The Community Strategy Podcast: The nexus where online community strategy meets intentionality

64 of 101 episodes indexed
Back to Search - All Episodes

Episode 61: Find Calm co-creating community content with Suzi Hunn

by Deb Schell
January 9th 2022

In this episode, Suzi Hunn shares her community-building journey.

She's the founder of Teach... More

Okay, mm hmm. Hi all and welcome to the Fine Come here podcast. My name is Deb Shell and I'm your host here today on the podcast here. The Fine Come here podcast and I actually just renamed it by the way, f Y I uh to find calm here community strategy because I really want to make sure that people understand we're talking about community here. Uh so um on the Fine come here podcast we interviewed community builders who offer tips, someone's worked for them resources that have helped them find calm in the community building process. If you're new to community building or just considering a community to bring your clients, customers audience or other people together, but you don't know how or what to do. I'd be happy to help you gain clarity. You can certainly shoot me go to find come here dot com and you press the contact me button so you can send me over your challenges for community building In 2022 because that's right around the corner, recording this in December, but by the time this will air, it will be the new year.

So that's kind of interesting. I'm talking to the future um which I always do. Let's see what else we're talking about. Oh, I'd like to invite you to the Fine. Come here community, you'll receive support tools and resources to help you have a successful launch, grow your membership and tackle any challenges with the support appears in a safe space that's affordable and enjoyable. We're having so much awesome content inside the front. Come here community right now, including calm guides to support you in any stage of your community building journey. I'm also working with the collaborative partner on doing a con guide to help people move a Facebook group to MLB network. So we'll be talking about that in 22 as well, so make sure you grab the links in the show notes to sign up for our newsletter. I'm excited to introduce today's guest Susie hon, I did not ask you, Susie, how do you say your last name? But we'll clear that up in a second. She's the founder of teach your thing since 2017. She's been helping small businesses amplify their impact. Her specialty is working with clients to distill their knowledge into engaging courses, workshops and webinars.

Now she's working on building an online community and we're all here to talk about that. So welcome Susie to the Fine, come here podcast. Hi there Deb and you're right, my name is Susie hon and I'm excited to be here. I love talking about community. Oh, I love it too. So tell us a little bit about um what you do and then you know, I know that you're still just building a community. Right? So you're still kind of in the beginning stages of your community. Right? That's correct, yes, so I am a learning strategist, which means that I do instructional design and I worked at a museum for 15 years and I loved it. We got to create curricular materials for young people and I also lead teacher workshops for the adults and I got all of my fulfillment for my job. And so if any of your listeners are people who are once an employee and loved their work, but then eventually hit a glass ceiling or something shifted in their industry where they feel like they're not giving the impact that they once did.

I can relate because that's what happened to me. I ended up starting my own business when I reached a plateau in my employment career. And I love now combining the best of my employee work, which is education. I've always loved education. I believe it changes the world and I'm deeply committed to making our communities better. And now I've embraced entrepreneurship as an equally powerful force as education. So, my business teach your thing combines both education and entrepreneurship. I believe that mission and money shouldn't have to, we shouldn't have to choose between those things in our careers and when you combine them, you can make the biggest impact. So, um for three years, I have helped clients who have some kind of specialty and they make impact by teaching it to others. And now I'm shifting my business model to involve a lot more community building and that's what we're here to talk about.

So it is in my early stages, I have an early community that's been running for about. Well, I've done three different cohorts of small groups and that's where my community building comes in, so I'm happy to share that journey with you and your listeners. Yeah, you're a pro now, so you've already run three cohorts, I mean you're, you're right up there as a pro. It's great. So I know we met through the muddy networks and I know that's kind of, you know how you're building on community, right? You're using that platform. That's right. And I did quite a bit of research because I am a learning strategist, I know what to look for and um the part that I did not know about was how to use platforms in today's economy as an entrepreneur because in my previous work I always used platforms that my employer created, we had whole teams of people who would create platforms. So now that I'm an entrepreneur, I needed to go out and explore different platforms, but I had a great lens for doing that.

