Who’s “Poking the Box”?

Mar 07

Who’s “Poking the Box”?

In his latest book, Poke the Box, marketer and bestselling author Seth Godin, basically explains that many of us have either lost our mojo or because of years of conformity, fear of failure, insecurities, and other reasons (excuses) we just don’t innovate, initiate. The companies and individuals who do create, inspire, and continually “poke the box” are those that succeed, make a difference. They aren’t resting on their laurels (look at MySpace vs Facebook, for example). And we can’t either. Not in this economy, not in this changing landscape in which the digital revolution offers us so many opportunities to share, communicate, interact, inspire, instigate, innovate. Seth asks if not now, when.

We all know the companies that innovate: Apple, Facebook, Zappos, Starbucks. So I got to thinking about this on a personal level, about the people around me, those who I know who are innovating, who are getting out of their comfort level, going for an idea they had or an opportunity they saw and making it happen.

My good friend John Lansing comes to mind. I just finished reading his book, GOOD COP, BAD MONEY, about Glen Morisano, a former deputy inspector and commanding officer of the NY Drug Enforcement Task Force, whose professional career entails taking down drug lords, kingpins, and major drug cartels, and fighting the inner workings of the NYPD, Internal Affairs, etc. It’s a great read.

But in addition to being a great read I was thinking about how this is John’s first book…and how he got it published! Yes, John’s background and success includes writing for television but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be a published author. Yet John took the leap. Did the hard work. Put his talent into a new medium for him. He poked the box. He got an opportunity to write this guy’s story and he took it. His fear of failing, his “I never did this before”, his “this is too hard”, or “what if it doesn’t sell”…whatever trepidations may have come to his mind, didn’t stop him. John flew to New York, met and interviewed Glen for hours on end, and went back and forth over the course of two years, to get his labor of love completed. He did it.

When was the last time you poked the box, at work, personally? When was the last time you said I have a great idea or a new of way of doing something or a way of turning things upside down and making a difference or art that you want to create whatever that art may be, and did it?

All you poking the box, let me know.


  1. Annie George /

    This was posted on my Facebook page by Mike Blake in response to the above blog post:

    Hi Annie – A “voice from the past”- You might want to know that your old friend, and my son, Mike Jr., has taken a bunch of very bright kids living in San Antonio, Texas from “no-where” to the “World(U.S.A.) Championships” of High School “Robotic Champions” next month in St. Louis,, Missouri! Quite an accomplishment for a guy from Deer Park, New York- I am VERY proud of him! By the way: That is “Creativity AND Innovation” at it’s best! Hope all is going well for you!

  2. Ronald Williams /

    I like to think I have taken the reins, maneuvering my way through the “new media.” My friend Scott and I, for years, were writing scripts, plays, etc., in an attempt to “break into the business,” only to find that it wasn’t as easy as writing a great script, getting a deal, and making load of money.

    We decided to tackle the internet, and write a SAS (short attention span) series, which we would produce ourselves, and air “webisodes” over an existing website which hosts these “webseries” (staytunedtv.net)

    The result: “Customer Diss-Service,” a (raunchy) comedy about two slackers, who run a department store’s customer service department out of their apartment building, is a moderate success, thanks in part to us building an audience through Facebook.

    There is some much opportunity for business and creative types to use the valuable tools at our disposal in this new, Digital Media Age… you just have to have the drive and desire to achieve your goals.

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