📻 — Jono Bacon: 10 Practical Tips on Creating Great Community Culture

This is your Community, Daily.

Reading Time: ~ 5 min.

Good morning yenizens!

Yesterday’s issue may have been a bit of a “heavy” read but I hope it was interesting / educational, especially if you don’t have a technical background!

Watching the macro growth of community as told by cloud, (Comm)SaaS, and microservices is fun and is really the epitome of my geek / nerd level!

L(° O °L)

I appreciate the comments and feedback — they are always welcome!


  1. Gumroad University!? Yes.

  2. Substack and content moderation. If you’re going “pro” with any content machine… you need to be making backups. That’s why I run both a self-hosted WordPress blog / Substack combo because one of those will outlast the other.

To infinity & community,

— john

I don’t know Jono Bacon personally but I like that he’s on YouTube (really good idea) and after listening to him on a recent CMX podcast he seemed reasonable to put on the background as a playlist, just listen and digest.

I won’t lie — he does look a bit too cool for me as I could never pull off leather, like, anywhere. Ever. He does! That stance though:

Eventually I got around to a quick overview of what he calls “The 10 Culture Cores” and he outlines them as-such:

  1. Be open

  2. Be pragmatic

  3. Be personal

  4. Be positive

  5. Be collaborative

  6. Be a leader

  7. Be a role model

  8. Be empathetic

  9. Be down-to-earth

  10. Be imperfect

Now, culture is a big deal in not just community building but, well, effectively everywhere — this is why I’ve become a student of it, learning all that I can.

Consequently, I booted up my notepad and started to take notes — here they are in glorious detail.

Let’s jump right in:

On Being Open:

  • The best communities are “open” and transparent. How does this work? You have to be intentional about how you communicate and share information; how does it spread, how does it disseminate in the community.

  • A great question he suggests asking is “How can we default to ‘open’?” and then justify it strongly if you need to close a communication channel.

    • Review communication workflows and identify ways to open them up, default to “open” if you can.

    • Create a culture of note-taking and documentation.

  • All talk and no trousers… wtf, I have no idea.

On Being Pragmatic:

  • Keep focus on objective data, not so much the abstract ideas of what a “great” culture might be like. Write them down, be intentional with what your culture is.

  • Being able to answer the question of a practical outcome is a really good reminder. Making sure these are attached to “events” or what you’re going to actually build / make / ship is also a must.

  • He recommends focusing on building the minimum-viable product — the “smallest, simplest, easiest thing that we can get out there so that we can test it and make sure people like it.”

On Being Personal:

  • It’s not just about work, it’s about friendships, relationships.

  • The community personal scaling curve:

  • The challenge is that as a community grows the level of “personal touch” typically reduces and the community leader then tries to find ways to “automate” the workflows for scale.

  • Doing things like zoom hangouts and calls can keep the personal touch high as things scale — make sure to be intentional about these challenges as you grow. Find creative ways to stay small.

  • Sharing more personal information can help create a culture of openness — instead of just keeping it distinctly “professional” for instance.

  • Focusing on “interest” communities can help keep things small as well.

On Being Positive:

  • Surround yourself with positive people, people who encourage you to succeed and who lift one-another up!

  • Set a positive tone in the community from the beginning. If you have a leader who is kind, positive, engaging, and collaborative, your members will mimic that behavior. The converse is equally powerful. (╬ ಠ益ಠ)

  • If you have a “bad day” Jono recommends “putting on a happy face” because you’re leading people and you’re setting a good example.

I don’t agree with this last part entirely, but, I lead a different type of community — yenizens! We all have bad days and I think it’s okay to share those, in the most respectful way that one can…

… 🤔

On Being Collaborative:

  • You should be collaborative. Okay.

  • Review how you build things and see if there are (better) ways for the product to become more collaborative in the process of building / shipping it. He gives the example of a collaborative blog post (e.g. drafting, etc.). I’ve done this before and it works. 👍🏻

  • Try it out, get some feedback, iterate, and try again.

  • Jono says to create a “hackable culture” — allow community members speak into building the culture and that they can be heard and listened to. They can contribute a piece, part.

On Being a Leader:

  • Many folks are shy about being leaders because “they are scared of annoying a lot of people”; or that too many folks will “revolt” against you.

  • Leadership is not a popularity contest. Amen. It’s “just the nature of the business” and you’re going to have to make unpopular decisions.

  • Make sure that when you present your decision that it’s been inclusive, open, transparent, thoughtful, and measured.

On Being a Role Model:

  • Make sure your leaders are acting as role models, anyone in the position of power. What makes a good one?

  • How you work: Collaborative, instead of closed.

  • Make clear, strong decisions that are inclusive (see the last section).

  • Tonality, how you write, speak, and engaged with folks.

On Being Empathetic:

  • Be intentional about being empathetic with folks, get an understanding of them and their worldview(s) and the more information you know about someone the more you can understand their situation and behavior.

On Being Down-To-Earth:

  • We all have ego but some folks let their ego take control.

  • Make sure you are spending time with other folks that aren’t in just your small bubble. Expand your network into other areas, especially folks that you may not naturally connect with.

  • Let your personality shine!

On Being Imperfect:

  • Embrace failure. Kill the pride (“sense of dignity”) that stops you from sharing your failures more publicly.

  • You cannot have a realistic culture without failure. That’s kind of a neat insight — I dig.

  • He recommends taking a moment each week and writing down what worked and what didn’t, any failures that may have happened. Write one thing a week and then share it with your community and company.

Great stuff Jono — thanks!

Finally, if you’d like to know how I literally crafted this issue, you can find that here in a very simple system:

Have a good one folks!