Welcome to the Join Up Dots Podcast with Jono Bacon
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Introducing Jono Bacon
Jono Bacon is today’s guest joining us on the Join Up Dots podcast is a community and collaboration strategy consultant, author, advisor, and speaker.
He was born in Northallerton, North Yorkshire in England.
He lived in Bedfordshire and the West Midlands before relocating to California in 2008 to live with his wife, Erica.
While he has always had an interest in technology, the seed change happened in 1998 when Jono’s older brother, Simon, introduced him to Open Source.
Jono Bacon was captivated by the notion of people around the world working together to produce technology that they all shared and benefited from.
This created a lifelong passion to understand every nuance of how to build productive, engaging communities where a network of minds, experience, and time can produce value together.
Just imagine what is possible if we can crack the code for doing this well?
He started dipping his toes into various technology communities, writing extensively for magazines and online outlets, and then joining a new government initiative called OpenAdvantage that provided Open Source training and consulting.
His career then took him to XPRIZE where he helped launch incentive competitions that solve major challenges (such as the $15million dollar Global Learning XPRIZE to build technology that teaches kids literacy without a teach) and then he went to lead community strategy at GitHub where most of the world’s technology is created.
How The Dots Joined Up For Jono
At this point in his career, Jono Bacon wanted to apply the power of building communities to broader range of industries and challenges and he started consulting for a variety range of organizations about community and collaboration strategy.
This includes industries such as financial services, entertainment, professional services, non-profits, consumer products, security, and beyond.
His clients have included Deutsche Bank, The Executive Centre, Google, Mattermost, Glorious Games, Santander, and more.
Which is the perfect starting point to today’s episode.
So growing up in Yorkshire, his path could have been very much like the majority of his colleagues – did he always think he was going to be different?
And where do people go wrong with making communities really work for them?
Well let’s find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Jono Bacon
During the show we discussed such deep weighty subjects with Jono Bacon such as:
Why we all have different definitions of what is a community for us…..but you have to understand your audience big
Jono shares his rocking chair moment and why he now has a huge pull to his Northern past.
Jono breaks down the first five steps that we all have to take to build a community that truly works.
We cover the big failing point of all new communities due to the founder focusing in on what they get and not the group.
How To Connect With Jono Bacon
You can also check our extensive podcast archive by clicking here – enjoy
Interview Transcription For Jono Bacon
David Ralph [0:01]
Once upon a time, there was a guy with a dream, a dream to teach jobs for himself online and have a kick ass life working when he wanted him where he wanted across the world. Little did he know that dream would lead him into a world of struggle, burnout and debt, until he found the magic ingredient and nose struggles became a thing of the past. Of course, what’s bad person? And now My dream is to make things happen to you. Welcome to Join Up Dots.
When we’re young, we have an amazing positive outlook about how great life is going to be but somewhere along the line we forget to dream and end up settling. Join Up Dots features amazing people who refuse to give up and chose to go after their dreams. This is your blueprint for greatness. So here’s your host live from the back of his garden in the UK, David Ralph.
David Ralph [0:56]
Yes, hello. Good morning, everybody. Good morning. This is David Ralph. This is the end of a day for me but the beginning for you I’ve been recording for 10 hours straight. And I’m going to give all my remaining motivation to today’s guest because he deserves it because he is a guy who is a community and collaboration strategy consultant, author, advisor and speaker, and he likes Only Fools and Horses as well. I was just chatting to him before the show starts. He was born in North aletan North Yorkshire in England and he lived in bed for cheer and the West Midlands before relocating to California in 2008, to live with his wife, Erica. Now while he’s always had an interest in technology proceed change happened back in 1998. When his older brother Simon introduced him to open source he was captivated. He was captivated by the notion of people around the world working together to produce technology, but they all shared and benefited from this created a lifelong passion to understand every nuance of how to build productive engaging communities. Women network of minds experience and time can produce value together. Just imagine what is possible if we can crack the code for doing this well, when he started dipping his toes into various technology communities writing extensively for magazines and online outlets, and Ben joined a new government initiative called Open advantage that provided open source training and consulting and his career. Ben took him to X PRIZE where he helped launch incentive competitions, but solve major challenges such as the $15 million Global Learning XPrize to build technology that teaches kids literacy without a teacher. And then he went on to lead community strategy. It goes on and on and on. Now, at this point in his career, he wanted to apply the power of building communities to broader range of industries and challenges. And he started consulting for a variety of organisations about community and collaboration strategy, and he is work with Google matter most and time their loads of them. Which is the perfect starting point to today’s episode. So growing up in Yorkshire, his path could have been very much like the majority of his colleagues, did he always think he was going to be somewhat different? And where do people go wrong with making communities that really work for them? Well, let’s find out as we bring on to the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Jono Bacon. Good morning, Jono how are you?
