Tribes is a short book that explodes with big ideas. Best selling author Seth Godin argues powerful and lasting change can be best be created by a “tribe.” Godin’s premise is that top-down, un-yielding organizations led by CEO’s (or “Kings”) can be out-maneuvered by sleek, motivated little people connected together by an idea, a movement, or an improved product. Like-minded “smart innovators” can use tools like the Internet to quickly attract more like-minded people … if they act consistently and quickly. (For example look at the recent success of President-Elect Obama’s campaign. He sidetracked the big guys and unleashed the power of the powerless and, BaM! Change really did happen.)
The Civil Rights Movement illustrated how black and Working Class people can out-power a Super Power if given an idea they can believe in, and simple tools to take the ball and run with it themselves. But the 60s also showed us how entire movements can be killed when the single charismatic leader is shot down.
White supremacist groups also learned the same lessons when in the 80s, they created, “Cells” … small groups of people united under an idea and armed with simple doctrines, duplicated themselves all over the nation. Like bees in a hive, they needed no visible leader, counsel, or governing body to enlist members, raise money, buy property and equipment, and successfully market their ideas. Bad ideas maybe … but successful marketing.
Godin says that Tribes can be inside or outside a corporation, and almost everyone can be a leader. “Most people are kept from realizing their potential by fear of criticism and fear of being wrong.” (Sound familiar?) Like a school-yard bully delivering blows to the head of a squealing nerd, ideas and messages erupt from the pages, motivating the reader and stimulating change simultaneously. Any and everyone can be leaders in the tribe. The tribes success is its openness. I imagine there are potentially all shapes, sizes and types of tribes. Their effectiveness have already been shown. The entire top-down, un-yielding culture of the Pentagon was changed my one, low-level, powerless guy after 9/11.
- The Green Movement is on the runway.
- People are yearning to either start their own businesses.
- Intentional Communities are springing up all over the world, contradicting modern alienation and creating safe places for people to live together while “watching each other’s backs.
- Many of us want to move out to the country … are stopped by fears over how we’ll make a living and who’ll be our friends when we get there.
As a truck driver I’ve talked with people from The Carolinas to Yakima, Washington. Blacks, whites, Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans … all yearning for something different. Many young people realize that chasing that same old-dried out carrot is futile and Baby Boomers are just plain tired of it. No, not everyone wants something different, but like Tribes states … you don’t NEED everybody. Just a few like-minded people to work with on the road to creating your happy destiny.
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