It’s time for great women to connect and help each other raise their voices and visibility. Mitch Russo’s guest today is Kami Guildner, the creator of her tribe Extraordinary Women Connect. In this episode, Kami shares with Mitch what inspired her to create a tribe of extraordinary women that’s changing the world. Do you want to discover what makes a tribe thrive? If you answer “yes,” then you’d definitely want to check this episode out! Learn how to connect extraordinary people and set the world on fire!
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Creating A Tribe Of Extraordinary Women With Kami Guildner
Our goal is to help you be a better leader, inspire more people, create the passion your community wants, and profit from the experience. Since this is still a fairly new show, I want to hear from you. Tell me what you want, who you are interested in hearing from, and what action you take from every amazing guest we speak with. Our guest was like many of us, struggling with the corporate world, frustrated that at one point, she was determined to leave it all behind and take a whole new direction. She is here to tell us about that journey. Welcome, Kami Guildner, to the show.
Thank you, Mitch. It’s great to be here.
We all seem to pass through this gateway of being frustrated with our corporate jobs. Go back a little bit and tell us how this all evolve for you.Slow down and tune in to what you are supposed to be doing. Click To Tweet
I was loving my job. I was traveling a lot, going around the world, and I had a team around the world. I loved what I was doing. What happened was my body started saying, “This is not where you are meant to be.” My body started getting sick. Every time I get on a plane, I would be sick. I was getting all these signposts that were telling me something was supposed to shift. I wasn’t listening. I was driven into what I was doing at that point. I was not hearing any of the signposts that were there for me. I had some relationships in my work that were struggling. There were all those things happening. I always said there were two gifts for me. My first gift was I got laid off. The second gift was I got laid off in 2008. There were not a lot of BPM marketing jobs around in 2008.
That next day, I woke up and went, “What am I meant to do?” I don’t even have a computer. I didn’t have a Blackberry that tells you the timing of that. I was like, “What am I meant to do?” It took about seventeen months before it landed on me what I was meant to do. I had a lot of slowing down to do. I started to tune into what am I supposed to be doing? I kept thinking I was going to go back to the corporate world but it kept pointing me, “No, you are not. You are meant to be doing something different.” Finally, the universe shifted me in a whole new direction and that started my journey as an entrepreneur.
It’s funny because many of us have had similar experiences. You have created this incredible tribe. I would like for you to tell me more about how your tribe got started, and what is the core mission of the tribe you are running?
My tribe is called Extraordinary Women Connect. The core mission is to connect great women to great women, and helping each other raise their voice, their visibility and grow their businesses. First of all, I was very much a connector, and I still am a connector. That is who I am at my very core. I am always connecting people. Early on in my business, that’s how my business grew. I was going out one coffee at a time and building new connections and being active in that way.
I was meeting a lot of women, a great woman over here and a great woman over here. They are doing interesting things. I would go, “You two should know each other.” I became known for connecting one great woman to another great woman. I was doing it often. I was talking with my business coach and it’s like, “I’m doing this all the time. It seems like a natural gift for me.” The seeds have been there for me thinking, “What if I started a community that was all about connecting great women to great women?” She looked at me and she’s like, “That’s a fabulous idea. What’s keeping you from doing that?”
It’s pesky business coach questions.
I looked at her and I said, “What if I post an event and nobody comes?” She was like, “Go do it.” I did. I put the stake in the ground and I went out. I held that first event and we started connecting great women to great women way back then. Also, I realized I love to tell their stories. My podcast was born in the mix of that, Extraordinary Women Radio. That’s been my community. It’s grown many times over the years. In 2020, we had to go virtual. We started with live events and an annual conference called Extraordinary Women Ignite. We’re going to be going into our eighth year of Extraordinary Women Connect and Extraordinary Women Ignite this 2021. It’s exciting.
How many people are you leading in your tribe?
We have about 1,500 people in the tribe.
How long do you think it took you when you think back to the beginning of that moment when that pesky business coach pushed you to execute on your idea? How long did it take to get to where you are now?
It’s been several years. That first meeting, we had twenty people show up. It’s grown and evolved. In the annual conferences, there are over 100 women. It’s a fun journey.
