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

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Episode 98: Keep Connected with David Siegel, CEO of Meetup

by Deb Schell
December 11th 2022
00:58:13
Description

In this episode of the Community Strategy Podcast, David Siegel is the CEO of Meetup, the largest platform for finding and building a local 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 podcast, you'll 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. I am popping in right before this episode to let you know that i things happen, life changes. And so my intention for this episode was that it was gonna be the final episode of the community strategy podcast.

Um what occurred was that I had some changes in schedules with the recording schedule and so um I wanted to keep on schedule. So instead of being episode 100 this is episode 98. So when you hear in the intro, David's gonna celebrate about 100 episodes. And at the end of this episode, I talk about uh this being the last episode, it's not the last episode, but it's like the third to the last episode. So I'm gonna just give you a brief update. So the community strategy podcast has been going on for um since october of 2020. Initially it was to help build awareness around the fun. Come here community. It later changed to learning about entrepreneurs and then I pivoted again and really focused on telling the story of community builders. So over the last about, I would say Last 50 episodes have been really focused on entrepreneurs and building a business.

And um specifically there has been about 20 episodes that are interviews with Muddy network hosts because that was a platform that I was building on when I launched my community in 2020. And, and there's other, there's also other episodes from other leaders from other platforms. So I wanted to just let you know that I am ending the community strategy podcast at the end of the year and two more guests will be on the podcast yet. Um, and so I'm recording those episodes next week. So I won't announce them yet, but stay tuned for the two more episodes. Please feel free to go back and listen to past episodes. As I mentioned in this episode with David, he um, he shared a lot of different tactics around benefits for community builders and how to make decisions with his new book, deciding conquer. But but what I wanted to just share was at the end of that episode, I shared that this new strategy is going to be part of the book.

So, um, the community strategy podcast will be referenced throughout the creator to community builder book. Um, at this point, I'm halfway through the manuscript, working on getting the final touches to that uh and into an editor's hands in the next few weeks as of today, I'm recording, this is december 9th and this episode is going to be coming out um on sunday december 11th, so enjoy the episode and um thank you for listening. Hi all, thank you for joining me. This is Deb I am the host of the community strategy podcast and I'm here to celebrate our 1/100 episode today with David Siegel, who is the ceo of meet up? David Welcome to the community strategy podcast, 100 episode. This is so like exciting to be honest. I I love community, I love everything that you represent and I couldn't be more honored to be able to have this conversation with you.

Me too. And I know that pretty much anybody who's listening is probably hard to meet up. It's pretty much a household name been in in the, in the world as a name for quite a while, but tell us a little bit, I was gonna say it's about 20 years, I was guessing right, But I know you also wrote a book and we'll talk a little bit about that today and we'll talk about meet up um and how it started, but what I wanted to ask to, to start us off to kick off this conversation of why connection for you, why was made up and working um, and bringing people together and doing a podcast and writing a book about connection and and challenges what's connection and why is it important to you meet up has one mission and it just resonates with me so deeply. The mission is to cure the loneliness epidemic that exists in this world. 46% of people, not, sometimes not occasionally, but regularly feel lonely and among people who are jen's ears, people the most vulnerable people in their, in their early twenties, late teens, it's actually as high as 62% regularly feel lonely and when you have loneliness, it can result in anxiety because often depression and God forbid result in self harm or anything else.

Our dream is we have 60 million people who use our platform across 200 different countries and 260,000 different communities and the goal is for people to be their authentic self, is for people not to have to act in a different way than who they are and people will be hopefully loved, respected and build friends and and loneliness as we know it. The number of stories that I hear from people who are new to a city, I just moved to Hong kong, I just moved to philadelphia whatever the city is and they said they didn't want to go to bars to meet meet people, but they found meet up and they found a kickball group or a hiking group or a tech group or whatever the community happens to be or or playing basketball for people under 56 group actually, which we actually even have those, those, it's not just about the community, it's about connections for people. So for me, I grew up in a, in a, a strong community actually as an as an Orthodox jew in our synagogue community.

And during times of joy when people had kids, people would bring food to their homes and the community would support them during those amazing times of joy and in times of sorrow when God forbid someone might have passed away again, the community would support them. But I know so many people in college and after college that didn't have strong communities that they grew in, grew up in and you know, lots of challenges and soon you don't have that. So I've been passionate and obsessed with the power of community and I've also have faced loneliness at times in my life as well, especially after I graduated college. So it became even more important to me to find ways in which we can end loneliness as we know it. Mm it's original. I you know, the experience of how we first discover community in our life is typically through your local, in person um church meeting or gathering or you know, religious practice or if you have those things or if you're participating in those things and those bonds that you create with those people in your formative formative years are the most impactful as to the really end of design, how you'll develop relationships in the rest of your life.

