The drum beat, smoke signals, man-sized kettle slowly boiling bound strangers as warriors dance for vengeance or rain, that’s the old image of a tribe. Things have changed. Tribes are now considered groups of people who come together because of a compelling interest, connected on the web in forums or blogs, and occasionally at a Tweet Up. Even today, being a stranger is a losing proposition and reigning as a tribal leader is still the guy to be. The conditions, however, are less dramatic. The stakes however may still be life or death, for your personal brand.
Commandment #6: Be Consumed By Your Tribe
Of course, by “consumed,” I meant this in two metaphorical ways…
First, you must be authentically drawn to the industry, topic, idea and people you want to lead (your tribe per Seth Godin). At one time you were consumed by a group’s music, a lover’s magnificence, or a head-cold. By this I mean your thoughts were dominated by this one thing.
What subject and what group of people simply fascinates me? What am I drawn to read about, write about, talk about, investigate and sit endlessly through the night poking around the web finding new and arcane facts and opinions?
Look at your search history. What sites are consuming your interest? Who are your people – find them in these places.
Second, your number one priority must be fulfilling the needs of your tribe and the many ways you can get to them, to serve those needs. You must be genuinely willing and able to parent, lead, provide for, shepherd or otherwise serve the tribe, way more than most people in the tribe. Maybe not lead in every area, but in at least one significant area. And, make major, consistent and relentless improvements and opportunities for others.
Tribes need leaders, and your personal brand depends on your being seen and sought out as a leader.
For example, Greg Stewart is the Creative Director at Pegasus Media World. He happens to be consumed by Freemasonry. He’s engaged in a nearly lifelong journey of consuming everything imaginable about the group. He knows the myths, legends, history, famous people, deeds, misdeeds, odd turns and even the criticism and fears evoked by this group. He can compare its practices and traditions to almost any other practice, including some ancient religions that many theologians might not know. And, by the way he’s a creative director in publishing – so its a behemoth role to have taken on leadership of a tribe outside of his professional activities. But, he is simply and authentically consumed by this interest.
Greg is also consumed by his tribe and their needs. He has made himself a clearinghouse, central resource, education and entertainment center revolving around Freemasonry, Greg lays out a significant body of work at the website he founded and runs, Freemason Information. You can get his free eBook there. You can listen in to hundreds of podcasts featuring Masonic experts that he’s recorded. You can interact, be inspired and connect with the tribe there. Follow him and his blog posts, feed, tweets, and Facebook, from the blog.
You’ll constantly tend to your tribe via social media, forums, personal calls, emails, meetings and more. If you have an innovative and inclusive approach, that will create a leadership position for you. Consider how you can provide a unique and powerful platform such as a blog or forum for your tribe to gather about, contribute to and dwell.
Your tribe could be candle makers, cupcake bakers, crochet hobbyists, nanotechnology scientists, SAP programmers, accountants with small practices or like me: the tribe of people who are building personal brands via the web and on-ground opportunities. I am consumed by the sociological, psychological, and technological aspects of creating reputations in today’s online and on-ground environments. I want my tribe to find the best most satisfying jobs and business opportunities. My tribe consumes my tips, tactics, and techniques of creating and managing personal brands, and my philosophy and thought leadership. I give away a lot of stuff that teaches you how to market yourself, impress recruiters and win big contracts, because it nourishes me to nourish my tribe’s ability to leverage their personal brands. This status provides me with a huge audience, speaking engagements, book contracts, consulting gigs, media coverage and access to the leading people in many fields. Your leadership may do the same for you.
What will you consume today? And, who will be consuming you? The answers will help you define and find your tribe. Once you connect with your people via the many platforms on the web, or simply start by creating a blog, you are no longer a stranger. You won’t be boiled while others dance – if you have identified the right tribe.