Jono Bacon [3:26]
Good, David. Thanks for having me on. I appreciate it.
David Ralph [3:29]
I appreciate you as well might because if you weren’t here, I’d be all on my own. And God knows why it wouldn’t it would be quiet. Well, not with me. If I’ve got a microphone in front of me, then, you know, what’s the point in being in a place? Now let’s get right into it because I know you’re a busy man. And I’m intrigued because the world nowadays is full of entrepreneurs aiming to build communities and we’re starting a sort of very small way. The Facebook communities but I see people build and I I’ve tried it myself always ends up with the founder doing 99% of the work, and the communities just kind of just going with the flow and not chipping in. What What am I missing? Where’s the trick?
Jono Bacon [4:15]
Right? I think a big chunk of this is that when you’re intentional about anything in your life, you tend to get better results. Right? So if you if you’re intentional about your career, and when you want to take it, if you’re intentional about how you want to raise your kids, if you are intentional about getting good at your favourite video game, whatever it might be, you’ll be you’ll have a plan have a strategy and you built a think about the broader picture behind it. And I take the same approach with communities. There’s a lot of examples of communities out there where people kind of, it just kind of springs up around them, right and community forums and people start chatting to each other and it goes from there. And then it kind of fizzles out in many cases. I mean, there are small examples of a very large communities that form such as our own GitHub, for example, but the very best communities in a row in the world, people say, okay, where do you want to get to? What is the valley we want to create for our for our users are now members? How do we onboard them? How do we incentivize them and guide them through this process? And how do we build that kind of retention that can generate enormous value moving forward?
David Ralph [5:15]
Now, is it something that you have to learn the process? Because as you were speaking, then I thought, well, that’s that’s kind of obvious. But I know, I know that when I was doing communities, it wasn’t obvious. And as I say, I was posting and trying to drive engagement. And in the end, I thought our subjects I can’t be bothered and sort of walked away from it. Is it kind of obvious once you really get into it?
Unknown Speaker [5:39]
I’d say yes.
Jono Bacon [5:41]
And no. Part of the challenge here is that community the term community means so many different things to so many different people, right? So there’ll be some people listening to Join Up Dots today he’ll be he’ll be thinking of communities who get together to you know, talk about a common interest, but they’ll be other people will be thinking about people get together to build software together. So The first of all, I think we all have different definitions of what a community is. But the other element to this is communities that this weird mixture of psychology and workflow and technology and tools and all these different pieces. So I think the technology side is often intuitive to people, I’ll go and create a Facebook group, I’ll go and create a LinkedIn group, I’ll go and set up a forum, I’ll go and set up slack. But then how you go about understanding your audience and incentivizing them and mentoring them through that process, I think is massively unintuitive for most people, so let’s kind of take a stab at it. And they get some of the way there. But then to your point, you know, they find themselves doing a lot of work themselves, and they’re not really seeing the results that they want. And that’s one of the reasons why I wrote my new book, people powders to provide kind of a blueprint and a framework for how to go about that process and get more predictable results.
David Ralph [6:48]
You know, we’re only six minutes in I spoke for three minutes and you’ve already plugged your book, but Well, well done. Well
Unknown Speaker [6:54]
done for you, a natural professional
David Ralph [6:56]
and an actual professional. Okay, so Going back in time because you grew up in a in Yorkshire and Yorkshire is full of communities. We were in the old days, there was mining communities, the industrial communities and stuff. I’m always intrigued how somebody like yourself ends up living in California because it’s gonna be a sweeping statement. But it’s true to a point as well. Many of your colleagues are probably still in Yorkshire, probably still in those communities. There’s a big draw, there’s a big pole to them. How did you separate yourself?
Jono Bacon [7:37]
Like many people, my journey was just weird to be honest with you. I mean, I I was raised in Yorkshire and then when I was 11, moved down to the south. My dad took a job at a place in enlightened buzzard in the south and I went to university in the middle and so I’ve had this kind of like I’m a bit of an English Mongo from all over the country. What brought me to the US was was met my wife, Erica, who was California and we needed to make a decision when she going to come and live in Wolverhampton. That will be a hilarious concept to see my wife, he was raised in a very kind of suburban East Bay part of the California cat Park, California, she would have not have settled into. And I felt Honestly, I was born in the wrong country. I used to come to the US when I was a kid, and I’m very proud to be English, and I love my English roots. But I just there’s something exciting about the US to me. What’s odd is that my career just kind of spiralled into a very different area than I anticipated. Because I remember when I was growing up, I was always kind of interested in computers. But I was really interested in in music as well. I wasn’t sure whether I was going to join a band and try and be a rock star, or to go down the technology path. But when I look at the tech industry, I didn’t feel like I really had it cut out to be a developer. the business side looked very buzzword and full of nonsense to me and I wasn’t very interested in that. So I didn’t really know I was going to fit in and to the point where I went to school. And I sucked at school. I mean, I got for my A Levels. I got two days in the nnn, which is not good. I think an end is spelling your name wrong in the exam paper.
