Book Review Friday: Tribes by Seth Godin

Seth Godin is one of my very favorite business authors. His first book, Permission Marketing (1999), helped me understand the importance of crafting messages that are anticipated, personal, and relevant. It shaped the way I think about the Internet as a communications medium.

Seth Godin's book, Tribes

Since that time, Seth has written many bestselling books on marketing, including The Purple Cow, Word of Mouth Marketing, and, his newest, Tribes. Each time he has challenged the status quo and turned conventional thinking on its head.

But Tribes represents a subtle shift in focus. It is a book about a profound change that is taking place in marketing. While leadership and marketing are both about influence, leadership is influence without self-interest. This is what makes leadership the most powerful kind of marketing possible.

Seth’s basic premise is that a tribe is any group of people, large or small, that is connected to one another, a leader, and an idea. The Internet has eliminated the barriers of geography, cost, and time. All these tribes need is leadership.

That’s where you come in.

The Web can provide the tools, but you have to provide the passion. Anyone who wants to make a difference—in their community, in their business, or in the world—has the tools at their fingertips.

This book explains the nature of tribes and how to build one. It also explains how you can use tools like Twitter, Facebook, and blogs to extend your influence and connect with the tribe in new and powerful ways.

Tribes is a short book—only 147 pages. But its short size belies its true importance. As I read it, I was literally underlining every other sentence. I went through two hi-lighters before I finished!

This is one of the most important books I have read this year. I highly recommend it.

Question: How do you see leadership changing in this new era?
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  • Debabrata Das

    Nice review, now I added this book to my must read book list. May I know the publisher of this book.

  • Michael S. Hyatt

    @Debabrata: The publisher is Portfolio. You can click on the link in the article to see the product detail page with all the specifics. Thanks.

  • Marv Nelson

    Purchased this book last week! Hope to be reading it by next week. Looking forward to some good stuff! Thanks Mike

  • John

    tribes is a most excellent read and seth is keeping us all on our toes. thanks for the review!

  • Christopher

    I liked “Tribes” so much I picked up the audiobook as well. I sit and listen to it while I am working and keep a notebook by my side to jot down ideas.

    I have both hardcopy and audio format versions of a number of his books. Since he is the narrator, you can hear where he places emphasis in key phrases. Gives me a lot of “a-ha” and “wow” moments.

  • Michael S. Hyatt

    @Christopher: I did the same thing. I listened to the audio and said, “This is too good. I have to be able to underline stuff.” So I went and bought the physical book. I’m now reading through it for the second time.

  • Seth Godin


    What an extraordinarily generous review. I’m so glad that the book moved you, and impressed that you care enough about your readers to recommend a book from another publisher.

    A fan,


  • Michael S. Hyatt

    @Seth: I am honored that you would comment. I enjoy your work immensely.

  • Fran Toolan


    You are surely leading a tribe of us. Thanks. I just downloaded the book to my Kindle.

  • Becca

    Thanks for the awesome review. I’ll add it to my list too.

  • Anne Lang Bundy

    Leadership is indeed changing, because once obscure voices now have the potential to influence millions.

    The internet has made writers of the most unlikely candidates. The pen is mightier than the sword, for it moves men to use swords, and the pen brings life to situations where the sword can only destroy. Those of us who believe in the power of our words and of the passion behind them must examine every avenue God makes available for those words to be heard by the right audience.

    On your recommendation, I just ordered a copy of Tribes. My desire as Christ’s ambassador is to market who He is to the largest possible audience for whom I will be effective. While He opens the doors, I need to employ whatever resource puts me on the doorstep.

  • Nathan Ketsdever

    Great review. One thing college debate taught me is that bracketing with a pen beats hi-lighting. It also allows you a lot more flexibility in terms of your personal symbol system. And you don’t end up with a green + yellow coating on your fingers.


  • Ace

    Thanks for the review. Sounds like I’ll be adding this to my list of books to read.

  • Pete Wilson

    Love this book!

  • Darrell Klein


    I recently completed the audio version of this book and I have begun to listen to it for a second time. Like you, I found so much to take in. I may have to do as you have and purchase the actual hard copy for future reference. This book will really make you stop and think about how to lead others or simply get things done in today’s business environment.

    The idea of Seth’s that resonated the most with me was when he talked about how tough a job it is trying to defend medioctity and or the status quo. This is so true. I have been there before.

  • Mike Pritchard

    Thanks Michael for this review! I just finished listening to the audio book of John Maxwell’s 360-Degree Leader, which I enjoyed greatly. I’m listening to it now for the 2nd time.

    I’m wondering if there are some similarities between these 2 books from your perspective? Seems like they are both about leadership, and leading from wherever you are in life / an organization. I’m sure Tribes brings in more technological aspects of leadership, but my hunch is that 360-Degree Leader covers more foundational aspects of leadership.

    I look forward to listening to Tribes as well. (I got the idea of listening to books while jogging from your blog a while back – thank you for that tip! It’s been a tremendously great use of time!)

  • Bonnie Grove

    It’s interesting to see how sociology has hit it’s stride and is now replacing – or at least used to broaden – the typical psychological approach to understanding human nature.

    I wonder how it will affect the still individual orientated West.

    Weber had it right?

