentionally narrow our choices to those at the top.

Final Thoughts

  • You are astonishing – how dare you waste it on half-assed efforts.
  • Quit mediocre things and use that additional energy, time and resources to assault the Dip that really matters. Make a dent in the universe.

It’s almost impossible to over-invest in becoming the market leader.


All our successes are the same. All our failures too.

We succeed when we do something remarkable

We fail when we give up too soon

We succeed when we are the best in the world at what we do.

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