Tribes | Seth Godin

Summary of: Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us
By: Seth Godin


Welcome to a thought-provoking journey through the world of tribes and leadership, as captured in Seth Godin’s ‘Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us’. In this summary, we will explore the enduring importance of tribes in human society, their key components, and how the internet has fueled their growth. We will also delve into the crucial role that leaders play in forming and growing tribes, and how tapping into people’s yearnings can create a potent force for change. By the end, you will understand the difference between a mere manager and a true leader, and how to muster the courage to lead your own tribe.

The Power of Tribes

Human nature inherently desires to belong to something greater than themselves. This innate need has resulted in the formation of tribes throughout history. A tribe consists of a group of people with a common cause and at least one leader who organizes and represents the tribe. The shared cause of a tribe leads members to internalize its values, creating driven believers rather than mere followers. With the rise of technology and social media, tribes are expanding and their influence no longer solely depends on their size. Sustainable growth is now obtained through strong advocates who deeply believe in a tribe’s cause and are active on social media. Tribes can be religious, ethnic, political, or even groups of enthusiasts who share a common interest. The power of tribes lies in their capacity to bring together people, ideas, and causes, and to shape the world around us.

Creating a Tribe: Why Extraordinary Products Matter

Times have changed, and so has the marketing mantra. Focusing on reaching as many people as possible with your products is no longer a winning strategy. Creating a product that is meaningful and exclusive, with a personal story that people can identify with, can lead to a tribe that will love and promote your product. Unfortunately, many companies, such as Nokia, are still stuck in the old model. They produce products for the masses, resulting in a mediocre product that people will use but not love. Apple chose a different approach to create an extraordinary phone that few people initially liked, but that a few people loved. Soon, a new tribe was born. An exceptional product allows for direct engagement in the movement and scratches an itch that hasn’t been sufficiently scratched yet. If you want to create a tribe that will be loyal and promote your product, focus on creating something extraordinary that people can get behind.

Building a Tribe

Reaching a vast audience has been made easy with technology. In “Tribes,” Seth Godin writes that anyone can form a tribe by creating a bond around a shared interest, with communication that works both horizontally and vertically. Vertical communication is one-on-one communication between the tribe leader and individual members. On the other hand, horizontal communication is between tribe members. The internet has made it possible to create both horizontal and vertical communication with social networks, blogs, and websites like Basecamp. These communicative platforms allow you to set specific goals, policies, and align expectations with your tribe. By providing platforms to facilitate communication between members, and setting goals, you can bring your tribe together. A successful example of a tribe is; with its central website, CrossFit certified courses and gyms have developed all over the US. Anyone can build a tribe; all it takes is to find a shared interest and create spaces for horizontal and vertical communication.

The Art of Creating a Movement

Creating a movement involves tapping into an existing yearning and organizing it in a way that tribe members can connect and form a movement under your leadership. The movement must have a narrative, a connection between the leader and the tribe members, and something to do. A movement can’t be all about money; it needs a meaningful story that’s worth discussing. Leaders need to create something people already want to hear and help the tribe members connect. Nobel Prize winner Al Gore’s global warming documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, was not a new idea, but it took off because it needed a leader to organize people into a community that already knew what was the right thing to do.

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