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

The dip is a small book, similar to Who Moved My Cheese, where Seth Godin presents the simple but often overlooked concept of quitting.

Being the Best in the World Is Seriously Underrated

p. 1

Winners quit all the time. They just quit the right stuff at the right time.

p. 3

Quit the wrong stuff.
Stick with the right stuff.
Have the guts to do one or the other.

p. 4

You really can’t try to do everything, especially if you intend to be the best in the world.

p .6

it’s typical for the #1 to get ten times the benefit of #10, and a hundred times the befit of #100.

p. 6

Zipf’s law

p. 7

With limited time or opportunity to experiment, we intentionally narrow our choices to those at the top.

p. 9

Scarcity makes being at the top worth something.

p. 10

The mass market is dying. There is no longer one best song or one best kind of coffee. Now there are a million micromarkets, but each micromarket still has a best. If your micromarket is “organic markets in Tulsa,” then that’s your world. And being the best in that world is the place to be.

p. 11

The number of job seekers is approaching infinity. So is the number of professional services firms, lawyers, manicure shops, coffee bars and brands of soap. Better to be the best.

p. 12

Just about everything you learned in school about life is wrong.

p. 14

The people who skip the hard questions are in the majority, but they are not in demand.
Many organizations make sure they’ve dotted all their i’s – they have customer service, a receptionist, a convenient location, a brochure, and on and on – and all of it is mediocre. More often than not, prospects choose someone else – their competition. Those companies can’t perform in some areas, but they’re exceptional in the ones that matter.

p. 15

Strategic quitting is the secret of successful organizations.

p. 16

The Dip is the set of artificial screens set up to keep people like you out.

p. 18

Scarcity, as we’ve seen, is the secret to value.

p. 19

They push harder, changing the rules as they go.


Tennis has a Dip. The difference between a mediocre club player and a regional champion isn’t inborn talent – it’s the ability to push through the moments where it’s just easier to quit.

p. 21

The Dip creates scarcity; scarcity creates value.

p. 21

What’s the point of sticking it out if you’re not going to get the benefits of being the best in the world? Are you overinvesting (really significantly overinvesting) time and money so that you have a much greater chance of dominating a market? And if you don’t have enough time and money, do you have the guts to pick a different, smaller market to conquer?

Once you’re doing those things, then you get it.

p. 23

the Dip is the secret to your success.

p. 23

they embrace the challenge.

p. 24

In a competitive world, adversity is your ally.

p. 26

The fact that it’s difficult and unpredictable works to your advantage.

p. 27

The Dip is your very best friend.

p. 27

It’s not enough to survive your way through this Dip. You get what you deserve when you embrace the Dip and treat it like the opportunity that it really is.

p. 28

And yet the real success goes to those who obsess.

p. 29

A woodpecker can tap twenty times on a thousand trees and get nowhere, but stay busy. Or he can tap twenty-thousand times on one tree and get dinner.

p. 29

Knowing that you’re facing a Dip is the first step in getting through it.

p. 30

Like most people, all day long, every day, you use your muscles. But they don’t grow. You don’t look like Mr. Universe because you quit using your muscles before you reach the moment where the stress causes them to start growing. It’s the natural thing to do, because an exhausted muscle feel unsafe – and it hurts.

p. 31

A superstar is the best in the world at what she does.

p. 32

The Dip […] keeps others from competing with you.

p. 33

You can know before you start whether or not you have the resources and the will to get to the end. Most of the time, if you fail to become the best in the world, it’s either because you planned wrong or because you gave up before you reached your goal.

p. 34

SALES DIP […] the Dip hits when you need to upgrade to a professional sales force and scale it up. In almost every field, the competitor that’s first with a big, aggressive sales force has a huge advantage.

p. 37

Successful entrepreneurs understand the difference between investing to get through the Dip (a smart move) or investing in something that’s actually a risky crapshoot.

p. 38

EGO DIP – When it’s all about you, it’s easier. Giving up control and leaning into the organization gives you leverage.

p. 39

Getting your product into Wal-Mart is far more likely to lead to huge sales than is putting it on the Web. Why? Scarcity. Everyone is on the Web, but getting into Wal-Mart is hard.

p. 39

Because day to day, it’s easier to stick with something that we’re used to, that doesn’t make too many waves, that doesn’t hurt.

