Pursue What Matters
Episode 78: Tribes Book Review
Please excuse any typos, transcripts are generated by an automated service
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
Are you contributing your best gifts? Are you uncomfortable with the word lead? So what if I told you that we need you to lead us?
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:14
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith, welcome to the Pursue What Matters podcast where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. Okay, so today I am here to talk about another great book, it’s time for another book review. And boy, when I read this book, I fell in love with it. And when I just look at my copy, man, it is marked all over the place. And I think it is. It is so good. It’s a book that you can read every single year. And it’s a small book. So this would you know, you could read this book really honestly, like in a day, day and a half. It’s small, but it is full of hidden gems. And so I hope you I hope you will consider reading it. And if not, I hope you’ll get a lot out of my discussion of this excellent book.
Dr. Melissa Smith 1:28
So what is the book? So this book is called tribes, we need you to lead us it is by Seth Godin. And of course, Seth Godin is well known. He’s an author of many, many books. He’s really known as a marketing guy. But he he has really become a thought leader in the leadership literature in the business leader in the business, literature. And so let’s learn a little bit more about Seth. And this book, The thing I really love about Seth is and his writing is he just looks at things from a different perspective. And so his thinking is just a little bit sideways. And it’s refreshing. So his books are really refreshing. I think they’re thought provoking. And they’re entertaining. They’re fun books to read. And this is no exception.
Dr. Melissa Smith 2:23
So a little bit about Seth. So he is the author of 10 International bestsellers, I think that it’s probably more than that at this point. And he’s a prolific author, including the New York Times bestseller, the DEP. He’s definitely got a lot more than that at this point. So his books have been translated into more than 25 languages, and include Permission Marketing, Purple Cow and Meatball Sundae. He is also the founder and CEO of Squidoo, a huge and fast growing tribe and the most popular business blogger in the world. And so his website, of course, is sethgodin.com. And you can you know, he has a blog that’s very, very popular, obviously, the most popular business blogger in the world. And, you know, what are some of his other books, I just, he thought All Marketers Are Liars. So that’s a, that’s a popular one. Of course. Purple Cow is a really popular one. And then of course, this one Tribes. This book came out in 2008. But it is still really relevant. Now. I think what’s really interesting about this book is it came out right when the internet was really starting to explode. And there was so much about this book, but he just he nailed it. But it is still absolutely relevant today.
Dr. Melissa Smith 3:57
So let’s hear a little bit about what people have to say about the book. So this is from former US Senator Bill Bradley Tribes is a must read for all of us. It’s up to each one of us to lead in today’s new kind of world. Okay, so some of Seth Godin’s other books that of course, are very popular Linchpin that’s very popular as well. He also has a podcast, which is Akimbo. That’s a little bit newer. And, and let’s see the new book. He’s got a new book, too, looks like and then of course, he’s also doing he’s doing some e courses looks like and he has 19 best sellers. So that’s pretty cool. It’s pretty incredible. So This is Marketing, Purple Cow, Tribes of course, which is the book that we’re going to talk about today, The Dip, All Marketers Are Liars or vice versa, All Marketers Tell Stories, Linchpin, The Icarus Deception, The Practice, Permission Marketing, that was a really popular one. Poke The Box, all sorts of books from Seth Godin. And so let’s see what others have to say about the book tribes.
Dr. Melissa Smith 5:35
Okay, so this was a New York Times Businessweek and Wall Street Journal bestseller, and really redefining what it means to be a leader. So you can tell why I might be a big fan of this book. Like I said, when I first came across this book, I was like, Whoa, this is so awesome. So since it was first published almost a decade ago, Godin’s visionary book has helped tens of thousands of leaders turn a scattering of followers into a loyal tribe. And that’s really what he talks about, like how do you actually share your passion and connect with people. So if you need to rally fellow employees, customers, investors, believers, hobbyists, or readers around an idea, this book will demystify the process. So he talks about how it’s human nature to seek out tribes, be they religious, ethnic, economic, political, or even musical. And now the Internet has eliminated the barriers of geography, cost, and time, social media gifts anyone who wants to make a difference, the tools to do so boy, isn’t that true. And so one of Golden’s really wonderful gifts, is his gift for storytelling. And so he presents the three steps to building a tribe. So the desire to change things, the ability to connect to try, and the willingness to leave. And that’s one of the things we’re really going to focus on today as we talk about this excellent book. And so they say that tribes will make you think, really think about the opportunities to mobilize an audience that are already at your fingertips. It’s not easy, but it’s easier than you think. And the key really is about your willingness to step up and lead because people want that they want to be connected. And so I love the subtitle of the book, we need you to lead us.
