Jay Clouse: Crash Course on Building a New Community Program From Scratch

Reading Time: ~ 4 min.

Good morning yeniverse!

I had a pretty crazy week last week and I’m looking forward to a more “normal” and less-crazy week this week. You?

Don’t forget that we’ve opened up #yenHOURS! Come (silently) cowork with other #yenizens!

  1. Community. Slow burn. Leaving substack. Last bus. Thinking.
  2. Backflip. Racism is public health? RIP DMX. Graphs. Timing. Ideas.
  3. Productshots. Abandoned disasters. Lose that weight! Translate.
  4. Zuckered. Burnout. Writing 101. Change agency. Videotouch. Weebs.
  5. Perfect. Coinbase is the next FB? Distance. Trajectory. So cool.
  6. Neuralink. Mistakes made. Billionaires build. No goals. Mentorship!
  7. Groovy. Where are your thoughts taking you? Influenza. 6 steps.
  8. Good name. OKRs + JTBD? Become crazier. Indies. Indiastack.
  9. Not my real world. Shit. Show. I know the feel. China crypto. Men.
  10. Stop. A buying mood. Beginning of the end. Visual annotation.

To infinity & community,

β€” john


I had a wonderful time with a handful of folks in Jay Clouse‘s one-off crash course on community. I asked him for permission to share some of my notes in today’s issue and he was totally cool with it. Obviously, I thought it was completely under-priced.

Jay mentioned that he’s recording it so I’ll try to provide the link to the event as well.

Jay started by “organizing events” but it was more than that; it was about creating community, connections, and creating value with folks that came into his life and his businesses.

This is how many folks in the “community space” get started β€” totally normal and it’s one of the best ways to get a taste of what this industry could be for the right folks. There’s a wide-open space community professionals and this is the most exciting time to get in!

For Jay, it’s really about two things:

  1. Common ownership
  2. Joint ownership

Jay breaks it down…

A community may be made of:

  1. Customers
  2. Developers
  3. Advocates
  4. Industry Members
  5. Volunteers
  6. Employees
  7. Alumni

A community may be focused on:

  1. B2B
  2. B2C
  3. Education
  4. Nonprofits
  5. Governments

The evolution from creator, to curator, to community is an important dynamic (love the slides):

Real healthy community is about:

  1. Human connection
  2. Transformation
  3. Finding a sense of identity

A lot of us have a lot more “self discovery” to do; community accelerates this! I love how fundamental Jay’s perspective and approach is:

Humans move away from pain and towards things that give them satisfaction. You have to create an environment and go out of their way to engage in gratification.

Jay Clouse

It really doesn’t have to be more complicated or complex than this.

It comes down to 3 core things for Jay:

  1. Set a clear purpose for joining
  2. A pleasant, inviting, and comforting onboarding experience
  3. Participation is gratifying

via Dave Bates:

A community misses you when you’re gone

Totally. We all know that feel (and we all know when it’s not present). A very common mistake:

If you don’t define your purpose clearly, then, you’re going to lose opportunities for growing the community as well as your business. Jay shared that he see this far too often.

Jay loves to use the CrossFit example for real community β€” what does one get when they join?

  1. Shown around the space
  2. Introduced to others within that space
  3. Trained on the tools
  4. All while probably having a friend/partner/mentor
  5. And soon, you see physical transformation
  6. You may even change the way you think about yourself!

For successful onboarding, you need to follow simple steps:

  1. Remind them of the promise
  2. Make them feel comfortable
  3. Answer the question of “Now what?” until you deliver on your promise
  4. Deliver on your promise ASAP
  5. Show them how you delivered on the promise

Using the “Now What?” question can help define, clearly, what the next onboarding steps might be:

  1. Set your password
  2. Complete your profile
  3. Work through the onboarding checklist
  4. Code of Conduct, virtual tour, download the mobile app…
  5. Introduce yourself
  6. Register for our welcome event

A very useful workflow!

For Jay, shortening the “gratification window theory” is captured here:

The period of time between investing attention and energy into your community and feeling gratified dictates future participation.

Jay Clouse

One of the absolute best places to create this is the #introductions or “Introduce Yourself” posts.

Finally, here are some high-levels on how to get started:

Think for the long term:

  1. Plan for scale (if you desire scale)
  2. Align your tool with your people and their culture
  3. Trying to move to a new platform is potentially lethal
  4. Prepare to invest a TON of your own energy (gratification window)
  5. Create clear, welcoming, and comfortable onboarding
  6. Create fewer spaces than you think
  7. Think about the culture you want to foster

Jay shares a few thoughts on creating a “shared culture” especially with something powerful like an effective Code of Conduct and Modeling Behavior:

  1. Welcoming new members
  2. Asking questions
  3. Connecting others
  4. Hosting events
  5. Creating open ended posts to start discussion
  6. Using video
  7. Tight gratification window
  8. Praise good behavior (commensurate with effort)
  9. “Heads on Sticks” β€” Engage with bad behavior directly

Model the behavior with the ways you post:

  1. Welcoming new members
  2. Asking questions
  3. Connecting others
  4. Hosting events
  5. Creating open ended posts to start discussion
  6. Using video

Rituals are helpful:

  1. Weekly wins
  2. Weekly goals
  3. Regular meetup type(s)
  4. Remember, it needs to be gratifying for THEM – don’t create “busywork”

Challenges or Themes for the month work and limiting your events (for higher impact) can be useful as well. In terms of growing and scaling a community, Jay has a few suggestions:

  1. As you scale, you need to continue delivering on the promise, as long as you’re accomplishing the promise, you’re probably fine
  2. But you also need to worry about culture
  3. Find ways to facilitate smaller, more intimate experiences
  4. “Niche” your marketing and “Niche” areas if you can’t “Niche” the whole community

A quality, highly-practical workshop that was well-worth the price of admission. Fantastic work Jay and I’m a fan of what you’re doing over at Smart Passive Income!

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