It amazes me because there are people like you who are naturally gifted at pulling people together like this. Years ago, I got enrolled in an MLM company. I had to have a meeting of all the people who I wanted to enroll. It reminds me of the beginning of your story. I had a great meeting. I set up the room. We had coffee and all these refreshments and booklets on every seat, and nobody showed up.
If one person shows up, it’s fine. You’ve got to keep showing up and doing it.
At the time, the lesson for me was, “Let’s do it again.” Eventually, you get the word out and people go, “That was good. Let’s show up.” With a tribe as large as yours, I’m sure it went from being a casual group to a more formalized group. I’m sure that you have already put in place some tools and some processes to ignite the passion between your women and to communicate with them. What do you do for communication? How often are you communicating with your tribe?
On social media, I’m communicating with them almost daily. I am there at least 5 or 6 times a week. I like to give people their space on the weekends. Make some boundaries for everyone. We have a lot of good engagement. We have some regular posts. For example, one of our things, when we are about raising each other’s voices at something new, is my podcast, Connector Posts. It’s on Tuesday. It’s connecting great podcast guests and great podcast hosts. It’s a place where people that want to be on a podcast or are looking for guests can go to. I look for themed things like that to bring on Fridays as a celebration. For example, we had a special week because we had a two-hour training. Those are some of the social media approaches that we are taking.
2020 certainly changed up how our group met. Traditionally, my group was meeting three times a year live at my Extraordinary Women Connect events, an evening gathering of which all kinds of processes and pieces got put into place around those events. There was a nice process that we had going for that. Also, a three-day conference in November. I have done that event many years. We have large product plans around that, vendors and ways in communications that we bring people into the community with that. 2020 shook it all up. It was much based on live events originally. In 2020, we took everything virtually. We made new things and made new ways to engage.
In some ways, 2020 was a gift to the community because it opened up the door to a global audience, which was fantastic. Suddenly, we have people joining us from Italy, Australia, and different parts of the world and creating amazing connections in that way. 2020 was a year of trial and error and trying all different things. Our three-day event turned into an amazing three-day online conference. We learned a lot. We brought a lot of new people into the community. We are growing the community. It’s fun to see how much the community is growing. I don’t know if there is a magic algorithm or something within Facebook that lets that group be seen and heard more at because it’s growing much more exponentially than it was before.
Let’s chat about that because you brought it up, and it’s a topic of conversation that I have a lot with
Tribe Builders and that is using Facebook as your community. You probably realize that when you make a post, not everybody in your community is going to receive a notice of that. If Facebook had their way, they would make you pay for every person to see that. Some of my clients and some of the people I have talked to about their tribes have moved off of Facebook. They started building this in a private community where they know every single person will be notified when things happen and be able to access that. Has that been an issue for you at all?
I get that component of it. I’m very much in growth mode in my community. I also know that Facebook is the largest social platform that’s out there. I get people joining my community every day that found me through a search on Facebook searching through different hashtags. Community growth is important to me. I do some things. For example, I don’t collect an email when somebody comes in. I don’t feel like that’s in alignment with me. However, when I host special events, I ask for them to register and sign up and asked for their emails to engage with us.Even if only one person shows up, it's fine. Keep showing up and keep doing it. Click To Tweet
I’m gathering emails through that type of approach. The email communications can go out in support of the group. Also, the engagement of regularly featured posts, people are looking for that podcast connector. That’s a popular post for me. People are looking for that so they can engage with that or the Friday celebrations, the weekly win wall. They are looking for those ways to get involved and get engaged. The types of content that you can put onto it that gets people looking to engage on that page is helpful but then also looking for ways to collect emails.
Those are all good points. I’m glad you brought that up. The reason that we build tribes is to bring benefits to you as the tribe leader and to your tribe members. I could guess the answers to both of these from what you said, but what would you say is the biggest benefit of all that you receive from having this tribe?
It’s a community that I can lean into at any point, engage, invite into rooms, and nurture and love bonds. It’s an active community that’s tied to my message. They want to be with me because they’ve chosen to be with me on that. It’s driven revenue in my business. Significantly, my business has grown exponentially year on year, including 2020. When a lot of businesses dropped, my business grew significantly in 2020 and it will continue to do so. I see the number of people coming into my community is going to continue to grow my revenue.
