Hot Seat with Alice Karolina
We're gonna walk through a few of the things that we just talked about over the course of the last couple lessons, but why don't you go ahead let us know who you are, where we can find you online, what you do, and about the community that you are building.
Alright, you might have to repeat a couple of those questions. I am Alice Karolina. I'm found at alicekarolina.com. I call myself a brand architect. I work with people through the entire brand. From messaging, from the beginning, until the very end. Through design work and all of the nitty gritty of implementation process systems. All of that. Because I believe in the whole brand picture and not just one aspect of it. And what I'm building now with this community is actually a way to... I want to start with my mission. My mission is to disrupt the cycle of consumerism by creating a culture of meaning instead of more. And I realize I'm really nervous right now.
You're doing great.
Thank you. So what I'm noticing is there's a lot...
of stuff that's out there right now that we're creating that's just noisy and not actually meaningful. And a lot of the creative work, the actual good creative work, is expensive as it should be, because we did training. We know what we're doing and that's important to be paid for. But there's also then a sort of huge group of people who are DIYing things which I think is also really good because we have the tools now. We have Canvas, Square Space, all those ways. What I am hearing though, what I am noticing is that there is not enough sort of interaction also in various different areas of these creative people because there's sort of like a sense of creativity that we all share, but somehow it's like the elite gets to be creative. The people that can draw and write and then, you know, you can do some art on the side, but it's not, you know, creative or, you know, somehow there's a disconnect and on the side of the creatives, we are upset at all the stuff that's coming out there that's just, you know, not good enough you know? So what I'm thinking of is creating a community where we can be... Where we can have laypeople and creatives together. And I'm calling them laypeople, and I know that's wrong. That's not a word that I want to keep using.
There's nothing wrong with the word, laypeople, from a religious background. That is what they are called. People who are not ordained are laypeople.
Okay, good. Well then, I'm going to keep using it. (laughing) Alright, so what I want to create is a community where laypeople can be creative together and actually have this like, I'm in the same boat, place where they can feel like they're being creative. Like, being creative is a good thing and not something that is outside of their wheelhouse. Because it's not. And then, then I want creatives to be able to work with each other because there's a lot of isolation in this singular freelancer economy. I know that a lot of my friends are isolated in their own pursuits of creativity because we're not an agency, we're not back at art school. We don't have that interaction creatively. So I want to create a situation where, creators can work together on their projects when they're stuck. I want to have creatives be able to work with laypeople when they're stuck and I want to be able to have laypeople work with each other on like the, "Oh, you're a personal chef. "I'm a personal chef. "Let's figure out what we can do creatively." And also almost like a, create an audience testing ground for the creatives to work with the laypeople. So a lot of sort of interaction. I'm still, obviously, working through this. But what I really want to do is, basically, there's so many great innovative projects and they get stopped by the how. And they get stopped by not enough collaboration. They get stopped by, like, start of events have 15 apps that are exactly the same. That makes no sense. Everybody's creating in a vacuum and I feel like there's going to be more creative and more innovative projects out there that are actually gonna change the world, if we kind of just let other people in on our ideas.
That's a lot at stake!
Take a breath. That was great. Alright. So, why are people going to join this thing?
I think because they either are stuck on a creative level where they're just not moving forward because they need input other than their own brains. Which is just a thing that happens in creativity. You can't be in a vacuum, I find. Or they're just stuck with the how, the logistics of it. Like, I don't know how to make this thing. I would really like to do this, but I am limited by my ability.
Okay, so to make that more specific then, this is either a creative or a layperson who has a creative project and has run into an impasse on it.
Okay, perfect. What kind of exploration space can you create for this? How are you going to create context so that people can recognize that's where they're at and then explore the possibility of moving forward in community with the rest of your people?
I want to really create collaboration spaces. So, not just online like, zoom in, everybody's creating together. I'm thinking of pop-up collarboraz, is what I'm calling them right now. I used to have them at my house where I'd just had people zoom in and just sit at a table and work together. There's a lot of, what I think is, a strong pull for me towards analog as opposed to doing everything on screens because I think that that just braids more imitation. And I feel like when we actually use our brains, and our hearts, and our paper we're sort of on the ground. It creates... Just I don't know, there's just a difference. There's something more interesting there somehow. And I want to create that sort of almost like analog experience somehow.
