On this episode I speak with Lan Phan about how she grew from 0 followers to 80,000 in under 10 months for her company, community of SEVEN. We cover a whole host of topics, including:
Focusing on your why
A community vs. a personal brand
Betting on yourself
A new definition of MVP
‘May I Have Your Attention…’ is brought to you by Captivate.ai, which turns your webinar or podcast into three months of social media content. Find out more at Captivate.aiThis is a show all about getting attention online. Whether it is for you personally or for your company, each week we delve into how to get attention, how to keep attention, and how to make money from attention.
On this episode I speak with 15-year marketing and storytelling veteran, Mita Mallick. She shares how storytelling is a time honored way to capture attention, and also shares insights about what helped her become a 2020 LinkedIn Top Voice. Here are a few things to keep an ear out for:
Focusing on your passion and sharing your thoughts and research as you deepen in this passion
Using authenticity and passion to direct how and what you share
Storytelling not only as a means of capturing attention, but also as a means of healing and therapy
‘May I Have Your Attention…’ is brought to you by Captivate.ai, which turns your webinar or podcast into three months of social media content. Find out more at Captivate.ai
Lan Phan is the Founder & Chief Community Builder at community of SEVEN, an invite-only community for those looking to change the world. She is an award-winning marketing leader with over twenty years building businesses and transforming the culture and DNA of companies, including work at Fortune Magazine, the Association of National Advertisers, #SeeHer, McCann Worldgroup and more. She is a graduate of both Stanford University and Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.
Lan’s LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lanphan/
Company of One: https://www.amazon.com/Company-One-Staying-Small-Business/dp/1328972356
My four core values are my family and friends who are my chosen family, my faith, helping people and freedom. What would my life look like if I built a business around my values?
There’s a corporate saying that in any kind of meeting, seven is the ideal number of participants. When you go beyond seven, each person you add loses productivity by 10%.
We’re in this celebrity kind of world and people are tired of it. I don’t want to look at Kim Kardashian and I don’t want to follow these people. My voice matters, too.
I love Tony Robbins. But it’s about him and his wisdom. Community of SEVEN is not about me and my wisdom, it’s about the shared wisdom of everyone.
I’m an introvert, but my Why is How can I help as many people as possible in my lifetime? That’s my mission. I can’t do that by being small and by not elevating my voice.
Figuring out what your passion is and trying to create something that is uniquely you is the journey that we go through as entrepreneurs.
I’ve never been motivated by money, it’s not one of my values and doesn’t inspire me. I started with this notion of what’s a change I want to bring into the world.
The big lesson when posting on social media is don’t focus on your product or business, focus on how you can help people. How can you help people who follow your page?
Being a servant leader is one of my big core principles. It’s about being of service to folks you lead. My job is not to be the boss, my job was to serve my employees.
How can we change the world? How can I use my influence to change the world for the better? That’s a different mentality than creating a community based on power.
Justin Nassiri 00:00
On this episode of May I have your attention.
Lan Phan 00:02
Most startups will have like, what is your minimum viable product? I was like that’s BS. It should be how how can you bring the most value to people? That’s what MVP should be.
Justin Nassiri 00:14
This is a show all about getting attention online, whether it is for you personally or for your company. Each week we delve into how to get attention, how to keep attention and how to make money from attention. On this episode, I speak with land fan about how she grew from zero followers to 80,000. In under 10 months for her company community of seven. We cover a whole host of topics including focusing on your why a community versus a personal brand, betting on yourself. A new definition of MVP, and more. May I have your attention is brought to you by captivate AI, which turns your webinar or podcast into three months of social media content. Find out [email protected] Thank you for your attention. And let’s start today’s interview. Joining me today in West Chester, New York, my guest is land fan Lan, welcome to May I have your attention.
Lan Phan 01:14
Hey, Justin. So glad to be here.
Justin Nassiri 01:17
So I want to give everyone a quick sense of why I was so excited to connect with Leon and smash the special thanks to meet him Alec for making the connection. So Lana is the founder and chief community builder at community of seven, which is an invite only community for those looking to change the world. I love that mission. By the way, I think that’s so powerful. She is an award winning marketing leader with over 20 years building businesses and transforming the culture of mdna of companies, including work at Fortune Magazine, the Association of national advertisers hashtag see her McCann grow. McCann, worldgroup, and more. She was a graduate of both Stanford University and have Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. So Len, maybe just First of all, I’ll make space, anything you want to add to that bio, or you want people to know about, you.
Lan Phan 02:11
Know, I mean, I’m a I have an amazing six year old and amazing husband, his name is Kevin. Hi, if he’s watching, and he’s probably not. But I you know, my goal is just to kind of like how do I make the world a better place. And that’s pretty much my my mission in life right now.
Justin Nassiri 02:31
Going off script here to say I’m curious, because I think that’s such a powerful mission. Is that something that you’ve identified with for a long time? Or was there a point in your career when you just said, EFF it, this is what matters to me. And this is what I’m going after.