That’s an important point to make. Kami, you mentioned that monetization has been important for you and that’s a prime reason to do this, which I’m an advocate of. I love to see people build deliberate tribes to help others and create revenue. Give us an idea so that those reading can see the ways you do that so they might get an idea about how they could do it, too.
I’m bringing them to my events. My three-day women’s conference is where a lot of my revenue comes from every year. I invite them into my mastermind program, the teachings that I do in the community. For example, the prosperous podcast guests that I hosted brought new people into my business. I love to make this community about delivering great value and helping my clients back to that core goal of helping them raise their voice, their visibility, and grow their business. Whatever ways that I can bring some great value content to them that they go, “I want more of that.” That’s an intricate part of my business model.
I brought new clients into my business from the course that I did. I also had people that were there to learn and that’s great. They’re taking something away from it. I had some comments come back that said, “I have seen a lot of webinars recently and Kami is delivering a lot of value in these.” That made me feel good. She said, “Unlike a lot of the webinars I have attended a later, I got so much out of this and I have pages of notes.” That person is not right for the program right now but it’s not to say that months from now, she won’t be. It’s opening up doors, loving on your tribe, caring for them, and helping them see bigger for themselves. I bring in a lot of my podcast guests, which generally tend to be people further along in their business. They learn from those people as well. I’m constantly bringing a lot of amazing content to them that helps them grow their businesses.
For those starting, do you think that they should have a plan to monetize their tribe before they start the tribe? Do you feel as if the monetization part comes later after you figure out who you have attracted? What are your ideas about that?
I have had people tell me that when I was connecting great women to great women. They are like, “Where’s the dollar tie to it?” I was like, “That’s not what’s driving me. What’s driving me is the community. What’s driving me is the magic that happens when I bring these women together in a room.” My quarterly events that I did in Extraordinary Women Connect were not a sales event. Those were events solely based on connecting great women to great women.
When I go back to my core brand of who I am, I’m a connector and a storyteller. Those pieces of me are important. I made those decisions on what I wanted the culture of this organization to be. Even when I’m doing some training in my group, I am not doing a hard sales push. I’m sending an invitation, “If you want to know more, let’s have this conversation.” I have been in a lot of groups where that’s all they are about. Every eight weeks or every six weeks, they are turning the same content over and over again. It’s a hard push with a lot of outreach internally with messaging. That’s not my style.
Let’s go back to the mechanics of operations for a moment. We are trying to help folks who want to see this as something they are passionate about. What I mean by the mechanics is when it comes to social media posting, do you have staff members, VAs or someone who does all of this work for you in terms of turning your words into something artistic? Creating a post and then scheduling all the mechanics of doing the social media work, do you do that yourself?
It’s a combination. We have some detailed SOPs. I do a podcast and my team listens, and they create posts out of it. They create audio clips out of it. There are a whole series of things that we do when a podcast happens. That triggers a whole series of social media, which go into a post and then gets scheduled on to social media. I want that connection. For example, on Wednesdays, I will do Ask Kami Anything. That’s my post. I get up on that Wednesday morning, it’s the day to do this, I do it, I have the space and time to respond to these. I can engage deeply with people and create value for them. It’s creating value. Some things, I choose to do on my own. Some things, we have automated and we have processes for this. Even this interview will go through a process with my team and pieces of it will get shared back with my communities.
I don’t know for sure, but I would guess you are an extrovert. Is that true?
It’s not true. I probably border that middle part of it. Where I refuel myself is generally in a quiet room by myself. That’s why I know I’m an introvert. I did my first live event with clients where we did speaker training for three days. It’s a three-day weekend training. We had fifteen clients. We were doing the mask thing, except when they got onto the stage. It’s a different environment. It was wonderful to be back and in a real community with people. I have that spark that lights me up, but then I need to recover and refuel by myself.
You said the exact key as to how I would know you are an introvert. An extrovert can go into a crowd of people, interact, and become energized by that activity. After that, they want to go out and they want to dance. The introvert goes into a crowd, gets energized, and has a great time. After that, they need to take a nap.
It’s important to know who you are particularly as you are about to build a community. What tips would you have for other introverts who might be thinking, “It takes an extrovert to build a tribe?” What would you say to that?
