"Get Together" Podcast Roundup
Interviews with Cindy Au of Kickstarter, Zagat, & Brainly, Laura Nestler of Duolingo, and Isis Miller of Black Girls Code.
The Podcast Roundup is an introduction to ordinary people building extraordinary communities featured on the “Get Together” Podcast. ________ Issue #4
We love it when we see listeners chatting about the “Get Together” podcast.
On Twitter last week, Shale Heidinger, a listener in Seattle, WA, shared her favorite line from Laura Neslter’s episode:
"The standard you walk past is the standard you accept. Culture breeds culture."
Bree Nguyen, guest on the podcast and Mariah Carey superfan, wrote to us to share that she and Shana Summers, Head of Community at HER Social App and a fellow podcast guest, have become “best friends.”
For us, posts and messages like this are the lollipop moments we get in this line of work. Lollipop moments are a concept Drew Dudley brings to life in his TED Talk on everyday leadership. They’re the moments when someone says or does something small that fundamentally makes your life better.
Drew argues that most of the time we let people who have made our lives better in moments like these walk around without knowing they’ve done so. And that’s a tragedy, because lollipop moments, not heroic acts, are what make up everyday leadership.
So: how many lollipop moments did you create? How did you acknowledge, say thank you for, or pay forward?
Shale, Greg and Bree: you’ve given us our lollipop moment this month, and these kindnesses bring us the signals we crave to know our work matters.
PS - Got a lollipop moment you want to share? Share it in the comments.
The Podcast Roundup highlights the ordinary people building extraordinary communities recently featured on the “Get Together” podcast.
Walking in the user's shoes🚶🏽♀️
Cindy Au set out for a career in academia but found herself as employee #9 at Kickstarter. Back when Cindy started, the community team would review and help write each project submitted to the site. Later as their VP of Community, Cindy oversaw the evolution of Kickstarter as it grew from 50,000 users to 10 million.
After her experience at Kickstarter, Cindy launched the first community program at Zagat, the restaurant discovery platform. Now she’s the Director of Community & Engagement at Brainly, the world’s largest peer-to-peer learning community.
Editorial note from Maggie:
The key learning I had from our conversation was that you have to walk in your users shoes. Everyone at Kickstarter had to launch their own project. For Cindy, it was a two year endeavor writing a book, going through all the difficulties of staying on schedule, launching a project, etc. It’s the ultimate empathy building exercise for running a campaign.
“When you growth hack with incentives, you erode authenticity” 🗯
In 2007, Laura Nestler responded to a Craigslist ad that was her dream job with a little startup called Yelp. She started as the community manager in Portland, Oregon, and would go on to spend a decade with the company refining their community playbook and living in cities all around the world, sparking communities in new markets.
Now Laura is the Global Head of Community at Duolingo, a platform that hundreds of millions of people around the world turn to to learn a language. Before COVID, Duolingo users were hosting thousands of in-person language circles around the world each month. (These meetings continue online!)
Editorial note from Kevin:
Laura underscored a key lesson for me about how to test community activities. When we take on a People & Company client and coach them through the process of starting a new community, we remind them that there’s no such thing as a perfect plan. To make smart bets to build a community requires your team to be iterative. Starting a series of virtual events means you’ll have to test, learn, and iterate.
Laura talks about testing Duolingo’s shared activity format, the language circle 40 times. First to validate that there was energy for it,and then to understand how to best tweak all the variables likelocation, timing, size, and qualifications for the leaders. To me, that’s such a strategic and efficient way to figure out how to most effectively bring people together.
Training and connecting the coders of the future 👾
Throughout her biotech engineering career, Kimberly Bryant was often the only black female in the room. Kimberly’s experience wasn’t rare; Black women make up less than 0.5% of the leadership roles in tech. As Kimberly watched her young daughter Kai grow a budding interest in gaming and coding, but with no spaces to explore or develop those interests alongside people that looked like her, Kimberly decided to take charge.
A basement experiment has transformed into Black Girls CODE, a global non-profit with 15 volunteer-run chapters around the world. We interviewed Isis Miller, who joined the organization earlier this year just before COVID struck. She has led the effort to go virtual through online workshops and career panels that reach out to 1,000 students per week.
Editorial note from Kevin:
We talked a bit about what the girls and guardians get out of participating in the Black Girls Code community. Why do they come together?
This question of “Why? What’s the purpose?” is such an important question when you’re building any community. Indeed, your answers to it might shift over time.
What Isis shared is that the learning component of Black Girls Code—learning to code, to use technology—is just the tip of the iceberg for why girls and parents participate in their programs. They also participate because it’s a space for girls to be inspired, motivated, and to experience their potential. As a community builder if you at least start to have hunches about your community’s “Why,” you’ll be able to develop activities and programs that drive that core value and purpose home for community members.
✨This Week’s Inspiring Link
“In a normal mathematical world, 2+2=4. But in a community, 2+2 can equal 6. If you had 2 groups of people and put them together to create a 4 person community you’d actually have 6 unique ways in which those people can connect with one another, as opposed to 4 if it was an audience. Community is exponentially more powerful.”
- Jacob Peters
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