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Episode 60 Find Calm making connections with Todd Nilson

60: Find Calm making connections with Todd Nilson

In today’s episode, I’m excited to introduce Todd Nilson, President of Clocktower Advisers. He’s been working in online communities and digital workspaces for most of his professional career with his earliest experience facilitating discussion in forums for multi-player games. 

Since then he’s worked with dozens of companies helping them devise a successful strategy for the online communities they want to build. 

He helps clients focus on the alignment of community and business goals by helping leaders understand the factors that have the biggest influence on building a successful online platform. 

Todd led transformational community collaborative technology projects for brands such as Activision, Facebook, Truth Initiative, and many more. You can check out his free resources on his website

Show Notes

5:03: Todd starts by giving a background on his various careers, with a commonality of making connections with people and building communities.

13:03: Discussing the value of making connections, Todd says a key is being unafraid put himself out there to connect and reconnect with people. Part of it is also connecting other people outside of yourself and seeing ideas take fire. 

20:45: “You have that moment where people catch fire with an idea, and that for me is the joy of doing this kind of work. Because when it happens, you’re on the top of the world.”

23:52: Deb and Todd discuss balancing community and consulting work. He steps into his own community when needed but generally doesn’t do day-to-day tasks because of being project-based.

30:14: Todd touches on a key to prioritization: you can’t do everything at once. Also, that the downside of automation removes some of the key personal connections.

31:31: “We can’t master every channel at once. We can’t do everything at once. Go deep on one thing. Get really good at one thing and then expand from there.”

43:57: Todd closes with the biggest lesson learned to help his career, that the more you connect to inner desires and beliefs, the better starting point of designing a community to get off the ground.

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Learn more about Find Calm Here 

Deb Schell is the founder of Find Calm Here LLC, an online consulting agency supporting entrepreneurs, founders, creators, and speakers as they build, launch, and grow a paid online membership.

As a community strategist, Deb helps clients find calm in the community-building process through the CALM Method of Clarity, Awareness, Learning, and Motion so that they can lead with energy, confidence, and purpose. She brings together entrepreneurs who feel overwhelmed with building, launching, and growing their paid online membership and offers strategies that can be used on any online platform by offering a great member experience by helping others transform.  Join Us!

Show Transcript

Hi all and welcome to the Fine Come here podcast. I am your host. Deb Shell on this podcast I share conversations I have with community builders who offer tips on what’s worked for them and on resources that have helped them find calm in the community building process. If you’re a new community builder or maybe you’re just considering community to bring your clients customers, our audience together, but you don’t know what to do or how to start would be happy to help you gain clarity during a discovery call. You can also, you can grab the discovery call link on the website. Find calm here dot com as well as sign up for the com community newsletter that goes out each week to give you more resources and tools to help you in building a paid online community If you need support and accountability with a group of community builders, I’d love to invite you to join the Fine calm here community, you’ll receive support tools and resources to help you have a successful launch, grow your membership and tackle any challenges with the support of peers and a safe space. That’s affordable and enjoyable.


We’ve got tons of awesome content and members inside the community with lots of new things happening all the time. Right now we’ve got the calm guides and for 2022 I just launched a blog post. You can grab the blog off of the Fine Come here website to, I just put out a blog post that announces all of the upcoming com guys, which are really exciting. Currently I am in the community working with the community members on the com guide to tech integration and what that is, Is it really helps people connect with what tech tools are really important for me to use in wherever I’m at in my community building journey. So that kind of helps you find common with that process. But then the next column guys that are coming up in 2020-1, I’m gonna be working with a client around. How do you transition a Facebook page or Facebook group? I’m sorry, a Facebook group to a paid community. Um we’re gonna talk about how to do that and I’m gonna share that in our common guide to moving a Facebook group to a mighty network and then the common guide? And that’ll come out in January, maybe February sometime.


Right now I’m kind of projecting it for January. And then in the spring my plan is to launch a kong guide to community management. And I have been a community manager. I’m a current community manager with some uh small communities on the mighty networks platform. And so I’m going to help a muddy network host identify who, how they would find it. First of all, how would they, why would they need a community manager? Second of all, um how do they find a community manager and then how do they know that, a good fit as a community manager for their space. And then I’m going to teach them how, how you do community management. So that’s going to be in the common guide to community management in the spring of 2022. Lots of things exciting happening. All of the com guides have just also decided for everybody who’s listening, this is super new, literally just decided this this week, um as I’m recording this in november, I just decided I’m gonna include all of the com guys in membership to find calm here. So if you are someone who is um either wanting to launch a community or maybe you’ve launched and you’re trying to create engagement or maybe you’re like wanting to grow and expand all of the tools inside the find common community are going to be able to help you do that.


