Tribes – by Seth Godin

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“Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us” – by Seth Godin

The first author to get a second episode on the What You Will Learn podcast, and there’s no one more deserving than Seth Godin. ‘Tribes’ is a completely different way of looking at leadership. It’s about finding or creating tribes to lead rather than employees to manage. Seth shows us that tribes are everywhere; inside and outside of organizations, in public and private institutions, in non-profits, in classrooms, in culture, and all over the planet. There is no amount of experience or qualifications or specific demographics or skills you need to become a leader – you just need to choose to become a leader.

This isn’t a ‘how-to’ book with step-by-step instructions for leadership. Instead, Seth does everything he can to convince us that we need to decide to take on the responsibility of leading a tribe. Read this book. You’ll be convinced.

“Without leaders, there are no followers.

You’re a leader.

We need you.”

Grab a copy here:

Tribes (dot point) Summary


We Need You To Lead Us

Seth’s goal, sell you on being a leader

  • A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea.
  • You can’t have a tribe without a leader, and you can’t be a leader without a tribe
  • Tribes make our lives better. And leading a tribe is the best life of all.
  • Loads of new technologies designed to connect tribes and amplify their work


The Opportunity

It’s simple. The question is no longer is it possible for me to do that? The question is now, will I choose to do it?

We get suck. Stuck because we’re afraid well get into trouble. Stuck embracing a factory instead of a tribe.

The marketplace now rewards heretics. It’s clearly more fun to make rules than to follow them, for the first time it’s profitable to do just that.


Leading from the bottom

Tribes give each of us the same opportunity. Skill and attitude are essential. Authority is not. In fact, an authority can get in the way.


The Difference between average and mediocre

Life is too short to fight the forces of change. Life’s too short to hate what you do all day.

  • A thousand true fans form a tribe

Initiative = happiness

“What I am saying is that you have everything. Everything you need to build something far bigger than yourself. The people around you realize this, and they are ready to follow if you’re their lead.”


The F Word (fear)

  • Most ordinary people can dream up remarkable stuff fairly easy. What’s missing is the will to make things happen. In the battle between two ideas, the best one doesn’t usually win. The one that wins is the one with the most fearless heretic behind them.

Thinking Your Way Out of Fear

  • “What is interesting is the heretics I have met have talked themselves out of fear. The fear is still there but it is drowned out by a different story…
  • “The power is here. The only thing holding you back is your fear. Not easy to admit, but essential to understand”

As you contemplate your next opportunity for being remarkable, answer these two questions.

  1. “If I get criticized for this, will I suffer any measurable impact? If the only side effect is you will feel bad about criticism, then compare the bad feeling to the potential benefits. Being remarkable is exciting, fun, profitable and great for your career. Feeling bad wears off
  2. How can I create something that critics will criticize?



Leadership is scarce because few people are willing to go through the discomfort required to lead. This scarcity makes leadership valuable. If everyone tries to lead all of the time, not much happens. It’s discomfort that creates the leverage that makes leadership worthwhile.

  • It’s uncomfortable to stand up in front of strangers
  • It is uncomfortable to propose an idea that might fail
  • It’s uncomfortable to challenge the status quo
  • It’s uncomfortable to resist the urge to settle
  • When you identify the discomfort, you’ve found a place where a leader is needed.

The one path that doesn’t work is the most common one: doing nothing at all.


The wrong question

Surely there is a method of making change without being burned at the stake. There is and you already know what it is, a belief

Change isn’t made by asking for permission, it’s made by asking for forgiveness, later.


All you need to know

Individuals have more power than ever before in history. The only thing holding you back from being a person who changes things is lack of faith

  • Faith that it’s worth doing
  • Faith that failure won’t destroy you


Leaders are generous

Leaders who seek to give are more generous than leaders who seek to get


Who settles?

The art of leadership is understanding what you can’t compromise on


Take the follow

Sometimes it makes more sense to take the follow. Leading when you can’t overcome your fear, is worse than none at all.


Leaders go first

The status quo is persistent and resistant. It exists because everyone wants it to.



Sheepwalking: the outcome of hiring people who have been raised to be obedient and giving them brain dead jobs, enough to keep them in line

Even though there is reliance on change, sheepwalking is still on the rise. Sheepwalking is managed via fear, “I might get fired”

Sheepwalkers look at people on their laptop on holiday and ask what a pity they can’t relax. But what a pity those spend two weeks a year avoiding the stuff we have to do 50 weeks a year


How to be wrong

Isaac Newton spent most of his career on alchemy. He was wrong as a scientist could be, yet widely regarded as the most successful scientist who ever lived.

The secret about being wrong isn’t to avoid being wrong, it’s being willing to be wrong

The secret of leadership is simple. Do what you believe in, paint a picture of the future, go there. People will follow


Possibility of Risk

The safer you have your plans for the future the riskier it actually is.



An astonishing tool because it’s rare. The organizations that need innovation most are the ones stopping it from happening.


The Forces of Mediocrity

Remarkable visions are always met with resistance. When you start making progress, your efforts are met with even more resistance.


The obligation

Not far from us are kids who don’t have enough to eat. A little farther, by plan people are unable to reach their goals due to lack of infrastructure. A bit further people are being persecuted by governments. The world is full of people who cannot go to school.

The obligation: don’t settle. To have all these advantages, the momentum, all these opportunities and then settle for mediocre and then to defend the status quo and office politics, what a waste.

Never use the word opportunity, use obligation.


Why not you, why not now

Without a barrier, why not begin?

Without someone to say yes, all that’s left are unpublished writers who tell themselves now, due to self-publishing.



Once you choose to lead, you’ll be under pressure to reconsider your choice, to compromise, to dumb it down, or give up. Of course, you will. Status quo is like it is for a reason. Once you make the decision to lead, you will find it’s not that difficult.


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