DAN_SHAPPIR: Hi from Tel Aviv where winter absolutely refuses to start so we're still walking around in t-shirts and shorts.
CHARLES MAX_WOOD: Alright, nevermind. I'm leaving. I quit brings us up every time it's like hailing outside. And then, yeah, no, today was not bad.
DAN_SHAPPIR: It's sunny, it's pleasant, it's great. You know, we're having a great time. Occasionally it rains, but it actually hasn't even rained in the past week or so.
CHARLES MAX_WOOD: Yeah, Steve Edwards.
STEVE_EDWARDS: Steve Edwards, hello from Portland, Oregon, where it's raining and cloudy, and I spent last week in sunny Florida and I miss it. I'm jealous of dance weather.
CHARLES MAX_WOOD: I know, right? I'm Charles Max Wood from Top End Devs. Just a quick reminder to go check us out, topendevs.com more than just the podcast going on there these days. We have a special guest this week and that is Brett. Is it Harrelson?
BRETT_HARALSON: That's right, Harrelson. And I'm checking in. I am from Miami, or Sunnyside, Florida, in the city of Miami where I also wear gym shorts and t-shirts. But I decided to come home to Mississippi for the holidays and it is cold so I'm wearing jeans and a jacket that was given to me last Christmas and this is the first time I've actually ever worn it. So it's really glad to be here. Thanks for having me, guys.
CHARLES MAX_WOOD: Nice.
Have you ever really been happy with your project management tool? Most are either too simple for a growing engineering team to manage everything or too complex for anyone to want to use them without constant prodding. Shortcut is project management built specifically for software teams and their fast, intuitive, flexible, powerful, and so many other nice positive adjectives. Let's look at some of their highlights. Team-based workflows. Individual teams can use Shortcut's default workflows or customize them to match the way they work. Org-wide goals and roadmaps. The work in these workflows is automatically tied into larger company goals. It takes one click to move from a roadmap to a team's work to individual updates and tight VCS integrations, whether you use GitHub, GitLab, or Bitbucket, Shortcut ties directly into them so you can update progress from the command line. Keyboard-friendly interface. The rest of Shortcut is just as keyboard-friendly as their power bar, allowing you to do virtually anything without touching your mouse. Throw that thing in the trash. Iterations planning. Set weekly priorities and then let Shortcut run the schedule for you with accompanying burn-down charts and other reporting. Give it a try at Shortcut.com slash dev chat and get two months free. Again, that's Shortcut.com slash dev chat shortcut because you shouldn't have to project manage your project management.
CHARLES MAX_WOOD: Yeah, I have a couple of really good friends that live down in Jackson.
BRETT_HARALSON: So really? Yeah. So what a small way.
CHARLES MAX_WOOD: Yeah. But let's go ahead and dive in now. You want to just give us a brief introduction before we start rapid firing questions at you?
BRETT_HARALSON: No, sure. My name is Brett. I've been into community my entire life unintentionally. And I interesting side story, I did not have an intention of becoming a community professional. That was really not my career choice in life. My career choice actually was tech. My background is, you know, I owned an IT consultant. I was a partner at an IT consulting firm for seven years here in Mississippi. And I absolutely loved it. And just kind of by- Ended up joining Wix as a profession to build community and head up what they now have, they now call the partners, which is an incredible journey. That's a good story, Chuck. We can go there, but, but I'm a big nerd. I'm a tech guy. I love computers. I've been piddling in anything that's tech, sci-fi, gaming. Oh, I'm such a nerd, Chuck. I'm probably the biggest nerd in the world. And I even have a Bitcoin. I even have a Bitcoin mining rig in my house. I mean, this is how nerdy it gets over here.
CHARLES MAX_WOOD: Nice. Very cool.
DAN_SHAPPIR: I'm the one that invited on the show. Obviously we know from Wix where we work together. Brett interviewed me a couple of times and I'm kind of I wanted to return the favor as it were, but especially I really wanted to have Brett on our show to talk about the amazing community that he was able to build and then maintain at Wix and continue to grow all the time. An amazing community, one that contributed a lot to the success of the company or so I think. Some of it was done literally against the odds, which is also something that I'd love to talk about. And I think that we can all learn from Brad's experiences.
BRETT_HARALSON: Well, thank you, Dan. And I hope I can provide some value for you and Steve and Chuck.
CHARLES MAX_WOOD: Yep. It's funny. Every time anyone says Steve and Chuck or Chuck and Steve, but I have a brother just younger than me named Steve. And so my brain goes that way every time. Anyway. So yeah. Do you want to just tell us that story about how you got into the community management stuff?
