TMBA606: Reflections on 10 Years of Running an Online Community

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We aren’t usually the type for navel-gazing, but this summer marks an important milestone for us.

10 years ago, our desire to “find our tribe” led us to form the Dynamite Circle, a private membership community of location-independent entrepreneurs.

Since then, there have been dozens of DC events all over the globe, and it has truly become a life-changing adventure for so many of the people involved in the community.

For added value, we’ve invited our good friend Jeff Pecaro, who has coached and helped so many speakers at our conferences over the years, on to the podcast to look back on the ups and downs of the last decade of the Dynamite Circle.

We are also going to pull back the curtain a bit and discuss the behind-the-scenes details of what it’s really like to run a private community and the unique challenges that these types of businesses present.

See the full transcript below

Listen to this week’s show and learn:

  • Why we originally started the Dynamite Circle. (4:30)
  • What we’ve learned about our own businesses through running the DC. (11:22)
  • How the Dynamite Circle has helped members of the community grow their businesses over the years. (17:38)
  • What it’s really like to run a private community as a business. (23:34)
  • What the Dynamite Circle might look like 10 years from now. (35:09)

Mentioned in the episode:

Before the Exit – Our New Book
Partner With Us
The Dynamite Circle
Dynamite Jobs
Dynamite Deals
Tropical MBA on YouTube
Post a Remote Job
Dynamite Jobs – Remote Recruiting Sales Page
Let’s Talk High-Level Podcast Strategy for 1 Hour
Jeff Pecaro
John Ainsworth
Data Driven Marketing
Minaal

Enjoyed this podcast? Check out these:

TMBA497: Success is Solving Other People’s Problems
TMBA569: An Ode to DCBKK
TMBA602: 5 Strategies for Growing an 8-Figure Business

This week’s sponsor:

Today’s podcast is sponsored by Smash Digital.

Smash Digital is a growth agency filled to the brim with unicorn images and SEO memes.

A team of SEOs who actually know how to use SEO instead of just selling SEO to people who don’t know SEO.

An agency with so much link juice, you’ll need a mop and a bucket to clean it all up.

A group with actual skin in the game, ranking their own portfolio of profitable businesses, and offering the exact same services to clients.

If you want to have Smash Digital in your back pocket, check them out over at SmashDigital.com, and a big thanks to Smash Digital for sponsoring the show.

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Have comments about the show?

Do you have ideas for things you’d like Dan and Ian to discuss on future episodes?

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Thanks for listening to our show! We’ll be back next Thursday morning 8AM EST.

Cheers,

Dan & Ian


 

 

 

Full Transcript


Dan: Jeff, can you introduce us to who you are and what you do? Jeff’s on mute.

Ian: Sweet.

Jeff: Hey everybody, professional I swear.

Dan: Welcome back to the pod. Stick through this intro with me. And then make your decision as to whether you’ll hang with us. We’re not big anniversary people here, we’re just sort of just another Wednesday, just another Thursday people. But this particular anniversary felt like it deserved an episode. And I guess although this could come across very self-serving, it just felt authentic, because it’s what we were talking about this week. The reason is: this summer marks a decade, that’s 10 years of running the Dynamite Circle, which really fuels and has a symbiotic relationship with this podcast. For better or for worse, most of the stories and concepts that arrive on the show come from our private membership group. And they come in a unique way, not from people who are necessarily publishing online or having an online presence, but people and concepts that we hear about, from listeners of the show, people in person, we know you, we talk to you. And then that stuff ends up here on the show.

So as you may know, the DC is a private community for location independent entrepreneurs. It has a full time staff, most prominently our current community manager Vincent, who’s also a member, by the way, and previous guest on this show, an entrepreneur in his own right, has a very highly leveraged ads service and so helps us with the community as well. He helps moderate our online forum, organise events all around the world, and match members in mastermind groups, many of which have changed the course of members’ businesses and lives.

