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195 of 203 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspiration to Lead
When I was about 50 pages into reading Tribes, I was finding it quite repetitive and, frankly, was wondering what all the hype was about. It seemed like Seth Godin was simply saying the same thing over and over using different words each time. About halfway through the book, I changed my perception about it and began to take a different view.

My initial...
Published on February 16, 2009 by Catherine Garnett

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567 of 616 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Aggravatingly short on substance.
I've almost never been so painfully aware of a book's shortcomings while reading it. Not long into the book, you pick up on a pattern: Godin blithely throws out broad statements about how anyone can become a leader and how we should all strive to be leaders. He then gives the thinnest of examples of how his version of leadership can look. One example is of a guy who...
Published on November 17, 2008 by M. Strong


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195 of 203 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspiration to Lead, February 16, 2009
When I was about 50 pages into reading Tribes, I was finding it quite repetitive and, frankly, was wondering what all the hype was about. It seemed like Seth Godin was simply saying the same thing over and over using different words each time. About halfway through the book, I changed my perception about it and began to take a different view.

My initial perception was that Tribes was a book about leadership. If you're looking for a book that teaches you how to lead, you would likely be disappointed in Tribes. My new view is that Tribes is meant to inspire people to lead, rather than teach them to lead. There's a big difference.

Did you have a class in school where the teacher simply presented the material in the textbook, you read it, took a quiz and that was it. If you were good at rote memorization, you probably got a good grade in that class. But were you inspired to learn more about that subject? I'll confess, my only motivation in a class like that was to get a good grade and move on to something more interesting. But then there were the teachers who led the class into interesting discussions and motivated you to want to learn more. That's leadership; that's connecting with your tribe.

Most of us can learn anything if we work hard enough at it. The big question is: are we motivated to learn it? We can do almost anything; the real question is are we passionate enough- do we care enough about it- to do something about it,to be a leader for that cause?

I see Tribes as an inspirational book, not as a "how-to-lead" book. Tribes is a "pep talk" to help us find that leader within each of us. You don't have to be the president or the CEO to lead. And perhaps your area of leadership doesn't even involve your work. Perhaps your inner-leader is what motivates you to be a boy scout leader, or a Sunday school teacher. Maybe there is a cause you feel so strongly about (AIDS, breast cancer, heart disease, disadvantaged children, whatever) that you feel compelled to step into a leadership role. Many times I've heard people lament the hardships and injustices in the world, and they act as if they're powerless to do anything about them. But the truth is, no one is powerless. We all have a voice. Seth Godin's Tribes reminds us that there is a leader living inside each of us. It is up to us to live up to the calling of leadership and to realize that we can lead the change we would like to see in our own corner of the world.
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567 of 616 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Aggravatingly short on substance., November 17, 2008
By 
M. Strong (Milwaukee, WI USA) - See all my reviews
I've almost never been so painfully aware of a book's shortcomings while reading it. Not long into the book, you pick up on a pattern: Godin blithely throws out broad statements about how anyone can become a leader and how we should all strive to be leaders. He then gives the thinnest of examples of how his version of leadership can look. One example is of a guy who gets sick of waiting in line for one party, then goes to an empty bar, texts his friends and starts his own party. Viola! Instant leadership. But even Godin points out, that guy didn't get that party going in four minutes, he got it going using relationships he'd built over four years (or more) so people would respond to his text.

That's where you begin to see the problem. Godin doesn't explain how to go about doing the actual hard groundwork of leadership. He makes it sound like anyone with an idea and a cell phone can rally thousands of people to their cause in minutes if they just realize that it's not hard. Really? How does that work? First off, we can't all be leaders. The math just doesn't work. If every one of us is to be a leader to one thousand, it means that we must also take time to be a follower for 1,000 other leaders who also need their "tribe". Pretty basic arithmetic, and I don't think we've all got that kind of time.

Godin just skips from one shallow and unsupported, but grandiose statement about leadership to another. The one concrete example he gives in the book about how you might actually go about doing the work of leading comes when he describes his early work experience in a software company. He explains how he got the most out of shallow programming resources by starting a newsletter that created a sense of excitement around his project and attracted programmers to it. That's not only a great idea, it's a practical example a reader who wanted to lead could emulate. This book needs far more of those examples.

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of this book is Godin's repeated sincere insistence that what's important these days is to be stylish and new, not established and stable. I just kept thinking, "isn't this the attitude that's gotten us into the economic mess we're in right now? Throw out what works for something that sounds good?" I couldn't believe I was reading something so misguided.