So I chose Mighty Networks intentionally um before I started my community, I researched three of them and if you'd like, I could get into detail about that, but I will say I chose Mighty Network because they clearly put community first and I know that that is a differentiator in today's economy. Um I don't believe that just putting content out there and expecting your audience to digest it on their own passively is very helpful or empowering. So community is where transformation occurs and so Mighty Networks to me had the best example um the best features that showed that they are committed to that too. Yeah, I love I love this so many great points about community and how you can bring people together and teach, teach and transform and now entrepreneurs have another additional revenue streams so that they can divert, you know, diversify and all of those fun things and and build and grow and scale is really what I feel like Mighty Networks helps with.

So yeah, tell me a little bit about how how you started, like what was the first things that you did as far as you said, you you launched a cohort, how did that start? It's a great question and this is something that I hope that your learned that your listeners can take to heart because it's one of the most important things and I would say co create with your audience and by that, I mean it's tempting to pull yourself into a room and write an outline and come up with all these ideas about what you want to teach and share with your people, but I would encourage you to resist the urge to craft and make it perfect and um to live in your head too long, I would discourage you from doing that and very much encourage you to co create. So that's the first thing I did. So what I mean by that is I created an outline for all the things I wanted to cover, and specifically my community is called launch a consultancy that matters And that is for early entrepreneurs who are either about to leave a company or about to leave the 95, world or they're in their first 1 to 2 years of building a consultancy, that's perfect purpose driven themselves.

And so I found, let me think, I would say there were probably four people in my first cohort, so you don't need to co create with a large group, but you definitely don't want to be creating on your own. So once I found um and my goal was to get five people and I know my goal was to get either 3-5 people that that would co create my first pilot with me. So what I did was I had an outline. and I knew the topics I wanted to cover and I had researched platforms that I was going to include my content on, and then I found my pilot participants and we created together. So what I mean by that is I would develop something and then I would see what they thought of it. And very early on, I realized very quickly I had probably four times too much content and by the way that's a very common thing when you're creating an online course is you usually need to distill down your content, but I was able to see that happen when I first introduced um my content to my pilot participants.

Um and so and that was just through talking to them about what they needed and where they were. I could see my initial outline was gonna take too long, it was gonna take me long to too long to create it and we couldn't just get started, so that's one of the most important things is to start. Um and so then I once I narrowed my content down, but significantly I then developed lessons that I posted in the community. I made video lessons that were short. Um That's another tip is You need to recognize that people in today's world are so busy that I would say any video lesson that you create should not be longer than 10 minutes and often you should make it even shorter. That's not to say that you can't have, like let's say you want to create an hour's worth of content if you're going to post it on an online course platform, break it down into short digestible pieces that are 5135, 10 minutes long at most so that people can watch them on their own time and not feel overwhelmed.

So that's that was my first step, is there anything would you like to know more about that? Is there anything I didn't say I wanted to, I just wanted to express that. It's you made so many great points that we talk a lot about on the podcast with guests and that we talked about the fine calm your community and that's really about collaboration and co creation with the members because a lot of the trap I fell in and other people, you know, especially people of course builders are talking money networks is really great for like bringing these two things together. Like you know, you can go to teachable and you can, you know, create courses. But money networks has the ability to have the course but then be doing it together so you have that transformation together aspect. But a lot of money Network hosts are really in the vein of I need to have a lot of content before I launch and I need to spend six months creating something and I basically, I'm like, no, what if I told you you didn't have to do all that is what I call the clients and that's what you were saying, which is a really great thing that you actually started that way.

Um it's brilliant that you started in that in that thought process of I want to build this together with you guys and you know share with us together, will create it and make it amazing. And that's the other point you said it was there's always too much, There's there's always too much too much. So I love those, those points and the short digestible videos. 120% agree every time I ask people if they want to do a recording, I have stopped doing recordings honestly because not a lot of people like to sit and watch recordings of an hour zoom call but you know if I break it up, if there's something important that's teachable or something that might be able to break it up or whatever and use it and Different formats but but like yeah, you're saying nobody wants to sit for an hour and and watch something anymore. It just doesn't happen that way. But the bite sized chunks are kind of like when you were describing what you do. I think it was like netflix binging for like courses. So like I could do just five minutes but like maybe I could do a whole 30 minutes and I like then I'm like been like it's almost like an episode each time exactly which I really love what and you are so speaking my language Deb I love this.

