The Dip – by Seth Godin – Book Review


thedip-largeShould YOU read THE DIP?

Subtitle – A Little Book That Teaches You When To Quit
(And When To Stick)  by Seth Godin

Length:  It is a short book, only 76 pages.

There are no chapters.  There is a Part 1 and a Part 2

Part 1 is titled, “Being the Best in the World is Seriously Underrated.”

Part 2 is titled, “If you’re Not Going to Get to #1, You Might As Well Quit Now.”


“I feel like giving up.”  The bottom line is we all feel that way sometimes.  Seth Godin begins by using a famous quote by Vince Lombardi.  He then references this quote throughout the book.  Lombardi said, “Quitters never win and winners never quit.”  Godin calls this “bad advice.”  He says, “Winners quit all the time.  They just quit the right stuff at the right time” (p.3).

In a break with conventional wisdom, Seth Godin advocates quitting, however, in an almost contradictory way he advocates not quitting.

“Extraordinary benefits accrue to the tiny minority of people who are able to push just a tiny bit longer than most.”  And “Extraordinary benefits also accrue to the tiny majority with the guts to quit early and refocus their efforts on something new.”

He says that both of these scenarios involve an attempt to be the best in the world.  The book is about the value of attempting to be the best in the world at something and then being able to determine when to quit, what to quit, and when it is right to see it through to the end.  To the person who decides to become the best in the world Godin gives this advice. “Quit the wrong stuff.  Stick with the right stuff.  Have the guts to do one or the other.”  Really good advice.

Godin gives an incredibly persuasive plea for you and me to attempt to become the best in the world.  There is amazing benefit which comes from achieving this goal.  He refers to Ziph’s law which states that “Winners win beg because the marketplace loves a winner.”  Typically, the number one, in any market earns 10 times the benefit of #10 and a hundred times the benefit of #100.  This seems to be true because people want to find out what’s best in town and start from there.

How To Define “The Best In The World.”

Best is subjective and it is decided by the customer.  Best in the world refers to “best fo them, right now, based on what they believe and what they know.”  And “in the world” means “their world, the world they have access to.”  This definition makes “being the best in the world” achievable because there are millions of micro markets.  Godin states that it is not only important to be number one, “It’s also easier, – if you pick the right thing and do it all the way.”

Since being the best is so important to success, Godin advocates what he calls “strategic quitting” (p. 16).  He also advises against “reactive quitting” and “serial quitting” which sabotage success.  He uses three scenarios which he calls “curves” to describe in simplicity how to know when to quit and when to stick. 

Curve #1 is called “the dip.”  It describes the task that is worth doing, but involves a learning curve or set of skills that must be mastered before achieving success.

Curve #2 is called “the cul-de-sac” which is French for “dead end.”  It describes the job or task that requires continual effort, but heads nowhere.

Curve #3 is called “the cliff.”  It describes a task or job or activity in which you cannot quit until you fall off.  In other words, it feels too good to quit.

The question is how to know which scenario you are in and what to do about it.  The desirable scenario is “the dip” which is the only one that leads to long term success.

Next Godin shares with us how to know which situation we are truly in.  He gives us the tools to think it through.  Then, like a master consultant he prods you to make the tough choices, like quitting that leads to lasting success.  He warns of the danger of allowing pride to keep us from quitting.

Throughout the book he references people and organizations who escaped the cul-de-sac, survived the dip and became the best.  He refers to Jack Welch, Butch Cassidy, Invincible, Vanilla ice cream, and more.  In fact, he has a two page list in the back of the book with nothing but names.

Personal Response

I was very impressed with this book.  My only regret is that I did not read it 3 or 4 years ago.  It might have helped me to escape a cul-de-sac, and avoid a cliff.  It helped me a great deal to understand not only a job to pursue or avoid, but also specific activities within a job to pursue or avoid.  For instance, some activities of church ministry require a great deal of time and effort to learn, but they produce a great reward, so it is worth going through the dip in order to become the best.  Other activities require a great deal of time, but they yield only circular results.

Who Should Read The Dip?

This book is written for anyone who sincerely wants to be successful in their chosen field and is struggling with how to achieve it.  It is written for the person who is unsatisfied in their current job and is looking for some experienced guidance.  It is written for the person who is thiniing about quitting their education, career, relationship, but should reconsider.  It is even written for the man or woman who has achieved success, and still has a desire to improve.

The principles and illustrations apply to husbands and wives, business men and women, college students, doctors, preachers, salesmen, marketers, professional speakers, writers, and aspiring entertainers.  Each must decide if they can actually become the best in the world at what they have chosen to do, and determine whether their current path is a dip, a cul-de-sac, or a cliff. 

As a pastor, I suggest that every pastor and staff member should read and begin to apply these principles to their own larger ministry, and to the various ministries within their ministry.

Additional Facts

The book is illustrated by Hugh Macleod.  His simple drawings illustrate some of Seth Godin’s concepts very well.  “The Dip” is published by Portfolio, a division of Penguin Group

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About the author

Pastor, Church Planter, Evangelist and Consultant in Chandler, Arizona. Licensed by Second Baptist Church in Lamesa, Texas. Ordained by Trinity Baptist Church in Irving, Texas. Youth Pastor at Trinity Baptist Church in Irving, Texas 1985-1987. Pastor at Dixon Baptist Church in Greenville, Texas 1987-1999. Pastor at Wellspring Church in Chandler, Arizona July 1999 - July 2009. Currently serving as Executive Pastor at Highland Terrace Baptist Church in Greenville, Texas. Available for Pulpit Supply, Interims, Evangelistic Crusades, Revivals, Bible Conferences, Seminars, Pastoral Consulting, Church Consulting, Capital Campaign Consulting, and Conversation over a Coke Zero.