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Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us Hardcover – October 16, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Former U.S. senator Bill Bradley
"Tribes is a short book--only 147 pages. But its short size belies its true importance. As I read it, I was literally underlining every other sentence. I went through two hi-lighters before I finished!
This is one of the most important books I have read this year. I highly recommend it."
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Other takeaways from the book: A leader of a tribe does not get permission, or follow rules, or wait to be asked - a leader just does it. A tribe follows that leader because the leader is passionate about what they are doing/creating and/or where they are going.
A tribe is not a "hierarchy" that is found in some companies with higher and higher levels of position. With a tribe, the more you want in, the more you are in.
However I feel like the state of leadership and the inspiration behind this book is one that came from a limited and privileged world view. And because of that it is overly simple. Idealistically, hard charging and not taking no for an answer when your vision for something better is inspirational and rooted in a personal truth and conviction should be celebrated. But this book ignores the reality that operating in this way is a luxury that people of color and women often can't afford to do without more grave consequences than the risk of someone just "not getting it". Even his example of MLK as a person that just "did it" was an oversimplification because history shows that he was a reluctant leader initially and also that he was chosen early on by clergy and members of the SCLC because he was relatively unknown in Montgomery and was therefore possibly less immune to the danger and intimidation any black leader there would experience. Add to that the fact that public opinion at that time was overwhelmingly against him and even amongst black civil rights organizations of the time there wasn't overwhelming consensual his methods were even correct or inspiring change, and I think it illustrates my point further. We celebrate King now as a martyr and representation of persistence in the face of something wrong, but at the time many people did not see it that way.
Because of this, I think mentioning more than just the power of tribe and putting it in context of other actual leadership skills and challenges of leading from a place without privilege could have added depth to this book.
“Curious people count. Not because there are a lot of them, but because they're the ones who talk to people who are in a stupor. They're the ones who lead the masses in the middle who are stuck. The masses in the middle have brainwashed themselves into thinking it’s safe to do nothing, which the curious can't abide.”
“Crowds and tribes. Two different things: a crowd is a tribe without a leader. A crowd is a tribe without communication. Most organizations spend their time marketing to the crowd. Smart organizations assemble the tribe. Crowds are interesting, and they can create all sorts of worthwhile artifacts and market effects. But tribes are longer lasting and more effective.”
There are a lot of great books out there but this is a must.
I like that most of the topics are short and to the point. He doesn't ramble on. He gives you an idea and you take it from there. He doesn't give you a step by step manual on how to lead, he gives a concept of how tribes work and you as a leader work it out from there.
Super fun book. Joined his email list as greatly enjoy his daily emails on variety of thoughts.
Top international reviews
I know I have and this book will show you that the world needs people like you and me to do just that. The world needs people with well meaning passion to bring like-minded people together to find new ways of being, new ways of living, new ways of making the most out of this beautiful world we can call our own.
Have you ever heard the one about 'no man is an island' and how much more we can achieve if we do things together, if we join forces to collaborate to achieve things we know are right and we want for ourselves and our communities. This book will encourage you to step off your island and gather your people to you. How to reach out to people who are hungry to make connections and change things for the better.
Do you ever feel you are sleep-walking through life and it's passing you by far too quickly. That one day you'll look up and it will be too late to do anything meaningful that you can look back on and treasure. This book will show you how you can't afford to keep on complying and accepting the status quo, making do and putting up with things that get you down and make your life a misery.
If you have a passion for what you want to do and the drive to make it happen, there is a tribe of fellow employees, or customers, or investors, or readers, just waiting for you to connect them with each other and lead them where they want to go.
Go build your tribe and make something truly remarkable happen!
My focus isessentially on book writing, reviewing, publishing and marketing, so initially I found Tribes less helpful than I’d expected.
In historical and anthropological terms, a tribe is "a social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognised leader". (Google defn.)
A traditional tribal group generally has no written language, only the spoken word. and not unusually, there are different recognised roles for men and women (and children) in traditional societies.
But I also understand the general direction in which Godin’s 'Tribes’ is heading, and with a different definition: "A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea". Godin's understanding of present-day tribes in advanced societies focuses on members who are in possession of sophisticated hardware and software to create on-line (rather than face to face) communities. These are Godin's ‘Tribes’ who might never meet face-to-face, and are vastly different to older, anthropological communities where the lives of tribal members are constantly at risk and total commitment to a tribe is vital.
For one thing, in the new world of Godin's ‘Tribes’, we can simultaneously belong to any number of different tribes if we so choose. We can drop in and out as each one chooses. The commitment level feels very different, as the modern ‘Tribes’ are much more communities of mutual interest than communities of kinship. With so much done for free and given freely, creating a new Tribe becomes, in Godin's words 'an act of generosity'.
What struck me most is the role of leadership in the Tribes that Godin refers to.
Here, leadership is not traditional command and control, etc, but someone (or someones) who has the vision, pursues it, and draws together a community of mutual interest for the journey. It takes a great deal of leadership vision and commitment to start a new Tribe, which presumably is what every present-day author now needs to do; and the new tools are, in essence, the shifting landscape of social media platforms.
So the encouragement and vision that Godin gives is worth the 4 stars I’ve given 'Tribes'.
But, whether I am closer to my own goal to draw together and createa new ‘Tribe’ around a new theme that has multiple dimensions, is still far from clear! - Rob Mackintosh
1. Responding to new/changing environments is better than reacting, but even better is to initiate. Very true - whether over a business plan or change in plan initiating is the 21st century way to go.
2. It's never been so easy to lead (google, blogs etc) - and it's better for your tribe to find you (and to give them what they want) rather than trying to artificially create a tribe for your own purposes (Seth correct me if I've misunderstood).
As a Godin fan I'm happy to read his open style on almost any subject. Any longer and the book would be repeating itself - just the right length to read on a plane.
The central theme is that with the internet anyone can be a leader and harness a following. Tribes already exist everywhere and the internet is a great way to focus a tribe.
The examples are not so interesting as real world examples he gives in other books, but the style is nice and it is an intelligent read.
This book does a great job of delivering some key points about the differences of being a manager or being a leader. It also provides guidance as to how best extend your "circle of influence" (for those who've read Stephen R Covey).
It doesn't really give much depth with a lot of what it says, so I've brought the rating down, but it's well-written and worth the time to read (it's very short).