As the Declaration of Independence warns us, “all experience hath shewn mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”

p. 40-41

The Valley of Death

That’s the goal of any competitor: to create a Dip so long and so deep that the nascent competition can’t catch up.

p. 41

The Big Opportunity

If you can get through the Dip, if you can keep going when the system is expecting you to stop, you will achieve extraordinary results. People who make it through the Dip are scarce indeed, so they generate more value.

When you’re the best in the world, you share the benefits (the income, the attention, the privileges, the respect)

p. 42

Quit or be exceptional. Average is for losers.

p. 44

Selling is about a transference of emotion.

p. 47

Prospects (that’s you if you’ve ever been sold something) are experts at sensing what’s on the salesperson’s mind. […] if a salesperson is there for the long run, committed to making a sale because it benefits the other person, that signal is sent loud and clear.

p. 47

screening out folks who aren’t actually serious

p. 49

The market wants to see you persist. It demands a signal from you that you’re serious, powerful, accepted, and safe.

p. 51

When the pain gets so bad that you’re ready to quit, you’ve set yourself up as someone with nothing to lose. And someone with nothing to lose has quite a bit of power.

p. 52

Persistent people are able to visualize the idea of light at the end of the tunnel when others can’t see it. At the same time, the smartest people are realistic about not imagining light when there isn’t any.

p. 55

Winners understand that taking that pain now prevents a lot more pain later.

p. 55

quitting the tactics that aren’t working

p. 60

Coping is what people do when they try to muddle through.

. . .

Quitting is better than coping because quitting frees you up to excel at something else.

p. 64

“Never quit something with great long-term potential just because you can’t deal with the stress of the moment.”

p. 64

It’s easy to cross the line between demonstrating your commitments and being a pest.

p. 67

changing someone’s mind is difficult, if not impossible.

If you’re trying to influence a market, though, the rules are different.

p. 68

the later you tried it, the better it was for us because we’d make a better impression with better technology

p. 68 referring to what Sergey Brin, the cofounder of Google told him, as he knew Google would improve every day as they worked on it

Influencing one person is like scaling a wall.

. . .

Influencing a market, on the other hand, is more of a hill than a wall. You can make progress, one step at a time, and as you get higher, it actually gets easier.

p. 68

moving forward, falling behind, or standing still. There are only three choices.

p. 69

you could be doing something far better, and far more pleasurable, with your time.

p. 69

Your consistency and market presence, all by themselves, are enough to justify your efforts (sometimes).


If quitting is going to be a strategic decision […] outline your quitting strategy before the discomfort sets in.

. . .

setting your limits before you start is so powerful.

p. 72

critical mass

p. 74

Figure out how much pressure you’ve got available, then pick the tire, Not too big, not too small.

p. 74

to change the game, to set the agenda for everyone else.

p. 74


Is this a Dip, a Cliff, or a Cul-de-Sac?

If it’s a Cul-de-Sac, how can I change it into a Dip?

Is my persistence going to pay off in the long run?

Am I engaged with just one person (or organization), or do my actions in this situation spill over into the entire marketplace?

When should I quit? I need to decide now, not when I’m in the middle of it, and not when part of me is begging to quit.

If I quit this task, will it increase my ability to get through the Dip on something more important?

If I’m going to quit anyway, is there something dramatic I can do instead that might change the game?

Should I really be calling on IBM? Should I really be trying to get on Oprah?

What chance does this project have to be the best in the world?

Who decides what best is?

Can we make the world smaller?

Does it make sense to submit a resume to every single ad on Craigslist, just to see what happens?

If I like my job, is it time to quit?

Is doing nothing better than planning on quitting and then doing something great?

Are you avoiding the remarkable as a way of quitting without quitting?

If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try.

p. 75-76