Seth Godin’s Poke the Box: A Review


Seth Godin’s latest book is called Poke the Box. If you aren’t familiar with Seth, check out his website. He’s written New York Times bestselling books and is an enormously influential marketer and speaker. You might even want to join me among his 100,000+ Facebook followers here.

Poke the Box is a quick and worthy read that will infuse innovation and energy to your job search.

Start Something

Seth’s fired up. Poke the Box is his manifesto urging you to start something. He argues that the only real way to succeed is to take initiative.

Poke the Box is directed toward entrepreneurs and authors and executives and employees. He asks, “What would the world look like if more people started projects, made a ruckus, and took risks.”  Whether or not he realized it, his theory is most true for you, job seekers.

Pick Yourself

“It is a cultural instinct to wait to be picked.” Especially when we are very literally applying for a job and hoping to be chosen for it, it is easy to believe that we are in a passive position. But in your job search, every time you apply, you start something. Every connection you make, you take a risk. In the spirit of Seth’s manifesto, I encourage you to take it even further. Pick yourself. Start poking. Start working before you get hired.

“Once you realize that no one is going to select you—that Prince Charming has chosen another house—then you can actually get to work.

“If you’re hoping that the people you sent your resume to are about to pick you, it’s going to be a long wait. Once you understand that there are problems just waiting to be solved, once you realize that you have all the tools and all the permission you need, then opportunities to contribute abound.”

Apply. Send your resume. But don’t sit back and wait to be picked.

Opportunities to Contribute Abound

When you look for work, what are you looking for? Opportunities to contribute.  Every line in your cover letter, every bullet on your resume should inspire your target employer and wow them with your ability to contribute to their organization.

And what if you took a real risk and went to work before you were hired? That would be starting something, wouldn’t it Seth?

Fortuna fortes adjuvat. “Fortune favors the brave.”

One job seeker I know right here in Missoula mined his network for opportunities to contribute. He met with a business owner (who wasn’t hiring) and presented an in depth custom marketing strategy that he proposed to execute. The risks:

  • the time he put into developing the proposal
  • the possibility that the owner could take the strategy and implement it without him
  • and ultimately, no job offer

Did he get the job? Nope. The business owner didn’t have the budget to hire him. And so our job seeker went back to the drawing board and presented other opportunities to contribute to other targets. Then one day a few months later he got a call. Guess what? They offered him the job. The one they weren’t hiring for and had no budget for.


Poking the Box, starting something, picking yourself, and making a ruckus are risky. They take time and energy and initiative. Are you likely to fail? Sometimes.

But what happens if you don’t start? If you wait to be picked? If you cross your fingers that opportunities will come find you? Take no risks and you’ll receive few rewards.

Poke the Box will inspire you to create your own opportunities. I invite you to check it out. And hey! There’s a free Workbook available for download here.

Do you have any thoughts about Seth Godin, Poke the Box, or your job search? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below! And if you like this review, I invite you to share it. Thanks for stopping by.

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Jennifer Shryock is a resume writer and interview coach with Rainmaker Resumes. Her blog features Missoula job hunting tips, covering everything from the employer perspective to networking ideas to interview-winning resumes to keeping your sense of humor, whether you’re working or working to find work. For answers, send your work related questions to Make her blog a regular part of your job search.