BRETT_HARALSON: So I guess my path to Wix was very serendipitous and sort of, I would actually say I would even classify it as fate. It was an unintended, but very much universally intentional placement. Like I said, I was partnered at an IT consulting firm, had a wonderful time, still missed the many elements of that job. But as a kid and you know, I grew up in Mississippi and in Mississippi, there's really not a whole lot of culture happening. It's kind of, it is what it is. I love the people. I love the state. It's come a long way, but as a kid, there wasn't, it was really difficult to just reach out and meet, let's say, a Russian or a German or somebody who has a completely different point of view and upbringing than you and sort of talk about it or juxtapose their life experiences with yours. So I found at a young age the internet and I was meeting interesting people online. And it was very addicting to me, just all of the conversations and such amazing people I got to meet at a very young age. My first meet, it was in IRC. And I actually, using my nerdiness, I scripted bots to run the channels, the operators, and use the commands to kick people, stuff like that. And it was like, this is my friend, make sure they're always allowed in or whatever. So I started making these online communities and then I found video games, MMO video games, where it's other players. And then that just sort of married all of the things I love, which is rolling heads, slaying beasts, making friends, you know, and doing it as a team. And it was, I was just so addicted to it. And I started creating communities in these games. And it was not something that I ever got paid to do, but it was something that I always just loved. And I remember being a kid, young guy, and I remember spending countless hours taking so much time to make this community work. There's so many different personalities. There's so many prima donnas that need certain things their ways. You guys know the game. And holding that skill, I didn't realize I was really honing a skill, but I really was. And making things work. And we went from Diablo to Dark Age of Camelot to World of Warcraft City of Heroes to Shadow Bank, like literally over the course. And the community is still alive. It's like 20 something years old now. And at the peak, we were in seven games simultaneously. So you could be a part of the community in our online space, our forums and such, and pick a game you want to go play. And you get to go into that game. Of course, there's a captain in that game that would be running that chapter in that game. But it's the same feel. You can go join any game anybody's playing and you're still in the same community because that was a challenge, right? Playing all these games and new games coming out, well, I have to go make new friends there. And I got tired of doing that. So I just built my friend base, built this incredible community, and we would just, it would be easy for me to change games because my boys and girls are already there. I'm doing this, and this is a long story, tell me if it's boring. I'm doing this unintentionally. Like this is something that I'm just doing for fun while I'm in college, while I'm working on starting a help desk for a company, learning how to be an IT consultant, and being a partner at a consulting firm, I'm still playing these little games on the weekend, right? So this is all going on. Well, I've known some of the execs at Wix for quite some time. And I'd kind of done a side project with one or two of them. I reached out and said, we've got this thing we want you to look at. I was like, sure, man, what's going on? Let's talk about it. And he said, we have a specific type of user at Wix that has four plus premiums. And as of now, we really don't have anything that really reaches their needs. And we really don't know what they need. Would you be interested in just sort of looking at this? And I say, sure, let's talk about it. So they flew me out to Israel. I looked at the data. I went back home and started cold calling people that were in the Wix ecosystem with four plus premiums. And which is, and we excited that there's the free version and then there's the premium version. As you know, Wix is sort of, it's intended to have someone like someone with huge ugly view want to throw a website together and maybe accept payments or run a business. It's intended at that time to really position itself in the marketplace for a person with a business that wants to solve or have an online presence. And that's really what their market was. Well, they had this ecosystem where there's people who are having four plus premiums. And what are these people doing? So I actually looked into it. And I came up with this really detailed presentation on what I found. And it was I ultimately identified three types of people inside of that four plus premium bucket and they have and I identified different intents. They're all separate, you know, on paper and in the system, they look and behave very similarly. They're almost indistinguishable. At that time, there was no way to really tell them apart. However, intent was a huge factor because one of the ones which we now know as partners, their intent is to build websites for others. I laid out this four year, five year roadmap said, here's what you've got to do. This is what these people need. And I think there was like five things I said that they needed to build. By the way, Wix, we built all of them. And the other thing here is that this has really good strings of community. There's things you can do. And I think if you start by building a community here and using, listening to them and including them in the things you're doing, because one of the things that they really wanted was to hear all of the updates from Wix. They wanted to get in the weeds. They wanted to know what was coming. They love Wix. They're the biggest champions of Wix this is something that they want and Wix actually needs to listen to what they want because Wix needs to build a different product for this type of user. And this is so cool looking back at this. That was five years ago. So I presented the plan and I said, this is what you guys need to do. Good luck. It's been an amazing time hanging out with y'all, but I'm gonna head back. And I'm sitting there in the office and he said, uh, no, Brad, no, Brad, we need you to do this. We need you to come be the guild master of Wix, which is term from, from a game. I said, I want you to come be the Guildmaster with. And what I didn't tell you is before that moment, that was, I think, either March or April of 2016, the year before in October, I took my first vacation in about seven years, and I love road trips. So I actually pulled out a map, and I started putting dots of where I wanted to go and realized that in places I wanted to go, I had community members, my gaming buddies, that lived in those areas. So I actually plotted a 31 day course, a 31 day trip and mapped it out and stayed and met over 30 community members that I'd known for 15 years and never physically.
CHARLES MAX_WOOD: Oh wow.
BRETT_HARALSON: It was incredible. But before that, I was having a great time at IT Consulting. I loved what I did, but I wasn't building with my soul and I wasn't using all the parts kind of knew something was going to change and I was open to it. So this whole road trip to me was just sort of telling the universe, I'm listening, whatever you put in front of me, I promise I'll walk through the door. And at the end of that trip, ultimately ended up in Israel a few months later from a cold call. But it was interesting because when he pitched it to me like that, I realized this was the universe. This was the door.
DAN_SHAPPIR: And just to mention that Neil, the guy that Brett is mentioning, is Wix's CEO, President and COO. So he's pretty up high, up in the hierarchy. So that just goes to show that there was indeed an interest in upper management around understanding and building this whole concept of community. And I'm really glad that they did, because as we discussed before the call, I think that in this day and age of social media, and online interactions, if you want to build a successful product or a successful service, or even a successful open source project, then having some sort of a community around it is essentially a must these days. So I think.
BRETT_HARALSON: Well, I would 100% agree with that. And I think if anybody, anybody in that company, and those at that point in time understood the power of community and what it can be. It was when 100% Avishai, the CEO, and 100% Neer. Both of them are the ones I'm talking about. And they are an Avishai, I mean, let's be honest. I met the man inside of my own community. That's about it. You have been in my community. We stayed in contact for 20 years. It's incredible what can happen in these spaces if you create it. And it's so much more than serving a purpose of a company. Yeah, there's a goal there. But it is the relationships and the friendships that are made that are life changing. And that's, that's the magic for me.
CHARLES MAX_WOOD: Yeah. And that's, that was the part that I wanted to push on was just that, yeah, it's, I mean, people won't show up to these communities unless they're getting what they want from them too, right? And it's usually that level of connection, the ability to, just to give an example, my, my son, he'll turn 16 next week. He talks about this video came called Undertale. He also talks about this video game called Undertale. And if you really press him, he'll talk to you about Undertale. And occasionally he'll mention school. So, you know, but I mean, the rest of us were all just like, dude, just no, nobody wants to talk about Undertale. But the reality is, is that yeah, you know, his ability to talk to his cousins or to get on a YouTube channel and see people talk about it or communicate to others in a community. I mean, that's exactly what we're talking about here, where you're not just providing a, hey, you can keep up with all the cool stuff going on at Wix, but it's also a, hey, we're all kind of going through the same thing. We're all trying to do the same kind of thing. We're all trying to learn and grow and get ahead in the same ways. And so let's form a community where we can get together and help each other. And it sounds a lot like what I'm trying to pull together with top end devs it's going to have a slack component, like you were talking about IRC among other things. But however you put it together, that's the deal. I guess the question that I have heading into this both as somebody who is putting together a community and somebody who likes to participate in these communities is, what do you do to actually make these communities gel? Because I've seen people try and do this. What happens is that they either don't get enough people in to get traction or they people just aren't really meshing with each other. What is that that brings people in and makes them all want to push in the same direction, if that makes sense?
