How To Start A Movement (In 3 Minutes) – Derek Sivers, TED

(Obviously, I’m on a TED Talk sharing binge)

Here’s another great one by Derek Sivers. In this TED Talk, Sivers shares lessons on how to start movement… all from a 3-minute video. Here are my key takeaways:

  1. The most obvious is that movements start from a leader – someone who is willing to stand out first and be ridiculed.
  2. However, leadership is not always just about the FIRST person who starts something. Equally important is the FIRST FOLLOWER – whom Sivers says, “turns a lone nut into a leader“. (In fact, it’s not easy to stand up and be the first follower – the first person to go up and follow the leader being ridiculed!)
  3. A good first follower is someone who takes the lead to follow – and also teaches others how to follow.
  4. So, leaders should invest greatly into their first few followers so that it turns the attention away from the leader and towards the movement itself. Sivers says to treat them as equals – so that it’s about the movement, not the individual leader.
  5. A movement must be public – it’s not enough to show the leader, but showcase the followers also. This allows potential followers to realize that others have already deemed it “okay” (or even “cool”) and that it’s, therefore, safe to get involved. The key lesson here to realize is that new followers emulate the followers, not the original leader!
  6. Eventually, the momentum catches on and you reach the tipping point where you have the movement. It’s become far less risky to join the movement. They no longer have any reason not to join – they won’t stand out, they won’t be ridiculed and, in fact, if they join early enough, they’ll be part of the in crowd. So, it now becomes such that those who DON’T join the movement are viewed as the ones to be ridiculed (as “uncool”)!

Another helpful way to think about all this, and to plan attendant strategies, is to use the idea adoption diffusion curve.

I think the application of these lessons go from beyond interpersonal leadership all the way to branding and marketing. Think about what it takes to start and lead a movement – as an organisation or as a brand.

The video is embedded below or can be viewed here:



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