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

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Episode 88: Community Building using Ecosystems with Pamela Slim

by Deb Schell
October 2nd 2022

In this episode of the Community Strategy Podcast, you’ll hear an interview with Pamela Slim, an author, business c... More

Hi there and welcome back to the community strategy podcast. My name is Deb Shell. I'm a creator turned community builder. After launching my online community in 2020 I have a passion for online events and bringing people together. I now consult business owners and leaders just like yourself who have a message their life's work or a vision for helping others transform through their online courses, cohorts or memberships on this interview style pork. You hear conversations with community leaders, passion for bringing people together online. Our goal is to provide you with interesting conversations to inspire you to build, launch and grow an online community with energy, confidence and purpose. Let's get started. Alright well, welcome back to the community strategy podcast. My name is Deb Shell, I'm the host and today I've got Pamela Slim with me, she's an amazing author. I followed her work for quite a while. So welcome to the community strategy podcast Pamela.

I am so happy to be here. Thanks for having me. You are very welcome and I'm super glad you're here that we just got off the call, wrapping up a session of our current book study that we're doing and actually it's your book that we're going through the widest Net with partnership with Latino Village and the fine calm here community. So I wanted to just share for some people a little bit about what we talked about but tell us first a little bit about you and your, your experience with the business. Yeah, So I have been an entrepreneur for 26 years. I started the 1st 10 years of my business as a management consultant in Silicon Valley. Originally from the northern California and was passionate about the work, I loved it and uh focused always on the human side of business, especially in training and development uh arena and then I just found that there were so many people who were really wanted to be out of corporate and were curious about leaving And at the same time I fell in love with my husband Darryl moved to Arizona and that's when I started my blog escape from Cubicle nation in 2005.

And the intention really was to begin to work with people individually who wanted to leave corporate, who just felt scared and overwhelmed of leaving their corporate career behind. So that kind of started the last 16 or so years. First doing a lot of early stage startup with many hundreds of people helping them leave. It was my first book, escape from Cubicle nation that came out in 2009. Then my second book body of work came out in 2014 that was really looking at specifically like what are people creating, that's really meaningful and has impact. And then this latest book really comes from, as you heard the depth of the story, 30 years of focus in community building, it was my major in college believe it or not was non formal education is a tool for social and economic change. Um community economic development focused on latin America. I lived in Mexico and Colombia. So I had like that that study, I was a volunteer executive director of a martial art group in SAn Francisco for 11 years where we did tons of community building especially with youth. We grew program to 250 youth, collaborated with 27 different youth service organizations, spent many years in online community building in the early, you know, especially the early years of blogging and then the last six years my husband and I have had the main street learning lab which is a brick and mortar community building space right in the middle of main street.

So it's just been a really fun live experiment. Um and really what is a point of view that I have about a way to build a business that's centered in community Yeah, I really love what you're just talking about because it's so diverse and it it's kind of like reminiscent of my own experiences, like I've just done so many things and sometimes when you put that on a resume and you're like people are like why have you been doing all of these things, but it comes up to be later in your life was like, oh maybe this is the reason why this went this way. Experience. Exactly. It all makes sense in retrospect, it doesn't, it doesn't always make sense sometimes when you're right in the middle of it, but as I look back, it definitely does And it's interesting that way. I think if we trust our instinct often we're moving towards those things that we know are next in the legacy that we want to build. What do you think? Since you've had all this experience in in person and online community building, what do you think has been the biggest lesson you learned that like if you could go back in time and tell your former self, like hey things are gonna work out, but like what would you tell that that former, that Pamela slim when she was just starting out?

Yeah, I I was so lucky that I, I had the time that I got into online community building in 2005. For those folks who might remember, it was such an exciting time. It was very collaborative. There were, there was such kinship between different bloggers. There was a lot of sharing of information going to places like South by Southwest. That was just so fun and interesting. And there was a lot of natural ways I think that people stepped in to support each other that I think made a big difference to me. Um now sometimes I think about the poor person who wants to do anything, start a podcast, start a blog and there's 30 seven different courses, there's all these experts who are telling you what to do. The way we learned around the way was more, hey figure it out as you go talk to somebody, collaborate with a friend. So it had more of those natural pieces, the part of it, I think that was learning that I've, I've slowly architected into just the day to day work that I do as a business coach with folks is um, having lots of friends is not the same as necessarily making a whole bunch of money.

