“Tribes” is not a theological book by any stretch of the imagination; more like the intersection of marketing and leadership–yet about halfway through, Godin starts talking about faith and never really stops.
The title, “Tribes,” alludes to the idea that success, fulfillment, and prosperity in the 21st century work world may come as a result of leading a tribe. A tribe is a group of people who are able to communicate around a topic or set of topics. The Internet makes this easier than ever.
For example, let’s say you are passionate about buttons. You know everything there is to know about every style, color, and texture of button ever sewn onto a piece of clothing. You start a blog that’s all about buttons. You have a newsletter dedicated to buttons. You lead discussion groups around buttons. You are writing a book about buttons that you will sell at your first annual button convention later this year.
It’s a safe bet that the vast majority of the people you meet online or off will have little to no interest in buttons. But a few will. Those few will look to you as a leader, and you have all the tools at your disposal to lead them no matter where in the world they are. Let’s say that you get 1000 people to join your button movement, while the other 99.9% of people online continue to find it boring, pointless, or otherwise uninspiring. You can make a nice living just catering to those 1000 people, and think about how much you would enjoy it. “Tribes” begins to tell you how to make it happen.
In order to do this, you have to feel strongly about something, and you have to believe in yourself. Everyone can lead their own tribe, and I think everyone must do it. I’ve said before, I think that in 20 years, anyone who wants to own a decent home, drive a car or two, raise a kid or two, and take a vacation or two every year will need to damn near be a millionaire. Governments, big corporations, non-profits, and small businesses are all laying people off at unprecedented levels. These people can look for other jobs, or they can look inside themselves.
The fact is, bureaucratic jobs with little or no accountability are going the way of the do-do bird. Productivity is making a comeback.
Think about it. What are you supposed to be doing really? 1000 years ago, one guy made the jewelry, one guy made the shoes, one guy grew the crops, and one guy sold the buttons. You had no choice but to contribute in a meaningful way. There is no limit to the number of potential real leaders because they each fill a different need. The bad news is, those days are making a comeback. The good news is, your tribe can follow you on Twitter.