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Monday, April 23, 2007

When to Quit and When to Stick?

Guy Kawasaki interviews author Seth Godin on his new book, "The Dip" Apparently, the book deals more with start up issues - but it has implications to life. When is the right time to call it quits?

Question: Other than hindsight, how does someone know when it’s time to quit?

Answer: It’s time to quit when you secretly realize you’ve been settling for mediocrity all along. It’s time to quit when the things you’re measuring aren’t improving, and you can’t find anything better to measure.

Smart quitters understand the idea of opportunity cost. The work you’re doing on project X right now is keeping you from pushing through the Dip on project Y. If you fire your worst clients, if you quit your deadest tactics, if you stop working with the people who return the least, then you free up an astounding number of resources. Direct those resources at a Dip worth conquering and your odds of success go way up.

What’s the worst time to quit? When the pain is the greatest. Decisions made during great pain are rarely good decisions.


Question: Should America quit the Iraq War?

Answer: My opinion doesn’t matter. But I hope my method matters a lot.

Here’s what we know: it’s easy to record and print a CD and hard to make a hit. Easy to write a book and hard to make it a bestseller. Easy to build a website and hard to create a viral success. We also know, and I hope Dick Cheney now knows, that it’s easy to invade a country and hard to be a successful invader and to dominate and change a culture.

So, the questions are simple: Are we in a Dip in Iraq? Everyone knows we’re in pain, but is it the pain that comes from being in a dead end—a cul-de-sac—situation that might very well get worse but probably won’t get better? Or is it a Dip, where sufficient effort can push us through and get us out the other side…we better know the answer.

The giant mistakes were made early. Cheney didn’t tell us what the Dip would look like, nor did he outline what we would do when we hit it. That’s a big difference between the current team and Churchill or Roosevelt. If you’re not ready for the Dip, it’s a lot harder to stick through it.

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