The Power of Tribes

Seth Godin’s Tribes is the manifestation of the business / marketing industry understanding more and more about what works best and how people and communities work. The ideas in Tribes are nothing new, but they have finally been expressed in a easy-to-understand, ‘common-sense’ way that is Seth Godin’s forte.

Tribes talks about three things – creating communities around causes that are bigger than any individual, providing strong leadership for these communities and how to finetune your leadership of these communities so that you can achieve your goals.

The book is a combination of anecdotes designed to sell you on the power of communities – but if you already believe in tribes and want to figure out how to make the ideas work for you, you have to do the following:

1. Read the book. It’s a short, fast read and will give you inspiration and ideas for your own projects.

2. For a quick start, read the following extract from the book – the most important part for me:

5 Things To Do

1. Publish a manifesto.

Give it away and make it easy for the manifesto to spread far and wide. It doesn’t have to be printed or even written. But it’s a mantra and a motto and a way of looking at the world. It unites your tribe members and gives them a structure.

2. Make it easy for your followers to connect with you.

It could be as simple as visiting you or e-mailing you or watching you on television. Or it could be as rich and complex as interacting with you on Facebook or joining your social network on Ning.

3. Make it easy for your followers to connect with one another.

There’s that little nod that one restaurant regular gives to another recognised regular. Or the shared drink in an airport lounge. Even better is the camaraderie developed by volunteers on a political campaign or insiders involved in a new product launch. Great leaders figure out how to make these interactions happen.

4. Realise that money is not the point of a movement.

Money exists merely to enable it. The moment you try to cash out is the moment you stunt the growth of your movement.

5. Track your progress.

Do it publicly and create pathways for your followers to contribute to that progress.

6 Principles to follow

1. Transparency really is your only option.

Every failed televangelist has learned this the hard way. The people who follow you aren’t stupid. You might go down in scandal or, more likely, from ennui. People can smell subterfuge from a mile away.

2. Your movement needs to be bigger than you.

An author and his book, for example, don’t constitute a movement. Changing the way people apply to college does.

3. Movements that grow, thrive.

Every day they get better and more powerful. You’ll get there soon enough. Don’t mortgage today just because you’re in a hurry.

4. Movements are made most clear when compared to the status quo or to movements that work to push the other direction.

Movements do less well when compared to other movements with similar goals. Instead of beating them, join them.

5. Exclude outsiders.

Exclusion is an extremely powerful force for loyalty and attention. Who isn’t part of your movement matters almost as much as who is.

6. Tearing others down is never as helpful to a movement as building your followers up.

Tribes: We Need You to Lead Usis available through

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