Christian Long

Derek Sivers – How to Start a Movement

In TED Talks on April 11, 2010 at 7:40 pm

Reflection by ADITYA M.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Derek Sivers – How to Start a Movement

Every movement has to be started by a leader.

But, what is a leader without any followers? Nothing.

Without followers, the leader is just a “lone nut” as Sivers puts it. A lone nut is someone who believes in something, but no one else believes in it. In other words, he has no followers. A person is transformed from a lone nut into a leader as soon as the first follower comes along. Someone maybe even more important than the leader, is the first follower. The first follower shows other followers how to follow, therefore setting an example. It takes courage to lead a movement and be the lone nut, but it takes as much courage, if not more courage to join the lone nut. The leader has to treat the first follower as an equal. It is now about them, not just the leader anymore. Even though the leader only has one follower (so far), he has a movement.

Eventually, a third follower joins. Three is a crowd, and a crowd means news. It’s important to show the followers and not so much the leaders of the movement because new people that join the movement will echo what the followers do, and not the leader. More people join, and this is the tipping point. Even though technically two people can be a movement, there is now a “real” movement. The movement now has momentum, and lots of people join. Now that lots of people have joined, there is less risk in joining. In the example movement Sivers showed, if you didn’t join in the dancing you would be left out and be sitting there by yourself.

Overall, some of the most important ways in starting a movement are to: treat the first few followers equally so it’s about the movement, not you. Sivers sId the biggest lesson was that leadership is overrated. It was really the first follower that transformed the lone nut into a leader. Sivers states that if we were all told to be leaders, that would be ineffective. He said that if you really wanted to start a movement, you need the courage to follow. It takes courage to be the lone nut, but if you see one doing something great, would you have the courage to be the first one to join in?the courage of being the first follower is what really starts movements.


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