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Tribes by Seth Godin: Book Review and Key Takeaways

Time for another book review, this time reviewing a book called “Tribes” by Seth Godin. The book has a pretty interesting subheading as well, which is “we need you to lead us” and it’s pretty clear once you read the book that that’s definitely the main message Seth is trying to get across here.

In this blog post (or video below if you’d prefer that), I’m going to go over the three things that I learned and took away from reading it. 

But first, just to give you a little bit more info about the book – it’s actually quite small, both physically (at least the version I read) and literally as it sits at less than 200 pages. This means the pages aren’t super long and in terms of how it’s actually broken down, there are no chapters. The way it’s broken up is essentially by mini sections, so each section is only about a page or two so you can pick it up and read for a few pages at a time or you faster readers could probably read it in one sitting.

I really like the small size because it’s easy to carry around and you can read little bits at a time or a bit before bed. It’s a very easy read overall, and here are my 3 key takeaways:

Takeaway #1: Our New (Business ) World Needs Leaders

The first thing that Seth makes clear is that the world has changed. Obviously the world’s changed in many ways, but the main focus of the book is to create more leaders in the world and the reason for this is that in the business world especially, there have been major shifts in recent years. More specifically, we’ve moved away from more manual working environments to knowledge-based work. For example, a good chunk of the 20th century was focused around building and managing factories, where you needed manual workers and managers – without much more than that. 

Managing and leading knowledge workers, on the other hand, is much different.

The other big change is obviously the internet, as now we can all talk to each other and organize big groups more easily – and the culmination of that and many other factors is that now more than ever we need leaders. We don’t need managers to tell people how to assemble their parts in a manufacturing facility, we need leaders to help drive and motivate people forward to create amazing ideas and products and services.

So in summary, the world – not just the world itself, but the business world especially – has changed a lot and we need leaders, not managers, to help drive it forward.

Takeaway #2: A clear definition of what leaders do

Seth then goes into much more detail about what exactly a leader is, what makes a leader and what leaders need to do to be effective. I highly recommend you give it a full read, but to cover more of what Seth recommends to leaders, read on.

The main thing that leaders do is gather a tribe around them to get behind a key message or motivator that they’re trying to drive forward. In terms of business, a leader could be someone who has a new product or service that they want to provide to the world, so they’re going to gather a tribe of employees and lead them towards providing that product or service. The belief could also be political or religious, or anything else for that matter, where a tribe of like-minded people is gathered and led towards spreading that message – hopefully in a positive way.

What the leader is also doing is driving that idea forward, so you’re trying to take that idea, product, service, belief – anything – and use the tribe as a whole to create a more effective, motivational and persuasive message. As Aristotle once said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. 

It’s also important to know that you don’t need to have a very specific mission or product to get started – you just need to have an idea, or a way of life, a way of living, a thought process, etc. This is all that’s needed to gather your tribe and the tribe can build amazing things based on that common or shared belief. There’s not really one defined thing that a leader has to or should do, but if you have a motivation, a desire, a belief, a way of living and you can gather a tribe around you that thinks or acts the same way, then you’re doing your job as a leader.

Takeaway #3: There is no single way to lead

This kind of ties into number two, but there is no one way to lead and there is no “best” type of leader. Especially in recent years, we’ve learned about different leadership styles, different personality traits, people being “born leaders” – but that’s just not important.

In fact, thinking that there is a perfect way to lead probably inhibits too many people from taking the first step, which is to just start. Not only does Seth say it outright, but it’s also clear in the way the book is written – there are no chapters, there are no sections, no to-do lists, no 5-step programs. 

Overall, the book is really not specific in its guidance because the point of the book isn’t to tell you the tactics of how to lead, the point of the book is to make you understand that we need leaders, what leaders do and how to get started. It’s up to you to figure out what your message or motivation is, gather your tribe and do it yourself. 

A lot of amazing leaders were born from their situations and actions that they took, so if you believe in something, if you have a way of living, if you have a product or service or motivation that you want to drive forward – don’t let anything inhibit you or make you think you’re not good enough or you’re not a “born leader”. 

What we need more of is people thinking the opposite, which is that they’re just going to do it and see what happens. If you want to build a tribe, give it the ability to communicate with you, with each other and to grow together, the first step is to get started.

Last thoughts on “Tribes” by Seth Godin

If you liked these takeaways, I highly recommend reading Tribes by Seth Godin. It’s such a quick and easy read that I read it twice because the first time I read it too quickly and I wanted to read it again and get a little more out of it. It’s one of those books that you can go back to read again and again because it’s short and I think it’s important in today’s age where, as Seth says in the book, we can get caught up with a lot of things and we need this type of innovation and motivation.

I hope you enjoyed this review and if you did, feel free to check out some of my other book reviews on the blog and join the Solopreneur Grind community to get more help and insights on growing your own business.

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