Tribes and Tribal Leadership

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The book Tribes by Seth Godin is slightly larger than a CD jewel case. Yet the wisdom Godin shares in the book resonates on a MUCH bigger scale – and apparently with MANY people (the book has been the #1 bestselling leadership book on Amazon for nearly a year).

Godin suggests that anyone, anywhere can be a leader. The one thing holding most people back is the fear of failure.

Tribes isn’t a step-by-step manual about being a leader. Godin explains that:

Every tribe is different. Every leader is different. The very nature of leadership is that you’re not doing what’s been done before. If you were, you’d be following, not leading.

Tribes is about making a choice – to lead or not to lead. Using real world examples, Godin tells stories about how famous and not so famous people made the choice to lead and the amazing things they’ve accomplished.

The insights in Godin’s book are not profound – and maybe that’s the point. For example, Godin skillfully shows time and time again why management is not the same as leadership.

Management is about manipulating resources to get a known job done … Managers manage a process they’ve seen before, and they react to the outside world, striving to make that process as fast and as cheap as possible. Leadership, on the other hand, is about creating a change that you believe in.

Godin writes that it takes only two things to turn any group into a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.

So a leader can help increase the effectiveness of the tribe and its members by

  • transforming the shared interest into a passionate goal and desire for change;
  • providing tools to allow members to tighten their communication; and
  • leveraging the tribe to allow it to grow and gain new members.

Most leaders focus only on the third tactic. A bigger tribe somehow equals a better tribe. In fact, the first two tactics almost always lead to more impact.

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We Cannot Change The Past, But We Can Change The Future

3565828392_5dbd6b9000_oA few days ago, I watched an episode of The Simpsons.

In that episode, called “In the Name of the Grandfather”, the Simpson family travels to Ireland so that Grampa Simpson can visit a pub where he had the best night of his life. In one scene, the pub owner is watching a  horse race and is screaming madly for one of the horses to go faster and win. When the horse loses, the pub owner takes a video tape out of the VCR and mumbles that the horse can’t win the darn race (which took place in 1979!).

I laughed. How could the horse win? The pub owner was watching a recording of a 30 year old race that the horse lost. But after laughing, I started thinking. We all think about the past. We hyper-analyze our decisions and the consequences of those decisions. We assess what would have happened if we took made different decisions. We dwell on our mistakes.

It’s both necessary and helpful to learn from mistakes. But some of us obsess about the past – just like the pub owner (I’ve certainly done that at times). And in our obsession with the past, we often lose sight of the fact that we cannot change the past. Ever.

But we can change the future. We should obsess about that instead.

image credit: fragmented

There’s Only One Cinderella

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Most know the classic folk tale Cinderella. It’s a story about a young woman living in obscurity and neglect who unexpectedly finds love and happiness.

Cinderella’s story illustrates something that we often forget. There’s only one Cinderella.

Why should you care?

In our efforts to achieve success (in whatever we do), we often try to emulate people who are successful. Basketball players want to play like Michael Jordan, movie directors want to make movies like Steven Spielberg, authors want to write books like J.K. Rowling. But at the end of the day, there’s only one Michael Jordan, one Steven Spielberg and one J.K. Rowling.

Perhaps we are overly obsessed with emulating and understanding how/why others have succeeded?

Seth Godin was right that most people spend all their time on trying to understand tactics to get things done and to change minds. But in the search for that perfect strategy, we lose sight of our goals, we stop making good decisions, and we forget that ultimate success is measured by our ability to earn the trust and respect of people around us.

Each day, we have an opportunity to write our own unique story. What will you do today to earn the trust and respect of people around you?

image credit: Joe Penniston

“Personal Brand” – An Exercise In Linguistic Olympics?

People find reasons to disagree about many things. Sometimes, what appear to be substantive disagreements turn out to be little more than smoke and mirrors.

Take for example the subject of “personal brand”. David Armano’s new “Brand U.0 Blog focuses on personal brands. Chris Brogan recently listed 10 articles from his blog about personal branding. And shortly thereafter, Jason Bender wrote a short article in his blog titled “People Aren’t Brands. Ever”. Jason Bender disagreed with Armano and Brogan – and argued that “people ain’t brands.”

Here’s the irony. They are all saying the same thing. A personal brand is your reputation. Pure and simple. There’s a great simplicity to the term reputation – everyone knows what that word means. There’s less simplicity to what is a brand – that’s been the domain of agencies and marketing specialists.

But let’s not fool ourselves. Reputation has always been important. The Internet didn’t create the notion of “personal brand”. Web 2.0 didn’t create the notion of “personal brand.” Gary Vaynerchuk didn’t create the notion of personal brand (although he is demonstrating firsthand how one can build a great reputation online). There is no new “movement” of people as brands.

Reputation has always been important.

And that’s why the debate about “personal brands” is purely linguistic olympics – it’s a debate about something that’s not really in dispute. There’s no real disagreement about what it takes to build a good reputation. Among other things, it takes time, effort, and the sharing of insights and ideas. This is what it takes to build a brand. And marketing-speak doesn’t shortcut that process. Nike didn’t become a “brand” overnight. Neither did Apple, Google, or any of the top brands in the world. Similarly, the people whom many admire online – Chris Brogan, Gary Vaynerchuk, Jason Fried, Guy Kawasaki, David Armano (among others) – they gained their reputation after investing time, effort and the sharing of insights and ideas. Over a lengthy period of time.

And that’s why the disagreement about personal branding is a lot of smoke without much substance. I wanted to accept Chris Brogan’s statement that a “strong personal brand is a mix of reputation, trust, attention and execution.” But at the end of the day, I don’t buy it. When you have a strong reputation, you have built trust. When you have a strong reputation, you command attention. When you have a strong reputation, you can execute better because of that reputation. If we want to call this a brand – fine – but we can call it an elephant and it’ll still be the same thing – reputation.

Those people who have built a strong reputation are trusted by people who listen to them, command attention, and can execute better. How did they do this? Time. Effort. Sharing.

There’s no secret formula. There’s no secret sauce. It’s always been about reputation. Reputation has always been important.

Ten Practical Search Engine Marketing Tips

Given the huge amounts of money spent on SEM, it’s a sure bet that you are going to consider whether you should spend some of your valuable dollars on SEM as part of your overall marketing strategy.

SEM involves using search engines (such as Google) to promote your product or service. Billions of searches are performed every single month. When you start an SEM campaign, you decide how much you are willing to spend and the keywords that you want to bid on. You set your maximum budget (per day/per month) and if you happen to be among the highest bidders for a given keyword when search results are being delivered, your ad will be shown alongside search results (on the side or at the top, for example). SEM ads are circled in red in the following search on Google for “graphic design”.

SEM is a simple idea and can be a powerful tool for many companies. It can also be costly and ineffective for other companies.

While much has been written about SEM by many self-professed “experts”, it’s not easy to find useful tips for SEM campaign(s). And there’s also this – a huge amount of SEM content is not only bullshit – it’s wrong.

I am not suggesting that you should become an expert in SEM or manage your own SEM campaigns. SEM can be complicated and it does require a great deal of attention. We’ve been using and recommend Keyword First if you want some expert help in this area.

On the other hand, plenty of people self-manage successful SEM campaigns. Don’t be intimidated by all of the options and tools. If you decide to conquer SEM on your own, I want to share with you what we’ve learned about SEM over the past seven months.

I am not an expert in this area. These are the things I would have wanted to know back in May 2008 when we launched crowdSPRING – and I hope that they help you to avoid some of the SEM mistakes we made along the way.

So, here we go – the 10 things I would have loved to know about SEM the day we launched crowdSPRING:

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