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

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Episode 92: Groovy Community Strategies with Taylor Harrington

by Deb Schell
October 30th 2022

In this episode of the Community Strategy Podcast Taylor Harrington, Head of Community at Groove, a FREE app for solo workers to instantly conne... More

Hi there and welcome back to the community podcast. My name is Deb Schell. 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 podcast. You'll hear conversations with community leaders pash 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. Hi there, welcome back to the community strategy podcast. My name is Sub Shell, I'm the host and today we have a special guest, Taylor Harrington, she's the community head of community at Groove, which is a cool new app I joined that brings together solo workers uh from all over the world to instantly connect and conquer their produce.

As she says, welcome taylor to the community strategy podcast. Deb thank you so much for having me, I'm excited to be here. Yes, So tell us a little bit about how you got into this role of Groove. Um and then tell us what we'll tell us what group is first. Sure, yes, yes. And you did a nice little job teasing it. Um so Groove, I like to say is the best way to get it done and meet the best people. I hope I can say ship on the podcast. Is that alright? Okay, we're going to start right there with a little bit of that. Um and you know, it really is an accountability community for folks from around the world who um have these nontraditional career paths that they're paving on their own and they're doing it on their own and um it can get really hard and it can get really lonely and so you can hop onto Groove, It's a mobile app for a 50 minute focus session with other folks that are in the same boat and it's just been a really powerful experience to see all these people from around the world feel so much more connected.

I joined about 18 months ago was the first full time higher and it just has really taken off from there when I joined, it was 23 community members and now we have hundreds and it's um just a really yeah, beautiful thing to see something grow so quickly and so many people who are part of it just absolutely love it and say my life is so different in the last year since I found my people on groove. So that's a little bit about Groove and how I ended up here. Yes, I had this moment of realizing that I just love connecting people and I want to do it full time. I wanted, I found out about what the community world was up to. I felt like I was peeling back this giant red theater curtain and I looked behind it and I was like, oh wait all the people like me are back behind this curtain, how do I get over here and do this full time? Because in my last role I was doing a lot more marketing, which I think a lot of folks in community relate to having a different career path a little bit before, but at the core I just loved people and so if I could do that full time and bring them together, that's what I wanted to do. And so I like to say that I'm creating the opposite of loneliness in the world and that's my life's mission, whether it's through work or everything that I do outside of work and my role at group was so that I read about what they were building and I was like, I have been dreaming of this type of connection for years and you're actually building it.

How can I help? Mhm. How did you actually build that relationship with with the founder? The founder. Yeah, so we have three co founders, josh green is is our ceo and co founder. So I actually had, I don't know if anyone's heard of Angel List, it's a website where you can apply for jobs. I have a bunch of different startups that are on there and I knew pretty clearly um that I wanted to be working on a small team. My last job I worked with best selling author Seth Godin on a very small team in person at a very cool office and I read what group was building, it was this remote role with two co founders at the time now we have a third and I was like, this is exactly what I wished exist in the world, bringing all of these people together. Um one of the groupers described it yesterday as a bunch of interesting and interested people coming together and I thought that was such a beautiful way of art, articulating it because that's really at the end of the day, what it is, it's folks who have a bunch of different um pieces of them that they're showing up as this full human inside of the community of I'm not just my job title, I'm not just my work, I want to show up here because I've decided to design my life around how I feel and who I am and then people are connecting on those different interests and really listening to each other so that they can connect on a deeper level than you might in a typical work environment.

And so um when I had heard about what they were building, I sent josh a note, I sent him an email. It's funny to look back on, I actually reflected on it somewhat recently over my one year, I reread the email and I basically said hi um taylor here, I want to create the opposite of loneliness in the world and it sounds like you're doing exactly that with Groove, I've been dreaming of something like this back when I was in college, I dreamt of being connected with other entrepreneurial minded people that were around my age and couldn't really find that even on such a big university campus and it was just like this moment where things clicked and I felt like um a lot of what I would have loved in the job description was right there. And so I sent him this note and he was like, let's talk. And so we did, and it was just clear um from the moment that we started talking that I had already been building this in my head for years and didn't have the words to describe it quite yet. Did you, did they did they knew they were looking for somebody. They did. Yes, so it was a job, it was a listing that was on Angel list.

And so since I had had some different filters that I had put on there to get notified if something was checking some of those boxes. I got the email, my inbox, that group was hiring and I was like, alright, this morning, they posted this, I'm on it, this is so me, and that's yeah, the rest is history. We started chatting and got to meet the other co founders and the different freelancers that we're working with them at the time, but like I said, it was a really interesting role to take on because I was working with two guys that were based in Israel and we're starting this company at such early stages stages and that's a scary thing to jump into at such an early stage, especially as my first role in community to do it. Um Yeah, from really day one, yeah, what uh what kind of work did you do with Seth Godin? Because that's really interesting, I wanted to share with our audience around that a little bit. Yeah, totally. Um so I actually started working with him back when I was in college, so I had basically started on with, this is a wacky job if I want to join this full time outside of college when I graduate, let's kind of do an experiment and see how it goes.

