Over the past month, I’ve been writing a lot on the subject of the Grace of Collaboration. We discussed the four essential qualities of Collaboration: Vision, Innovation, Trust and Ease. We looked at how our antiquated ideas about Competition can often limit our ability to practice Collaboration. We examined the integral place of Collaboration in the new business paradigm as well as the evolving trend towards Collaboration between businesses and their audiences.
Last time, when we talked about seeing your audience as your greatest collaborators, I said, ‘for this partnership to happen you must first create your community: the “crowd” or the “tribe”. Today in part 5 in this series, we’ll look at what a tribe is (and what it isn’t), and the difference between a ‘target audience’ and a ‘tribe’.
Anatomy of the Tribe – 3 Points of Reference
‘A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea.’
I like this definition because it gives us three points of reference. Anyone who knows basic geometry (or watches crime dramas!) knows that three points enable you to ‘triangulate’ your coordinates so you can define a precise point. So if we triangulate Godin’s 3-point definition, we can say that a tribe is a group of people who are:
- Connected to a leader AND
- Connected to an idea AND
- Connected to one another
In other words, unless all three components are present, it is not a tribe.
The Leader and the Call of the New Idea
For sake of argument, let’s say the ‘leader’ in this definition is YOU. By ‘idea’, let’s take that to mean ‘ideology’ or ‘new way of seeing’. Real tribes are not just based upon mundane ideas but upon visions. Unless you develop your vision into a ‘new way of seeing’, you will find it difficult to communicate your vision to others. And without that communication, you will not be able to inspire and lead a tribe.
For example, I had great difficulty communicating what I intuitively knew about the problems with old school marketing UNTIL my insights took shape AS the ‘7 Graces of Marketing’. Prior to putting a name and a structure on this ‘new way of seeing’, my message and observations lacked impact. Only when we can present our vision to others in such a way that they can ‘consume’ it, digest it and even reinvent it, do we become leaders.
Leaders are those who ‘answer the call’. In The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell talks about how all ‘heroes’ go through a phase where they first ‘refuse the call’ before picking up the gauntlet presented to them. I love this explanation because it shows us that all ‘heroes’ (or leaders) are ultimately human, who suffer from their own fears and self-doubt.
I believe each one of us has inherited the ‘hero gene’ somewhere in our DNA. However, if we do not get past our ‘refusing the call’ stage, we will never manifest our innate ability to lead. Without a leader, an idea has no voice. If an idea is silent, no one will hear it. And there can be no tribe when no one hears the message.
So, if you feel like you are sitting on the outskirts of your own business (or life), wondering where in the world your tribe is, ask yourself whether or not it’s your OWN doing. Have you been refusing the call of your vision? Perhaps you’ve been drifting ‘tribelessly’ around for the simple reason that YOU haven’t created your tribe yet.
Tribes vs Cults of Personality
Starting a tribe is relatively easy. You are the leader. You have a vision. You start talking about your vision to the most likely people to be interested. You create a vehicle for meeting and communicating with them.
Simple, yes, but there are some key things to remember. Your communication needs to be integrated into the life-blood of your tribe. If it’s all one-way communication coming from you and going out to ‘them’, you might have an ‘audience’ but you don’t have a tribe. Traditional ‘old-school’ marketers stop at this point, being satisfied to have an audience of followers rather than a true tribe.
Many social media marketers may think they are operating within the new paradigm, but they, too, often misinterpret the word ‘tribe’ by using it to refer to their target audience or followers. I confess, I’m sure I’ve used the word in this context myself on occasion. But this interpretation of the word fails the 3-part triangulation test in that there is no allowance for communication within the tribe. Without the means for open communication within a tribe, you it risk changing from a tribe into ‘a cult of personality’.
I know it might seem like a complete diversion, but I’ve always loved the song ‘Cult of Personality’ by the band Living Colour. I also think the words are relevant to what we’re talking about here.