And those are things that we've seen over time for some community builders. I think community building can be seen as a an additional thing to do, a nice thing to do that. You have your business model and then you do community building to me where where it has to be effective if you're looking at it as a way that you're really going to be implementing your business model is where it has to be really grounded in a business model, a way to figure out who, who is the community you want to connect with, who are ideal partners, what's the shared reciprocal value that comes up and where money is an equation where you have money that really is the through line for that. So it's one of the reasons why I wrote the book with in the, in the context of looking at it through business, like as a way to actually build a business, all the principles can be the same if you're like new in a town and you're trying to figure out like where should I hang out and where the cool people I want to connect with a lot of the methods still applies, even if it's not monetized. Yeah, it's very interesting um because I'm in that phase right now too and um of trying to figure out, I think I was kind of sold a message in the past few years that I could monetize and I didn't need this big audience and I've learned the hard reality, that that's not the case.

And even I've worked primarily by myself creating content, but it's been hard, it's been hard to figure out like the right where where to put my attention and focus and I create content, I'm a writer and now I'm writing a book about, you know, going from being just a creator to a community builder, um which is what I did in the last two years who I worked with is my clients as in my consulting business, who we've interviewed over 85 creators on this podcast and now 86. Uh and uh just to say that, like, I feel like there's still a lot of like mixed messages and just connects around, like what is the thing I'm supposed to do and how do I get there? And um yeah, so for sure, and it is the journey, I think for so many entrepreneurs, I was just thinking this morning as I was, as I was driving into the office In any situation no matter what, like what situation you're in.

I uh I often think there can to have a state of just where everything is 100% dialed in exactly as you want. It can be sometimes just a moment in time, you know, where, where everything everything just perfectly works where you get all the dollars that are rolling in. Some of it's the business environment that we're in. I've known many people for example, that activated really effective online communities, some of which were supported by uh you know, online marketing tools or advertising or things like that in order to make connections happen. We know that some of that shift sometimes and so it's hard, you never really have a static place in which you can be running your business. But um that said there definitely are ways that you can be thinking about efficiently how money is made. And I think right now, the point in history you are where you're like living the experience of living off of making a living in this environment. I feel like there's huge shifts that are underway. I don't know if you notice it like things that have worked in the past or just not working the same way right?

Like people aren't buying the same way, They're just not, you know, necessarily engaging, being more selective and who knows maybe it's just the maturity of the model. Um some of it impacted by covid and like all the things that happen around mental health and boundaries and all of that, but as we're getting, you know, evaluating that I think looking forward. Um 11 of the themes that I'm seeing and we'll see if it's helpful to you, if it makes sense for what you want to do. But some of the things that I'm seeing with a lot of clients is more of a strategic focus in a smaller group of clients but doing something in a more deep way and in some cases in a more um scalable way. So it's not just working with like a huge company but it could be working with you know, organizations with like you know, local communities, there's all kinds of different areas in which you can be doing work that might have a deeper impact. That is not necessarily requiring hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of folks because like you're in it probably more than I am.

Like I'm I'm a business coach and a consultant primarily by day. I'm not like a professional community builder um like you are, but I I just see like there's some sea tide shifts where you either have to have tons of money to be hiring a bunch of people to help mobilize the B two C audience or you need to shift a little bit what you're doing is probably I'm imagining what you're experiencing right now. I'm experiencing a lot of shifts um 19 in December 2019 I decided to quit my job to be I'm a travel writer in 20 20. Oops, yeah, we see where this movie is going plot twist and then plot twisted and I had like a side hustle, you know, that I was still doing some sales work, but then that wasn't my heart really wasn't in that and then I lost all of my opportunities, the bottom dropped off of that with the pandemic. So and then I switched to this idea of maybe I can bring people together online and there was people that were doing it and I learned from these people that were promoting this whole structure of uh sales funnels and bringing people in a certain way and then getting all of these people and asking them to pay for a membership.

And I launched my community initially in 2020 to help people find calm and daily life at the time when I thought was we really needed to find calm and I met people that helped me do this, like helped me transition and finding my own calm and I wanted to share that with other people, but turns out that people didn't understand, I didn't establish the new like in trust factor, so they didn't understand like why am I paying for this space or whatever. I also launched at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement and During the pandemic. So there was a lot happening in the world, but just to say that I learned so much and then I at the end of 2020 I was being asked by people help me build my community. So I became a consultant and I started building other people's communities for them. And then I relaunched the fine calm here community to instead of just being wellness focused to be focused on supporting community builders because those are the people who started showing up in my calls was like other community builders who wanted to connect around how do you build an island community? So we've been doing that. Um we rely I brought in a smaller group, we did a structured program and 90 day program.