So, um that’s gonna be included membership, I have a one month free trial that is available to join the fun, come here community. Currently, When you join, you’ll have a one month free, and then after that it’s $47 a month Now in 2022, That price is going to go to $97 a month because of all these com guides, they’re going to be included in your membership. So this is a super new announcement, I just want to make sure I um let you know at the top of the episode, in case I forgot to say this later, and let’s get to our guests because I really want to connect with Tod Tod Nielsen is the president of Clock tower advisers, he’s been working in online communities and digital workspaces for most of his professional for professional career with his earliest experience, facilitating discussions and forums for multi player games. Since then he’s worked with dozens of companies helping them devise a successful strategy for their online communities they want to build, He has helped clients focus on the alignment of community and business schools by helping leaders understand factors that have the biggest influence on building a successful platform.


Todd’s lead transformational community, collaborative technology projects for brands such as activation, facebook truth initiative and many, many more Welcome Todd to find calm here podcast. Deb thank you so much for having me on this show. I’m so excited to be here. Yeah, I am excited you. And I actually just connected pretty recently in the last couple of weeks, we were both uh I think there was your panelists, your speaker on this event, that one of our other co collaboration partners john is a member of And so tell us a little bit about um your journey because I just, I would love to hear that because I’m I’m still learning much more about you. So yeah, well I’d like to tell people I’ve had probably about four or five careers but I I do think that all of them have sort of this uh thread of commonality which is about making connections with people doing meaningful work and building communities. And so I feel like I’m in the best of all possible worlds at this point in my career.


I, as he said, I got started in the online gaming space and not so much like with a platform like xbox or Playstation or something like that. But I was, I was in the early days, tabletop gamer and uh, as as that world transitioned into online spaces, I started playing some some multiplayer type games. Uh, you know, for anyone that, that’s really into that space, you know, from, from the olden days, it was, you know, muds and mush is uh, you know, these uh, these chat based, you know, kinds of games where they were, they tended to be either very mechanical or very role playing intensive and I really gravitated to the role playing side of things. So the, the first community space that I had a chance to really dig into and spend time in as a member and then as, as a host, I was with a company called Skarlatos tech and they’re still around.


It was kind of by a really bright guy by the name of chris Christopher allen. Uh, and Shannon Apple klein, both, you know, Shannon is a actually an icon in the, in the role playing game space and a historian and critic. Uh, and just the chance to work with those guys was amazing. And we were, we were working in old style discussion forums and, and wikis back at that time, that was around 2000, so that was really probably my Some of my earliest interactions, although, you know, if you twisted my arm, I’m I’m I’m a kid of the 80s, so I I did spend a little time in some AOL chat rooms and things like that back in the day, so I’m really dating myself here. Don’t worries at all. But uh yeah, so I so I think like, over over time, I I had that um uh I don’t I don’t know what you want to call it, a predilection for um working in online spaces um as uh the social media realm emerged with facebook and linkedin and twitter.


Um I was there in those early days, I was a proponent of those platforms for business use and uh you know, although my my day job was as a technical recruiter and I did that for many years, um I was using those spaces very early on to connect with people to find commonalities and to match them up with business opportunities, that that made sense for them. So when, when the chance came along to start doing more work in uh in social, in communications and community building, I really jumped at it and uh really in the early part of the 20 tens, that was that was hard turn in my career when I distinctly moved away from the recruiting realm and more into uh social media collaboration and community building and so I’ve I’ve never looked back from that, I’ve had the opportunity to work with some really terrific people in the in the space and uh and and Where we are now in 2021 is really incredible, there’s just some so many amazing things that are going on right now trending, wise.


it sounds amazing, there’s so many things I could ask there, but I wanted to ask a question as far as when you were talking about the split, is that talking about you’re working for companies and then you started your entrepreneurial journey or have you been an entrepreneur? This this uh this entire time or where did that start? Well I’ll tell you this, I think that um I’ve worked for progressively smaller and smaller organizations through my career until now, I’m working for myself and have been doing so for the past 67 years now. Um so clock tower advisers is is my company. Um I started that, that was my entrepreneurial journey back around 2015 um when I was working with uh well I had left a uh community consultancy called Seven Summits based in Milwaukee Wisconsin. Uh They great company that did a lot of work with the Jive platform and uh and then Salesforce and I was I was one of the project leaders for a lot of their enterprise implementations, enjoyed the heck out of work, but really um and that was, that was my first formal community, community focused kind of career.


