Why Community Learning Works, and Why it Doesn't

Hey, hey, bold leaders. Welcome to another episode of The Bold Leadership Revolution podcast. I'm your host, Tara Newman, and I'm 100% committed to helping leaders like you have the endurance to make an impact.

That means we have to look at how you're feeling yourself and utilizing three key resources as a small business owner; your time, your energy, and your money. Today, we are looking at how you utilize all three when it comes to the communities that you belong to. Today, we're talking about the pros and sometimes cons of community learning, because this is something that has bubbled up from my community.

That is where the majority of my content comes from. It comes from my market research. I wanna share a little bit about that before we even get started. The one thing I think leads to a lot of my business success is my fierce determination to know my customer better than they know themselves.

I take great pride when you reach out to me, and you tell me, "Tara, it's like you're in my head." I mean, that's the best compliment anybody can give me. I know I've mentioned it more than once on this podcast, but really digging deep into market research is important. Sometimes my clients get frustrated with me because they don't always like the term market research. It doesn't feel warm or fuzzy, but I think the term actually gets a bad rep because all market research means to me is that I'm listening more than I'm talking. This is something I've learned over 20 years ago from my first mentor when I was interning for a boutique executive coaching and consulting firm. My mentor would tell me that if I wasn't writing notes, my mouth was moving and that wasn't a good thing.

She was incredibly direct with her feedback, which is something I've also learned from her. She would tell me that if my hand wasn't moving, then I needed to shut my mouth and start writing. This advice has served me well in my career and in my business. Over the next few months, you're going to start to see me sharpening up my message and how I design and deliver programs to serve leaders like you even better than what we're doing today. Because excellence is important to me. I love sharing my lessons learned and behind the scenes. So before we even start today's episode, I want to encourage you to do three things.

One, follow me on Instagram @thetaranewman. I'm over there pretty much daily, dishing out some really great value. It's free, free, free. This is how you can get to know me better and I can get to know you. It's my favorite place to be accessible and to chat with folks. So head on over to Instagram, @thetaranewman.

Two, hop on my email list. No, I'm not offering you another damn free thing. Just sign up because you value intentional quality content and you wanna stay connected to someone who is providing grounded business advice. Hey, if somehow the internet collapses tomorrow, I would love a way to stay in touch with you.

Three, share this podcast with anyone craving some real-time, tested business guidance. This podcast is free to all listeners and can result in some pretty decent advancements in your business, if you take action from these episodes.

These are the three places where I show up consistently for free to help small business owners have that endurance to make an impact. All the content we create here at The Bold Leadership Revolution is designed to help you get that fuel that you need for endurance. We've narrowed those fuel types down, as I mentioned before, to time, energy, and money.

Each one of you has a unique, an individual fueling need, just like an athlete. We're committed to helping you understand what your personal feeling recipe is, so you can get the right results for you. This comes back to my market research.

In a conversation I had with someone through Instagram DM, we were talking about her best investments in her business and the ones that didn't land quite right for her. One of the areas she had less success with were programs that were solely group-based. I totally understand this. I really do. A lot of my group-based programs have a tremendous amount of high-touch individual attention for this reason.

She mentioned, I'm gonna quote her. She talks about, “the lie that you can learn from what other people are going through, which seems to be a justification for most group programs.” This is what I really want to address. The fact that marketers are selling people on group programs saying, you can learn from each other, and that this isn't always proving out.

I'm so grateful for this woman for bringing this up. It's a conversation that I wanna have with you today. I wanna address this completely. We first have to have the conversation around the marketing we're seeing today. There has been a trend to polarize in your messaging, meaning there has to be polarity. You're either on this side or that side. I understand the desire to stand out and to be unique. Call me crazy, but I think you can do that without being so firmly on one side or the other.

The polarizing messages have created so many false dichotomies where it's either this or that. In most cases, this is not truth because there's always gray area. There's always an and. It's these marketing messages that create these false dichotomies that are so harmful to business owners who are merely trying to identify the next best step for them.

Let's take a look at community learning. Something I'm incredibly passionate about and have implemented for over 20 years with phenomenal outcomes for the people who enter these communities.

Why Community Learning Works, and Why it Doesn't

When this person mentioned that there's this lie that you can learn from what other people are going through, which seems to be the justification that people are using for these group programs, I felt like she punched me in the stomach.

