Book Reports · Leadership

The Seth Godin Guide to Leadership

This is a blog post about Seth Godin’s book Tribes. I’ve read it once, and this is what stuck out to me at the time. This is not a comprehensive professional review or summary and should not be used as cliff notes.

p. 2 Joel Spolsky, creator of the Joel Test, is the first Joel to show up when you Google “Joel.” Impressive. Try it.

p. 3 “2-14-70” I’m a dead-head. This show was at Fillmore East on said date and is included on Dick Picks vol. 4

p. 4 new websites to check out: Ning, Squidoo (Godin’s company), and Basecamp. I’m trying Basecamp now

p. 7 like wine? Try for Gary Vaynerchuk’s tribe

p. 15 “Marketing is the act of telling stories about the things we make – stories that sell and stories that spread.”

p. 29 Great example of leadership in a vacuum: at Spinnaker, Godin started a newletter highlighting the work of his team, which he distributed via interoffice email to the entire company. Guess which team everybody wanted to work with? And which team was committed to meeting it’s goals?

p. 34 True fans: the demand generosity and bravery

p. 43 “…stop for a second and think about this. The only short-cut in this book, the only technique or how-to or inside info is this: the levers are here. The proof is here. The power is here. The only thing holding you back is your own fear.”

p. 44 the Peter Principle “‘in every organization everyone rises to the level at which they become paralyzed with fear.'”

p. 45 “Ideas that spread, win. Boring ideas don’t spread.”

p. 48 “How can I create something that critics will critictize?” I.e. getting criticism is a good thing!

p. 49 leader in the restaurant business: David Chang. Look him up!

p. 50 leader who is a monastic num: Pema Chodron. Look her up!

p. 50 leader who is a librarian (!): Nancy Pearl. Look her up!

p. 60 tribe casestudies: and

p. 76 tribe that took on a giant: Bear Naked (to Kellogg’s). How did they do? Look ’em up!

p. 86 “The easiest thing is to react. The second easiest thing is to respond. But the hardest thing is to initiate.”

p. 92 “Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, said, ‘Google’s not a real company. It’s a house of cards.’ He also said, ‘There can’t be any more deep technology in Facbook than what dozens of people could write in a couple years. That’s for sure.'” (!!)

p. 103 “The key elements to creating a micromovement consist of five things to do and six principles:

1. Publish a manifesto
Give it away and make it easy for the manifesto to spread far and wide. It doesn’t have to be printed or even written. But it’s a mantra and a motto and a way of looking at the world. It unites your tribe members and gives them a structure.

2. Make it easy for your follower to connect with you.
It could be as simple as visiting you or e-mailing you or watching you on television. Or it could be as rich and complex and interacting with you on Facebook or joining your social network on Ning.

3. Make it easy for your followers to connect with one another
There’s that little nod that one restaurant regular gives to another recognized regular. Or the shared drink in an airport lounge. Even better is the camaraderies developed by volunteers on a political campaign or insiders involved in a new product launch. Great leaders figure out how to make these interactions happen.

4. Realize that money is not the point of the movement
Money exists merely to enable it. The moment you try to cash out is the moment you stunt the growth of your movement.

5. Track your progress
Do it publicly and create pathways for your followers to contibute to that progress.


1. Transparency really is your only option
Every failed televangelist has learned this the hard way. The people who follow you aren’t stupid. You might go down in scandal or, more likey, from ennui. People can smell subterfuge from a mile away.

2. Your movement needs to be bigger than you
An author and his book, for example, don’t constitute a movement. Changing the way people apply to college does.

3. Movements that grow, thrive
Everyday they get better and more powerful. You’ll get there soon enough. Don’t mortgage today just because you’re in a hurry.

4. Movements are made most clear when compared to the status quo or to movements that work to push the other directions.
Movements do less well when compared to other movements with similar goals. Instead of beating them, join them.

5. Exclude outsiders
Exclusion is an extremely powerful force for loyalty and attention. Who isent’ part of your movement matters almost as much as who is.

6. Tearing others down is never as helpful to a movement as building your followers up.”

p. 121 “The tactics of leadership are easy. The art is the difficult part.”

p. 133 “‘The traditional model for social and organizational change doesn’t work,’ he [Jerry Sternin] told Fast Company. ‘It never has. You can’t bring permanent solutions in from outside.'” Think about this before giving money to Save the Children.

p. 134 The Obligation: “Not too far from us, a few blocks away, there are kids without enough to eat and without parents who care. A little farther away, hours by plane, are people unable to reach their goals because they live in a community that just doesn’t have the infrastruction to support them. A bit farther away are people being brutally  persecuted by their goverments. And the world is filled with people who can’t go to high school, never mind college, and who certainly can’t spend their time forcused on whether or not they get a good parking space a work. And so, the obligation: don’t settle.”

p. 135 “Flynn Berry wrote that you should never use the word ‘opportunity.’ It’s not an opportunity, it’s an obligation.

p. 138 Need a place to publish your book? Try

Afterward: Check out Cory Doctorow’s blog

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