But on today’s show, we’re not just going to be talking about the DC. The Bossman and I are often asked about our thoughts on running communities. You know, it’s a really hot topic nowadays, community community community, it’s a buzz term. So we’re going to do some inside baseball of that, part of me is a little bit you know, ‘Maybe we shouldn’t do an episode like this’, but part of me is like, ‘Honestly, I get asked about it all the time. So we’re gonna give it a go’. Let me know what you think. There’s a lot of challenges associated with running a community, that’s simply just a community, we’re going to make some distinctions that might be useful to you.

Plus, we’re gonna outline some of our hopes for the future of the DC. Ten years is a very long time, we honestly hope to do it for another 10 as we look forward to our first event in two years in Mexico City, this coming October. So now, in an attempt to try and keep the Bossman and I on the straight and narrow, not be too indulgent, we were invited on Jeff Pecaro, long term DC member and the founder of ‘Mostly Stories’, a search focused writing service for online businesses and the agencies that serve them. But more relevant to this conversation, he’s been working with us on our Dynamite Circle conferences, helping our members tell their stories on stage. And the reality is this whole conversation was started by a post that Jeff posted in the forum. So we’re drawing heavily on his thoughts and his post and the responses to it. So let’s start out with that, what Jeff wrote recently in the forum, and we’ll let him take it away.

Jeff: “Ten years ago today, I was out fishing. I built a little SEO agency for real estate brokers, quit my nonprofit ‘in more ways than one’ job, gone location independent and wrecked most of my personal relationships in the process. So I started binge listening to a podcast Sean Ogle was talking about. The boys were just getting set up in Hong Kong and made the decision to commit to a weekly Episode 8am Eastern Standard Time. Then one day Dan posted an application for a private forum. Ten years later, I’ve had the chance to hang out with you crazy kids on four continents, gone from being really bad at SEO to really good at copywriting. And back to a search focused writing service. I’ve had the privilege of working with hundreds of you on your presentations for DC events in the process as well. From the annual migration from BKK to Chiang Mai, summers in Europe, the rise of productized services, DCX events all over the world, weddings, babies and more. Plus, everyone started a podcast. So thanks to Dan and again for putting this crazy cliche together. And thanks to all of you for the friendship, help and inspiration over the years’.

Dan: First off, really well done, the man has a quill, and so do many members. So we’re going to share some of the responses from the community on today’s episode and offer just a little bit of commentary. I thought it might be interesting though, to just dig back into the origins and the intentions of how this all came about. I don’t know if you remember this Ian.

Ian: I hate it when people say that to me.

Dan: The origins of DC really start with a very piercing personal need that I can hear in the tone of Jeff’s post, which is kind of like, what the f**k should I do? I’m bought into this, like location independent concept. I bought into the concept that I’m an entrepreneur, yet a lot of the things I read about business and the people I talk to about business, for some reason or another, it’s not really resonating with what I’m trying to do. And so way back, in 2009, Ian and I posted a lonely little blog post and then said, ‘If you feel the same way and want to grow a business, how about we just all jump on the phone together every Sunday night. And that’s what we’ll talk about’. And it did help us grow our business and everybody did start to grow together and do things together and assist each other. And it was that little call for help that ended up duplicating and duplicating hundreds, if not 1000s of times over and over again through the process of our events and our masterminds.

Ian: Yeah, the DC started with just some phone calls. Dan, that’s a weird part about like, community. It was simply, ‘We’re lost, we need help. Who else is feeling this way?’ A bunch of people raised their hands. And then here we are today with a lot of people raising their hands, saying similar things to what we were saying back then, obviously some of the conversations have changed. The community has evolved, some of the problems that we’re trying to solve in the past have been solved in a lot of ways. And now new problems are coming up. But, there’s this common idea that keeps us all together, I feel like which is progress, progress in our business, progress in our personal lives, progress in location, because most of the people in this community, the DC, are looking to improve themselves or their business on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly basis.