In the beginning of 2021 we had really great participation, I thought this is great and then we decided to launch um Just a membership program for people who are community builders. And I just we launched that in June of 2021 and then we ran that and then we just celebrate our two years in 2022, but there's been so much shifts this year that it just hasn't been. You know, there's been no way for me to gauge on peop people coming in and new people, I have engaged new people. So I made the hard decision that I just announced like on friday to people and today and basically yesterday that I'm closing the community because I think that I need to focus on other things because there's just not people that have time to like be there because not because they don't want to hang out with me or something, but because they're got a lot going on in their life, you know? And so that whole journey has taught me to now coming to like, at least I want to write this book to share, like, all these things that I've learned and experiences in case studies and things that clients that I've worked with, um which is why I'm writing the book, but it's it's it's an interesting time because what I'm learning and maybe you'll agree with this is that everybody kind of was like, we don't buy this whole marketing stuff you're doing anymore, It's not working and we don't want to like buy into that.

So now what's happening is build relationships like every person I'm listening to that's talking about marketing right now is saying build relationships with people individually. And I'm like, that's what we're talking about with with your book. It's so true. And it it just just to to note, you know, the journey can be so challenging when you are like leaning in and looking for what the opportunity is. It's it's in the in the context of the whitest net, it's like the when you when you begin to know who it is that you want to work with, which can be exciting in areas of passion and interest then it's really figuring out like what what do people actually need that you uniquely could provide and all the stuff that we need is the heart of an effective offering and the core of a business model. It what one of the, one of the things that I find relevant to issues around community, around relationship building um and the fundamental like philosophical perspective that you have is the big distinction, the big idea which I know we just talked about for the prior our is really this contrast between empire culture and ecosystem culture.

So an empire culture, you're really looking as the business owner is just much more of a transactional view. The main purpose in the focus is accumulating your wealth, like money is great in a business we need, it wanted nothing wrong with that whatsoever. But when you think about it as a strategic focus, like the business model, its main focus and the customers in your business are to be getting the things that you need and want for yourself. It's a, it's a values based perspective, We can feel it sometimes in the way that people talk about business that there are lots of tactics that you might use with the main purpose generally centered. I find at your own success in the profitability of the business. Again, nothing wrong with profitability, but there's not so much a focus in the ecosystem model, you have your ideal customer centered and really whatever core problem you're passionate about solving that is the main thing that you and others surrounding them, other service providers, companies, apps, events, podcast hosts, etcetera were really united in trying to figure out how to solve a real problem that people have.

To me, there's a lot more opportunities in that. But the relationship building is not like the latest tactic community building in the context of an empire is where like we talk about community a lot, it's, it's really common vernacular people kind of intersperse community with fans with prospects with customers and it's a very different thing if you actually look strategically at what it is that you're trying to do if you're a partner for people and you're really leaning in to say like this is a really hard problem to solve. What are the dynamics today about how entrepreneurs can make money? Like it is hard as hell and that's why for me, even though I'm in it every day of the week with my cli I need and rely upon other people in my ecosystem to help figure it out to me that bakes in value in a different way and just trying to dial in in any one moment, like how it is that I can maximize my, you know, funnel efficacy in order to make as much money as I can and it's not a choice between money or no money, like it is not, I have clients who fully utilize a community based model who are making millions of dollars with a very healthy work life balance.

It is extremely possible to do that. But it's, it's not a tactic, it's like if you are actually building relationships because you see that as essential to your business model and from a value perspective you have to care about the people you're in relationship with. Otherwise it's just transactional, right? What can you do with me lately? Like that person, you know what at conferences and you know like somebody comes up to you and you can tell they're sort of trying to figure out like are you important for me to talk to and is there somebody else more that really like this happened recently with Chamber, I just joined to Chamber of Commerce is. I'm starting to do more networking in person now because I've been building online for two years and now I'm like, okay, let's talk to people, my business coaches like go meet people like, okay, so I've done that, but I get these approaches by people like their elevator pitch and their business card and then they're on to the next person and I'm just like that's I don't want that. I want to build relationships with people in my community members know that I spend extensive time trying to get to know what their challenges are and really want to empower them to bring what they are learning to the table because the value that I've and the reason why I launched the committee in the first place two years ago was the shared wisdom that we all bring to the table when we get on a call together or we show up together in a space because that's where the power is.

