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Now the Internet has eliminated the barriers of geography, cost, and time. All those blogs and social networking sites are helping existing tribes get bigger. But more important, they're enabling countless new tribes to be born--groups of ten or ten thousand or ten million who care about their iPhones, or a political campaign, or a new way to fight global warming.
And so the key question: Who is going to lead us?
The Web can do amazing things, but it can't provide leadership. That still has to come from individuals--people just like you who have passion about something. The explosion in tribes means that anyone who wants to make a difference now has the tools at her fingertips.
If you think leadership is for other people, think again--leaders come in surprising packages. Consider Joel Spolsky and his international tribe of scary-smart software engineers. Or Gary Vaynerhuck, a wine expert with a devoted following of enthusiasts. Chris Sharma leads a tribe of rock climbers up impossible cliff faces, while Mich Mathews, a VP at Microsoft, runs her internal tribe of marketers from her cube in Seattle. All they have in common is the desire to change things, the ability to connect a tribe, and the willingness to lead.
If you ignore this opportunity, you risk turning into a "sheepwalker"--someone who fights to protect the status quo at all costs, never asking if obedience is doing you (or your organization) any good. Sheepwalkers don't do very well these days.
Tribes will make you think (really think) about the opportunities in leading your fellow employees, customers, investors, believers, hobbyists, or readers. . . . It's not easy, but it's easier than you think.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 56.
- Review Date: 2008-08-18
- Reviewer: Staff
Short on pages but long on repetition, this newest book by Godin (Purple Cow) argues that lasting and substantive change can be best effected by a tribe: a group of people connected to each other, to a leader and to an idea. Smart innovators find or assemble a movement of similarly minded individuals and get the tribe excited by a new product, service or message, often via the Internet (consider, for example, the popularity of the Obama campaign, Facebook or Twitter). Tribes, Godin says, can be within or outside a corporation, and almost everyone can be a leader; most are kept from realizing their potential by fear of criticism and fear of being wrong. The book's helpful nuggets are buried beneath esoteric case studies and multiple reiterations: we can be leaders if we want, “tribes” are the way of the future and change is good. On that last note, the advice found in this book should be used with caution. “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. (Oct.)
Finding your leader
If Seth Godin has anything to say about it, we're going to toss aside the "born leader" concept once and for all and embrace the notion that leadership is the product of a conscious decision, not a birthright. Of course, businesspeople have by now recognized, if not embraced, new ways of forging connections via the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Craigslist. But in Tribes: We Need You To Lead Us, Godin exhorts readers to think bigger, to move beyond these tools and wake up to the opportunities inherent in the "tribes" that are forming and growing every day. Tribes can be big (Grateful Dead followers, Mac aficionados) or small (teams of programmers, knitting groups), but no matter their size, they are in need of leaders. Godin provides case studies about various tribes and their leaders, noting: "The explosion in tribes, groups, covens, and circles of interest means that anyone who wants to make a difference can."
Although Tribes can be repetitive, Godin's straightforward, encouraging voice is appealingand surely has something to do with his long list of bestsellers, including Permission Marketing and Purple Cow. His enthusiasm for the tribes concept rings true, as does his hope that readers will realize "The power is here. The only thing holding you back is your own fear." It's a good point, and for readers who are ready to accept the messages of this book (people who are tired of the status quo, wondering what comes next and able to shake off criticism from less enlightened peers or bosses), this volume likely will serve as an impetus to lead a tribe and, who knows, maybe even change the world.