Jeff: I think people get really hung up on forums and Discord, and Slack and software and all these ideas of community, when really what you guys discovered was that there was a group of people already out there that were looking for easier ways to connect. And so the idea of creating a business out of a community is, it’s kind of missing the point that you’re harnessing something that’s already there, and people that are looking for each other.

Dan: That leads nicely to the next phase of the DC. So you’ve got like these eight or nine people that for months are talking on the phone every week and kicking around emails and chatting with each other, ‘Oh my gosh, like that’s a location independent ecommerce company that has all the same sort of ambition, and sense ofhow a business ought to be organised in the digital age. And we really connect, the founders passionate about personal freedom and wealth’. And it’s just like a different sort of conversation. Now the conversation has become a lot more mainstream, it’s not even close to mainstream, but it’s become a lot more findable I’d say, things were pretty illegible back 10 years ago. And because that idea was so stark, we actually got to know each other. And because we didn’t have jobs, we had the time to do so. Because we ran our own businesses, we could fly somewhere and sit there for a couple days or weeks. And it was the actual fact that it was a real life community that allowed us to organise on an online tool, in this case a forum, and actually sort of stick together and have a piece sustainable, because yeah, we knew each other. And the reasons for knowing each other were powerful enough and compelling enough, that we continue to do so. So it was a process. It was a practice of community. It was communal activities that we took on time after time. It wasn’t simply a fact of finding a tool and getting people with stated interest into the tool.

Ian: You’re speaking about this, and it’s like, in a very profound way for me, and I’m thinking like, ‘Wow, this is really intellectual. This is really deep, man. This is really cutting to the core of what a community is’. But I think when you strip it all away, like we could just be talking as if we were all dentists, right? And we all needed to be brought together because in our practice, we had things that would come up, we had things that we could identify and relate to each other with. And essentially, there was no professional community for digital nomads in online business owners at the time. And now there’s a lot of them or there are more than there were before. But that was the thing that bonded us together – we were all trying to find our people. And I think, again, going back to this idea of like community: the stronger your need is, or the more important your problem is, I think the more that you’re going to be bonded together. And I think what we’re seeing in our community, and what we’re seeing with a lot of these professional networks, and the reason why the DC has been around for 10 years now, is because we’re all trying to solve very hard problems. As the organisation continues to go on. And as we continue to own these companies, we still find challenges to solve with each other every year.

Dan: I think one of the things is, I can’t help but to weigh in here, about this idea that, for a lot of these what are presented as professional problems have a lot of lifestyle overlap. And the more lifestyle overlap there is, there can be a lot more to it – there can be identity pieces, there can be, you know, a lot more time spent. There’s a lot to the location independent lifestyle. Our lifestyle aim is to live this global digerati lifestyle, our goal is to build a seven or eight figure business, that’s gonna take some time. So how about we kind of do it together as a practice, as a community. And that, I think, speaks to some of the sustainability of this particular community versus one that would say, deliver on, ‘How to get your SEO to the best’, because like, once, that’s not like an act of problem for you anymore, then you just move on to the next solution.

Ian: Right, when we first started holding these conferences, for the most part, they were in Southeast Asia. And, for us, the reason they were in Southeast Asia was because we’re finding a cost advantage there, in terms of hiring. And it was a relevant place for banking, and a whole host of other reasons for companies to want to go there.

Dan: There’s another big trend – at the time, with the lack of legibility and liquidity around this industry, unless you moved to San Francisco and took startup capital, it was really difficult to bootstrap from scratch, with the cost structure of the United States or first world countries. And so this was like a hack for people who wanted to take this on as a career path and who didn’t have the advantages of wealth, essentially, or a high level of business experience. It’s the classic artists thing, where if you want to do something, you find a cheap place to cheap, go hang out with other people doing the same thing, and that’s exactly what was happening in Southeast Asia, and is still happening to this day.