And so I don't have all the answers. And I think I learned that when even when I re shifted to just like community builders and I tried to re market it, I kind of got, I I learned that I was not the person that is going to be showing up as Deb the leader necessarily all the time I'm showing up is let's bring together this topic and let's test all work, workshop about it or talk about it. And I think that approach when I changed my approach and that a lot of people really resonated with that and said, yeah, I love this, um, contribute, you know, being able to contribute and share what I'm learning. And yeah, it's hard community building online right now, um if you're starting out and you don't have an audience, that's where I think it gets really hard. And I think what you're saying there is a lot of people ask me, where do I find my ideal members? And I think it goes back to knowing where your people hang out, where they hang out now, like where are they now go find them and then talk to them and say, hey, I think, you know, are you struggling with X. Or like I see that you're struggling with X.

Or something and then you know that that might be the solution but it comes before with your values of like what do I actually, what problems do I actually solve? I know that's a, it's one question that people don't want to answer including myself sometimes I know well and and it can, it can feel frustrating but it's a good frustration. It's something that's worth pursuing over time. And I look at it as either what's a core problem that you like to solve or what's an aspiration you want to help people attain another way to ask the question my friend Greg Hartal ask like what's bothering you. Um I have, I am the worst. I am a total Virgo just just celebrated my 56 a couple days ago and I for exact, thank you. I am horrible like I know this is just something that, that that always bothers me. I go to my local cafe, I love them Jared, it's a great cafe a couple doors down here on Main Street in Mesa and they have the little um card thingy right that you do your credit card when you're trying to pay and the way they have it structured had this fascination with the way in which card readers work.

So one to me that works so well is where like square makes a really nice one where it's facing you, you can easily slip in your card, like in the bottom that's facing you in the one they have in my very favorite cafe, that's a new one, you have to reach over and put the card in, but it bumps up against their tip jar that bumps up against right, this other thing. And I find myself like being that busy body horrible person, the Karen of the business world who's getting up in everybody's business about how their point of sale thing is set up, because I can't help myself to be fascinated by the environment in which business happens in a in a brick and mortar context, right? Like these are examples of things I can spend hours, days, months years in a group of people helping to solve these problems to like come up with a good solution for people. And so sometimes those things are um indicators of like what maybe it's not the ultima kind of world problem that you want to solve, but what is something that is worth engaging your time and energy in that is like a core problem that people have, you know, in my own work as a business coach, helping people scale their business, is figuring out a coherent, effective ethical framework for pricing is a huge thing.

Everybody I've ever worked with is like, how do I figure out pricing everybody I work with is like how do I find where the watering holes where my ideal customers and clients are showing up? So sometimes it's it's a, it's it's in the, in the framework of my last book and body of work, where it doesn't mean that when you choose to be focusing on a specific thing to create or a problem to solve it at a particular point of your life, it doesn't mean it will be forever, It can be a transition period of something that is like worth solving that you can help solve it for people who you really care about solving it for and through doing that and having a focus, then sometimes it can open up into other areas, you know, you might realize over time that are really linked more to the deeper mission, you know that you might have in the mission at your roots. So it's just, you know that that that part of it I think can be, can be challenging, but that the idea of watering holes whether these places in person and online where some other wonderful person has done the very hard work of gathering a community together, that strategic analysis is one that can make the community building so much more effective.

And so it's things like being a guest on podcasts like I'm doing with you now, I'm positive that there are many people who have no idea who I am, I've never heard about about me before, you have carefully cultivated that these relationships and so it's a way one too many I can make a connection. Um The other thing I think for people that's often like an amazing opportunity are brands that might serve your business. So during when I was rolling out, working on the book and rolling out a class on tiny marketing actions, which is part of part of the method in the book and a class that I teach A couple of times a year I reached out to go daddy, which obviously serves I think I don't know 20 million entrepreneurs and uh they were doing webinars for for their customers and so I said, Hey, you know, I'm an expert author in this area, can I do one tiny marketing actions? I did it. There was, I don't know 3 4000 people showed up, you know, God I don't know 500 something people write on my mailing list because I created something that was very helpful to people introduced the concept gave them a little tiny marketing actions playbook and these are ways that you know, they were happy with it.

We did a repeat. I ended up speaking at their customer conference because the the focus is not from my side is never just like how can I build my audience, which is very transactional me but what is this company? What is this podcast guest, you know, host exploring and what's a way I could be providing unique value in a way that helps like their listeners or their customers grow. So that, that's the way often that, you know, over time, if you do that consistently, that's where you do have more, I think more of a natural, you know, natural audience growth. Yeah, I like the idea of that and um right now I'm working on like I've given so much value, I have to ask for, I have to decide where my audience is actually gonna be, that's gonna pay me for my work basically at this point, because you can, I want a mission to like help people, but now I have to pay my bills. I need to not like you have to have a balance and I think that's a struggle for people like myself who, who really want to do all the right things like give value, show up, build relationships, do all the work I have done the hard work, I'll tell you, but it's a matter of, it's still a matter of really getting to the right people who, who are going to value you with with their, their, their wallet, you know, or their checkbook or whatever.