David Ralph [9:12]
And it’s almost spelling dead end. I was trying to work up an anagram from that.
Jono Bacon [9:19]
Right, exactly. It was one of those things whereby I really didn’t have many points to go to university and I basically talked my way into university. So when I discovered open source in 1998, it was, I was quite lucky that this came along because it opened up this passion for me that I, I didn’t realise that I had, which was this fusion of people and technology coming together to build interesting things. Because, you know, I was going through the same thing that a lot of kids were going through when, when they were, you know, 17 1819, which was, I know, I need to get a job. I don’t really know what I want to do. And there’s nothing that’s really exciting me right now. And I think a lot of kids struggle with that. And so I was very fortunate. This kind of came along, and you walk through in the intro, but the just really one thing led to another each time I’d kind of start doing something, it would open up little bits of opportunity somewhere else that would have what would happen. And that to me is the thrill of, of your life and your career. You can shape it how you want to shape it.
David Ralph [10:17]
So would you say vain, but your thoughts have joined up somewhat,
Jono Bacon [10:22]
though, for sure. And I’m a very introspective person in a way without kind of becoming, you know, like an emo music. I don’t spend my life sitting around thinking what is the point of it all, but I do try to observe the patterns in I’ll give you an example. I’ve always been a fairly social person. I like going down the pub. I like hanging out with my friends. I like getting into long drawn out conversations about random stuff. So when I’ve throughout the course of my career, I’ve tended to end up just meeting people going out to dinner with them, having lunch with them, having coffee with them going out for a few beers. When I started consulting, you have the natural Panic of is this going to work, you can have enough business and so many of those social relationships that were forced throughout previous companies and meeting people at events and whatever else, manifested into introductions into clients into various other things. And I wish I’d been able to go back and talk to myself earlier and say, you know, what your natural inclination is to hang out with people and get to know them and have a social and get to know them as a person, not just what they do for a living. And, and that is one of the most critical things I think you can do in your life is to look at the person and not just look at the the job title. So
David Ralph [11:39]
he is interesting, because this is a show that is very much about reflecting on the past to give you the confidence to move forward. And I really do that. I really look back in time Really? Yeah, but this week, I’m coming up to 50 years old. How old are you, john? I just
Jono Bacon [11:56]
turned 40. So I’m a mere baby, your
David Ralph [11:59]
baby company. To me, I could almost be a daddy by if I grew up in some weird country. I don’t I don’t know where
Jono Bacon [12:07]
to remember when is all fields around here?
David Ralph [12:09]
I remember all that. And my best friend was it was a sheep. Yes, I remember but, but it’s interesting because about last two weeks, I grew up with my brother. There was only two of us in our house. And I actually don’t remember living with my brother at all. But we’ve got we’ve got unlimited amazon music. I’ve been playing all the music that I remember coming from his bedroom. Oh, nice, big country, simple mines, early queen. Right, and all that kind of stuff. And I’m struck why at the moment, I’m going back on a nostalgic walk through the past, because right it’s just not me. It’s not me. But when I speak to somebody like yourself, and it seems obvious to me that your future is so linked trip your past you You just can’t escape it you you’ve almost got to keep on jumping back to to get those connections, which we generally don’t we just move forward all the time.
Jono Bacon [13:09]
That’s that’s, it’s definitely true. And I’m actually one of the things I’m, I’m proud of my northern heritage because one of the things that’s been fascinating to me is, I remember when I, when I first started, in the early stages of my career, I used to buy this, this this magazine in the UK called computer weekly, I didn’t have all these jobs in them, and I thought I’ll be able to figure out what kind of tech job I’m going to get into. And they’ll be all of these buzzwords by enterprise, this enterprise that and a lot of it seemed unnecessarily choose to me. So I started developing a bit of a I don’t know if I can swear in your podcast, but a BS radar, shall we say. And coming over to the US, and particularly working in Silicon Valley, where the web is the epicentre of a lot of tech firms. There are some people I’ve met over the years who are obsessed about money. About status and power and whatever else. And I always come back to what I think of is my rocking chair moment, which is when you’re 85 years old, and you’re looking back in your life, and most of your friends have snuffed it and you’re thinking about what was, I don’t think anybody ever says, I wish I’d worked more. I think everybody says, I wish I spent more time with my family with my friends. So we should pursue my interests. I wish I, you know, done these other things. And that is very much I think, an element of my upbringing in the north because I was raised in a very rural part of the UK. I didn’t know anyone who worked in technology. I certainly didn’t know anyone who worked in community, I didn’t really know what community was at the time. And those underlying principles of your life is not just your career have been I’m happy that that’s been a fundamental part of this and I thank my parents for that. So when I’m looking at various situations, I evaluate it not just upon like, Okay, what what can I accomplish in my career, but what’s gonna What am I going to think about when I get to that rocking chair mom without without dwelling on it too much like, I went to a school reunion and like you said, a lot of people went to school with have kind of stayed where they are, which is fine. Nothing wrong with that. But my memory of being at school for example was very different to what people presented to me like I thought of myself as being relatively introverted didn’t really hang out with people didn’t go in any parties. And people thought that I was a bit of a clown and was always very social and hanging out you know, and and very engaging with people and I think a lot of us tend to censor our past because we don’t really remember it because it was so long ago
David Ralph [15:32]
yeah, I couldn’t go to school reunion there’s no way on earth I could go back to really unit Yeah, and just be you should there’s a lot of fog. No, it’s no it’s just gonna be it’s gonna be large women and bold man, which is a mirror into my life, but I don’t want to see I’d rather keep the miracle fast.