BRETT_HARALSON: Those are great questions. And there's a lot of elements there. I think one of the things is you really need to identify. I mean, have you ever met somebody that just gets in a kitchen and can just rip it up? They don't even know what they're doing. They're just ripping it up and just making amazing stuff. They're throwing some of this, oh, that'd be good. They throw that in there. The recipe, I've spent a lot of time trying to decompress what I, the magic that I think it takes to build communities. And here's really what I've come up with. Understanding what the value is, I think is a very key component. Number one, understanding, actually, let me take one step back. Let's actually talk about what I define as a right. And let's also talk about what I don't think a community is. What a community to me is, it's a group of people who were bound by a similar purpose on the path of a common goal. That's really to me, I'm specifically talking here about purposeful communities. To me, that's a community. What I don't consider a community is an Instagram account, is the Wendy's Twitter account, however funny it was when they renamed their MetaBurger or whatever it was back and forth, but that was hilarious. But to me, that's not a community. It doesn't really, and a community doesn't really come to life until those, there's cultural norms that are picked up, reciprocated and forged forward. So let's talk about some of the elements. One of the elements that I touched on this a little bit is value, understanding the value. What brings people to the space? What's valuable to them? And I'll just juxtapose this again with Wix. What is a partner, someone who builds multiple sites for other people? You can dissect this with your community as well. What's interesting for a dev? What do they do every day? What do they digest? What's valuable? And think very simply if I were to put five devs in a room, 15 devs in a room with just blank space, what would they talk about? Where would the conversation go? What's interesting? Okay. That's value. There's two types of that that you could kind of expand on. There's probably more. I'm just sort of throwing things at the wall here. Each other dev to dev value and also value that that's a expert company, third party or someone can bring that would be interesting to them. That could be continued education, etc, etc. Right? And I'm just kind of spit on that's the value. But what I think is where the magic really happens is identifying the purpose, why we've congregated while, and where are we going? And I think if you don't answer those two and enforce those with every single piece of your being in these communities, the direction gets lost and people don't feel, they don't feel like they belong. And that's the human magic. If they don't feel like they belong and you miss the purpose goal and what the value really is then people won't stick. Does that make sense?
CHARLES MAX_WOOD: Yep.
DAN_SHAPPIR: I actually have a question about that. Because when you're talking about a community that has a particular purpose or a particular direction, it kind of means that aside from the fact that you try to bring in people who are, at least in this context, are somewhat like-minded, you're also kind of controlling the narrative of the community. You want to prevent it from going in directions that aren't conductive to that particular purpose. But you also run the risk that if you're too controlling and too restrictive, then people will feel that it's not a welcoming community, it's not a community where they can properly express themselves. So how do you kind of balance that?
BRETT_HARALSON: So that's a really good question. And I think being very clear stating this is where rules and guidelines are very clear what is accepted, what isn't accepted, and also having a clear purpose statement and a mantra of what our goal is. And the goal of a professional community might be to learn as much as we can, help each other grow so we can all own yachts. I mean, not really, I'm just kind of being silly here, but it's about success, being focused on that. But it is also about giving people a place to say the negative things too. But there's a correct way and a professional way to, especially in a company sort of community, like Wix, if somebody has a complaint, how do you, I'll give them the space to say it while keeping it positive. And there are cultural ways. And to answer that, Dan, the real way is you, someone must safeguard the spirit of the community. You have to create it from scratch. It's cultural there's a way to say the things that needs to be said without being an ass. There really is a way to do it. And it's a little tack. But understand that sometimes people go a little off. They go a little off script and sometimes they say things. But here's what I would say to that. And sometimes they can just be jerks. So, Dan, in that spirit, assholes are actually opportunities inside online communities. When someone acts up, when someone sort of brings that bad attitude or breaks one of the rules and they're not in line with the spirit. It's a great opportunity to one, openly address that immediately, but in a way that everybody can understand. You know, these online communities, you're talking, you're maybe replying to one person, but if you're really understanding what you're doing, you're talking to somebody, but everybody's going to see it. So you've got to really tell that message to talk to that person, make them feel like you're connecting with them, but provide value to everybody else at the same time. So you're addressing the problem and reminding this person that, hey, you're a little out of line. Here's the right way to force the rules of the community. And also it'll show everybody else that there's somebody here that cares and that this is a safe place and that there's a little bit of protection. And third, this is a learning opportunity for that person. So they can understand that maybe they didn't intend to come across that way, or that this isn't the spirit of the community because you really can turn some of these, some of these negative people into your lifelong champions, right?
