Thursday, June 25, 2009

Book: Tribes - We Need You to Lead Us

Every digitization program and digital libraries wants followers. As Seth Godin would say, they want a tribe. In his book, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, Godin explains that:
A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea.
In the book, Godin talks about leadership and the creation of tribes. Tribes do not happen accidentally and they do not sustain themselves automatically. Communication is important among tribe members. Without communication, a tribe is just a crowd.

When we mount new services, we often are charged with creating a following for that service. Often we don't know how to do that. We do advertisements and some promotions, and then are thankfully for whatever user-base we achieve. This book will make you think about building a following -- a tribe -- differently.

Godin includes some principles in his book for leading a tribe. One of his principles will make people stop and think. It is "Exclude outsiders." In other words, knowing who isn't a part of your movement (your tribe) is as important as knowing who is. If you are trying to lead a group, who do you want to be part of that group? And who is the group not for? That clarity can be very important, because you cannot be all thing for all people.

It is very cool that Seth Godin practices what he preaches. Before Tribes was released, he began to gather a tribe. Once the book was published, he did something incredible. Everyone in his tribe had already ordered a copy of the book, but Godin sent them a second copy and ask that they share it with a friend. His tribe instantly doubled.

Let's look at this again. Godin created a message. Found people who were interested in the message and got them to join his tribe. Then he got them to influence others to read the message. And yes, he did this all online without any ads.

This is a very readable book (151 pages). I enjoyed reading it and being inspired by it, and I know others have found it inspiring as well. Is it a hardcore marketing book? No, and if it was, you wouldn't read it. Instead this is a book that you'll read and then pass along to your colleagues.

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