  • John Finkelde

    I read Seth’s blog so will be getting his latest book – thanks for the review

  • John Finkelde

    I read Seth’s blog so will be getting his latest book – thanks for the review

  • Ellen Weber

    Thanks Mike, I too am a huge fan of Seth’s and often link my blog on new brain based approaches to his blog about ideas to buck the system. Now to your compelling question: How do I see leadership changing in this new era? My response:

    Lead from where you are and develop more unique talents daily: The group that invited me originally to blog on neuro discoveries that transform lives, folded because of failed business decisions for their network of 100 writers so I decided to start my own blog at BrainLeadersandLearners, to lead from where I stood (which was pretty much from the bottom of a failed heap at the time):-).

    Rather than linger in disappointment because of failure of respected people who’d asked me to blog, I wished them well as they tried to cut their losses and move forward. Then I looked more to my own leadership abilities to move forward myself.

    This is an era when sheer talent is needed to break patterns that limit tired systems and talent is the center of who we are! In fact we’re compelled to get out and double those we possess. Hey, since we now know people have multiple intelligences, doubling talents grows ever more exciting. No wonder it works!

    My new blog already has gained me amazing friends, colleagues and opportunities to use what I do in ways to build stronger communities on a global stage. There’s more, though. After living in Baffin Island’s High Arctic communities for two years, as researcher and professor with McGill, I wrote a novel to capture both the nuances and the mysteries from life on a frozen tundra. This story earmarks lessons learned and lived among Inuit friends and colleagues. I’d been excited to relate fictitious events about a fascinating Inuit people within real life settings. While all events and characters are my own creation, issues in the book arose from several Baffin Island community concerns I witnessed while there. My book was written for both white and Inuit readers who care about cultural conversations for deeper understanding across differences and in responses to struggles encountered there. I’d simply let the project drop, and my blog brought it’s delight back to me when I began to develop my own talent again.

    Getting a novel published is not my incentive. In no way! I’ve published lots of books and that incentive is rarely enough to lead with one’s strengths!

    Leading where we are is incentive, and to do that we must develop more unique talents! How so? In the Arctic, it struck me that Northern and Native leaders rarely speak and feel heard, nor do we see wonderful possibilities for renewed Northern schools and governing systems. Yet as a frequent speaker I constantly encounter people’s interest and curiosity about Baffin life, and about equity initiatives for more students there. My novel captures one story about education and social life from Northern perspectives within a white writer’s perspective. My story Flight of the Raven will celebrates Nunuvut’s 1999 historic movement which empowered more Inuit leadership, and enhances more intercultural partnerships.

    Lead from where we are, means to develop and use more talents daily. In my case it meant rejuvenating hidden and unused abilities and then running in the direction of leadership – for the sheer joy of making a difference from my rather small corner of the world.

    Nuff said – but your question struck a note that starts with the challenge to double our talents (multiple intelligences) and ends with doing it in a way that grows personal leadership and caring communities. Thanks for asking, Mike, and stay blessed!

  • Mike Pritchard

    Hey everyone – fyi Tribes is available on iTunes for $5.95 for the complete audio! This is way cheaper than the list of $20 or Amazon’s $13. I just downloaded it. I’m excited to check it out!

  • Michael Robison

    I am in love with Seth’s book. He has great insight!

    Mike, I am adding you blog to my site. Want to share your insight and wisdom with my few readers!

    Tell the family hello for me. Later!


  • Dennis M. Smith

    I’ve been a fan of Godin’s work for some time, and I’ve never read a review prior to purchasing his latest book. But I’m glad I read your review.

    Although I’ve been aware of TNP for almost as long as I am old, I did not know you had a blog. It was a pleasant surprise to see you blogging, and to get your take on Tribes.

    Thanks Michael – I appreciated your thoughtful review – and, I’ll be back!


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  • jeff

    Hey michael – the pic on this blog isn't showing up. I wonder if it happened when you changed blogging platforms?

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Jeff. I just fixed it.

  • jeff

    saw that. great job. btw, just noticed that this was in the top ten of Google for "tribes review" and "seth godin tribes review". nice job.

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  • Lucy Ann Moll

    Thanks for the recommendation. I shall read it. : )

  • cindydyer

    Am I the only one to notice that there shouldn't be ANY apostrophes in "its."

    "Tribes is a short book—only 147 pages. But it’s short size belies it’s true importance."

    It's (it is) a well-written review, but please have someone review it for grammatical accuracy!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thank you. I haved made the correction. “It’s” is easy to miss, since it doesn’t take an apostrophe when it is a possessive pronoun but does take one when it is a contraction.

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  • john

    sounds like a great Christmas present to give to other leaders. thanks for the review.

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  • Michelle

    Thanks for the review! You mentioned this at the Social Media Summit in Colorado and I am going to see if I can track down a copy.  

  • Miroslaw Burnejko

    Is this book similar to the book suggested by you:
    33 Million People in the Room? Which one is better for starting with Social Media?

    • Michael Hyatt

      I would definitely start with Tribes.

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  • Absolutely*Kate

    Listening to SETH GODIN when his apt words grace your mind is to understand a few greater truths around you. Read the book . . . and follow the sharings of this author-man’s mighty mind.

    And may I say, real nice inciseful insightful review Mr Hyatt . . .~ Absolutely*Kate, author / promoter~ believing in believers

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  • Kara Durbin

    Thank you! As an author trying to navigate social media in relation to my book, I’ve been looking for such a resource! Ordering it from Amazon right now!