Dr. Melissa Smith 7:30
So let’s hear what some of the reviewers have said. From Publishers Weekly, “short on pages, but long on repetition. This newest book, by Godin argues that lasting and substantive change can be best effected by a tribe, a group of people connected to each other to a leader and to an idea, smart innovators find or assemble a movement of similarly minded individuals, and get the tribe excited by a new product service or message, often via the internet,” right, which is just, it’s just changed the way we connect. And so “the books helpful nuggets are buried beneath esoteric case studies and multiple reiterations. We can be leaders if we want tribes are the way of the future and change is good.” So think about this. This book came out in 2008. So this was right during the economic downturn. And so this is a review from Michael Hyatt, who I am a fan of, “tribes is a short book, only 147 pages, but it’s short size belies its true importance. As I read it. I was literally underlining every other sentence. I went through two highlighters before I finished. This is one of the most important books I have read this year, I highly recommend it.” And that’s from Michael Hyatt. And Michael Hyatt certainly has taken the message to heart he has has definitely been an effective leader in that way.
Dr. Melissa Smith 9:04
Okay, so let’s, let’s take a look at this book. So, this is the premise of the book is that, you know, first of all, you know, tribes are group of people. So I have some issues with the term tribe. I don’t I don’t actually love that term. I think that can actually be a divisive term. But you know, that aside, you know, Godin talks about a tribe as any group of people large or small, who are connected to one another, a leader and an idea. And he talks about this idea that, you know, as humans, we’ve always collected ourselves in tribes, the religious, ethnic, political, or even musical and it’s just in our nature, we are social creatures. So with the advent of the Internet, right, we are no longer limited by geography, cost, and time, we can connect with people from all over the world, according to our interests. And that has opened up new worlds for us. And it is, it’s pretty incredible, right? I mean, just think about, you know, think about Facebook groups and think about people you can follow on Instagram and connections that you can make on different social media platforms. But here is his point. And this is kind of the premise of the book, who’s going to lead all of these tribes? So even though we have so many barriers, that have disappeared with the internet, we still need leaders of all of these tribes of all of these groups of people. And so he says, the web can do amazing things. But the web, right, the internet cannot 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, right. And so you have the world at your fingertips in the form of the internet, you have access to these communities, who may share your same passions. And so if you think leadership is for other people think again, leaders come in surprising packages. You know, like, and just think about that, think about some of the communities that maybe you are part of online, that people that you wouldn’t maybe necessarily think of as leaders are leading these incredible communities. And I think about you know, my husband, he follows a few people online, you know, some related to firearms some related to NASA. And, you know, he, he was telling me one day about how some of these individuals got started in it. And it’s just like, so fun, and like so geeky, and like, you wouldn’t necessarily think about these people as leaders, and yet, their passion and their sense of purpose, have really combined to make them leaders in these communities. And that shines through and has made them really remarkable at what they do. And so many of them have actually, like, quit their day jobs, and they’re leading these communities. And so, and this is the other thing that Godin says if you ignore this opportunity to lead you risk turning into a sheepwalker.
Dr. Melissa Smith 12:49
So I thought that was an interesting term. So “someone who fights to protect the status quo at all costs, never asking if obedience is doing you, or your organization any good.” So sheepwalkers don’t do very well, these days. So you don’t want to be a sheepwalker. So again, he says, you really want to think about what are the opportunities? And you know, are there those out there looking for you to lead them?
