The “Ramsey effect” and the next wave of tribes


Twelve years ago, Seth Godin in his book “Tribes,” taught us how groups of people create movements and lead change. Godin showed that “assembling a tribe and leading it” is the new marketing.

America’s debt free guru, Dave Ramsey has proved this well. The “Ramsey Tribe” has transformed shared interests of a group to a passionate goal.

Every day, tribe members visit Ramsey in his studio to give out their visceral “debt free scream,” a testimonial that keeps the cult stronger together. Over $50 million worth of “debt free screams” happen annually through in-person visits or through his talk shows.

This led Ciorstan Smark, faculty at the University of Wollongong to analyze the “Ramsey Tribe” and the criteria used by Godin in “Tribes” to find out their relationship. Smark’s article “Tribes in personal finance? The Dave Ramsey Phenomenon,” in Social & Behavioral Research in Business (2012), found that “Ramsey’s Tribe” relies on his rigid, no-nonsense process urging people to first be debt free and to stay focused on building wealth through self discipline.

While screams make money for Ramsey, from her kitchen in upstate New York, Indian homemaker, Mia has created a different tribe. “Mia’s Tribe” are addicted to her spicy cooking shows and simple renderings of her daily life. They are so attached to her that they can’t miss seeing her for a day.

Marketing built on empathy and trust will help you lead tribes. You will create movements and here are my predictions for the next wave of tribes:

  1. Greater connections and loose leadership structures- Newly formed tribes will have greater communications among members and the outside world. Marketing will build stronger connections among tribe members despite loose leadership structures. Promote self discipline among members if you are leading a tribe.
  2. Trust – Marketing shared interests among tribal members is key but trust will play an important role. Grow your tribe with empathy.
  3. Tips and clues: Your days as a leader offering tips and clues are numbered. Meaningful, valuable content is necessary to keep your tribe together.
  4. Shorter attention spans and longevity: Shorter attention spans will dominate tribes of the future. Market content that energizes the group, builds togetherness and sustains engagement.
  5. Meaningful social cohesion : Greater social cohesion will build your tribe faster than just subject matter expertise. “Ramsey’s Tribe” meets regularly at churches with their Financial Planning University and shares stories of why they got broke and why they have to live on rice and beans.
  6. Lack of transparency equals harsher punishments: Tribes are global movements that can take on powerful corporations like Boeing. When you fail, admit mistakes quicker and be transparent. The Boeing saga and the Iranian fiasco show why it’s difficult to build tribes that will stand by you during a crisis.
  7. Idea sharing is the norm: Tribes are sharing ideas of resistance across a dozen capitals from New Delhi to Hong Kong every day. This is creating headaches for governments trying to find solutions.
  8. The death of monarchies and huge corporations: Marketing will help the growth of internal tribes that will bring the downfall of monarchies and huge corporations around the world. Tyrants and greedy corporate leaders will fall to tribes who want to create a better future for their people.

Global Corporate Gifts Get a Definition


If you are a recipient of  a corporate gift from a Fortune 2000 company at the global level, read the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) guidelines.  CECP’s “The Global Guide to What Counts,” for the first time defines eligible charitable donations across borders. International tax professionals at Deloitte rigorously examined tax laws and related conventions of 17 countries to find out what makes up a charitable gift.

They concluded that any recipient of a corporate charitable gift must meet the following criteria:

  1. The recipient must be formally organized, meaning it should be recognized as a legal entity in the country where it is headquartered. Individuals and ad hoc groups that lack structure are ineligible.
  2. The recipient must exist for a charitable purpose, meaning charity should be its primary purpose. The Guide excludes political parties, business and professional associations, unions and religious entities, except those that fund charitable activities that fall under CECP guidelines.
  3. The recipient must never distribute profits, meaning it should reinvest in achieving the organization’s mission.

The Guide addresses a uniform definition of what constitutes a corporate charitable gift. The yardsticks are similar to those proposed by large Foundations in the United States. However, a standardized check list for charitable entities seeking global corporate gifts is very useful. It creates a level playing field, sort of United Nations for recipients seeking charitable corporate gifts across borders.

The Global Guide tactically avoids religion, politics, labor unions, associations and chambers of commerce. Some of these indulge in corrupt practices, especially in developing countries. However, it offers broad flexibility in defining a recipient of a charitable gift and gives a larger degree of latitude for charitable entities to compete for corporate gifts. Religious organizations that have far-reaching impact on grassroots philanthropy are given some opportunities to seek charitable gifts.  The complete guidelines are available here.