Um but then um what happened was I needed to make some changes, you know, personal life on the personal front, my folks were getting a little older, they needed a little more care and the hours involved with working in a startup marketing agency of any kind, if you’ve ever been involved with any of them, it actually is quite demanding uh and I needed a little more flexibility from what was there and it wasn’t that they weren’t willing to do it, it was just, I know how I’m wired myself and I needed to do some different things, so I ended up stepping out and I still wanted to be involved in communities and I got connected up with Richard millington from Fever Be and that really set my path because as you may know, you know, Richard is a thought leader in the space, he is an amazing smart guy and um he and I hit it off really well and we worked together for a couple of years and um I started up clock tower because uh you know, for for legal reasons, I couldn’t be a full time employee of a UK based company um without, you know being sponsored in some way or I don’t know what the legalities would be for that, but I I started up my own LLC so that it could be a straight corporate corp and a working relationship, even though I was pretty much, you know, using fever be as my my soul customer, you know, from from that perspective, but um as we work together and as you know, Richard ended up going a little bit of a different direction.


I think he would readily, you know, say that, you know, he had been decided to move a little more into us into back into a solo act, you know, mode um Myself and and some of the others that were working there, um we spun off our own groups and so Darren Gough, a dear friend and a colleague started up island 23 in the UK. He and I collaborate on a very regular basis. And then I really went full bore with clock tower advisers. And so I haven’t looked back, I’ve been able to run a profitable consultancy that does what I consider to be artisan work in in in community building. Um in other words, I get to build things my way and the way that I think that are, you know, is sustainable and you know, the best approach, you know, for customers. And uh it’s been fun. I’ve done some good and uh and apparently it’s not accidental because they’ve been able to keep things running for for six years on a pretty steady basis with a good income.


So, so that’s my story, that’s exciting and it’s I’m really, you know, as me just starting out in uh an online business two years ago and in this consulting role, uh it’s just been such a journey. And so I really was happy to have met you and connected with you. I’m curious how you met all of these people, like how did you, how did you meet that millington to have that that partnership come to path, you know what, I’ll, I’ll chalk it up to my, my training as a, as a recruiter uh and just being unafraid to meet new people and put myself out there and just connect and reconnect and surprise people that uh they, that that I remembered that I talked to them at some point, you know, six months ago or a year ago. Um I think that served me well over the years and I think that those of us that are in community space get that because uh you know, our ability to remember and connect with others is super important. But the specific situation was um one of my colleagues, um God, in the name of Abraham, really terrific guy who’s a strategist that I worked with at seven summits.


He, when he knew I was stepping out, he connected me with another big name in our space, joe Cottrell who was with lithium software at the time and joe lived in the Milwaukee area, kind of split his time between Milwaukee and Chicago, he was gracious enough to sit down with me and talk about sort of what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go. And he said, you know, if you ever do you do you know, Richard millington had fever being, not, not particularly, but um you know, I’m happy to look into it. Um and so I ah I checked out fever B and I saw that he had a posting for head of consultancy that he was looking for and reached out to Richard and kind of, you know, gave, you know, it was just an email, I just introduced myself, I had my background, I said, you know joe control so that I should get in touch with you. And uh we had a conversation I think the same day and uh and we hit it off well and we started started pretty gently is just, you know, a little little bit of a part time thing, but it quickly turned into really a full time role for me and uh and we get to work on a number of projects together and some some pretty good, pretty big name companies of course Richard is a big draw, you know, for for some large organizations and so I have a lot of, a lot of love and respect, you know for him for uh you know, really uh formalizing me in the space beyond just the stuff that I was doing at seven summits and it really put me on the path and connected me with what’s been an incredibly vibrant community and and led to me being here on the podcast here with you today, thank you.


It’s such a great journey and it really hones in on a good point that actually somebody reminded me about recently, which is I never really considered about the value of being a connector of connecting people together. And I was on a, on a call the other day, a networking call that I had um I had been doing a couple of months and a group of people have been meeting and one of the people, I went in this workshop and and they were, you know, had a breakout rooms and we were talking and one of the girls was saying, here’s what I’m trying to do. And I was already posting in the chat like, okay, I know this person hears this website go here, here’s the thing I learned. And the one other person, Jackie was like, and Jackie was on the podcast recently and she’s like, Deb you are an amazing connector. Uh you know, Debs already got, you know, telling this group like, oh debs already got all these resources in there and this is something I never had thought that it was a value add to two people or something that was really important and you just made a good point about the connections that you make and the people that you network with and just having the, the guts to, you know, send him an email and say, you don’t know me, but this person said I should reach out to you and that’s just, you know, also you’re connecting each other, you know, connecting him to another person he knows and then building that relationship and like you’re saying it didn’t start, you know right away where, where it was a big project, but then it kind of started over time and it just shows the importance of Relationship building and how one connection can really dramatically change your entire career, which I had never really considered or thought of until more recently.


