Nordic Track Book Club Review: The Big Moo

I’m working through this stack of read [NordicTrack] books piled beside my monitor and came across Seth Godin’s The Big Moo, a little book on how to make yourself and your business remarkable.  A worthy addition to anyone’s Godin library.  The Big Moo was written by Godin in collaboration with 33 other authors who are credited only at the end of the book to preserve its flow and focus, and I think it works.  Lots of great anecdotes and lessons from many points of view in being remarkable.  Five stars.


p.5 Those who fit in now won’t stand out later.  Those who follow the rules are never noticed–because the system has broken their spirit…The very system that is always looking for new talent, new ideas, and new approaches is only too happy to sap all the energy out of those that can be persuaded to work at the bottom of the pyramid.

p.7 What if your company’s business model was like that of public broadcasting?  That is, all of your products are free.  You only earn revenue by convincing customers to donate money that represents their value of the product.  How will you prepare?  How will you change your relationship with customers?  How will you attract and keep customers who will chip in extra money if you can’t meet your yearly revenue goals?  How will you change your product to become so valuable that customers will pay a fair price after they’ve used it freely for a year?  What wil you do differently to survive?

p.18 While Newton spent far more time on calculus and on alchemy, he’s know for discovering gravity.  Why?  Because he named it.

p.21 Stand for something or stand for nothing.

p.23 Customers in your industry (and every other) encourage producers to take incremental steps toward lower prices, dependable output, and homogenization.  The problem, of course, is that once you’re a commodity, you lose.  In the short run, listening to the buyers and becoming boring can be profitable.  In the long run, though, doesn’t it make sense to ignore your customers and stay remarkable instead?

p.35 They say I’m extreme…  They say, “Improve and maintain.” I say, “destroy and reimagine.”  They say, “Peace, brother.” I say, “Bruise my feelings.  Flatten my ego. Save my job.”  They say, “Zero defects.” I say, “A day without a screwup or two is a day pissed away.”  They say, “Integrity is important.” I say, “Tell the unvarnished truth, all the time…or take a hike.”

p.50 The trick, then, is not to wait for your industry to change before changing where you are on the curve.  The trick is to change your organization’s instinctual location on the curve.  If you get used to being exceptional, you’ll probably stay there.

p.55 “Giving up the illusion that you can predict the future is a very liberating moment.  All you can do is give yourself the capacity to respond…the creation of that capacity is the purpose of strategy.” – Lord John Browne

p.86 Ignore the critics and embrace the criticism.

p.101 The energy isn’t in the Idea; it’s in the Execution.

p.116 Reject routine and set your team on its own remarkable course, one grounded in human inspiration, storytelling, and radical collaboration that will lead you to distinction.

p.118 The point here is that your blockbuster of yesterday could very well be geting in the way of tomorrow’s blockbuster.  The cash cow makes it easy to resist the tempation (and risk) of trying something new.

p.128 Sometimes, compromise is worse than doing nothing, and leaping into the unknown with all the enthusiasm and naivete of a toddler is the best thing you can do.

p.131 “The product is what the customer thinks it is, and what I think has little to do with that.  I can only learn from the customer what they expect.”

p.133 The best way to find your big moo is to lighten up.  A lot.  Start small, but start.  Don’t take yourself quite so seriously–no one else does!

p.144 Fail fast and cheap.  Fail often.  Fail in a way that doesn’t kill you.

p.151 It’s the emotional stuff–the stuff that some smart people don’t think will work–that you need to be part of.




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A long time developer, I was an early adopter of Linux in the mid-90's for a few years until I entered corporate environments and worked with Microsoft technologies like ASP, then .NET. In 2008 I released Sueetie, an Online Community Platform built in .NET. In late 2012 I returned to my Linux roots and locked in on Java development. Much of my work is available on GitHub.