And so it really started with trying to get set instagram up and running. He wasn't very present on social media at the time. And so that's where it all started, was okay, I have done social media marketing back in college, let me kind of get this going. And so by the time I graduated, that turned into a lot of other projects and I came on full time, so some of my favorites were building online workshops, so the, the umbrella company was a kimbo and under that is the All NBA which really pioneered a lot of the cohort based, learning that a lot of people know of today and has become quite popular, but for the first, you know, two years before the pandemic had started, I was really doing these virtual experiences before they were cool and the only thing that we could do uh so it was really powerful to be using zoom years before everyone else was and figuring out how to do it in a powerful way where people could use breakout rooms, you know, to my favorite experiences were creating those cohort based learning programs that were really all about community at the end of the day. Um one of them was a five day program called the emerging leaders program for those entrepreneurial minded college students that I had wished I was connected to back at Penn State, it was a program for them during the pandemic when they didn't have their summer internships to come together for five days and really sit with a lot of the questions that I wish I had been asked in traditional education.

Um so that was one of them and then the other was the real skills conference, which was a two hour virtual conference, all focused on the participants and not the people actually speaking and again, uh was happening before virtual conferences were the only thing we could do. So it was quite fun to plan and really rethink how we could use and break technology. Yeah, so interesting, it's so cool and I, you know, I was in a community that we did do breakouts before all this was being cool. Um I was in a community and and it was when I was back at my no look, no more looking working there when I was at my corporate job, I was was the silent quitter before. That was the term because I was silent quitter, I was on my computer at work on a zoom call with the zoom boxes all hidden and me having headsets in and if I ever wanted to go off mute, I like stood up from my because I worked at a sales job and I was on the sales floor and I would be, you know, doing email, kind of looking at email while I'm on these calls and then if I wanted to say something, I would like get up and go to this other like side room and then talk.

So I would be like, I don't care if anybody from my old company heard whatever secrets out, but but but but that's why that's what I fell in love with around communities because I joined a community virtually. I met these people who I couldn't find in my local in pennsylvania here, I couldn't find people that were a group of people meeting, I didn't know that there are startup groups that now meet up and things like that. But Um I think that's more common now than it was maybe like in 2016 or 2017 when I was kind of in this search of like, I want to do online business and I don't know how to do that and so I need to find people to do that with, but I also have the challenge of being a generalist. And one of the things I learned about community manager's roles is like, they are generalists and I was like, oh well I've been a generalist my whole Life. I'm wearing seven hats this whole time.

I've been doing so many things. People are like, what do you do? And I'm like, what's today? So, so today I'm going to go to an improv thing tomorrow, I'm gonna be doing a photograph event. I'm photograph an event like Wednesday. I'm writing a blog post. So like I, I get the whole coming from different backgrounds, which is you and I have that in common, just completely different backgrounds and then coming into this space of community and I think you said about, you know, like trying to um how did you say it answer the problem of loneliness to help the opposite of loneliness in the world. One of the things I was on your call the other week when you had a virtual call for your for the groove, um I think it was the business or the business owners, business owners and you were asking why did you start your business? And the question, the answer that came to my mind at first was because I've never felt like I belonged anywhere and I wanted to belong somewhere.

So I created that space. Yeah, I remember when you said it and I was like, mic drop moment like that, that is why, you know, that's one of the things that I love about this space is people who create their own businesses are doing it from such a personal spot typically, you know, like I felt something and I wanted to change it, you know, other folks that were in that space also said my mom experienced something and I didn't want anyone else to experience what my mom experienced and I was like, wow, like those reasons for why people create those different paths are so personal and I want to be surrounded by people like that and I found that back in a kimbo and all NBA as well, a lot of the folks that were in those workshops were doing similar things and then here it grew so I mean yeah, we're in the same wavelength for sure. And like I said when I peeled back that curtain and kind of heard about the community world and what was going on, I turned like it was like literally peeking my head around when I met the first person I know who was Head of community somewhere, I was like, wait, what, what is this? I get to make friends for a living like sure.

And so I kind of pulled this back and I was like, oh all my people are over here, all the people who are being valued for for these soft skills and these people skills and for wearing different hats because so often we are put into these boxes that it did feel like that sense of belonging to say oh I'm not alone in feeling this way. There are other people that are validating that this is, these are important skills and it can be really hard sometimes because they are so wrapped up in who our identity is as a person, but I'm in community with other people like that and that's what makes it okay, so um and really special, so yeah And what group is solving is a problem around that startups and entrepreneurs have of doing this alone um working, working the long our quitting a 40 hour work week job to work 70 hours without until we find our clients or you know, figure out the path to income um and get that, get that consistent, can take a long time and so there can be really great days and there can also be really not great days and I think that's what's nice about what your, what your platform does is help people kind of have have moments where we can celebrate and have moments where we can support each other and challenges and um in a space where we're all coming from the same kind of sense of were purposeful, passionate, you know, people whether we identify as, you know, like different kinds of roles, but we all kind of have this sense of like support and encouragement um lifting each other up instead of like going the, you know, the social media opposite route of, let's blast our microphones and see who can shout the loudest or dance the funniest.