Jeff: People ask me all the time, why Bangkok for a conference, and it sounds random until you realise that, in 2010. If you were hiring customer service, you were probably in the Philippines. If you were hiring manufacturing, you were probably in China. Lots of people were incorporating in Hong Kong and Singapore, lots of people were hiring developers in India and Vietnam. So it was really centrally located for that moment in entrepreneurship, especially for people who are bootstrapping

Dan: So the story essentially unfolds that we had, say 25 to 40 people who all kind of knew each other and had been doing this for a while. And eventually we put ourselves into a forum, started chatting regularly and invited podcast listeners with similar interests into that forum. We had a tonne of momentum, and a tonne of value. We had solved, essentially, the problem that Ian and I set out to solve. But with the enthusiasm of everybody there, we thought, ‘Oh, maybe we’ll just let more people in, that’ll be cool’. And so we let the first 100 listeners of this podcast in, and if you go back into the archives, you might even hear us saying stuff like that. And then we just put the paywall up and we said, I think, whether it’s a community, whether it’s a business, you need to have people vote with their wallets, in order to figure out the truth number one, and number two, to figure out if it’s sustainable, to make it sustainable. Since that moment, we’ve had somebody administering the community. And that’s due to the membership dues.

Ian: It’s something that’s important to note about this journey for us, is where we were in terms of our other business, because if you zoom back to that time, we had an ecom and manufacturing company, and so we had this robust business. And then we also started this new business, quote, business, and we’ll talk about that, quote, business, which was the Dynamite Circle or the community. And I know certainly, Dan for you, one of your motivations of unpacking this is to share with people kind of the progression of how a community gets started, but then also why the community got started for us. And then also, what you might do today, if you were going to start a community, I think a lot of people, myself included, look at a product, and they kind of see the end result, they see where people are now. And then they just try to reverse engineer, ‘Okay, well, if we put up a website, we offer this product, people are just gonna buy it’. But there’s so much intelligence, there’s so much history, to why people got to that spot and why they’re able to sell that product.

Dan: We will speak to that in a bit here, because I get a lot of emails essentially, from people who want to start communities. And I’ll highlight some of the things that they might not see on the surface because I think it’s still a wonderful opportunity to potentially start a business based around a community. But there are some challenges there. So we’ll talk about those.

So just to give you a little bit, and no doubt welcome break, from my and Ian’s voices, we thought it might be cool to hear from some of the members of the DC. So following are a few thoughts and observations from the contributors in the forum. We called them up and asked them if they would be willing to send an audio message in response to Jeff’s original post.

John: So my name is John Ainsworth, I run Data Driven Marketing dot co. And what we do is we help online course creators to double their revenue through funnels. Now, when I joined the DC, back in 2015, we were doing something completely different. I was working on funnels, but for a completely different market. And what happened was, I saw a tonne of other businesses, many of them on a much faster trajectory. And I realised that I needed to shift markets. It was super painful, because I’d been in that one market for a long time. And it was really difficult letting go of that. So I moved to focusing on online businesses. And that made life way easier, because there was more demand for service around our funnels, but how was I going to be able to test out with that kind of a market? Well, because I was in the DC, I was able to do a free offer for a number of people, test it out, see what the demand was in different markets. So I tested it out with SaaS businesses, and ecommerce and lead gen and online courses. That’s what got the whole business going was I did it for free for people in the DC and then some of them were like, ‘Aw, can you do some paid stuff for us on this as well’. So through that, I figured out that online courses was the best option for us. And then I ran an agency doing that for a couple years and really took the processes that were developed around funnels and made it really sing for online courses. So that was great, and people were getting amazing results. But then I had the next blockage, it was really hard to scale past a certain point, I got to about 20k a month, and past that was funny, really tricky to scale further. So I got feedback from the DC there’s a few different business models that work better than the agency – productized service, group coaching JVs, if you’re going to do agency will increase your prices a lot. And I got feedback from about 20 DCs over the course of a couple of months about that, through masterminds and the DC, networking events that Vince organises, conferences, through the forum.