I knew and of course when I met Deb on the Mighty Networks platform, we took a workshop together and I knew instantly that I connected with you and clicked with you and you're just um confirming that now. But yes that the binging on netflix example that you gave is so important because one of the most important strategies of adult learning is that you need to give your learners choice and if you provide an hour long video, they don't get to choose which part of that they want to see without a lot of effort. But if you took that same hour long video and chopped it into shorter bursts where you could identify this is the learning objective of short video one, this is the learning objective of short video to then the person can choose if they want to watch for a whole hour and they've got that time, they can easily do that, But if they only have 15 minutes they can just pick two videos and watch those.

So give your learners options. The other thing, oh I was just gonna say I got excited about another thing you said, the other thing is allowing your participants to participate more actively. And as course creators were so tempted to believe it is about our content, but you've got to let your ego go a little bit and recognize that actually your content is secondary to why they're there. I would believe if you forced me to choose what's more important my content or my community building skills, I put community building skills first and that's why I chose mighty networks because they put that first as well. It's not to say your content doesn't matter, but what's going to transform things for your learners is the ability to talk to each other. So think about how can I develop my pilot program in a way that yes, connects my learners to my content, but more importantly how can I connect them to each other.

So that's that's just a fundamental learning design tip for you that even though I do this as a professional and I coach my own clients to distill their content and make more room for their people to engage. Even I fell into the trap that I coached my other that I coach my clients not to do, I had too much content, I just was lucky to be able to, I I knew enough to be able to recognize it quickly and not hang on to that extra content for very long. Yeah, such a great point and I love uh same thing kind of with fine calm here community this year when I re launched in june for specifically community builders. Uh it occurred to me that people said hey debit were really helpful if you had a step by step guide and then I said okay well let's I'll make a step by step guide to launch a muddy network and then I'll have a workshop and you can tell me how it is. So so that's basically what we did in the Fin Con here community was we, you know people, I asked people, I said what would be helpful?

So I did a little bit of surveying, a little little chatting about it. Um they told me kind of like it would be really helpful if you had step by step breaking it down for a step, how do you make it, can you make it easy for me to do this thing community? And I said, okay well let's see what I can do and so we put it together and we had some, you know feedback and then I changed it and tweaked it and and now I keep having these guides to create, you know, this easy way for you to all these different aspects of different stages, so like in the beginning you have to launch, but you also have an onboarding plan that you want to create, but you also need to figure out how all of this thing called technology kind of sinks together, which is what we do in the Tech integration Guide and find calm here community. So the co creation of content is really important and and I feel like if you don't if you miss that step, it really is a challenge to see you know you it's gonna be hard for you to have a successful um program, I feel like unless you really start to get feedback from people from the very beginning, so I love that.

But yeah, keep telling me about what else, what else you learned in the community building journey with the additional cohorts, Yes, and to back up for a second just to underscore something important, you just said even before you co create, give yourself permission to call your pilot a pilot, this sounds simple, but it's a step that I think a lot of course creators miss because we feel this pressure on ourselves that we need to be so knowledgeable and we think that we need to have expertise and we might be hesitant to say I'm creating a pilot, but I encourage course creators starting out to give yourself permission to call it that because then it takes this pressure off of you to have everything perfect. And you can also outline what is expected of pilot participants and you say out loud, so everybody has the same the shared expectation, they know they're part of your first iteration of something.

And I find that the certain type of learner is excited to be part of that with you. They like having the curtain pulled back and they like being part of building something new for the first time and your first participants are likely people that, you know, they're either from your network or there are people my, my first pilot participants were not directly friends of mine, but they were friends of friends or they were acquaintances of friends. So they were close enough to me that they cared and they didn't mind being part of a pilot and I made clear to them, here's the thing, you're going to get a vast discount on this and by the way, I encourage you to charge for a pilot program but provide a steep discount. I think if you provide it for free, it doesn't give people enough motivation to stick with it and I think it devalues your program ultimately in your own mind and possibly in the learner's mind.