I know we definitely do not mean me dancing on Tiktok, that's for sure. Yeah, you know, I totally agree. It was funny, we were chatting as a team the other day because one of the things we played with a lot is what you just described as, like, it's not really just solo workers, like that doesn't capture the energy of how personal and passionate these people are. It's like, you know, we landed kind of on wanting to test out the language of these are doers and dreamers. They're movers and shakers. Like these are people that have these passion projects that they are projects people and they want to be around other people who want to see all sides of that for them, you know, and and be interested in that. I think even parents, close friends, like sometimes just don't get these wacky paths that were going on as nontraditional path takers. Um and so to feel that sense of community and belonging. Yeah, super special. Clearly I'm amped up about it. Talk to talk to tell me and tell the listener here who might not be familiar with group about what that actually looks like when they're looking at the Groove app or maybe just explaining a little bit of the experience when, when somebody would um who, you know, if somebody's saying, oh, that sounds like me, I'm struggling with being alone.

Um, and I'm doing this and the group's thing sounds great. Like how would they then get to know a little bit more about group from? Yeah, we'll totally, and I think one of the biggest things that I just kind of like preface this with is we have limited time as business owners, as, you know, these movers and shakers of the world, people are busy and I think that's something that's really common inside of Groove. Um personally I have a really hard time saying, oh, I'm gonna, you know, do a 30 minute or one hour catch up with someone, whether it's someone in the space that I'm curious about their work or it's an old friend that I'm like, oh, I used to work with them. Um I think it's really hard to like block off time on a calendar these days, especially when you're this type of person. And what I love about group is like just by default, you're gonna get it done during those 50 minutes together. So you hop onto the app, you click the big green button and you're paired up with someone from around the world up to three other people. So it maxes out at four people, so it's nice and intimate, that's how you get to really know each other. Um and and once you've got matched up with them, you're now on video and audio for about 3 to 5 minutes where you can share what you're up to for the next little bit where you are in the world, maybe a little bit about what you do, what projects you're excited about.

Um and then you get into the focus session, so you're off a video off of audio and you've got a little to do list, so you can check it off each other on as you're hitting those accomplishments at the 25 minute mark, there's a way to check in with each other and then when the 15 minutes are up, you hear a little light dinging noise that kind of wakes you out of that focus mode and you go back on video and audio to share how it went. And so, um you know, it's again in a couple of minutes of connection at the end there, but for that, about hour of your time, there's a shared experience in their of really moving things forward and making progress. That's powerful because you're doing it in community now, you're not just doing it on your own, you're accountable, you have to tell people at the end how it went. So if you're like, oh I scrolled through social media the entire time, like you learn that a couple of times when you do kind of goof off or get distracted, it doesn't feel good to come back at the end to be like, that's what happened. Um and so the social accountability is really powerful and similarly, like you said, building those connections happens in those couple of minutes because people are talking about the work that they're doing in their day, oh, you know, I'm trying to conquer these two DUIs or it's been a rough day and I really need to use the 1st 10 minutes of this groove to just take a walk and then I'm gonna get into it.

But I know if I don't get into this groove and tell you all that I'm going to take a walk, I'm not actually gonna take that time for myself. And I think that's some of the powerful pieces of it is, it's about people designing their days and saying, how do I want to spend the next 50 minutes? And if they grew a few times throughout that day, they continue to ask themselves that question and I think sometimes we don't come out of water as folks that are on these nontraditional paths to say like, Oh yeah, let me take a breather. Like, what, what do I want to do for the next 15 minutes, it's just go, go, go and trying to get through the to do list. So I think that's, you know, a lot of the powerful pieces of it, um and, you know, we're still early stages, so a lot of what we're doing right now is, is really rallying around those community members to build what the future of this looks like. And one of the things I'm most excited for right now is finding ways for people to more easily connect with the people that they really want to connect with in there. And one of the things we've learned through our UX research is, it's not about fields, it's not about the the work that you're in. I was talking to someone the other day who was like, oh, I'm a community manager, and I would love to connect with the other community leaders inside a groove, but I'd also love to connect with the other knitters, and it's not necessarily that I'm gonna knit inside of a groove, but to be in company with people who understand that practice of mine would be really, really special.

I just was kind of doing, I was telling you how we're doing some tests, experiments where I like do something for a week or two and see how it goes. And one of the things I was testing was manually matchmaking folks inside of the groove community based on some of their interests, and a lot of folks have really cool bios where they share some of those interests that are outside of work, and um also just getting to know them as a community leader. It's easy to say, oh, I know something about this person, something about this person and I realized there's like quite a little bread making crew on groove, which is so funny, you know, not a lot of people are making the bread and groove, but I will say I was in a group with someone today who was putting their bread in the oven uh and I connected all of them and it's a special thing when suddenly they've got this shared interest of like, let me send you a photo of my cinnamon raisin bread I made last week and I'll send you my sour dough recipe and even though it doesn't really have to do with what they're accomplishing in the groove, it connects them on a human level that we so often miss in social media and linkedin and even in the traditional corporate experience of not being able to kind of show all those sides of ourselves.

