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It Takes a Tribe: Building the Tough Mudder Movement

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3.90  ·  Rating details ·  164 ratings  ·  31 reviews
"Who on earth wants to jump into ice baths and run through fire and wallow in mud on a Sunday afternoon, just for the hell of it?" my professors asked. My gut feeling was--plenty of people.

Will Dean, founder of extreme obstacle course Tough Mudder, shares the thrilling inside story of how a scrappy startup grew into a movement whose millions of members feel like co-owne
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Hardcover, 272 pages
Published September 12th 2017 by Portfolio
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Jennifer
Sep 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
It Takes a Tribe is as much about the history, path, and growth of Tough Mudder as it is about resilience. About collaboration. About dealing with your crap and moving on to the next thing.

I love Tough Mudder, so I really enjoyed reading about how Tough Mudder came to be and the journey the company has been on. I especially loved learning the process for creating and testing new obstacles. The list of "crazy obstacle ideas" that they've passed on was fun to read.

Dean also talks about being an e
...more
Chad Manske
Apr 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
A fantastic book about what the t takes to follow your passion and really be an entrepreneur. Dean takes us through his life as a student in England at Bristol through his Harvard MBA and search for more in life. Hard work, grit and determination made TM what it is today because of Dean, and the TM brand has had to reinvent itself many times to remain competitive. Be inspired!!
Emily Bassett
Oct 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Inspiring. Authentic. A journey of a read. Only detractor was at some points I felt like I was reading a sales pitch for Tough Mudder, but if you take that as a given--great read for any leader who wants to be part of something that MATTERS.

Highlights:

The power of touch.

AFI moments (Aw, Fuc* it).

A Risk-adverse employee presenting a 100 page powerpoint slide about the risks of updating the company's website, instead of ACTUALLY updating the website.

Values of a company that shift as the com
...more
Omar El-mohri
Sep 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, audio-copy
The beginning sounds little out of scope, but the story ended up great with many interesting lessons
Bjoern Rochel
Sep 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: eng-mgmt, 2017
As someone who has already run a TM event, getting to know how it started, evolved and what ideas are at play behind TM was really fascinating.
Sean Goh
Aug 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: relating, pers-dev
I'm probably one of those who has not done a Tough Mudder, only Spartan (and Viper) Races, but identify more with the TM's 'all for one, one for all' ethos. Especially interesting to hear how they redesigned obstacles like Everest to be only surmountable through teamwork (with the rounded top lip). The stories in between chapters are the true highlights though, from the state troopers running in memory of their fallen comrade, to the war veteran running the full course with only one arm and one ...more
Katie
Dec 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: suggest
This book details the rise of the Tough Mudder company, and goes into detail about what its founder, the author Will Dean, discovered about being an entrepreneur along the way. This was an interesting journey to take with him that I thoroughly enjoyed, and it was actually my least favorite part of the book.

No, the real hook for me, that just made me love this book, was the spirit that Will Dean promotes. It's a very big part, the core even, of what makes a Tough Mudder, and he discusses it at le
...more
David
Apr 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
haven't done a Tough Mudder event, though i've talked to quite a few people who have, so i was somewhat familiar with the idea in advance.

somewhat interesting, if not totally original, analysis of the societal void it appears to have helped fill -- desire for challenge, being outdoors, in-person connection and teamwork as an antidote to hyperindividualistic/competitive/sedentary/mediated/digital experiences that predominate in work and leisure time for so many these days.

beyond that, a lot of st
...more
Meghan
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I graduated from business school and have read my share of business books. This one was thoroughly enjoyable to read. Learning how the founder, Will Dean, came up with and executed the inception of Tough Mudder was enlightening. Dean identifies successes and failures and potential issues for the future. He illustrates how problems were overcome and used examples from other businesses as support or inspiration for his decisions.

