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Welcome to the Get Together, this is our show about ordinary people building extraordinary communities and your host, Bailey Richardson. I'm a partner at People and Company and a co-author of the book Get Together How to Build a Community with Your People. In each episode of this podcast, we interview everyday people who have built extraordinary communities about just how they did it today.


We have a special interview with Whitney to one of our two podcast correspondents for this inaugural cycle who comes to us from Nairobi, Kenya. For our regular listeners, you'll recall that in the middle of July, we announced that we were searching for a new podcast correspondent to help us expand the stories we tell. No podcasting experience. It was necessary to offer these correspondents a hands on mini crash course in podcasting, compensate them and coach them as they make three episodes over three months they spent with us.


We had an incredible response to the program. One hundred and seventeen applications, many of which moved us and inspired us. We decided in the end to bring on not just one but two correspondents, Whitney, who you'll meet today, and Marjorie Anderson.


We've been training Whitney and Marjorie over the past few months on our editorial voice, How to Do Outreach, had interview and to edit. And they've recorded their interviews before we share their interviews with you. We wanted to introduce you. So without further ado, meet the cerebral, sincere, kind hearted Whitney Agota, who is putting get together on the map in Africa. We know you're going to love her. Whitney, welcome to the podcast, we are here doing a New York to Nairobi connection.


Thank you. Technology. I'm really excited to have you on today and really excited to have you on our team, on our correspondent team.


So I'm stoked. I thank you for joining us. Thank you so much for having me. Bailey, it's an honor and a pleasure to finally be on the podcast and be part of the team as well. So super excited about that.


I'm going to start out our little interview by asking you one of my favorite questions, which is we like to say that you can't fake the funk. And I want to know what is it about?


You may be your upbringing, personality, life experiences so far that has made you interested in and passionate about community building.


I was raised around people, a lot of people. So I come from a very big family and my folks always just loved to have people around and host guests over the weekend. And one thing I also realized is that my childhood is that they loved to support the people around them for always coming up with initiatives that supports the immediate environment. And they made a great team two together. I mean, my dad would always be the one coming up with ideas, and my mom was excellent in execution.


And so I believe my inclination towards community was can be attributed to my upbringing as example of my parents support throughout the years and, you know, throughout my childhood and even into my adulthood, I remained hell bent in working with people and trying to bring the best out of them through community work, and especially within the startup space, because I'm very passionate about working at the intersection of community and innovation. So I'd say I saw a lot of community early on from from my parents.


But then I understood and I studied a bit more once I really got into the and of what community is and what community building actually is.


Sounds like a familiar sort of journey in some ways. I'm curious, do you have any memories of moments or experiences or stories from your upbringing that stand out about some of the experiences you had when you were young, with your friends, with your family that felt like a community? Yes, sure. So what? My dad and what my parents always did is they when I was when I was a kid and even just up to now, they formed so what we call them in Kenya or in Nairobi, we call them Chameides.


And this is sort of like society groups of people come together and brainstorm on a problem within their community, within the society, and they try and pull resources and funds and see what's the best way to address is how can we get involved. And so my parents have always been in some sort of I that brought the entire life. And it's all always involves bringing who can we bring in, who has the muscle to to get this initiative on the ground.


And so I think that's one of the early experiences I have on community in Temas, a huge in Kenya, huge. And especially even within within. It's very big with women because I think it's also just one of the ways women also get time to just come together and socialize. So was that a huge thing in Kenya? And so I've seen that throughout my entire childhood. And so what they do is always go to each other's houses so that they would be hosting this time and Mary would be hosting next time and Beatrice would be hosting the other time.


So they always do that. Where they going? To each other's homes. And so and it brings people in, everyone together. So that's that's one of the early childhood memories I have on on on the sense of community, especially around town, trying to just help the people around them.


It's so beautiful. Sounds like a format that really creates community. Like if you if you do it, you end up with a community, which I always like those formats. It's like everybody's participating like a potluck dinner in the US. I suppose. I'm curious, you know, you talked a little bit about how your community building work shows up today, but could you tell me a little bit about your life outside the podcast and what community you're thinking about now?


Sure. So, I mean, a lot of community work. And when you talk about coming into a true community is in this case, involve a lot of meaning and purpose driven work. And they also tend to find that you have big things if the momentum is kept. And as a result, I become very intentional about creating meaningful spaces and relationships in my life after realizing the benefits that come out of it. So I think one community that that that that I'm really keen on building for myself and even a lot of people around me is because it's on mental health.


I've been very open about my mental health journey and I always have folks reaching out saying, thank you so much for about your journey. I feel seen. I feel understood. And I realize that there's a lot of there's also a lot of stigmatization around mental health is still something people are not very comfortable to talk about. And so that's that's one of the things that that I think I'm looking to be part of. It builds just outside of my walk around community with the startup space.


So it was definitely something around mental health.


Yeah, absolutely. Thank you for sharing it. You and I have talked a little bit about that. And we've also interviewed a group on this podcast called Friendship Bench, which I'm not sure if you've heard of, but they they were talking a lot about the stigma in Africa in general and everywhere in the United States is the same. But I find, like with mental health, feeling like you can express what you're going through and have someone else receive it and see it and hear it, such as sounds like it can make you feel so much better than the stigma can be so preventative in terms of getting that that healing that is so, so valuable.


So I said I'm here to support you in that in any way. So please. Please. Yeah.


And let me know how I can help. Hey, yo, hey, Kevin Quinn here, the Get Together podcast is a project by people in company.


That's a small strategy company that I started with, your main podcast host Bayly and our friend Kai. Although communities feel magical, they don't come together by magic. Whether you want to connect superfans, breathe life into an online group, or bring a remote team closer together, figuring out how to structure any community building investment can be disorienting.