So based on all of that, what we did is we took our highest end clients, multimillion dollar clients, and we 4X the prices for those guys. And so we can improve the service, so we could really deliver something amazing for them. And then for everybody else, we started doing group coaching. Whereas they couldn’t have afforded to hire us to do the done for you service. So they’ve now got access to our systems where they didn’t have that before. The whole thing’s more profitable for us. The whole thing’s amazing. It’s really great. So what’s happened is we’ve gone from – we were stuck at just under 20k a month, we went to 30k in April, and then about 50k this month, we’re on track for. There’s no way I would have got that perspective without having access to the conferences, and to the events and to the forum and all of that. So appreciation as always to Dan and Ian and Vincent and everyone who’s running the whole DC.

Dan: So we’re going to read some quotes from the forum here. And then we’re going to get to some structural things that might be a little bit counterintuitive, or interesting about behind the scenes stuff regarding community. One member writes ‘the DC has seen me go through my own waves of success and failure. And I’m eternally grateful to the DC-ers who stepped in to help me when times were toughest for me a few years ago, when I opened up about my financial struggles’. Another member writes, ‘I was so lost in my business, I didn’t know what I wanted, how to get there, or where I was even going. But through the support of the community, I now have the kinds of friends that take me to the next level. I’ve learned to grow successful businesses, had the kind of life I always wanted, while having one hell of an adventure’. If I recall correctly, I think that poster has over 100 employees.

There definitely feels like there’s a fresh wave of enthusiasm, and entrepreneurs interested in whata globalised approach to business looks like in 2021. Perhaps this is inspired by the pandemic. One one member writes, ’It’s extraordinary the early connections we all made in those first few years. Looking back, it does feel like a pretty magical time, a golden age for digital nomads, or expat entrepreneurs. It’s all subjective and through our own lenses, though. I wonder how many newer DC members will look back at 2021 as the year they got started, made amazing connections and friendships and started businesses that grew further than they could have ever anticipated’.

Jeff: You reached out to me Dan the first week of lockdown and asked what might be the silver lining of what we were all about to suffer through for the next year and a half? And, of course, my answer was nothing. But reflecting on it, I realise I can’t count the number of people I’ve met over the years who started a business because they saw 9/11 happen on TV and said, Life’s short, I’m going to do something interesting, I’m going to do something fun, I’m going to follow my passion, I’m going to follow my ambitions’. And I think it’s gonna be really interesting to see who takes the spare time they had the last year, but also the wake up call over the last 12 months and says, ‘I’m going to do something great’.

Dan: So we promised some inside baseball about you know what it’s like behind the scenes of running a community business. The first thing I want to point out here is that running a community is a really hot topic right now. If you go into the web, and entrepreneurship porn stuff, everybody talks about the value of community, this is the year of communities, we really got to be more communities, all this kind of stuff. I think it’s worth pointing out that there’s a distinction in running a community and having passionate customers.

Basically, a lot of the literature on the web aimed at startups is about creating a community for your customers to like swap notes about using your products. And the reason that is different is because, well, you’ve already sold them the product. So they’ve bought a product. Whereas when you’re talking about running a community, which is really more like a private club, or you know, private organisation, there’s a lot of different dynamics. And one of the dynamics there is that it doesn’t behave at all like a traditional business. And so a lot of people write me emails saying, ‘Man, so great you guys got this community business, you know, I want to build one, I’m having all this trouble with it’, which there’s a lot of challenges, not the least of which is getting people to join and getting them to interact with each other and having momentum and making money out of it. You can’t just go to a community and like, double it overnight. You might be able to double your profit, if you do coaching to a small portion of members, whatever. But this idea that you’re just gonna add twice as many members or whatever, doesn’t work the same way with a product, where you can sort of just sell twice as many, especially with software. If you’re betting on a community to be your main business, you might be disappointed at the dynamics that you end up with. And so I would very much recommend doing it in concert with a product or a service. And doing it on the side, as you grow your chops, your reputation, you can use your community as a petri dish, as a sales funnel, some people do that. There’s all different ways that community can be an asset to your core business. But if you’re counting on it as a core business you might find that you have a business that’s very difficult to run, not that profitable and you’ve got a board of directors that includes a couple 100 people.