The section about Harvard was particularly horrifying to me. I have
...more
Leonardo Etcheto
Jan 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very, very enjoyable read and a fascinating story. After reading the book I actually want to do a half Mudder just to check it out. I laughed at the idea before so it is a bit of a change of heart. I was surprised at how well written the book is and frankly how insightful, Will Dean has obviously spent some time getting to know himself and his motivation and it shows.
I am not a big youtube user, but now I will check out some of the videos he mentions to get a better sense for what is what. I do
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Heather
Dec 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
I won this book from Goodreads Giveaways.

This book interested me, because I am a runner who is a fan of mud runs. Tough Mudder, though, always seemed like more than I wanted to take on. After reading about the culture of Tough Mudder and the driving forces behind the company, I am more interested in considering it.

However, It Takes a Tribe is more a business book, with a sprinkling of motivational stores, than it is about the events themselves. There are some very good lessons on how to live a b
...more
Sandy
Jan 30, 2018 rated it did not like it
I love the idea behind the Tough Mudder mentality. Cooperation, team work, leave no man behind. But while reading this book, I kept getting a horrible feeling about the author. Some gut reaction or instinct made me want to run as far away from him as possible. I dont know why, I feel like at the surface the book should make me like him... but it did the opposite. I am really curious if I met him in real life if I would get the same vibe. I wouldn’t read this again nor would I recommend it to my ...more
Lia
Sep 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Full disclosure - I received a copy free from Tough Mudder as a brand ambassador.

Certainly, I'm biased because I already love Tough Mudder. However, the origin story, to candid tone throughout and the transparency into Tough Mudder as a business was fascinated. Lots of lessons learned, that have be thinking about my own leadership, grit, resilience, determination and "tribe".

Quick read, too!
Jeffrey DiNapoli
Apr 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
Was expecting more about the TM events and people itself. Will gave us details on his background and business philosophies and entrepreneurial spirit, however was short on details of just how TM got off the ground. We were told that within 4 years TM was pulling in 50M in revenue but there was not a word on the who and how much it took to get there. I have some limited knowledge and even a small event could cost upwards of $500,000 or more. Where did this start-up money come from?
Candy
Aug 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
I am far from being in a Tough Mudder but I found this book an inspiration with the ins and outs of a entrepreneur and the passion it took to realize Dean's dream. I was excited about the idea of growing a community because in the world today communities are needed. Suicide is growing and a lot of people don't feel a connection to anyone. This group is making that connection. I applaud this group for meeting this goal.
Jade
Nov 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Flo
Sep 05, 2019 rated it liked it
I just signed up for a tough mudder and I wanted to know more about the story behind and how it all started.

I love their pledge:
As a Tough Mudder, I pledge that
I understand this event is a race... but not an excuse to be a selfish jerk
I will uphold the Tough Mudder values of teamwork and camaraderie
I will help my fellow competitors complete the course I will not whine... losers whine
I recognise that in life the race is long... and in the end, only really with myself
Liang Gang Yu
Sep 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is an interesting memoir of Tough Mudder from the founder of its conception, creation, early growth, and maturing over the past decade. The book is more about the Mudder's spirit, experience, and the tribe, than about the business. After all, that is what TM is about, what drives a large part of the modern economy.
Travis McKinstry
One of the best books I’ve ever read. I’ve actually never done a TM, although I’ve considered it. Now, it’s on my bucket list to do at least one.

Beautifully written and organized, the book had me interested in every word that was typed. When I had to put the book down, I couldn’t wait to read more.
Erin Woodall
Feb 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is not what I was expecting. A friend referred it, but they did not say that the majority was about setting up a business and running it. On the other hand though it was interesting reading about how an obstacle course race got started and kept it's momentum building. "Tell me folks: When was the last time you did something for the first time?"
Kathy Heare Watts
I won a copy of this book during a Goodreads giveaway. I am under no obligation to leave a review or rating and do so voluntarily. So that others may also enjoy this book, I am paying it forward by donating it a local library.
Nicholas Gutsche
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An intimate look into the founding of the Tough Mudder movement. Founder Will Dean and his entrepreneurial spirit are able to overcomes pessimism, student loan "advisers", and a costly lawsuit to make Tough Mudder a worldwide phenomenon.
Tim Gray
I chose to not rate this book because I’m 100% for Spartan Races. That’s where my heart belongs. I feel a lot of this book was about Dean being an entrepreneur and his time at Harvard. It bored me. That’s all I’m going to say since I’m biased.
Sharron
Sep 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
* I received a free copy in a Goodreads giveaway (too long ago, sorry)

