“Real Leaders Don’t Follow” Brings Entrepreneurship Back to its Roots


"Real Leaders Don't Follow: Being Extraordinary in the Age of the Entrepreneur" is a book that argues leaders don't follow the status quo. They build innovation, not with social media, but with business acumen and experience. "Real Leaders Don't Follow" is a call for business leaders to ditch chasing vanity Likes and followers and follow what really matters, entrpreneurship.

Real Leaders Don't Follow

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Steve Tobak does not mince words in any part of his book. Social media, Web 2.0, and everything related to “building an online presence using just a website and blog” are turning us into a world of followers, not entrepreneurial innovators.

What is “Real Leaders Don’t Follow” About?

As shared in “Real Leaders Don’t Follow”, it seems that entrepreneurship is blossoming. Startups (with ever-increasingly weird names) are popping up everyday. Moms are becoming “mompreneurs” from the comfort of their own home, as are some bloggers. YouTube stars are getting six-figure deals to promote products. Tech-savvy Millennials are launching businesses every day.

It’s a golden age to be an Internet entrepreneur.

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Or, so it might seem …

Tobak isn’t impressed with the current landscape. He paints a rather dismal look at the entrepreneurial landscape instead. Entrepreneurship is actually on the decline. Millennials are actually under-employed, compared to other generations, and saddled with more debt (in the trillions) than any other generation.

The truth is, Tobak says repeatedly in the book, entrepreneurship has entered a phase where it is easier to look like a business without knowing what you’re actually doing. Tools such as video, blogs, and social media (once the exclusive realm of big business) are now in the hands of teenagers and Millennials.

While this isn’t a problem when you’re sharing funny cat videos, it does (in Tobak’s eye) become a problem when entrepreneurship becomes a trend, instead of a path based on experience and strategy. Tobak asks readers to consider: If everyone is following the same advice to promote their businesses through social media, blogs, and everything Web 2.0, where is the innovation?

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Entrepreneurship, as Tobak says it should be, would focus on experience, service, and product, not on how many Likes or Favorites you get on a social media page. Social media only tells you that a person took a second or two to look at your product or service. In fact, as Tobak shows in the latter part of the book, the trend of oversharing can have some negative consequences.

About the Author

Tobak (@stevetobak) is a former senior executive for several companies, co-founder of Invisor Consulting and a columnist.

What Was Best About This Book?

The best part of “Real Leaders Don’t Follow” is its uncompromising message of hard work and business strategy, which Tobak touts as the roots of entrepreneurship that society, he argues, has been moving away from. This might be a breath of fresh air for those readers who agree. Very few books are willing to stand behind this argument today.

In short, Tobak brings common-sense balance to a world that is following the same old advice.

What Could Have Been Done Differently?

The book takes a negative view of passionate Web 3.0 advocacy, specifically those who are committed to increasing content and sharing (which seems to be the goal of every manager, if you read most marketing articles these days.) This approach minimizes the conversation on the positive impact of Web 3.0, specifically social media.

Tobak throws this information out there without a specific, step-by-step plan for senior executives (his target audience) to follow. More tips and recommendations could help readers determine the right balance of Web 3.0 for their goals.

Why Read This Book?

This book presents an alternative, but much needed, voice in an era that emphasizes social media and, some would argue, oversharing. Many small businesses, in particular, have fallen prey to the ideology that they must market themselves in the same way other businesses do? In a world where the consumer has an increasing number of content options, small businesses have to work even harder to get a customer’s attention.

Tobak’s book brings the concept of entrepreneurship back to its roots. Instead of focusing on how good your social media looks, focus on providing the best strategy to promote your business. The resulting campaign, whether using social media or some other form of marketing, will now stand out and grab your customer’s attention.

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Charles Franklin Charles Franklin is a Book Reviewer for Small Business Trends. He has a background as a professional reviewer, and is also a content provider and customer relations professional.

3 Reactions
  1. Hi Charles,

    I try to promote the message of this book a lot. It doesn’t matter how much advice you hear, audios you buy or seminars you attend, you have to start your journey. I think this is what people forget. They think if they copy someones else’s path it will work, but have to just get started!


  2. I guess it just means that real leaders don’t follow the pack on what is popular and what is not. But you still need to be a good follower in order to be a good leader.

  3. Just wanted to say thanks for the fair and thoughtful review, Charles.

    – Steve Tobak