Wednesday, February 11, 2009


If you're a marketing/business/leadership guru, you've probably heard of Seth Godin. A peculiar looking little man, but the dude is smart. Tribes is this non intimidating looking little book that is really rather good. It was no. 1 on the list as I've set a personal goal to finish ten books this year. But I found it difficult to read because sadly it shows me that I've Mommy tracked my career and lost a passion for what I do. Somewhere in the mix, I've become a corporate drone. I read this quote and my penciled note in the margin says "this is me"

"I think these people are becoming ever better at following, but never learning to lead. They're following instructions, following directions, following the pack, and honing their skills-but hiding. Hiding from the fear of leading..."

So I read on. Mr Godin talks about the importance of a Tribe. A Tribe is simply put: a group of people with a common interest. "Tribes are about faith-about belief in an idea or in a community.." But the important, key component, of a Tribe is the leader. If you think about all of the Tribes you are involved in be it your church, your team at work, your book club, your blog circles.. chances are there is a leader. Chances are the leader is compelling and people want to follow that person because if we're honest, we all want to be's much more difficult to actually do the leading or is it? In fact, as Mr Godin points out, Leadership isn't difficult, we've all just been trained to avoid it.

I think about the leaders that I respect. I often think, it is a natural born desire to lead, but I've come to understand that it's really more about passion. Passion about the belief or the idea in the community and the willingness to not accept the status quo. With that unwillingness to settle and passion about the idea, comes the decision to lead. Some examples: I think about the company I work for where a real estate broker wanted to look out for the tenant rather than the landlord in commercial real estate and thus he started the first real estate firm where ONLY tenants were represented and such representation would be done so without conflict of interest and with integrity. I think about the church that I go to and my pastor's passion to embrace the community as a whole and not just the people who call themselves Christians. It makes me think of Marketing Boy starting his own company out of a passion to really want to do the right thing for his clients and suddenly the concept of Tribes becomes much more real.

Not that Far Gone
So maybe I'm a corporate drone. Maybe I've lost some work passion...but it occurred to me last night that maybe I'm not that far gone. One of the things that has agitated me and frustrated me about being a working Mother is that all of the play groups and activities for Mom's and kids are conveniently at 10am in the middle of the week. I was frustrated. For two years I looked for a Tribe for Cole and I. To no avail. What the heck? Working mommies don't need a Tribe too? Good grief. We're the spaziest of them all. So when one of the other working Mommies in the church said "let's start a MOPS@ group for working mothers" I volunteered to help.

I found myself leading the group last passion a little lost in being tired and having a crazy day at work..but as soon as I started the lesson and started engaging the Tribe- my passion showed back up. I remembered why I went looking for a Tribe and now I had an opportunity to lead and I didn't completely suck. I'm just really good at avoiding it.

One of my favorite summations in Mr. Godin's book is this: "People don't believe what you tell them. They rarely believe what you show them. The often believe what their friends tell them. They always believe what they tell themselves. What leaders do: they give people stories they can tell themselves. Stories about the future and about change..."

There you have it. We all just need stories about the future and about change. We can all lead and make an impact. The question is more : Will you choose to do it?