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People & Company is joining the Substack team 🔥
Today we are proud to share the big news. Here’s how we made the decision.
I started People & Company with Kevin and Kai in 2015 to unpack a question: How do you build a community, today?
Through four years of researching extraordinary community leaders, coaching organizations, and writing a book, we developed a process to help leaders answer that question. We created a methodology that gets groups of people to come together. Spark the flame, Stoke the fire, and Pass the torch.
Earlier this year, Substack’s co-founder, Hamish, and Head of Partnerships, Fiona, approached us with the proposal to acquire People & Company. Being acquired wasn’t part of the 2021 plan, but our guts told us this was worth exploring. We’d worked with Substack as a client and collaborator and developed deep respect for them in the process. Could this be the right next chapter for us?
After many conversations with the Substack team and amongst ourselves, we were thrilled to say yes—to move forward with the acquisition by Substack and join their team. I want to share with you why we’ve taken this step and what to expect going forward.
Writers are a community that we both identify with and value.
Perhaps the most impactful thing we’ve done as team People & Company was write our book Get Together. Our words gave folks the clarity and confidence to realize communities in their own lives. Founders have used the book’s framework as a blueprint for kickstarting new platforms (like Hannah Donovan, who built an app called Trash that VSCO recently acquired). Get Together inspired folks to gather in their local communities, including a new surf club for women in Nosara, Costa Rica. The book challenged leaders to bring more intention to connecting their people online, like the volunteers at Allyship & Action who are rallying members of the ad industry around anti-racism.
Writing the book was a turning point for our team. Through the act of co-writing, we refined our approach and crystallized the language we used to teach others. People & Company can jam with anyone about how to build their community because we landed abstract concepts in firm language and a clear step-by-step process.
The truth is that I am not a “logophile.” I don’t have a deep love of languages or an innate appreciation of beautiful prose. But I am passionate about empowering others—helping folks find clarity, feel seen, and take action. Publishing Get Together gave me proof that the words that we pay attention to can influence how we act. Through writing, we can supercharge other people.
From our conversations with Hamish, Fiona, and the co-founders Chris and Jairaj, it’s clear to us that a sincere appreciation for writers and the power of words drives the Substack team. Substack aspires to be an antidote to our “poisoned information supply” by putting writers and readers in charge. If Substack is successful, they will have created an ecosystem that makes it easier for writers—in particular the undiscovered, the underappreciated, the under-resourced—to connect with communities of readers who find value in their writing and fund it directly. (Not ads!) That’s a mission my team and I will be directly responsible for pushing forward at Substack. Emerging writers, we can’t wait to supercharge you!
We are ready to apply our framework.
When Kev and I first met over a bánh mì six years ago, we sensed great things could happen if we joined forces. I introduced him to Kai, who urged us all to start People & Company together.
People & Company gave us our first taste of what we can do as teammates. We’ve helped dozens of organizations, coached hundreds of community leaders, and interviewed hundreds more. Our brains absorbed and synthesized as much knowledge as one can about how communities spark and grow. We channeled that knowledge to guide others. On top of that, we forged our partnership by navigating significant personal ups and downs side by side.
Today, I believe that Kevin, Kai, Katie and I are a community-building Voltron—a formidable team. I am eager to see what we are capable of when we go all in, both developing a community strategy and bringing it to life.
It’s time for us to pass the torch.
When I reflect honestly, I believe that the world doesn’t need more community building frameworks from us. We’re proud of our body of research and processes, but we no longer need to be their full-time stewards.
The community-building “industry” has never been more valued or vibrant than it is today. We want to fuel that fire by supporting the next wave of nascent leaders.
Over the last few weeks, Katie and Kevin have led the effort to “open source” the methods we used as People & Company. We’ve made most of the resources that we created—frameworks, exercises, worksheets, case studies—publicly available at gettogether.world. Whether you’re a budding community builder or seasoned professional, we hope you use them and remix them. We want this library of tools to spark new ideas for you as they did for us.
Finally, we have put together a rolodex of incredible community strategists and practitioners driving the next wave of thinking and building. If your organization needs a community building trail guide, look no further.
What to expect from P&C moving forward
Team P&C is currently transitioning into our new roles. Kevin is Substack’s Head of Services, expanding on programs for writers such as legal support, health insurance, design and editing. I am Head of Community, focused on accelerating and celebrating the emerging writers who are using Substack. Kai is advisor to our teams. Katie works closely with me as Community Manager.
What will happen to People & Company?
While we won’t be helping clients going forward, P&C is not disappearing completely. We’ll continue to share our research with the world via this “Get Together” Substack and our podcast, just at a less frequent pace.
Thank you for going on this journey with us. We are very excited and proud. Wish us luck.
Bailey, Kevin, Kai and Katie
PS - Want to help us at team Substack? Check out all the positions Substack is hiring here.
Join Kevin’s team. He’s searching for a Partner Manager for Design Services.
Join Bailey and Katie’s team. They’re hiring a Community Storytelling Lead