I think it’s core to what we do. Uh, so so many moments looking back through, through my career, not just as a community builder, but back when I was a recruiter. Uh, you know, it has to, I think all of our community building that we do Begins one conversation at a time and I can’t, I can’t over emphasize that enough and uh, you know, that that willingness to reach out and and to connect with people and be mindful of the ways we could connect them to other people. It’s not just them connecting to us, but it’s it’s our ability to think more expansively and think about other people that we’ve talked to that would be interested in this topic and to bring them in and uh, you know, I don’t, I don’t claim to always succeed at it, but it’s one of the things that I really try to strive to in my day to day activities.


Uh you know, I’m having this conversation over here about N. F. T. S. And communities, who else is interested in that, who wants to know about that, How can I build a conversation with them? Because I think That essence of community building starts with one conversation at a time, that becomes a conversation between three people, between five people between 15, between 25. And that’s and before, you know, you’ve got the critical mass to start building that community out. And uh and that’s that that’s the stuff I get really excited about, it’s capturing lightning in a bottle, I had a friend that used to call it that. Um and uh and I even think back, you know, to 11 of the pivotal moments in my career uh was when I was working for a tech firm in Chicago Uh and it was during the Downturn 2008, 2009. You know, when a lot of people were out of a job, the economy was not doing great, and I had the idea to create this event called Job Camp and really was very excited the opportunity to do something different than a job fair and get people together.


And I I still remember this um the first time we ran the event cause we ran in a couple of times and helped thousands of people in the Milwaukee area. We got nice media coverage, but it was totally promoted via social media um and I still remember the lightning in the bottle moment for me with, that was I sent out a message via linkedin to maybe about, I don’t know, it must have been 20 or 30 friends at the time. uh and I think it was a private message, but I, I sent it out to 20 or 30 of them and I described really kind of my core idea for the event and sort of like how I came up with what I wanted to do and it caught fire. You know, it was just a matter of, you know, other people, like, you have an idea that resonates with other people, they start talking about it, it becomes a buzz and you know, it’s sort of like being a fire starter, you know, if you, if you, you’re on the out camping, I’m not a camper, so I make no claims to have any personal experience doing this, but you’re trying to start a fire.


Um and you, you’re figuring out your rubbing two sticks together, but you finally get a spark and things start to go and you’ve got to nurture that uh to go. And so um you have that moment where people catch fire with an idea and that’s, that for me is that’s the joy of doing this kind of work because when it happens, you’re, you’re on the top of the world. Okay, so I am a camper and I’m actually going camping this weekend. Um but I cheat a little bit and use firestarter, use those little bricks that I can throw in and and light up and they kind of keep going. But what I would say, I love your analogies here. And just to point out like the spark that not just the spark of an idea, but the spark of connection of how you can be integral to connecting other people and then they you don’t know where those relationships were going to go. Like you could connect, I can connect with you and then you can connect with somebody and then all of a sudden you’re doing collaborative projects with somebody that I introduced you to or whatnot for example, and it’s like you see those people and I know I don’t know if so do you have your own community or are you just really doing the consulting aspect and not really so much in um a community leadership role, you know, it’s hard because I love the community building elements of it.


I feel like um you know, I’m I’m managing a community for an organization right now, but it’s not my community and that like I don’t I don’t associate my identity with it. Um I am managing a small facebook group of some gamers, but it’s super casual, like I don’t have a bunch of time to be managing my own stuff and it’s it’s the old adage of you know the the shoemaker’s Children have no shoes, right? I would enjoy probably doing some of those things over time, but I don’t generally have the time because I’m usually consulting with others about how to build these things. Is that because it provides some stability in your income streams? I’m curious. Um I’m not sure you’re doing the community, so you just said you’re doing some community management for someone else. You don’t have your own community, but you’re doing some community management for somebody else. I recently just took on a role as a community manager for somebody else um to have um diversified income of five lead and and you talked a little bit about business, we can get a little bit into the business aspects as far as I’m happy to share what I’ve been working on and that is that is part of my strategy of how do I make this sustainable over time, because consulting is so um transactional and and project a lot of and I don’t know about you, but a lot of what I do is project based.


So sometimes I’m just having one or two strategy sessions with somebody and that’s all they needed then they’re good to go, whereas other people need a little bit more hand holding and support and and project and time management and support in that way um but all of those different elements of things, they kind of, it’s kind of like you’re, you’re like, okay, well I have this client here and I have this here and it’s kind of a collaborative, here’s how I get to the numbers, I need to keep doing it totally. No, I follow what you’re saying um no, you’re, you’re right. So um there there is a revenue stream question involved there. So like I would rather not be managing data day, but sometimes the community needs a manager involved or they need, you know, a more active hand or they need the community manager who is in place are going to be in place, needs some mentoring or coaching, you know, along along the way to get it, get into place and the, and in those cases I will step in, I generally don’t love to do that because I am project based um with the work that I do um there there are a couple of customers that I work with that I’m on a retainer for um but that’s more as a strategist and as a consultant, like they, they are looking to me for leading practices, latest trends, understanding what’s happening in research around online communities, you know, any of those pieces that where I can add value back into the process, I apologize if there’s any background hiss or noise for me right now because there’s this huge windstorm and rainstorm that’s happening outside my window at the moment.


