Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us
by Seth Godin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I feel a little weird giving a Seth Godin book four stars. Godin is a freakin' genius, and the book is full of keen insight and is brilliantly written. So why four stars?
I guess I just want to counteract the over-the-top, "You've GOT to read this book NOW" enthusiasm so many people have heaped upon this modest little book. Marketing people, especially, tout this book as a must-read, as if it will solve all your marketing problems.
Not so much.
This book, like all of Godin's work, is very inspirational. If you are totally foreign to or resistant to the idea of "tribes" in the modern sense, it's an excellent foundation for learning the principles involved. If you are entrenched in the status quo, it will rattle your cage. In a good way.
But if you've followed Godin's blog -- or any of the gazillion other blogs on the subject -- this all starts to sound as familiar as an old jazz standard. Godin's riffs are brilliantly executed, but they are not the panacea for all that ails your business. This is not a how-to book. But then, it doesn't promise to be one, either.
When I started freelancing, I expected to get away from graphic design. I had kind of burned out on it, because it constituted a large percentage of the work I did at the newspaper. But design principles keep coming back into my work. A new client asked me to edit the PowerPoint presentation put together by a co-worker, and I almost balked.
I know a little bit about presentation design. I read Seth Godin's Really Bad Powerpoint. I understand the Kawasaki Ratio. I downloaded the sample of Presentation Zen but haven't bought the book yet. That's the totality of my PowerPoint expertise.
But I know graphic design. So when I looked at the text-dense deck my client had been using, out came the design skills. I took the complex financial information and simplified it into a three-icon chart with arrows to show the flow of funds. Feeling a bit like a poseur -- who do I think I am, Nancy Duarte? I shipped it off to the client.
He declared it a "home run."
When we talked later about further progress on the project, we got to talking about unique selling propositions, and how I'm still not sure what mine is, although it seems centered around leveraging my business journalism experience to help businesspeople improve their communications. He noted that our talents are always invisible to ourselves.
I knew this truth; I've preached it before. But I had forgotten. Each of us has a unique talent, but we often need others to point it out to us. Because to us, it seems like nothing.
I think of the women of the church who plan elaborate dinner parties for three hundred people and then say "it was nothing." Or when I teach a roomful of people and then say "it was nothing." It seems like nothing when it's your gift, but to others, it is a big deal.
As small business owners, we need to look for these talents among others, and employers need to look for talents among their staffs. I encourage you, the next time a collaborator or employee says "it was nothing," remind them of this: "It only seems like nothing to you because you're truly gifted in this area."
Kristen Stieffel is a writing coach, serving readers by helping writers and publishers deliver great writing. Visit her website here.
By Carol Ann Erhardt
After the spiritual rest and refreshment of the Sabbath, returning to the office on Monday morning can be a letdown.
Sunday is devoted to God, family, and rest. For many, it's our favorite day of the week. The day we look forward to during those “same old, same old” weekdays.
Monday morning, you go to the office -- whether that's across down or down the hall -- to face a pile of things waiting on the desk, meetings to attend, e-mails to answer…back to the same old grind.
Perhaps it’s the state of economy, the turmoil raging throughout the world, the sadness, hunger, homeless, lost… Something has changed the way I look at Mondays recently. I wake and look at the new day as a blessing. A day the Lord has made. And I choose to look at it as an opportunity, a clean slate on which I can write anything I please. I choose to fill it with a smile on my face, joy in my heart, and hope for all mankind. For Jesus is coming. This is only a temporary home -- let's choose to rejoice in it until the day He comes to take us to our real forever home.
I am praying for each of you today. I pray your Monday will be filled with the Holy Spirit raining down on you, that you will be blessed to be a blessing to others through your writing. I pray He will fortify you for the trails you face, and suit you with armor to defeat the enemy. I pray for hope, strengthened faith, and that you keep your eyes turned to Jesus. For it is in His Name, I pray. Amen.
At Fellowship Friday one week, I was pleased yet surprised to see my friend Judy Hagey, a fellow editor. After I gave the "writing coach" elevator speech so many of you have heard, and Judy gave her speech, Mark took the opportunity to highlight an important aspect of the way the chamber works.
We often point out that Fellowship Friday is not a leads group. The point is not to get in a room with a bunch of people who are all selling stuff you're not going to buy and exchange business cards. The point is to get to know one another. Only by becoming acquainted with one another can we give good referrals and recommendations.
Some leads groups will only allow one person from a given industry to participate. So if I tried to join, and Judy were already a member, I'd be declined entrance. Not so with the chamber. Mark pointed out that members in the same business can explore opportunities for collaboration or, as it's known in some circles, coopetition. http://mayet.som.yale.edu/coopetition/answers.html
Competition sees business as a zero-sum game. If you get a piece of the pie, I get none. Coopetition sees business as a positive-sum game. By improving conditions, we can all have a bigger pie.
Which is why Mark suggested Judy and I get together for coffee sometime to chat and get to know each other. A sensible suggestion. So much so that we had already met for lunch two weeks ago.
We all like to tell someone “I know a guy” or “I know a lady” who can exceed that person's expectations with price, selection or service. The reason is simple – if the person we recommend really comes through then we are the hero. We recommend people that we trust; we trust people we know well. The only way to get to know someone is to actually spend time with them to build a relationship. No one in their right mind would risk burning relationship collateral by recommending, much less referring, someone with whom the extent of the relationship is having their business card.
Today, the buzz word is “networking” and the idea is to connect with as many people as possible who will need and want your product or service or who will introduce you to others who will. This is accomplished by attending face-to-face meetings and using social media such as Facebook and Linked In. The problem is that people who attend these meetings, or who regularly use social media, all want to sell – not be sold. When I speak at these types of meetings I sometimes ask, “How many of you have a product or service to sell?” and almost all of the hands are raised. Then I ask, “How many of you came here today to buy something?” and no hands are raised. So how can you get the most out of networking? Simple, don't network - relationship-build.
Since no one attends networking events to buy, don't try to sell. Rather, attend these types of events with the purpose of wanting to serve. Zig Ziglar says, “You can have everything in life that you want if you just help enough other people get what they want.” Use these events as opportunities to identify people with whom you want to meet with again to get to know better and to explore ways you can bring value to them either professionally or personally. Use social media as an opportunity to present helpful tips and become known as a problem-solver. When you meet with people, ask questions and genuinely take an interest in their “stories”. Remember, people spend tons of money going to counselors with whom they can just talk and will listen. Just listen to people and you will gain their friendship, confidence and trust.
The bottom line is that few people enjoy making cold calls; referrals may get you in the door, but recommendations put money in your pocket. Spend your time developing relationships rather than networking and you'll never have to make another cold call.