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Welcome to the. It's our show about ordinary people building extraordinary communities.


I'm your host, Bailey Richardson. I'm a partner at People, a company and a co-author of Get Together How to Build a Community with Your People. And I'm Kevin with Bailey's business partner at People and Company, where we advise organizations on how to cultivate meaningful communities.


I always call you my business partner, and I recently got called out for that. He's also your friend, and he's my best partner. All right. You have no idea how deep business partnership goes. We mean partner for real.


In each episode, we interview everyday people who have built extraordinary communities about just how they did it. How did they get the first people to show up? How did they grow to hundreds, thousands more members? And today we're talking to KVI, Anderson, an Emmy winning producer and most recently the former president of Red Table Talk.


So, Bailey, you've known Kibbee for a bit before this interview. Why were you excited to speak with her?


Well, I feel like many of us know red table talk as a basic TV show in that we tune in to watch Jada and Willow and Grandma Smith talk about their lives.


It was on the summer. It kind of was in the news was massively popular. And what I mean by like a basic TV show is we we just watch it like an audience and that's it passively. But what a lot of us might not know is that red table talk has a thriving grassroots community around it. Women in cities around the world have started their own red table talk in their own cities, literally getting red tablecloths and getting tables, assembling them and gathering strangers who are also moved by the hard, honest conversations, the Smiths role model on the TV show to get together and have those conversations themselves.


I met TV back when she was at Red Table to talk through a mutual friend about a year ago and I immediately vibe with her. She's open, she's confident. She knows herself. I loved her energy. Kibbie asked me to interview her for a women in media conference keynote she just gave. And after that talk I was like, Kitty, why the heck haven't we done our podcast talking about all the community work you did?


She was a community building natural. And when paired with her, her really high level business insights, I was really inspired and moved. So we finally made the time with her.


And I'm really excited to share this episode with you guys today. Me too. So you already let's jump in.


Let's jump in KVI. Welcome to the podcast.


We are so excited to have you here today and ask you questions and learn from you. Thanks for taking the time.


Thank you. No, I'm excited. It's been a long time coming. So glad to finally make this happen. Absolutely.


You know, I'm going to ask you a question I've asked you before and in different ways. But we we like to start this podcast out, talking about how, you know, you can't fake the funk is what Kevin and I like to say. When you're serving a community, it has to be coming from a shared purpose. For someone who's leading the community or helping organize the community, it has to resonate with you, too, when you're a leader.


Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how it's informed what what really matters to you and and your work?


I totally agree with that. That entire premise. You know, I'm originally from Seattle, Washington. I was an only child raised by a single mother who was an activist and very politically engaged. So I grew up within that environment and my mom had to really hustle to take care of me, you know what I mean? We we grew up with, you know, meager means. And in order to make sure that I was OK, she leaned into our community a lot.


You know, my church family made sure that I had money when it came to programs and different things and activities that I wanted to do. We had like a cadre of like kind of other mothers and aunties who would step in if she couldn't take me to an event or couldn't get home from work in time to make sure that I was fed. You know, I, I it's funny. People always joked to me because they're like, you know, keep your friends are you know, you're so into kind of maintaining relationships and you're so good with kind of keeping in contact.


And a lot of that comes from the fact that I know it was because of the support of my community and the love from them that I've been able to achieve and become and do any of the things that I've been able to do. And so that definitely created a strong value for it. You know, you understand just how much more you can do when you are you walking in accordance with people you know and not afraid to kind of receive help and and, you know, celebrating the collective advancements that come along with, you know, shared values and shared systems and mutual mutual work together.


So that's definitely influenced, you know, how I've shown up in the world in my professional life. You know, I also this. Myself is kind of like a born storyteller for me, what I think kept me energized and inspired and just kind of realized that there's more out there was the fact that, you know, I read stories that exposed me to different worlds, different communities, different places. And a lot of that, I think, influenced just my excitement about learning about people.


So within community is people, clearly, and individuals. So this idea of really trying to understand at a very specific level a person's story how they came to be, you know, much like you're asking this question, it definitely helps you understand kind of how they show up in the world. And so for me, a lot of my excitement when it comes to work has also been about being able to share and elevate stories of different people, especially those who have historically been marginalized or not represented.


And I love hearing about all those different threads because it makes me realize how when you went to work on something like red table talk, it brought together so many different pieces.


It's like kind of right in the middle of a Venn diagram. You have a business background. You've been to business school, you've worked in media for a while. You've won Emmys and you had this sort of personal life experience growing up in community. But tell me a little bit about how the series came to be and what about it created a community? How did it start and how did that community emerge?


So I started off as a fan of the show, just like kind of everybody else. But Jada and her mom back when her daughter Willow was about nine, had kind of come together and they wanted to have a conversation with her that allowed them to show up as themselves, not as her mother, not as her grandmother. But it's two women trying to make it in the world and just kind of talk about what are the different challenges and things that you are going to face and just have a very frank and honest and no holds barred conversation.


