Today on Elements of Community, Scott Wilder joins us and explores why communities matter and how they can foster growth. He attributed forming meaningful connections with others as a major factor in fostering individual development; knowledge-sharing strengthens skillsets while offering fresh perspectives to progress one's career endeavors!
Scott has dedicated the past 25 years of his life to working in tech companies, and now, with Base as head of the Community Advocacy Resources and Education (CARE) team, he is on a mission to raise the bar in customer marketing automation.
Community means more than just helping people with product questions or how-to’s. It is also nurturing their craft and accelerating growth in their career paths. To help make this goal a reality, Scott created the CLG campus. This space serves as an open-source resource center where practitioners can share courses and host office hours and live sessions to educate one another on customer-led growth initiatives in groups.
In this way, Scott hopes to create an environment where individuals from customer-facing roles can come together and learn from one another while working towards bettering each other's skillset to propel them forward in their careers.
AND MORE TOPICS COVERED IN THE FULL INTERVIEW!!! You can check that out and subscribe at https://pbp.li/eoc33.
If you want to know more about Scott Wilder, you may reach out to him at:
Thank you for having me today. It's a great way to spend a Friday.It is, right? [:
No, exactly, exactly. I mean, this, you know, it's Friday afternoon. I'd rather be talking about community than putting together a presentation.
You can't take that back.
I know once I say it here, it's like set in stone, a verbal stone.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Everyone's gonna know. Would you like to tell our audience a little bit about yourself?
Sure. So I'm a native New Yorker and I live in California, so I tell people I'm obnoxious and driven and aggressive inside, but outside I'm a, you know, laid back, soft, gentle, try and be a gentle soul like we are in Northern California. But I've spent, you know, the last 25 years working in Silicon Valley for tech companies, mainly B2 B working at companies like Intuit and Google Adobe, Marketo, and HubSpot.All [:
You have any reputable companies on your resume?
Let me see if I can find one. Hold on, and but there, for all of those companies, I've really focused a lot on community and customer engagement. And starting last March I decided to the second thing about me should know is I like to go into my uncomfortable space.
And so I really wanted to find a startup or early stage company to work with. And so one of the companies we used at HubSpot was called Base. They were a crowd advocate at the time. They changed their name to Base, like customer base. And so we focus on customer marketing automation and really helping.I call my team the care team [:
Oh, you're talking my language. Hmm. Yes. Wow. . I'm blown away. I actually didn't know this, so I'm blown away. This is awesome. How'd you come up with that?
I, you know, when I went to the company I focused a great deal of my career on creating seamless experiences on the front end for customers and on the back end. And when I go down that path, there's usually like five or six different areas of the business I'm trying to integrate. And so those are some of them.
But then also, you know, as we know as community people or people in the community space, like how do you put a human face? How do you humanize the whole experience? You know, there's so many times in these companies that I've gone to where with, they'll say, well, you know, what's the ROI within, you know, the first 30 days?And, [:
Transaction to transformation.
And so that's, so I'm thinking that could be the title of my new book. So don't, don't make that the title of your book. We'll talk about that later. So, in terms of putting a human face on it, you know, I could say.
You heard it here.
Oh my God. Like I hope my wife's not listening, cuz she's gonna be like, you're committing to all these things.
But yeah, so I can tell you I do customer engagement community, but if I tell you, It just, it resonated more with me and I'm just hoping it resonates with others that I'm in a caring role, you know, and that caring does stand for something, but that's what I'm on, that's what motivates me
Hmm. Caring does indeed stand for something, or at least it ought to.[:
Yeah. Amazing. Can you describe what community means to you and to your team?
Yeah, so it's a really good question. So for the community team and the communities I've managed, It's really, I look at like from a person perspective, you know, I am in the B2B space, so I focus on these kind of three areas. One is, I mean, helping people with the product that we're selling or trying to help.
So that could be questions and answers and how-tos. Two is how to help them improve their craft. Right. So they wanna be better marketers. Where I am today at, when I was at Intuit, how could they be better entrepreneurs and small business owners? And then the third part of the triad is how to help them accelerate their careers.like-minded individuals. In [:
Hmm. Cool. And do your customers gather? Do they do projects together? Are they interested in knowing each other and sharing with each other and knowing you and sharing with you?