The ‘cult of personality’ is an easy trap to fall into. Even in these early stages of the development of The 7 Graces Project, I occasionally feel a ‘tug’ in my gut if the light shines too much on me personally, and there is not enough interaction between the community and the idea. If our 7 Graces enterprise is to lead the way for a truly new paradigm, we have to set the example by getting this balance right ourselves. I might be the ‘leader’ in that I had the vision and I am taking responsibility for communicating those ideas as best I can, but without the communication, innovation, input and collaborative projects taking place amongst the community, there can be no tribe.
Ultimately, the tribe itself is responsible for maintaining the balance between leader, vision and the group. And that can only happen when the tribe stops being a ‘group of people’ or a ‘crowd’ and evolves into a cohesive entity in its own right.
Tribes and the Grace of Collaboration
In my book Tweep-e-licious I talk a lot about the mechanics of starting an online ‘tribe’ through keywords and Twitter lists. This helps you find ‘targeted’ followers who may have an interest in your ‘vision’, your ‘new idea’. But finding people who might share your vision is just the first stage in tribe evolution. Developing dialogue is the next phase. From dialogue come possibilities for the Grace of Collaboration to spring forth.
As you open up your dialogue with your followers on Twitter, Facebook or other social media, you start to develop an ‘inner circle’ of people with whom you feel most aligned. From this, a seminal ‘tribe’ starts to form, as these people become your marketing partners and you begin to co-create new projects that express your common vision.
But even these kinds of collaborative projects, as wonderful as they are, do not necessarily evolve into a true, fully-developed tribe. I believe…
A REAL tribe is an entity, a spirit in its own right. It has a life-cycle, a drive and an esprit de corps that can only manifest when the leader surrenders to the power of the vision.
How this transformation occurs is the subject of many books by many great social thinkers. In our next article in this series on Collaboration, we’ll explore that phase of the evolutionary process of the tribe, and look at how and why ‘Community’ and ‘Collaboration’ are inextricably linked.
I hope you’ll subscribe so you can come back and follow the next leg of the journey. And please leave a comment, too, so we can get this dialogue going! Besides. I get some of my best blogging ideas from your input.
Self-Enquiries for Today
- You might be a member of someone else’s tribe (most of us are). Think of the idea behind the leader, and the leader behind the idea. How are they working together? Is there much separation between them? How are they answering a ‘call’ from the Universe? Why are you drawn to be part of this tribe?
- What’s the ‘new way of seeing’ that has been calling you? How are you communicating it to others? Where are you refusing or accepting ‘the call’ of this vision? What is your relationship with it? What is happening (or not happening) as a result?
Take some action to define, build or develop your tribe:
- Take some time this week to define your vision and message.
- Write a short profile of your typical tribe members. What do they believe? What do they love? What are they looking for?
- How would your tribe communicate? How will you facilitate this communication?
- In what ways could such a tribe bring the vision into reality? What could they create together? How could the vision become bigger than your self? How do you feel about this?
- What guidelines will you use to keep your tribe from becoming a ‘cult of personality’?
- After you have completed this profile, write done some steps you will take this week to get started building (or expanding) this tribe.
PLEASE SHARE YOUR IDEAS AND THOUGHTS BELOW!
~ Lynn Serafinn
3 April 2013
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Looking for a Tribe?
Come join our 7 Graces group on Facebook, and join us at our monthly meetings. They’re free to attend and we have them both in person and online, so you can participate from anywhere in the world. This is NOT a “business group” but an active community where people actually know and support each other.
The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sell, by Lynn Serafinn, where you can learn how the 7 Deadly Sins and the 7 Graces impact the world through media and marketing.
Tweep-e-licious: 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically, by Lynn Serafinn, which can help you learn how to create meaningful collaborations through Twitter and other social media.
Get instant access to a free 90-minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com
LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the top 20 of the Top 100 marketing authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. Her eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project, a budding social enterprise whose aim is to help grow a new generation of passionate entrepreneurs who want to serve both people and planet through innovative, ethical, independent enterprise.
(not just for Londoners, as we meet also on Skype)