So sounds like you had a really amazing community from early life that you were able to tap into in some way or another and that experience has given you the ability to say this is a priority for me of connecting um with others and building connection. Well said, you know, I'll share how media was founded and it kind of adds even more to the community kind of because ethos for meet up, which is um right after 9 11, the day of 9 11, our founder Scott Heiferman was in shock, just like I was in shock and you were in shock and everyone else was in shock at that time and no one wanted to be by themselves, we all needed a shoulder to cry on and some community to be with and he was hanging around the lobby of his building that he lived in his residential building and no one was in their rooms, everyone was kind of lurking around, hanging around and walked over to someone and he said, hey, what florida live on? And he said lives on the fifth floor, you must just moved in.

No, he'd been living there for three years and then another person also who had been living in the building for a long time. Well, he also didn't know and he just looked, you know, and talk to everyone, he said to himself, it shouldn't take tragedy for us to build community. How do we build a platform where people can build community, meet other people connect and hopefully have their lives changed because of those connections. And that's when he went back to his room and he actually started the concept around meet up directly you know from that and the number of people who at times you know don't necessarily feel like they're similar to others. So for example people in the queer community, L. G. B. T. Q. Plus community, you know unfortunately many of those individuals thank God less less so now than probably a couple of decades ago felt different and marginalized. And and just really unfortunately the number of people that have felt supported there are people that that you know if I'm a black photographer in Washington D.

C. And I feel like I'm the only black photographer and everyone else is something different than me. How do I meet other people that are kind of have similar passions as I do and we want to say to people you're not as different as you think you are your special, every single person special. But there are people that share some of them made some of the challenges that you may have in life and also share the joys and things that you love. People connect you to those people. Ah it's just the greatest thing in support. So it just really has spoken to me in my whole life. Yeah. Sounds like it sounds amazing um How did you get connected? I know you didn't found meet up um I know that you had and I mentioned this before we started but I did read your book decide and conquer. Found it very amazing. In fact everybody who's listening should jump out and go buy it at your local bookstore supporting local stores or and or if it's easier go to amazon and just click it and buy it and have it delivered to you. Which is what I did um because it's in every Barnes and noble, I'm happy to say sometimes I want to go to a local bookstore, I like checking like oh look it's there sometimes not there but but but you talk about this journey of you coming and working with meet up and and then the the challenges around meet up and when it got bought by we work and then sold by we work and all this this whole up and down roller coaster that really leaves you kind of like as the reader, I was like cliffhanger every like two seconds and I'm like how can I put this book down because I'm like but I really wouldn't know what's gonna happen next.

So it was a really good book for somebody if you're a leader like a ceo it's it's really written for for leaders um that you know as entrepreneurs and business owners will probably not want to admit there's a lot of decisions that they need to make and it's hard to make decisions very hard to make decisions. So why do you want me to hit on? So to tap into first, tell us about the book and why you wrote the book and then we'll get into some of the strategies. Okay, great. Um I've always been obsessed with decision making and the reason for it is because I know so many people who have challenges with decision making. I feel like the majority of people say they have trouble making decisions where they take too long to make decisions or they they sometimes have too many different biases when they're making decisions. How do you get past them? So, I've always been obsessed with the the psychology around decision making, but I don't want to write like a boring business book with just you know, and and the great experience was that I got to be a part of we work and boring do not go together.

So there were so many insane experiences. My interviews with Adam neumann which I had 27 different interviews before I became the Meat Up Ceo, which is a lot to taking over for a a founder who had been running the company for 16 years, an incredible person scott Heiferman who I referenced earlier who had the original concept and how do you kind of the change management involved in taking over for someone to entering a culture of a company that was kind of run like a nonprofit and kind of anti revenue Uh and turning it into something more meaningful to ultimately selling meet up after we worked valuation went from $47 billion $2 billion dollars and almost fell apart to the pandemic hitting meet up. And how do you run a company? So there's so many crazy things that happened. I was like, it was basically therapy for me to be honest with them. So when when the pandemic hit and I had 2-3 extra hours and not having to commute anymore and we just sold out of we work, there are so many um challenges swimming around in my head and so many experiences related to decision making.

I just started waking up at 45 o'clock in the morning with a lot of energy, even more energy than usual. And just wanting to just almost right like a diary almost of my experiences. And it ended up turning into a book actually because of community, I may add because someone who I met who have been close with for a while and community that I'm in introduced me to the to publisher at harpercollins and I sent a manuscript in that had spelling mistakes and grammatical mistakes and just just almost a diary of experiences lead to personal decision making and they read it and they love the roller coaster element of the storytelling element. and uh you know, then we published the book, you know, shortly after that, I actually only spent 2 to 3 months writing the whole book. I was just about to ask you, I Birthed it, I literally birthed it out of me, I would be lying in bed just writing right in just a couple of months, I wrote the entire 200 and whatever, someone pages of it.