Um, and so yeah, that's, that's, I think a big piece of it is how people connect that way. Yeah, I think it's so interesting and meaningful to not have to put ourselves in boxes and to say that how we're a human being and on all of these different elements, we do this thing, but we also do this thing, but we also do this thing and those are all amazing elements of what makes us a person, you know us and to um to be aware of that, I think is a great skill as a community manager that you have of of just recognizing those those threads of seeing that. I think those are really um honing on those skills for community managers, like when you're talking um because community managers might be listening and I'm just thinking of giving tips about this community managers that might be listening or if they're, you know, if you have a community, you know, and you're thinking like how how do I get my community members to talk? Because that engagement is like one of the biggest things. They think these are some really good tips as far as like how to get more engagement.

Right? Totally. Yeah. And you know, one of the things like I said is like sometimes if you have a community that's so wrapped up in a product like ours is um you have to, you have to create alternatives, you've got limited resources and you have to create other ways to learn things quickly to then be able to say to your product team, oh I think we should actually be building this and so you need to collect data quickly, which is why I run these different experiments. And so one of the reasons that I think it's important is um you know, we have a slack channel and there's a couple experiments that I'm running in there now of like what does it look like to kind of give groupers the ability to say, oh, I want to be a part of X group. So I wanna be a part of the business owners group or we have the national novel writing month is coming up for november. Um and we're recording this at the end, you know, in october that we have a group that's going to be um you know, coming into the slack community so that they can connect with other people that are doing. I think it's nano remo or remo, I'm not sure how you say it out loud, but um that's the name of the national Reading month thing. And so it's really interesting when you give them spaces to gather and you're not at the center of it, it changes everything because now they're in the choice where they get to decide do I want a group with that person?

Oh, how can I how do I connect? Because now I've given them permission. Here's the container, you're now all together. What do you want to do about it and kind of giving them a little bit of instruction. So they know how to do it. Um I think that's the key. And so when I think a lot about like as a community leader, what is my role? It's a lot about setting up the container. And um I like to think a lot about like this job title of community Architect because I think it illustrates that so clearly that really as a community leader, my role especially, you know, specifically at groove, it could be different for different people is creating that blueprint of where are we going, what are we building and for the product team to come in and help me build up those walls for this house, we build it together, but we don't build the entire thing, We leave just enough room so that community members can walk into that door and continue building it with us. Um they can say, hey, I think we should put a green velvet couch over here and let's paint this wall purple and that I think is the key is, is when I think about the slack experiment is I'm setting up a room for the nano remo folks to come and gather.

Um, but I'm not creating the room completely for them because I want them to come and create and empowering them to do that I think is one of the biggest things that we can do as community leaders. Yeah, I think is so pivotal to just realize that empowering the community members is the way to inspire them to feel like they're a part of it and to feel like they have, they're important in the space they matter. I think those are, those are key components, just showing how they matter of saying, no, we want to hear your voice and we want, you know, if this is and validating, like the need for certain things. I think there's a lot of, yeah, you know, slack channels that I'm in or you know, whatever you call them, that I'm slacks with them and that are like, there's got all these channels, but like is anybody actually conversating in this? You know, it's been validated that people even want that space or want to connect there. Like I think it's an important distinction to make of, you know, like we can create it, but if there's a need and if we see that it's something, um, that makes sense.

I think that's a good direction to keep ahold of its like not wanting to serve every everyone and creating a space for everyone unless people are saying, you know, a collective group is stepping up and encouraging them say, hey, if there's a space that's missing here, then tell us and we will create, you know, we wouldn't encourage you to, to, to leave or create. Exactly yeah. And I think that, you know, with the example of slack channels, like I do this a lot where I'm very clear and um, yeah, very clear with my community members. Like this is an experiment. This isn't going to be a space forever. And so I think doing that allows also like some freedom on my part to say like I'm not sure what's going to happen with this. This might not be forever, but let's like go all in for the next two weeks and see what we learn from it together um and that I think is respected a lot in the community because people get that. Um you know, we also have like a product roadmap where we updated every quarter and it, it's really cool because community members can see that all the feedback that they give, even if it's like a quick note that they say when I'm in a group with them and they're like, God, I really wish this existed and I'm like, oh, mental note, let me write that down.

Um they get to see their, their ideas come to life in our product roadmap and see what we're actually working on and what we're prioritizing, they're a part of that journey with us and so on. That product roadmap, the thing at the top has this quote from bon Jovi that says um like uh something along the lines of like, you plan it out but Planet in pencil and I use that framing a lot for what I do as a community leader because we're not using sharpies to plan out the future together right now, I'm too early for that, we don't know what's going to happen in the next few months. Um there are things that I have assertions will last for a long time and those things, I wouldn't add that clarity of like, hey, this is drawn in pencil, but I do lean on it a lot to say that. Um, we don't know, we don't know when, you know, if this is going to stick around, we want to try something. It allows you a couple of different things, right? Then your community members feel like they're a part of things where they can, if things are changing then they can, they can say, oh great, they're listening to us, right, Things are challenging. Um, it also gives you the ability to kind of say, you know what, this isn't working and I don't want to keep doing something that isn't working.

