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Tribe by seth godin

 “A tribe is a group of people connected to one another,

connected to a leader, and connected to an idea.”

 “A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared

interest and a way to communicate.”

 “Tribes need leadership. Sometimes one person leads,

sometimes more. People want connection and growth and
something new. They want change.”

 “You can’t have a tribe without a leader—and you can’t

be a leader without a tribe.”

 “Human beings can’t help it: we need to belong.”

 “One of the most powerful of our survival mechanisms is to

be part of a tribe, to contribute to (and take from) a group
of like-minded people. We are drawn to leaders and to their
ideas, and we can’t resist the rush of belonging and the
thrill of the new.”

 “We want to belong not to just one tribe, it turns out, but to

 “The market needs you (we need you) and the tools are
there, just waiting. All that’s missing is you, and your
vision and your passion.”

 “Generous and authentic leadership will always defeat

the selfish efforts of someone doing it just because she

 “Tribes are about faith—about belief in an idea and in a

community. And they are grounded in respect and
admiration for the leader of the tribe and for the other
members as well.”
 “Do you believe in what you do? Every day? It turns out
that belief happens to be a brilliant strategy.”

 “Heretics are the new leaders. The ones who challenge the
status quo, who get out in front of their tribes, who create

 “Leadership, on the other hand, is about creating change

that you believe in.”

 “Marketing is the act of telling stories about the things we

make—stories that sell and stories that spread.”

 “If you want to grow, you need to find customers who are
willing to join you or believe in you or donate to you or
support you.”

 “Leaders make a ruckus.”

 “A leader can help increase the effectiveness of the tribe

and its members by • transforming the shared interest into
a passionate goal and desire for change; • providing tools to
allow members to tighten their communications; and •
leveraging the tribe to allow it to grow and gain new

 “Senator Bill Bradley defines a movement as having three

elements: 1. A narrative that tells a story about who we are
and the future we’re trying to build 2. A connection
between and among the leader and the tribe 3. Something
to do—the fewer limits, the better.”

 “A crowd is a tribe without a leader. A crowd is a tribe

without communication. Most organizations spend their
time marketing to the crowd. Smart organizations assemble
the tribe.”
 “An individual artist needs only a thousand true fans in her

 “Whatever the status quo is, changing it gives you the

opportunity to be remarkable.”

 “In a battle between two ideas, the best one doesn’t

necessarily win. No, the idea that wins is the one with the
most fearless heretic behind it.”

 “The essence of leadership is being aware of your fear (and

seeing it in the people you wish to lead). No, it won’t go
away, but awareness is the key to making progress.”

 “What people are afraid of isn’t failure. It’s blame.


 “We choose not to be remarkable because we’re worried

about criticism.”

 We hesitate to create innovative movies, launch new

human resource initiatives, design a menu that makes
diners take notice, or give an audacious sermon because
we’re worried, deep down, that someone will hate it and
call us on it.”

 “One bad review doesn’t ruin my day because I realize what

a badge of honor it is to get a bit of criticism at all. It means
that I confounded expectations—that I didn’t deliver the
sequel or the simple, practical guide that some expected. It
means that, in fact, I did something worth remarking on.”

 “The products and services that get talked about are the
ones that are worth talking about.”

 “So the challenge, as you contemplate your next

opportunity to be boring or remarkable, is to answer these
two questions: 1. ‘If I get criticized for this, will I suffer any
measurable impact? 2. Will I lose my job, get hit upside the
head with a softball bat, or lose important friendships?’”

 “How can I create something that critics will criticize?”

 “I think you know the answer—great leaders focus on the

tribe and only the tribe.”

 “Great leaders don’t want the attention, but they use it.
They use it to unite the tribe and to reinforce its sense of

 “The first thing a leader can focus on is the act of tightening

the tribe.”

 “A tribe that communicates more quickly, with alacrity and

emotion, is a tribe that thrives.”

 “Leadership is scarce because few people are willing to go

through the discomfort required to lead.”

 “The one path that never works is the most common one:
doing nothing at all.”

 “You’re not going to be able to grow your career or your

business or feed the tribe by going after most people.”

 “Change isn’t made by asking permission. Change is made

by asking forgiveness, later.”

 “Leaders who set out to give are more productive than

leaders who seek to get.”

 “The easiest thing is to react. The second easiest thing is to

respond. But the hardest thing is to initiate.”

 “Reacting is intuitive and instinctive and usually

 “Responding is a much better alternative.”

 “This isn’t about having a great idea (it almost never is).
The great ideas are out there, for free, on your
neighborhood blog. Nope, this is about taking initiative and
making things happen”.

