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When you hear the word ‘tribe,’ what comes to mind?

If you’re like most of us, you think of a group of people from long ago, who banded together in the first social groups –– generally for the purpose of survival. 

“A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.”

Seth Godin –– Tribes

As a Virginian, the word tribe tends to conjure up the images of Native American culture, but examples of tribalism can be found on nearly every continent at every stage of history.

Humans are fundamentally social creatures and the formation of tribes is hard-wired into our DNA. Forming social groups not only ensured the survival of the species, but it accelerated the growth of language, culture, religion, education, and government. 

And even today, at some core level, each one of us is still seeking a tribe to call our own. 

Tribes Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us eBook: Godin, Seth ...

If you’ve never read any of Seth Godin’s stuff, you are missing out. He’s a pretty fascinating thinker and his book — Tribes: We Need You To Lead Us — takes a look at tribalism in a modern setting. 

The book offers a framework to understand how organizations form and evolve, using the concept of a tribe as the basis for the analysis.

When you examine the world as a collection of tribes: Deadheads, Fortnite players, political parties and Harley Davidson owners –– a lot of things make a lot more sense. 

It’s good stuff.

Tribalism in the Digital Age

Seth asserts that all tribes have two essential characteristics:

  • A common belief
  • A way to communicate

The common belief part has been the constant. When you look back through history, you see groups bound by common beliefs at all points in time.

It is the communication part that has changed today’s tribe dynamic.

Email, text, DM’s, websites, blogs, social media, video –– they have brought the cost of communication down to near zero while simultaneously connecting us all. In effect, for the cost of a crappy cell phone and a base wireless plan, each of us can broadcast a message that the entire planet is able to receive.

Think about the implications of that for a second.

So, in the same way that my bike allowed 10-year-old me to expand my world and meet new people literally blocks away, the Internet does essentially the same thing for 50 year old me, albeit on a global scale. 

Organisms tend to be more resilient than organizations.

–– Seth Godin, from ‘What Kind of Org?’

This connectivity has provided access to those who are doing some really groovy things (i.e. new ‘tribes’ to join) that even a few short years ago I would have never encountered –– and it has led me to some true thought leaders, both in our industry and beyond.

‘Subscribe to Tribe’

So each time I open up the computer, it gives me a chance to ‘tribe.’

Over the last decade, I have subscribed to all sorts of blogs, newsletters, article writers, and content creators.

Some (like Seth) have been mainstays. Others have come and gone. 

Needless to say, my list has evolved, but the ones who I have followed the longest tend to share several common characteristics: 

  • They consistently offer value in their words
  • They question the norm
  • They write in a familiar and approachable manner

I consider these people as valuable as any advisor or mentor I have ever had. And the good news (for me) is that they work really cheap. 

My Content Tribes

Real content takes time –– good, honest, legitimate, thoughtful, time. 

For that, I truly appreciate the gift that they give the world.

Yes, I am sure that they want me to follow them on Twitter, buy their book and attend their next seminar, but the value I receive from simply following what they write far exceeds the annoyance of the occasional sales pitch. 

When I get a notification that they have posted something new (My tribal leader has spoken!) I tend to stop whatever I am doing and read.

Each one offers a different style and a radically different voice. Some are industry-specific and others I would read regardless of my job. 

Here are mine.

No Mercy/No Malice –– Scott Galloway

For obvious reasons, I am a fan of any 50-year-old bald man with a dislike of ties, a penchant for dropping the occasional f-bomb, and a need to call BS when he sees it. 

Galloway will occasionally touch on real estate, but mostly he is about larger form business issues –– especially in the digital business space –– as well as higher education. His best work gives a sense of context and scale so that you can actually comprehend the world in a manner we often struggle to understand. 

Failure and invention are inseparable twins. To invent, you have to experiment, and if you know in advance that it’s going to work, it’s not an experiment.”

Prof. Scott Galloway

He’s quite innovative in how he presents his information, and he uses a lot of visuals to help drive his points home.

And even though he comes from academia, he always manages to acknowledge his past failures, to give his work a less preachy and more approachable tone. 

1000 Watt –– The Friday Flash by Brian Borneo and his team at 1000 Watt

I cannot tell you the number of times that I have wondered if 1000 Watt had a hidden mic in our last office meeting. 

You’re never going to succeed trying to appeal to everybody.

Brian Boreo, CEO 1000 Watt

As a real estate specific branding and marketing firm, they really seem to understand the agent’s and brokerage’s point of view –– and thus, you don’t feel like you get branding advice of someone who also sells automobiles, leaf blowers, and toothpaste. 

(click to follow the 1000 Watt blog)

When they write a stream of consciousness recap of a recent seminar or conference, it’s my favorite form of what they do. The pithy yet simple observations are where I find myself nodding the most and forwarding to my team. I feel like they are thinking about what I am thinking about. 

I have taken a tremendous amount of confirmation and validation from 1000 Watt’s blog –– and if I ever stopped doing what I am doing, I would probably send them my resume first.

Rob Hahn –– The Notorious ROB

Rob is real estate specific and he is long-form. –– I was lucky enough to have coffee with Rob once at a conference in NY. I reminded him of the comments I made on his blog about MLS (see the link above) –– and he agreed to meet. I know his time was valuable, but he willingly gave it. He was a nice guy.

Don’t expect to get a quick fix out of one of his articles, expect to read it a few times to get the message –– but just know that it is deeply researched. His articles tend to provide access to the conversations that are occurring in my industry’s C-Suites to which I am not invited. 

Rob dives into the minutiae, but he has to in order to provide nuanced points. He does the research that I don’t have the time for, and he asks questions about things I didn’t even realize I needed to be asking …

Seth Godin –– Seth’s Blog

As you can probably tell by now, I like Seth. 

(What Kind of Org? is one of my favorites)

Along with Tribes, I have read several others of his work, and I even got to hear him speak at Inman several years back. 

Books and speeches aside, I get a simple text-based blog post in my email every morning –– EVERY morning.

Seth’s messages are generally pretty short and sweet (like sometimes only 3 to 4 sentences!) yet deliver a powerful, and consumable, thought for the day. 

Many are the mornings when I wake up to a text from my team that says, “Did you read Seth yet?!?’’

Seth’s elegance is in his simplicity and his power is in his quantity. 

Go Find and Create Your Tribe

When you think about it, real estate really is a tribal business.

Whether it is your brokerage, your team, or your sphere –– they all tend to follow the tribe model. And, it is your job to strengthen the tribes you identify with by finding and incorporating the best ideas you can. 

The four tribal leaders I follow work for my needs, but there are soooooo many others (and I’d love to hear about yours!). Coaches, entrepreneurs, spiritual leaders, and academics –– they all have something to offer us as a member of their ‘tribe.’

The key is uncovering the right ones for you. 

Seek and you will find. When you encounter someone whose words resonate with you and whose thoughts offer leadership, join their tribe. 

The digital world has made tribalism easier than ever before.