Victus Spiritus


Ignore Everybody & the Dip, double feature book review

12 Oct 2009

Ignore Everybody

Hugh Macleod gathered his manifesto How to be Creative, and weaved together his creative insights on how best to develop our genuine creativity in Ignore Everybody.

The history unfolds with Mr. Macleod's background as a young advertiser. One of his observations that slightly frustrated me was the "watercoolies" a nickname he and his former coworker John gave to the older folks that were getting squeezed by the industry. The water cooler folks were burnt out by the advertising system, and were identified by complaints about everything under the sun. I was a little miffed by Hugh's thoughts of his friend John joining the ranks of the watercoolies. Why can't we find value in what other folks share? After all, they have been through the wringer and between complaints there are moments of miraculous appreciation and truth. Yeah they may not be wildly successful or rich, but you can't take it with you anyway. Your mindset and outlook is what defines your "life wealth" in my book. A penniless guy or gal who appreciates all their life has provided them, is far wealthier than one who is filthy rich, but is paranoid and angry at every penny lost.

Hugh let's us know that Ignore Everybody isn't an absolute statement:

When I say, "Ignore Everybody," I don't mean, Ignore all people, at all times, forever. No, other people's feedback plays a very important role. Of course it does. It's more like, the better the idea, the more "out there" it initially will seem to other people, even people you like and respect. So there'll be a time in the beginning when you have to press on, alone, without one tenth the support you probably need.

For my own path, I greedily soak in every comment, reply and morsel of feedback. Witnessing the social dynamic changes of Internet publishing, old corporate structures failing, all firsthand is like a personal gift from time and space. To be alive at this time, in this place, allows us all to observe a transformation of value creation the world has never before seen. Perceived value is just now becoming recognized as an ultra personalized measure for each person. Groups and communities are nearly self organizing from diverse slices of society.

  1. social media shares for real connections (information filtering, conversations, observations)
  2. open source repositories for hackers/coders/developers
  3. crowd funded social programs to kick start entrepreneurs in low income areas

the Dip

Seth Godin concentrates his marketing insight towards knowing when to quit and when to stick with something in the Dip. It's a rebellious but very quick jaunt (80pages, thanks for focusing it down Seth) through some simple curves that match much of our life's activities. The Dip is characterized by a process that initially starts out wonderful entertaining, then becomes a chore, terrifically challenging, but eventually pays off when we attain mastery of a field.  For Seth, super focusing meant quitting everything that wasn't a Dip like function (he calls the flat line reward functions  Cul-de-sacs, and dead ends are Cliffs). Cul-de-sacs are local optimals, which we psychologically cling onto, but coast along within. Without challenging ourselves or those around us we degrade and cease to improve our skills and knowledge. There is no end game mastery where we can reap great rewards, and provide superb value to society at large. The final curve Seth maps to life are Cliffs. These type of self feeding habits make it nearly impossible to quit, until something drastic happens and the entire system collapses. Cigarettes, and other addictive substances fall into this category, but as fortune would have it most of life's challenges are either Dips or Cul de sacs.

For someone who has diversified interests in many different areas, I felt some conflict with Seth's proposal. I have a great fondness for sharing and know that blogging will be party of my daily activities for as long as I'm able. But there are so many fascinating things I can be apart of that are outside of blogging, which in fact fuel my desire and value of my writing. Novel Internet software design solutions and entrepreneurship are key areas of concern for me. The building of value in our society, and those who risk everything to make abstract concepts concrete are of profound importance to my curiosity. Serendipity find's those who are open to it's marvels by connecting disparate data (observations). The ultra focused masters of their domains may miss out on the splendor of a balance between our passions, and our other needs/hobbies.

Seth leaves us with a statement near the end of the Dip which encourages and challenges us:

You're Astonishing

How dare you waste it.

You and your organization have the power to change everything. To create remarkable products and services. To over deliver. To be the best in the world.

How dare you squander that resource by spreading it too thin.

How dare you settle for mediocre just because you're busy coping with too many things on your agenda, racing against the clock to get it all done.

The lesson is simple: If you've got as much as you've got, use it. Use it to become the best in the world, to change the game, to set the agenda for everyone else. You can only do that by marshaling all of your resources to get through the biggest possible Dip. In order to get through that Dip, you'll need to quit everything else. If it's not going to put a dent in the world, quit. Right now. Quit and use that void to find the energy to assault the Dip that matters.

Go ahead , make something happen. We're waiting!

Ok Seth, I get the message. I can cut back on my World of Warcraft hours to spend a few more hours a week working towards creating something of real long term value.

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