Lan Phan 02:45
Definitely the ladder. So last year. So I was at Fortune Magazine, I was recruited by their CEO, Alan Murray, to create a startup. So I was an entrepreneur, entrepreneur, and I’ve been a serial entrepreneur and intrapreneur building businesses within existing companies. And I had this multimillion dollar budget to build this startup within fortune, was supposed to hire this huge team got to number five, hire number five COVID happen and I got laid off. And I also had to lay off my entire team, some of them who had quit jobs to, to, you know, come work for me. And so I was like, literally in this like depression, the stupor for about seven days, literally crying every day, my daughter had to give me the five finger breathing, exercise, breathe in, breathe out. And one day, she just like, Mommy, I love you, even without a job. And that kind of like, it spurred something in me where I was like, just get up, let’s figure it out. And this name came in my head, which was community of seven. And, you know, it was that introspection. So sometimes the best things that happened to us are kind of like the worst things. And it gave me introspection, because during that period, you know, I wasn’t into like working till 1011 o’clock at night, I actually had some space to think. And then I really started thinking, what are my values? And my four core values are my family and my friends who are my chosen family, my faith, helping people and freedom. And none of my jobs in the past, gave any of like, align with my values. And so with that, thought, I was like, What would I what would my life look like if I built a business around my values? So the third, my third value, which is helping people is center it center to that? So that was kind of like how do you live your life with your values? And how do you create a business surrounding that whole notion of, you know, how do you help people
Justin Nassiri 05:00
I love that I love that perspective that, you know, when when the structure of your life gets burned down, it becomes this fertilizer for the soil to grow something new. And I love that you took the space to actually identify those values, I feel like very few people take the time to articulate for themselves, these concrete pillars in their life. And I love that you then use that not only for your life, but to say how do I build a business around this. And one thing I was gonna ask about is where did that name come from community of seven.
Lan Phan 05:36
So I have my, you know, political or, you know, the corporate saying, which is, in any kind of meeting, seven is ideal number of participants. When you go beyond seven, each person you add loses productivity by 10%. So if you’ve ever been in like these huge kickoff calls, or meetings where there’s 20 people, and nothing gets done, it’s because there’s too many people. So that’s the community of seven. The real reason is I mentioned I was at higher number five, and I literally had to fire everyone. Fortune, let me know, thankfully, like kind of early on. And I wasn’t supposed to tell the team, of course, I told the team, as soon as I could find out as soon as I found out, and I was like, well, we’re gonna switch our mission now. And we’re gonna build like work on your resumes, we’re gonna talk meat every day, talk about, you know, your next steps. And my goal is, I’m either going to help you find your next gig, or I’m going to build my business, so that I can hire you back, took me a while to kind of like, become, you know, to build the business. So but luckily, all of them have gotten jobs and we still meet, you know, to this day, we were meeting like once, like every two or three times a week, and now it’s more like once a month, but happy to say that all of them got jobs, but we literally, it became a kind of like a our own community. And you’ll probably notice that it’s six people, it was during the height of the pandemic. So my daughter, Morgan, who was five at the time, would join our calls. So that’s why it’s called community of seven.
Justin Nassiri 07:22
That’s awesome. I really admire just as a leader, how you looked out for your people and made sure that they were taken care of and that you still maintain those ties. One thing I wanted to ask about, so what we’ll talk about, because I think that your story with community of seven is really incredible, and your growth from zero followers to 80,000 in 10 months. And we’ll talk about that in a second. But I wanted to start with a couple of distinctions. And it seems like you have one, which is a difference between building a personal brand, and building a community. And I wanted to make space for you to share a little bit more about that.
Lan Phan 07:57
Yeah, so my focus has always been on like community building. And I think it’s kind of in my DNA. My parents are Vietnamese refugees. So we came literally with nothing on our backs. So it was the community that buttons, it was the churches that said it was, you know, an American sponsor that brought us over. So as this whole notion of community, and it’s been something that I’ve been seeking all my life, right. And so, and things I’ve been trying to build, because if I couldn’t find a community, my thing was how do I build a community. And so the difference between a personal brand and the community, you know, your personal brand really focuses on you, and your brand and who you are and your identity. I am myself a natural introvert, I don’t want anything to be about me, I like to be behind the scenes. And so I’ve always kind of built things from a standpoint of, you know, because there’s also your brand, your business brand, too. But I’ve always focused on how do you build a community of people that just feel like there’s a common purpose and goal, and, you know, kind of help move that along? Like where there’s a sense of belongingness what what is the shared values you have for for that group. And so when I built community of seven, it was kind of centered around first and foremost community to is kind of helping people during these dark ages, ages, age of, you know, COVID, where there’s high rates of suicide, depression, job loss. And then three is just really on that personal improvement, focusing on moving people from fixed mindset to a growth mindset. And so everything that we do if you look at our community of seven LinkedIn page, which I think is around 60,000 people right now. It’s just focused on each post is like a micro learning, which is kind of short learning spurts, you know, on specific topics on mental health or leadership or growth. So what’s great about it is when you build a community, it’s not dependent on you. If you look at some of our posts, you know, I’ve had posts, some posts that have like 30,000 interactions, 1000 comments, and, you know, in the beginning out, like, you know, maybe post some things and communicate, like, talk to people. But then once you start getting 1000, that’s not really manageable. But you see, actually engagement with one, you know, someone posts something, and there’s like, 20 comments. And that’s when you know, you’ve built a community because people feel like they belong, they feel like this is a part of them. It’s no longer about the community of seven brand. It’s about me being in this safe place where I can share my thoughts, be myself and be heard, because we’re in this celebrity kind of world, and people are tired of it. And I don’t want to look at Kim Kardashian, and I don’t want to follow these people. My voice matters, too. And I think that’s what I want to come across. You know, anyone who comes to community seven, whether our web page, or our LinkedIn page, and even the brand voice when I was building this, it was really intentional. What is my brand voice? You know, all of us have had that friend, where it’s like, that friend that, like, you know, is it like is cheering you on, we all have that friend. Like, I have my friend of Vina who she’ll like you can do it. You know, like, she got me out, she literally gets me out running like five in the morning, every day in the summer. And she’s like, get up. And like you can do it. And it’s like those, you know, your own personal kind of Tony Robbins. And we I think we’ve talked about Mita, who was on your show, she is kind of like my, I call her Mita Robbins. That’s my nickname for her.
