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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tribes and Leadership


Seth Godin has written extensively on marketing in the past. In his new book, Tribes, he’s opened a new door to an old concept: Tribes. We all live in, work in, and play in tribes—though it’s not always obvious. As the French say, “Fish are the last one to find out about water.” Because tribes are all around us, we often take them for granted, like fish take water for granted.

A tribes he explains is any group of people who want to connect to an idea and a leader. Godin then spends much of the book talking about how people have connected and how leaders have stepped forward to say, “Ok, I’ll lead.” It’s not clear if this is a marketing book about leaders or a leadership book about marketing. But either way, he delivers the message that people want to get connected and be led. His challenge is that we (individually) have to step up to the challenge of leading and connecting.

The Internet and social networking devices like Twitter, Facebook, Linked-in and so many others allow us to step up, plant a flag and yell: Here I am with this idea, anyone else interested?

I’m reminded of what happened to me when I moved to Cleveland from Monterey, California. I was training for the Boston Marathon and wanted to connect with local runners in Cleveland, just as winter was rolling in. Every Saturday morning at 7:30AM, I went to a park that linked up with trails called the Emerald Necklace, which went for many miles around Cleveland. At first, I ran alone. But I invited every runner I could run up to and chat with (while running) to join me each Saturday. Three years later, we had a hundred or so people regularly on Saturday morning, and had we had started a running club that had many hundreds of members.

Seth Godin, as usual, has something to say that’s worth listening to.

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