It’s like pounding against the windows. So I don’t know if you can hear it or not, I barely hear it. It’s like a very small, small little sound. So to me, it’s not that big of a deal, so no worries, very good, very good. Um, but yeah, so it’s so it’s, it’s revenue based, you know, for me, you know, the decision to do that. So, and the reason that I, I’ll shy away from the community management is because, um, even though that could be steady long term income of like, you know, X hours a week. Um, I feel like it cannibalizes my ability to take on new projects when I have too many of those kinds of things rolling. Yeah, I hear you. In fact, that’s kind of where I’m at right now. I’m trying to uh, you know, I’m doing some trial based stuff with community management regards in regards to community management because one of the things I joked about with a client yesterday was that I left a corporate job. That was stressful. Like a, you know, 40, 50 hour week corporate job to now work for myself, 80 hours or 90 hours a week.


Congratulations. That’s true, That’s true. Um you know, I will say like, like there’s always been an element of me though, like I can’t help but get involved in communities, you know, I am for anybody that follows me online, they’ll hear me nattering on about this little little time. I live in here in Wisconsin called Two Rivers and I am passionate about this place where I live, Uh it’s in a, you know, one of the more rural counties, not the most rural, but, but you know, we’ve got a population about 13,000 in the, in the city here, and then there’s another city nearby with maybe another 20,000. And um I am so incredibly passionate about building an entrepreneurial mindset in this place. And so I’ve, I’ve done, I’ve run a group uh you know, that that was for entrepreneurs, I’m involved with some of the regional economic development, so I feel like I’m engaged in community building with some of that without necessarily owning it. Um and so I’m, I think I’m just kind of naturally a joiner and I like to, you know, be involved with with those kinds of activities and especially with something that I care, you know, my personal stake and living here is that, you know, by having more people who decide to start businesses and be entrepreneurs um that that rises that raises the tide for everybody and uh you know, so so the more that I can get people to become business owners and and see the value of that, that the happier I am.


So like I’m, I’m really interested in some of the folks that you work with, you know, two and and uh you know what their experiences are with community building because I think I think some of the same things that we’ve been talking about around you know, guarding our time. You know, and really focusing on revenue is important and uh and community is a community building, especially online communities is a bit of a long tail activity. How do you find the time to do that? How do you manage it? And the answer is you’ve got to do it if you want to build it and you’ve got to be a little bit ruthless about um you know, how many things you allow yourself to do? Mm hmm. Prioritization of tasks and ideas and concepts is something I’ve been actually really working with clients on recently because people struggle there. Like I have these great ideas and I want to do this and this and this. I wanna have courses, I want to have groups, I want to build out these areas of the community, I want to, you know, improve engagement and they’re going a million miles an hour, which I get because that’s kind of what I was doing last year.


And what I realized is it wasn’t bringing me calm. It was stressing me out. So I was like, okay in 2021 how can I bring myself some calm? Make my life a little easier and not be so stressed out but still, you know, not to eliminate all these ideas and say, well I’m not gonna do any of them, but saying, okay, I can do this, but not now, that’s what am I doing now and then where do I see? Like I just was explaining in the intro a little bit ago, I wanted to do all of these calm guides like all at the same time. And first of all, one of the people in the communities that I was saying this like, oh man, I really want to have these for you guys because I keep getting these questions about these different topics and like It would be great if I just said go to the comb guide here. It is because then instead of me jumping on a, you know, a 30 minute or an hour call with somebody, I could just be like, here’s the resource or here’s the video and it’s like, but I can’t make it all at the same time. And also one of my community members was like even if you did Deb, we still wouldn’t be able to consume it all right now and we might not need it right now.


So it’s just like, you know, as you’re considering building content in your community, I really work with people to just say, okay, how can we simplify this? And when I said earlier about, I decided to make all the com guides included in find calm here membership, it’s because I just want to keep it simple and easy for myself, I don’t have to worry about this course is $97 and this course is 1 97 and I want to get people and you know, you know all of those things like conversions and all that stuff. All I need to do is get them in the community and then that’s it, then they’re there, then they got the staff. Sure. Sure. Well so there’s there’s two points I’d like to make about about that that that prioritization um I’m less a point than than an illusion. So I I’m always reminded when we, when we talk about prioritization, we’re thinking about it. I had this image from a, an old movie uh billy Crystal uh city slickers. Not not the first one but the second one um that that had Jack palance in it as uh as kind of this this old timey cowboy kind of a kind of a jerk but um but he had this sort of famous line in there and you know, Billy Crystal asks and he’s like how do you do it?