Justin Nassiri 11:51
So appropriate, yeah,
Lan Phan 11:52
we have these friends who are like, you can do it. And you have days where just like, Oh, I feel like shit. I look like shit. I don’t know what my business isn’t doing well, and you have this friend who just believes in you. And that’s a brand voice that I have with community of seven when you looked in our kind of like posts and our comments on our, you know, the, you know, just like all of our kind of marketing materials. It’s kind of like that friend, who is just like supporting you.
Justin Nassiri 12:20
I I love so much about that. And I have a follow on question there. But I just I’m so I’m an introvert as well. And last night, my wife and I started on Netflix that I think it’s called fake, fake, famous or fake, fake, famous, something like that. It’s about like the influencer trend. Yeah. And I just, you know, I don’t know if it’s from the military or just personality, I do have this aversion to look at me, let me be this great spokesperson who has all the answers it feels disingenuous. And what I love about what you’re saying, is this, this rotation to be about the community. And I feel like that’s inherently more inclusive. Because what you’re saying, or what I heard you say is like, I have something to say I have a meaningful voice. And so do you, like let’s create this collective where everyone can contribute? And I love that so much more than like, I have the answers. Let me broadcast truth.
Lan Phan 13:21
Yeah, I mean, it’s kind of the model of like Tony Robbins, where he’s this kind of Mecca, who I love Tony Robbins. But it’s about him and his wisdom. Community seven is about not about me and my wisdom. It’s about the shared wisdom of everyone. And one of my core values, because I have my personal values. The community of seven has its own values, right, as a company, and one of them is giving voice to the voiceless. Yes, but we’re in the celebrity culture, even when you look at LinkedIn, and some of these businesses where you have these business influencers that are larger than life, and they suck the energy in the room. I don’t know. Like, even when we’ve done like the programming that we’ve done with commute of seven, I don’t look at celebrity, I bring people who have interesting stories. Yeah, story can help others. And kind of going back to that whole notion of like an introvert, the best advice I could give to any introverts out there is focus on your why. Because I myself, people are always surprised when I tell them I’m an introvert because my business like profession has always been kind of client facing or membership facing or community facing. Or I’m doing, you know, keynote speaking or training. And it’s a disconnect. How can you be an introvert and be in front of people, which is kind of similar to what you’re doing because you’re hosting a podcast right and a LinkedIn live, but my Why is how can I help as many people as possible in my lifetime, that is my mission. And I can’t do that by being small. I can’t do that. By Not elevating my voice. I can’t do that by sitting at home, you know, reading a book, even though I feel most comfortable when I’m alone reading a book, right. And if I, if my core value is helping people, I need to get out of my comfort zone. So for any introverts out there, that that’s watching this focus on your why, why do you want to do this? How do you want to help people? And one of the best advice I’ve given to my teams, you know, because we, when I was at the AMA, we did these huge conference, like masters of marketing, and there’d be 2000 people. And, you know, our job in membership was to or cmo practice was to basically build connections with really high level C suite executives. And for a lot of the team, it’s this trepidation, well, you know, I’m not a C suite, and you’re like, what, what am I going to say? And what I used to always tell them is, pretend this conference is your home. And these people are your guest. Your goal is to make them feel comfortable. And so that becomes a paradigm shift, right? Because if you’re a home and you have guests, your natural, how can I help you? How are you doing, you want to make people it’s so it’s, a lot of them are mental shifts. So before I get on this podcast, I have high anxiety, you might not be able to tell it now, when I get off, I’m gonna just probably fake it. And just not talk to anyone for half an hour an hour, because that’s what it takes for me as an introvert, to get on a show like this. But my message is important because I want to help people.
Justin Nassiri 16:46
I love that I think I think Tony Robbins would talk about that. It’s like the leverage you get, when you’re, you’re serving beyond yourself. And that really comes through for me and your mission, this sense of, I am willing to leave what is comfortable and nourishing for me, in service of the world and service of the community, my family, whatever it might be, that’s so much bigger than, you know, what I perceive often is like, let me build up my own brand. Let me build up my own name. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that like like you I’m a big fan of Tony Robbins, I think that style works for him. But for me, I’m much more drawn towards the the community, the team, the something that is bigger than one individual and their name, it goes beyond that. And you’ve definitely struck on that in in by making this a very mission driven organization. And and one thing I wanted to ask you about tactically, was, let’s just say with LinkedIn or any of your social presences, then how do you view it as you know, you posting on your individual account versus the organization posting? Like, do you have any thoughts on how to balance that or whether to focus on one or the other?