Yeah. So historically we've helped manage Slack community of these like-minded people. And we learned a lot from them. And I can talk about some of the learnings, but now we recently were in day 46. Just launched what we call the CLG campus. It's a customer led growth campus, a CLG campus, and you can go there, ClgCampus.Base.Ai, but it's really a place for individuals and customer facing roles to learn from each other.[:
So there's the practitioner who is giving back and it's not just a one to many asynchronous course. Part of this is each practitioner is doing like office hours or live sessions as well, right? So we're forming these little groups around courses that will expand over time. And the reason we're doing it as well and I think we talked about this before we started today, is.And I know like some of the [:
And most of the people I interact with are trying to understand like, how do you use marketing automation? How do you use sales automation? And so instead of just putting them in the car, the CLG campus is like a big driver's ed program where you're learning what to do when you go to a stop sign, you have classmates.
And so you can learn through collaborative learning about you know, how to work together and understand this industry. So, a long-winded answer to your question is, you know, what we're doing is trying, we have this CLG campus and are trying and bring people together in small groups cuz we think that, you know, like-minded people wanna get together in small groups in the beginning and have this place that they can go to learn about their products, improve their craft, and accelerate their career.That's great. [:
Yeah, so there's a number of ways. I mean, we have you know, kind of, I'll call it traditional community moderation. So we have activities around that. Two is because of, you know, we're really starting at ground zero, so we do a lot of events and office hours and, and webinars, and I think a lot of times people either get stuck in making those a one-time event or don't know how to get beyond the one time event.
So we're really trying to create these mini movements, I'll call them. So you know, you launch a course and you have a cohort of people, and then you get them into an office hour webinar session, and then you start building on additional activities. And so the community is, traditional internet discussion threads, which I have another acronym for that.ke this desire for people to [:
So I talked about these office hours, I talked about these cohorts of people that will take a course and continue together. I think the other thing too is, you know, it's funny, we all talk about automation and things like that and scaling. But when you're launching a community, the human aspect, the human energy you have to put into it, you know, and finding that, you know, common language and common purpose.
It takes work. I mean, the key is don't think of it as work If you really like it. Like, I don't really think of it as work, but but it does take time. Maybe that's a better word that you have, and effort. But if you're passionate about this stuff
even when you enjoy it, it's still effort.ars, so finally I got to it. [:
Yeah. Yeah. Amazing. What is the purpose, if you don't mind me asking?
The purpose, the common purpose is to just help people, bring people together who are in customer facing roles to help them, like, improve their craft and accelerate their career. I mean, it's that simple. And we're taking the approach that the practitioners, you know, and I think anybody who's doing community will appreciate this as it's kind of your, I'm gonna take car analogy.
You're helping start the car, but then you're giving the keys to the car, to the community and letting them run it. And so that's what we're really trying to do is have this open source, self-sustained a place. So,r craft and accelerate their [:
Yeah. I mean we're, you know there's so much energy right now on, you know, LinkedIn for example. I also, you know I'm a community person, but I don't like spread myself thin across too many social networks. I just focus on LinkedIn, to be honest. So you can look for me on Twitter. I don't say much there, but there's so much energy on Twitter right now of people, you know, really trying to, you know, share their humanness, you know, share with each other about, you know, where they are in their lives and what they want to accomplish.
And I think it behooves all of us as community managers or community leaders to say, okay, how can you help with that? And so, because I'm in a business, I'm trying to help them give what I can in terms of helping them, you know, like with their craft and, and their career.ind describing to me what an [:
What an effective community is. Well, there's no silver bullet.
Yeah.it called marketing Sherpa in:
I know. So.
You remember this?
Exactly, I just posted it on the the CLG campus. So if I was quick here, I would just read it. But, you know, I think, you talk about purpose I think that's really important. What is the common thing that's bringing people together? When I was at Intuit, you know, we really were trying to help small businesses be successful.h the same stuff or the same [:
And you're not gonna have like, you know, all these superpowers, right? You're gonna have some superpowers. And so, you know, helping each other can be like, is there somebody there who understands finance? Or somebody there who understands marketing? So I think that common purpose and that goal is really important in terms of bringing people together.
Something that you've talked about in the past is projects. So, you know, in some ways on the cl LG campus, you know, we have people creating courses together or trying to solve business problems together. And so there's a few of these courses, the live courses at least that are being taught by two individuals, right?
And so they're working on it together. And projects actually resonates with me in another way too is that when I was at Udacity, a name, I didn't drop that name earlier, but when I was at Udacity one of the.
Reputable company.cess is that they give their [:
Like you can see what, especially for like, you know, programmers and things like that. And so I think these common projects is also really key. And I think, yeah, a lot of communities don't really focus on that too much in terms of, you know just give a common project to the community, to work on.