Yeah. Oh my gosh, well, I was just about to ask you about the writing process because I'm writing a book, my first book and it's do you have a name yet? Its creator to community builder is the working the working title based on the creator economy, which I identify a lot in in being in that space of creator economy and the challenges and complexities that come with being a creator, talking about decision making, there's a lot of decisions creators have to make, an entrepreneurs have to make and where to place right now, Timewise, we're recording this in november, so we're almost tapping into the holidays, it's gonna be 2023 right, is right around the corner, people are looking at setting up their plans, their strategic plans for the next year, how are they spending their dollars, what are they're investing in their time and their money and and it's a good time to talk about, this is a good time to talk about making decisions and on the same aspect, we are seeing a massive shift in what is happening online right now.

Big time this week in the last week with twitter and facebook announcing layoffs, twitter being brought over all of this shift of this um matt matador, whatever, this new other place that I heard about recently. Um so the online world of community building is kind of blowing up right now in a lot of ways and community is like a, one of the most words I've heard this year is community and whether they're talking about an in person community or a hybrid or you know, online or whatever of community building, people know that this is an important thing that they want to do, but they need to figure out as a business owner, how does this fit in my business? And so I know that there's some strategies that you talk about in the book of relating to decision making and I was curious if there's a way that we could frame it through the lens of a community builder That's looking at 2023 right now because the audience is going to be in that spot, I'm sitting in the space of, I'm a community builder.

What am I going to be investing my time and energy and how do I make decisions in 2023, 20 at the end of 2022, going into 2023 good stuff. Okay, so here's a couple of thoughts. So number one is probably the biggest challenge that most people have, especially entrepreneurs have around around decision making, which relates to community building is the speed of decision making. So teddy Roosevelt once said a beautiful quote, which is the best decisions are great decisions, the next best decisions are bad decisions and the worst decision is no decision. And I think many community leaders and I'm sure you know this because we both know many community leaders, they have a little bit of a perfectionist type of mentality and they're going for that a slash A plus because so many people are dependent on them and they don't want to create that if it was just for themselves, they'd be okay. But because most of the time there incredibly selfless people and philanthropic people who want to make the world a better place, That's why they're in communities not to make tremendous amounts of money, is to make the world a better place and connect people, they know the stakes are high and they want to do everything in kind of an A plus.

So the result of that is oftentimes paralysis in decision making and kind of a principal I talked about in the book and principle around decision making general, certainly very, very applicable community leaders is speedy be speedy or making decisions, that's the first one and then learn from your first event, it's a B minus. That's okay. The next event could be a B, the next event could be a B plus and each time you're gonna get better and better, but having the experience will make you much better. That's one the second issue that a lot of community leaders have is they want to listen to all the members of their community, right? Each of whom has a completely different opposite perspective than each other on many, many, many different topics, right? And it's very exhausting. And as a community, you don't want to upset your the people in your team and you end up sometimes making them a decision that is like this in between decision. Um, you know, and what I like to say in decision making is here everyone out here, but don't necessarily listen to everyone.

Be comfortable, quote unquote being an island, it's okay to make what you think is the absolute best decision for a community. Always get feedback. Always hear what people say, always understand the why. And that talks to another principle in the book, which is to be kind and being kind is different than being nice. If as a community leader, you're constantly being super nice. Sure, I'll do whatever you want. Sure. What I'll do whatever you want. Sure, I'll do what you want. Well, that doesn't work as a leader in general and certainly as a community, because then, you know, you're you're you're trying to satisfy and make everyone happy and you're making yourself miserable and there could be lots of inconsistencies. So another principle that we talked about in decision making is be a kind decision maker, but there's a difference between being kind and being nice firing someone that's not so nice, it's painful, but it might be the kindest thing you could do for, that person, might be helpful for that person to move on to the next job, telling someone that's in your community.

Um hey, I'm not sure if this is the right community for you that's uncomfortable, that's like tension filled, but you know what, that could be the thing that the community actually needs best in order to thrive. So principle number one, be speeding and decision making in our community leading principle number two, be kind, don't just be nice and and everyone will walk all over you in terms of decision making, I'm happy to share a few more or I could breathe and take a pause or whatever you like breathe, take a pause. Um I think I loved all of these amazing tips and such a great wisdom. So I, the way I work with clients and when I'm helping people build communities as a consultant, I have been really, my business is called find calm here and I really wanted to take the example of as a solo entrepreneur community building and gathering people together can certainly be time consuming, overwhelming and stressful. It doesn't have to be and you can choose differently too, maybe let go of the perfectionism and just start going with something, you have a community concept, we get clarity on the community concept.

We move to like what's the strategy around the community? How are we going to launch this thing? What's it looking like? Have we talked to ideal members, we workshop all of those things, then we like say we put this thing out there and we say like, like let's see how it goes and then we see, and one of the things I mentioned to somebody was you can have this beautiful platform and you can build all of these beautiful workflows and have sequencing emails and have all the technology set up. Then humans come in to this amazing space and then then that's when all of the things that are you find out that humans are not perfectly rational at all times, maybe, maybe. Um and that's the complexity, because I think when you talk about this, you know, it takes a lot of courage to put something out in the world to have an idea and put it out in the world is courageous in itself.

