Leader of the tribe?

30 Mar 2009

He may not have time to Twitter, but marketing guru Seth Godin has plenty to say about business survival and the importance of leading your tribe.

It’s not every day you come across someone perceived to be a real hero in the field of marketing, but Seth Godin – bestselling author, speaker, blogger, entrepreneur and self-professed agent of change – appears to have nailed it, right down to the fact that he has his very own five-and-a-quarter-inch tall ‘Marketing Guru Action Figure’, complete with trademark odd socks and casual business gear.

Godin’s list of achievements to date is extensive, by any standards. He has been at the forefront of developing and communicating some of the biggest marketing ideas over the past decade, including permission marketing, ideaviruses – the notion of creating powerful ideas that spread like viruses – and the purple cow concept, whereby companies, brands and individuals differentiate themselves by being ‘remarkable’.

He has written 12 successful books, including Purple Cow, a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller, which looks at how companies can transform themselves by trying to become remarkable; All Marketers Are Liars, which focuses on the power of telling authentic stories and was translated into a dozen languages; Permission Marketing, which advocates engaging rather than interrupting consumers;The Big Red Fez, about good web design; and Unleashing the Ideavirus, an e-book downloaded by more than two million people. His blog, Seth’s Blog, is top of the AdAge Power 150.

Godin has also been a successful entrepreneur, having founded and led interactive direct marketing company Yoyodyne, which was subsequently acquired by Yahoo! at the end of 1998. In 2005, he founded Squidoo, a community website that allows users to create pages or lenses (900,000 of them at last count) on subjects of interest to them. In keeping with Godin’s social entrepreneurial tendencies, a proportion of Squidoo’s revenue is given to charity. All of the proceeds from sales of the Seth Godin action man, meanwhile, are donated to the Acumen Fund.

Given his work rate, it’s not surprising to discover that he neither watches TV nor does Twitter. He told a conference in London recently that either one of these could take up six hours of his time a day. Instead, he said, he allocates his time to answering people who contact him and focusing on spreading ideas.

Godin’s appeal has much to do with his ability to understand, perhaps even pre-empt, the zeitgeist. In the current climate, his latest book – Tribes: We need you to lead us – is an apt example, focusing as it does on the need for people to take charge of their lives, to bring about change and to take the opportunity to become leaders in their own tribes.

To read this article in full, visit businessandleadership.com