Unknown Unknowns #10 - What is a Community?
2 min read

Unknown Unknowns #10 - What is a Community?

I'm taking a community building course to help with my Course Club idea.  I've been thinking, what is a community?  Why do people join them?  Why do people stay in them?

This Week:

Idea of the Week: Communities: Join for X, Stay for Y

Unknown unknowns are things that you don't even know you don't know.  The idea of the week is definitely in this category.  I've been thinking about things you want but don't actually know you want, and I've been thinking about this through the lens of community.  

People join a community for a reason.  They join a PTA to improve their kids' experience, they want to play a sport together, or they want to create something together.  But the reason you stay in a community usually evolves to something different.

I think the reason is when you find a group of like-minded individuals with the same goal, it lets you be yourself.  You no longer have to put on a façade, the community becomes a safe space to be yourself.

At a job, you need to conform to the expectations of the "office culture".  This can create cognitive dissonance.  You're behaving "normally," but at the same time, you're not behaving comfortably.  Working from home is great because you don't have to commute, but it's also great because you don't have to put on a front as frequently.  So much stress in life is not being able to live consistent with your values and wants.

So what's the actual idea of the week?  Look at the communities in your life through the lens of how you act inside them.  Do you need to watch what you say or do?  Can you be free and vulnerable?  Or do you need to be guarded and put on your best face?  Is everyone in the community filtered like an Instagram feed?

Something Interesting: Course taking is an under-utilized growth hack

Marie Poulin writes about how taking a course is an opportunity.  It's not just an opportunity to learn the subject matter, but being a memorable contributor is an opportunity in itself.  

When other students or the teacher notice you, you become part of their network.  You become part of their community.  By actively learning, in contrast to passively learning, you become competent in people's eyes.  You attract other people with the same values.

Experiment of the Week: Course Clubs

Next week will be the kickoff of the second Course Club, covering Doing Content Right by Steph Smith.

This will be the first Course Club with someone else facilitating, the first one with people that I don't personally know, and the first one where people are paying.  As Mike Tyson says, "Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face."  Well, I'm looking forward to adapting on the fly and learning how to form a community with seven other people.

Questions, suggestions, complaints?  Email me me at [email protected].  Feedback welcome.

If you enjoyed this newsletter, please share it with a friend or two.  And feel free to send anything you find interesting to me!

Have a great week,


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