Period, stop right on tacking onto that, is this amazing ability to have this idea to be brave enough to put it out there And then to be brave enough to not take it all personally when 17 people tell you what they don't like about it and have the grace to say that's alright, you can have your own opinion about it, but here's what I'm doing and it's not perfect and I'm okay with that and community builders. That that's that's really important for community builders because we're talking about people and you can't, you know, you can create systems and processes to like automate certain things. But honestly if you're talking about people, especially if you're a lot of people I work with the starter bucket, they're trying to figure out like how do I even get people here? You Know like I'm not going to have 10,000 people in a community yet. I'm not there, I'm lucky to have 10 and I want them to meet. And so that was another reason why I was excited to have, you talk about, you know, the part of the book, you, you know, you talk a little bit about these shifts that you had to make this really fast decision that meet up was really like we're in person, we don't do online, we're not doing online.

We're not we're not, we're not and then boom yeah, the background Deb on that is we always said it meet up were the technology that gets you off of technology which is a beautiful thing because technology as we know has good and it also has challenges, you know, facebook twitter and other technology, their goals to keep you on that device as long as possible because that's how the company makes its ad revenue and to potentially sell your data and have your information meet up, we want you on the device as little as possible. We want to go to events and go in person. So that was always our ethos was always I. R. L. In real life in person. Once we start seeing in China, of events just shut down literally within a few days overnight and then I was like oh that's happening in China, it's never in the United States, of course in Italy, we see for some reason like Northern Italy, all of us got down in Northern Italy meet up very paradoxically ended up having the second case of Covid was a meet up employee um announced Sinai hospital.

Unfortunately someone had to go there and we're in a we work building, we work, we work building was shut down. Meet up was one of the first companies to have to again go virtual, which is quite ironic, shall we say? It was actually quite a few articles about meet up is no longer in person. As a company. We had we couldn't we couldn't work in the office and I got everyone together like you said and I said, what is our goal is our goal I. R. L. Or as our goal connections. And let's just framework mission is our mission is about community admission about connections and oh people need meat up. People need community even more during the pandemic than they needed it before the pandemic. And now since that time we ended up going from zero meet up events that relatively that were virtual to we've had over five million events And over 40 million people participated in virtual events and now we're back to actually 80% in person and 40% virtual, but I met so many people and they said thank God for me because when I was stuck in a social isolation, I was by myself every night I was able to come to a different beat up event, talk to people connect with people and that kept me sane.

So fortunately we were able to pivot our mission and our and our execution while actually keeping our mission, you know highly you know highly aligned but crazy because that all that you had a staff of team just to remind people of saying this is not just a bit going and like all of a sudden we're flipping the switch from in person to virtual, there was a whole lot of people behind that and so I think that goes to you know having this vision and then being adaptable to it then saying okay, but we, the real purpose is connection and the whole, the whole idea of a pivot in basketball is you keep your heel planted and you move your feet in a pivot so you have to have something planted when you pivot if you can't completely move. So what was always planted for us was community was always planning for us is we are never going to change our focus is building community for people. The execution of that might have gone from more I.

R. L. Two more more virtual during a period of time. And I was back to I. R. L. Again. But but in a pivot, if you wholesale change what you're doing completely change your mission, your strategy. One of our board members for example said meetups should just become 100% virtual because look at how much is growing like no that is not the goal, the goal is understand what our mission is. Never change our mission, but figure out how to execute appropriately. And yeah, we had to give us 100 people, 100 plus people on our company that we make this shift and it was existential, we might not even exist today. We didn't make that shift. So Interesting, so interesting. I and I love the clarity on pivot because I can relate to that in my own business by saying I quit my corporate job. I was a sales person in a corporate office and in 2019 in December of 2019 I decided I had been side hustling freelance travel writing for a while and I'm like I'm gonna go full time and be a travel writer in 2020 mike, drop peace out, See you later. That's that's what I'm doing.

I told my boss like he's like, are you sure this stuff, this is what you want, yep, this is what I'm doing. Everybody was like, what are you doing? This is what I'm doing. So I got all into that was pitching publications in the beginning of the year and then yeah, and then, and then what happened was, is okay now I want to bring people together and gather them, but I still want to help people find calm in daily life. I was writing about how to find calm destinations of calm. Then I pivoted to like, let's find calm around community building. So I launched over 30 virtual workshops in 2020, we hosted amazing workshops that were really inspirational with regards to like how do you re shift your frame around finding calm in these challenging moments. And then from that, I couldn't figure out how to make that a business and so I was exhausted and broke at the end of 2020 after like having all of these amazing conversations with people, but I'm like, but how do I? But then the last quarter of the year, people started asking me how to build community and I became a consultant and then I started to pivot again to say, I'm finding calm, but I'm helping others find calm in the community building process.