You know, where do we start?


What are the common pitfalls? How do we avoid going too far in the wrong direction at people in the company?


We've coached leagues like Nike, Porche Substract and the Surfrider Foundation on how to make smart bets to start and sustain communities. Bringing people closer together in this way isn't a short term strategy. It's a long term play that can transform a company across the board. If you lead an organization and have a hunch that there's a group of people you could be doing more with building with us so we can help you get started, you won't be able to turn this on at a moment's notice.


It's an investment. So if you're seeking a trail guide to give your team the best chance at sparking a community, reach out to us at people in company. We do sprints, labs, coaching and would love to chat. You can find us at people and company.


You know, we we touched on this a little bit, but how is the meaning of the word community changed for you, if at all, you know, from those childhood memories into now as you've gone deeper into the work in a more formal way, does the word community change at all or stay the same for you?


Oh, man, yes, it's definitely changed. And I think this is something that I've learned from the folks at the people in company from you, just from you and Kevin. A lot is the aspect about building with and not for. I think this is a whole misconception and it's very easily easy to get deluded into thinking that community work involves building for as opposed to with a kind of just so the meaning of community as gentlemen, the aspect of how communities are distributing ownership amongst the group as opposed to having all the initiatives run by one person.


So I think the aspect about building wealth and not for I think is what has been the big shift for me in trying to understand what exactly community is and how can build an active, vibrant and purpose driven communities. And I think it's and I've seen it in practice just trying to involve the people we are trying to solve with the initiatives in the process. It's much more better. You don't have to do so much heavy lifting because you are working with the members.


So you're not trying to come up with things on your own, but rather working with the community in trying to try to cater to that needs. Yeah, yeah.


I feel like it has this double edged value. Like one is scale. You know, you don't become a bottleneck as the only person who's trying to organize things or reach people or have the events reach people and then also just the meaning element, you know, talking about these traumas and the way that everybody in the group was maybe invited to contribute, it just changes the dynamic of a group when you feel like an active participant and a co-owner. So I feel like there's there's two really strong values which are sort of different from each other, but both are both very powerful.


And I'm curious, what's something that you maybe this is the same as that last answer, but what didn't you know when you started building communities that you know now? What's been a learning for you? Well, I think that would be just how broad and tasking I think community work is what I'm realizing is that and even here, even just in my work, is that community teams are not very big, but they walk around communities a lot and it's very broad and covers a lot of elements in physics.


And so just realizing that you have to do like constant politics with your community. I'd like to be out of touch with their needs and their concerns and what's really going on. So just realizing that there's a lot that needs to be done for you to really understand what's actually going on in the community and whatnot. But I think something also interesting, I also learned and I think I like this, this hit me when I was reading your piece on how subs created such a rapid and vibrant community.


That was an excellent piece.


I really think you check it out at the get together club stack. You can get those in your inbox. Yes.


That was that was a really good breakdown. And I think you're talking about how they're trying to enable serendipity in the sense that you can't always pick up all the calls. You can't always cater to to all of your members. But then how do you enable connections between your members? How can you help members help themselves? So just trying to create an environment where your cousin people can help each other and you have resources that can do the work for you because sometimes can be very tough to have to talk to each and every member of your community.


So I think that's one of the things that I've had. I do know when I started building communities.


But but I'm learning, and especially at this moment in time, it's a big challenge to the subsect team talks about how they're not trying to be a substitute community where everyone is connecting to the brand or the employees. They're trying to connect to people who you substract writers to each other to support one another. And it's a very different way of thinking, I think, than how we're taught to think and work professionally. And it's a challenge to to flip that switch.




So final question is, you know, you're going to be making three episodes of the podcast interviewing three people. And I'm curious, what what can listeners expect from you and these episodes? What can you share with us? Listeners should expect some very fresh and new voices on the platform. Just Bing being also just trying to put Africa on the map, I think. There we go. Yes, that's that's a plan, putting Africa on the map. And I think I think the podcast correspondence program is an incredible idea because then you get to to hear stories and then about communities far away from from you, but just doing amazing things.


And so I'm excited to just have exciting and new and fresh voices on the platform, on amazing communities here in Nairobi. We have we have a couple and I'm excited and looking forward to having them and having them for the podcast.


We are to you know, I think the nature of our team is all of us are us based some years in San Francisco. But Kevin and I and and Maggie for a long time have all been in the New York area. And we are so excited to hear what's going on in other parts of the world, and in particular to really see what's going on in Kenya and in Nairobi and where you are to be transported like that is so exciting for us.


So we can't wait. Whitney, thank you so much for sharing some of your story with us. Thank you for having me. Yeah, it's an absolute pleasure. Is there anything about how your listeners can also connect to you? Where would you like people to find you? Or or if you don't want people to find you, you don't have to answer that question.


But is there anywhere anyone can reach out if they want to say hi?


Oh, yes. Big on Twitter. So my handle is with me or Goochland. That's Whitney, like Whitney Houston and go to OGE YouTube. So with me Ogu to find me on Twitter, feel free to GM to comment, like whatever I'm happy to connect to.


This is awesome. Great. Thanks, Whitney. Speak soon. Thanks baby.


Thank you to our team. Thank you. Christiani Allah for engineering and editing this episode. Greg David for his design work and Katie O'Connell for marketing. You can find out more about the work we do as people and company helping organizations get clear on who their most important communities are and how to build with those people by heading to our website, people and company. Also, if you want to start your own community or supercharges one, you're already a part of our handbook is here for you, is it?


Get together bookstop come to grab a copy. It's full of stories and learnings from conversations with community leaders like this one with one final thing. If you don't mind, review this podcast I subscribe to helps get our stories out to more folks. Thank you. See you next time.