So, so that's what I did, I did charge for it but I gave a very steep discount and I told people you're going to be part of the first version of this, things may change, you're going to know that it might be messier than if you were going to be paying full price down the road. And in exchange I will be sending surveys to you, I'll be asking your opinion and you just are going to know that things may change part way through and they did and these people were happy to sign on for that, everyone had clarity about what to expect. And so that's also another tip for you right at the beginning. Um so then you had asked about what happened in future versions of my pilots? Yes, yes, go ahead. If you had, so you probably had some learning lessons from the first one. Right? And then you kind of were like, oh I get this, what's going on here and here's how I can tweak it or something. That's what I was looking for. Yes. In fact, one of the things that changed was my platform. In fact I made it sound like I started right off the bat with mighty networks but actually I didn't now that I'm thinking back my very first pilot I had chosen, I think it was think if IQ.

Um and I and by the way I had chosen. Okay we'll go all the way back to before my first pilot I tested three different platforms. Scientific mighty Networks and one other I think it was a job and I chose think if IQ for my pilot but part way through I ended up switching and in fact it's funny I switched twice I think I started with think if IQ then I moved to cage Abby and eventually landed on Mighty Networks and all of that happened within my first pilot and I'm trying to remember exactly why and what happened but I'll tell you this here's why I landed on mighty Networks and why. I still love it. One of the most important parts of my cohort is our community meetings. So we meet on zoom every other month. So I lead a three month program and twice a month we meet through via zoom and mighty Networks is the only platform that allowed me to easily set up those zoom calls right there within the course where the learners or the participants can register for it right there in our course platform they can R.

S. V. P. And they can access the link right away. And that was really important to me because those meetings are the cornerstone of my community they're more important even than the online course lessons that I posted on there and put so much time and thought into. So the, I didn't want as a, I wanted ease of use for my learner's. I did not want them to have to dig around every month and be like, oh my God, where is this link to get to these meetings? Because that's a bad experience. I want them to be able to just easily find how to get into the get into our meetings and it's been a seamless process. I also love that you can, they can R. S. V. P. So I know as a course creator a couple of days ahead of time, I can see if not everybody's RSVP'd I then a couple of days ahead of the meeting, I email or reach out through the program through mighty networks.

I say, hey, I noticed you haven't RSVP'd for our call on monday, we'd love to have, you remember, here's the link, here's how you R. S. V. P. To it so that I know who to expect and I know how to facilitate the meeting ahead of time and I'm not feeling surprised like, oh why didn't so and so show up. I usually know and again, I have a very small cohort right now as I scale, I wouldn't be able to have this much control over it, but but that was important to me. So that was one thing the platform changed. Um that's interesting. It's super interesting. I I love you're talking about the the member experience and like creating a really great uh member experience for people and and just learning over time how that how that kind of changes, you know, depending on the platform and the options and the features and navigation and functionality and all of those things. It's very cool. Yeah, you just have to think of it from their point of view and the harder they have to work to access your course, the less likely it is that they'll engage and the more likely it is that they will be frustrated and you don't want either one of those things, you want your people to feel good start to finish as they participate in your group.

So that was important. Another thing that changed from the first iteration to the second cohort was that I had really rabid fans who came through that first program. So it was a small but mighty group. So I think I said that I started with four people, two of the people wanted to come back and participate in the next group. And not only that, but both of those people had had specific successes in the consultancy is that they had started during our cohort. So they were so committed to it that I worked with both of them to create lessons for the next group. So for my group, I created all of the content, but to me it was so valuable to be able to say, here are two participants who went through this exact program. They had these results and they're going to tell you about it. And so I added pierre stories in my next version of the cohort that was led by first participants.