Lan Phan 18:03
Why I definitely think it’s two different voices, right. And it’s two different missions. When I post as an individual, like I do this whole career pivot series, because I’ve literally had 20 plus career pivots in my life, and I used to see it as a hindrance. I used to be a school teacher of the booking agent, I was a real estate investor. And I used to see it as a hindrance, especially when I got into marketing, and then membership and kind of corporate, because I was like, well, I should have just went straight from Stanford to PNG. And by now I would be here. And I realized, that’s not what I want to do with life. So all of these little lessons that I learned, was kind of based off of these career pivots. So that’s something I would write on my personal kind of LinkedIn brand or my page, but I’m not going to do that for community seven. Community seven is just really about micro learnings, training people, like how do we help people during this period, right? Like this weekend, and sometimes you don’t really even have to have a purpose. Like this weekend, I, you know, I just had a thought in my head. And I posted something that just said, you always have time for the things you put first. And the other one I did this weekend was dear person reading this, we don’t know each other but I wish you the best in life. You know, and then 1500 people like you know, kind of clicked on it and commented and the positivity from people just basically saying, Oh, I wish you the best to and I wish everyone reading this the best. It just made me feel good. I mean, there’s no business reason in doing it. And when I look at you know, I want to circle back to what you said earlier about impact. Because now we have about 61,000 people on community of seven LinkedIn page we have about 25,000 on Facebook, but you know on LinkedIn alone We have about four or 5.7 million post impressions in the past 30 days, right? Wow. Um, we have 6000 16,000 unique visitors just to the community seven page that’s impact that 6 million people that I’ve impacted with the message, right? Today’s message was, you know, give yourself permission to live a big life step into who you are meant to be stop playing small, you’re meant for greater things. There’s no business meaning, reason for me to post that. But I want someone who to read that to be inspired. And, you know, like with Facebook, it’s not my core demographic at all right? But my, one of my company values and mission is how do you help as many people, and so we, you know, I intentionally grew the Facebook page to it’s around 25,000 right now, but they’re not entrepreneurs, they’re, you know, regular folks. And there might be some, some business people in there as well. But I have people reaching out to me and saying, I was contemplating suicide, and I read your post. And so that’s the impact that you make. And for me, there’s going to be no revenue that comes from it. But it feels my mission state of helping people, as many, as many people in my lifetime as possible.
Justin Nassiri 21:22
I think that’s such a powerful lens, like I can get jaded, sometimes around, you know, you’re always tracking metrics for a business, you’re always looking at these KPIs. And what I love about the lens that you’re saying there is like, if your intention is to help as many people as possible, that number of impressions, be it even on channels that you don’t really care about, that then becomes this kind of one little litmus test of like, are we having as big an impact as we can, and I can see how that gives you strength and motivation to say, look, naturally, I don’t want to be in public, I don’t want to be speaking out. I don’t want to be exercise my voice. But I will do it because it allows me to help other people. And what a powerful piece of feedback to get someone saying that your post, you know, that that changed the trajectory of their life. And I’ll say, you know, I was driving the other day, maybe it was last week, and I saw someone’s bumper sticker. And it was something like that of just like, whoever you are, I wish you well. And I felt like I was in such a you know, I’ve been reading a lot of news, I was such in this mindset of this adversarial relationship. And it just felt great to be like, oh, wow, this person doesn’t even know me. And they’re symbolically putting this on their car, to just say like, I you know, I’m sending you compassion and love. And I love that. And I love that that post that you have.
Lan Phan 22:43
It’s like the random acts of kindness, right? Like, sometimes people have a bad day, but to someone opening a door for you, or someone just telling yourself you know, you know, I love how that you, you said that. And it made me like, think a different way. For me. That’s, that’s so that’s priceless.
Justin Nassiri 23:06
Yeah. And I’m sure that comes through in your company in your personal voice like that intention of like, it almost seems like that is your marketing strategy is like how can I have the biggest positive impact on the most people today? And that’s like a beautiful lens through which to view what you’re writing about what you’re talking about all of those things?
Lan Phan 23:29
Yeah. And it’s interesting, too, because I’ve had to literally throw everything I learned out the door, like in terms of how to build a business. And you know, I think we talked about it via email, like the whole MVP. And, you know, when you for anyone that started have started a business or create products, one of the things you, you, you you do is this Litmus of what’s the MVP? What is the minimum viable product you can launch with, that you can sell for X amount of money, right? And it’s all about creating the minimum amount of value that people will spend to purchase your product. And I was like, That’s such BS. And when I created this, I threw that out the window. And I was like, how can I bring the most value to people, period? And that paradigm shift was everything. Because I stopped focusing it on in terms of how much revenue Can I bring if I do this and this and that, not because when I tried to build a business based on that, I just couldn’t, I couldn’t do it. My soul was not calling on me to do it. But when I focus on what I wanted to bring in the world and the change that I wanted to bring into the world, I it inspired me like I literally seven days after getting laid off, I started a website, I started doing a speaking series called let’s talk, you know, you know, which brings in like 100 people per talk and I started doing this You know, like I started testing things out. And I think that is the the journey that we go through as entrepreneurs, figure out what your passion is, and try to create something that that is uniquely you.