So, I've always had the threat of I want to feel calm in any element of whatever I'm doing, and it's just a matter of how do I do that? Well what you did is your, it sounds like being present is such an important thing, you know from your perspective and not being distracted and I think so many people in their lives lead lives of somewhat distraction. They're focused on what the next thing is rather than just enjoying where they are at that time. And uh it sounds like that's been something that's woven through your career as well. Yeah, it's really cool. So thank you for like helping your visit that just now. Um but focusing on money, let's talk about the money situation. So you talked about earlier, um the shifts that happen with meet up, Tell me a little bit more about that if you can. Yeah, anything. So when we were all way we work, we work with basically focused on losing as much money as possible. It's kind of a ridiculous scenario.

It's like you're not losing enough money. In fact, this is crazy for the entrepreneurs that listen to this podcast, but one of, we work KPI or key performance indicators for me to Was how many people to hire as quickly as possible. That was actually a number that may have had to. In fact, it was killing that number was missing a lot of other numbers. When I was hired, I was hired tons of people, the company went from a break even business, not no profit but not losing money China. We works ownership over two years, losing $40 million, $40 million dollars from basically break even so unbelievable. The company before me over doubled its size and really wasn't seeing significant growth from hiring all these people instead. They were hiring people and that was just confusion. Everyone's taking on pet projects, everyone's working on many different things. That may made sense. May may have been more of a distraction actually to meet up when Adam asked me to join um and of course didn't tell scott scott into finding out about it from someone else, which is just not appropriate at all.

Um talking about lack of transparency there when Adam finally finally hired me um one of the things I said is we need to operate this company so that it's in it for the long haul. So we ended up going from in 2019 losing 18 to $20 million to 2020 We ended up making $3 million during the pandemic. So that was a good turnaround. It's not about the money. Yeah, I'll tell you, I'll tell you right off this, but it's really not about the money, it's more about, it's more about building a company that you care about to be a sustainable company that can last forever because as long as you're losing tremendous amounts of money, there's risk that you could be shut down or there's risk that someone else could come in and um try to turn you around quickly and then, you know, really um challenge kind of all the things that your company stands for and change your business model to selling data or some other thing that we don't, we don't really believe in.

So, so it was important for us to do that to ourselves rather than from someone else. So I did, I did a couple of things. One of them, I was going through every single contract in the company and significantly renegotiate all of our contracts and we save dollars there. The second thing I did is, and this goes to being kind not nice a bit. But we made a cultural shift within the company. We said, we need to grow revenue. We need to be profitable. And if the goal is that you enjoy, you know, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on holiday parties and weekly barbecues that will cost $10,000 each and all this kind of lavish employee benefits. I said we gotta eliminate those as much as I enjoy doing them because it's not responsible, it's not being responsible leader to keep them. And we were able to reduce costs. The other thing we did ultimately went to employees with, as we said, anyone who wants to volunteer to leave because of this cultural shift, we are going to pay you a meaningful amount of money, a meaningful severance. Actually very nice severance to pick up and quit if you want to because I learned that by the way from Zappos.

One of things that Zappos and Tony shea did is he would train people at the end of training who would pay them to quit because his idea was, I want to make sure that all the people in the company are deeply like loving being here and, and that they're here for all the right reasons. And we spelled out this is what we need to focus on as an organization and we end up having quite a few people and saying, hey, this is a different meet up than what I remember it being. Um, and that was fine and they're, you know, mission accomplished and we moved on and then we also save money from that way as well. It's insane when I was reading the book and like the stories that you describe in there of just the things and I'm just like, I just, I just, it's mind blowing that these problems are happening and the way you're describing and it's like, but you're talking about millions of potentially millions of dollars and it's, it's, it's like these decisions are really, you know, if you want to have, I mean, basically, I've always been in the thought of if you want to, you work, you come and you work here and it's not about having fun, it's about, you work, you get a paycheck, it's transactional, I really gravitate towards the creator economy based on I want to create work that I'm passionate about, that.

I can actually then charge people for and they can value my, not just passion, but what I'm actually creating out in the world and I feel like that's where um, there's so many shifts happening right now in the economy with this. Um, the great resignation and all the things that have happened with the last couple of years is that we've realized, we only have a limited amount of time on this world. We don't know how long it's going to be or when it's gonna end and we have to make the most out of the relationships and what are important. We, we identified that relationships are more important than transactions for the broad majority of it, but yet we still have to pay our rent or mortgages every month and have to do all the things. So how do we enjoy what we love and get paid to do that like to say is that and you saw this in the book probably maybe even underlined because I saw you had underlined some things about revenue gives oxygen to meet ups mission meaning too often people might see that business principles, growing revenue is like the opposite, you know, this anti Wall Street mentality of like accomplishing a mission, but in reality, the more that we grow company's revenue, meaning the more people that are creating meet up events that are attending.