I think that's a hard thing and yeah, I think they say the riches are in the niches, you know, that's that niche ng really like really down um does help with like eliminating the people who um aren't the right fit or aren't going to resonate with your message. So I think that's a great um and I love knitting down, I think it's just a matter of what you're saying is is like really finding the people that not only value the content you're creating, but also value a need. Like they have a need, like they're your they have a problem and you're the only person that can solve it. And I think that's sometimes hard to, like, it takes a lot of work. Like you're saying, I've reinvented myself over and over again, I'm still in a place right now. I'm struggling because now I'm going back to writing because basically I'm getting people who are like, Deb, you're a really great writer, you should do that. Okay, well, I could do that. That's right. And what's so funny is literally every day my clients are always asking me do you know any really great writers?

You know, like there's a huge need for really great content around an area, all kinds of interesting, you know, business propositions, but it is needing to have a like, well thought out business model is just really essential. And again, it's not like you do do that and then you have the community on the side, it's just when you have a business model where the center is whatever you're selling is something that's a problem that you're passionate about and then the people that surround that ecosystem of your customers are all the best partners. I call them PB and J partners. So like, what I have relationships every day is a business coach. I refer people to intellectual property attorneys, CPS, bookkeepers, web designers, graphic designers, copywriters, writers every single day. They're asking me for that and vice versa. When I make deliberate connections with people who share the profile of an ideal client, these are ways that you can start to activate like really effective flows of work and so it is always the, you know, the journey of finding it.

But it's funny sometimes um and I am not putting words in your mouth, I will speak for myself, but sometimes like I think it has to be more complicated, like I'm gonna, you know, it can be so obvious. I've started to do lots of work of building licensing and certification programs for clients. I work with a lot of thought leaders, people who you know have big books or they have programs they're teaching and they want to scale through like licensing and certification program, especially in the B two B space and my backgrounds in training and development building programs for corporate. So I have a huge skill in that and I also understand this world and it's almost like wait a minute, this feels almost too easy. Like no, this is just something I know And all of a sudden just through a natural way that people are coming, I wrote one blog post about like what is licensing and certification. I just broke it down and it's gotten seven billion hits or something. I get probably 20 incoming, you know, prospects a month or something without putting any extra juice onto it just because I've tripped upon something that I think is, it's very inconsistent and how it is that people get support for that.

And so all of a sudden it's like this, this beautiful emerging niche where now I'm partnering with my old partner I used to work with in silicon Valley during padilla and we're building like more of a whole offer to just streamline and help people to build the programs effectively. So it's like sometimes the problems come to you and just to listen to what people are asking for and then you, you always have to double check and say, is that, does that excite me, Is that something that I'm going to feel good about building? Um, which is important. That's so funny you say that because I, I resonated with so many things and just trying to connect back to um, problems that I solve. And I saw as I was trying to search for like what does it mean to be a community manager, what does it mean to be a host of a community, There's not a lot out there that's talking about this and what it means in 2020 to to be a leader of an online community or something. And if there is messages out there, it's actually by companies that are selling their service.

So they're like, yeah community design and we'll tell you all about that, but by our software or whatever. And so I've really found that I started simplifying everything and it's getting more traction because expectations and assumptions seem to be like the worst challenge of people today as they just assume so many things like they should know that like I just have people all the time like well they should know that, but they don't and even if they do, let's say they do have an assumption of having on the same page, but they don't, you don't know if they're on the same page, you have to tell them here is this is what I mean by community, this is what I mean by leadership or whatever. And I think that's what I've worked with clients on is let's simplify this. I think they try to make these like really complex things. Well that just makes people really confused. So if it's a lot easier for you to just have one offer and say one thing and here's who I serve and this is what we're gonna do inside this community and that's it and then we're gonna try it for like three months or whatever the time frame is and be really, really clear and specific about one thing Because that's what people can grasp, especially in this time period, I feel like there's just we've got things coming at us from 17 different directions and it's just if you get if you're if you're making assumptions or not being clear, it's it's already like going to be hard for people and if something's hard right now people don't want their like that's too hard, like it took me three minutes to read this article.