Justin Nassiri 25:14
And just just to make sure I’m tracking it, so instead, you’re saying instead of minimum viable product, is that most value to people?
Lan Phan 25:20
Yeah. So most startups will have like, what is your minimum viable product? Yep. I was like, that’s Bs, it should be how can you bring the most value to people that I love that MVP should
Justin Nassiri 25:32
be? What I love about that, too, is it’s, you know, I feel like you’ve been down the entrepreneurial path, I’ve been down this path, we both realize there is a large element of luck and serendipity in success or failure for the organization. And what I love about your saying there is that, regardless of the company’s success, or failure, every step of the way, every day between now and the company’s eventual outcome, you’re focused on adding maximum value to people. And I love to think through the worst case scenario where 10 years from now, the community of seven doesn’t exist, it wasn’t the success you wanted. But you know, every single day, you were adding values to people’s life. And I’m like, that’s, that’s a great worst case scenario that every lily pad every cobblestone between you and the eventuality, you were doing what you could you were using the voice and the power, you had to make people’s lives better. But that’s a beautiful way to live to live your life. And I imagine that makes your messaging so much more authentic, it makes it so much more powerful than if you’re just in it for the short term of like, how do I make a buck? How do I get a customer?
Lan Phan 26:49
I’ve never been motivated by money. That’s not one of my values. And so it’s not going to be the thing that inspires me, right? And so I started with this notion of what do I what’s a change I want to bring into the world. And I kind of created it, and you know, like, and you can shift, that’s a thing, that doesn’t mean that you don’t constantly refine your product. You know, because when we first started off, it was kind of based on creating core communities and really focusing on the invite only part of community seven, where we bring executives together to really focus on personal and professional development, but also how did they become change agents in the world? Right. And so that was the first focus. But then I realized that there was also this other untapped market, which is going into corporations, right, and helping them with programming focus on belongingness, and community. So we’re doing like this huge program for carta. You know, for kind of like their Women’s History Month, and all this other stuff, and we’re doing programming on self empowerment, and leadership. And so it’s okay to shift, right. But it’s all in the wheelhouse of, of this kind of like this, this notion of leadership, self development. And it’s just, we created a product line based on the our identity. But now, it makes more sense to kind of go, you know, we had the focus on the consumer side. But now the corporate side makes more sense. There’s more leverage to it. Right?
Justin Nassiri 28:25
That’s beautiful. So I want to I want to talk more or give you more space to share your story. I mean, it’s it’s pretty incredible to think of going from zero to 80,000 followers in just 10 months. What would you want listeners to know about that journey, and particularly, I’m trying to tease out for our audience, tactical tips that they could adapt to their own life or their own company, to exert more influence to be able to serve more people.
Lan Phan 28:57
Yeah. So background story, when I first started, I never I never had created a business page for Facebook. I never created a LinkedIn page at all, like business page as well. So I literally had to learn like literally seven days created a website, I was like, Okay, now I need to talk social, you know, like, even though I was a marketer, you know, for for aeons I was more of the leader executing telling people what to do. So I wasn’t in the trenches. So I was literally as a business owner in the trenches, like shit, what I’m doing. And so I started the page, and I was like, let’s see what happens. What’s the worst thing that can happen? You know what I mean? No one follows me. So literally, I started posting things my brother would would like, like, my brother van, our name rhymes with like it, you know, maybe Mita and some of my friends would like it. And it just kind of grew from there like just organically. But I think the game the biggest lesson is, don’t focus on your product and your business. Focus on how you can help people. So I just focused on, how can I help people who follow this page? And it just kind of spiraled from there. I was like, oh, what content will uplift? What content will make their lives better? What do I wish I had learned when I was like, starting off as an executive? as an executive? What do I wish that other leaders would learn? Right, like being a servant leader is one of my big core. You know, it’s about being of service to the folks, you, you, you, you lead. And, you know, you kind of mentioned earlier, like, my time at fortune, and how I still communicate to this day with that team that I laid off. My job was not to be their boss, my job was to, to be serve them. Right. And so it’s that whole notion of what can you provide. And I think when you focus on the consumer, the consumer, the followers, and you create content that’s going to enrich the lives, that content becomes shareable. So you know, I’ve had posts, that’s gotten 30 40,000 likes, and that’s kind of when you see the really quick growth. But then there’s also the interaction and building the community around it. It’s not just about sharing content, or me posting a picture of, you know, being on this podcast or doing this, it’s not about me, it’s about the community. And it’s about how our community can help each other. And so you get people sharing it, they feel like they’re part of the community, they’re posting comments, and that they become mini celebrities themselves in the comments section. And you have to kind of see the world as much different before, I was always kind of into in person events. Now, we only really have this screen right here, right? This little box that we have. So when you’re creating content, whether it’s like, you know, we do a lot of zoom calls, and then we post it online. It’s all about how do we provide value? How do we provide value? And that’s been just my focus. It’s not about how can I promote community seven, it’s about how can I help people. And that has been the game changer for me. Because once you create content, that will actually make a person’s life better, or where they can learn where they can become a better person. You create shareable content. And when you create shareable content, that’s how things get viral, right? Because people want to share it, because it’s good content.
