What Do Jesus, Mike Krzyzewski, and Jimmy Buffett Have in Common?

by Scott on March 16, 2012

This article is part of The 45-Minute MBA series, where you’ll learn everything you need to know about business to become an effective leader of your organization (in less than 45 minutes of reading).

As much as I enjoyed business school, I think many programs fall short in teaching leadership.  Leadership is one of the most important skills you can have.  Leaders set direction.  Leaders change the way we think.  Leaders change the world.

Today’s discussion is about 3 leaders and how they changed (are changing) the world.  These leaders are very different from one another.  But they share a common thread that has made their leadership journeys truly special.

Jesus, Mike, and Jimmy

Jesus, without question, is the most popular person who ever lived.  He’s the central figure of Christianity and is regarded as an important prophet of God in Islam.

During his life, he impacted thousands of lives through his ministry and teachings.  He spread hope and inspired people to believe and have faith.  He became such a popular leader during his time that he became a political threat and was eventually executed.  He’s the main character in the Bible, the most popular book ever written.

Mike Kryzyzewski (also known as “Coach K”) is the all-time winningest coach in Division I men’s college basketball.  To date he has coached Duke University to 4 NCAA championships, 11 Final Fours, and 12 conference titles.  He was the coach and leader of the US’s gold medal-winning 2008 Summer Olympics men’s basketball team.

Jimmy Buffett is a singer-songwriter, film producer, and businessman.  He’s best known for his musical talent and has released 30 albums: 8 gold and 9 platinum or multiplatinum.  Buffett has written 3 best-selling books and he owns 2 successful restaurant chains: “Margaritaville” and “Cheeseburger in Paradise.”

Besides having impressive resumes, what do these 3 leaders have in common?

They built tribes.

Tribes are groups of people united under a common purpose.  They challenge authority and the way people think.  Tribes change the world.

Seth Godin, author of the best-selling book Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us offers this definition:

“A tribe is any group of people, large or small, who are connected to one another, a leader, and an idea.”

Jesus, Coach K, and Jimmy Buffett connected people to an idea.  They built tribes.

The Christians

Jesus is the founding father of Christianity, a religion practiced by more than 2.2 billion people today.  Every Sunday, people congregate in churches around the world to worship and spread the message he preached more than 2000 years ago.  Jesus built his tribe one by one, from Galilee to Jerusalem, preaching to anyone who would listen.  He challenged authority and spread hope throughout the land.  He gave people something to believe in, gave them faith, and as a result built the largest tribe in history.

The Cameron Crazies

Coach K has a tribe too.  While not quite as big as Jesus’, it is pretty sizeable nonetheless.  In a college sports era marred by recruiting scandals and lacking a focus on education, Coach K built a basketball program based on fundamentals and sound principles.  Although many of his players went on to have successful careers in the NBA, he coached 19 seasons before a player left school early to pursue a professional basketball career.  19 seasons!

His dedication to excellence has garnered him many awards…and a tribe!  Duke University named the floor in their basketball arena “Coach K Court” in his honor.  The grassy area outside the arena is titled “Krzyzewskiville.”  Duke also named the new basketball practice facility after him: “Michael W. Krzyzewski Center – Dedicated to Academic and Athletic Excellence.”  His tribe members include the Cameron Crazies (members of the student body who organize cheers at the games), former players and staff members, and the alumni and fans of Duke Basketball.  Nine of his former players and assistant coaches became head coaches at other schools.  Three former players now work for him as assistants at Duke.  His program has produced more leaders than any other college sports program.

The Parrotheads

Jimmy Buffett united his tribe under the concept of “island escapism.”  He created “Margaritaville,” a place for his listeners to escape the hardships of everyday life.  His tribe, “the Parrotheads,” comes together at his live performances to indulge in and celebrate the island lifestyle.  Typical attire for a Parrothead includes a Hawaiian shirt, “board shorts”, and flip-flops for men or a grass skirt and coconut bra for ladies.

Buffett built his tribe through his catchy tunes and magnetic personality.  His idea has helped him sell over 20 million albums, sell out concert venues, and form the Parrothead tribe.

Your Turn?

Everybody has a story to tell, a movement to start, and a tribe to lead.  However, very few people believe in themselves enough to speak up, organize the group, and lead.  There are people out there, on the fringes, who share your beliefs about how to make the world a better place.  They need you to speak up and lead them.  They need you to form the tribe.

How to Form a Tribe

A group only needs 2 things to become a tribe:  a shared interest and a way to connect.  Here are 3 steps to help you start a tribe:

1.  Determine your interest.  Your interest is what you spend most of your day thinking about.  It’s what you read about.  If you’re not sure what your interest is, look at the books on your shelf.  What are you reading about?  They may show you what your passion is.  Pursue your interest, follow your passion, and get people excited!

2.  Tell a story.  Stories help connect people to your interest.  They spark curiosity.  People want to be part of a story.  There are many ways you can tell a story.  One way is to write a book.  Write about how you got where you are today.  Another way is to start a blog.  Come up with an idea, something you want to achieve, and write about how you are going to make it happen.

3.  Share your story with the world.  The internet is a fantastic (and low cost) way to share your story with the world.  Publish articles on your blog.  Write an e-book.  Create a You-Tube channel.  Create a podcast.  These are great ways to connect others to your idea.  Spread the word.

I want to leave you with a speech that Seth Godin delivered at a TED conference a few years go.  I hope this inspires you to take the next step, to speak up, and lead your tribe.


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Update:  The 45-Minute MBA eBook is complete!  Click below to download…

Thanks for reading and have an excellent week.


Scott Mackes is a leader and founder of the site “Margin of Excellence”.  Connect with Scott on facebook and twitter.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ryan Cook March 16, 2012 at 9:02 am

Scott – this is your best article to date. Very powerful message and there’s a lot of truth to it. The way we connect with others has changed. You can see it openly in how our communication has changed, in how news is delivered, in how we buy products.

I think this is exactly what you’re attempting to do. You see a flaw in how leaders lead and how business is run and you have something to say about. It’s obvious you’re passionate about it…and that’s what makes people connect. It’s why you’re seeing growth in subscribers to your site – because they feel the same thing and you’re leading the group.

I had originally clicked on the Seth Godin video and figured I’d watch it for a minute or two and then move on with my day – and I couldn’t. I watched the whole thing. I loved the message and it gave me inspiration. When my business is really humming, I find that I took the time every morning to get inspired…and over the last few weeks, I’ve been so busy processing transactions that I wasn’t looking for and seeking inspiration and with it, the sense of accomplishment and rejuvenation hasn’t been there.

Napoleon Hill states in “Think & Grow Rich” the 17 steps to riches. Step #1 is a clear and definite purpose. You can’t decide where you’re going if you don’t know what you’re moving towards. It’s about finding your passion, defining what you want to do about it, coming up with a plan (doesn’t matter if the plan is any good), and taking action. In the last 45 seconds of the video, Seth says to promise one thing – start something. In other words, take action.

What will you take action about today?


Scott March 16, 2012 at 12:57 pm

Ryan, thanks for your nice comment. I’m glad you enjoyed the article and video. I watched the video 3 times start to finish and each time I get goosebumps. Seth Godin hit the nail on the head and hopefully I was able to add value to his message.

Glad I was able to provide some inspiration to your moring. Have a great weekend.


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