You know what, you know what what’s your secret and he kind of gets this, you know if you’ve ever seen jack palance, he’s sort of this wise and looking face and he kind of kind of peers at at billy crystal and is looking at him and he holds up one finger and he says one thing and I think that’s you know what I try to remember and I and my second point with this is I hear this advice a lot with uh with some other, you know digital marketing professionals um you know I follow um Neil Patel, I like his, I like his thinking and writing a lot um and joe policy, I was just I was just looking at some of his stuff today and they were both talking about this, we can’t master every channel at once, we can’t do everything at once, go deep on one thing, get really good at one thing and then and then expand, you know from from there and that’s that’s that’s a lesson that served me well over the years or where you’ve you’ve gotta because it’s so easy with all the channels, we feel like we got to do everything and be everywhere at once and we just can’t, it’s just too much, it’s impossible and stressful and anxiety written at first start to think and the client I was on a call with yesterday was like um you know what, we don’t have social media and how am I going to get my message out and I basically said you don’t I need to have social media and she’s like what do you mean?


I don’t like everybody’s telling me I have to have, you know, I have to be on twitter and facebook and linkedin and you know da da da and I have to have lots of people and that’s how I get the message and that’s how I convert and they said, well what if you use other people’s stages because one of the things I did a year ago, I was in a program called stage just Scale and that’s that, that well, I think I have kind of overpaid a little bit for that because it just, it wasn’t good fit for me anyhow. I didn’t learn that until after I went through the program, but what I did learn was how to share a message and a journey and a story and how pivotal storytelling is to connect with people. People like connect with people versus I’m going to, you know, build my email list because I’m going to create an email sequence and I’m gonna share all this stuff on social media that all of these people are telling me I need to do just so I can get people to pay me money like that icky sales. Finally, thing was what I was kind of feeling like I was pushed being pushed into that area as an entrepreneur and I was like, I don’t want that, like how do I create deeper relationships with a few people that have the same interests of wanting to connect with other human beings instead of like automated stuff?


Like at some point I know in larger organizations and when you get to a level higher, you need to do automated things, but from the beginning, when you’re starting from scratch, I just feel like it’s icky to try to be like, come pay me money to do this thing when when you’re you’re not building the relationship. I totally agree. I totally agree. And I’ll tell you, I’ll tell you a little secret of mine is I really don’t like automation, I’m not a fan. Um and I I resist it wherever I can. I I’m kind of intrigued. I know that there are a lot of, you know, email funnels and different kind of workflows and things you can set up and it’s, you know, and it is a time saver. But um I, you know, and I think this is something that content marketing is just starting to twig to that they need to be building friendships and connections. Not audiences, audience building is a lie. I mean, I just you don’t you don’t get much out of it.


And um I really think what we do is about is about, you know, making those direct connections. It’s one of the reasons once in a while. I’ll I think I’ve done two posts on this in the past year. I’ll say, you know, like Lincoln is kind of screwing things up because I get spammed with messages from people that are just immediately pitching me things right away or I can tell that I’ve been hit with an automated message. Um you know, you’ve probably seen a bunch of these two where somebody is reaching out with a with a direct message, you know, via linkedin or wherever. And it says, you know, you, you came up as a suggested person I should connect with and your profile looks really interesting and it’s absolutely clear that it’s not, you know, it’s an automated message and and this, this little perverse part of my personality, um we’ll go and look at that person’s um linkedin profile and I’ll find something that I can relate to in the profile and I’ll reply back to them with the message, you know, asking them some detail about, you know, what they do or why they do it or hey, I noticed your from this area, I grew up in this area, you know, and if my next thing that I get from them is an automated message trying to spam me with their service or product, I drop them like a hot potato because they’re not talking to me as a human being.


And that’s one of the reasons that I just cavil against the whole, the whole idea of some of the automation funnels that are there, they they still are not good enough to encompass humanity because it’s not people I was saying, Yeah, yeah. Another thing I was thinking is um, I want to work with people who want to work with people And when I’m, you know, talking to clients, I’m like if they’re talking from the very beginning about, you know, how do we bring, you know, how do we bring in paid members and we’re going to do all this advertising. Like good, good luck, spend $50,000 on Facebook advertising. And then tell me how it’s going a year from now, Because you’re probably not going to have retention if you get converted people, you know, 1% of those converted people, if you don’t build a relationship with them, they’re gonna peace out, they’re not going to stay in your membership. And that’s just how it’s gonna roll. There’s, there’s way too many distractions, you know, for them, there’s, there’s, there’s, I mean, we, we live in the internet is the land of shiny objects and, and it’s so easy to get pulled into it.