Ian: It’s very easy to look from the outside in and kind of run the numbers, a lot of people have done it over the years and think, ‘This is an amazing business’. But this is inside baseball talk. So there’s a lot that goes behind running a community, number one, the costs might not necessarily be apparent. And then number two, the term community and the term money, they don’t always mix. It’s very hard to make the mix, actually, I think, from my perspective, in terms of retaining members, getting people to share openly what they’re doing, actually creating progress in our business and in our lives, and then turning around and charging people for it. This is something that we’ve struggled with the whole time that we’ve been running this community. We’ve gone back and forth, me and you, probably 100 times on what the right price is? Are we going to offer some kind of executive level options? Are we going to charge people for information, or we’re going to charge people for access? And I think at the end of the day, for us, we’ve always come back to the conclusion that this is a community, community comes first. And because we have another business, that’s okay.

Dan: There’s so many factors playing against that, right? Because in a community, you require people with different dynamics, right? Not everybody can be the same. And so one dynamic is you have some members who will pay, say, call it 600 bucks a year or whatever. And they make $600,000 a year from it. And so now we’ve got this really weird thing where it’s like, ‘Okay, I’m getting paid 600, and you’re making that’. So the dynamic is really, really tricky. And then you got someone, say, they see that potential. And so now they want to drive things in their direction, because, ‘Oh, man, if I get in here, I got the potential to get there’. And then, communities are breeding grounds for people that have all kinds of needs, whether it’s ego, whether it’s identity, they’re just predators, and they want to find ways to take advantage of people. So there is this constant management – if you want all these beautiful things to happen, you have to make sure that people aren’t ripping things around for their immediate benefit.

One of the things that doesn’t really happen in a product business is if someone buys like $100 product from you, yeah, they might return it and give you a hard time. But actually, when you’re running a community the opposite can happen all the time, like someone can pay you 500 bucks a year, but cost you $5000. Really what we’re talking about here is – the currency isn’t really money. It’s goodwill, its reputation. And those things take time. And I kind of got this like cold analysis, I kind of loved it because we have some rose coloured glasses on a lot of things in the community, I think that’s fair. A new member called me up the other day, very successful entrepreneur, very smart, and sort of broke it down, how a community works from a mechanical perspective. And he basically said to me, he’s like, ‘Look, I understand what you guys are doing. I’ve seen this happen in a lot of different industries, I know that if I spend a year and a half, go to one or two events, trade in goodwill, and put the community first, then what’s going to happen is eventually a couple members are going to start using and understanding my product. And eventually, I’ll be the go to person for what I do in these 1000 entrepreneurs. And that’ll probably take two years. And you know why I’m going to do it, because my competition won’t. And it’s going to be fun’. And I thought, that’s pretty badass, kudos to you, but don’t go in there but don’t go in there then pimp your stuff, okay?

Ian: That’s just, that’s just our rule is you can’t go in and pimp your stuff. But this is the long game, right? This is the, ‘I’m going to be entrenched with these people for the next 10 years’ game. And I think that’s not obvious. When you come to our sales page Dan, our website. Even when you’re in the forum, probably even when you listen to this podcast. That is a real strategy. And that is a real strategy that works. Pretty much everybody in the community that takes this strategy makes way more money than we do off this community. Meaning, the membership dues that we charge, and our costs associated and whatnot, and the profit that we make at the end of the day, pales in comparison to what somebody with the strategy that you just outlined makes. The inside baseball is really – the reason why I think most people start these communities or at least the reason why it works out in the long term is because there’s a reason to bring all these people together as the organiser and most of the reasons that I’ve seen is because they are a led gen tool for the organisation. Meaning, you start an organisation like the DC, and then you sell into it services, or you find, or you pull together this group, and then you invest in the companies.

