Thursday, February 11, 2010

Tribes by Seth Godin

Seth Godin is an extremely popular writer and consultant, usually writing about marketing and motivation, and Tribes is one of his older books. His most recent is Linchpin.

Tribes is about leadership, whether by forming a group that has a similar code or by stepping out from the group and becoming a leader. It has the usual status quo sucks, so status quo not rhetoric, which I don't disagree with, though when some people revolt, they don't necessarily know why they are revolting. Tribes is meant to inspire and encourage leadership.

Tribes is a series of micro-essays (not short enough to be called aphorisms) which makes for quick reading of brief arguments and examples. His writing style is similar to Gladwell's, with premise, example, explanation, next! which seems to be the style in a lot of popular business writing. I could blame this on Tom Peters, since I hope the reason for it is not that mass media has made us too shallow to hold a whole chapter. As an inspirational work, this style means the focus is on actionsand it means that the reader can find many ideas and inspirations and do more research as needed. Or, as Godin would prefer, just do it.

I did like his directions for forming a micromovement, which I think librarians can learn from:
  1. Publish a manifesto (no, not a mission statement)
  2. Make it easy for your followers to connect with you
  3. Make it easy for your followers to connect with one another
  4. Realize that money is not the point of the movement (I think we do this one unintentionally well)
  5. Track your progress
Leadership is an important topic in libraries (at least at the interview), and so is forming groups and networks at the library. Tribes is an important book in the leadership literature, even if it may not get you to step out from of the herd, or stop sheepwalking, as Godin puts it.

For some free stuff from the book, check out the Current Tribes Casebook.

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