It's like, like, yeah, like snap because we need to drop, like I want to finish something I got this mindset of like, all right, I said, I'm starting something so I have to finish it. Um, and I think I've been working on letting go. And one of the things recently that came up was this book study that I had partnered with another community and we were doing a book study in the community, which just closed over the summer time. We were doing that and there was a lot of interest in the beginning and then all of a sudden kind of died off and I'm like, well, I'm not gonna, you know, basically give up an hour of my time guessing that maybe people are gonna show up and maybe want to talk about the book and might not have even read the chapter and you know, like I'm just, I just don't want to waste my time with that. No it's not even even though I committed to doing an eight week you know an 888 week study program or whatever and we were in like week five and I'm like you know I'm not getting an R.

S. V. P. From people, I'm not getting the sense that they are really gung ho about this and then it's like you know what, I have other things I could do. So I said if you'd like to continue meeting, go for it, I'm gonna end the zoom sessions that are scheduled. Um And you can continue to read the book and meet people like on your own and I don't need to be a part of that. That's all good. Um But that that's something that really took me work to like mindset work like yes I've got to let it go now that is that is a skill and it is not something that is going to be learned one you know after one instance or many like it is something that is continuing to be worked on. I had a conversation with TOBA who's our UX designer and co founder and she we were talking about these test experiments and like what do we do when we like kind of completed one after the end of like two weeks or so now what? And so she quickly was like well maybe we should have like a graveyard for them. And I was like, I agree with the sentiment like, yes, we should have a place where like they live that like they exist.

And I was like, but this is what's interesting about it is I think so quickly when something either fails, it is something that we learn from, but like we're not going to continue. Like we just talked about like where you're like, you know what some things worked, some things didn't, but this isn't gonna keep going. Um there's something to celebrate in that. So I joked like maybe we should call it celebration park instead of a graveyard because even just that reframe changes how we view all of these different experiments that were running. And so she laughed and she was like, you know, I didn't really seriously mean like, let's call it a graveyard and I was like, no, I know, but it had me pause for a second because a graveyard sounds so negative, like that's where ideas go to die. Um whereas if we're celebrating that, like we tried something and maybe it didn't work. Yeah, it also speaks to failure versus uh, you know, commitment until we're ready to change direction of like experimentation and then, oh, this didn't work the way we, you know, we didn't get the outcome we wanted or whatever.

We're not calling it a failure, We're just calling it hey, this didn't work out the way we thought it was gonna work out out of the way what the outcome is being set. So now we're going to change directions and the ship's gonna go differently now. That's okay. That's the experience. And it actually is beneficial to I have a little, not, I don't want to call it graveyard, but I have like a little sequence of here, all the things that dubs tried and there's a long list and um you know, I don't necessarily post it up or anything but I do kind of say, you know this is another thing that I commented about. People love to give ideas but they never like to really do the things and unless they're like, you know, in the roll there's like the Doers and I think the group that we're talking about with group, those are all like the do our people, they're like die hard. Like we're going to get it done people but there's the world is not made up of all doers. And so I think that there's a lot of people that like to say, oh well this sounds all nice but you know, you should have this or this or this.

And I think that can get us stuck as a startup. So the comparison is the thief of joy kind of situation where we're comparing ourselves to others and I'm totally derailing now. But no, I mean I love this conversation like yeah, we're on the same wavelength, that's for sure. But just to say that I think what the community that you're hosting does is really help people in several different ways, but through the perspective of experimentation is okay for empowering you to step up or taking your feedback. And I think that's a good lens for other community builders to learn from because I think the thing that we think is committee builders is everything has to be working well and and there has to be less friction, which is true, but it's through experiments and through that smaller, like you didn't just start at a couple 100 people, you said you started with smaller groups first and then the whole key to this, what makes you different.

I think some people might be thinking if you're listening to this and you're like how is this different than like a zoom call or google meet or whatever. Um So I wanna, I wanna have you answer that question of like how does grew different from like another maybe place where people gather? Yeah, well I think one is, I would say it's really about the people and I think that's what I found really different um when I during the pandemic when I was working remotely and missing that in person, small team that I was a part of in my last role, I was like craving just the like the check ins um you know yesterday I grew up with someone who I hadn't seen in about a month and a half, she's been kind of going through a tough time and she was traveling a bit and so she just came back and she was like, hey, how did your vacation to ST Lucia go again? Like how, how was that? Like did you have fun with your family? And I was like, we grooved literally like over a month and a half ago and you remembered that about me like, and then thought to ask me that, that meant a lot.

And I think that's part of what I missed inside of a office space. And so I think that it's, it's the connection that I think changes things for me, but it's also a little bit of the convenience of, um, like I mentioned before you press a button and people show up like that's, that's, you know, and it's gonna continue to be even better than that as we continue to grow. But I think that the nature of how low lift it is for me as a gatherer myself and I'm sure many of the listeners are, you know, inherently gatherers and planners and organizers. It's like, I don't want to organize another meet up in the middle of my day, I don't want to organize another virtual coffee, I want to just press a button and if people that I know can show up, um, or new friends that have shared values, like that's all I need is to be able to do that and they know the structure, There's this shared experience that we all get And we know at the end of an hour we're gonna feel so much better about ourselves. And so I think that's, it's like the structure plus the people that really does it for me. And that's why I felt like it was different cause, you know, like I said, I during the pandemic had tried to find that sense of community in a bunch of different ways.

