How to Start a Movement


What does it take to make a movement? In this TED Talk, watch a real-life movement unfold while Derek Sivers dissects its significance in the context of leadership. You may be surprised to learn how a “lone nut” is transformed into a leader.

What You’ll Learn

After completing the work on this page, you will be able to:

  • Name an underestimated form of leadership.
  • Recall how a leader should regard the first few followers and why this is important.
  • Comprehend how courage plays a role in leaders and followers starting a movement.

Watch the Video

Dig Deeper

After watching the video, reflect on the following questions. Jot down your thoughts. Consider sharing this video with a colleague or a work group for an insightful discussion.

  1. According to Derek Sivers, what is an underestimated form of leadership? Why is this significant in the context of starting a movement?
  2. Recall a time when you started a movement. How did it feel to be the “lone nut”? How did you regard the “first follower” and subsequent followers? What impact did that have on the movement?
  3. Recall a time when you joined a movement. Where were you in the line of followers (first, early, middle, later)? How did the leader regard you when you joined the movement and what kind of impression did that make?
  4. Describe the kind of courage it takes for a leader to start a movement. Do the same for the “first follower” and subsequent followers of that movement.
  5. Think about a current movement happening that you admire. Do you have the courage to follow and show others how to follow? Try it out.

Write a Review

  1. Rating:

  2. This parable of the “first follower” will always be memorable for me, initially because it was my first ever experience with TED Talks (years ago in NPS Fundamentals) but more importantly because I identify with it. The “first follower” takes risk, thereby becoming the crucial link between an initial “lone nut” and real change. The video is short, fun and meaningful; enjoy!


  3. The movement doesn’t begin with the lone nut. It only comes to life when the first follower joins. This is an entertaining, thought-provoking TED talk. Highly recommended!

  4. Derek Sivers gives a great TED Talk here. He paints a picture where the participant can see what a ‘lone nut’ and ‘first follower’ are, and how they do what they do. He breaks down courage and how courage plays a role when starting a movement. The most important thing is for the leader to recognize these movements and behaviors and gain strength (and followers) from it! Well worth the watch. [Greg Hindsley, May 2019]


  5. Fantastic Ted Talk. Leadership is all about inspiring and motivating others – be it in the office or dancing wild and alone on a hillside.


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