So I thought that was a powerful way to keep the energy going for my next group. And The other thing that I that I didn't know to do from the beginning, but I learned from the first cohort is since I had 50% of my participants wanting to participate again. And even though the content was the same, they still found value out of it because of the community and the next version, they got to meet new people who came into the next group. Um but they so one of the things I learned is have to pricing levels or in this case, I mean there's lots of different ways you might structure your program in my case, it's groups that go for three, for three months at a time. So I have one price for people who are going through it initially, and then I have a lower price now that I offer for repeat participants because um first of all, they've seen the content before, so that's why it's a lower price, but it's also lower because I believe they're bringing value into the group because in the discussions, they can say, oh here's something that I learned last time and here's something that I appreciated from the last group.

And so their presence in the next group really uplifted the participants from the the new participants. Yeah, that's really interesting. So your cohort and your training's, they're all um, live courses like live. Um again, I thank you for asking, I didn't explain that what it includes is on demand videos. So I provide a video, a short 10 minutes or fewer video for each week of the three month program. And then there's for each video, there's a worksheet and then we meet as a group every other month online and then they all have access to the community forum so they can contribute and ask for feedback. So those are the three components of my program. Very cool. I just, I wanted to say it sounds a really amazing um to have a combination of like some live interaction with some, you know, recorded content so people can kind of digest on their own time.

Um I think that's really cool. I started with cohorts to, I started with small cohorts and find calm here and Mighty Mastermind is what came out of that um like didn't even know that that was gonna be a thing and uh was, was grouping together, I took the communities, I master class in 2020 and then after that five week class and it changed it now, it's like accelerator or something, but I took that class and then after that class people wanted to get together And so we end I said, and I was like ahead of people and like the setup and stuff of mighty and there I was like a whole hosted inside my community. I'm happy to do that. So we met every week for six months from June until December of 2020 And then in 2021 I said, well a couple of you want to keep going and do you want to keep working on this? And then I like had a structured program where it was kind of similar, to I didn't have any videos, but I had like specific things that we did each session and then they had breakouts where they kind of really deep connected with each other and then came back and then we had this shared wisdom, which is really great, which you kind of tapped into with the conversation around like the people that come back everybody every time you bring people into a room, somebody knows something that you don't know and somebody knows something, I don't know.

So, um, our life experiences are so vast and different that we can bring the shared wisdom of our life to the conversation and that makes it so much more valuable then, and you know, if you have somebody that's already taken the program or you know, whatever you're teaching, they can then be like the body of the person that's new and holding their hand kind of thing and being like, hey, it's okay, we'll get through this together, here's what, how it goes, you know, because now you've got that little like champion in there that wants to support the, the other people to have everybody be successful, which is Another great thing about mighty and community. It's a really positive every community I've been in pretty much, I've never, I'm in maybe 20 different mighty networks at this point. Every one of them, I've been into their positive, supportive spaces. You're not, this isn't social media facebook, negative, toxic stuff. You know, it's really about how do we collaborate? Not compete, you know? Exactly, And that's what a community is all about. And as a creator, you get to create that culture and you get to create that space and I find that so energizing and I feel lucky to get to get paid to do it.

And you, you brought up another really excellent point Deb which is this, I think it's tempting for people creating online courses. two, we talked about this a little bit earlier, but to overemphasize their own content when actually you need to build your, um, during, okay, I'm trying to think how to say this because there are so many ways my brain is happening, there's so many thoughts coming into my brain and there's two things, so I'm trying to choose which to say first one is when you design any sort of course at all. I say devote at least 50% of that course time to allowing your people to talk. And there is a saying that I learned back when I was an employee as a learning designer and that is the person doing the talking is the person doing the learning. So think about your own program and if you're talking the whole time you're missing a chance in your learners are missing an opportunity to discover things that they'll come to buy by allowing themselves to talk.

