Micah Elliott's Reviews > Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us

Tribes by Seth Godin
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's review
Jan 05, 2009

it was amazing
Read in November, 2008

In the classic Godin style, more than anything this book is motivational, with an expected emphasis on embracing change and overcoming the F-word (Fear). But this time there's more to it (hence the multitude of tags) -- leadership! We have to assemble and lead a tribe, and "managing" isn't going to work. We must start movements, via motivation and connectivity. "The barriers to leadership have fallen," as the necessary tools are now readily available: blogs, search, RSS, social networks, GTD, progress trackers, etc.

Short and sweet at 127 unstructured, linear entries, it's an assortment of advice, admonitions, case studies, experiments, quotations, and anecdotal stories, including a revision to the Peter Principle(!). I was compelled to compile my own glossary to aid in remembering all the rich metaphors. It includes: authentic generosity, balloon factories (and unicorns), charisma, criticism, curiosity (vs fundamentalism), heresy (vs status quo), faith (vs religion), remarkability (vs fear), leadership/empowerment (vs sheepwalking, vs participation, vs management), micromovement, passion (vs bureaucracy), reinvention (vs perfection), thermostat (vs thermometer), tribe (vs factory), yes/no (vs not yet) -- words which will now have a refreshed home in my vocabulary.

Paraphrasing some of the most resonant excerpts:

- Capitalize on a non-obvious moment/opportunity; get there first.
- Recipe for starting a micromovement: manifesto, connectablity, money is not the point, track progress.
- Persuasion: don't start with opposition, seek the uncommitted passionates.
- Help your tribe sing, whatever form that song takes.
- Elements of leadership: challenge status quo, create culture, be charismatic, communicate vision, connect.
- "I started a newsletter..."

I appreciate that Seth's content is not simply borrowed or extended from his blog, but enters fresh in his books. I should also mention that Seth's is about the only blog among my 200 subscriptions whose entries I will never skim over.

Purple Cow and The Big Moo motivated me to quit my programming factory day job some months ago and pursue my dream of ending corporate life and starting my own business. Now Tribes has given me what I believe will be the perspective to lead a people, as Seth does. In fact, because I'm in Seth's exclusive tribe (exclusion is a key component of tribes), he sent me (and other members) a surprise free, advanced copy of the book. And now he'll sit back while his members write rave reviews about it and sneeze over the importance of tribes and leadership. That is remarkable.
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