And I feel like we’re even just now entering into an era where we’re at last becoming on a mass scale more aware of how influenced we are by all of those attempts to distract our attention in, in these, in these platforms. I think that it’s going to be a mark of our maturation as, as, as users of these internet technologies that we get better at making conscious decisions about where we go, what we pay attention to, where we, you know, where we offer our time right now, so much of it feels accidental to me, you know that, you know, many people, um, are just kind of pulled this way and that it’s one of the reasons that facebook has had an undue influence on, on elections and social justice issues and all kinds of those, those issues? It’s just uh they, it’s been too easy to manipulate us, um governments, bad actors, um any, anyone with, you know, something they’re trying to sell um in a nefarious way is is using these tools in bad ways and I feel like those of us who are uh involved in community building activities, um it’s up to us, we’re on the line here to educate and inform and move to action, uh you know, platforms to do better at this and to and to be uh be examples of kindness and community building and creating value um in the in these spaces.


So anyways, I’ll get off my soapbox, but these are the things that keep me awake at night, right? Um No, so I, I wanna Bring us two, I have a few more, like two more questions, but I want to just wrap up because I really like this conversation, but I want to make a note, I think using intentional tech tools can help you as an entrepreneur who is leading an online community, which is what I like building. Actually, I’m writing out the course today about how to connect um and use these tools to effectively and better communicate and get better um experiences and it’s, it’s not necessarily about sales funnels, but it’s more about, okay, what’s the most effective way that I enjoy communicating with people and what are my members saying? Um, they really enjoy? Do they want an email to remind them that there’s an upcoming office hours this week? Do they not? Do they want to connect with each other between different sessions inside this online community and how are we going to do that?


And maybe that means that we set up some zoom calls and maybe that means that we integrate uh, an email for reminder system. Maybe that means that we, um, schedule some posts ahead of time. I do a lot with clients and myself with scheduling out and planning out my content calendar because I don’t want to be stressed like on a monday about, oh my gosh, what am I doing inside my community this week? Like I don’t even have a plan. I don’t know, I’ve got to go find some stuff to post and, and, and to talk about and um, that’s part of it. And I know that I talked in another podcast episode about content a lot, but I think, you know, when you’re starting out and there’s, I’ve heard this on other podcasts to uh, community podcasts that, you know, you gotta have some content to bring people into, you’ve got to provide some kind of value. It’s not like you just put up a sign and say, hey, come into this community. I mean that might work. You know, build it and they will come, doesn’t typically work in community. I think we’ve learned that for a long time is that people need to know why they’re coming and what’s the purpose and what are they going to do in this online space?


But once you identify here’s what we’re doing this online space tech tools really help you better efficiently do that. Because as we discussed a little bit ago, community management is not just about um, you know, scheduling outposts and poles and, and you know, all of that stuff, it’s really about building connections and relationships inside an online community. So community managers are tasked with, how do you connect, how do you connect other members and tech tools help you do a little bit of that? Like, okay, let’s set up a zoom chat. Maybe I’ll set up a calendar so that people can book a call with me because maybe they’re confused about how I just did this the other week with a client I needed, they needed to set up a Um a zoom call and they didn’t know how. So I said, well here’s a calendar, 15 minutes, let’s just jump on and I’ll help you walk you through it. And those are ways that I build relationships with people inside the community. So then they know, oh my gosh, dad probably knows this thing or maybe she has an idea of where I can find a resource. I’ll just reach out to Deb and ask her because I already know, like instead of them stressing out about, I don’t even know where to go and maybe they post in other places and they can also build that relationship with members and say, oh yeah, Todd, Todd is a member of this community and I remember him saying something about he knows a lot about this thing, actually just ask him about it and then that’s how I think there’s a way to merge all of these things intentionally, where it makes sense to use tech tools, so that was my I’ll get off my soapbox.


No, it’s a it’s a good one, and I don’t mean to sound like a total curmudgeon either because I I as you know, I I use a lot of different platforms and a lot of different tools and you’re right, I think it’s about having conversations with the members of those communities um so that you’re providing value and you’re providing the venues and the means for them to get the information they want to connect them the way that they want and to interact so totally, totally with what you’re saying there. Yeah, thanks. Um I want to wrap up by just asking you could you share maybe the biggest lesson that you’ve learned that might help out their community builders, either entrepreneurs or maybe there’s a business owner that’s listening and they’re like uh I’m kind of interested in this idea of community, you know um what’s the biggest lesson that you’ve learned that’s really helped you you with either clients or in your career? Um For for me, uh if you’re thinking about starting a community, your your, this is this is something that’s been on my mind for for some time and I think it’s been percolating uh you know, for for a while and how I express it.