In the end, this book ends up feeling like something Godin banged out in a couple of months in order to generate some sales for himself and his publisher. There's a distinct lack of substance in this book, and Godin's sole useful example is one he could pull from his own memory without getting up from his desk or even picking up a phone.

Good writing takes far more work than that, and so does good leadership. This book is an example of neither.
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251 of 281 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars All-Inclusive Invitation to Lead Combined with Rants about What Not to Do, November 28, 2008
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This book's theme is unconventional leadership, taking a cause or idea and gathering support without a firm institutional foundation by finding like-minded individuals and connecting them. If that's a new idea to you, you will find the book to be flattering in its encouragement and motivational in its tone. If you are an unconventional leader already or know a lot about how to do this, you will search in vain for anything new in Tribes.

The book's substance is rather thin beyond the few examples and rants.

Here it is:

People are turned into a tribe by "a shared interest" and "a way to communicate" ("leader to tribe, tribe to leader, tribe member to tribe member, and tribe member to outsider"). A leader increases effectiveness for the people by"

"transforming the shared interest into a passionate goal and desire for change;
"providing tools to allow members to tighten their communications; and
"leveraging the tribe to allow it to grow and gain new members."

As you can see, he's describing the way causes, nonprofits, political pressure groups, and save the world organizations operate.

Some will be offended by the rants. For example, he takes off rather hard on all religions while being all in favor of faith that you can accomplish whatever you want. There's no real basis for his position other than generalities about how no religions ever favor any changes. Well, if that were the case, there would still be rampant slavery in many nations. It was religious organizations that led the antislavery movement from the beginning.

Mr. Godin is very well informed about things that happened recently on the Internet (or in his own life), but he doesn't seem to have a broader understanding of leadership or change leadership. If either subject interests you, I suggest that you read better informed authors like John Kotter (Leading Change, The Heart of Change: Real-Life Stories of How People Change Their Organizations, and A Sense of Urgency), John Maxwell (The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You, and Developing the Leader Within You), and Peter Drucker (Innovation and Entrepreneurship).

I found his commentary that getting ideas is unimportant to be particularly unhelpful. He feels that leadership is all about passion and communication. But with the wrong ideas, you can be passionate about communicating harmful changes.

Ultimately, this is a book that will be enjoyed by those who cannot stop admiring themselves enough. Mr. Godin will encourage them to take actions so they can admire themselves even more. Whatever happened to servant leadership?

Seth Godin fans can't seem to get enough exhortations and rants directing them to be bigger, bolder, and more assertive than ever before about anything that occurs to them. I suppose I should review these books by comparing them to what New Age gurus suggest rather than serious books about accomplishing useful things.

I was intrigued to see that Mr. Godin addressed those who give his books critical reviews by noting that he's pleased that anyone takes the books seriously. Perhaps they aren't meant to be taken seriously. My mistake.
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The hype is about...what, exactly?, April 10, 2010
I'm still a little leery, whenever I hear about the next big social media visionary or their idea(s), to expect that they will impart anything truly revolutionary. If you have even a passing interest in the social web and how it might impact society and doing business as a whole, you've accepted, to some degree, that we are embarking on a paradigm-shifting experience in the way customer and consumers communicate. We all understand and appreciate this, to whatever degree we do.

I find - as you probably do - that there are a few basic steps to wading into the social media fray, if you are dong so from a business standpoint: 1. Know the architecture (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.), 2. Adopt it, 3. Integrate it with your current web presence, 4. Create good content and distribute it effectively, and 5. Enjoy and participate in the 'best practices' debate with other field professionals about how best to deploy good content, measure results, and make recommendations accordingly. "Tribes" addresses none of these.

If someone claims a book is a 'must read,' as Senator Bill Bradley does about "Tribes," I expect there to be something remarkable in it, something that will make me consider not only marketing in the 2.0 environment, but social interaction as a whole. Despite the endorsements of the majority of readers, my leeriness carries the day.

Look: essentially, if you want to get a better feel for how to best harness the social media phenomenon for business purposes, read Dan Schawbel's "Me 2.0" and Gary Vaynerchuk's "Crush It!", in that order. They are both about equally as brief (in terms of pages), yet contain much more relevant and practical insight into what you can achieve with regards to positioning your personal brand and your company's, respectively, or perhaps most important, both, simultaneously. They've both done it, tell you how, and tell you what you could do.