Jono Bacon [15:56]
Yeah, I actually spurred on I was out with a friend of mine. One night in a local bar and I was completely drunk. And I realised I hadn’t seen my friends in forever. So I sent a drunk Facebook message to a bunch of people and said, We haven’t hung out for a while we should organise a school reunion, which meant they should organise a scurrying because I live in America. Yeah. And I woke up the following morning and they picked a date, they picked a venue, and it sent a Facebook event. Invite two people was like, okay, guess I’m going to the next year. So
David Ralph [16:25]
you have got the wrong sort of friends, john. Oh, you’re good friends. So active and encouraging. You want the ones that you look at and go, he’s not doing anything with your life. So right. Yeah, instead of getting sucked into it. So so let’s get back into the community building because that’s what we do in Join Up Dots. We jump back and forth all the time. So yeah, I can totally understand people coming together for a common theme to build something because there’s a lot of stuff that I use, which is open source, which is great. And I know there’s a lot of books that Now written by communities where each community writes a chapter, and it just kind of gets vomited on the page and the person ends up with a book within, you know, a week or so I understand all that, because that is a passion project that is something that taps into the individuals talents, creativity and interest, surely is the answer that I’m looking for. But to make a community work online, you’ve got to tap into those those elements of the people and that’s what we’re not doing.
Jono Bacon [17:32]
Right. Exactly. I mean, what is exciting, there’s a few things that excite me about this moving forward. One is that we often forget, I think that we are animals when you take away computers, screens, microphones, games, consoles, TVs, were fundamentally animals and we’re very social animals. And we enjoy spending time with other people is one of the reasons why thousands of years ago we formed into villages and towns because we were We’re, we have a greatest sense of security. And we can tap into other people’s experience and insight and exactly the same principles have stuck with us for hundreds of thousands of years. So one of the reasons why communities work from a psychological perspective is that fundamentally people want a sense of belonging in their lives. And they want the sense of meaning. So if you look at some of the greatest community success stories around, it’s because they’ve been able to build an environment where people can join something and they feel part of something, they feel part of something bigger than them. I’ll give you an example. So one of the first things I write about in People Powered is about this kid who lived in rural Africa. I’ve been working at a company called canonical for about six months, and he sent me an email. And he said, I’m really passionate about Ubuntu, which was the project we’re working on and the community and I spend my week I do chores around my village, I earn money. And then I basically walk two hours on a Saturday to my local town. I spend that money in an hour’s worth of internet access where I contribute to Ubuntu then I will Two hours back. And he didn’t complain. He didn’t whine. He basically said how excited he was to be a cog in his brother machine. So, you know, during that during the week, he was just a kid in rural Africa. But when he was when he was there for the hour, he felt part of something much bigger than than his local environment. And that’s one of the reasons why communities work is the key thing, I think, is identifying what are the practical things that people want to do to get value out of communities. So you know, people often will organise events, they’ll produce software together, they’ll create content and and videos, they’ll answer questions and provide support to each other. So the key thing in mind, and this is why I think it gets really interesting is that this is going to be the future of how people build businesses. This is going to be the future of how people organise. I think that local communities is that today we’re living in a world where young people are growing up in a social With a social internet, right? If you look at millennials today, 85% of millennials have a smartphone, they’re growing up with Instagram and Facebook and Twitter, and the relationship that they want, with their schools, with their universities, with their brands with the, with the with the companies they engage with, they don’t just want to receive something they don’t want to be broadcasted to. They want to have an interactive relationship with them. And this, to me provides a massive opportunity because if you’re listening to this, for example, you’re an entrepreneur, you’re a business person, or you’re just interested in in doing something, whether it’s activism or something else. building communities is going to be the future of how people will engage with each other. So building those skills and integrating them into your organisation is going to be really critical.