 “I define sheepwalking as the outcome of hiring people who

have been raised to be obedient and giving them brain-
dead jobs and enough fear to keep them in line.”

 “You can always claim the career you deserve merely by

refusing to walk down the same path as everyone else just
because everyone else is already doing it.”

 “Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe

you ought to set up a life you don’t need to escape from.”

 “The only thing that makes people and organizations great

is their willingness to be not great along the way.”

 “The desire to fail on the way to reaching a bigger goal is

the untold secret of success.”

 “Growth doesn’t come from persuading the most loyal

members of other tribes to join you.”

 “Change almost never fails because it’s too early. It almost

always fails because it’s too late.”

 “Caring is the key emotion at the center of the tribe. Tribe

members care what happens, to their goals and to one

 “Tribes grow when people recruit other people. That’s how

ideas spread as well.”

 “If your organization requires success before commitment,

it will never have either.”
 “Part of leadership (a big part of it, actually) is the ability to
stick with the dream for a long time. Long enough that the
critics realize that you’re going to get there one way or
another… so they follow.”

 “What leaders do: they give people stories they can tell
themselves. Stories about the future and about change.”

 “Waiting doesn’t pay. Saying yes does.”

Zappos' culture and mission of generally delivering happiness. It sounds hokey, and he
acknowledged it, but his passion and belief in the importance of corporate culture was
infectious (infectious enough to make me buy a signed copy of his book that night which I
can't wait to read).

Tony's basic message was that corporate culture is everything in determining a company's
success, not just a side element that's relegated to the HR department and which determines
how much people like working there. He claimed that companies that have superior, more
intact, and concretely defined cultures will almost always outperform those without. He
explained that they hire and fire putting culture at an equal level as skill and work ethic and
will fire talented employees if they don't fit into the culture.

I liked how the authors of the book compared companies at different stages of "tribal
leadership" or corporate culture and showed through many vivid examples how companies
can move from one stage to another.

The authors described 5 core stages of tribal leadership, where a tribe is a group of 2 to 120
people (but could grow beyond that) who align around some common goal or interest:

1. Stage 1: "Life sucks." People are pessimistic about life overall and see no way out of
their misery. They are prone to crime and stealing and stop caring about any higher
values. This represents about 3% of companies.
2. Stage 2: "My life sucks, but their lives don't." People think their lives suck but see
others whose lives suck less than theirs. They may play tricks or be envious of others
and generally do not have a lot of fun, but they do see a ray of light that they can at
least try to work towards (in between feeling self-pity and remorse). This represents
about 15% of companies.
3. Stage 3: "I'm great, but they're not." People work to improve themselves, see their
talents, and aim to get ahead of others. This is the culture taught by schools and
almost all business self-help books, teaching skills and aids and trying to help you
become better than the person you are today so that you can get ahead and reach your
goals (which others therefore can't reach). It is by definition a competitive culture, and
one that focuses on individualistic results. It is made up of dyads, or two-person
relationships, where two people can work together but contrast their skills and aim get
ahead of each other. This represents about 70% of companies.
4. Stage 4: "We're great, but they're not." People work to fulfill a common, jointly
agreed upon goal, and focus on group success rather than individual contribution.
Olympic teams, top-performing team athletes, companies like Zappos and Amgen
which are defined by their collegial corporate culture are examples. Here, the group
aligns behind a common goal and a common enemy or competition. People work in
tryads, networking between dyads and creating webs of support and insight that fuel
growth much faster than simple dyads or individual contributors. This represents
about 10% of companies.
5. Stage 5: "Life is great." People are happily working on goals that they believe in
jointly without reference to other companies or competitors and simply because of
their belief and optimism. This stage is often achieved fleetingly, held onto for short
periods of time before coming back into Stage 4. Here, the growth rate is the fastest,
with the most synergies, openness between people, and general positive attitude and
happiness. This represents about 2% of companies.

I really liked this frame of mind, and I could see myself squarely as a Stage 3 operator most
of the time (like most type A/overachieving personalities). I've felt what Stage 4 feels like at
times, and I want to be involved in teams that can be operating at Stage 4 more often.

The book also describes the "epiphany" that brings one from Stage 3 to Stage 4: realizing that
meaningful results cannot be achieved alone or through micro-management, and it is through
teamwork and leveraging other people that large impact can be made.

I'd love to speak to people firsthand (other than Tony and Tribal Leadership's authors)
about personal experiences of the different stages and what worked for them and their group
in transitioning from one to the other. This seems like the crucial thing to understand and
probably a skill gained more through experience than simply reading about it.