Inspiration from "Tribes" by Seth Godin


Published in 2008, Tribes by Seth Godin isn’t a new book by online marketing standards, but sometimes it takes a while to read all those “great books.” Similar to Godin’s other works (Meatball Sundae, The Dip, Purple Cow, etc.), this book is a quick read with only 147, half-size pages. Since my first introduction to Godin’s work, I have been fascinated by his quick wit and fearless pursuit to get to the heart of marketing and business matters. At the same time, I am somewhat repelled by what I see as his deeply engrained egocentric nature. In his defense, a big part of what has propelled him to the top, and allows him to be fearless, is his ego.

Godin defines Tribes as, “a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea.” The idea is you can’t change everyone’s mind or get everyone to hear your message. A more effective method is to form a tribe that is interested in your message. Layer on top of that the need to find true leaders, an assortment of inspirational stories and a “We need YOU. YOU can do it” message, and you’ve got Tribes in a nutshell.

One thing Godin does well is to create hope and inspire all of us to do better and be more. Godin says: “I want to help you realize that you already have all the skills you need to make a huge difference, and I want to sell you on doing it….you don’t need to wait….You can start right now.” He goes on to explain through stories, quotes and direction how we can all become leaders and make change happen.

Ironically, a review from Publishers Weekly found on the Amazon product page for this books states: “Change isn’t made by asking permission, Godin says. Change is made by asking forgiveness, later. That may be true, but in this economy and in certain corporations, it may also be a good way to lose a job.” This fear of losing one’s job is exactly what Godin is trying to get us all to move past. It’s only after we lose the fear that we can become great leaders. “It’s easy to give in to your fear and tell yourself that you don’t have what it takes to lead,” says Godin. And if you’re a manager and you think that entitles you to call yourself a leader, think again. Managers get a bad rap in Godin’s book. According to Godin they are part of a growing problem that he coins, “sheepwalking”, or people who don’t think for themselves.

To be a great leader you need to:

· Change the status quo

· Be extraordinarily curious

· Use charisma

· Commit to a vision

· Communicate your vision

· Connect your followers

A tall order by most people’s standards, but not impossible if you believe in what you are doing.

Overall I liked the book and felt more inspired by reading it. If you’re looking for a good complement to the book, check out Godin speech at TED in 2009, available on YouTube.

Next up, Godin’s latest work “Poke the Box” coming out in March 2011. It’s only 96 pages, but I’m hoping to find original ideas and more inspiration. Let’s hope Godin delivers.  An interesting side note about Poke the Box is the publishing. If you read the Amazon Q&A you will learn Godin is publishing under the Domino Project, a new “publishing imprint” that was founded by Godin and powered by Amazon. I’ll be interested to see how the Domino Project evolves and what kind of impact it might have in the publishing community.

I’ve love to hear your comments. If you’ve read Tribes or any of Godin’s work post your comments!

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