Mm-hmm, I think that is a phenomenal idea. That is exactly what I was thinking. To me this feels like a very events driven exploration space because, you need to present people with the opportunity to move past that impasse immediately or to at least have the promise of moving past it. Like, I went to this event. I'm not quite there yet, but I met all these different people or I tried all these different things and I'm not sure which one's right yet, but I'm moving forward. Yeah, I think that's absolutely it. It's a very experimental, it's a very hands on and it creates sort of a finite container for experiencing the context of exploring the community and exploring that problem without having to say, "I'm joining this thing yet." Yeah, no that makes a ton of sense. And I think it could be either paid or free. I would probably recommend making them paid.
The actual events?
The actual events.
Yeah, I was thinking that too. The actual events, definitely paid. I'm thinking the community... I don't know. I think the actual community space because I'm thinking Mighty Networks would be just a great. I don't know. I just love being a member of a Mighty Networks community. So I think that there should definitely be a space where this can be discussed and things can be followed up on and... But, yeah, definitely, paid events, yeah.
Or you can do something where it's like the event itself is paid and that includes and annual membership and then you follow-up with people. You can do something like that. There's lots of opportunities. Why are people going to stay in this space once you're in it, once they're in it?
Yeah, I think there's... I get hooked on collaboration. I just get so addicted to it because I mentioned a personal chef, a friend of mine, also a previous client, as a personal chef. She had some ideas that just totally helped me with a project that was completely out there somewhere. Hearing some things today obviously sparked something in my universe because we have each our own pools of knowledge and that's just where it is. So I don't know where the new juice is gonna come from so I almost feel like, I actually say this with my friends sometimes, I'm like, "Can I suck your brain juice today." Because I need some input that's outside of my current experience.
Yeah. So okay, people join to move past an impasse and a creative project. They stay for collaboration and inspiration.
Yes and then also I'm thinking the community aspect of just being in the same boat; being able to create; believing in one's self. Like, actually know that, "Hey, I am creative." I mean that, to me, is like an underlying hope that I have. Or like, my project needs to move forward. Oh I need actually this person or this person. There's a filmer in the group. I need to talk to them about this thing.
Yeah, so meeting the people that can move your projects forward too. Awesome. What is the sorts of things that you can do to actually retain people? To actually make that happen on a monthly, weekly, annual, quarterly whatever basis?
Well, I'm definitely thinking of those either live events or Zoom events where we have weekly calls where people can just come in and join with their projects. I am thinking of... There's so many ideas that I have right now and also so many like, just fluke things that I'm not sure are gonna actually stick, but anything that will create that... Like I'm thinking of it as a very playful, very analog thing. So anything that really sort of like just creates sparks, I suppose, and that sounds a bit kitschy, but, yeah.
No, that's it. And I think really, while we're talking about it here, it's just how do you take the reason people stay and you turn it into direction from you, as the leader, and interaction, engagement, contribution from them, right? And there's all sorts of different ways. Follow-up events make a ton of sense. There might be creative prompts that you can do. But try thinking along the lines of those rituals too. In a space where spontaneity is actually really important and a huge part of the experience, it can be really calming to also have something that is very consistent. You know. So I show up, these things happen and then the spontaneity can happen.
I 100% agree.
Yes, yes. I would really think in terms of those rituals. But that was great.
Yeah, I also think that there's a real opportunity for people to also take the licensed materials and do their own workshops and things like that. Like I'm actually thinking of pop-ups in Toronto or pop-ups in New York. I don't know. I'm just kind of thinking.
Well you know I'm big on licensing models.
Europe, right? Yeah, I mean my friend back home, I'm like this great disconnect between different design communities as well where I'm like, "We could really learn "from Korean design, really."
Yeah. Totally. Awesome. Alice, thank you. Angie, yeah, question? (laughing) Mic hand-off.
I'm sort of interested and this is just maybe, naive. Anyway, rituals as rites of passage within the context of a community... And, 'cause you know, I get that the reward system doesn't necessarily work, but are there ways to integrate a rites of passage process within the community?
