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.


  6. This TED Talk takes the idea of anyone being a leader and goes further. I had always thought of a leader as someone that others follow. This video showed me that you don’t lead unless you have people follow and that there are many times where being an initial follower is more courageous than being the leader every single time. It has motivated me to share great ideas and promote great ideas that others’ come up with to support my team better. I highly recommend!


  7. This is a silly talk, but great concept! I first saw this at mid-Career Fundamentals and I have even gone on to include this concept in an interpretive program on Followers of the Armies. I was happy to see this again in GOAL.


  8. “When you find a lone nut doing something great, have the guts to be the first one to stand up and join in!” This is a quick, fun, and inspiring TedTalk. It is definitely worth 3 minutes of your time. Enjoy!


  9. This talk is a great way to understand what leadership looks like. Some people shy away from leadership because they are not innovators or creators. They think they have nothing to offer if they cannot create something. But here we actually see leadership as someone who digests a new movement/idea (dancing on a beautiful day!) and decides it is something worth getting in on. The first follower is so valuable to this movement that he/she/they truly are the driving force in creating it.


  10. This is my favorite video lesson on leadership!! I am often the lone nut, out there dancing alone and I am so grateful for the first follower and to see this particular movement build in this video always fills me with such joy and its such a simple concept in starting a movement. My philosophy is going to BE the lone nut, welcome the first follower as my equal and show grace and gratitude for the movement that blossoms from my nuttiness.


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