STEVE_EDWARDS: But to take that, you need to take that a step further too. And I'll get a little background now that I can jump in here. I spent a long time in the Drupal world and their tagline, they changed the tagline purposely to become for the code, stay for the community. Because the idea was that community was a big part of what made Drupal what it was. And this is way back when it was just growing exponentially. And one tool you mentioned, talking about outlining your rules and policies and procedures, the code of conduct is generally a term that I see across multiple open source communities. You know, where you have a document that says, okay, this is what's acceptable, this is not what's not acceptable, and adhering to that. And so but what I mean by going a step farther is I'm thinking of a particular case where there was a very prolific contributor that had contributed quite a lot from a code standpoint, but he was also very volatile and could be very just straightforward, rude, attacking people. And it got to the point where he got basically banned from the community because he wouldn't quit, whether it was blog posts that he would make, whether it was comments on issues, whether it was stuff like that. So in order to have a community, you need to have a combination, I believe, of making people feel welcome, but also at the same time, be willing to prune, for lack of a better term, those that don't want to obey by the code of conduct and make it more welcoming. And sort of along those same lines in terms of making it welcoming is not letting certain voices dominate merely because they are the loudest voices. I've seen multiple cases where you had various issues, decisions to be made, for instance, on what source code tool we want to use for managing source code for implementation of various outside libraries maybe that you want to implement. A complaint that I saw quite a bit was, it was always the loudest voices that ruled, not necessarily what was the best choice for technical reasons. With any community, you've got a huge, variety of personalities. You got your type A's that are out there. Hey, you know, this is my point of view. We need to do this. You got your non type A's. I don't know. I always knew type A, but I never know there's like a BCD and E or what the other personalities other than type A. And I don't know my Enneagram score either for what that's worth. But you know, my daughter still telling me you really need to take the Enneagram test dad. Okay, I will. Back on track you have to be able to accommodate for different types of personalities and allow those who maybe aren't out front, you know, raising, raising cane all the time to be heard just as well. So it's definitely a balancing act. And I don't think anybody's going to get it perfect. But, but I think having that balance between, yeah, let's welcome everybody in and say, okay, you're crossing the line, dude, you need to chill. It's to keep somewhere in the middle there.
BRETT_HARALSON: I completely agree. And there has been several instances where tough decisions have to be made. And to be honest, the top contributor still inside the community as far as connections, relations, and that's a tough call. But I would be willing to bet they made the right decision by removing him. It may be a top contributor, but if you have somebody who's negative and impacting the community in a negative way, you know, grow so large, so fast sometimes in communities. And sadly, a lot of times that ends up actually being the community manager, the community leader, right? So it's always about setting that example, setting the precedence, and make no mistake, I always have control of the law and life. I'm the kingmaker, believe it, but I am never the king. It's illegal for me to sit on the throne and it's illegal for me to put the light on myself. It's always about someone else. It's always selfless it should be as a community leader. And when you lead with that spirit, those who have that same, who can identify with that, they'll start stepping up. They'll become your first line of defense. As I call them the white knights, they'll charge in when, and they'll start managing without even asking them to manage and they'll start addressing those issues for you. And it's really cool. Then it becomes a team effort because then it's about maintaining and keeping the vibe and keeping the community up. But it can never, I completely agree with you. It's not about the loudest and a lot. I had to have several conversations about certain ones. And I can tell you a story of one person in particular that was probably one of the better eye designers within our ecosystem. And there was a lot of nasty, snot comments about, oh, who is this person? They're not really a designer. Did you see this site? And you can't have that in a collaborative space. A lot of times, that warrant, for your high profile folks, maybe it doesn't warrant a stern, immediate public response. It's a side conversation of saying, hey, how are you? How are things with you? Are you OK? Because a lot of times, people lash out, and they're really something bad's happened in their life and maybe something crazy is happening. So I'll always try to make it personal. How are you? But in this example, this was a repeat offender and ultimately this person really had to get removed. It was, it was, it was a, it was a tough call because they came to every event I hosted, they would fly all over the world, but it is what it is. So, so sometimes the hard decisions are the right.
Time is of the essence when identifying and resolving issues in your software. And our friends at Raygon are here to help. Their brand new alerting feature is now available for crash reporting and real user monitoring to make sure you're quickly notified of the errors, crashes, and front-end performance issues that matter most to you in your business. Set thresholds for your alert based on an increase in error count, a spike in load time, or new issues introduced in the latest deployment, along with custom filters that give you even greater control. Assign multiple users to ensure the right team members are notified, with alerts linked directly to the issue in Raygun, taking you to the root cause faster. Never miss another mission-critical issue in your software again. Try Raygon Alerting today and create a world class issue resolution workflow that gives you and your customer peace of mind. Visit raygon.com to learn more. Their simple usage plans start from as little as $4 per month with unlimited apps and users. That's raygon.com to start your free 14 day trial.
CHARLES MAX_WOOD: So back in the day, Ruby Rogues, which is another podcast on the network, we had a forum called Ruby Rogues Parley because we pirate vibe anyway. And yeah, I mean, there were two instances in incidentally that were where we actually we had one person leave we had the one that left effectively yeah he had a major beef was in the community and that community member had not.
STEVE_EDWARDS: So Brett while we're waiting for Chuck to come back question for you did was there anybody else that you read or learned from about building community before you sort of dived into this? The reason I'm asking is I can remember a number of years ago 15, 20 years ago when I first started listening to tech podcasts, I used to listen to Leo Laporte a lot, you know, the king of, I don't know if you call him the king, but he was one of the original people I remembered out there. And he had a podcast called about Floss Free and Libre open source software. And one of the guys I remember he had on and that I mentioned became a host, I think was guy named John O'Bacon, who was in charge of, uh, I, I can't remember his title, Sarge of Community or something for Ubuntu. And he's got a book called The Art of Community. And I remember hearing him talk about exactly what we're talking about today in building community. I haven't read it myself, but I just have seen it and heard it. So I'm just curious to see if you reference that or if there's any other sources that you used in getting ideas for building the Wix community.
BRETT_HARALSON: That's an interesting story. I have to tell you, prior to joining quite a while into my adventure at Wix, no, I had never read a book on community but I probably have more as much if not more experience than any of the people in the industry. However, what I did not have is the experience building it for a company, a multi-billion dollar company, which was very exciting for me and challenging. And I spent my first year, two years really just jumping in and just elbow greasing and making it work and then attaching all of the pieces to the internal mechanisms of the company finding the value, extracting the value. And it was a value hunt for me, but also providing value to our partners. And meanwhile, having all these events and dinner parties and making lifelong friends, really. But it was very difficult for me because I had to stop and figure out why I did what I did because I had to try to translate that for the company as well. Because we would have these conversations, specifically when we're building the marketplace, why can't we do this? Why can't we say that? And I couldn't just say, oh, because that's gonna not help the community. I had to actually explain things. So it was such a exploration, a personal exploration for me to figure out how to do this. And now at the end of this, man, I'm a completely different person. But at the time, it was just 100% raw talent. It was 100% raw talent at the start. But I have actually read that book, by the way, The Art Community, and there's several others that have written books that I've met and life and there's a lot of really good ones. And a lot of it is sort of strategy and sort of maps out things, but it's one of those things that I think there's, people kind of have a knack for it. People are natural space leaders. You just, you know, there's people who just naturally gravitate towards in a space. And with arming that with some of the experience that I have now, now it's, now I'm kind of a different beast, but at the time, Steve, I hadn't read, hadn't picked up a single book at the time. Right. I guess that's pretty crazy.