Yeah, I think another thing too is the leader or the person jumpstarting this, it's, I think it's really important that they come from, they're a member of the tribe or the audience that's part of the community. Not everybody agrees with me on this one cuz I've listened to some podcasts where people are like, well, you can have some experience with it.I can just tell you about [:
Content was expensive back then. And so I said, well, maybe I'll create a community. So I thought I was really smart and I kind of went to my Rolodex. Yep. We had Rolodexes that day, and I got, you know, in touch with two or three community leaders and managers and said, can you work for me and help me build this community?
It flopped. In the first 15 days, all the alarms went off and what happened was they never ran a small business and they didn't understand the product. And to another point is they couldn't speak that common language. Right. And so, you know, I quickly pivoted. I mean, fortunately I knew these guys and said, sorry.another good story. I'll get [:
And so I went to the call center and I basically created a process to identify people that could potentially be a great community manager. Because they spoke the language, they knew the products and a lot of them had small, I mean, one of the things I said is they had to have their small, they all, they had to have a small business in their or small business experience in their background, so, those are just some of the things.
The story I like to tell about Intuit is that when I got there and I was trying to, learn about the product I used to listen to calls in the call center all the time and the first thing I told my manager, he's like, well, what do you need to be successful? I said, I need a couch. He said, what? I said, I want a couch outside my office.My office was really small [:
Again, here's the threes, guardrails, guidance, and guides for your employees of how they can contribute to the community as well.
Yeah, a couch. What a great idea.
Yeah, so I learned my b2b community stuff by sitting on a couch and listening to customers. And, you know, I'm, again, the New Yorker side of me, I'm kind of I'm presumptuous here. So, I think a big problem with in B2B marketers is that, you know, we talk about getting close to the customer.hink, you never can be close [:
So, you'd ask them if you could follow them back to their office, but that was really key. And so this will lead to another key thing about community is you follow them to their. They let you in their office, you got their approval. It wasn't an opt-in. Yeah, it was an opt-in.
No, I don't know. But anyway, so but you understood their environment. And what I mean by that is like looking at their desk, you know, like you got to know them. Scott Wilder has a baseball on his desk, so, you know, maybe that's some insight into him, you know, he's got, you know, some other nerdy things around here.what jobs they needed to be [:
I don't know about everyone else, but I'm picturing someone who's six two you know, two 70 pounds and has a beard down to his waist.
Yeah, no, he wasn't like that. He's he had more of an accountant look, but you know, he'd say, so how are they doing? I'm like, oh, he's account an accountant. He wants to see the numbers. So he would take my spreadsheets and he'd throw them in the trash and he'd say, I want you to tell me what they're saying, I want you to tell me what language they use.ith the head of the company. [:
You know, Marketo did a really good job at that in terms of getting close to the customer, and they built this whole kind of, they called the marketing nation which, you know, in terms of values and everything we've discussed, they, I guess another ingredient I should like list these out in bullet points is how do you create that emotional.
That will be on the show notes.
Okay. How do you create that emotional connection? And so, you know, I'll be transparent. I worked, I ran HubSpot's community and it really. I had a lot of angst around calling around the HubSpot community because it just sound very plain. With Marketo we did, and I had a great time there, but I'm just sharing with you, you know, this is kind of like, you know, therapy here, so I'm sharing with you my angst.ilding this nation together, [:
There was a higher calling and, you know being transparent. That's what I'm trying to do with a campus. Right, we didn't call it like, you know, my company name, and place. It's a campus where you learn together, you collaborate and learn together.
Hmm. Yeah. Yeah. I love it. And obviously I have my own answer to this question, but what you're saying is collaborating and learning together creates and fosters that emotional connection., I think there's an, I hate [:
And so, you know, we're offering a channel for that or a way to do that. But there's, you know, there's definitely, and I kind of, I guess I kind of see it, there's a lot of like these smaller, I'll call them coffee talk sessions, people getting together so that the emotional connection is they're in the same boat, right?
They're experiencing the same pain, or whatever it is. And I think finding, you know, those people, you know, at Marketo, like it was partially work related, but it was partially, there was marketing operations was really relatively new and there were a lot, again, I guess this is going back to the craft people were trying to figure out what marketing operations. is
Yeah. One of my, one of my favorite sayings is that we are not human alone. We're only human together.Yeah, exactly. Yeah.[:
Wow, cool. Marketing operations, it's gotta start somewhere. Right?
It's gotta start somewhere.
It It, grew out of this emotional connection that you got to be a part of creating.
Yeah. And, but a lot of that came up with, you know, my first 30 days was really interviewing, and I hate to say living , like just being, you know, in the offices of the people who we were trying to market to or to build a community for.
