The Dip: The Extraordinary Benefits of Knowing When to Quit (and When to Stick)

The Dip, by Seth Godin

Persistence is a key-ingredient of success. However, that is true only if we persiste on the right track to the success. “The Dip” is a short book (about 80 pages) about obvious and usefull concepts that we don´t pay enough attention many times. It is book written around the idea that quitting is sometimes central to achieve success – sometimes the best thing to do is quit and “walk” in another direction.

The author (Seth Godin) is an entrepreneur and author. He wrote at least, 18 book translated in more then 30 languages. Most of his books are about how we see marketing, entrepreneurship and work. He was the founder of several companies like Yoyodyne and Besides being CEO of he worked as well as Vice President of Direct Marketing for Yahoo!.

In “The Dip” the author talks about “strategic quitting”. He argues that we should gain focus, if we want our efforts to lead us to the road to success. If we “shoot” in all directions our chances of success are small. The idea isn´t exactly new. His lesson though is worth to be reminded as it is a useful concept to apply in our lives

What perhaps is new is the emphasis in quitting, which seems counterintuitive.  Society around us tells us strongly that we need to work hard to have success. I don´t say the contrary. However, according to Seth Godin, quitting is sometimes a necessary step for success. I completely agree with the author and I probably should put in action some of the advise of Seth Godin in the book. Our resources (like time and money) are limited and there is an opportunity cost of using them. When we allocate these pursuing a specific purpose, we can´t use them in other regard.  If we “shoot” in fewer directions the chances of success are greater, particularly if these are the right choices.

Setth Godin distinguish between what he calls “the Dip” and “Cul-de-Sac” (or “Cliff”). “The Dip” is the “the long slog between starting and mastery”. By another words, there are situations where there is no reward in the short-term, but if one persists these make sense  in the long run. The “Cliff” is different – these are those kinds of situations where our efforts don´t lead us to success.

He defends that we should persist when we are in “the Dip” and quit in the “Clif”. According to him, is by the end of “the Dip” that are the rewards of success, if we persist on that path enough time. In the “Cliff” there won’t be any big reward at the end of the “rainbow”. The best we can hope for is to maintain the status quo if we don´t quit the “Cliffs” of our lives.

How to identify if a certain situation is a “Dip” or a “Cliff” ?

The book give some orientations how to distinguish “the Dip” from the “Cliff”. The guidelines of Seth Godin are useful but they can´t be applied in many situations. Some of “the Dips” and “Cliffs” aren´t clear enough to follow the guidelines proposed by the author.

What is The Dip ? Intelligenthq


Even though these can be useful, the reality around us sometimes changes “Dips” into “Cliffs” and vice-versa. One of the majors factors of change and uncertainty in the present moment  is technology. It is quickly evolving at a such a fast pace as never before in the humankind history. The evolution of technology can turn very fast “Dips” into “Cliffs” and vice-versa .

Seth Godin’s book guidelines can still help us identifying some “Dips” and “Cliffs” in our lives. We have to be aware though that these are only clear if we are prepared to see them – sometimes they are in front of our “eyes and we don´t see . If we become more prepared to see them we can then decide whether to persist or quit.
This isn´t the best book book of Seth Godin. However, it can be a very useful book, particularly to entrepreneurs and people running startups.  “The Dip” is a short and entertaining book with a very clear message.

The message of the book in a nutshell is: to be successful in our lives we need to have a paradoxical approach to our projects and to discern when to be persistent and when to quit. Think for a moment. What are “the Dips” of you life you should be persistent and don´t give up? And don´t forget to think of the “Cliffs” of you life? Perhaps you should quit them and fast.