That's too like it's just exactly, it's so true. Yeah. And I really, I found that the same exact thing is that people are just dying for some really clear direction where you can simplify something, make it easy to implement, figure out what are the parts of things that can feel like confusing or overwhelming. And then just the innovation comes I think in the design of that, and I think I'm not necessarily one as much as I love community, I'm not one to hang out in a bunch of online communities or groups and things like that. I I love people, I love to connect, but it's very few. It's generally because there's a very specific purpose or if there is some kind of membership, one of the my favorite people, the membership academy that started by a british couple in the U. K. I'm not sure if you're familiar with them, they teach a lot about setting up membership sites and I spoke at C. E. X. The creator economy expo um in May that was here in phoenix and I was so excited because I got to meet uh the and I'm I'm forgetting her name, forgive me she listens to this podcast, but I was, I am so passionate about that product and so when I met her in person, it's like I was meeting john legend, I was so excited because as an instructional designer, I am just in love with the way that they have structured the inside of their, of their academy, they totally know for somebody who is considering having a membership site, they've broken down just all the steps that you need to go through it in a way that's just graphically easy to understand it.

It to me is just an example of like really great design. I'll show clients when they're, you know, thinking about doing it because everybody can have that like, oh I need some additional revenue, I think I'll just create a membership, you know, to which I try not to show on my face, you know, like either a laugh or a grimace because as you know, and you've experienced, well, it's a lot more than just throwing up the membership site, it really has to be steeped in, you know, in value or education or some kind of purpose. So I love looking at examples of like really well executed things and this is a case where it just simplifies all the steps that somebody needs to go through in a way that's very easy to understand and implement and then, you know, there is a forum when people are asking the questions they're normally asking, you know, what, how should I use and what kind of software and I just, I just find they do for my taste, I'm probably an ideal client for them. I don't have a membership site, I advise other clients that are doing it, but I told her I was like I stay subscribed just so that when I'm a coaching call, I have the access to open it up and say here's a resource for you.

Yeah, no, it's so great. And I was curious, I was gonna ask you like real quick before we close out here, just one of the experiences that you said, these people who are successful in community building, like what do you see are the attributes of a successful community builder um who wants to do an online community who's really passionate and has that, you know, desire to to lead and to help people and have the authentic um want, you know, desire for connection, what do you see is that works? Yeah, so what I see works is truly that their desire is like they are really passionate about getting to know people as individuals. They really are excited about building a space where people feel valued included. They have a lens on inclusion, just recognizing the kinds of things that it means where you have a community that is open to people from different experiences. So it can feel like a safe, vibrant place where people can thrive. So that's often, you know, thoughtful design, thoughtful, you know choice of language, thoughtful um guidelines in the way that you moderate it at the essence of it is in a very clear and specific purpose and so if it is it's rare because people are so busy that they simply want to hang out even if there's and I can't think of a specific example, but I imagine there are probably some amazing creative communities, some like the passion, I think it's called the Passion Planner.

My friend was passionate about the passion planner and I think there was like a facebook group of like a billion people who would just share the examples of like stickers and like special rulers they use in pens because the shared focus even for more of a creative thing was in getting the latest greatest best examples or I guess like instapot right, also has like this huge online community where people are like sharing their recipes and the tips and tricks for using it. Um those those that are business focused I think are really delivering every day resources and information and conversations that help people to solve whatever problem they're going to solve that, that to me has to be at the heart of it because if it's just the great experience of like engaging ways to get people to communicate, which I love as an extrovert, but it's just too busy, like I just don't have time to do that, especially online, So that commitment curve comes into play there because you know, if you get people to come, yeah, they might come for a but then they have life happens and other things happen.

So even if those really passionate people about this journal or whatever we're interested, they're not gonna be interested forever, they're gonna be interested for a period of time and then they're gonna be like, okay, next thing in my life now, like, like they're going to move on. So yeah, and in a business practically speaking, you know, you have to have a start and a stop and you have to have an evaluation time and to see okay, the feedback and what's working and how can we make improvements and you can do that as you're going. But also you need times where you as a leader take pause and and say like, am I still passionate about this thing and I still wanting to be doing this thing and I think that's the courage comes when you realize like the thing I just did, that's really hard of saying my passion isn't there anymore. And I'm just feeling more drained than being lit up when I was doing this in the beginning. I was lit up every day. I was super excited to like jump on the zoom calls and talk to amazing people and not that I'm not excited, talk to people, it's just that like all of the other things that we talked about.

Um don't aren't bringing me the calm that I was my whole business is about finding calm and I wasn't feeling calm in a lot of some, you know, a lot of things. And so I'm trying to work on, okay, well I don't want to keep showing up and feeling that way. So that just means that we're going to close the chapter on this and then start a new chapter on something else. But I think um even communities that I've been in that we're focused on, you know, let's share our journey and like weight loss journeys and things like those, those interest communities of interest, we call them then that's that's great. But it's it's not a forever thing. And so I think when you're asking people for money for something like a program or community membership, there's got to be a lot in it for them and it can't be you got to one of the people I work with says like what's in it for them, We've got to constantly be asking what's in it for them. Because if we're not asking those questions and we're just saying, well what's in it for me, it's not nobody's gonna gravitate towards that message of like come to come to the dub show.

