What does it take to start a movement? Derek Sivers has an idea about a first follower phenomenon. Things get started when the first follower provides the spark for other followers to join in.
Guy Starts Dance Party
I wrote about a guy who starts dancing by himself at a Santigold concert, way back when, in August of 2009. When I revisited that post, I noticed the video was no longer working. I went looking for a different version. I found a new one on youtube with the same “guy starts dance party” sequence of events.
This version provides an interesting spoken point of view, regarding what it takes to start a movement. I agree with Derek Sivers’ take on the “first follower” phenomenon. This guy dancing is a perfect example of what Derek was talking about.
The dance party is a joyful example of a group phenomenon. Of course, it pays to be careful when you choose who to follow. No throwing all caution to the wind in the name of risk-taking. Or you might end up in a deep, dark, empty place.
Read the full transcript of Derek’s leadership lessons below the video.
Repost from youtube video transcript: Published on Feb 11, 2010
First Follower: Leadership Lessons From Dancing Guy
By Derek Sivers, official transcript at Sivers.org/ff
If you’ve learned a lot about leadership and making a movement, then let’s watch a movement happen, start to finish, in under 3 minutes, and dissect some lessons:
A leader needs the guts to stand alone and look ridiculous.
Now comes the first follower with a crucial role: he publicly shows everyone how to follow.
Notice the leader embraces him as an equal, so it’s not about the leader anymore – it’s about them, plural. Notice he’s calling to his friends to join in.
It takes guts to be a first follower!
You stand out and brave ridicule, yourself.
Being a first follower is an under-appreciated form of leadership. The first follower transforms a lone nut into a leader.
If the leader is the flint, the first follower is the spark that makes the fire.
The 2nd follower is a turning point: it’s proof the first has done well. Now it’s not a lone nut, and it’s not two nuts. Three is a crowd and a crowd is news.
A movement must be public. Make sure outsiders see more than just the leader. Everyone needs to see the followers, because new followers emulate followers – not the leader.
Now here come 2 more, then 3 more. Now we’ve got momentum. This is the tipping point! Now we’ve got a movement!
As more people jump in, it’s no longer risky.
If they were on the fence before, there’s no reason not to join now. They won’t be ridiculed, they won’t stand out, and they will be part of the in-crowd, if they hurry. Over the next minute you’ll see the rest who prefer to be part of the crowd, because eventually they’d be ridiculed for not joining.
And ladies and gentlemen that is how a movement is made! Let’s recap what we learned:
- If you are a version of the shirtless dancing guy, all alone, remember the importance of nurturing your first few followers as equals, making everything clearly about the movement, not you.
- Be public. Be easy to follow!
- But the biggest lesson here – did you catch it? Leadership is over-glorified. Yes, it started with the shirtless guy, and he’ll get all the credit, but you saw what really happened: It was the first follower who transformed a lone nut into a leader.
- There is no movement, without the first follower.
- We’re told, we all need to be leaders, but that would be really ineffective. The best way to make a movement, if you really care, is to courageously follow and show others how to follow.
When you find a lone nut doing something great, have the guts to be the first person to stand up and join in.
Thank you, Derek Sivers. Well said!
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