STEVE_EDWARDS: Just pretty much learn as you go. Learn on a fly type thing.
BRETT_HARALSON: I've done it, but I've done it. I've done it for, I've done it for 15 years before.
STEVE_EDWARDS: Oh, okay. Yeah. Okay. So then you don't, yeah. So that's, you know, real life experiences as compared to coming from a book. I think it's always going to once the first is always going to trump the second.
CHARLES MAX_WOOD: Yeah. I I'll chime in on that a little bit because my experience with podcasting is kind of the same, right? I mean, I decided I wanted to start a podcast. Yeah. I reached out to one or two people. How do you do this? But for the most part, just figured it out on my own. People come to me now and they're like, you're this podcast master. And it's like, well, I don't know that I took a formal class. I just have been doing it for 13 years. And so it's something that kind of comes with, and then yeah, then you start picking up ideas as you talk to other people in the community about it, read books or get other ideas from other folks. And there's a lot to be said for that kind of experience and that kind of learning, both from the standpoint of running a community or running a podcast or programming, right? I mean, we see so many self-taught programmers that is just, well, I started fiddling with it at a certain point and then after I'd done it for a while, I was proficient enough to go do it professionally.
BRETT_HARALSON: And see, that's something though, Chuck, is when people meet you now, they see a finished product. They see a master. And a lot of times, people, you know, now I have conversations with companies and friends and they ask questions. And even though I came to Wix with an enormous amount of experience, I knew what to do. I just couldn't tell you how I was going to do it or how I knew it would work. I just, this is it. This is the right path. It was all gut. But now I have a track record and much deeper. Like I said, I couldn't tell you why I was doing some of the things I was doing. I just knew it was right. And now I've taken a lot of time and self-reflection to really understand why I did the things I did and quantify them in terms that are much more easy for someone like you or anybody else to have a conversation with me to really understand.
BRETT_HARALSON: Well, there's two answers to that. One would be from a top-down point of view of sort of the community curator. There are ways to create, and this is, this is Brett speak. So I call them bread crumbs. There are ways to create easy segues into a conversation where people have a common tongue in a lot of these communities. Bitcoiners, we refer to each other as hodlers. I can talk about other communities. Help focus on the lingo and accentuate the lingo because, and that's one of the things that I do, I'm Southern, so y'all is literally every other word out of my mouth. And I would always address the community as, hey y'all, or y'all this or whatever and you would see people that were new to the community who had never posted or been a part of a conversation. I would see them and I, this is, they would use the word y'all. They would, people from Poland, Russia, Germany, hey y'all comma, they would even misspell y'all, Y-A-L, hey, you know, whatever. But they're trying to communicate with people and they're using something that they've learned, a linguistic, a lingo piece, right, lingo. And so as a top-down person, find the lingo of the community and accentuate it so that new people have a way to instantly, easily segue in. Because when they address people as, hey, y'all, comma, oh, this is one of us. This is one of us. Oh, it's a new member. It doesn't matter. He's one of us. That's one thing from a top-down point of view, from a personal point of view, from somebody who's just joining a community. The phrase is read the room. See what kind of conversations are happening. See what's valuable. See what people find valuable and where you can add value, add value and jump in. You know, it's not, and a lot of people are a little apprehensive and reluctant sometimes to go into place with lots and lots and lots of people. And that's also kind of community curators. That's kind of a design metric for them to sort of make it barrier to entry a little easier. But I would just say read and see what's going on and what's valuable for others. And then these conversations, if you know something or you have experience or you've tackled that problem similarly. Talk about your experience, what you did to resolve it, right? I mean, that's really what it is.
STEVE_EDWARDS: So quick question, speaking as a Southerner, what is the correct spelling, written spelling for y'all? I've heard various spellings, and my feeling has always been why apostrophe, a-l-l, because you're substituting the apostrophe for the u, but I'm curious to see if the correct spelling is another one.
BRETT_HARALSON: No, no, no, that's correct. But no one actually puts the apostrophe because it's in a weird place on my iPhone and have to know. So nobody's going to do that. So, but it is two L's. Y'all is two L's. It could be y'all. It could be you all. It could BRETT_HARALSON:e y'all everybody. I say, yeah, that's what I used to always open all of the webinars with was, Hey, y'all everybody. Cause it's kind of a funny thing, but anyway, yeah, it's so that's how you spell it.
CHARLES MAX_WOOD: I love the Southern spell check. That's awesome.
DAN_SHAPPIR: I also have a question, a more perhaps a more practical one. There are so many social services, networks, products, services, whatever these days that you can choose to build your community on. You might even build your community on more than one or maybe you would focus on just the one. You know, you've got Facebook and you've got Discord and if it's an open source project and maybe it will be GitHub. How do you choose the platform that you build your community on? What would be the guidelines? What would be the best platforms to choose in which circumstances?
BRETT_HARALSON: Dan, I'm going to answer that in two seconds.
CHARLES MAX_WOOD: That's a million dollar question. I'll pay you later.
