A good friend bought my lunch (isn’t that the definition of a good friend one who buys your lunch?) and over pasta he mentioned the book TRIBES by Seth Godin. It’s a small book with a big message. It addresses the changing social and business constructs and envisions a future already here and now, where power and influence are shifting from traditional hierarchies to groups united by common beliefs. The development of the Internet has facilitated this shift in a big way. Leadership is more defined by passion and faith than by wallet. For example in the last US presidential election Barak Obama raised almost 25% more in campaign contributions than Hillary Clinton, and John McCain combined and it flooded in from the Internet. Who would have thought that a relatively new face in Washington could pull together more financing than those two warhorses, an ex-president’s wife and a revered war hero? Why? Because of passion. Because of belief. The people wanted change and were willing to follow a leader who appeared able to create the change.
I’ve written a lot in my blogs about changes. The changes I’ve addressed mostly concern the printing industry, but change is happening on every front, in every field of endeavor. I’ve been sitting on the sidelines of the publishing business, observing, and occasionally commenting (link). Now, it appears, that I’ve been given the opportunity to lead a tribe of self-publishing authors. That was what the lunch was all about. Self-publishing, in my opinion, is on the verge of eclipsing traditional publishing. And with my background in writing, marketing, and printing I am the logical choice to contribute to this movement. I didn’t choose it, but by my preparation, it chose me. That’s another point that Seth makes is that Tribe leaders generally don’t go looking for leadership, instead they see a need and are compelled to fill it. It’s the leader’s faith and passion that attracts their followers.
Mr. Godin discusses the old factory model. Factory workers were hired by owners, who paid them to do a job. The jobs were generally routine and required bosses to make sure everyone stayed in line and did things exactly the way the boss wanted them done. Much like slaves on a galley ship. In this new world run by tribes, we join, or create tribes, because we are drawn to the ideal. We want to make a difference. We think that the purpose of the tribe is valuable, important, and worth giving of our time and effort. The tribe causes the change to happen. If this occurred on the factory floor it would be chaiotic. The smooth production of products would be interrupted. Participating workers would be disaplined and might be in danger of forfeiting their jobs.
I have another friend who is fond of quoting Ghandhi, “Be the change you want to see [in the world].” The most monumental changes always begin with one person, one person with a vision.
Again the concept isn’t really new. The founding fathers of the United States of America were drawn together because of a mutual belief in freedom and self rule. The leaders stepped forward and the people followed. What’s new is the Internet. Tribes can be formed at lightening speed. Twitter, for example, provides a platform for a succinct idea of 140 words or less, to potentially reach millions of readers within seconds. Can you imagine what Paul Revere would have thought? Riding through the countryside, by horseback, required a commitment of hours and days. Too bad he didn’t have a laptop computer or even a cell phone.
What? You say that you don’t like this new world? You think that 140 character messages lack depth? Too bad for you. The Tribes rule and will only get stronger. Get on board or be left behind.