I'm sure Seth Godin is a good guy but I can't help feel he's pontificating here (and I never thought I'd be able to use that word and mean it). He essentially writes: 1. The old way of doing business is...old. 2. People can - and should - rise up to take the lead and utilize the free and omnipresent social media tools to promote what matters most to them, and if they do, people and ultimately - their employers - will or should follow. 3. If they don't, they should. And that's basically it. I don't mean to be trite or reductive, but I'm serious. Dan Scahwbel and Gary Vaynerchuk speak to these points, but provide the "how to" guides that Godin so blithely dismisses.

Seth - I'm sorry - but you didn't write the manifesto you thought you wrote, you wrote a 160 page-long diary entry. To yourself, to boot. I want to know what you think I can do, but also, how you think I should do it.
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137 of 162 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your time and money, November 6, 2008
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I've just finished reading it. Totally agree with the comments below. I have been a tribe leader for quite some time now. And what I was looking in that book is to find something new, something that would improve my leadership and my tribe. Unfortunately, the author does not go into details and does not say how to become a leader. What you will find in the book is the constant repetition that you should not be afraid of change and always express your ideas, no matter how stupid they may seem. All the content in the book could have been written in 20 to 25 pages, instead we get about 150.
Now, I am pretty sure that the first thirty positive comments about this book were made by the Godin's tribe followers. At least, he is good at that.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Repetition and Boredom, June 1, 2009
Awful book of generalizations with no facts, data, or interesting anecdotes to back it up. Very disappointing. I very much regret purchasing this book. What's worse is that I have it on audio so I had to listen to Godin's rants in his monotone and sheepish voice. Please avoid this book at all costs. Let's create a tribe to get Godin to stop writing books.
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49 of 57 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Incoherent Ramblings, February 22, 2009
By 
Jing Yuan Liu (Chicago, IL USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I am giving this book one star because I have nothing positive to say about. I gave the book a serious go but after a while it became irritating to continue reading. Allow me to elaborate.

One of my biggest complaints with this book is the author's tendency to make sweeping claims which in itself isn't entirely bad. The bad kicks in when the author does not even make an effort to back up these claims. In between these generalities, Godin throws in every day statements which shows no insight whatsoever.

There is no logical sequence to the different sections. I cannot even call it a true stream of conscious writing because one section does not logically lead to another. Godin suffers this fault even within a section. Reading the first paragraph of certain sections and the last paragraph will serve only to confuse as they often do not belong together.

I did gather from my reading that the author believes we all have what it takes to be a leader - each and every one of us. Why be a follower when you could be a leader? Gather fans - true fans. Exactly 1000 true fans will cut it no matter what field you're in. Out with the old and established. In with the new and stylish.

That's a sample of the rubbish that Mr. Godin proposes. I did him a favor by organizing it into a more coherent message. He seems to level his support behind being a bandwagon jumper. He embraces new technologies and in the next section, claims that Twitter's popularity is short lived.

Please heed this warning and do not waste your time with this book of ramblings.
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40 of 46 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Band of Hunter-Gatherers, December 2, 2008
By 
Seth Godin fails to: (1) provide insight into essential leadership responsibilities such as cultivating, nurturing and developing the tribe and its members; (2) describe and assess other key tribal job functions; and (3) suggest and emphasize application of tribal knowledge to benefit society. I'm left with the impression that being a tribal leader is not a means, but an end in itself.

For solid critical thinking and analysis on "tribal" leadership, I recommend "The Essential Drucker: The Best of Sixty Years of Peter Drucker's Essential Writings on Management".
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Long on Repetition, Short on Substance, November 6, 2008
Like many of Seth Godin's books, this book is short on substance.

Here's the gist of the book:

- Leaders don't accept the limitations imposed by others.
- Leaders don't accept the status quo.
- Leaders don't follow, they lead.
- We need leaders.
- We need you to lead us.

Even though it's a quick read, by the time I got two-thirds of the way through the book, I realized there wasn't any reason for me to keep reading because Seth repeats the same thing over and over again.

I'll return the book to the library today.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Way Over-rated Book That Could Cut 99% of Pages, April 17, 2009
By 
C. Wong (Bellevue, WA) - See all my reviews
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Seth Godin is a great marketeer. But he is really bad as a writer. Everything could really be summarized within 10 pages and I just have this feeling I've been had. Good for him for catching me but I'll never buy another book from him again.
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Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us
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