Justin Nassiri 32:42
I love so I love two things about that. First of all, I just noticed as you’re speaking, the part of me that when when I am active on social media, there is always a hidden agenda. It’s either a neediness for approval, and likes and comments and things like that. Or it’s this end game in mind of like, how do I get customers out of this? How do I generate money from this? And the simplicity of what you’re saying is so powerful, because it is, it seems like a deep seated love for the people you’re serving, and constantly wondering, what can I do to make their life better, whether that’s knowledge or inspiration, you know, whether that’s just, you know, sending them an empowering message, that is so much more powerful than like the dotted line of like, how do I get something in return? Or how do I get attention? For myself, it’s much more service oriented. And I love that you continue that into your community of just the beauty of being able to spotlight individual community members and empowering them to receive that adoration, empowering them to be contributing something that helps others because it’s not just about you. It’s not just about your name and your persona. It is about this community. So I love that piece of empowerment. Yeah.
Lan Phan 34:10
Yeah. And I think also, when you are a community focus, okay. Earlier you mentioned what’s the difference between your personal brand, and being a community builder or creating a community, and the personal brand is about you. Right, and your celebrity, and what other people can do for you, and why you’re the subject matter expert and why you’re important. I think it’s helped me being an introvert because I don’t really want you to look at me. Yeah, I really want you to follow me. But my core value and that’s why aligning with your values of i want to help as many people as possible, has made its made, how like how I approach social media post, the content I create, and why it’s relevant. dealing with people because it’s not about me, it’s about them. I focus on them, like, how can I help people. And when I get people posting and saying, that changed my life, or that talk, or that car, let’s talk conversation, or that micro learning really helped me, like, just feel like I could do it. Like, I use my concept of my friendships like, you know, Mita Mita Malik is probably one of my best friends. And we will post each other kind of inspirational quotes and like, You go girl, and you know, I was mentioning my, my, my friend of ina, like, what if we can kind of extrapolate that and make that a bigger community. And that’s what I’m trying to do with community of seven is to kind of bottle those friendships that I have with, with friends that are so supportive. And how do you create that? Because not everyone has that social network? Not everyone has those relationships with people who are uplifting them? So how do we do that? on a bigger scale? How do I make community of seven, become this agent of change, where I can kind of make people feel a little bit less lonely? feel like they can one day become a leader that they can, you know, work on their mental health? And, you know, that’s just like, if you focus on the, what can you do for others, everything else will come into place?
Justin Nassiri 36:20
What about and I want to make more space to if there’s other points you have on that growth? But one question that comes up for me is, it feels like so much of the popular wisdom would be, you know, create as much noise as possible for as many people as possible. And, and there’s something about a private community that almost goes against that conventional wisdom. And I’m curious for those, those thinking of forming their own community, how you approach that decision of whether to create a maybe tighter container in which it’s, you know, there’s some sort of process to go through to join, versus, we’re just going to keep this loose, and everyone is part of this
Lan Phan 36:59
work, we use that same model. So I have a core community where people pay 2000 a year, where it’s almost like personal coaching, we meet once a month, it’s, you know, a small group of high level executives. And that’s separate, I don’t really market it, right. But that’s kind of like a revenue stream. Same thing as my corporate training. But the bigger, broader part is, you are part of this community, you might not be a member, because most people can afford 1000s of dollars for these masterminds, or these groups, you know, like peer coaching. So, you know, I think it’s that one, one of the things is that I’ve seen a lot of membership. Groups kind of pop up, especially during COVID. And they kind of go straight into that, okay, pay me 5000 $6,000. And you can be part of this elite community. And I’ve never wanted to be about power. Hmm. So the difference is that even when I curated our group, we have people are presidents and CEOs of big fortune 500. Companies are a part of this core community. But that’s not the reason why I selected them. Like I have to talk to 100 people to get to the 10. Right. I got to them because they’re good people con people that want to change the world that happened to be successful. And a lot of these membership only kind of groups that are popping up our base about a rub your shoulders around the CEO, and this stood it up. It’s not about the community. It’s about you getting close to centers of power. And I think that’s such bullshit. Yeah, I feel most comfortable around people who care about me, I feel comfortable around people who, like, have families and have parents that they take care of, and we can talk about real conversations. I don’t want to have some bullshit conversation about like, you know, how do I get to the C suite? I’ve been in the C suite. That doesn’t matter to me. What matters to me and the people that I select in my core community, it’s about how can I change the world? How can I be in a power of like, use my influence, to change the world for the better. And that’s a different mentality than creating a community based on power. I base a community on changemakers who are looking to change the world who happened to be successful.