They did that, like I said, when she was nine, put it up on YouTube. You know, it did kind of what it did, but it sort of set for many years. And then a producer by the name of Ellen Rakuten came and was introduced to Jada. She actually asked about it. Willow is 17 by this time. And she's like, hey, you know what's going on with that red table talk? I feel like there might be a space for this, especially if we think about doing it in a non-traditional environment, such as an online platform like Facebook.


The idea was, let's maintain the integrity of what the initial conversation was about, which is, I said honesty and blatant honesty, you know, not trying to sugarcoat it, not trying to make it appropriate for prime time, but just really going to those places that I think as women and women of color, especially, we don't always do. And so, you know, that's the you know, the evolution of putting a pilot together, pitching it around.


And like I said, the goal was to not go to network. You know, Jada was very specific about really wanting to go to a platform that would give her the freedom and the flexibility to do the kind of programming she wanted, but also that actually had some tools to support community engagement and community building. And, you know, in Facebook, you know, it's probably one of the best platforms, despite all of its challenges with helping to support community engagement, fostering exchange in a very organic and seamless way.


And so that's how the show came to be.


Can you tell me a little bit about how it resonated with you personally? You said you were a fan of the show and what made it so powerful. Do you remember the first time seeing it?


Oh, yeah. No, I mean, again, I was blown away by the honesty, and I think you hadn't seen that. You didn't see it a lot, period in talk shows, I think. But I also don't think you had seen it from the Smiths at all. You know, they had been a very private family, very prominent, but very private about their challenges and their struggles. And, you know, in the first episode, it was Jada with Suri, who is Will's first wife.


And this talking about the drama they went through, trying to reconcile their relationship and they did not hold anything back. And that was a beautiful thing. And ironically, at that time, I was actually dating I mean, my current fiancee now, but dating Will Smith.


I know. I don't know the turn twisted. I don't know.


But my fiancee has children. And so we were sort of navigating or I was beginning to navvy, OK, how do I kind of show up in his life, know, given the fact that there are other mothers and not trying to overstep boundaries, but obviously be supportive. So it just definitely connected with me personally. And I just thought that it was so courageous and I was so energized and excited and I couldn't wait to see more. And like I said, you just weren't seeing that, especially from somebody who was as high profile as Jada was.


And so that's what attracted me to it, you know what I mean? And I think it's what attracted a lot of women and a lot of black women, too, because, you know, unfortunately, in our communities there is a history of silence around things that may not be so positive. If there's drama in your life, you don't want to talk about it, Hasheesh. But that's not the way you heal. It's been detrimental to our communities in many ways.


And so I think when especially a lot of black women saw that representation on camera, it just I mean, it just touched them in a way that that just exploded, you know what I mean? And so the community on its own just grew so organically. So when I came on board to basically run red tabletop enterprises, which was really the arm of the company that was kind of there to exploit the IP in a lot of different areas. So leaning into how do we create tools and products and solutions for our community that spanned different ways, people consume content with ABC podcasts or books or live events or actual merchandising experiences.


That was my role. The community was there. They were asking for stuff. So I was actually I always say this felt like I was playing catch up when I got there because the community was already self organizing, was already, like I said, being very vocal, very vulnerable in a way that you just don't see. So my my focus early on was, OK, how do I harness this? You know, how do I make sure that I continue to support the rock stars and the ambassadors that are helping to lead these things, but at the same time just layer in protections for us as a brand?


And like I said, the elements of the business that we're going to allow us to grow over time.


Yeah, you were like had like a wild stallion horse. And you like to come in and ride or put a saddle on the horse and go with it.


Why do you think red table talk became such unity? Well, I think one of the biggest, biggest things that resonated was the multigenerational aspect of the show. You know, it was three different generations. You had Gammie, who's from an older generation, you know, in her sixties, you know, as a voice like very, very specific and like what she does and does it like kind of sort of more old school ways and and ideas of thinking.


You had Jada, who's kind of in the middle, who is I think I used to always say she kind of works to create space for everybody, you know what I mean? She definitely has her positions, but I think she's the one who kind of tries to see more multiple sides of a person's position and situation. And then there's Willow, who is young and definitely brought her own sense of understanding and depth and ideas to conversations. But she was also able to kind of be that sort of vision into the future.


You know, how are how are we going to allow these things, these different issues that were challenged with to influence the development of our girls going forward and that you hadn't seen before, especially amongst black women? I mean, to be frank, and I don't mean to like say this is specifically just for black women because that wasn't it. But at the same time, I think there has historically not been a ton of programming. I think out there that like really always speaks to some of the things that we as a community are dealing with.


And this one did it in such a way, like I said, unique and different way that people just stood up and they were like, oh, wow. I think another thing about it was the types of conversations they were having, the types of topics. You know, like I said, you start with something like co parenting. You go to something like narcissism. And how do you deal with a narcissist person in your life? You go to something like how do you survive addiction?


How do you forgive somebody who has betrayed you? I mean, there were topics that that just people could relate to. You know, like in my daily life, I am struggling with this right now. How do I deal with this? And you begin to get one example of how folks are approaching ways to overcome these things in a manner that's a lot more healthy than, say, cussing somebody out, you know, and going to turn to drugs or something to kind of numb the pain.