Yes, absolutely. I don't have a lot of specifics to give you because it's not something we've implemented yet, so I don't have personal direct experience with that, but you totally should read that Art of Community book because he absolutely talks about that in the book. You can do rites of passage in terms of... Well really and what you're talking about is entering inner rings. That's out, this is inner rings. So you can do that in like an ambassador level. So one thing we do do which is actually just built straight into Mighty Networks is when you refer two people, you become a bronze ambassador. When you refer 10, you become silver. 25, you become gold. And so there isn't really a rite of passage there, but you get a badge, right. Or sort of like you get a sash, or you get a new hat, or a new vest color because you're part of an inner ring now. So there's that. If you have different tiers in your community, there might be rite of passage events as people kind of level up. You know, so like we have an insider mastermind, that I'm gonna talk a little bit more about in an upcoming lesson, that we offer on top of co-commercial. Which is it's weekly calls, it's a weekly like we're getting through our plans and our goals week by week by week. We do a special weekly check-in with them and we do a Monday weekly commitment with them. So there's additional ritual that, it's not exactly a rite of passage, but it adds that next level of, Oh I'm here now. I have to do something extra. Or I get to do something extra. And so that creates that kind of sense of ritual and belonging on a different level as well. Jenn.
So kind of along the same vein, are there other ways in which you label your community members and what are your thoughts on that?
Yeah, there is not, at this time. Well, that's not entirely true. One feature that Mighty Networks has allows people to choose their specialty and you can adjust that depending on... Really depending on anything that you want. So like Iyelik could have, and probably does have, I'm a parent of a three month old. I'm a parent of a one year old. I'm a parent of a three year old. Whatever it might be and that helps people identify people they have more in common with. And co-commercial it's I'm a business coach or strategist. I'm a wellness entrepreneur. I'm a life coach. I'm in leadership. I'm in personal development. I'm in art and illustration. Whatever it might be. So we do have that label. We don't have other kinds of badges people can earn. We don't have the ability to do other forms of gamification at this point. It's something I've requested. I'd like to be able to do that. So my feelings on it are, it's been proven out to be really successful in lots of other places. It's something I would like. Like I would like to be able to reward someone with a badge not just for referring 10 people, but for having a featured post this week. So we can say, "This post was incredible. "We're featuring it." And you get a badge for that or you get a star for that or something like that. I would love to be able to do that.
My concern is that, like say in your community, you label people. This is a marketer, this is a coach. And then somebody asks a marketing question and a coach feels like, "I don't have a right to answer that."
No that's... Yes, that is very, very smart. When you make that cultural distinction between advice and experience, that breaks down that potential problem. I'm not going to say that we don't still run into it from time to time. We absolutely do. I'm sure there is lots of people who can offer their experiences on things they don't feel qualified to offer their experiences on. But that just comes back to kind of, you can't over-communicate the cultural aspects, the policies, the procedures, the way we do things in a community and you just want to keep coming back to it over and over again. But yeah, I think that's a really good, smart, strategic concern to have.
When you have a small business, you’re always on the lookout for your next customer. They might pop up at a networking event, they could subscribe to your email list, they might fill out the contact form on your website.
Too often, knowing where your next customer is going to come from seems unpredictable at best and, at worst, like a huge gamble.
Luckily, there’s a way to ensure you always know where your next customer is coming from—and that your existing customers purchase from you more often—and that’s by building a community.
All sorts of businesses can benefit from making community-building part of their growth strategy and many can benefit from making it part of their business model, too. Whether it’s an informal community (like an email list or Instagram hashtag), a brand-driven community (like a free Facebook group that brings together people in love with the same brand and values), or a dedicated community (like a local group, interest-based social network, or a support group, your business can cultivate deeper connections with existing and potential customers.
Of course, an engaged community doesn’t just happen. If you want to reap the benefits of community-building for your business, you need a plan.
In Build a Community & Grow Your Standout Business, Tara Gentile, the founder of the small business support & social network CoCommercial, will share the must-dos, nice-to-haves, and compelling extras you need to make the most of the community you build around your business. By the end of this class, you’ll have a plan for making community-building an integral part of your marketing strategy—and always knowing where your next customer will come from.
Tara will cover:
- Simple ways to generate community without a group or forum
- Why and how to level up into a dedicated space for your business’s community
- How to create a clear reason Why for joining or participating in your community
- The systems and procedures you’ll need to manage the workload
- How to avoid community management burnout
- How to plan to earn more through your community—whether that’s through charging for membership, selling add-on offers, or generating more word of mouth marketing
Stop waiting for your next customer to come to you and start building a community that brings new business your way every day.