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.

75% of us trust our employers more than politicians


Richard Edelman, President & CEO

Three in four people worldwide believe that their employers will do what’s right compared to politicians, nonprofits and general businesses. The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer released yesterday says 75% of people worldwide have a greater affinity to their employers and trust them more to impact societal change.

The survey of 33,000 people across 27 markets worldwide has never seen such a spike in trust for employers. This is a great opportunity for human resources and corporate social responsibility analysts at companies to strengthen ties with their employees and empower them so that it will lead to greater productivity, retention and overall employee wellness.

Richard Edelman, CEO, in his executive summary adds that 66% people worldwide now trust their traditional media showing tremendous growth. However, trust in social media has fallen to 43% and this is a wake up call for Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and Twitter to analyze their business models.

When trust falls, everything falls and no matter what algorithm you use, people came before algorithms were invented.

The loss of trust in political systems has led to the creation of more nationalistic tendencies worldwide and the growth of more tribes in both developing and developed economies. Despite economic growth, people have a gloomy outlook about their futures and fears of job loss remain high.

CEOs now have a moral responsibility to speak out on issues impacting society. People have also started trusting company-owned media more and this gives an opportunity for internal communication folks to develop solid, unbiased news rooms for their staff. Employers have tremendous opportunities to bring change locally and there is no better time for leaders to roll up their sleeves, understand employee sentiment and do good for society.

Move over politicians, people don’t trust any of you anymore.