I took a bunch of online programs and one of the hardest pieces about an online program that I found is a lot of them do an incredible job at like the 30 days or 60 days that you're a part of it. It feels great. It's a sprint, you're really in it, you're loving the people, you know, but it it's not sustainable. That type of interaction and connection or that type of work that you're putting into those assignments and so what does it look like at the end of the 30 days to easily connect in a low lift way with those people and keep cheering each other on. Well, it's groove, it's just, we haven't, you know, we haven't quite set it up to partner with those cohort based programs yet, but that is something that I think is really special about it is it is an ongoing connection in a low lift way. Yeah, exactly. There's not like a forum space. It's, it's it's really focused on just those live connections that you make with people to get whatever it is that people want to get out of that session and meet up um and connection and collaboration and all that kind of stuff. Did you have formal training at some point?

Um I know you said you worked with Seth, but I didn't know if there was any other formal training that you had or any other experience that you had around community building that kind of gave you the background of like what it means to gather people or how to facilitate or anything like that. Good question. Um I I've never had any formal training is a short answer, I have always loved gathering people. Uh you know back in college I worked at a craft studio and I would host these craft nights for, you know, it was like mom and wine night on Tuesday or like you know, a sorority would come in and they would do different crafts together and so I would host those different events um and and so it created you know like this, this cool space where I got to be at the front of the room and like facilitate these things and it wasn't like I was an artist in the sense that I like knew exactly what I was doing, but I am an artist, like I'm you know, I'm someone who I can, I can dabble and I have fun doing it and I think that was something that I just learned, like you don't need to be an expert to be the person in the front of the room. And um it's really about creating the container and so I think that being in the make re which was this craft studio and watching the woman who runs it um you know do it in such a beautiful way.

I was able to see like we've got this beautiful space. She's already created such a container. She's already, I've watched her do it. How can I adopt this and do it myself? And so I think that that was in some way, some sort of a training. Um It's funny. I I one of my friend's friend's favorite things to like joke about me is like if you need to know anything about taylor. Like I procrastinated writing my thesis in your year by giving a Ted X talk at Penn state. And I think that said like that said a lot like I in 48 hours I was like, you know what the next thing is happening. I really want to talk about my favorite word sounder. I'm just gonna do it. My thesis is due the next morning but like let's go for it. Like this is my chance to my ted talk. And I think that I'm naturally just always loved being in like on stage or being, thank you. It's not like it's more just like, I think the funny part is like, I don't, like, I think what I've learned is it's not about preparing as the speaker. Like I was just saying, it's, it wasn't a lot about me, it was about getting on a stage and saying like, I want to go through a shared experience over the next 10 minutes where you're thinking and it's all about you in the audience, You're thinking deeply about the questions that I'm going to ask and you're gonna walk out of the next 10 minutes um having a new insight, an Aha moment.

And so I think I've learned along the way, like it's not about me, I don't want to just rant about, oh, this is my life and this is, you know what I've been learning um but instead giving space for other people to to have like some sort of a moment together and that I think is something that um I learned along the way through putting myself in those different situations and recognizing what felt uncomfortable um what felt uncomfortable about just rattling off, like this is my story, like I'm not an expert and like no one's an expert. Um I think Seth has an incredible blog post about imposter syndrome and like the reality is we're all impostors. So now what are we gonna do with that? And that's the thing is like if we're all impostors, I'm still gonna show up on the stage and I'm gonna try to add as much value in creating that container for you to have your moment to get out of that imposter syndrome a little bit. And I think that's yeah, that, that's kind of my philosophy on it. Like mic drop. No, that was beautiful. That was beautiful. I have some rapid fire questions out.

Um so I haven't done rapid fire questions really in the end of the podcast interviews, but this is the last of the 10 episodes of this strategy podcast. And so I, and as I read the creator to community builder book, I'm like asking these questions in the forum and I thought, why don't I ask these during the podcast episode? Really? So I should do that. I'd like to just talk with people and like see what comes up. I'm like a creative that just wants to like, let's explore all the things. But are we talking, are we talking like twitter version? Like how quick are these rapid fire answers? Little expansion is okay, I don't want to limit you to twitter version side. I feel like that might be a challenge for you. What's the biggest challenge in your experience as a community builder that you've had? I'm going to go, it's rapid fire. So whatever is on top of my mind, right? I'm going to say boundaries, I care so deeply about this work in this space and uh this mission to help people feel less lonely, that sometimes it's hard to separate myself from the work and it's a challenge and I'm very honest and clear about it.

I wrote a medium article recently about how I'm working through it. And I have those moments where I'm not setting those boundaries up and then I'm not, you know, I'm not setting myself up for success and I'm not taking care of myself. And that's when I learn. And I say that that didn't work over there. So now what? Um, and so I have some strict boundaries that I think uh, you know, I have no plans monday rule that I shout for from the rooftops because I think it's changed my life to make sure that I am taking Mondays for myself. And I also have other boundaries throughout the week that are similar, that are very strict, that no matter what's going on, unless it is a once in a lifetime concert that's happening on monday or a best friend's birthday party, Like truly like best friend, nothing is happening on monday. Yeah. So it has to meet some of those high standards And really, really high standards and nothing in the last about 10 months of doing this, nothing has met those standards. And I've it's been really hard to maintain some of these, you know, that's just one example, but some of the other boundaries as well. So I would say that that is the biggest challenge is taking over, but you've overcome them by setting those boundaries for yourself.

