Nordic Track Book Club Review: Tribes

Seth Godin’s Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us is 5-star material. I loved it. I’m giving Tribes the highest [NordicTrack] rating in spite of the fact that it’s only 140 pages. I’ve purchased and read almost every book Godin has ever written, but I don’t like the fact that his books seem to be getting shorter and shorter.  The Dip (which preceded Tribes) was the first Godin book I didn’t purchase in years because I refused to pay cash money for a book of only 96 pages. 

But enough about me.  On to the Tribes excerpts. This is probably the most inspiring book Godin has ever written.  Too bad it was missing 100 pages. 🙂  I’ll be providing excerpts from the first half of the book, or the first 70 pages.  An equal number of great bits are found in the remaining 70 pages, so if you like the following excerpts there’s more where these came from.



p.1 A group needs only two things to be a tribe, a shared interest and a way to communicate.

p.3 We want to belong not to just one tribe it turns out, but to many. And if you give us tools and make it easy, we’ll keep joining.  Tribes make our lives better, and leading a tribe is the best life of all.

p.7 What makes Gary so successful is the way he uses a new medium and new techniques to communicate his passion, connect people and to create change.  And so a movement grows.

Everyone is not just a marketer, everyone is now also a leader.

The explosion in tribes, groups, covens and circles of interest means that anyone who wants to make a difference can.

p.11 Heretics are the new leaders, the ones who challenge the status quo.  The ones who get out in front of their tribes to create movements. With tribes flourishing everywhere, there is a vast shortage of leaders.  We need you.

There is a tribe of fellow employees or customers or investors or believers or hobbyists or readers just waiting for you to connect them to one another and lead them where they want to go.

Managers make widgets. Leaders make change.

Today, marketing is about engaging with the tribe and delivering products and services with stories that spread.

p.22 A manager can’t make change because that’s not his job. His job is to complete tasks assigned to him by someone else in the factory. Leaders, on the other hand, don’t care very much for organizational structure or the official blessing of whatever factory they work for. They use passion and ideas to lead people.

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.

p.30 Most organizations spend their time marketing to the crowd. Smart organizations assemble a tribe.

p.32 Defending mediocrity is exhausting.

Instead of always being on the hunt for one more set of eyeballs, true leaders have figured out that the real win is in turning a casual fan into a true one.

p.35 The tactics are irrelevant, and the technology will always be changing.  The essential lesson is that every day it gets easier to tighten the relationship you have with the people who choose to follow you.

p.38 Tribes are just waiting to be turned into movements. (And occasionally to stop to have a beer together.)

p.49 Heretics are engaged, are more powerful and happier than everyone else, and they have a tribe that they support and which supports them in turn.

Great leaders focus on the tribe and only the tribe. Great leaders use attention to unite the tribe and to reinforce its sense of purpose.

p.52 It is tempting to make the tribe bigger to get more members, to spread the word. This pales, however, when juxtaposed with the effects of a tighter tribe. A tribe that communicates more quickly with alacrity and emotion is a tribe that thrives.

p.64 …and the riskiest thing you can do is play it safe.

This leads to an interesting thought. You can choose the tribe you will lead. Through your actions as a leader you attract a tribe that wants to follow you.  That tribe has a worldview that matches the message you’re sending.

p.67 Great leaders realize that a motivated, connected tribe in the midst of a movement is far more powerful than a larger group would ever be.

p.70 The first thing you need to know is that individuals have far more power than ever before in history. One person can change an industry. One person can declare a war.




Article written by

A long time developer, I was an early adopter of Linux in the mid-90's for a few years until I entered corporate environments and worked with Microsoft technologies like ASP, then .NET. In 2008 I released Sueetie, an Online Community Platform built in .NET. In late 2012 I returned to my Linux roots and locked in on Java development. Much of my work is available on GitHub.