This is a very enjoyable read; it's a business book about entrepreneurship, but the stories and details of the Tough Mudders bring it to life.
John
Sep 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Interesting book from a business perspective, and for anyone who's done a Tough Mudder event, it's also one that ties together the experience with the growth of the company. An enjoyable read.
Faith 09
Nov 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Very okay, I didn't get much out of it.
Karen Grosz
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
loved every word, every idea, every dream it made me dream. loved it. did I mention I loved it?
Troy Thomas
Mar 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
tough mudder can change your life
Heather View
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Good read but it didn’t focus on what I thought it would focus on.
Good read from a business side of things
Mark
Sep 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
One of the better business books I've read. It's a little promotional and there are some point where editing of a first-time author would have helped. But if you've done a tough mudder or are on the fence about doing one, this is worth your time.

"...entrepreneurship is often what is left when you have ruled out all safer and often more lucrative options for yourself."
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“We don’t do superstars in our Tough Mudder world—but if we were to, it would be hard to ignore the claims of Amelia Boone, an athlete who now features regularly on the cover of Runner’s World and who has been the women’s champion at World’s Toughest three times. An in-house lawyer for Apple in Silicon Valley, Amelia is among the only competitors to keep running for twenty-four hours in the desert without a rest. She keeps coming back not for the glory of “winning” but because, she says, “you will never find a race like World’s Toughest Mudder—where you are technically running against other people but where you will still see the leader out there stopping to help people up over walls or out of the water. It is just this unwritten rule; no one questions it, that is how it is.” Amelia studied social anthropology before she became a lawyer, with an interest in the way that social norms and gossip were used by indigenous tribes to create and maintain healthy and coherent cultures. Tough Mudder, she suggests, is the closest she has come to seeing that tribal spirit in action in the contemporary world. “If I am out for a run and I see someone wearing a Tough Mudder headband or T-Shirt, there is always a big smile and a nod of recognition between us,” she says, as if she is speaking of a pair of Yanomami natives coming across each other on a forest trail. It’s a nod, she suggests, that communicates a great many things—not only shared philosophies and kinship but also the recognition that “I may well have pushed your wet ass over a wall at some point last year.” 0 likes
“I tell this story here to begin to offer an answer to the question posed by the title of this chapter: What Makes a Tough Mudder? It’s my belief that ideas for new businesses that capture people’s imagination don’t ever arise by accident. There is a kind of inevitability about them. They form as answers to questions that have existed in their founders’ minds for years before finding the right expression. To a degree these things are subconscious. But I’m sure it wasn’t entirely by chance that having grown up in a place that had dramatically lost its identity and purpose, I was drawn to try to create a business and a culture that might offer a version of those values in a different way and to a new generation. Did I already carry some of that nostalgia for grit and camaraderie with me from Worksop when my parents made a huge financial sacrifice and sent me away to an exclusive boarding school at age thirteen? I’d like to think so. The result of that sacrifice was not necessarily the one my parents thought they were paying for, though. I felt that I didn’t quite belong in the rough-edged town of my birth, but I also wasn’t convinced I belonged in the more privileged world of the English shires a hundred miles south. A place where nobody but me seemed to come from an industrial town at all. I went from one community that I didn’t fit into to another—but again, as something of an outsider, there were aspects of that new culture that intrigued me, that got me thinking about how shared values might be created, how I might feel like I belonged.” 0 likes
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