Last week, I got a letter with a revolutionary message on its envelope:
THE ONLY RULE IS THAT THERE ARE NO RULES
But rather than a call to cultural arms from the French Situationalist Guy Debord, this letter came from Kevin Kelly, the UK managing Director of German flat screen television manufacturer Loewe. Kelly wrote to me with this disconcertingly radical message:
In just 5 years we've become Europe's leading Premium brand for televisions, sound systems and home entertainment solutions. The secret of our success? We swim against the tide and run our business against the rules.
I suspect that Kevin Kelly has been reading Seth Godin's latest book, Tribes: We Need You To Lead Us (either that or Godin plagiarized Kelly's letter). In Tribes, a Mao sized pocket of a book packing a billboard sized cultural revolutionary message, Godin lays out a manifesto in favor of heresy. "Heretics are the new leaders" he tells us and explains that "heretics, troublemakers, and change agents aren't merely thorns in our side -- they are the keys to our success."
Challenging the status-quo, therefore, for Godin, is the key to progress. Stability is an illusion. He even coins what he calls "the cult of the heretic" which involves becoming Martin Luther and "pinning your Ninety-five Theses to the church door". "Heretics must believe", Godin tells us. And that's why, he explains, we invite them to Davos, elect them to Congress and reward them with personal fortunes when their start-ups go public.
So how to resist this new orthodoxy of Godin's rebellious tribe?
In our age of the heretic, the only heresy is to unthinkingly accept that there are many rules. Swim with the tide. To rebel is to obey. Stability is truth. Do what you are told and shut up.