How to Start a Movement

by Derek Sivers,, filmed February 2010 and posted April 2010.

How do you spark a movement for social change and what is required? It may not be what you suspect. The talk, “How to Start a Movement,” by Derek Sivers is really about courageous followership. In his words: “The first follower is what turns a lone nut into a leader.”

Based on a video of concert goers, he draws out lessons about how movements gain momentum. First, a movement must be public so that people can be enticed to step forward from the crowd of bystanders. Second, it is important to show not just the leader but also the followers, because new followers emulate the other followers, not just the leader. Third, if you are a leader, remember to nurture your first followers as equals so as to give the movement priority rather than yourself. He argues that if you really care about starting a movement, have the courage to follow.

Interestingly, TED talks have themselves become a movement. TED is a small nonprofit that started out in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from Technology, Entertainment, and Design. Now offers a free web-based film library of pithy lectures, or TED Talks, by experts across a broad range of fields. It’s all about ‘Ideas Worth Spreading’.

Check out their video library for other intriguing lone nuts.

To watch this talk:

2 Responses to How to Start a Movement

  1. I find the first follower idea very thought provoking and I wonder how others feel.

  2. How to start a movement

    I have watched the video a number of times and still find value in seeing it. For founder/leaders it is the recognition that you cannot do it all and alone (1) because it is just too difficult and (2) until you get traction there is no learning. I particularly like the tangible leader/follower guide and follow instructions before the first follower is left alone to attract their own followers. It is subtle but effective I wonder how many founders of start ups find that releasing of the initial idea and control that easy.