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The Dip

Ten years ago, in 2007, I published a book called The Dip. I chronicled much of the launch and some of the lessons of the book in this limited-edition blog.

Since its publication, it has sold hundreds of thousands of copies around the world. It was a NY Times bestseller for four weeks, and people tell me that page for page, it changed them more than any other book I’ve written.

I’ve kept the blog as is, a time capsule of that idea, one that still resonates…

This is my blog about my new book, The Dip.

Updates and news and riffs are on the posts below. A podcast, here. The charts are here.

The Dip

Silly dips

Brad sent me a note about a guy who’s running a campaign to make himself come up on the front page of Google when people type in his name. (Try ‘seth’. If you’ve got a weird name, it’s sort of cool.)

This is hard work if your name is something like Bill Wilson or John Woo. And the question is: why bother?

Sure, climbing a mountain just because it’s hard is a great hobby. But too often we get caught up in the tactics of getting through the Dip just because we can. Difficulty is not the only thing that makes a Dip worth pursuing. The end result matters too. Seeing the destination and valuing the outcome can make a huge difference in having the ability to push through.

The Dip

Podcast interview for small businesses

Courtesy of John and Duct Tape Marketing.

The Dip

Images from the book

Dip listeners were promised that this site would have the images from the book. So, here they are!


The Dip

Confronting the Dip at church

Here’s an interesting series of posts about churches stuck in the Dip.

The Dip

Sharp, not a spoon

Here’s a great riff from Derek:

Imagine the world’s attention as a big foggy cloud. So thick you could cut it with a knife.

You want to cut through that foggy cloud, to call attention to your music.

Only problem is, if you’re well-rounded, you can’t cut through anything. You need to be sharp as a knife. Sharply defined.

Example: Your name is Mary and you put out an album called “My Songs”, and the cover is a picture of your face. The music is good quality, songs about your life, and when people ask what kind of music you do, you say “Oh, everything. All styles.”. You send the album out to be reviewed and nothing much happens. Doors aren’t opening.

Imagine instead: Your name is Mary and you write 9 songs about food. You put out an album called “Sushi, Souffle, and Seven Other Songs about Food”. Maybe you recorded your vocals in the kitchen. Maybe you quit cooking school to be a musician. Yes it’s a silly example, you see how this would be MUCH easier to promote.

You may be thinking, “But I have so much to offer the world, I can’t just limit myself like that!” If you want to increase your chances of the world hearing your music at all, though, strongly consider stretching-out your musicial offerings to the world, and keeping each album focused clearly on one aspect of your music.

Notice the long careers of David Bowie, Madonna, Miles Davis, Paul Simon, and Elvis Costello to name a few. Each went through sharply-defined phases, treating each album as a project with a defined mission.

Here’s some top-sellers at CD Baby:
Eileen Quinn. She’s a full-time sailor. She writes songs about sailing. That’s it. Five albums of them. And sailors LOVE it. She gets written-up in sailing magazines all the time.
Rondellus. Sabbatum. A traditional medieval music group from Estonia doing an album of Black Sabbath songs played on medieval instruments and sung in Latin.
4th25. American soldiers in Iraq wrote and recorded an album in their barracks on a cheap computer with a $100 mic, about what it’s like to be over there at war.

Each of these albums got a LOT of press and a lot of sales, because they were sharply-defined, newsworthy, interesting to write about, easy to tell friends about.

The Dip


The punchline of the Dip book is that it’s not about quitting at all. It’s about mastery. Hal has a great blog about production thinking. He taught me the phrase Jidoka, which describes part of how Toyota creates mastery and high quality. I’ll quote something he sent me:

[Toyota calls] stop and fix the problem “jidoka”. It’s a process where people are asked to identify every instance where the situation doesn’t match the expectation. They do that by “pulling the cord” to activate an “andon” — a signal. There are three signals: green (all fine), yellow (come look at this), and red (I need help). Operators in the Georgetown, KY plant pull the cord up to 1000 times/day. But the line only fully stops about a handful of times each day.

The Dip

Tour update

The event in Philadelphia yesterday was a milestone for me. The crowd was amazing… energized, smart and focused. It was a speaker’s/author’s dream. Thanks to everyone who came and to helped make it happen. I’m delighted (but not surprised) that people are finding things in the Dip that I didn’t even realize were there. One more reason to write a short book.

The Chicago event is now officially sold out. There will be some tickets at the door, but not many. All details on the rest of the tour are here. Then I’m going to need a long, long nap.

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How long is best?

Royalyork The Royal York Hotel, at one point (for a few weeks) was the tallest building in the entire British Empire.

It hardly needs an elevator, but for a while, it was the ‘best’. Best if we define best as standing out, at exceeding expectations along some axis, at being remarkable.

The thing about being the best is that someone else is always trying to top you.

The Dip

Philly and NY are now sold out

Thanks for the enthusiasm and feedback about the Dip Tour.

The Dip

Why people love bestseller lists

Bestseller lists are everywhere, mostly because they work.

They work because deep down, many people want to do what other people are doing. Things are popular because they’re popular. Hits sound better.

It’s a Catch-22 of course (you can’t be a hit until you’re a hit). If you’re in an industry with no bestseller list, do your best to create one.

The Dip just hit #1 on the CEO READ daily bestseller list, by the way