David Ralph [20:46]
I’m always fascinated with a course of what you’re saying there but also why people in Africa always have to walk an hour to get to anything. You always have to walk an hour to get a glass of water and you think we’ll just move Move closer, you just just save yourself. Is that simple as that simple, we can sort that out? Well, I’m going to play some words now. And then we’re going to come back to john Oh, bacon, here’s Oprah.
Oprah Winfrey [21:12]
The way through the challenge is to get still and ask yourself, what is the next right move? not think about, Oh, I got all of this stuff. What is the next right move? And then from that space, make the next right move, and the next right move, and not to be overwhelmed by it. Because, you know, your life is bigger than that one moment, you know, you’re not defined by what somebody says, is a failure for you. Because failure is just there to point you in a different direction.
David Ralph [21:43]
Why? Okay, so let’s get quiet. And let’s turn the second half of his show into a master class of building a community. I knew the entrepreneur is out there, and just setting up their first platform and they’re thinking, right, what I’m going to do, I’m going to nurture a community. What is the first thing that let’s give them the first five steps that they can take to actually be at something that works for them?
Jono Bacon [22:07]
Yeah, exactly. So the first thing to do is to determine what is the broader mission of what you’re trying to accomplish him, like missions really important. Again, humans, we tend to be motivated by doing really meaningful work. So for example, if you if you’re, if you’ve, if you’ve got a new product, and you want to build a community around it, then have something bold and brightly, we want to build the best version of what we’re doing. We you know, we want to build a world class community around whatever your product is, is a CRM or events platform or whatever it might be. The second thing you need to then do is to determine what is the value you want to generate for your community members, and the value for your organisation? You have to start with your community members first. So what did they get out of it? Are they going to be able to learn new skills network with people increase their career prospects, build experience, or is it just that they gonna have fun, like there’s a mixture of all these different things. And then what do you get out of it? Is it brought a brand recognition? Is it generating technology? Is it providing support and lowering the cost of support? Is it generating additional material, so important to everything is gonna have a genealogy back to value. The third thing that you then do so you’ve got your mission, you’ve got your value defined, it’s then figure out one of the personas, one of the target audiences you want to reach out to now communities, there’s many of these, there’s people who produce content, there’s people who provide support and guidance. There’s people who organise events. There’s people who, who produce technology and software, there’s people who build plugins, and additions. It’s important to pick a couple of those and prioritise those because you can’t do all of these. Otherwise, you’ll spin yourself into circles. So you pick a couple of those target personas and the most critical types of participation want to focus on and then what you do is you design an on ramp that gets them from zero to hero, like how do they a discover the value of participating why they should do this. That’s the first step of the on ramp to selling him on the community. And then, you know, how do they set up the tools they need? How do they build the schools, the skills they need to participate? How do they find something to do? Where do they go and ask questions and get help. And then the final step of that on ramp is once they’ve made that first contribution, let’s say they’ve created a video, they’ve organised an event, they’ve made a contribution to a software project. The final step of the on ramp is to validate it, you know, again, psychologically, human beings, we’re pattern matching machine. So we’re looking for patterns in the world around us. So if we do work, and we get rewarded for that work, that is a pattern or once that happens a couple of times. So the validation of that first contribution is really critical. And what I would always recommend is, essentially, what we then do is that there are three phases. When people go through a community, they start out as casual members, they don’t really know anyone they’ve shown up occasionally here and there, and a lot of imposter syndrome. Then they become regulars where they’re showing up most of the time they’re doing something they’ve got to know people They’re feeling comfortable. And then a small number of people will become core members where they’re very, very active, passionate members of your community. The way in which we push them through those three phases, is through incentives and rewards. Because again, we’re very incentivized as people, it’s reason why we collect airline miles. It’s the reason why we collect badges and video games. It’s the reason why we, we get our 10 Coffee stamps so we can get our 10th coffee for free. And, and what I would recommend in how you approach this, is, once you figured out those strategic pieces, is putting in place a set of core goals for a year, right. So okay, I want to set up a forum. I want to set up my social media accounts, I want to push out content through an editorial calendar, I want to organise two or three events. Start simple pick a small set of metrics that you’re going to track this work in, such as with a form it could be, you know, the number of posts, it could be, how many page views you get, it’s how sticky your members are when they’re participating, and then just track the data and evolve it based upon What you’re saying is a certain amount of kind of Colombo, Quincy ish detective work here and reading the data and being able to make changes based upon what you’re saying. And that will get you up and running as predictably as possible.
David Ralph [26:11]
And you actually have the word Quincy ish. Is that is that a proper a proper word?
Unknown Speaker [26:17]
It is now it is made up. It’s in the dictionary
David Ralph [26:19]
a sound man. It sounds like we
Jono Bacon [26:21]
might be in the urban dictionary, but it’s in the dictionary.