BRETT_HARALSON: Yeah, Chuck, I'm going to come back. No, yeah, Chuck, I'm going to come back and give you one more answer. I also would say that anybody that wants to contribute, if you see something that's or wants to jump into a conversation, if you see something that someone says that's been valuable to you and it's helped you. Why don't you let them know? It costs nothing to say, by the way, this solved my problem. By the way, this is incredible. Thanks for adding that. It's much more important than a plus one or a like. Actually having that personal connection, say, wow, wow, Steve, that was amazing. This was incredible. Thank you so much. It means a lot to that person. And jumping back to your question, Dan, I think this is where you've got to be a little strategic. I think what you should really think about is, it goes back to what I said, what's the value of the community? What do they find valuable? And what do you want them to do? If you were to add another person to the community, what would they do? What's like your ideal member? And a lot of that has to do with the cost of contribution. What does it take to contribute into this community? Like, what do I do? And when you understand the value, where the value derives, if it's for members, that's the cost of contribution. It may be writing articles solving other people's problems, posting websites that you've created as inspiration and technical guidance for others, how-to videos, whatever the cost is, and whatever the, that may be an element of value, so understanding the value and the cost of creating that value for your members and yourself as a company, you need to take that into consideration. And do you want that to be seen by others to attract people into your community? You must think about that. If so, then closed community is may not be an option for you. You need SEO and Google. That's got to be at the top of your mind. Those sorts of things you need to take into consideration. And also, what's your goal for the community? What's the purpose? And where do you as a company or as a community builder, where do you want to take it? What's your vision? Take all those things together and then then you get to pick your platform.
BRETT_HARALSON: And Steve, again, we're going back to what we talked about in the beginning, which is understanding what happens when you put 15 of these people in a room, what the conversation is, what they find valuable and understanding to make this work, this community work, what you would need content was value wise. I don't use their content because it's kind of top down ish understanding that and that's how you construct your community to show immediately upon landing in the space what's going to be there and what most importantly what they can do to make the community better and contribute. So the pieces and what they're doing you can do that with badge systems, ranking systems. John submitted five docs this week. Holy cow, he's a beast. He gets the goat badge. He's the greatest of all time. Whatever your syntax there is, but also showing the interactive site of what you want the community to do brings value and also shows others immediately how to contribute.
DAN_SHAPPIR: I wanted to also add to that, that there's a huge difference between a community and an audience. And I think that people sometimes conflate that. People want to build a community for a particular purpose, but then they basically what they really want is an audience or maybe a group of customers. Both of these are not a community. A community is about not even a two-way interchange, but a multi-way interchange of ideas, of concepts, of contributions. So it's not just you providing whatever from up high and then collecting money or whatever in return or adoration, I don't know what you're looking for from that community. But it also has to be about them, about an in-between, you getting stuff from them, they providing stuff from you and getting value in return from you, and also interacting between themselves, even when you're not there, as it were.
BRETT_HARALSON: I agree. And in my original long-winded rant about who I am, when we sort of talked about what I am talking about with Communion, when we defined it, it's exactly that. It's not an audience. And I think there are moments of in the life cycle of a community where it is sort of like an infant, where it needs all of your attention to get going. And then it starts walking and it needs a little direction. And then it starts running and it needs much less direction and you start attaching things to it to make it bigger. And then it starts driving and then it's kind of in its own thing and in a good community real good community, it's sort of like grabbing a tiger by the tail. It pulls you. It's not the other way around. So I agree with that, Dan completely.
CHARLES MAX_WOOD: Well, we're kind of getting toward the end of our time. Is there anything else that you would put out there for community? I don't know, owners, runners, managers versus, or, or people wanting to join communities that we haven't really covered that will kind of open up opportunities for them?
BRETT_HARALSON: I think, I think community is the most powerful force on the planet. And I think good communities are focused around a purpose and a goal. And anybody who wants to do something incredible in a place where they can't alone, I think that's where community really, really shines. And I personally think everybody should try to find their tribe and try to vibe with their tribe and find who people who are similar and like-minded and want to accomplish similar things. And when you find something like that, it's really incredible because you can contribute in ways you never thought possible. And I've watched people just in the past five years within just talking about the Wix Partner Community, I've watched come in with a toe in the water of being a freelancer and grow into a full-fledged, mega, mega agency. And it all started with a journey. And now those people that once needed the community to help them close their first client. Now they're teaching the next generation about how I started and here's, let me show you. And that's really powerful. That's really incredible. And it's a lot about, it may not be who you are today, but it's who you can become. And you know, we're talking about that back and forth, Chuck. When you first started your podcast, you weren't the master, now you're the master. Now people are asking you how to do it. And that's an incredible and empowering thing to give back to others. Find your path, find your tribe, grow, be prosperous, and then teach others what you've learned. And that's really that's really incredible. Did that even answer your question, Chuck?
CHARLES MAX_WOOD: Yeah. Yeah.
BRETT_HARALSON: I feel boring. Am I boring?
CHARLES MAX_WOOD: Nope. I'm fascinated.
DAN_SHAPPIR: Anything but boring. And you know that.
BRETT_HARALSON: I don't know. Like this is. Yeah, I don't know. I talk about this. I could talk about this 24 seven.
STEVE_EDWARDS: Now I'd say y'all are interesting.
CHARLES MAX_WOOD: Y'all everyone are interesting.
DAN_SHAPPIR: I have, you know, both, both Brett and I are kind of leaving Wix now, although in both our cases, I think we are, we are happy in it in a place where it's much better than it was when we joined with regard to our particular, so in, with regard to our particular areas of operations. In the case of Brett, it's around community building, again, going from effectively having no community for professionals around the Wix brand to having an amazing community of professionals built around the Wix brand. And in my case, improving the performance of the Wix platform by something like an order of magnitude, like tenfold over that period of time. And it's interesting that we've both been to Wix more or less about the same the same period of time. And in both our cases, I think our journey was amazing, and I think that it was really a two-way street where we got a lot from working at that organization, and we also feel that we contributed a lot back.
BRETT_HARALSON: I have to say, I agree, Dan. I had the best time of my life in Wix. It actually was a very difficult decision for me. I could have probably lived there forever, but there are other, as we say in the South, there are other fish to fry. And I want to continue one, my personal goal is I want to personally leave this place, the world, a better place. And the way I do that is forging lasting meaningful relationships with people where I leave them better, hopefully, after meeting them. I'm addicted to people and I want to leave this world a better place. And I think community is that conduit and can be that vehicle. So for me, that's definitely something that I want to do because community has just been to me. And like I said, I'm addicted to it. But I agree, Dan, I have been one hell of a rod.
