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3.7 out of 5 stars65
3.7 out of 5 stars
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 6 November 2009
Seth Godin's books have always been a little like reading a three page presentation that's been turned into a hundred and fifty pages by just repeating the same message over and over and over again. This one was even worse. It didn't actually read like a book, it read like someone's collection of blog posts or notes on an idea that have been prepared to be crafted into a book, but someone forgot to actually do it. There's no coherent message beyond "groups of people working together are stronger than alone" which isn't particularly revolutionary anyway. There's absolutely no narrative, no flow, no story. I felt like I was being shouted at by an obsessed blog which was trying to indoctrinating me into a cult.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on 9 June 2009
The difference between a book and a blog is that a book has a narrative or an argument; whereas a blog is a series of thoughts, not necessarily connected.

And narrative is what's lacking in this book. Like Seth's other works, it seems to have been taken from blogs written over time. Many of the headings cover similar ground, so the book becomes repetitive.

And because there's no argument, the central idea of the book never really develops. Seth just keeps looking at the subject from different angles.

This is frustrating, and it's a shame, because Seth Godin is an original thinker and this book is a good example of the clarity with which he can see 21st issues, especially as they relate to the online world.

Seth also shies away from making any practical suggestions about how to create a Tribe.

However, the book is good on Leadership. If you're interested in that subject, it's not a bad read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Seth Godin is the living, breathing embodiment of this book, he is a leader, he's not happy with the status quo and he has built up a tribe of followers who believe in the same ideas as he does. A tribe who will probably read and buy and possibly even worship everything he says or does.

Unfortunately this book is a bit of a one-trick pony, the concept is good, his arguments are relevant and his examples illustrate his points perfectly but.... it only has one idea and that idea (as other reviewers have noted) could probably have been covered in a few pages or in a blog entry but instead has been stretched though endless repetition to 130 pages of wasted paper.

To save you some money and the environment, here is a summary of the book:

1. don't stay with the same ol' same ol'
2. take a chance
3. change is good
4. be a leader
5. create a tribe of followers
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 3 January 2010
Seth Godin has great ideas, and the idea of leading a tribe to make change happen is another one of them. The issue is that this book could have 5 or 10 pages instead of 131. It would share exactly the same knowledge. Going for the same over and over again with lousy examples is what's made me got really tired. It's boring, exactly what he claims not to do. I won't spread the word, or at least not positevely.
Seth, this idea is worth a post, but not a book. Think it through for the future.

A (little disappointed)fan
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 12 February 2010
I found this book frustrating and inspirational at the same time. Anyone who expects a textbook on how to become a leader will feel disappointed. Anyone who ever had a strong conviction and found an excuse not to push the idea, like me, will feel guilty. Anyone who still has a strong conviction in an idea, or in themselves, will find inspiration.

I don't exactly know what Seth's motives with the structure of the book is, but the blurb on the back cover perhaps says it all "Tribes is for those who don't want to be sheep and instead have a desire to do fresh and exciting work". Fresh and exciting per definition cannot follow a tried and trusted recipe. So don't expect one from Seth. Apply your own intellect and knowledge to the hints, reassurances, admonishments, and challenges in this book, and you WILL find value. But only if you are willing to do most of the thinking work yourself.

In a 2010 interview, Seth said about his own writing that it becomes better if he writes like he talks. He is predisposed to an audience who understands what he talks about, as opposed to an audience who needs twice as much explanation. I think in his writing he is focusing on the act of "tightening his tribe" rather than succumbing to the temptation of making the tribe bigger - page 44, "Tighter".

After all, not everyone wants to be a leader. If you don't want to be one, don't read the book.

Final thought - halfway through the book, I couldn't help but recognise a strong correlation between "Tribes" and the story of Jesus as told in the four Gospels. Uncanny how incredibly well Jesus fits his description of a tribal leader .... Seth is a modern Apostle.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 5 November 2008
Seth Godin's books and blog provide a wealth of information, observations, opinions, and (especially) challenges that can help others to overcome what James O'Toole so aptly characterizes as "the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom." In this, his most recent book, he urges his reader to consider and then take full advantage of unprecedented opportunities to become a leader. He cites five different but related reasons: "everyone in an organization - not just the boss - is expected to lead," in today's workplace "it's easier than ever before to change things [and] individuals have more leverage than ever before," those and their organizations that "change things and create remarkable products and services" are rewarded in the marketplace, change initiatives are "engaging, thrilling, profitable and fun," and most of all, there is a "tribe" of other people waiting for a leader "to connect them to one another and lead them where they want to go."

In this context, I am reminded of a passage from Lao-Tzu's Tao Te Ching:

"Learn from the people
Plan with the people
Begin with what they have
Build on what they know
Of the best leaders
When the task is accomplished
The people will remark
We have done it ourselves. "

This is precisely what Godin has in mind when asserting that great leaders "create movements by empowering the tribe [i.e. those with a shared interest] to communicate. They establish the foundation for people to make connections, as opposed to commanding people to follow." The communication to which he refers is between and among the leader and members of a tribe who are connected by a shared interest, a common cause (i.e. "a passionate goal"), and a determination to create things that did not exist before, to achieve something that could happen but hasn't yet. Godin stresses the need for leaders with imagination. In the words of George Bernard Shaw, those who "dream things that never were and say why not."