Dan: Or the services superpower your business. So it’s this ecosystem that kind of, it’s fragile, it’s a very tricky balance. But when it works, it’s incredibly powerful. So you can easily make the case that, ‘Hey, a lot of small businesses have a lot of question marks about their marketing and business development budgets. Well, you can just basically take that budget and throw it out a community like this, or many others and say, ‘That’s it, that’s what I’m gonna do, I’m gonna play long ball within these communities, and that has a built in component of marketing and biz dev to it’. Or, you know, the supply of those sorts of resources through a variety of services, advice and high level partnerships. Essentially, as a community manager, you’re a trust broker. And if that trust is maintained over time, that velocity of action, income, money, it really starts to flow very, very fast. And that’s sort of the magic of it. That’s why, you know, we progress faster together, than trying to do it online, behind a screen, reading words on some blog post somewhere on the web.

Ian: But these relationships aren’t aren’t forged overnight. And so I don’t know the countless number of people that have joined this community, have found co founders, have found their CTO, have found their perfect fit in whatever way, whether it’s like a partnership – the amount of money, and the flow, which you’re talking about here, Dan, and the speed and the velocity. It’s really amazing to see it happen.

Jeff: There’s an interesting trust factor too in that a community is not that different from a small town. And if you move in as a blacksmith, and build a good reputation, you can make your whole life off that small group of people. And if you move in, and you start cheating people and you’re messing up people’s horses, you’re gonna have a very different time. I think an underrated challenge of running a community as a business is that it’s as important who you keep out as who you let it, whether that’s someone who’s a predator, or a salesperson, or just needs to cause drama for their own ego. But also, I think that setting the bar that, ‘your business has to be making x $1,000 a month’ has kept out 1000s of members, but has contributed to why the current members find a lot of value in the community as successful business owners. But that makes it really hard to know how to grow.

Ian: And the reason why I think it’s worth focusing on Jeff’s idea of the blacksmith. You can have a community of the DC of, say, 1000 people, and then it can only take a handful of those people to wreck the whole thing for everybody. That’s the power of these people in these types of organisations. We spent a bunch of time talking about this internally, these three people, or these five people are like what to do about this and creating systems.

Dan: There’s an important distinction between having a forum and having a community is that Ian and I don’t have to post in the DC for a year, and it doesn’t matter. I mean, it would be nice if we did, but the reality is there’s plenty of great people to talk to, and there’s plenty of talking to be done. And so it’s not a matter of Ian and I going in there and saying, ‘Hey, what does everybody have to think about this thing that we’re posting here, so everybody talks about it’. And when you get to that level, that’s a true community. That’s a sustaining community. And at that moment, via negativa becomes the name of the game. Taking actions to remove bad actors becomes a lot more important than finding ways to inspire discussion, which is typically like entry level conversation about community that happens online, like how to get people excited about what’s your favourite trip you took this year, that kind of basic stuff. Once you have this sort of sustaining community it becomes a lot more, and you see this .. let’s take a look at other communities, whether it’s like nonprofits or churches or community organisations, whatever, finding weeding out bad actors, and making sure they don’t contaminate the group is typically the point of failure here.

Ian: I’m going to put something out there, maybe it’ll come true, maybe it won’t. But if we were to run this organisation, 10 years from now, this is something that you and I have talked about several times, I’d love for it to be a nonprofit, like, I would love for this organisation to go past us. And I think in a lot of ways it has, somehow pass us in, like live on its own in a way that it serves its members. And again, there’s like tonnes of challenges around like, how do you continue to serve your members for another 10 years? What does it look like if Dan and Ian aren’t at the head of this community? But in a lot of ways I don’t think we are right now anyways, if that makes sense. I think that this is a self-sustaining organisation that doesn’t necessarily need us because it does have guiding principles, because it does have strong membership, because it does have people in it that care.

Jeff: That’s a real testament to the magic of niching down and getting to people who have a really passionate shared interest, setting the ground rules for how to be cool to each other and getting out of the way.