DAN_SHAPPIR: Also want to mention one more thing, and it kind of ties back to the example that you gave, that one of the most exciting things for me about working at Wix was indeed the difference that we made in the community. And I especially experienced that through the community that you built. Like you said, the story is like a single mother that was barely able to make ends meet and feed her kids and all of a sudden she's got the business going building websites selling those websites and she's got and it's prospering and and she's making a good living or or somebody building some sort of store that they're able to sell products and and make a living that way all of these stories a lot of which I learned by interfacing with that community that you were leading. That made a huge impact on me and made a lot of my efforts there worthwhile. And it's definitely something that I think people should look for. Again, when they choose the project they're involved with, if there is a community built around it, things that you can definitely see is the impact that your company or the project that you're involved with is having on that community and to see that it's actually a positive impact.
BRETT_HARALSON: Yeah, and that sort of boils down to company built purposeful communities. The two tracks is the company to the community and then the community to the community. And there's typically two sets of goals, but they don't have to necessarily be too different. Obviously, in the case of Wix, we want our partners to be ultra-successful, which means we want them to have lots and lots of premiums. There's obviously a numerical value to that. But the numerical value that you can never place is on giving someone in that community that came from barely being a freelancer and growing into a powerhouse. That freedom that that person has and the financial stability that comes with some of those things and the feeling they now have, not just to Wix, but to the community, there is no numerical value that can ever be placed on that. That's the magic. That's to me, that's what matters more than anything.
CHARLES MAX_WOOD: Yeah. What's interesting. And I think we've kind of talked our way around it though, is the way that you get there is through relationships. And that's what the community is really about. It's about making those personal, meaningful connections that open opportunities to people.
BRETT_HARALSON: That's it. And by far, by far more things that I ever did with community. I do these ever since I was a kid, I've done these things called what I call community events or community challenges and my rules for the community challenge was it needs to be out of the box. It needs to be something that isn't standard. And I'll give you an example of this. And another rule is if there is a reward at the end of this, the single winnings of one person does not outweigh the collective value of the entire challenge. And three really needs to be a shared experience and a memory that brings people together. I'll give you a great example. I did this. One of the ones that I don't know, we're going to go with this. In a video game, I'll give you this juxtaposition, how I sort of built the community based on what I knew by video gaming, because it's really all the same. It's all exactly the same. I used to run community events where I would have a community in an MMO. What a community event was be a level one character and we would take you to a really high level area in the game where all the creatures just instantly attack you and you die. And we would have 150 of us, 200 of us, whatever it was. And there was a finish line and you had to run through, as I'll call it, aggro hell, which means everything's aggressive is going to eat you. One shot. Whoever gets the furthest wins. Now it's out of the box. The game is not intended to play that way, right? There's no purpose for it. There's no real reason to run out and die at level one is stupid. But if you do it as a group, it sort of changes the dynamic. So we had the naked run through whatever crazy place it was. Whoever got the furthest one, whatever this prize was. But at the end, we all got eaten by monsters and it was one heck of an experience translating that to Wix. You know, one of the last things I worked on was we, I didn't, I didn't complete this, but it was a challenge of, of, of building sites and teamwork and something like that. But another time that I used an event like this was we had a cake bake-off. And these are professional designers and agents. And I jokingly said, Wix is baking so much stuff in the oven for y'all, it's your turn to bake, let's have a bake-off. So everybody had, the rule was you had to bake something in your oven, you had to present it to the group, and whoever won would get something. And it was really fun because people got to use their creativity, and it was a bonding experience, and everybody got to see who made what, and somebody made a fondant cake that was outstretched. I still have the video of it. It's crazy. But they want, she was in Australia. But that's kind of something that I think has always brought something into the community about being people. And the mantra of the community team at Wix was always, we make it personal. It is about that personal connection. It's so innately part of it. And yet so many people miss that personal piece. That's part of the magic. That's like, you know, it's like a hamburger with no meat, right? So or without a patty. So anyway, I'll probably digress a little bit too much on that. Sorry guys, but that's like one of my favorite things to do.
CHARLES MAX_WOOD: Yeah. Cool. Well, we're kind of at the end of our time, Brett. If people want to follow you on your journey going forward, where do they find your, find you online?
BRETT_HARALSON: I have a Twitter. I think it's, oh my gosh, I'm bad at social. I really don't even really exist on social, but my Twitter is, I think it's at Brett Harrelson. I think that's also my LinkedIn. So people welcome to follow me if you want to say hello or whatever. I'm more than happy to say hello and hear about your journey whatever you're doing or whoever's listening. I love, love hearing what people are doing. As a side note, Chuck, I really don't exist socially. I know I'm like, I love community. I don't know what's happening on the store front, but I know it's happening in the store.
CHARLES MAX_WOOD: Makes sense.
Hi, this is Charles Maxwood from Top End Devs. And lately I've been coaching some people on starting some podcasts and in some cases, just taking their career to the next level, you know, whether you're beginner going to intermediate and intermediate going to advanced whether you're trying to get noticed in the community or go freelance, I've been helping these folks figure out how to get in front of people, how to build relationships and how to build their careers and max out and just go to the next level. So if you're interested in talking to me and having me help you go to the next level, go to topendevs.com slash coaching. I will give you a one hour free session where we can figure out what you're trying to do, where you're trying to go and figure out what the next steps are. And then from there we can figure out how to get you to the place you want to go. So once again, that's topendevs.com slash coaching.
CHARLES MAX_WOOD: All right. Well, let's go ahead and push through to picks. Looks like Dan dropped off here for a second. Steve, do you want to start us with picks?