Justin Nassiri 39:37
I love that I was just gonna take a note of that, but I love the distinction because I do I am a believer that the intention we bring into something it taints everything positively or negatively. And I can see and I’ve seen those same groups as well, where the It feels like the intention is about the personal accumulation of power, about you know, net net Working, finding people where it’s very transactional. And I love the filter that you’re implying applying instead, which is, you know, for your community, you know, kind people, compassionate, caring people, generous people who also have power, but want to use that power to make the world a better place. And I’m guessing that that connections and the conversations that lead to occur at a much deeper level than the superficial realm of just kind of like, Who Who here can help me in my goal, rather than like, collectively, how can we have the biggest impact positively on the world as possible?
Lan Phan 40:37
Yeah, I used to be in the music industry. And I used to call, you know, like, I, I left the music industry, even though I had a successful business, because it didn’t align with my values. And I just remember being in conversations with people at a party or industry event where you’re talking to them, and they’re literally looking at the door to see who more important is going to walk in the door. Yeah, and I never want to be a part of that kind of, of organization or type of friend. It’s not about power. It’s about who are you as a person. And I think when I built community seven, it has my DNA in it, because that’s the type of people I gravitate towards right. People who, who care about their family, people who care about their community and leaving the world better for their kids. That’s the type of community that I’m trying to create. And even when you talk about like things like moderation, right? I don’t deal with assholes, like, and even when I was like, had huge teams that I stepped to hire. The first thing I would say, I don’t hire assholes, because it eliminated a lot of people, I don’t care how powerful you were, I don’t care how much you can bring in sales, or that you worked at Google or Facebook, I don’t give a shit. If you are an asshole, you are going to kill the culture of our group, you’re going to kill the culture of our team. And so when you have that lens of, of creating people who will make the broader team better, or the better community better, and it’s not about status, or titles, or CVS or what school you went, you create such a different culture.
Justin Nassiri 42:15
What I appreciate about that, is that I think that when I when I first heard about community of seven, it could seem like something that is, you know, just very everyone Come as you are, we’re accepting and this is what it is. But what I’m hearing is that in creating a community where you can add value, you have to actually be really explicit in terms of those values, and the do’s and the don’ts and and being willing to turn people away for the greater good. And I love that. I love that lens, as well of just like, you know, is this the right fit for our community? Does this serve the group? And if not, you’re 100% not allowed? Because that would detract from the community we’ve created?
Lan Phan 43:00
Yes, exactly. Exactly. Because, you know, you are you the strength of any organization is is their weakest link, right? And when companies, organizations, communities, allow that havior allowed the assholes in the room and the toxic behavior, it impacts the culture of the entire the organization and community. And so you have to be vigilant about it, right. And you can’t sell your soul, like a lot of companies will keep toxic executives because, you know, they might bring in lots of revenue. What they don’t realize is that top salesperson might be bringing in huge amounts of revenue, because they’re stealing it from the other salespeople, the other salespeople aren’t selling as much because of the toxic behavior because they’re getting prospects stolen from us. That’s like an example. In the business perspective. You know, same thing with community. You know, like, there’s people who come in, I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a room or a talk with someone, or like a panel, where someone is just about them, and they just suck all the energy in the room, right? The Celebrity does not matter at the end of the day. It’s about people with stories. And I think, for me, I gravitate towards people with interesting stories. And same thing when you’re building this community. It’s not about title, though, that sometimes have that does. You don’t also want to mix it up where you have someone who’s entry level with a CEO because the conversation is going to be different, right? So I mentioned that I had to talk and interview 100 people to get to my core community of 10 that we now have regular meetings with, but it took it was a lot of effort, right but you have to get it Right.
Justin Nassiri 45:01
One thing I’m wondering about is, so I love this thought of adding value of being, you know, focused on uplifting the community. And I’m thinking of, of listeners who may be starting something, but they don’t have a ton of runway. So there felt like there is kind of a cache concern. And I’m just, I’m just kind of guessing that like coming into community of seven, you would had room to establish your finances where you didn’t have a need to like I have to make $1 this month, but I’m just kind of curious what advice you have for maybe people who are even thinking of starting a community, like how they might not put too much pressure on that community to pay their bills, in addition to fulfilling whatever their purpose is.