No, nobody's gonna gravitate to that. But everybody's gonna gravitate to like oh depth providing value and she's giving all of this information on stuff that she's learned. That's a different end, she's offered us to be a part of it, you know? That's right. I often say like a marketing strategy is not a business model like fundamental to a business model is centering your customer and everything that you, your whole being is centered on helping them to really solve that problem and whatever the life cycle is that you have that particular engagement with somebody. And so what I see a lot is the marketing strategy is sold that like, hey make money in your sleep, recurring revenue is like benefit to the owner, benefit to the owner, benefit to the owner. And like it's not, it doesn't work that way. If it's grounded in a business that needs to have daily engagement with many people in an online community then that makes sense to have that as a component. But if you think like you're saying it, what is your, your underwriting need that you have for your business, if it's just really I need clean, clear effective revenue but that is centered on doing the best work that I can, then it's often not going to be, you know, in the context of a community or if you want more peace and calm yeah.

And shifting attention to different things and trying to do multiple things is diverting your energy from like doing really well at one thing and I think I try to like do all of the things but then realize, okay, so I've I've really been great with like structuring my time and attention at one thing, like being really present here with you in this, in this time period. But I think also It's just it's just hard when you want to try to figure out that magical equation in that book by Tim Ferriss, four hour work week has just all thinking that we could do this thing of like have the magical life and it doesn't have to take us 20 years. And I think the reality is hitting a lot of people hard is that actually it takes a lot of really hard work and determination and building relationships over long periods of time to get to the level of being able to to work four hours a week or whatnot. That's right. And we know, you know, like towards later years it's not, he wasn't necessarily, you know, saying the four hours, but it's like it is an example of in in any in the pursuit of being strategic about what it is that you want in your business.

What's that overriding desire. So where it really is, you know, stable, predictable income, that's solving a problem when you look at implementing certain kinds of business models that can be based on online funnels and stuff. There are ways to be doing it for things that aren't necessarily just in the like coaching industrial complex right of teaching people how to do the thing, how to do the thing, like a lot of people who are making the most money in community memberships are those that are just teaching other how others how to do it Because there's still the desire there, but the market is drying up in terms of what other people can be doing. So you know, that's, that's part of being tuned into the market and you know, evolving over time. But it is, it is possible some of the podcast and in areas where I've been really getting a lot of juice lately as Brian Clark seven figures small. So that Brian, the founder of copy blogger, just as a really beautiful focused conversation, especially the earlier podcast of the first season. Um really just looking at this like lean, effective, impactful businesses that don't have to be gigantic with tons of people and then jenny blake's free time, she has a great book called Free Time and her podcast Free Time a lot is about more creating like effective, efficient um, operations in your business, but also really centering like calm and uh focus, you know, strategic focus so that you have time to think.

So those, those could be a couple of good res sources for you. I'm, I know many of my clients are gravitating toward that these days. Yeah, I just got the, the lean startup, I don't know if you've read that eric eric just yeah, I just got that book sitting on my shelf next right after we finish up with your book. So I'm, you know, I, I agree. I think it's a matter of simplifying and I feel like sometimes we've learned, especially for me in the last couple years, I've just learned that, you know, I don't, there's all these systems that I was being taught in courses I was taking and I can't even tell you how many courses I've done and in the last couple of years and, and I just feel like I'm still not getting anywhere and I feel like they were diversions from where I actually needed to go and so now I'm really like, okay, stop pause, what, what is going to make the needle move farther and it's, it's not an email list or a sales funnel or this or that, it's me building relationships with people meeting and, and, and, and sharing with people, here's what I'm really passionate, here's what I can do really well and then them saying great, so whatever, like you said, whenever I hear like somebody needs a copywriter or content writer or whatever, I think of depth, you know, and I feel you, so I'm just like, I'm in that place of like really reinvigorating and thank you for um just letting me be a little selfish and asking a bunch of questions because I'm in a very strange, weird moment of like, what am I doing with my life now.