David Ralph [26:24]
So So with all that, I think one of the things again, as I was listening to you, and there was so many bits that I wanted to jump in is a lot of the newbie entrepreneurs and established entrepreneurs start with it thinking, right my goal was to make money. My goal is to make money, the people are going to join in their vein going to be naturally migrated over to become a buying client. So that’s that’s the mistake as well, where they’re not totally looking at the value point. But with a caveat to that and this is the leading question when you’re thinking about the You How do you end up not giving away your good stuff? And then people get it for free? Because people don’t value the free, do they? That’s the thing.
Jono Bacon [27:10]
Right? Yeah, I mean this, there’s really two types of value in communities. One is tangible value that you can measure. So things such as, for example, if you have a community that’s providing support and guidance, right, I’ll give you an example of this. There’s a company called fractal audio systems. They make a product called an axe effects. I’m a musician. And it basically simulates hundreds of guitar amps. So you don’t have to buy all of those guitar amps. It’s a very comprehensive product. It’s quite complicated to use, there’s a million different ways in which you can use it. So their support team, or their educational materials could never cover all of the queries that their customers have. So they’ve got a community forum where their community members come together and ask questions and provide help and they’ve written books and all kinds of stuff. So there’s very tangible value in that for the company because You know, they’ve ship a product, and people can get much more value out of that product much more quickly and effectively by going to the community, it means they don’t have as big of a support department, they don’t have to produce as many books and educational materials. And there’s loads of examples of those kinds of tangible value. But the thing that communities offer, which is more complicated wrap your head around, is the intangible value is that when you go somewhere, and you have a great experience with that company, again, you build that sense of belonging in a community, you get a lot of personal value out of it. It feels socially very engaging. It builds retention, it builds commitment. When people want to stick around these community, there’s been people who I know who stick around communities for over 1012 years because of this. So one of the things I’ve learned in my career is sometimes you can be worried about giving away your secret sauce. So for example, when I’ve written books, or when I write articles online, when I started out, I was worried that I was going to give away my method like Yeah, I just walk through it and how to build a community. Just that That’s a method that I’ve designed and evolved over the course of 20 years. And I’m a consultant people pay me for my time and my expertise. So I couldn’t have a concern that well, if they know your recipe, then surely they can do that, and they don’t need to hire as a consultant, then you become irrelevant and start sleeping under a bridge. And it’s and that’s not a worry of mine. Because I think even if people know, for example, you know, whenever in this new book and in detail go, so the approach that I take, that’s the recipe but people are always going to want to talk to the hint to go to the horse’s mouth and the same way that you can buy a cookbook, and you can cook your favourite dishes from your favourite restaurant at home. But it’s always going to be better at the restaurant. Because that’s just the way in which things work. So I don’t think entrepreneurs need to worry so much about that secret sauce being taken away. I think the value of the community here is that the community can generate so many things so much material and and direct engagement and support that Your company would never have the time to get to. Essentially what you’re, what you’re doing is you’re empowering an army of people to add value to what you’re doing in your world. The key thing is that the reason why communities work is because they’re interested in, they’re interested in the welfare of the community, cup communities don’t form to make an individual business more successful, like Disney fans are not interested in Disney be more profitable. They’re interested in hanging out with other Disney fans. And that’s one of the key This is where the nuance of building communities get gets a little bit more complicated is is it’s enabling the community to be successful in then what happens is the company’s successful as like a side effect, if that makes sense.
David Ralph [30:41]
I kind of community be too big and Benny actually implodes.
Jono Bacon [30:47]
Yeah, I mean, one of the great benefits of you know, when I’m talking to journalists or talking to clients, whatever, we often talk about these big examples of communities like Salesforce, SAP or Star Citizen, they’ve all got millions of people connected their communities. But frankly, some of the most valuable community experiences very small, there are less than 100 people. And you can have a very personal relationship with each of them. It’s like It’s like a company like small companies, when they’re like 50 to 60 people, in my mind is the sweet spot. Because you can get to know everybody, everyone can have a very personal experience. When you start getting to thousands and thousands of people you have to make, you have to systematise a lot more things that becomes less personal. And that’s the real tricky thing in communities. Like when I was at canonical, and we were building the bunting community, and we scaled up to hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people and millions of users. It became very complicated and delivering a very personal experience with Now many people because no one wants to be flanked by a computer. No one wants to get emails from a computer, you want people engaging with each other. So you’ve got to put in place means of your community members, mentoring and providing support to other community members. And that’s how you scale upwards is you couldn’t possibly do it with just you and your team at your company. It’s your community members then become part of your community operators if if you will,
David Ralph [32:05]
I don’t care where where I get stuff any adulation it could come from our to data as long as it’s coming my way. I really don’t care at all Gianna.
Jono Bacon [32:16]
Well, you know what we all will need to be appreciated, right? We all need a bit of validation. I like I get them. And I’m Frankie, I’m the same.