So that's one thing, Devote at least 50% of the total learning experience to allowing your people to talk. And that can mean online. It can mean, um, when you're in, when you're together, but just make sure you find space for that. The other thing I wanted to say is, I don't know if your course creators have heard of a term called a flipped classroom, but that's an instructional design term that comes from the K- 12 world that's very critical in today's digital course creation environment. And if you think about, I'm a gen X woman, which means when I grew up and I was in classrooms, what learning looked like was a teacher would stand at the front of the room and they would give a lecture and then we would go home as students and do our homework. So when we were wrestling with the problem that we were learning about, we were with our parents or we were by ourselves and we didn't have the guide, who knows the most about the content to help.

Now. Fast forward to today. We are living in an economy that's so tech driven. You already mentioned that Deb that we can flip that model so that the lecture can happen on a video. So now, like this is how my course is set up. They learn the instructional part happens in the short videos that I create and post and they can access any time on their own time and then we flip it. So the homework part, if you want to call it, that is the time when we meet as a group. So that when they're wrestling with the problem and when they have questions and when they say like, oh, I, I encountered this, 100% of the meetings that we have together are devoted to them talking. Um, well that's not, I mean I do participate, but most of the time is spent on them. So that's something I also encourage my clients and your learners or your course creators to think about is can you incorporate a um, flipped classroom model?

Because a lot of times if you haven't ever created a course before, the instinct is to have some sort of live interaction, whether it's in person or online and then you think you need to deliver your lecture while your people are sitting there listening, but that may not be the best use of everyone's time. So think about that. I love that. It's such a great point and it's flipping, I love that. I never heard that term before, but I think it's so pivotal because you're talking about implementation. Um if I had had somebody sitting next to me virtually or otherwise and and working through math problems with me, I might not have failed math three times. Exactly. And that's just it's a real opportunity of today's economy and with today's tools and and it's something that it makes sense once you flip that classroom and figure out how to do that. I mean, and yet, you know, there are other issues that come up, like, can you assume that all of your learners will watch all of the lecture in between classes?

No, and they usually don't. So you have to determine as a course creator which content is absolutely critical that if they miss it, they won't be able to move forward with this class and you might want to somehow include that part when you're all together, But just make sure that you devote at least 50% of your time together for them to be talking brilliant, awesome. Well, we're gonna wrap it up, thank you so much. Uh Susie for being here and sharing this really great information around course building because you know, that's the that's going to be even more growing thing in 2022 we know people are doing this um they're learning how to tweak it and do new ways of, you know, doing teaching online. And I think uh so every you and all of us here that are interested in doing course building online are just right at the great part. And technology were synergize sing together and collaborating together to make all of all of these experiences amazing for members in our communities.

So I love that. Could you tell anybody listening if they wanted to learn more about you or maybe join your community or work with you how they would find you? Oh, thanks for asking. Well, my business again, it's called teach your thing. And so you can find my website on teach your thing dot com. And from there you could register for my newsletter or you could reach out to me on my contact form and you'll find out about the program that I mentioned there, that where my community is. Um and I would also say, I am happy to offer a 30 minute discovery call that's complementary to any any of your listeners who want to talk more about these ideas. And you can see that um on my website as well, there's a way that you can access my discovery call. So happy to help in those ways. And the other thing I'll say is one of my favorite sayings is you have medicine that you must own. And if you're hesitating and you get overwhelmed about creating your community.

Just remember there's somebody out there who needs you. And so try to break down into these steps and remember to co create with your people and you'll find that they really need you. And so don't hold back. Don't try to be a perfectionist and go out there and get started. And that brings us all some calm right now. We don't have to go out in the world and create this perfect thing on the first try with no help. Guess what that helps us find calm, bringing it back to the you got it. Thanks so much Suzy. Uh for everybody listening, please subscribe, share this with anyone you think might be interested If you're a course builder or just thinking about building an island community. Please check out the show notes to to grab a call with the calendar with susie or jump on my phone, compare email list because we'd love to connect and share more of our resources with you. Until the next time. I hope you're finding calm in this day, evening, morning, afternoon, whatever time it is for you find calm.

Take care until the next time I talk to you later. Bye. Mhm

Episode 61: Find Calm co-creating community content with Suzi Hunn
Episode 61: Find Calm co-creating community content with Suzi Hunn
replay_10 forward_10