Yes, my pleasure. I coaches coaches, I always say, I love it, like I, I hope it was okay to go there with you because I, I love, I love to explore it with people, but that it is always an awkward place of going through a stage of transition, it's also really rich and growth and opportunity, so as much as you can anchor what you need to anchor sometimes are stable Mabel, study Eddie clients to get through it, but the best advice really is just to like tune into like who you are, do pleasurable activities, like notice the kinds of things that bring you joy, that that make you feel really good, all those are gonna be connecting you more with your, your authentic voice, just so you can clear things out and listen more clearly sometimes the things that are there, it just takes a little bit of time to listen, but it's a very valuable, very creative period, if you can just trust the discomfort that's inherent in a in a stage of growth, I'm gonna stop talking to like other people right now, because I get on calls with people and they're like what, what who do you serve and what problem do you solve, and I'm like okay, I'm still kind of reworking that yeah, just say like I'll get back to you, you know, let you know that's what I'm saying right now, Lets you know because right now I'm in a moment of transition, but yeah, that's such great tips and and just finding other things to do because I feel like sometimes when you're in like where I'm at, I need to like be doing it 24 hours a day of like, Okay, Deb sit down, figure it out.

And um I love that you just said like it's okay to like, and it should be a time for you to take some time away. Yes, enjoy other life things that, that is what the process is. You can't like work your way through it often. You have to listen, we and here at the learning lab we have, we call it listen first, we very deliberately did not have any structure at all around the community space. We just listen, we just had conversations people, what is this place? Is this like an incubator? Is it alert? What, what is it? And we're like, we don't know like we're, what do you want it to be? And it was so liberating and it ended up really creating a shape that was really valuable. So just trust that process, have a quick thing, you can say like I'm going through a needs analysis right now, get back to you or you don't have to say anything, you have to apologize to anybody for it, but you do not have to have a quick response. It's natural and smart to go through a process of investigation. Oh I love it and I love that you said about asking people and I think the biggest lesson that I've learned just to share with everyone as we wrap up here is that I've been learning to ask people before I do something.

Like I used to like create it and then they'll come situation and I've learned that that's not a great strategy. So now I'm like, okay, have five people ask me, have 10 people ask me have 20 people have a lot of people been asking me about X thing and that's what I've been telling clients and they're like, I don't know. And I, well then let's go find out, let's ask them like let's talk to your ideal members through interviews and surveys and let's let's get get the conversation started with the call or whatever because if they haven't asked you and you're talking about doing a large scale six month course, that's got a lot of moving parts and you haven't gotten that validated. I see a lot of times where that happens with clients as they they think they have to do all of these, you know, have the course, have a strategy for content. Have um, you know, all of these things happening email sequences and all these things and really the when it gets down to it is, oh, I haven't even like nobody's actually asked me to do this thing.

Okay, I Call it, I call it built it and no one came. Yeah, yeah. So true. But thank you so much for all your wisdom and just spending some time with me today. I really appreciate you hanging out with me for this amazing extra bonus our that I got and which I didn't expect to get. But thank you so much. We will put this on the community strategy podcast and the other episode will be also on there. Um if anybody wants to find you, I know that we've, we've talked a lot about your books and things. Where's the best place for people to reach you, Pamela Slim dot com. Beautiful. Well, thank you again. Thanks so much. Thanks for being here for everyone listening. Please uh follow us. And if you thought this was helpful or you found some value out of it, let us know with a review rating until the next time. I hope you're finding calm in this day evening moment Tuesday or Wednesday at three. Find calm and take care until the next time Step show.

And I am super so psyched to let you know I am writing a book, big deal. I know maybe it's not for you, but for me it's a big deal. And guess what I'm writing this book for you because honestly, as a new community builder, two years ago in 2020 I had no idea what I was doing and I really got really confused easily. So I'm going to simplify things for you. But what I need from you right now is to actually help me make this book possible and so you can support me with a crowdfunding campaign that I'm running through. I fund woman. I'm going to have a link in the show notes. Please support me. This, this is running from september 1st Room through the end of october, so I'm really hoping to reach my goal to be able to write this work style book. It's gonna have worksheets, it's gonna have templates, it's gonna be something that you can actually use today. It's not a course that you have to take for four weeks. It's not um a big book that's not going to give you actionable steps.

You're going to be able to take action the same day that you read the book. I'm super excited about this. I've had lots of feedback from clients that this is what they want. This is what they need. So I'm putting it together and I hope you can support me with it and I hope I hope it's going to help you So let me know. Please check out the show notes for that link to the I fund Women crowdfunding campaign for the new book. I'm writing, it's called creator to community builder. I'm so excited. Thanks for L. P. B. If you've already donated

Episode 88: Community Building using Ecosystems with Pamela Slim
Episode 88: Community Building using Ecosystems with Pamela Slim
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