Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin

 Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin

Author: Seth Godin
Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover (Penguin Group)
Copyright Date: 2008
Foundational Characters: n/a
Standard Rating: Y
Reviewer Rating: 5 Stars
Available Formats: Paperback, Hardcover, Audiobook
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1591842336
ISBN-13: 978-1591842330
Book Dimensions: 7.4 x 5.6 x 1.1 inches
Page Count: 160
Genre: Non-Fiction
Sub-Genre: Self-Help, Mind-Body, Consciousness, Personal Transformation, Leadership, Leader, Lead, Business, Investing, Management, Pioneer, Status quo
Tags: Non-Fiction, Seth Godin, Tribes, Self-Help, Mind-Body, Consciousness, Personal Transformation, Leadership, Leader, Lead, Business, Investing, Management, Pioneer, Status quo



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 been seeking out tribes, be they religious, ethnic, economic, 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 those blogs and social networking sites are helping existing tribes get bigger. But more important, they’re enabling countless new tribes to be born—groups of ten or ten thousand or ten million who care about their iPhones, or a political campaign, or a new way to fight global warming.

And so the key question: Who is going to lead us?

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. The explosion in tribes means that 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 Vaynerhuck, a wine expert with a devoted following of enthusiasts. Chris Sharma leads a tribe of rock climbers up impossible cliff faces, while Mich Mathews, a VP at Microsoft, runs her internal tribe of marketers from her cube in Seattle. All they have in common is the desire to change things, the ability to connect a tribe, and the willingness to lead.

If you ignore this opportunity, you risk turning into a “sheepwalker”—someone who 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 in leading your fellow employees, customers, investors, believers, hobbyists, or readers…It’s not easy, but it’s easier than you think. (From the publisher’s website)

The Revelation

“Not too far from us, a few blocks away, there are kids without enough to eat and without parents who care. A little farther away, hours by plane, are people unable to reach their goals because they live in a community that just doesn’t have the infrastructure to support them. A bit farther away are people being brutally persecuted by their governments. And the world is filled with people who can’t go to high school, never mind college, and who certainly can’t spend their time focused on whether or not they get a good parking space at work.
“And so, the obligation: don’t settle.

“To have all these advantages, all this momentum, all these opportunities and then settle for mediocre and then defend the status quo and then worry about corporate politics – what a waste.

“Flynn Berry wrote that you should never use the word “opportunity.” It’s not an opportunity, it’s an obligation.

“I don’t think we have any choice. I think we have an obligation to change the rules, to raise the bar, to play a different game, and to play it better than anyone has any right to believe is possible.”

— Seth Godin, “Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us,” p. 134 – 135

One of the things I love the most about reading good books, whether they are fiction, self-help, biography, or otherwise, are the take-aways – the one-liners, the paragraphs, or even the full sections of the book that teach me something about myself or the world that I didn’t see before, like what I included above. Seth’s statement about our obligation struck me for some reason. That is when I know that a book is good.

In Tribes, Seth Godin is making a case for all of the would-be leaders out there to step up to the plate and take a swing. To take a stand, lead, and create a tribe, or a group of followers, in the process. Seth encourages all of the would-be leaders to leave the status quo behind and to pave a new path. In writing this book, he has taken his own advice.

The first time I pick up a book like this one, I open up to the table of contents, flip through the book looking at the chapter and section titles, read a paragraph here and there – all in an effort to gain a surface-level understanding of where the author is coming from and going with the contents before I dive into the book. But when you open the cover of Tribes, you will not find a table of contents or chapter titles. The first statement Seth makes is this: “Joel Spolsky is changing the world” (1). It is a section title. That section is a little over a page long. This is how Seth wrote the book. No section is more than a few pages long, and because the book is so small, it is a really quick read. However, because of the way Seth wrote the book, and all of the good, useful information contained in it, you may find yourself reading it slowly in order to pull as much information from it as you can. That is how I read it.

One of my favorite sections was The Balloon Factory and the Unicorn (72), and it’s not even a page long. Seth writes about the factory mentality earlier in the book and reinforces the problems facing modern companies that are steeped in this mentality. The balloon factory is used to symbolize the factory mentality generally, “because the factory is organized around a single idea, the idea of soft, quiet stability” (72-73). Then a unicorn shows up and “changes all that” (73). The unicorn is a leader in a factory of “timid” robots that are “very concerned about pins, needles, and porcupines. They don’t like sudden changes in temperature. Sharp objects are a problem as well” (72).

Seth has a fascinating way of packing all that needs to be said into just a few short sentences. He doesn’t lead his readers in a particular direction so they have the opportunity fill the blanks in on their own, according to the way the reader would like to lead their particular tribe. Some readers may call this book a waste of time because Seth doesn’t give bullet points and lay the process of leading a tribe out in a how-to manual format. If you are looking for a book that does this for you, you will be disappointed. If you are looking for general directions and a few examples of how things are done, look no further. Seth delivers.

This entry was posted in Book Review, Business, Consciousness, Investing, Lead, Leader, Leadership, Management, Mind-Body, Non-Fiction, Personal Transformation, Pioneer, Psychology & Counseling, Self-Help, Seth Godin and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin

  1. Pingback: Review of “Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us” by Seth Godin | REIC Global

  2. Pingback: Review of “Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us” by Seth Godin | The Strait Path to Real Estate Wealth by Kris Krohn

  3. Pingback: Review of “Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us” by Seth Godin | Kris Krohn

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