But is it a work in progress? I mean like it is yeah it is it is a practice. Um and I think that it continues to surprise me what things show up. I mean I thought that I had things you know pretty figured out and three weeks ago I had a moment where I was like why can't I turn this off at night? You know I'm continuing to think about a story of where someone was really struggling in my community. And it's hard because empathy doesn't turn off at five p.m. And so what do you do Then? And I think that's um yeah that's it's one of the biggest challenges and it's hard because I am a gatherer at my core and so doing something that uh is now my work, how does that show up when I want to gather friends and how do I create boundaries so that that doesn't feel like work. I hosted a flower party last night for 15 girlfriends and we all came and made bouquets at my apartment and it didn't feel like work because it was the best. Yeah and and and I found ways to do it in a way that doesn't feel like work and I and I that's again a work in progress because the last time I did something like that a little bit more like work.

So um always learning always trying new things. But one of the biggest challenges is separating myself from the work and finding those boundaries. What aspects of community leadership do you enjoy the most mm helping people feel seen? I think that's like the biggest thing for me is being there and sitting with someone when they're sharing something. I had a groover the other day who I asked him, I was like, hey, why don't you update your group bio? I think people would love to learn more about you because I've you know, I've been getting to know him and he was like, actually it's been really intentional. I think I'm going through an identity crisis and I was like, like, I hear that and I want to sit with that and I think you know who you are, You know what you love in this world. And it doesn't like he was really stuck on the work piece of it of like, what work am I doing? What's my title right now? I don't know where my business is going. And so he ended up like, hey, and so and I was like, you are in good company, sir, join, join the club there.

Yeah. And so I was like and and so I you know, I said to him, I was like, I'm going to challenge you on that, I think you know who you are and I was like reflect on like who you are at your core and write a bio from that place. And so he ended up editing it and it's like he wrote, I love connecting with people, I love being in nature, I love spending time with people that are interesting to me. Like he wrote these things about who he is as a human and then ended up writing me like this really long email afterwards and just said like I needed someone to be there for me and give me that space to realize, I do know myself, I don't know what the title is right now, but I do know myself and like that those moments in like the simplest form, it was like one question, it was sitting there with him for three minutes that like if I can help create that for anyone just by being there in a tough moment, in a moment when they're struggling this business and imposter syndrome is hot uh like that is yeah, one of my favorite things to do and and also to watch other community, like other community members do that for other people.

So it scales when you, when you show it um and when you're there and then they feel that I would not be surprised if he goes off and also creates space for more groupers to feel that with him in those moments. So um yeah, that's one of my favorite parts. So cool, what do you define as success for your online community? Who like the data, the data side or like my personal side, because this is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word success for an online community. I think for me it's I think it's a lot about providing value um and helping people uh get to where they want to go. And so one of the things that I think a lot about with the group community is it might be for a season for some people, this might not be the community that you're a part of forever. And so how do you create value for people to have, like, when they're showing up, it is a place that they need to be and where are they going? Like where do they go from there?

Is it someplace that they hang out with their closest friends, you know afterwards, but like they were there in the thick of it when they had some of these questions and they really needed that support and community and that's something I'm sitting with a lot is um thinking about like what period is this for, What season is this for and how can I provide value during that season for them in that community? Such a good point because I think as I've learned of being a member of community and a leader of community, there's seasons of our life that we just need different groups of people to kind of uh process things through or seasons of our life where we want to focus on different aspects of our life, like well being versus, you know, my career versus spirituality versus mindset versus motivation versus struggling with, you know, relationships, you know, there's different communities that serve those different challenges through life and so yeah, I would be really surprised, you know, of the communities that say like they've had a lifetime members because that really would, would, would stake that, that community really serves multiple purposes then.

So I think the challenges to just say and the benefit as a community there is that you don't have to do all of the, you don't have to check all the boxes. You just um, can be aware of where you, where you're part of their journey and there's intersect. Yeah. And I think the key lesson there is like, it's not for everyone and it can be for someone and then it could be not for that same person. Um, and learning like going back to letting go, sometimes you gotta let go of that like retention numbers like, you know, they are important, but at some point, having a really powerful conversation with community member who says this really served me during a period of my time and I had a recent conversation with someone about this actually who was really going through a specific time and needed grew for the last year and now they've moved and they found some something different, a different kind of community that's supporting them in a new way and they hop on because they love, you know, getting to see familiar friends once in a while, but they're not going to be a weekly active over, you know, they're not going to be showing up every single week and that's okay.

And I think as community leaders, we need to let go of that sometimes. Because that also means that we've done our job in some ways. Mm hmm. The community that helped me become location independent is a community that I'm no longer in because now I've need other communities to help me with different things. So yeah, good point. Um last question, hopefully. I think last question. Um I know we're getting long here. Um what um would you share to a new community builder or to yourself as a new community builder? So if you had, if you could think of one thing to go back and tell yourself when you first started out with this journey, what would you say to yourself? It's funny because I literally wrote a slap. I sent a slap audio note yesterday to my team saying I should write a I should write a letter to my my past self. So, I literally wrote about this yesterday and it's gonna be a medium article soon. My biggest piece of advice that I would say to my, my early community building self would be that like you are valued like you are valued in this space.