You know, at Udacity we did something similar cuz I tend to take my playbooks from company to company is, you know, there were different segments of people.ke, stumbled into these very [:
You know, when my mother was alive, you know, I found out she was part of a knitting community, you know, and I would never join a knitting community, but it was her support group, right? Other knitters. She learned a lot from them. They had a common interest and they had a common, this emotional connection, you know, the subgroup she was in, you know, there's a certain type of knitting that they were doing.
So I think, I think that emotional connection, doesn't get enough play in the community space.
Huh. Yeah. And yet there it was. And to some degree you've taken that experience of the Knitting Circle, and you found a way to redeploy that as a corporate asset.I'm [:
It doesn't work. Never does.
Yeah. I'm with you. Amazing. That's so cool. Can I ask you about your big successes and failures? In reverse order, let's talk a big failure first and then move to a success.
Well, I think one of them I told you about when I, I mean I quickly pivoted at Intuit when I launched the community and I thought I was pretty hot and cuz I had done.
Yeah. So, but, so I guess another bullet, you know, silver bullet you need to have is look at the metrics on a daily basis. You know, so that was one big failure.e ago. So I worked for eToys.[:
Ho ho Hold on. I got another book title for you.
My first 30 days.
Your biggest success happened in your first 30 days, cuz you spent the entire first 30 days listening.
And perhaps your biggest failure also happened. Perhaps, and I may be mis listenening or mishearing this, but perhaps because you did not spend the first 30 days listening.
Yeah, I think it was just, I just, you know, didn't catch it. You know, I'm not sure why, but it, you know, I definitely caught it then. And another one was so dating myself here a little bit with eToys, if you might remember eToys. So I worked at eToys and we were hot stuff then. We thought were really cool.I had it. It was definitely [:
And we have a closet here, just like it seems like it's always full, even though every six months we get rid of the kids things they grew out of. So, we're gonna launch an auction site, a reverse auction site for parents to get rid of their old stuff. Sounds like a pretty, so we had this huge toy business and we thought, well, you know, we got the customer list, so to speak, right?
We know how to move inventory and we do that, anyway, it failed. And, we actually even launched and all this stuff. And it took more, you know, a little more than 30 days to realize that. But the reason it failed was we just couldn't compete against eBay at the time. But that was kind of a, those were big those were painful failures.Yeah. [:
Yeah, I think one thing too is and if you have a small business, so you know, you mentioned beforehand there's a lot of entrepreneurs and small businesses here. So, you know, there's a few times I've had like consulting companies and you know, as Intuit I worked with small businesses. I think it's really important to kind of do an inventory of what's working and what's not working, whether it's 30 days every quarter, every six months.
And I try and do that for my own life, you know, and my personal life and my professional life, you know, and so it's, I think that's, you know, you launch something like this huge eToys auction site, or you launch, you know, a new community or you have this new initiative.
Being able to just like step back and say, okay, maybe it's not working, and Pivot.did you have a definition of [:
Yeah, it was. So, the eToys one, I mean, I always try and have a qualitative and quantitative goal. Now communities are tricky because, you know, it's hard to say you know, everybody wants thousands of users and this and that. And there's another bullet point I'll talk about in a second.
So I try and be kind of realistic of what my quantitative goals are, but that qualitative, like if the qualitative information is positive, you have some real seeds to build on. Oh, what I was gonna say is another kind of, it was under my whatever I wrote years ago about community, you know, think about your potential audience.ay, well, we have, you know, [:
Yeah. 50. Yeah.
And I said, well, let's do the math here. If, you know, if you get 10%, 50%, it's still gonna be a kind of a lonely place. So really, you know, thinking through what your potential market is. You know, so Base is a small company. You know, we have less than a hundred customers, but the CLG campus has a, you know, anybody that's in a customer facing role, whether it's customer success, customer marketing, customer support, can benefit from that.
That's pretty cool. Yeah. Was that, the next point?
Yeah, no, no. Your a address, I guess p old school would say your addressable audience, I'll say it's your email addressable audience.y, right? When something has [:
Yeah, yeah, definitely. I mean, I think the challenge is some communities will just focus on product related stuff.
Right? So you know, when you know, well there was, I'm name dropping, but when I was at Google for example, we had product related issues, but we also had these industry related issues that we were trying to help the community sort out.
So we sold AdWords. It could be an AdWords product, but search was so important for small businesses, right? So a lot of thought leadership around around search or findability.ent language and a different [:
I want to love them and I want to love showing up to work and working alongside them every single day. And while that is a product, right, that is the product of us working together, that is the product of us coming into community together. It's not something you can package up in a bottle and ship to people. It's not something that I can list on my paycheck.