Ian: The next generation of entrepreneurs, they’re gonna have their own set of challenges. We started this organisation in 2009. That’s gonna be a challenge for our community in the next couple of years, trying to figure out how to get in touch with the people that are just starting out, you know, in their early 20s. What are their needs, maybe now it is easier to find your tribe and your people. For sure. It’s easier to travel and work. You know that those were two things that we found to be very difficult in the beginning, but have since been solved. So it’ll be interesting to see what the challenges are ahead for people in their businesses.

Dan: I agree with that, we talk all the time about where this thing can go. We talk a lot about localism, local chapters, we talk a lot about a nonprofit membership driven sort of community. We just continue to get members together, and to try and make a little bit of magic. And that’s what we were waiting through this whole pandemic, to host this Mexico City event. There’s just a lot of work behind that. And I think making it sustainable and making it minimally financially viable, and then having the energy for it over the decade ia what it takes to keep something alive and exactly what it takes to grow a business too.

Ian: Just in terms of motivation, Dan, and Jeff, for me, you know, part of this is I get to talk to you guys. And then the other part of this, again, that might not be as obvious but to me is just amazing, is we’re gonna fly to Mexico City in a few months, we’re going to show up in a room with hundreds of entrepreneurs, and I’m going to walk up to any one of those people in that room. I’m going to introduce myself and I will know immediately, because they have opted in, because I have flown down to Mexico, because they were there with us, that we have so much in common.

Dan: Part of what this community has always been about, let’s just say it’s fun. It’s really, really fun to get together with super smart people. There’s also a camaraderie that comes with that, just a special feeling. Actually amazing stuff happens because of what you say around DC members. It’s always been the thing that kind of excites me the most and what I find is the most fun. It’s really fun to go have beers with some DC members after the event. What’s even more fun is the crazy stuff that’s going to happen because of what was talked about.

Ian: Exactly. And that feeling, I haven’t had it for a year and a half. I can’t wait to get back in the same room with all you guys. And start having it again.

Dan: Jeff, you got a parting shot?

Jeff: Yeah, whether it’s the DC or any other community, there’s something so powerful about finding your people, having that instant recognition like Ian alluded to, and just having the ease of being understood by someone who’s doing the same kind of wacky, super narrow things that you’re doing. There’s nothing else like it.

Dan: Big shout out to Jeff Pecaro for joining us on this one, and to Smash Digital for sponsoring the show. To end the ep. We’ve invited one last story from someone whose backpack has joined so many of us on our adventures. And is just one of the many wonderful businesses we’re proud to have played at least a very small part in. That’s it. We’ll be back next Thursday at 8pm. Eastern Standard Time and to play you out. This is Minaal’s Jimmy Hayes.

Jimmy: Hey guys, my first major experience with the DC was actually in 2012, heading to the TMBA boot camp in the Philippines. And I remember just sprawling on the floor of the lowest cost terminal of the lowest cost airline somewhere in Asia and calling into that first intro group call and pretending, desperately pretending to sound like a business pro. But the only thing I think I could say from there is that without that event, and without that very first DCBKK that came after it, our business would be completely different. And maybe we wouldn’t exist. And I’d certainly be in a very different place. I mean, we workshopped, the concept at the event, I sat down over delicious street noodles in Bangkok, and found people who understood what we were trying to do and why we were trying to do it. We ran our product development process through the forum, through the forum and through food sessions on Vietnamese street corners. Dan wrote a blog post about our first big launch that drove a tonne of traffic, got us picked up by the Kickstarter algo. And the very first person to back us on our first Kickstarter was a DCer James Clark. From there, it was almost like how could you lose? And we’ve been going for almost eight years now. Eight years. Yeah. So and that’s thanks to that push over the edge and a lot other pushes along the way. I think most people would agree that the business stuff has mostly, mostly been just a great excuse to get together in random cities, and talk to people who really understand why you’re setting your life up in a certain way. That’s certainly not normal. It’s a lot more normal, normal now than it was in 2012. But it’s still not normal. And I think that kind of community and understanding is a really rare thing.So thanks, guys, and of course the whole DC team throughout the years. It’s been a really great ride so far. Here’s to 2031.