So This is What “Building a Tribe” Feels Like…

Like everyone else on the Net, I’d heard of of Seth Godin’s concept of Tribes. I had thought it had vaguely something to do with building a Twitter following, an email list, adding Facebook followers.

But this week was my first feeling of what it really means to build—and have, and be part of—a tribe. And it feels amazing.

The week started off with a friend emailing me Monday morning, asking for last-minute advice on his book proposal he’s submitting to a major publisher the next day. After chastising him playfully for giving me so little advance notice, I got to work, rolled up my sleeves and delivered him some kick-ass advice after going through the proposal. He was very grateful, and we both agree that the changes he made in response to my comments—which he executed masterfully and beyond anything I could have expected—could add tens of thousands of dollars to the advance he gets. Not bad for a few hours work, and we both feel great about it.

Then, throughout the week I’ve been helping a new friend, who operates at a very high level in a major publisher, navigate a major career transition caused by shifts within the company. Should she stay, should she go? How should she talk to her numerous bosses? What should she ask of them? What would her dream job description look like? This has been the stuff of our conversations during the week at all hours.

Then, an old friend David Braun called me (wow, in this Twitter/Facebook age, 2.5 years feels like an “old friend”—but hey, that’s how it feels!) and said he was building a practice as a productivity coach for entrepreneurs. He is insanely talented at this, and I started sharing with him everything I know about Internet marketing and sales. We’re going to continue with this, and he’s going to give me productivity coaching in return, which I sorely need.

Then, out of the blue, another well-known author calls me, has a book due in a month, and wants me to look over his chapters. Which I gladly oblige

I spent pretty much the whole week helping other people…. and it feels great. Because I love these people and want to help them. AND, because I know these people’ve got my back if and when I need them.

In fact, they’ve already got my back. One of the people I helped this week—a new friend who wanted advice starting his own freelance practice—has turned around and played a CRUCIAL role in helping me organize the launch party for my new book The Power of Eye Contact. I gave him some great advice, and now he’s turning around in a way I could have scarcely imagined, securing my dream venue in SF and my dream DJs, all in his rolodex (stay tuned for party details and an invite!)

I had always thought of “helping others” as going and serving at a soup kitchen, or doing some community service project in Africa. And these kinds of service are vital—more power to those that do them.

But my own life of service and contribution seems to be shaping in a different way—more within my own community, my own network, my own “tribe”. Lately I seem to be attracting just the right people into my life, people who are playing a really big game, and who can use my help in a very specific way for which I’m uniquely suited. And it feels fantastic to give it them that help. I feel as though my talents are being used to their full potential.

So this is what an emerging “tribe” feels like. It’s not a bunch of random strangers on Twitter or Facebook. It’s not a bunch of people who will buy stuff if I send them an email.

It’s a living, breathing community, an ecology of friendship and connection, a group of people I would go to battle with, I would fight for, because I believe in them and what they’re doing, and they believe in me.

This is different than a “group of friends.” It feels more mission-oriented. We each are up to big things in life, and we’re each supporting each other in what we’re doing. We have a semi-common purpose, which is helping people like us, finding more people like us, and bringing us all together for common benefit. This is a tribe. And it feels great.

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  • Reply David Braun April 3, 2010 at 9:51 PM

    Right on, brother!

  • Reply Antony Manuel April 5, 2010 at 7:29 AM

    Yes, but what will them tie together ? What means virtual friendship when people stay indifferent to each other in real life ?

  • Reply Marian Schembari April 5, 2010 at 9:01 PM

    This is great. You are one of the smartest people I know, Michael, and it’s because you have this tribe mentality. You help people because you honestly enjoy it and you’re good at it, and it shows. Because of that honest “passion” (hate that word, but whatever), people are so excited to jump up and help you. Rock on!

  • Reply Christine Negroni April 6, 2010 at 1:59 AM

    Yeah, I had a little “tribe” action. It was fun.

  • Reply I still hate internships, but sometimes free is smart | Marian Schembari April 6, 2010 at 2:24 PM

    […] for free – he will get an insane return on his investment. Read his most recent blog post here – he talks about building a tribe and articulates it way better than I ever […]

  • Reply Turning the Valve | Geekcentricity July 2, 2010 at 2:14 AM

    […] the internet and especially Twitter).  One of the revelatory things I’ve come across is the building of Tribes.  After researching the whole concept (I had heard of Seth Godin’s book, but never read it), […]

  • Reply Aaron Bennett November 22, 2010 at 7:29 AM

    Hey Michael,
    All I can say is…it must feel amazing to be creating this Tribe. It’s really just an extension of your own energy manifested in others. So if you’re loving the peeps around you, you’re loving YOU! Much love and success your way.


  • Reply Therese Miu May 17, 2011 at 7:10 AM

    Another stellar post! I too have a tribe for 2 years now. And yes you are right on facebook/twitter world it feels like ‘old friends’ lol :) But that’s what it feels like. In my heart it is also connecting for Evolutionary Partnership where
    we support each others highest potential, creating Transformative Power ? THANK YOU Michael! :)

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