Lan Phan 45:50
Yeah, exactly. So, you know, like I said, I do consulting work, still, the community part isn’t necessarily a moneymaker. But it fulfills my value of helping as many people as possible, right? Because it’s much more lucrative to be consultant and to come in and do programming than it is to create community events. Right. One thing I would kind of recommend, like a good book to read is there’s this book called company of one. And that kind of helped inform me when I was trying to decide, what do I want to do next, because I actually got a lot of interest from people who’ve known me, because I, you know, went to Stanford. So I know a lot of people who are kind of in the, the startup world who were looking at, you know, venture capital, and I was like, the more I thought about it, I was like, that doesn’t align with my values, because I need freedom. I don’t want to create a product, I can’t come to any VC and said, my product is based on helping people because they’ll laugh at me, and they’ll turn me away. Yep. So I built this kind of on my savings, and my, you know, my severance pay. And it’s not easy. What I had to do was, like, you know, cut as many expenses as possible. The good thing with community now is that you can really be efficient and create programming and content, you know, on zoom, and then kind of like working with a company, like you splice it up for other content that you can kind of sell, you know, I created my, my website on Wix, you know, overnight, I was like watching TV with my husband, I was like, let me create a website. I’ll figure it out. And, you know, there’s so many ways to cost efficiently do something, but test and learn, and kind of figure out what works. Like, for example, one of my, my best connections I had was with, you know, my friend, Eric Tash had introduced me to Alex taobh, who’s the founder of upstream, and he has this this app, which is like a social connecting app, where it’s like LinkedIn meets, you know, LinkedIn meets slack meets speed dating on steroids. And, you know, through a partnership, I now do these community networking events there. And there’s no cost involved with that. And I’m able to kind of build a mini community within that connect with other founders and startups, because there’s a lot, and to see how you can help each other and like, so, you know, Alex was super helpful and helping me kind of build my my upstream community. And there’s all these little connections that you can kind of make and grow community without that much money. However, you also have to make sure that you cut your expenses, right. So you know, I probably would make more money being a C suite executive, but I’m also spending more money because I’m commuting, commuting, I work from home now. I’m not, you know, spending $100 on lunch in New York City, right. And so my life is just much different. And so at the end of the day, a colleague will net and be out of better. You know, like, one of the advice I got from my accountants, when I was in my 20s, and a serial entrepreneur was, it’s not how much money you make, it’s how much you keep. Again, it’s not how much money you make, it’s how much you keep. And I’ve had that mantra in my, in my mind, right? And so, you know, I don’t like my life is just so like, if you cut your expenses low, and you kind of like, create a community just based on content, it doesn’t really cost that much. But you do have to figure out how you can monetize because it’s going to take a while for that community to start making a profit, whether you, you know, do these huge kind of subscriptions or memberships with executive coaching or masterminds? Or do you do like, you know, $20 a head for newsletter, right? You’re gonna need more volume. So if you do the smaller price point, you’re gonna need a bigger volume? Right? I think my Polina, who does this newsletter called profile, she was like, you know, she charges like $50 per subscription, and they get like her curated newsletters, but you know, she needs to get to 10,000 for it to be kind of, like profitable for her. Whereas like, if you’re doing like these really, you know, like, I think of executive coaches, etc, where it’s groups of 10, then you need like, maybe 10, or five of those, to kind of start making a profit, I think kind of base, figure out what your level of effort is, and then kind of like work the numbers out and see what, what makes sense financially.
Justin Nassiri 50:41
That’s great, so much wisdom in there. But I especially like that piece where you know, in your case, you’re both building your community, and you’re also doing consulting, like, it’s not like it’s this all or nothing on it. I did want to ask on a tactical level, as you think of adding value to people, as you think of like sending out these messages and inspiration and empowerment. Does it change how you approach Facebook or LinkedIn or Instagram? Like, is there a difference in the social channels? Or is that approach the same?
Lan Phan 51:14
I mean, it should be different. But I don’t have the bandwidth. So I, like I focus on LinkedIn, and then through Hootsuite, Instagram, and Facebook gets the same message. Okay, it just bandwidth issue, because like I said, Instagram, and Facebook is not my bread and butter, right? I’m not going to get any corporate clients from that. But I do it for because it’s important. So the messages might might not hit on target. But that’s okay. Because my focus is really LinkedIn. Like, that’s my core demographic. I’m like a b2b company, or b2c to be right, rather than a Facebook where you have, you know, everyone in their mom, and someone’s mom is probably following me right now. So our grandmother, actually have a few grandmothers, and I love them, but they’re never going to go to community seven event or they’re never going to become a core community. That’s okay.
Justin Nassiri 52:13
Yeah. Well, I always like to leave the last question open ended. And I’m so grateful for the incredible advice you’ve given around community building and most value to people as an MVP, as well as just the sense of just really trying to have the biggest impact as possible, not being short sighted and fixated on on generating profit, but more about making a difference in the world. The last question is just open ended. Is there anything that we haven’t talked about that you want to make sure listeners know, before we wrap up?
Lan Phan 52:44
Um, no, just, I think, bet on yourself is probably the biggest advice I can give is that we tend to talk ourselves out of things. And it’s important to bet on yourself. And that was the whole notion of me creating community of seven is that I want people to believe that they can do anything they want. And the only thing holding them back is themselves. And if they want to be a part of a community of seven, they don’t have to be a paid member of core community, go to community of seven.com or go to our LinkedIn company slash LinkedIn community of seven, and follow us because there’s micro learnings in there. And I do think it benefits people.
Justin Nassiri 53:34
Well, Dan, thank you for your time for listeners and the show notes for this [email protected] slash podcast, you’ll find links to the book company of one the profile newsletter community of seven.com, where you can find land online on LinkedIn, and anything else that we discussed. But thank you so much for your time and your perspective today. Thank you for listening to me, I have your attention. Each episode, we meet with top marketers thought leaders and experts to find out how individuals and brands can get keep and make money with attention. You can subscribe to me I have your attention on Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts show notes are provided for each [email protected] slash podcast. May I have your attention is brought to you by captivate.ai, which turns your webinar or podcast into three months of social media content, find out [email protected] Thanks and see you next week.