I am the product of community

In Founders, Freelancers, Lessons Learned by Jay Clouse

A couple of times over the last couple of weeks, I’ve stumbled upon some horrifying footage of me on camera from a few years ago. I knew I’ve gotten more comfortable with speaking, but I really did not remember how bad it once was.

And the more I thought about it, it wasn’t just getting better at speaking — that visual reminder helped to put me back in the mindset of where I was a few years ago, and I truly believe I am much, much more intelligent than I was then.

I know there’s a fundamental question here of what defines being “smart” or “intelligent” and is there a difference? That’s not the point I want to make and I’m not going to spend any time on it.

What I’ve realized is my mental firepower — both the ability to understand complex ideas and the ability to form my own ideas have gotten much, much stronger over a pretty short period of time, and I think there are two major reasons why.

For one, the practice of turning my subconscious experience of the world into a conscious understanding through writing (i.e. these emails) has really improved my situational and self awareness. To me, awareness is sort of a master key to unlocking growth.

And two, the conversation around me all the time is incredible. Just yesterday, through very little planning at all, I had conversations about:

  • Increasing and/or retaining the talent pool in Columbus
  • Creating a drop shipping store in Shopify based on Google Trends
  • Creating a Kickstarter for an Adventure and Imagination Museum
  • Podcast marketing strategies
  • Fractals and first principles
  • Branding as an exercise of perspective
  • The role of support in improv games
  • How the Midwest ranks as a video game development community

…and that’s just a sample.

I’m a solo entrepreneur — I don’t have coworkers or a team to get into these conversations with. In fact, if I chose not to leave my apartment, I wouldn’t really have to interact with anyone.

But this isn’t an uncommon day — in fact, most of my days are filled with wide-ranging, in-depth conversations about things that I don’t often know a ton about, usually with people much smarter than me!

And it all comes from the community that I’ve found and created for myself. Without question, the number one reason I am the person that I am today is because of the communities that I am a part of.

But it requires putting yourself out there to build community. It can take a lot of time and effort to find or build a community that you want to be a part of.

A lot of times, I create community myself. And other times, I find community that other people have cultivated — I’m part of the altMBA community, BuyOurFuture community, 90 Day Year community, TropicalMBA community, The Marketing Seminar community…

All of those have been incredible investments, because it’s investing in people. In relationships. Some of them have a program attached with its own benefits as well — even better! But being a part of a community of people that I can connect with and learn from has been one of the number one factors in my personal and professional growth.

If you already have strong community in your life, I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir. If you don’t, I highly recommend it. Here’s a great place to start.