Truisms and Tribes

In People Development

Opacity is an IRRESISTIBLE challenge — jenny holzer

Holzer’s Truisms

Jenny Holzer is famous for her short statements, dubbed ‘truisms’.  Some are common myths while others, are simply phrases on random subjects in the form of slogans.

  • a sense of timing is the mark of genius
  • description is more important than metaphor
  • elaboration is a form of pollution
  • everyone’s work is equally important
  • don’t place too much trust in experts
  • drama often obscures the real issues
  • if you can’t leave your mark, give up

Her truisms  engage, and challenge.  The catchy and confrontational sayings create connections and divisions; they readily become vehicles for personal or team manifestos  and T-shirt slogans.   They are well suited for creating team ‘bumper stickers,’ as debate topics, for challenging established conventions and, in the spirit of Seth Godin,  as tactics for tribe-building.


  1. Each person is given a blank name tag. Brainstorm with the group the logos/symbols that identify major corporations (McDonald’s arches, Apple Computer’s apple, etc.).
  2. Give participants 2 minutes to draw their personal logo. This logo should reflect their personality, their interests, or something thing they would like other people to know about them.
  3. Give the group time to mingle and to see what each other’s logo looks like.
  4. When it looks like the entire group has mixed, instruct those with a similar logo to form a small group. You may be surprised at how many similarities there are in your group.

 Seth Godin’s TED Talk on Tribes