Meet up events, the more that meet up is growing. We we accomplished our mission and they're one and the same. It's not two separate diametrically opposed concepts, but we can be a better meet up, the bigger and more successful that we are so our goal is not to get money, to take the money. Their goal is to get money so that we're sustainable forever and that and that if we're double or triple the size, that means we're triple the impact that we're helping triple the numbers of people, which is what we want to ultimately accomplish in terms of great resignation. Also, I just wanted to add, I think one of the biggest reasons for the great resignation was actually the loss of community, meaning so many people who were going to the office, let's say three days, four days, five days a week and then we're working from home, they didn't feel that same community, They weren't going to lunches with their friends, they weren't going, going out to work afterwards with their friends, having coffees with their friends and because they didn't feel that deep connection, There were other laptops and zoom and they didn't have that community, that's why so many people were quitting during the great resignation.

Now it's a different story with a lot of people from tech companies. Unfortunately getting terminated facebook just announced, I was 23,000 people twitter, half their company, you know, etcetera, no, no terminations, we're good, we're happy, thank God right now. Um but I think it was a loss of community, that was the number one reason for the great resignation as well. Yeah, but what does that mean now for the trends for 2023 where's community lands with all of these shifts happening? Because they think the challenges lie of it takes time and resources and energy to gather people in any capacity anyhow, how we recover the investment of time, energy and and hopefully come out, you know, making a profit instead of, you know, paying it out of pocket is I think what it is on a lot of people's minds when they think about community building because a lot of people want to build a community, a lot of lot of platforms are out there to help you do that meet up is one of them, but like, again it's time and energy and then income and if I have my rent due is me building a meet up group, gonna be the way that I could build community and is that a business model.

Does that does that look what does that look like for community leaders that you've talked to? Because I know on your podcast, you interview a lot of hosts of, of meet ups. So I wanted to see from all of your interviews, what have you gleaned as far as like their time work balance and how they see community playing out in the next year when you're an entrepreneur, like so many of the listeners here are you're doing a lot of things to grow your business and you want to make sure you're doing them efficiently. So for example, let's say you need to grow revenue as an entrepreneur. Well, community will help to grow potential clients that can be your clients as, as a potential entrepreneur. Um if you own a gym, a yoga studio and we have thousands of meet up organizers that own some physical property, they use meet up to offer events in their gym, offer events in their yoga studio and they use that as lead generation to convert them into potential clients of their gyms and of the yoga and Pilates studios, you know etcetera.

So so so for an entrepreneur that's focused on growth community can help them in that let's say your marketing focus on marketing. Well, community is the best way to drive word of mouth type knowledge, you know about your particular brand and drive like your power users, yours. Ella users the best and most important way to build a brand. There's a lot of studies that have found this that a zealous user, someone who loves your brand is worth over 100 x sometimes in 1000 x. Someone that kind of knows your brand but is not passionate about it because the number of people that they can tell about your brand, you know, people that that person they tell can tell about the brand and the butterfly impact of it. So from a sales perspective community, check the box lead generation, potentially check the box marketing brand building, check the box. Now let's talk about product, you're building a product. So brian Armstrong is the founder of coin base, he said that I would never have been able to build coin base if not for meat up. Why, because he went from one um Cryptocurrency and Blockchain um uh community to another and ran focus groups with with his community to understand their perspective and what works and what doesn't work in their community.

You mentioned the podcast called keep Connected And we interviewed two amazing women who are financial advisors solo preneurs, they're building out their financial advisory business. They each built communities having to meet up, but it could be on any platform, doesn't matter with thousands of people in it. And 95% of their financial advisor clients come from the communities that they built. That's a direct, you know, personal gig economy kind of benefit to to to that. And I was talking about product, you know, using your community to get feedback about your product to find people that might you want to hire to your company. The number of people that when we hire mobile engineers that meet up, we actually we we set up um events focused on mobile engineering best practices. We have mobile engineers, let's say come to those events from IOS and android And we use that as a recruiting tool and then we recruit people, you know, using that as well.

So it's so if you're an entrepreneur and you're looking to recruit people to your team, you're looking to sell, you leave the market, you're looking at the product. I think there's so many ways in which community can be massively helpful for you. It's kind of a no brainer. What I'd like to say is that community is where social media was like 7, 10 years ago, whereas it used to be the head of marketing and that head of marketing had a percentage of his or her or their time focused on social media. Now, you have a full dedicated person facebook, another full dedicated person on Tiktok, another full dedicated person instagram right now. Sometimes for community building it's a percentage of someone's time. But increasingly we're seeing full time community community builders in every single major company and it's for a good reason because of all the reasons that I listed. Yeah. And that's, we see the shift in the community industry to um these director of community global community and then having teams under underneath them. And I've worked with with companies that do that and Gora pulses, a social media management company I worked with earlier this year and they um, or building a community for their, for their social media managers and learning a lot about them.

But it was, it's just interesting this shift with social media that's happening. And where does community, where is community gonna land a year from now? It's going to be really interesting to see, like in a year from now, what the landscape looks like online, how people are connecting now now that we have the opportunity to reconnect in person, I know there's big shifts to that, but there's also still people that aren't ready or don't have time, or the schedules are changing now and everything's different. What do you think is the best? This is the last question, because we're wrapping up, but just to say, well, I have two questions, this is the second to last question. But anyway, what do you what do you feel like um is a good investment in time for someone who is like, okay, I know I want to do community, um you know, what do you think is the must have there for somebody who's like, in this space of, I want to have a community, but I don't want it to be, no, and, and I don't want to be a bad experience.