I realized that she's not talking to me. I'm not here to take this personally. I, 100% want to say that first I agree with this woman's perception because, unfortunately, this has been her experience as well as the experience of many others. The reasons why this has become the experience of many is because most group programs, including masterminds, are run by people who don't have facilitation skills.

They're run by people who are 100% successful. I'm not calling out anybody saying they're a fake or a fraud or anything like that. I think that a lot of these people are 100% successful at what they do, but facilitation isn't what they do. Their origin story, most likely, shows them achieving wild success in a different area. Now, it's become very invoke to create learning communities because when you can sell to the many, you are now leveraging your time which is also a falsity.

You can have highly leveraged one-on-one programs that don't lead to burnout, but marketing polarity wants you to believe otherwise. I'm not attacking these folks. I don't think they're evil or bad. I just think nobody has helped them build a business that leverages their strengths. They're doing what everyone else is doing or employing a tactic that they've heard about. When you build a business that leverages your strengths, everybody wins. You win in your customers get the best benefits. It's truly magical. That is really the case for staying in your own lane when it comes to what you deliver. It makes total sense why this woman thinks that this is a lie. However, that hasn't been my experience. It's certainly not the experience of the people who come into my programs.

As a matter of fact, I take very few one-on-one clients anymore because group work has been powerful for all involved. The results my group clients are getting have been even better than when they have been one-on-one. Now for the record, I have resisted working in groups for the belief that one-on-one work is superior for a very long time. I prided myself for being a one-on-one coach when everyone was fleeing one-on-one work from more leveraged ways of working. I believed that the mindset challenges that leaders had and the very personal journeys that these leaders were working through were too personal to put in a group, but I have found that to be untrue as well. I would like to give you some reasons why finding the right community can change everything for you as it has for myself and my clients. Before I go any further like I usually do, I really want to give you my bias so you understand the lens through which I'm sharing this information.

It is so important to understand where the information is coming from so you understand how to receive it. You understand how to receive this opinion that I have.

First bias, I have a master's degree in industrial organizational psychology, where I spent semesters, not just one semester, semesters, studying learning and development including adult learning theory, program design, learning outcomes, measuring ROI and ROE. ROI is return on investment. ROE is return on expectation.

Two, I've spent 20 years designing programs to help leaders develop their knowledge, their skills, and their abilities in fast-growing companies who need to move at the speed of our technological reality. Three, I am hard core about getting people results and understanding what it takes to create these results. I'm also willing to surrender to the fact that everyone gets a result whether it's the one I want, they want, or the one they actually get.

It's all there for us. Helping people see and embrace unexpected results takes compassion and commitment to human experience. Four, as a consumer of courses, programs, certifications, and coaching, I'm unrelenting in my discernment of where I place my energy and who I give my money to. I'm 100% grateful for social media for helping me trace energetic patterns. The exchange of money and time and energy is just so sacred to me that it is worth all of the due diligence I do before entering into a program or a relationship with someone. With all of that, I give you this. Community is the antidote for burnout and exhaustion. Harvard Business Review published an article in June of 2017, titled Burnout At Work Isn't Just About Exhaustion, It's Also About Loneliness.

Now they're talking about loneliness in the workplace, where you're surrounded by 20 to 20,000 people, depending on the size of your organization. They say, "In the meantime, experts in companies have struggled to figure out how to counter growing levels of burnout. Many recommendations focus on relieving stress, teaching mindfulness, or reducing workload; all of which treat burnout as an individual condition. But it's linked to loneliness suggests that greater human connection at work may also be key to solving the burnout problem." Let's talk about this as small business owners, where we may be what Paul Jarvis calls a “company of one or company a few”. Throw that into the mix where you aren't surrounded by 20 to 20,000 people. Throw into the mix that entrepreneurship is your greatest personal development journey because you will wrestle with every demon you have and dance with your devils on the daily, which creates a propensity to isolate.

Community, the right community, becomes life-giving. Community helps you foster real and deep relationships. Despite the 2015 craze, which had people believing that having a Facebook account makes you a business owner and posting three to five times a day on your personal Facebook page and in Facebook groups creates a sustainable business. It does not. Real relationships do. Knowing people, and building real relationships is what creates a sustainable real business, being willing to open doors for others. This is how you lead and grow a business, where there is reciprocity. There is an enhanced ability to learn from each other because we're real relationships are formed and trust is created. People feel safe to ask the real questions and start honest dialogue, which is where learning begins.