I would say that you have amazing gifts as an introvert. If I’m creating a community, if I’m creating a tribe, what’s my why behind this? How do I want people to experience this? As an introvert, that is a great thing to tune inside and get that information from. You create the space to be in a community but then create the space for yourself to recover.
Along those lines, my question would be about the first steps. I’m a person listening to the show and admiring everything you’ve done. The tribe you have built is amazing. Before, you didn’t have a business at all. You deliberately took your superpower and turned it into something that you wanted to share with others. You have a coaching business and event business around that. What would you say are the first steps someone should take if they are where you were as that moment took place where you’re thinking, “This is the time for me to do something different?”
It’s to start simple. Some of my favorite events have been hosting a dinner in my house with ten people. I pick out ten people I thought would be interesting and say, “Come for dinner.” Create a circle of sharing and a way for people to connect and hear each other stories. That’s an easy way to do it. It doesn’t have to be, “I’m going to go create this big full-day event.” Start small and start building a community. Have a place to have them go after that so that they can stay connected, whether it’s a Facebook group or another group or whatever that looks like and keep doing it. The other piece of this is if you are wanting to build a tribe, it isn’t about you. It is about building the relationships inside of that community and creating the space and holding that container. If you can add value to it, that’s great. If you approach it as building community so people can hear you, it doesn’t work. Put the right intention behind it.Engage deeply with people and create value for them. Click To Tweet
I would like to add one small thing to what you said because it’s great advice. Have that dinner, invite those ten people over, but deliberately set up the next step after the dinner is over. I know somebody who loves putting these dinners together. Before COVID, I used to go quite regularly, but there was never the next step. One day I said, “Why don’t we start a mastermind? We have enough people that love this conversation and we’re all focused in a similar direction.” He goes, “How do we do that?” “Let’s ask. Let’s say, ‘Who would like to get together in a mastermind?’ We will keep the costs relatively low. Let’s do that.”
It turned into a multimillion-dollar business for him because it was what his passion was. The other thing that I have heard from many people who build tribes is if you are starting, start with your passion. Don’t start with some idea to make money. Start with your passion and let your passion drive the people to you. What’s great about tribes is that tribes are inclusive, but they are also exclusive. We certainly don’t want certain people in our tribe. Talk a little bit about that. Does that resonate with you as well?
It does. When I first started Extraordinary Women Connect, my coaching business was focused on helping women discover their next chapter in life. This was before I was a business coach. When this started, I was looking for a director, VP level of women in corporation saying, “Come and meet extraordinary women.” I was defining what that level was at that point, “This is for women who are director level of and above.” What happened was all of those women started saying that they find their next chapter and they wanted to start their own company. I was like, “I can help you with that.” I became a business coach and that was how my business transformed underneath that.
My business originally was 20% executives and 80% entrepreneurs. That shift happened. I don’t do it from a dollar perspective. When I think about my community, it’s about women who are changemakers. They want to create an impact in the world. I have this definition there of women who are out to make a big difference in the world. It’s keeping the level of my business up. It keeps the level of the people coming into my community. It’s the feedback that I get all the time when people are saying, “Whenever I come to an event of yours, I know I’m going to meet extraordinary women.” The reputation of my community is that.
For our readers who would like to get more information or maybe connect with you directly or become one of your extraordinary women, where should they go?
They should go to Extraordinary Women Connect on Facebook. That’s the group on Facebook. They can find me on my website, KamiGuildner.com. My podcast is Extraordinary Women Radio.Women who are changemakers want to create an impact in the world. Click To Tweet
The other thing that I wanted to mention to you is the brilliance of a podcast when building a community. The positioning that I have always used is that, for my clients, podcasts are ways to get your most ideal clients into your guest seat. More importantly, you are attracting your ideal listeners as well. You did a beautiful job of molding those two together so that you are talking to your ideal potential member, and you are sharing their stories with potential members as well who are reading this. Well done on that. For those people who would like to get more information, go toKamiGuildner.com. Kami, it was delightful chatting with you. Thank you for sharing so much of what you have learned with our readers. I can’t wait to get a chance to talk to you again.
Thank you, Mitch. It’s been an honor.
- Kami Guildner
- Extraordinary Women Connect – Facebook
- Extraordinary Women Radio
- Extraordinary Women Ignite
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