Right? So here's the answer. The first thing to do is to find two or three other people that can help you input in the community if you're gonna do it just solely by yourself and put all the burden on yourself and only be able to use your own personal network, You're going to be less successful than if you find just like a co founder of company two or three other people that you could really build and lead the community with and share the burden. I'm gonna be in charge of marketing, you'll be in charge of, you know, choosing the event venue, you'll be in charge of this. But I think too often when people try to build a community because of certain tendencies, they want to take on All the responsibility and then necessarily ask for help from others. So find a way to find numerous other people, tell them guess what, you're going to be part of my leadership team and create a leadership team for your community. That's the best thing you can do because guaranteed worst case scenario, you end up having an event, it's just you and your leadership team and just five you whatever that is, but it won't be, it won't be the five you, it'll be 7, 10, 12 and then the then the key is persistence.

If you have a first event and not that many people show up, that's okay. You only get 567 people. The next event, you'll get 20 people next, you're gonna get 50 people, you know, I've talked to so many meet up organizers that have 5,010,000 people, you know in their community today. Their first event was four people. You know, it's important to understand that it takes time to build and then you and that and that and that persistence really makes an enormous difference. And not to just jettison the idea just you know because it isn't you know a smashing success right from the start do the N. V. C. Not M. V. P. That NBC rather than minimum viable product, minimum viable community. Get it out there and then keep trying to iterate from there. Yeah I love it. And you know human beings are unpredictable and we can we can work the plan as much as we want to buy ourselves. But then it's about you know bringing humans together and that can be just such an unpredictable amazing interesting challenging experience. But I think the key there is behind the numbers.

You know people talk about like I want to have 10,000 people in my community but what is that qualitative? Not quantitative, it's not about the numbers, it's about the people whose lives you can change that's really what matters. You mentioned the book, you know I sold X number of copies and whatever I'm happy about it. But more importantly I'm happy that Almost every day someone sends me a linkedin message or an email and says Oh my gosh that really helped me. And if I get one a day that's 300 people who I'm able to help that's all that matters. That's all that when your community builder focus on the number of people that you nothing on people focus on the people that you're helping and that's really what matters most oh and back before we start recording. Just a quick throwback, what we were talking about for the audience to listen for the people to listen to. There's a podcast that was just released today is november 10th. Um so if you look back in your podcast history you'll find it. But what was the episode title of the one that just came out? What did you say? I think it's something around the power of introductions.

Yeah. And I thought I was listening to that on my walk this morning and just got so inspired by the idea of you know if you are a numbers person because there are people that are listening that are like I want the data, I want the numbers, I need to know what the return on investment is gonna be. I know that those people are there, they're listening So okay well this podcast is for you because you could listen to this this conversation that that you have about you know the amazing all inspiring this that it is that can lead that connections can do the power of connections and how they can lead to big decisions like jobs and careers that change somebody else's life in their income but also in their life. So you know I mean I'll tell one last story and then you can ask the last question which is you know Omar Acosta who was one of my favorite organizers, he was a major introvert was kind of staying at home, he never went out. He finally went to a meet up event, a group around around rock climbing and he and he went to a second and a third event, the organizer left and the organizer asked him to take over Since he's taken over, there's been 900 events, but actually six weddings have come out of this group, it's not even a singles group, it's just an example of like what can happen from get gathering, You never know what can happen.

The number of people who have found their co founders of companies, people have found their spouse's number, people who have changed career directions um have have have even been healed. A friend of mine runs a runs a breast cancer support meet up group and and she has told me that a number of people in her group lives have been saved because of alternative treatments that they learned about from community again. So um power of connection can't always be um attributed to dollars or numbers and it really is a community is a unique, amazing, unique opportunity. I think that we're in a moment in time. I think this can all be resonated as there's some, my friend Adrian Speyer whose um the head over at vanilla was on a call with me yesterday because he wrote a book, the accidental community manager and his comment was, you know, there's a moment before Elon musk bought twitter and there's the moment after.

And now that we've seen this shift, it's gonna be like crazy. So here's the question, the last question for 2022 for this year of the community strategy podcast, um, which now have like set it up for you to be like, what is the question of cliffhangers, cliffhanger, what is, what do you think is the most exciting thing that You're looking forward to in the community space for 2023 in this concept of building, you know, connection and, and relationships. Yeah, so, so for me, I think the job of a community builder and leader is so Hard. It's so hard today and that person oftentimes is not, um, has too often eyes pay money themselves do all the work. Um, and, and it's, it's sometimes not very appreciated position.

