Poking the Box

I recently finished reading a great book by Seth Godin entitled Poke the Box. I would encourage you to read it as well. It certainly got my thinking going with regard to changes I want to initiate in my own business. The central theme of his book is that we all have opportunities available to us to start new things.

He states, “People have come to the erroneous conclusion that if they’re not willing to start something separate, world-changing, and risky, they have no business starting anything. Somehow, we’ve fooled ourselves into believing that the project has to have a name, a building, and a stock ticker symbol to matter.”

Godin continues, “In fact, people within organizations are perfectly situated to start something. A non-senior member of the inbound customer service team can do it. The receptionist can do it. The assistant foreman can do it.” What he is really asking is: Are there tasks or routines in your business today that could be done far better? Let’s ask the people who actually complete these tasks. Is there a better or easier way to get similar results? Do you have any ideas about new tasks we should be completing to make the business more productive, efficient or profitable?

What items are you holding back on in your operation? Do they seem risky? Perhaps. Yet, could they potentially hold the keys to greater profitability? Godin goes on to point out that “Risk, to some, is a bad thing, because risk brings with it the possibility of failure. It might be only a temporary failure, but that doesn’t matter if the very thought of it shuts you down.”

If you think like this, and many of us do, he states “These people have made two mistakes. First, they’ve assumed that risk is a bad thing, and second, they’ve confused risk with flux (flow or change), and come to the conclusion that movement is a bad thing as well.” However, I would add that many operations who have “stood still” these past five years have risked getting run over by our industry. Do you have some neighbors who have recently sold their business?

What is it that you would do inside your current business or separately if you knew you could not fail? Think about that for a moment. Yes, really think about it and list the items you would pursue if you were certain that they would work out for you. Then, I would suggest that you think through, initially by yourself and then immediately afterwards with your Team, how you might initiate this change or new task. What would be the steps needed to make it happen? What are the potential pitfalls? But don’t freeze at that point!

Consider how you might avoid these challenges and move forward with your plan. What do you need to research? With whom do you need to consult? Has anyone ever tried this before? Why not? Are there lessons to learn from their experience? When you are prepared to take this next step toward greater success, this is what Seth Godin refers to as “Poking the Box.”

If you would like to learn more about similar topics and the tactics our Clients have used to improve their outcomes, as well as what applications of these lessons you can make in your business, please join us for our next Success Strategies Mastermind Group series of quarterly workshops in July 2019. They are designed to teach more people the Finance & Strategy Concepts that I offer business people. Signups have begun, giving you the opportunity to learn these same concepts and meet with other producers who have overcome some of the same challenges you may be facing. Check them out at:


Hopefully, this concept has provided you with food for thought. What are your top ideas for consideration? If I can assist you, please e-mail me at john@success-strategies.com or check out our website for many useful tools for your ongoing business evaluation at www.success-strategies.com. I wish you the best of success!