If you ask Brian Johnson what he is up to, he’ll tell you he is giving away 1 million subscriptions to his popular educational service Philosopher’sNotes. What you may think is, “what is the catch? What is the business angle here?”
There is no doubt a business case to be made for this kind of attention, but I will offer, what Brian is really doing is creating a tribe.
I am listening to Seth Godin’s Tribes on audiobook as I write this. Seth defines an emerging understanding of our evolving marketplace as a collection of tribes, groups of people aligned under a common goal or interest and under unifying leadership. Tribes are everywhere, just looking for leaders.
Brian is stepping into that leadership role. You know Brian’s tribe already. They are the folks that find most mass media intellectually un-stimulating, and find exciting tidbits here and there on the internet. They feel a vision of a better world and would love to lend a hand helping us get there but they are not yet clear just how to do it. They love exploration in their own ideas and the world around them. They are ready for change and would love for someone to point them in the right direction.
I am joining Brian’s tribe. Not only am I joining, but I am recruiting!
Aside from the fact that Philosopher’s Notes is a great way for busy people facing information overload to digest and understand essential ideas from the great thinkers of the past and today, and the fact that he is giving us a subscription for free; joining this tribe is the first step in connecting me with a virtual township of like minded individuals.
I expect Brian at some point to ask me if I want to receive information on special offers and products similar to the content I find in Philosopher’s Notes. I will eagerly click “yes.” Part of my participation in this tribe is the sincere hope that Brian will leverage the power of 1 million people to guide me to the things that are relevant to me. I want him to edit the deluge of information online for me so I can focus on what I really want to be doing.
I have argued about the death of the banner ad and the evolution of how businesses and organizations promote themselves. I would rather participate in a number of tribes than be constantly bombarded with irrelevant information.
I agree with Godin in that tribes like Brian’s are the future of promotion (read connection) in our evolving marketplace. Good luck in your goal Brian, I look forward to reaping the rewards of my participation.