Tribes Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: Tribes turns you from a sheepwalker into a heretic, by giving you the tools to start your own tribe, explaining why they’re the future of business and showing you that you too, can be a leader.

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Tribes Summary

If you could base your entire efforts at business on just one author’s books, I’d suggest you pick Seth Godin. Not only because 18 of his books are bestsellers, or because he’s really good at predicting the future, but because the way he does business is based entirely on honesty, hard work, and a positive spirit with a drive to change the world.

Tribes is no different. Published almost a decade after Permission Marketing, this book explains how the internet has made it possible for an ancient phenomenon – the development and growth of tribes – to take place anywhere in the world, all the time.

We’re all parts of plenty of tribes already. There’s our work tribe, our family tribe, our carpooling tribe, our soccer tribe and our karaoke tribe. But now, there’s also the disc gold Facebook group tribe, the Barack Obama email newsletter tribe and the inspirational quotes Instagram tribe.

Starting a tribe is now something anyone can do, and Seth really thinks you should. Here are 3 lessons to help you get started:

  1. Assemble these 3 elements to start a movement.
  2. Just tighten the connections in your tribe, don’t worry about growth.
  3. Are you a heretic, or a sheepwalker?

Time to build a tribe, don’t you think? Let’s go!

Lesson 1: Combine these 3 elements to make a movement.

It doesn’t take much to keep a group moving. 1000 true fans are enough. But how do you get them?

According to Seth, you have to bringt 3 things to the table:

  1. A narrative, that tells a story of the future you’re trying to build.
  2. A way to connect the leader with the tribe and the tribe members among each other.
  3. Something to do, an activity to participate in.

By the way, “I want to be a millionaire” isn’t a good narrative. Maybe pick something less focused on money. For example, with Four Minute Books, I imagine a world where everyone can learn from the world’s best books – for free. They might not be able to read the entire book, but they can learn something that might change their life, without having to pay.

Connecting is easy. On Four Minute Books alone, you have a ton of options. You can comment on the summaries, suggest a book, and of course join the conversation on my email list.

Our shared activity is reading, of course, and I’m already thinking of a way to help our tribe’s members to connect each other, stay tuned 😉

Lesson 2: Forget growth, just focus on strengthening your tribe’s connections.

The bigger the tribe, the better, right? Well, those are the old ways. New product, let’s shove it down peoples’ throats with a ton of TV ads until everyone sees how great it is. But nope, not anymore!

Initially, don’t even worry about the growth of your tribe. Its biggest advantage is that there are multiple connections.

  1. The leader can talk to the tribe.
  2. The tribe can talk to the leader.
  3. The tribe members can talk to each other.
  4. The tribe members can talk to outsiders.

The most important of these is number 3, because this is how a tribe becomes a tight-knit community, which is why it’s so important to turn that shared interest (in this site’s case: reading) into a passionate goal the entire tribe can strive for (sharing our knowledge of the world’s best books with the world, for free).

By knowing that they’re an insider, part of a small group which excludes the rest of the world, and forming strong bonds with one another, your tribe’s first members will build the foundation on which you can build a powerful movement.

Lesson 3: Which one are you, heretic or sheepwalker?

That said, anyone can lead a tribe, but not everyone. The world is split into heretics and sheepwalkers.

A sheepwalker is someone who’s been conditioned and trained by school and through society to keep their head down, not cause any trouble, and obediently follow the rules. They’re the people who give you a ticket for the slightest violation of parking rules, or wire $10,000 for a deal they know will never work out, just because their boss told them to.

Heretics on the other hand, are fed up with exactly that. They want to abandon stupid rules, which don’t make any sense and think the status quo isn’t quite good enough. That’s why they take action, even without asking permission first. Using a skunk works methodology, they round up a bunch of amazing people and give them the freedom to do what they need, whatever it might be that’s necessary to move forward.

The media tells us being a heretic is dangerous. But today it’s really not. The only question is: Which one are you?

My personal take-aways

This is the first time in a while that I’ve taken notes while reading a set of blinks. It made me think a lot about the mission behind Four Minute Books, and how I can improve our tribe – I’ve got plenty of ideas now, so stay tuned 😉

As I said in the intro, the values on which Seth builds his businesses and ideas are great, and I really think he’s the one to follow when it comes to (online) business philosophy, there’s nothing about this book I can’t recommend.

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What else can you learn from the blinks?

  • The three components of any tribe and what internalized incentives are
  • Why Nokia lost the phone game and you shouldn’t make your ideas available to everyone
  • Which technology you can best use to build your tribe
  • Why leaders will always have to step into a vacuum and how Al Gore did it in 2008
  • How to talk yourself out of the fear of starting a tribe

Who would I recommend the Tribes summary to?

The 27 year old who’s already organizing events in his spare time around his favorite hobby, the 53 year old Congressman with a strong societal or environmental cause which she feels the need to share more, and anyone who feels like they’re just plodding along with what society’s taught them right now.