David Ralph [32:24]
Why? So let’s move you on a pace. I know that you’ve got a hard stop. So I’m very aware that we’re going to move this podcast through what I want to do. I want to play some words that haven’t been that relevant to the episode we normally delve into the goal, but I want to focus in on his Steve Jobs.
Steve Jobs [32:40]
Of course, it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college, but it was very, very clear looking backwards. 10 years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in Something your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path. And that will make all the difference.
David Ralph [33:15]
Many years ago, I used to work in Southend on the sea in Essex, and I’m sure that same happened around the planet as well. And I used to go past the apple shop. And so like five o’clock in the morning, and people have been queuing all night to buy a new device and I used to be why, why? What did apple and Steve effectively we’re talking about a community of fanboys you know, what, why did they have that passion for that product that others did?
Jono Bacon [33:47]
Yeah, I think part of the reason why Apple have been so successful is, first of all, from an innovation perspective, they completely stepped outside of the box, right? It’s easy to forget These days that products didn’t look as sexy as they look today, right? They came in rubbish boxes. They were hastily thrown together, they were beige. They’re too many buttons on them, they had screws that were exposed. So the first thing that Apple did is they made products that that were fashionable that were that were beautiful that they they married beautiful software and hardware design. So first of all, I think what they did is they attracted a group of people who weren’t necessarily interested in, you know, buying a product based upon the, you know, the clock speed of its processor, didn’t care about that. They cared about doing interesting things with technology. But the second thing that they did is they carried that approach to product design to everything that they do their website, their stores are beautiful. And, and they also built a very, very close relationship with their, with their, with their community, you know, like worldwide developer conferences, a massive event that just dominates the Bay Area when it happens. And, you know, they’ve got a very, they’ve had a very close relationship with, with, with, you know, news outlets community like unofficial communities wrapped around, wrapped around apple and beyond. And I think that’s one of the reasons why they’ve become a brand that’s in still in such such high demand because they’ve married beautiful product design, with great community engagement.
David Ralph [35:23]
And he’s had something that is easy to replicate or is that something that really all the dots have to join up to make that happen?
Jono Bacon [35:33]
I think it was very difficult for them to do it when they did it, especially because again, it’s easy to forget this. But back in the days when Apple started going down this beautiful design approach. The temptation in the industry back then was to add more technology not to add less or two or not to remove it. So it was all about speed and technical functionality and data sheets. Filled with specific specifications. And I think one of the things that people realise later in life that they didn’t know when they were younger, is that sometimes less really is more like Miles Davis said, you know, it’s not the notes that you play, it’s the notes that you don’t play them. It’s all the difference in music. And it’s the same way with, with whether you’re building a website, whether you’re building a product, how can you deliver the core value in the least amount of material as possible? There was a guy called l madman months, who owned a TV factory. And he developed a term called monstering, which is where you he’d walk around people building the TV sets, and he would basically remove components until the TV step stopped working. And then he put the last component back in. So it’s simplified the design of these products. And I think we should be taking that with our lives. It’s not about having all of the information. And having all of the answers is about packaging up the right pieces in the right way. And that’s what it’s Apple have done. And that’s really hard because again, our natural inclination, I think, is to prove ourselves is to do to do better. And we typically do that with detail and statistics and knowledge and facts and wowing people. And actually, I think the most elegant communication with elegant leaders in the world don’t do that. They take a very simple approach.
David Ralph [37:19]
In my whole business I tried to do the power of free is more than pre working parts when it’s not going to happen. And some of it actually means that I have to be part of the process, but I can’t automate it. But I’m still happy to do that. Because I know that if anything breaks, it’s quite easy to then put it back together. I’ve had people come in and they’ve built incredibly complicated lead funnels and sales and sales, but I never knew how it was working. It was working, but I didn’t could didn’t understand it enough. And I had to I just had to dismantle it was too complicated. Yeah,
Jono Bacon [37:55]
yeah. I see this all the time in my in my business to where people go down these incredibly complicated routes, and they build out these really complicated processes. And and I think it’s always good to just step back and say, like, why are we doing this? And who is it intended for? And what is the purpose of all of this? And sometimes the most valuable external commentators, and that’s one of the things I find is useful as a consultant is I can kind of come into a company and ask those kinds of questions. Sometimes if you’re working in a company, you can’t necessarily go up to our CEO and say, why are we doing this? You know, basically, if it’s a the CEOs pet project, but I think it’s really important to do that all the time. I think that process of mixing or the you know, the rule of three is is is critical. Because otherwise, I think we get within the bubble of implementation, and execution and then and then what happens is we lose our way. It’s one of the reasons why when I was talking about how you build the community earlier on, I always start with value and mission
Unknown Speaker [38:58]
because if you stop
Jono Bacon [38:59]
a lot people when they build communities, they immediately have to set up slack. And I said it before, I’m going to do all the social media. I’m going to, you know, set up Hootsuite and the schedule and my social media and all these different pieces. It’s like, there’s got to be a genealogy from the action from the individual piece of work that you do through to the value. And if you can’t see the genealogy between the two, then you’re doing the wrong thing.