Um at the outset, if you’re thinking about starting a community, you need to be thinking about um how closely it used to the identity or beliefs or existence of of the people you’re trying to reach. I think the closer you are, if you think about that as a as a target um and if you’re if it’s a matter of survival for me, if it’s, if it means me um you know, living economically or physically, um that’s a community that is going to get my attention immediately and it’s going to be established a lot more swiftly than a community that is built around hobby or special interest or your widget that you’re selling whatever it is. So, so the more that you can connect um whatever your product or service is too a lifestyle, something close to someone’s identity, a belief or even, you know, their ability to, you know, to live well, um that’s for me, the starting point of wisdom and designing community that’s going to get off the ground faster rather than something that’s going to be a slow burn and maybe never gets anywhere.


That’s a great point, wow, what a great point I transformation. How do you provide an offer transformation for people inside your community as as a host. Um and how do you not only as a host, but how do you connect other people that they want to connect with each other for to offer support around transformation? It’s a great point. Thank you. Thank you. Yeah, I mean I and and getting getting those individuals connected within the community and helping them to see commonalities and helping them to see how that uh space can change their lives for the better and then getting them to talk about how that worked out for them uh is huge. I mean that those are the kinds of things that make a difference between whether the community will um sustain itself um or decline over time or or transform into something totally new because communities evolve uh you know, for sure too. And so thinking about like uh as you were starting this podcast with the discussion of like what my journey was, communities have a journey to and the needs of the members in that space change and evolve over time and and being able to recognize when those changes are happening and and when to introduce um maybe a change to the concept of that community is something to to recognize as well.


Beautiful, thank you so much for being here. Um I could talk with you much longer but we’ll we’ll wrap it up for today. It’s a great point that you just made there and sometimes it’s really connecting back to values. I’ve really learned a lot about what my values are and in business and and who I want to work with and what their values are and do those things align. Like I was talking about a little bit ago and I think that’s kind of like purpose driven communities, you know, I have a hiking group and, and and that’s all fun and things like that. But what I’m really passionate about is helping other community builders and so that I have a passion and interest in that. But um I think that’s what makes the difference is that I have these values and people who align with them are like yeah, I’m interested in learning more about death. So I think that’s true for you as well. Um you, you know when you have specific values and um and clients that you work with that have values that align. Well thank you for that and I’ll just say that I’m really glad you’re in this space and then I met you and I feel like I’m a better person for knowing you.


Oh my gosh, that is super kind, thank you. I feel the same way I’m excited that you are going to be a part of our consultant collective that we’ve been meeting with and uh that’s been such a, you know, going back to collaboration real quick of just saying, you know, being open and willing to collaborate with other people, even if you’re in the same space, we’re not we’re not, you know, competitors were collaborators and we’re supporting each other up and I think that’s a great way to look at um business and community in the same light for sure. If um you could real quick just tell everybody uh Clock tower, tell him where to connect with you. What’s the best place there for anybody who wants to learn more about what you do? Thanks. Yeah, so anybody that wants to learn a little bit about my work or what I do, um you can certainly connect to me on many of the social channels out there. I am probably most active on linkedin. That is a great place to reach out, but you can connect with me directly via my website, which is Clock tower advisers dot com and uh you know, fill out a little contact form or set up a meeting with me.


Would love to chat. Um obviously no obligation to talk about what what what you’re thinking about doing, but I’m just happy to advise and happy to be a voice encouraging more and more people to build communities that matter to them. Beautiful, thank you so much. Todd thank you for sharing your expertise and awesome experiences for our listeners for everybody who is listening, there will be a show notes. If you check on your platform there, you’ll see links to uh connect with Todd and uh for sure if you have questions uh reach out and let him know and he’ll be willing, happy and willing to jump on a call with you as he mentioned, as will I if anybody again um wants to jump on a discovery call. That link will be in the show notes as well. Lots of fun things happening in 2022, as I mentioned in the intro and the podcast is growing. So thank you all for listening. Please subscribe If you have benefited from this podcast in any way, please reach out to me. You can shoot me an email Deb at fine calm here dot com or post a rating and review on the podcast and really appreciate that as we start to grow out in 2022.


And the fine calm here podcast until next time, I hope you are finding calm in this day, evening, morning, afternoon, Tuesday at three or whatever time it is for you whenever it is, I hope you’re finding calm until the next time. Take care and talk to you soon, Bye. Mhm