Feeling safe allows you to drop your guard and show up with a beginner's mind, an open mind, which is necessary for learning. The number one feedback I get in all my group programs; now, this includes the group programs I run within other people's organizations. What has been the biggest result when I asked what has been the biggest result you received from this program, the answer is always without a doubt the first answer, "Knowing I'm not alone in my struggle. That everyone has some variation of my problem. When you coach them, it's like you're coaching me too." You would think that these comments come from a group of separate business owners, but they often come from the internal leaders who all work within the same company. Because when you bring people in a room together, you break down the walls, and you break down the silos that people have isolated themselves within.

As much as we want to believe we're all different, we are way more similar than we think. This has been my own personal experience as well. I often pick up more when it's someone else's turn in the hot seat than when it's my turn. In my last mastermind, we were only 10 minutes into the first person's hot seat. I already had a page of notes for myself. Little snippets of awareness were popping up everywhere. Finally, whether you learn from others in a group or not, it comes down to how carefully the group has been curated, and whether or not the group leader is effectively managing the group. Facilitation, it always comes back to those facilitation skills.

We can take this a step further and say, if you learn anything from the group or can be unity, it comes down to two things; the curation and structuring of the group and your willingness to take action, right? The group has to be curated and structured properly, and you have to show up willing to take action. As someone who helps organizations of all sizes develop leaders, the biggest hurdle is ROI. That is a big hurdle in big organizations, small organizations. These companies have one. If you are struggling to get an ROI, know that you're not alone. This is the challenge. One thing anyone can do to ensure ROI is transfer or apply the knowledge or skill from the classroom to the work setting. That's what I mean by your willingness to take action, your willingness to transfer the skill into your own business environment.

I'm giving you a tip here around how you can get the best ROI from any training program, whether it be community-based or otherwise. This is why my coaching and programs have specific prompts to assist business owners in making the transfer. This is also a huge advantage of live programs rather than simulated coursework. Having a live component get you one step closer to ensuring that transfer takes place. One action that you can take from this podcast to then transfer what you've learned here today into your real life, into your business, this application piece, is to go and review the communities that you're in. Are you getting an ROI? Is it a community that is well-facilitated? Is it a community that is committed to creating that safe space that allows you to have an open mind so you can learn from each other?

Because if you're in a community where you come out, learn from each other, there is no point in being in the community, in my opinion. What I want you to do is I want you to go do a quick scan of all the places that you're placing your energy, your time, your money into these communities. Are you getting out of it what you want? Are you putting into it what you wanna get out of it? I hope you found this helpful. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the pros and cons of communities and community learning. Head on over to Instagram and share with me what your insights and takeaways were from this episode.

If this conversation was interesting to you, and felt unique and a little different, I want you to do me a favor. I want you to take me up on my invitation to join The BRAVE Society. If you're a female, small business owner, this is likely your community if you're resonating with this podcast and the things we're talking about over here, because they are very much the essence of how we talk about things in The BRAVE Society.

The BRAVE Society was founded on three basic principles. One, community; how can we come together and become a marketplace of business owners, where we can do business together, where we can open doors for each other, where we can collaborate with like-minded, credible business owners? Two, nobody should ever short change their leadership development. I see too many times, women spread thin making investments in their businesses as they grow and short changing their leadership development. I'm here to solve that problem. You can make the investments that you need to make in say, your marketing, or your branding or your website and develop yourself as a leader. The third thing that we come together for is to really stand at the pinnacle of our leadership, which John Maxwell talks a lot about in his work. He says that we're at the pinnacle of our leadership when we are a leader who develops leaders who develops leaders.

What I asked the women of The BRAVE Society to do is to take what they learn in this BRAVE Society and bring it into the world, into their communities, into their families, into their clients and their customers, and to really continue to develop more leaders on this planet. If this sounds interesting to you, apply today to join us.

Or you can come find me on Instagram on @thetaranewman, and ask me any questions you need to about joining The Brave Society.

If you found this podcast valuable, help us develop more bold leaders in the world by sharing this episode with your friends, colleagues, and other bold leaders. Also, if you haven't done so already, please leave a review. I consider reviews like podcast currency, and it's the one thing you can do to help us out here at The Bold Leadership Revolution HQ. We would be so grateful for it.

Special thanks goes to Stacey Harris from Uncommonly More, who is the producer and editor of this podcast. Go check them out for all your digital marketing and content creation needs. Be sure to tune into the next episode to help you embrace your ambition and leave the grind behind.

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Tara Newman