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, when people ask me, you know, what's your criteria for a new job? For a job, you know, one of the first two or three things is, you know, the people, do I like the people I'm gonna spend eight to 10 hours a day with them. You know?
It's somebody I need to, in some way love.or me, relate to the product.[:
And that goes back to, it doesn't feel like effort. If I can relate to the product and if I use the product. Lots of stories. I can go down a path about that, but but yeah, the people you're gonna spend time with and, you know, I think if 20 years ago, even 10 years ago, that was probably less of a criteria.
But, you know, with the generations, you know I did write a book on millennial leaders somewhere here. I don't even have it anymore. But that was one of the things that really resonated, you know, really came out is like, you know, who am I gonna be sitting next? You know, and you know, do I like that person?
Mm-hmm. I'm with you. I'm right there with you. Yeah. I love it. Cool. Any other points?
Nope. Not at this point.And these three questions I [:
First is for the people who have been delighted by what it is that you have to share and actually wanna see the original article and find you, and read it there from 2003. Where can they find you?
Oh, thank you. So you can always find me on LinkedIn, Scott K. Wilder, and I respond to everybody. You can also go to the CLG campus. I'm always hanging out there in the faculty lounge. And you know, if you can, my email Scott.Wilder@base.ai, Scott.Wilder@Base.Ai, LinkedIn might be easier, but yeah, you know I'm all about like helping others, you know, with community and whatever they need help with.
So feel free to reach out.
Love it. That's why we're here.
Okay., this is the big curve ball.[:
Hold on, hold on.
There it is. That's it right there. Is there a question that you wish I had asked but didn't?
Things to think about in terms of where community might go in the next year.
yeah. Ooh, that one's juicy. Anything else?
Other questions, you mean?
I think, that's really it. And I, you know, I think it's, yeah, that would be it.
Well that's the third question then, what are the things that we should be thinking about in terms of where community is headed this year and next?or it. Two is if you're in a [:
Three is, you know, the chat GPT thing is the NFT of today. It's like everybody is talking about it, but I think it does raise some really interesting questions in terms of community and content and how you integrate that. I also think, and it hasn't been as successful as I thought it would be, but I still am believing in voice.
So we see a little bit on discord, but you know, I look at my kids and I look at younger generations they don't type, they use voice. And so I think there's an interesting opportunity whether you're, you know, building a community, building some collaborative thing of just how voice works with your platform.
And then the last thing would be, you know, think about events and how that works with community as well.Mm-hmm. That's [:
Yeah, no, exactly. I mean, we, there's lots of interesting data about like voice and Google search and how it's being used more. But I don't see the platforms really thinking. I try and think about where. I'm, I know I showed a baseball, but they're, people like to talk about Wayne Gretzky and hockey. I'm a big hockey fan and where the puck's gonna be.nd in terms of collaborating,[:
Fun. And, another piece of this, I had a conversation with a friend of mine and, you know, technology's not there yet. I had a conversation with a friend of mine recently about his son, who is 13, and an expert voice user for his computing tools, and I was talking to him about it and I said, we're gonna get to the point.
The technology's not there yet, but we're gonna get to the point where you can speak to your computer more quickly than I can type. But we're not there right now. Right now I can type more quickly than you can speak.
Yeah, but so the other thing to think about, so that 13 year old, like when I grew up, I had to take a typing class.
So I can type really fast, but at least the public schools in San Francisco don't do anything like that.
And probably shouldn't.
The The, world is changing. I mean, I think I'd love to see them doing coding classes. I don't know if they are or not.Very simple coding. Not [:
But typing is, typing's gonna be gone.
It would be interesting to see if they have speed speaking classes so that you can speak faster than I can type.
Yeah. But it's a really good point you bring up because I have a 13 year old and, you know, I'm very aware of how he speaks and one of the reasons I'm aware of how he speaks is not just cause I'm his dad, but because he's gonna have to be talking. What?
This stuff is cool to you.
Yeah. Cuz this stuff is cool to me. No, it's definitely, yeah, I mean we can a whole another conversation.
I've experimented a lot with you know, writing memos with voice on my computer.o change to accommodate that.[:
Yeah, and it goes back to understanding your customer. Go in the schoolyard. So I'll leave you with one last note. Be in your customer's schoolyard.
Mm, mm-hmm. Ooh, wow. Yes. I, you know what? We need to close on that. Yeah. Get a couch. Listen.
Thank you, Scott.
Thank you Lucas.
Thanks for joining us this week on Elements of Community.
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