In his recently published book, Iconoclast, Gregory Berns examines a number of leaders, each of whom was a "breaker or destroyer of images," who in recent years accomplished what others claimed could not be done. When doing so, these modern iconoclasts attacked orthodox beliefs and, in some cases, institutions. "The overarching theme of this book is that iconoclasts are able to do things that others say can't be done, because iconoclasts perceive things differently than other people." Berns goes on to explain that the difference in perception "plays out in the initial stages of an idea. It plays out in how their manage their fears, and it manifests in how they pitch their ideas to the masses of noniconoclasts. It is an exceedingly rare individual who possesses all three of these traits." One of Godin's most important points is that almost anyone can be an iconoclast if she or he creates a movement by empowering a tribe and motivating its members to attack and then destroy the status quo, meanwhile connecting them to each other to leverage their combined strengths.

I agree with Godin that leaders "make a ruckus." So did Alcibiades' drunken seamen who, while ashore and roaming the streets of Athens late one night, smashed sacred icons. But they were vandals, not leaders. They comprised a mob. It is important to keep in mind that Godin's "tribe" is not a mob, nor is it a crowd. "A crowd is a tribe without a leader. A crowd is a tribe without communication." It is easy to collect a crowd. The objective, Godin, suggests, is to create a tribe. Will it be easy? Of course not. That requires more time and effort to motivate, connect, and leverage its members. Also, it is necessary for leaders to overcome fear, not of failure but of blame. "We chose not to be remarkable because we're worried about criticism." Recent research conducted by the Gallup Organization indicates that 29% of the U.S. workforce is engaged (i.e. loyal, enthusiastic, and productive) whereas 55% is passively disengaged. That is, they are going through the motions, doing only what they must, "mailing it in," coasting, etc. What about the other 16%? They are actively disengaged in that they are doing whatever they can to undermine their employer's efforts to succeed. They have a toxic impact on their associates and, in many instances, on customer relations.

Godin would describe the passively disengaged as "sleepwalkers," those who "have been raised to be obedient" and are comfortable "with brain-dead jobs and enough fear to keep in line." For at least some of them, leaders provide the will to make something better happen. (I could be wrong but I doubt if he would characterize actively disengaged as "heretics." That is, those who are "engaged, passionate, and more powerful and happier than anyone else.") Those whom Godin calls to action are chalenged to threaten the status quo, demonstrating what Joseph Schumpeter describes as "creative destruction." With effective leadership, they support and are supported by their tribe to achieve, together, beneficial change whereas the actively disengaged seek only disruption and destruction.

In my opinion, this is Seth Godin's most important book thus far because he challenges his reader to accept full responsibility for becoming a tribal leader of principled and productive agents of positive change. "No one gives you permission or approval or a permit to lead, You can just do it. The only one who can say no is you." But he doesn't stop there. He also challenges his reader to share his book with others. "Ask them to read it. Beg them to make a choice about leadership. We need them. We need you. Spread the word. Thanks."

Now what? I presume to suggest that you read this book. Then what? That's up to you.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 22 August 2010
From a seminal author full of great ideas and enormous amounts to offer, I'm shocked.

This isn't a book, it's a provocative but lightweight paragraph of an idea padded out into book which didn't need to be written.

I'm surprised that a thinker, a major "influencer" and someone with the rigour and visionary power of Seth can contribute such a disappointing "pot boiler"

I feel let down by an icon of a leader and will not be doing as he asks at the end of the book - passing it on to a friend or colleague; it'll be consigned to the recycle bin, hopefully for better use next time.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 6 June 2011
I'm afraid that this is an over-simplistic book, one of the least satisfactory specimens of the how-to type bibliography.

It attempts to reduce the complexity of tribal consumption theory to a few recipes and in doing so, it implicitly promises that a smart marketing manager can actually turn a recalcitrant group of customers into a tame tribe.
I find this promise dangerously optimistic for managers and useless for university students.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 1 July 2009
I feel the whole book could basically be summed up as: "People need leaders. You're a leader. Go lead." Sure, there's a few other interesting ideas here and there, but it felt like there was too much filler and not enough revelations. Sorry Seth.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 29 September 2009
Want to learn how to be a leader and how it works in the digital age? Read the excellent Wikinomics, not this disappointing repackaging of anecdotes whose endlessly repeated message is only "you can do it". Well, yes I can: I can review this book as one of the worst I have ever paid to struggle through. No clear structure, no real evidence to support its claims, just a bunch of feelgood anecdotes carelessly cut and pasted from presentations and articles, and often only relevant or comprehensible to the contemporary USA. Poorly written, and patronising.

The book keeps referring to the fearful nature of people who work in balloon factories and encouraging the reader not to think like them. You should indeed be worried if your product contains only stale hot air. Perhaps the author's other books are good, or perhaps his digital followers just review his books to boost sales. I'll never know, as I will never buy or read another book by Seth Godin. I can do it.
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