On Leadership, Leverage, and Trust

I hesitate whenever I hear the word leverage in the same sentence as community. It just doesn't sound right, in the same way the phrase, "using a friend" doesn't feel right. However, truth be told, communities are meant to be leveraged. A community that is addressing a problem is collectively…

The Nozzle

As I speak with individuals about the goals for their community, inevitably I aim to understand what primary problem he/she is attempting to solve, and for whom. If the responses become too generic, I tell them about my lesson learned from a garden hose. The nozzle of most all…

Sustaining Momentum

In my previous blog I discussed the flywheel and initiating community momentum. But what happens when the community gains some momentum? How do you sustain it? From the very beginning of Door64, I was passionate about solving this problem: hosting a community calendar for Austin-area technology events because I was…

The Flywheel: A mental model for community building

Today at Product Camp Austin I presented a talk titled, "Building Community: Lessons from Door64". One key concept that yielded excellent discussion was my mental model during the initial growth period of Door64: the flywheel. The flywheel is an object that buffers energy through motion -- in other words, it…

Networking and Community Leadership

If you know anything about me, you know I am an engineer who evangelizes other techies about the absolute necessity and career potency of professional networking. A few months ago I was authoring a talk on that very topic, and I had a realization...but I'll save that for the…

The Biggest Loser

During my first eight years living in Austin, Texas, I managed an informal volleyball league that played one evening a week. Each Monday I emailed my volleyball contact list asking who wanted to play the following Tuesday evening. Over time, as first-time visitors turned into regulars, more people invited their…

Million Dollar Ideas

Occasionally, I meet enthusiastic individuals planning to to make it big online, grasping for the elusive million dollar idea that will purportedly supply a lifetime of wealth. It's a trap I can speak first hand. An alluring prospect, the chase for such ideas resulted in hunkering down and thinking really…

Community Building: What didn't work, part 2

In my previous installment, I described some points of failure for Door64 version 1, including lack of focus on the problem(s) to be solved. Solving problems for potential members creates value in exchange for their engagement. Another cause of failure was a lack of vision for the desired outcomes…

Community Building: What didn't work, part 1

Some of you may know that I started a community of technology professionals in Austin called Door64 in 2007. However, few know that I began my efforts a full year prior in 2006. What I affectionally dub Version 1 was my first attempt at building this community, and it failed.…