The Uncommon Team
Community leaders have a lot in common, like their enthusiasm for teaching and learning, and a passion for building meaningful relationships within and across communities. As community leaders, their goals are similar, but their paths to community leadership are surprisingly diverse and often surprisingly...surprising.
Our series, "The Rise of the Community Leader," celebrates these uncommon paths, the people who took them, and what they learned along the way. Want to connect with more community leaders like them? Join Uncommon.
If we're being honest, I got my start in community because some insanely kind and intelligent people saw the impact I could have way before I did. My first job out of college was as a marketing generalist at Tableau and I was quickly asked to take the lead on scaling our global user group program instead. It didn't take long for me to realize this was exactly where I was meant to be, and during my seven years there I also had the opportunity to manage scaling international community efforts, forums, recognition programs, events, contests, experiences, and even content. This line of work has given me the privilege of spending time with some of the brightest people I've ever met, and for that I am forever grateful.
I am currently the Head of Community at Airtable, where our mission is to democratize software creation by enabling anyone to build the tools that meet their needs. I am only about two months in, but our community is beyond passionate about helping each other be the best creators they can be. I can't wait to see what we're going to accomplish together.
Anything you are building will be at least 10x more effective if you ask your community for their input. Community is trendy right now, which has given it a new sense of urgency for many organizations, but community building happens in small moments over long periods of time. You can save yourself a lot of headaches down the road if you slow down and bring your community along for the ride.
In my very biased opinion, a stellar product and an engaged community is the secret sauce to success. I think over the next 5-10 years, that will only become more true. I hope that we will see a lot more companies building products with their customers, not just for them, and that both users and organizations will be even more successful because of it. With that, I hope that we will start to see better resourcing of community teams and more elevated community leadership positions within organizations.
Community as an industry is fairly new relative to others, and with that is going to come a whole lot of learning and awesome ways to share that knowledge with other community professionals.
I love building awesome things with awesome people, and community is the perfect blend of those worlds. There is always a puzzle to solve, creative energy, and people to learn from and be inspired by.
I have found that the people who actively engage in communities tend to have two things in common - a genuine passion for helping others be better and a curiosity for learning. That combination literally changes people's lives forever. I've seen community members start businesses together, elevate each other's successes, meet lifelong friends, land their dream job with the help of a connection they made, write books together, and even get married.
The last two years have showcased this in a whole new way, too. We saw people come together to advocate for diversity, equity, inclusion, and representation within the communities they participate in more than ever before. Community members came together to raise money for disaster relief and encouraged organizations to match their efforts. Individuals who had more spare time raised their hand to mentor and coach those impacted by COVID-19, some even building out databases to provide recommendations and elevate talent that had lost their jobs.
I could go on all day, but honestly I can't think of anything more special than that.
COVID-19 has shaken community up in a big way. While things like events were hard to miss, I do think that the virtual world has made communities much more inclusive and accessible, which is such a huge win. The last couple years have been emotionally taxing, and I think it has also made us much more thoughtful about what kinds of engagements are the most valuable use of community members' time.
Greece or Portugal
Thanks for sharing your story with us, Jordan! We agree that inspiration from community members is one of the best parts of community building. You inspire us!
We're continually looking to highlight community leaders, voices, and stories—if there's someone you'd like to nominate to share theirs, let us know. See you in Uncommon!