David Ralph [39:20]
Yeah, I agree with that. Well, I knew the journey that I was going to be on with this show. And we’re now there because this is the part that we call the Sermon on the mic when we’re going to send you back in time to have a one on one with your younger self. And if you could go back in time and speak to the young john. Oh, what age would you speak to him? What advice would you give him? Well, we’re gonna find out because I’m gonna play the music. And when it finds you up, this is a sermon on the mic.
Jono Bacon [40:06]
Hello, gentlemen, see your 18 years old, you sat there you live in at home, you’re going to cut your hair at some point. I mean, you’re gonna, you’re gonna go bowling and you’re just gonna have to get used to that is going to struggle when you’re gonna struggle with this when you’re about five to six years from now, when you do this, the thing you need to know that your future self is telling you here is that there is no linear progression in life. You went to school, you were told by your teachers, you know, you go to school, you work hard, you do your a levels, you go to university, you get a job, you meet a nice person, you get that you get married, and off you go. That’s not how life works. What happens is you pursue the things that you care about. And one thing is going to lead to another. You make your own opportunity. You make your own success, and part of that is you’re going to struggle, you’re going to fall on some hard times, you’re going to find some difficulties. And the key is that in every single one of those obstacle, there’s a little learning lesson, there’s a little thing that you can you can figure out that’s going to guide you through it. So the key you need to learn, Jonno, as you go through this. First of all, keep listening to metal is the purest art form of music around there. The second thing you need to know is that every day, look at what you’re doing and look at the lessons that can be buried inside of what you’re doing. Sure. You did a good job in the meeting today. Why did you do a good job in it? But what was the thing that happened? Did you speak too much? Did you speak to this? Or did you get the information communicated over in the most efficient way forward? What is what are the lessons that you can take away from the things that you’re doing the things that you’re doing? That is going to guide your future success?
David Ralph [41:45]
Right stop. So Gianna was the number one best way that our audience can connect with you.
Jono Bacon [41:52]
Probably the best place is to go to my website, which is john Oh, bacon, j o n o bacon light, the delicious meat. com I’m also having such a stupid name. I’m on all the social media networks with that as well, Jonah bacon, with the exception of Instagram, which someone stole my identity. And then and then the book is available in all good book shops.
David Ralph [42:13]
And we’ll have all the links on the show notes to make it as easy as possible. JOHN, thank you so much for spending time with us today, joining up those dots. And please come back again when you got more dots to join up. Because I do believe that by joining up the dots and connecting our past is the best way to build our futures. Jono Bacon, thank you so much.
Jono Bacon [42:30]
Thank you, David was a pleasure.
David Ralph [42:34]
So the power of communities building communities you see him all the time and most of them certainly in the world, but I frequent file and I think it is because the owner of that community is trying to gain and not actually thinking of how to make it fun, how to make it engaging, how to make it valuable for the people so that they come in time and time again, and they speak to their friends and and if you’re doing that and you’re failing, and you’re just Think content just for the sake of it, nobody is engaging with you really think about it. What is your end goal as john said, thank you as always, thank you every single person that has listened to Join Up Dots. I really appreciate you being here. I just want to say thank you to a newbie entrepreneur that just left a review saying great content on iTunes, a lot of great applicable content. And Jay Calvin 33 or Wow, well, well, I know Jay Calvin, Calvin, you’re going to be working with me very soon. He is saying Join Up Dots is amazing and inspirational. David instils competence into all these listeners and motivates us to take action. He makes our dreams and goals seem very achievable because they are achievable. David, thank you for being genuine and real. Thank you for your hard work and the love you show us with your weekly podcast. I look forward to working with you very soon. Regards Calvin, South Carolina. I look forward to you working with me to Calvin until next Time. Anybody need any help in any regard, drop me a line. I get bombarded with them. But I do try to plough through them as quickly as possible because that’s where I’m here to help you go forward in to the world that you want to be. And I just bit my tongue as I was saying that. Until next time, I will see you again. Look after yourselves. Bye bye. Are you ready to start your own podcast and really make it work for you bringing customers and profits into your life and your business in the easiest way possible? Or perhaps you’ve already launched and aren’t getting the results you want? If so, I’m going to teach you the information that you need that makes all the difference to your success. Now, don’t be fooled into believing what others are teaching you when it comes to what makes your podcast get those results. podcasting success is not about the podcast. It has nothing to do with a recording or equipment. It has everything to do with understanding your market and making those customers come to you time and time again. This is roar 100% Live behind the scenes podcasting mastery not shown anywhere else. If that’s of interest, head over to Join Up Dots and book a time to speak with me to make sure that you’re a fit for our next course. This is podcasting mastery live at Join Up dots.com