Dr. Melissa Smith 13:20
So let’s jump in to some of the details and the key points of this great little book. Okay, so I’ve already told you what a tribe is; a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. So three things: group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. And Godin argues that a group needs only two things to be a tribe. So the first thing is a shared interest. And two is a way to communicate. So just think about that. Think about that as it relates to the internet and how it relates to our life today. So tribes need leadership, sometimes one person leads sometimes more people want connection and growth in something new. So people want something novel, they want change. And so you cannot have a tribe without a leader. And you can’t be a leader without a tribe. So that seems pretty, pretty basic. Right? And so, you know, this is his first premise that As humans, we we naturally gravitate towards tribes, we’re social beings, we have a desire to belong. We have this desire for novelty we have this desire to connect and to grow. And, you know, for many of us, we might not, we might not find that sense of connection or growth in our work, which is okay, but maybe we find that in a hobby or in interests or in a topic area outside of work. But the point is that we need to find that somewhere. Of course, tribe used to be local, right tribes used to be based on geography. And of course, that is not true anymore. And new technologies, the internet have all supported, and amplified, what tribes can do and have really served to connect tribes. But Godin makes a really important point, which is that the real power of tribes has absolutely nothing to do with the Internet, and everything to do with people. So you don’t want to conflate those two, it’s not the internet, it’s people, it’s connection. So you never want to lose the point of it, it’s about connection. And those tools, those technologies, make connection possible and facilitate connection. But you never want to lose the heart of what’s going on, and what’s most important, and that is connection, and learning and growth. And that’s what’s most powerful.
Dr. Melissa Smith 16:23
The other thing that Godin talks about is that tribes are about belief, and tribes are about faith and belief in an idea and in a community. And so as a leader, if you want to lead, you need to, you need to believe in what you are doing, if you don’t believe no one else will. And think about that think about any sort of leader or, you know, personality or influencer that you see online, they usually feel pretty strongly about, about, you know, whatever it is they’re leading in. So they, you know, they might be really extreme, they might be really quirky, but there’s no question that they feel very strongly about, about what it is that they are talking about. They’re passionate about it. And they’re genuine, and they’re authentic. And when they’re not, we can see through that. And so the days of TV commercials, where people are peddling something that they don’t believe in, those days are gone. And that I think this is interesting, because we’re kind of coming full circle now. And I would love to hear what Godin has to say about this. But now we are reaching a point in social media where we are seeing paid sponsorships right or paid partnerships. And those ads, right. I mean, they’re supposed to be posts, but they’re, you know, they’re paid partnerships. And I just think that’s gonna backfire on people. Because part of what draws us to leaders and social influencers is the authenticity. And so, you know, there’s a social media influencer, that I have followed, not for very long for maybe it’s been less than a year actually. And one of the things that I started noticing is probably like, five or six posts in a row, were paid partnerships. And I just thought, This is ridiculous. I’m like, I don’t like I don’t even care what this person has to say anymore. Because it started to feel like it was just a commercial, which essentially, is what it was. And so the key about reading, and especially as we think about the tribe, is that you eat, it’s all about authenticity. And if you lose that you’re going to lose your tribe. And so I think we’re at an inflection point here, especially with social media as we’re starting to see these paid partnerships. And I don’t think it’s going to end well, for people who are taking on too many of these paid partnerships, I think a little bit here and there, you know, tribes can tolerate. But I think too many, it’s a dangerous road.
Dr. Melissa Smith 19:26
So you’ve got to write what matters if you don’t care about what you’re writing or what you’re, you know, your video content, that sort of thing. Others won’t, either. So you’ve got to be engaged in work that you’re passionate about, because if you’re not, no one else will care. And I think that’s, actually one of the most compelling things that he talks about. You’ve got to be willing to put yourself out there and so this is where we really intersect with some of Brene Brown’s work around vulnerability. Because it is vulnerable. Anytime you put yourself in a leadership position, it is vulnerable, you’re putting yourself in the arena. And you can get shot down, right, you open yourself up to the slings and arrows. And that is just true. But also when you put yourself in the arena, you open yourself up to connection, you open yourself up to finding your people. And there’s something pretty remarkable about that. So one of his descriptions of leadership, which I think is really incredible, is leadership is about creating change that you believe in. And I think that is such a nice definition about leadership. So leadership is about creating change that you believe in. And so if you don’t believe in it, then how are you going to help people create that change, and it’s going to be very, very difficult.
Dr. Melissa Smith 21:09
So some of the other characteristics that that he talks about, of effective leaders of tribes, first of all, this idea that stability is an illusion. I think we all know that here in 2020. But he also talks about leaders being willing to take positions and to be a partisan, if you have to be politically correct about everything, you will never find people to follow you, you will avoid conflict, you will avoid running afoul of anyone that you will not find people who care about what you care about, because you’re not showing that you care about anything. And so he says partisans want to make a difference. Partisans want something to happen, and something else not to happen. So leaders lead when they take positions, when they connect with their tribes, and when they help the tribe connect to itself. So he says you’ve got to be willing to take a stand. And so if you want to grow, you need to find customers or clients who are willing to join you, or believe in you, or donate to you or support you. So you’ve got to look for something new. And he says leaders are willing to make a ruckus. So you got to be willing to, you know, to cause some trouble. And so if you’re a rule follower, if you can’t handle conflict or contention, you know, you might not be ready to leave.
