I’ve been spending some time listening to the audiobook version of Tribes: We Need You To Lead by Seth Godin. In the book, Godin talks about how people inside organizations and around the world are all connected, and need to be connected by tribes. These tribes are the cirlces of people centred around a leader – someone who is creative, confident and who the members of the tribe look up to, follow and emulate.
Godin cites The Grateful Dead as a key example of how a tribe can lead to success in any industry. The Dead didn’t rise to fame by climbing to the top of the charts with a hit single. They relied on the Deadheads, their legion of unwavering fans, to see their live shows and buy their albums. They were a tribe who helped the band be successful by loyally attending shows and honestly spreading their love of the band among their friends. This, says Godin, is the power of tribes and the mark of leaders – people who see value in something and want to share it in an unselfish way.
Feist, despite her mainstream success with 1-2-3-4, also depends on her loyal fans to keep things active in her career. She rewards fans by sharing personal anecdotes at shows and other gestures that tell fans “hey, I know you, I know where you’re from and I care about things you care about.” By rights, she’s an accessible star.
She has a significant amount of influence as the leader of her own tribe. But when that power is taken for granted, as it was the night of her show in Winnipeg, it can really reflect poorly on her. Let me explain. During “Secret Heart”, Feist had her camera operator put the camera on the floor, pointed at the back of her shoes. She then lifted each sole to reveal the words “THE PYRAMID” written on two small pieces of paper, taped to her soles.
My immediate inference was that the “secret” she was “dying to reveal” was that she was having an after-show party at The Pyramid (a popular music venue in downtown Winnipeg). Two hundred, yes, 200, other people thought exactly the same thing, and marched straight down to the Pyramid after the show.
Meanwhile, Dave McKeegan, the proprietor of said venue, was enjoying his night off by having a few beers with his friends and watching Monday Night Football. The one staff member actually at the venue called him in a panic when people began to line up outside, abuzz with chatter of when their precious tribe leader would make her appearance.
McKeegan begrudgingly made his way down to work as the fervent Feist fans poured into the Pyramid, waiting patiently for the maiden of the eve to arrive. The two staff members served drinks to fans and the ebb of conversations continued to move from hope to disbelief to anger and back again. But she did not show. Nor apparently did she intend on ever doing so.
According to a sound engineer who spoke with the artist shortly after her concert’s end, her intent was to give a shout-out to one of her favourite venues in the city. She had an early flight the next morning to skirt off to Regina to prepare for her next show. However, rumors of her appearance at The Pyramid were going around before her show commenced, so her intent is muddled in the sea of speculation. It’s possible she at one point intended on showing up and then decided against it after an energetic but tiring performance. Touring takes a lot out of artists. I will give her that.
But her failure as a tribe leader is her apparent broken promise to her loyal fans, who were eager to make a connection. Successful tribe leaders, as Godin says, are people who are willing to converse with the tribe, share ideas and give of themselves as members of that tribe.
At the very least, if she felt unwell or too exhausted to make an appearance at The Pyramid, she could have sent someone to inform people at the venue she wasn’t going to be there.
I think this is where common courtesy meets the mark of a leader. The more we all understand the influence we have on people as leaders of our own tribes, the better leaders we will become and the more successful we will be.
I think I’m going to send Feist a copy of Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends and Influence People. Just for kicks.