The Rise of the Community Leader - Meet Ronald Williams

  • The Uncommon Team

    September 2nd, 2021

Image of Ronald Williams, Content Apprentice at CMX

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.

Meet Ronald Williams, Content Apprentice at CMX.

How did you get your start in community?

I started in community with a need to explore my identity and sense of belonging within the world. This curiosity evolved into community building and helping others find the same comfort I felt.

Tell us about the community you currently lead.

I am currently a content apprentice at CMX learning how to scale community-driven businesses. Prior to CMX, I founded an organization called Black Xpression in my hometown of San Diego that functioned as a resource group for young creatives. It was my first time being exposed to the power of community and also the barriers that exist for people of color who lack the proper access to build community.

What’s a key piece of advice you wish you would have had when starting your community career?

I wish I understood that community building is a long-term, tedious, evolving goal that can't be accomplished overnight. You can invest in a community, but a true community has no dollar sign. It is an asset that exceeds monetary value.

Investment in community is growing. Where do you see it in 5-10 years?

In the next 5-10 years, I believe community will be a leading cause for business growth. Companies over the years have damaged the relationships between their customers and products. And with many industries becoming saturated quickly, it is extremely hard to execute differentiation. Community is a form of social currency that marketing and advertising can't replicate. When you trust a community what you are really saying is "I value your ecosystem", which includes the people, processes, and products.

What's your favorite part about working in community?

My favorite part of community work is the amount of thoughtfulness you have within the industry. I worked in the non-profit, freelance, and academic industries and have never experienced the level of thought leadership that I see within community.

What's the coolest thing you've seen community achieve?

Community has done some really cool stuff! I personally find the early, building stage of community to be the coolest - something I realized upon reflecting on my 3+ years of working with Black Xpression. The coolest thing I've seen community achieve was probably building an open mic with Black Xpression. At the beginning, we had no money. We couldn't even afford the event space. Each week we guaranteed a quota of customers for the restaurant in order to host our show. The first show might have had 20-30 people, but then we saw the power of word of mouth. After a couple weeks we had 50. A couple weeks later we have 65 and more people start asking the question, "How can I get involved?" Now people are watching the show from outside the venue! At that point in my journey, the only marketing I knew was guerilla marketing. I had a travel-size camera and tripod that wobbled whenever I pressed record. There was really no strategy or tactics behind the growth other than the community evangelizing its value.

We’re all about celebrating our community members and their accomplishments. Is there anyone in the community you’d like to appreciate?

I would like to give a huge congrats to Common Room for this program to be honest! I've met both Rebecca and Melanie through my time here at CMX and they are really driven to make community more accessible. A lot of "key search terms" (accessibility, education, collaboration) are used when speaking to other community professionals, but it feels great to see them putting those into action!

What's different in community today from just a year or two ago?

I think the fact that we have a thriving industry is a big difference. We have had access to community since the beginning of humanity, but there was never a way for it to be implemented into businesses in a sustainable way. I also feel that the increase in automation and social disconnection created a need for professionals dedicated to "the humanity of business" (hmmm I should probably trademark that).

How do you see your role as a community manager evolving?

I think my role in regards to content will start to become more complex. One thing I am noticing is that every social media platform has its own language. If I speak on Facebook in the same tone that I use on Linkedin, it is usually perceived differently. I think the same approach will be used with content development and catering specific content to designated channels.

And now some fun questions we ask our Roomies when they join the team 🙂

Favorite emoji?

Black Fist ✊🏿

Favorite Quote

"Do it right, do it once." - Ronald Williams, Sr.

If you had a food truck, what would it serve?

Tacos, for sure! 🌮

What's your inner animal?

I might be a dolphin 🐬

Favorite Good TV Show

Dave

Favorite Bad Movie

Stomp the Yard 2

Next travel bucket list items to check off?

Canada

Thanks for sharing your story with us Ronald! The appreciation is mutual, and we completely agree that community helps put the humanity in business.

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!

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