TED2009: Seth Godin


Author and marketing consultant Seth Godin is on stage at TED2009. His new book is called Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us.

He's talking about how we are in a key moment in the way we make change. Here's a short history of how people have made changes:

1. Build a factory -- Henry Ford comes up with a cool idea. Enables him to come up with a way to hire men who were making 50 cents a day and give them five dollars a day. But we are running out of ever cheaper labor and ever faster machines

2. Use mass marketing -- If you buy enough ads you can win. If I buy enough ads I can win. Hypnotizing everyone to buy your product does not work.

3. Tribes - Connecting people and ideas. They've been around: Work tribes, community tribes. The Internet enables silos of tribes. People on the fringes can find each other connect, and go somewhere.

What we do for a living is find something worth changing and assemble a tribe. When Al Gore set out to chage the world again. He did it by creating a movement - thousands of people who can do his presentation for him. He quotes Kevin Kelly, you just need a thousand true fans. Telling a story to people who want to hear it. Assembling a tribe of true fans. People want the connections to each other.

Heretics looks at the status quo and says "this I can not stand. Instead of being a 'sheepwalker' every once in a while someone stands up and says 'not me'"

Example -- guy who started a show company. If you buy a pair, the company gives an identical pair to someone who can't afford shoes. When you buys those shoes, you also buy a story you can tell, and others will join that tribe of people who can tell that story.

His challenge: "It only takes 24 hours. Create a movement. Start it. We need it."


  1. It’s just that 24 hours seems so fast. Can we maybe recruit Mr. Godin for a guestblogger and discuss these matters over a leisurly, yet productive two week period?

  2. -absolutely uninspiring-

    His short history of ‘people’ who have made changes is a short list of ways people have made money.

    His idea of “tribe’s” is not a new, great, departure from the mass marketing he mentions. Rather, it’s a new buzz word for targeted viral marketing based on demographics and kitchy appeals to an idealized subgroups and lazy consumer conscience.

    ‘shoe’ is misspelled ‘show’ in second to last paragraph

  3. All these TED profile photos… did the Photoshopper in question just get done watching Speed Racer?

    (I mean, I’m sure that seemed like a great idea while stoned and watching that movie.)

  4. Yeah, what Zuzu said. These messed-up sunburst overlays are really hard on the eye. It’s just noisy, gratuitous vandalism. Somebody over at TED needs to fix this fail.

  5. Hypnotizing everyone to buy your product does not work.

    No, no it absolutely does not.

    /goes back to watching the HypnoToad

  6. #1, Build a factory. And now the important part (with regard to Henry Ford): put an assembly line in it. The line was the innovation, not the factory.

  7. I’m going to start the movement for people to “Stop Treating Seth Godin Like A Genius”.

    Seriously, has this guy ever actually written or said anything *actually* insightful, or has he just rehashed common sense and five-year-old marketing speeches with a smile? I’ve seen more insight and “meat” in political campaign speeches. His books are useless to anyone who has more than two brain cells to rub together, or to anyone who’s actually paid attention to the world around them for the last six months.

    He’s a hack with money, a good social network, and the luck necessary to have both. His “insights”, however, have always lacked any significant depth or analysis. Why does his every visit to the toilet seem to garner an unbelievable following amongst the fairly intelligent techno-paparazzi?

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