Review: Poke The Box


Seth Godin’s Poke The Box is a quick, easy read.  Unfortunately, I felt after reading it exactly as I did after finishing Tribes: unimpressed.  Though Poke The Box has many rave reviews on sites like Amazon, I think the better medium for the short 83-pager would have been a blog post… or two.

I also feel the message in Godin’s Linchpin is overall much stronger and better written.  For example, the lizard brain concept is explained and detailed so well in Linchpin that I felt the short paragraph on page 18 didn’t do the idea justice.

While I do understand the need for a short read, Poke The Box, for me, was forgettable. What did I just read?  It was meant to be uplifting and inspiring, but for those of us who already have that “Go!” drive and Type-A personality, there wasn’t much new content or material to actually learn from.  Again, this is disappointing because I learned so much from Linchpin.

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My favorite reviews of the book come from Brian of GoodReads and Guy at  To be fair, there are many more positive comments about Poke The Box than negative.  For example: “If Poke the Box communicates nothing else, it presents this one message with a megaphone voice: ‘Go!’ ‘Start now.’ ‘The worst thing you can do is nothing.’ Already, I find myself arguing, since I know that just doing things without careful planning first has led to many disasters. But I keep reading because Seth is so insistent, and he has such a large tribe following him, telling me that maybe he’s worth listening to” (Source).  If you lack motivation, as many people do, this may be the book that gets you up and moving.

If you’re already satisfied with life and your domination of it, I’d suggest, especially if you are a diehard Godin fan, that you check out Poke The Box from the library.  Save your $5 to purchase Linchpin instead.


39 thoughts on “Review: Poke The Box

  1. Funny review — I’ve been a Seth fan for years now, but I’m growing a little tired of his hair-on-fire-get-out-and-shake-stuff-up approach of late.

    But then again, I think I’m just defensive: I’ve been trying to compile my own book for months now (based on my blog), and his enthusiasm may simply be serving to make me feel inadequate! ;)

    Thank you for sharing. Linchpin is awesome — I concur.

    • Hey Mikalee, Thanks so much for your comment! I am an enormous Seth Godin fan, too, which is why I think I expect every book of his to be as amazing as my favorite, Linchpin. I’m going to visit your website now to see what you could be creating book-wise! That’s so exciting… Best of luck, Alex

  2. In general, there are a few that are creating content and a segment that is putting a fancy shine on regurgitated, common sense theories.

    I would rather wait weeks for someone to write something of value as compared to churning out filler just to have a reason to hit the “post” button.

    Thanks for the insite and I will steer towards Linchpin!

  3. fireandair

    Books like that are not bad, a bit of rah-rah is okay, but … let’s face it, accomplishing anything involves just getting the hell to work on it at some point. I’d like to put out a CD at some point. I’d much rather take the time I’d waste reading a book on how to psyche myself up for it by just writing the music. Maybe I’m funny that way.

    • I agree. I don’t think it’s funny… My husband actually thinks and expresses himself in music, so I know exactly what you mean. What kind of music do you write?

      • fireandair

        I was raised with lots of classical, and in my teens I fell in love with arena rock, so most of my stuff is very melodic and sounds sort of classical-inspired. Sort of a weird mixture of Grieg, Tchaikovsky, Journey, ELO, and George Winston. :-) That’s what I’m hoping for, at least …

      • fireandair

        Journey to me just sounds like Enrico Caruso singing Billie Holiday covers while the Rolling Stones play Brahms. Classical music on electric guitars with an opera singer singing blues. :-)

  4. This was another great Godin read. I get all of his books on Audible–I love the way he reads his work and I’ve never been disappointed.

  5. I agree with your thoughts on Poke The Box and I wasn’t too impressed with Godin’s Purple Cow either. There are only so many ways someone can say; get off your butt. I don’t need a cheerleader and I am not lacking in my own common sense so I will be skipping his books from now on. I know he is a marketer but I only fall for so much of the same a few times…

  6. I agree with your thoughts on Poke the Box and I was not too impressed with Godin’s Purple Cow either. I don’t need a cheerleader, and really, how many ways can you say; get off your butt. He is a marketer after all and I’m afraid his same old stuff is becoming rather dated.

    • That’s good to know! I had Purple Cow on my reading list, but if it’s similar to PTB, I’ll definitely skip it. Did you try Linchpin? It was really very good.

  7. I enjoyed Seth’s book “We are all weird”. If you haven’t read it, its real short. Granted all of his are short, but this one extra short. I found it much more fascinating that his other two that I read. As one of the weird, I enjoyed hearing about the shift away from cookie cutter. Good review, but figured I would offer some food for thought.

      • Other than “We are all weird”, I read “Purple Cow” and “The Dip”. I really want to read “Tribes”. I know you weren’t too keen on it, but I view it more as a metaphor for modern communication than anything else. I see us in this period of tumultuous change in how we all communicate. I find it interesting as we both progress and revert backwards at the same time

  8. Hi Alex, I enjoyed Seth’s book about making a start. It doesn’t matter if they go wrong, the important thing is to make the start. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on your blog.

  9. Haven’t read the book yet, but I’m familiar with Godin’s other work and his blog. I don’t dispute his talent, but I found all of his writing is starting to sound the same to me so I had to step away for a bit. As a fellow communications specialist, I know how difficult it is to keep the message fresh, especially when its nothing but a different spin on an old topic. It’s a challenge we all face.

    I did enjoy our review, and congratulate you on being fresh pressed!

    • Thank you, Jane! I agree with you. Godin is so super talented that I look for inspiration in his work; Poke The Box just wasn’t the place to find that inspiration. Have you read any other great books lately? I’d love a fellow communication specialist’s opinion! Thanks, Alex

  10. Great review. I’ve been following Seth since I first saw him while he was promoting his first book. He seems to spend a lot of time re-visiting prior concepts, and one begins to speculate on his motivation.

    Congrats on your freshly pressed.

    • Hey Richard, I agree with you completely. Do you have a favorite Godin text? I’m anxious to read more but would rather read a Linchpin and not another Poke The Box. Thanks so much for the “congratulations.” I’m really honored!

      • Hi Alex. For me, “Permission Marketing” was the most influential. I’m sufficiently old that I’ve already gone through the entire “PMA” (Positive Mental Attitude) craze years ago. For me, this is the third big wave of the topic.
        Permission Marketing, on the other hand, was a road-map to dealing with the web in its infancy, and I think the most important book he’s written.

      • Hey Richard, Thanks so much for your recommendation! I’ve never heard of Permission Marketing, so I’ll check it out and add it to my to-read list. Thanks again, Alex

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