So I'll just talk about meet up and what we're focused on for 2023. How do we make it a lot easier for organizers to potentially um, grow their businesses and not pay but get paid as makeup organizers flip the model. So for example, we just launched something where, um, anyone in the community can donate money to the organizer or to a charitable cause as a thank you to that organizer in just a few months, we've already had over $100,000 in donations to the organizer and the goal for 2023 is that over a million dollars is going to be donated to causes and nonprofits on behalf of the organizers or directly if organized. One kind of back to the themselves to defray those costs. How do we set up a kind of closed loop? Thank you mechanisms for organizers to hear about all the amazing things that they built so they could feel that less burnout so they can feel that personal motivation and hear about all the amazing things that they've done to help to build a community.

So what I want to try to do is find ways to make it more gratifying more meaningful, less cumbersome, more, more, better financials. Um, and, and, and better incentives to help organize because if you do that, then more and more people be comfortable become becoming organizers and organizing community. You know, lots of people want to go to a party. Not many people want to throw a party. So so we need to make the world and it makes everything a lot easier for people to want to become it. And if we do that, then that have a massive kind of exponential impact on the growth of communities as we know it, boom, mic drops make it easy. The slogan of 23 2023, I think my word, you've just, just made me decide that my word for next year is ease. Um, because I've been, that's just come up for a lot for me is like, how do I make this easier? And I talk to clients and they're like, let's make this easier.

I have to say you may be in a podcast guest As incredibly easy as possible. Thank you for being such a wonderful, wonderful host and, and such a builder of community. I amazed by, you know what you've accomplished in 100th episode and the number of clients that you've absolutely helped in terms of community building and kind of thank you for the opportunity for me to be, to be a part of it. It means a lot. Well, I'm glad that you're here and uh, so excited for what is the future of meet up, I added my initial first meet up about 10 years ago and have lifelong friends from that. That actually the person who designed my logo I met at a meet up event, the fine, fine calm here logo that everybody loves. And I got so much positive feedback on. I was like, yeah, that was from my friends, Oh shout out. So who lives in Chicago, who I met at a hiking meet up on my birthday where we hiked like for seven hours. I was preparing for like an hour hike and then this guy was like, no, we're gonna go and it was like seven hours later.

And like I had, I had no signal and my mom was like, are you okay? And I'm like, I didn't die and I met new people and nobody killed me today. So I think it's all right. But no, thank you so much. Uh, so excited for the future of meet up. And I'm pretty sure everybody knows where to go. But is there a specific place that you'd like people to go to find out more about you? Not just meet up? Yeah. So I would say I love linkedin, feel free to send me a link to an invite. It's a great way to stay connected and to um, share content, etcetera. And the book can be found amazon Barnes and noble wherever decide and conquer and me to download our app and just do it. Like we said, he's signed up for something in the new year resolution. Try to try to find, you know, a group of people that can, you know, build meeting for you and if everyone does that, the world would be a better place. Ah, beautiful. Thank you so much. David. And thanks for everybody who's been listening to the community strategy podcast. Please check out our past episodes. And uh, as a um, exciting announcement, I am writing a book.

It's called creator to Community Builder is currently in crowdfunding and I am getting sponsorship to get funding for the book and it will be out in the spring of 2023 there will be acknowledgement and and chapter references from past podcast episodes that we're going to break down in the book. So I'm going to be really utilizing what work we've done here with the community schedule podcast and putting that into actionable steps that you can take as a community builder. So I'm excited about that. I will, I will be reaching out to you. Thanks thanks so much. David. Um thanks everybody who has been really supportive for the last 2.5 years um for me to be doing this podcast and I hope to uh usually I end the podcast by saying, I hope you're finding and I'm gonna do that again today. But with a preface, I hope you're finding calm today and every day that you are experiencing lisa moment of of a little bit of calm um, until the next time we meet again, take care and have a great 2023 by Hi, this is Deb Shell and I'm super excited to let you know that I'm writing a book.

Yes, it might be not be a big deal for you, but it is a big deal for me. Um as I work through writing the creators community builder book, I've decided to launch a crowdfunding campaign and I'm super excited to share with you that this is where I'm asking you for your help. I need to reach $5000. And at this moment we've raised about 100 $1,110. So thank you so much for all of the people who have um supported this project. To this point. I wanted to let you know with updating you today that I'm extending this campaign to the end of the year. So by December 31, my goal is to raise $5,000 for this book. The estimates are about Um $10,000 of cost of public publishing, printing a limited, you know, amount of copies and paying for a designer. So I've just uh I just started um reconnecting with our book designer.

He's going to be getting me some proposals next week, and I'm going to start with a new cut designed for you hopefully before the end of the year. So, um that's my update for today. Thank you for supporting me so far. If you haven't supported this project yet, please go to the show notes and check out the I fund Woman crowdfunding campaign for the new book creator to community builder. I'm super excited. Thanks so much for all who have supported

Episode 98: Keep Connected with David Siegel, CEO of Meetup
Episode 98: Keep Connected with David Siegel, CEO of Meetup
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