STEVE_EDWARDS: Yes. I'll go with an actual pick and then my highly anticipated dad jokes. So pick for the day is a new browser that is been made available for Mac and it's called Orion, so the Orion browser. And it's browser.coggi, I guess how you said, k-a-g-i.com. And it also has a search engine that you can use. Not sure how good it is, but it's really quick. I really liked it. And one of its pluses, it's built on WebKit, but supposedly it also is able to take both Chrome and Firefox extensions. The only issue I've run into so far is that, and my last pass will not work with Orion and LastPass told me themselves, currently they don't work with Orion and the same is true for OnePass. So that's one sort of issue to work around. But in terms of speed and ease of use, it's really nice, I really like it. Then they're still working on it. It's only in beta, you have to request a beta and then they eventually send you a link. But the guy who creates it, his name's Vlad, I believe, he sends you an email and he's real responsive to emails if you ask him questions and so on. So just playing with it, but it's certainly worth putting out there. Now to the anticipated dad jokes. So I heard this one from a missionary friend of mine last week. The question is, why was Noah considered to be the best businessman in the Bible? Anybody know? So the answer is while his competition was being liquidated, he was floating his stock. Thank you. Thank you very much. So here's a comparison of a couple things food wise. May you live as long as you want and not want for as long as you live. That's an Irish toast. Cinnamon, eggs, bread, and maple syrup. That's French toast. And finally, what did Spartacus say when the lion ate his wife? Nothing, he was glad he ate her. Thank you, thank you. I'm gonna throw in some laughing here since nobody else is laughing. It's a tough crowd, it's a tough crowd. Yeah, usually I get at least some groans, but that's okay. So anyway, those are my pick.
CHARLES MAX_WOOD: Don't laugh, it encourages them. Looks like Dan dropped out. We can't hear him. So, uh, I'm going to go ahead and throw in my picks. I do have a board game pick this week. I'm going to pick lost cities. Now, funny enough, this is one of the games that was picked on the very first episode of Ruby Ropes. So, but it's a fun game. What you wind up doing is you try and advance your pawns up different archeological paths and find artifacts. And however you advance, whoever advances the most is the person who wins. And the paths start with negative values and then move into positive values. And you get points for the different artifacts you find and the different effects you get help you out. And so anyway, it's, it's a pretty awesome game. It's not terribly complicated either. And so if you're looking for something that's kind of easy to pick up, but is complex enough to make you really think about how you want to play it, this is a pretty great game as far as the rest of it goes, I've been working on top end devs I set things up with Auth0 and I've been pretty happy with them, so I'm going to pick them. Stripe has been a giant pain to set up, but I think I've got it figured out at this point, so I'm enjoying that. And yeah, if you want to author or participate, you can go to topendevs.com. Just click the login link is what's there now. I should have a sign up link there by the time this goes live. And then you can join in. We are going to have a Slack community and then I'm still deciding whether or not I want to do Macedon or Discord or discourse. Sorry kind of for more of a Sharing form type setup. They're a little bit different and so I'm kind of weighing out my options there, but the the slack and the Discourse or mastodon will probably be free so you can just sign up right for free and then if you get your subscription then you'll get access to the premium channels in slack and to the videos that are coming out every week. So yeah, and that's all aimed at basically getting you to learn something new every day, write some code every day, meet new people every week, and sit down and figure out where you want your career to head and start working toward whatever that ultimate goal is. Definitely check it out. I'm also looking at, yeah, I mean a lot of the stuff that we talked about here. I want to help you all build relationships with each other. There's going to be that feature in the Slack channel where you can actually connect with others and get on like a Zoom call or something. And then the other thing that's also going to be offered is when you get in, it'll actually start asking you questions about where you want, what you're into and what you want to know. And then it'll start recommending you to the right channels for that stuff. So you can start having those conversations and I plan on being in there and being fairly active. And I know that several other people are also excited about this and looking to be active as well. So I'm really looking forward to building up this community. So I'm going to shout out about that stuff. And then the last pic that I have that I'm going to shout out about is Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. I just kind of reread that book and it kind of blew my mind again. So I really, really enjoyed that. So I'm going to pick that. I guess I should also shout out about Wheel of Time, the TV show. It's different enough from the books that it kind of bugs me, but it's really well done. And I just kind of have to get over that and enjoy the show, but I have been enjoying it. So I'm going to shout out about that as well. That's on Amazon prime. Love, love, love the books, but yeah, anyway, those are my picks. Brett, do you have some picks?
BRETT_HARALSON: Oh yeah, I've got picks. All right. So you did a board game. I'll stay true to who I am. I'll give you a video game, the village, which is resident evils latest. It's incredibly, it just stays true and pays so much respect to the former versions and former games. It's absolutely outstanding. It's a great game. I'd give it a six out of 10 replayable so that's not too bad, but it's definitely worth picking up. You mentioned a book, so I'll say the same. If you haven't ever read it, it should definitely be one. Everybody should understand Bitcoin is a huge fanatic of Bitcoin. Do understand that though. And for, let's see, you gave, what did you get? Oh, a TV show? Oh, Foundation. Do you have Apple TV Plus? Foundation is exceptional.
CHARLES MAX_WOOD: I do.
BRETT_HARALSON: Have you watched it?
CHARLES MAX_WOOD: No, not this one.
BRETT_HARALSON: It's a little slow to get going, but it's exceptional. It's an exceptional show.By the way, Chuck, you may want to cut the part about the cake thing. You could just talk about how the recipe of the building, a good community event, how it's sort of some of the parts is worth more than that. Nobody probably really cares. I feel like I talked too much.
CHARLES MAX_WOOD: I think you did fine. And yeah, I really enjoyed it. I got a lot of ideas. I may just email you and see if I can pick your brain on a few more things.
BRETT_HARALSON: Just call me. Literally pick up the phone and call me. I don't, I don't mind. I love to whatever I can do to help.
CHARLES MAX_WOOD: Cool. Sounds good.
BRETT_HARALSON: Is there anything else I can do to help y'all?
CHARLES MAX_WOOD: I don't think so.
BRETT_HARALSON: Well, Steve, I'm glad you got to have some fun in Orlando. Now that I know you, the next time you come down my way, let me know.
STEVE_EDWARDS: Will do.
BRETT_HARALSON: Or if either of y'all make your way to Mississippi, I may be coming back. If y'all just hit me up, I'll show you guys the ropes. I'll show you where the real catfish is.
STEVE_EDWARDS: Hey, I was going to check. You're going to wrap it up to everybody? Yeah. I'll send you a message in there for that.
CHARLES MAX_WOOD: Yeah, I'll go ahead and wrap it up here. Till next time, folks. Max out.