Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us

nnovation Watch
by Seth Godin

New York: Portfolio, 2008

A tribe is any group of people, large or small, who are connected to one another, a leader, and an idea. For millions of years, humans have joined tribes, be they religious, ethnic, political, or even musical (think of the Deadheads). It’s our nature.

Now the Internet has eliminated the barriers of geography, cost, and time. All these blogs and social networking sites are helping existing tribes get bigger and enabling new tribes to be born -- groups of ten or ten million who care about their iPhones, or a political campaign, or a new way to fight global warming.

Who is going to lead all these tribes?

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. 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 Vaynerchuck, a wine expert with a devoted following. Chris Sharma leads a tribe of rock climbers up impossible cliff faces while Mich Mathews, a VP at Microsoft, runs a tribe of marketers from her cube.

If you ignore this opportunity to lead, you risk turning into a "sheepwalker" -- someone how 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 for leading your fellow employees, customers, investors, believers, hobbyists, readers…It’s not easy, but it’s easier than you probably imagine.

Seth Godin is the author of ten international bestsellers, including the New York Times bestseller The Dip. His books have been translated into more than twenty-five languages and include Permission Marketing, Purple Cow, and Meatball Sundae.He is also the founder and CEO of Squidoo.com (a huge and fast-growing tribe) and the most popular business blogger in the world. Visit www.SethGodin.com and click on his head to read his blog.


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