Um I think that a lot of the skills that I had in college that and a lot of the things that I did in college were not valued on paper um And I didn't know what that space was going to look like for me and that there was a job title and there was a job description that was going to fit those types of skills and that they would be valued. Uh And I think that along the way like I wish I could have told you know me a few years ago like hey you haven't found it yet, but all those things you're doing, they're going to pay off because you're learning so much and you're gonna be valued one day in the space for those types of skills and who you are because this is like I said, a really identity driven um type of a role and and I wish that I could go back and just be like it's gonna work out, you're gonna be fine. Oh it's no we want to hear everything is gonna be fine, It's gonna be just fine. I actually write that to myself at the end of all of my journal entries every day. Um you're gonna be okay and I I'm doing that for 30 days to see how I feel at the end of the 30 days and um yeah it's a good practice.

I'm writing, I have everything I need mm Because That's a good one too. Maybe my next 30 days. I have everything I need. Because I'll tell you every time I want to like every time I have some problem, I'm like, I need to like buy a course or I need the program or I can't, you know, I need to hire somebody or I need to go somewhere I need to do something or I don't have to buy that that book. And I can tell you right now, I have 20 have no lie. I have Like five books on my kindle. I have seven books person. I understand I have five books on my audible subscription or whatever. Like it's just it's insane. And I was talking to somebody yesterday and I was at the last piece I'll share is I was camping this past weekend in the Pittsburgh area of pennsylvania Ohio Ohio State Park and there was no signal. And so I was just sitting there um and reading and enjoying the fall colors and the silence and you know, all of that good stuff.

And I just on my drive back is about three hours of my drive back, I was listening to a podcast and she said she said, don't leaders should stop creating consuming content and start creating it. And I was like, so and I knew this. I know it's it's like the battle of like creating versus consuming. But one of the things that I think is important as a community builder is to learn that there is a balance between those two things, especially when you're starting out and to tell yourself that things are gonna work out in the beginning. It's like really are they going to work out? I mean, you know, but again, don't have it all figured out, but like we're working on it and like, yeah, younger taylor could use like a plus, you know, thumbs up there. Um, and I think we all should give, we all could use a lot of compassion in our life for sure. Yeah, I think what you're sharing around, you know, these books is like, it's really interesting to like notice that and then bacon, like what does it look like to read five books back to back or what does it look like to read two books and after each book you spend an hour really reflecting on how you can take action on what you just learned.

Like it's, it's an interesting practice of like what now, how do we, what do we do with all this great knowledge I'm trying. So the last thing I'll share here is that I was um I'm trying to lower the expectations that I have for myself in a sense of where I set up myself, I feel like a lot of times for failure because there's just so many expectations I had and I'm trying to like lower those to say, you know, you don't need to write a blog post, every time you read a book into a book review for example, which is what I was doing like a year ago or something, you know, I can read a book, I can take certain notes and then I can implement certain things from those notes or like take one sentence and share it and that's then I can be, I don't have to create these other things with it. Sometimes we feel like there's certain books that are gonna help us inspire and there's other books that are gonna help us like implement and I think knowing those differences of like, okay, this is just a book to inspire versus this is a book to implement.

Those are different kinds of books anyway, but just to say that, I think all the things we talked about the challenge again as human beings is to live life and to find joy in the midst of bringing people together as community builders is an amazing, exciting challenge that we get to experience together and experiment as well. So wrapping it up, thank you for being here uh for those who are listening, what's the best way for them to connect with you if they want to learn more about group Yeah, for sure, we'll, we'll have maybe a link in the show notes where they can hop into groove and get right in without having to apply. Um it is a free community and uh we do have just a couple of questions that folks normally used to apply to build that trust. I mean, that's, you know, such a big part of community is to have just like a little bit of trust of like who the heck is in here, but if you're listening to this podcast, I trust you come on in. Um, so yeah, and if you want to check out our website, it's groove dot oo, like out of office.

Uh and if you wanna follow what I'm up to, twitter is usually where I'm at, which is hate a hair. So H E Y T A Y H A R. You can also find me on linkedin medium, All that good stuff all under there as well. Um, yeah, and thank you so much for having me. I mean, the space to reflect out loud is just so valuable on a podcast to share stories and laugh about things that you're like, oh yeah, this is something we're both dealing with is really, really powerful. So thanks to recruiting the space awesome. Yeah, no, and thank you for, for sharing your expertise and wisdom and so glad we met on cmX connect and and got to connect afterwards. And yeah, so for everybody listing. Uh, thanks for joining in, please rate and review or, and or share this episode with friends that might enjoy it. The fellow community builders alike. Uh, and until next time. I hope you're finding calm in this day, evening or moment, afternoon Tuesday at three for Wednesday at three.

Uh, finding calm until the next time. Take care and we'll see you then Bye 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 gonna 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 helping me if you've already donated.

Episode 92: Groovy Community Strategies with Taylor Harrington
Episode 92: Groovy Community Strategies with Taylor Harrington
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