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.

A smart donor is a focused donor

Who is a smart donor?

The rich one, the venture capitalist with an aching altruistic feeling or the one who wants to leave a legacy? There is no specific answer to what motivates one to give. However, money alone will not bring  real impact.

In a recent discussion,  three foundation leaders, Sheila Leddy of the NewYork- based Fledgling Fund, Dick Donaldson, of the Ohio-based Donaldson Charitable Gift Fund and  Janis Reischmann, of the Hawaii-based  Hau’oli Mau Loa Foundation, came to a very clear conclusion: A smart donor is a focused donor. According to Sara Beggs at the Association of Small Foundations, organizers of a Webinar on this topic, “focusing your giving leads to greater fulfillment.”

 Donors start focusing their giving when:

  1.  They ask if their funds have had an impact
  2.  They want to know how they could involve their children
  3. And, when they decide to say NO to the large number of requests they get

Focused donors look at common passion, shared values or immediate linkages to a personal issue. For instance, a donor who saw  a family member die of cancer might look at giving to health-related causes. Others would like to invest in real people and see transformative changes on a first-hand basis.  Smart donors want to be catalysts for real, measurable change.

Smart donors conduct a through scan of their environment. They talk to people running non-profit entities, try to get involved and understand what they are doing before deciding to invest. Some others opt for extensive  data mining before they decide to invest. They like to personalize where their funding goes, they want to be realistic about impact, would love to listen and are willing to make mid-course changes if things don’t work out.

In conclusion, a focused donor is a smart donor. The donor builds expertise in an area of philanthropic investment, becomes an effective partner and nurtures long-term relationships.