Dr. Melissa Smith 22:50
So the other thing that he talks about is the requirement of leaders to change the status quo and really to challenge the status quo. So one way to do that is you’ve got to be willing to talk about things that others will not talk about. And you need to be willing to maybe deliver services in new ways deliver new products. So leaders use passion and ideas to lead people, they become aware of how the organization works. And this awareness helps them to change things that need to be changed. So they’re willing to ask why they’re willing to ask this question, why not? And so you’ve got to be willing to challenge the status quo. And you also must inspire change. So change relies on the tribe mobilizing. And, you know, mobilizing a group of people can require a lot of effort. And so there is a difference between telling people what to do, and inciting a movement, right? I mean, a big, big difference. So the movement happens when people talk to one another, when ideas spread within the community. And most of all, when peer support leads people to do what they always knew was the right thing. That’s, that’s pretty incredible right there. So the movement happens when people talk to one another, when ideas spread within the community and most of all, when peer support leads people to do what they always knew was the right thing. So we think about inspiration. We think about leading people to change. So great leaders create movements by empowering the tribe to communicate. They establish the foundation for people to make connections, as opposed to commanding people to follow them. Of course, of course, it’s never commanding. Okay, I want to finish with I want to wrap up with one point that I think is really, really very valid. And this is Golden’s discussion about failure and criticism. So he says that the fear of failure is, is pretty overrated. And he said that most of us, you know, yeah, we definitely can can fear failure. But most often it’s not failure so much that we fear its brain and criticism. And if you really stop and think about that, whether it’s in your organization, whether it’s trying something new in business or in life, that that probably rings true, like, what will other people say? What will they be? Am I going to get in trouble? So that kind of looking over your shoulder? And he talks about, you know, is there value in criticism, and he talks about a book that he wrote and how he was criticized roundly for it. And you know, that at first it was painful, but then he actually said, Hey, I did something worth remarking on, you know, like people took notice of his writing. And so this is the lesson that he had is, if I had written a boring book, there’d be no criticism, no conversation, the products and services that get talked about are the ones that are worth talking about.
Dr. Melissa Smith 26:21
And so the challenge that he gives to us is to, you know, when you think about your next opportunity to be boring or remarkable, so those are kind of the challenges. He wants you to answer these two questions. So the first question is, if I get criticized for this, will I suffer any measurable impact? Will I lose my job, get hit upside the head with a softball, bat or lose important friendships, if the only side effect of the criticism is that you will feel bad about the criticism, then you have to compare that bad feeling with the benefits you’ll get from actually doing something worth doing. Being remarkable is exciting, fun, profitable, and great for your career, feeling bad wears off. And so I think that’s a good question. And then the second question, how can I create something that critics will criticize, so actually aiming to create something that you will be criticized for, because that means it’s thought provoking. That means it’s provocative, that means it will throw things on, on its head, and it will upset the status quo, which he says you absolutely need to do as a leader. And so I do think that is a really great challenge to what can be a big fear for so many of us, we want to lead, but we don’t want to be too uncomfortable. And so, you know, his argument is, if you want to lead, first of all, you have to believe, you have to be passionate, and you have to be willing to take a stand, you have to be willing to upset the status quo, to create change. Because when, you know, if you’re not willing to take a stand, no one’s gonna want to follow you. And we need people to follow you, we need your gifts.
Dr. Melissa Smith 28:24
And so that is the great book tribes by Seth Godin. It’s a really short book, this is a book you could knock out in a day. And it’s, you know, my copy is heavily marked. I’ve got notes in all the margins, because there’s a lot of great thoughts and a lot of his writing that just really challenges conventional wisdom. And so it’s really, really good for kind of pushing you out of your comfort zone as far as that goes. So again, the book is Tribes, We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin.
Dr. Melissa Smith 29:03
So head on over to my website to check out the show notes with the great resources for this episode, I will link to Seth Golden’s website where you can see all of his books you can link to his blog and his podcast if you would like to learn more and you can read up on this book and others and to access that head on over to my website at www.drmelissasmith.com/episode-78 one more time that’s www.drmelissasmith.com/episode-78. I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work and love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care.
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