D'Arcy from Winnipeg
Solution Architecture, Business & Entrepreneurship, Microsoft, and Adoption

Book Review – Tribes by Seth Godin

Friday, July 2, 2010 12:52 PM

The world is a vampire, sent to drain
Secret destroyers, hold you up to the flame
And what do I get, for my pain?
Betrayed desires, and a piece of the game

Even though I know – I suppose I’ll show
All my cool and cold – like old job

Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage…

Smashing Pumpkins, Bullet with Butterfly Wings

A few years ago I was given these words of wisdom by my then boss:

Leaders lead.

At the time, the weight of wisdom in that statement was lost on me. In Tribes, Seth Godin instigates a big-bang and expands those two words into a book that challenges our thoughts on organization, work, management, religion, and purpose.

We learn about who leaders are: heretics struggling against the status quo that decades of factory-based work models and similar schooling structures have imbedded in our society.

We learn about what it means to “lead”: that leaders don’t require authority or permission, but a passion for change and the initiative to bring people together and rally around that change.

We learn about what drives leaders to lead: Passion, tenacity, commitment, compassion, and selflessness to see effective change.

Interesting that Godin titled the book “Tribes”, because this is really a book about leadership. It’s also not a book that tells you step by step how to build a tribe, how to recruit, how to market effectively. Part of the reason is that there is no right answer, because as the book mentions:

Leaders have nothing in common except the decision to lead.

And the tribes they lead are equally as different, with their own nuances, communication mediums, and customs.

The underlying point of Tribes is that the world, industries, education, government – all of these and more need leaders now more than ever. The problem is that societies vision of a “leader” is skewed, and we need to plant the seed on what leadership really means and realize the potential change we could see if more leaders emerge…if more people band together as a tribe under one common goal. Tribes make change, leaders organize and orchestrate the tribe.

I started this post with a lyrical quote from a Smashing Pumpkins song. That song is the anthem for people all over the world: feeling caged in the environment they’re surrounded in, feeling that they have no choice but to continue going through life under the rules set upon them. Tribes is an answer to those people. Tribes is a way out, a chance to unlock the cage and escape. From the book:

The secret of leadership is simple: Do what you believe in. Paint a picture of the future. Go there. People will follow.

Once you choose to lead you’ll be under huge pressure to reconsider, to compromise, to dumb it down, or to give up. Of course you will. That’s the world’s job: to get you to be quiet and follow. The status quo is the status quo for a reason. But once you choose to lead, you’ll also discover that it’s not so difficult. That the options available to you seem really clear, and that yes, in fact, you can get from here to there. Go.

Imagine what our world would look like with leaders forming tribes and pushing for real, meaningful change.

Rating: 5/5

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# re: Book Review – Tribes by Seth Godin

I really enjoyed Tribes as well. Have you read any of Clay Shirkey's books? You should check out Here Comes Everybody. I have a review of it on my blog. 8/19/2010 2:26 PM | Chris D

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