You know, this was this was like, no, like, let's really move into how do we teach these tools? And I think that really connected with a lot of people because like I said, kind of no subject was off off limits, no subjects barred.


That topic choice seems powerful. We were we were doing an interview with Fox. I run the dinner party, which is a dinner series for people who have lost a loved one. And they talked we were talking to them about what what makes those gatherings, those discussions special. And he said it's about talking about the elephant in the room as people going through grief, grieving a loved one. It's something that they're sort of dealing with and bursting to communicate with someone else.


But oftentimes it feels like the thing that sucks the air out of the room and to to name that, to sort of find these elephants and say, no, we're discussing them. Yes, yes.


No, I agree. And to your point, it almost felt like they had been waiting for it. And I think it's also kind of given the context of the environment that we're in, just kind of as a country, we are dealing with, I think, more attitudes that, you know, are kind of elevating things like individualism, division, things that I think folks are just kind of tired of. I think people really want to, at the end of the day, be able to walk in accordance with those around them.


And so I think table talk at that time really sort of. OK, to that need and desire, you know, the celebrity element, you know, I don't want to diminish that. I think helped. I think people are always kind of excited to sort of lean into sort of celebrity. And so the fact that Jada was inviting some of her celebrity fans on, but they weren't talking about the book coming out, they weren't talking about the new movie.


They were really talking about stuff that is hard, you know, and issues that can be sometimes more challenging to talk about. And that was a big requirement or sort of kind of policy, not necessarily written down, but from the producer's perspective. Whereas, you know, this is not a show where you're coming on to promote and talk about fluff. Like if you are, the bigger question was, are you ready to come to the table? Because once the show got really popular, everybody wanted to come on, you know, and kind of talk about things.


But it was important to message, to guess this is not necessarily going to be a place where you're going to have an easy conversation. So just make sure that you're ready for that. And I think fans appreciated that.


The other thing I'm hearing, TV, is like there was a sense of role modeling, how to have hard conversations, you know, not not just in the actual topics which you guys sort of offer to people and allow them to then have their own conversations about in their own lives with their own friends, but also just like the format of sitting down at a table and creating a focused space to do that. And I saw this amazing video on Facebook about bread table talk community and and saw that women in in other cities around the country were actually taking red tablecloths, putting them over a table and meeting strangers to sit down and sort of mimic the conversations that were happening on the show.


And I think that that's so interesting, like the the conversations that Jada Willow hosting other people then recreated them in their lives because they could they had a clear format and a topic to discuss.


Yeah, totally. And the one thing that I kind of had to fully acknowledge is I don't think I realized how little training we get and how to communicate properly, you know what I mean? Like, communication is not easy by any means. And anybody who's been in a relationship knows that. But just collectively, like it's just not something that we, you know, I think spend a lot of time talking about unless you've sort of taken the time to be go into therapy or counseling or whatever the case is.


But just as a collective sort of country, I don't think that we do that. So it was a really beautiful and powerful, to your point, modeling offering that the show gave. And when I think about kind of my focus area, you know, the biggest question that we would get when people would watch the shows was, OK, this is amazing and I am so inspired and I see how it can be done. But how do I explain it in my life?


My life is a little different or my situation is different. So a lot of my focus area as a as the president of the company was really crafting a strategy around the how how do we go deeper, you know, and you figure people within that community have varying interests of how deep they want to go. So some people, it might just be a work sheet. Some people it might be. Hey, I want to listen to a 12 year limited series podcast on how to deal with addiction in my family or whatever that means.


So it was really an interesting exercise and challenge to kind of think through from a strategy and growth perspective. How do we begin to kind of layer in those things that would really speak to that need?


Yeah, when you first sort of walked in the door, you had you had your first day at the office, like the old days with what did the what did the community kind of look like then?


The community was actually pretty big.


I mean, I think when I came on board, we may have had, you know, like a million followers on Instagram and Facebook or I don't know where we were, but I mean, maybe like six like Jada herself, maybe had like six million followers on Instagram.


I think by the time I left, she had like 11 or 12, pretty much doubled over the time that I was there on Facebook. You know, had we had probably had like half a million people in our Facebook group for a table talk, which was pretty significant. And what had begun to happen. And it's sort of you you talked about kind of some of the rock stars that, you know, sort of rise to the top within the community.


Is some of these women who you reference, you know, who were beginning to host their own roundtable table. Talk experiences have begun to organize local chapters for red table talk on Facebook. So there was a round table talk arva, kind of a Virginia and the greater DC area. There was a red table talk in Atlanta, Texas. I mean, there are these small little groups that have begun to pop up that were actually like decent in size, you know, twenty, thirty thousand people.


So a decent number of members. And that's a thing that we did, was to find out who these people were literally not.


Everybody who is a moderator of those of these groups, because these are going to be our core ambassadors, because these women, we're doing this completely out of the joy and the gifts that have brought them like there's no money. They're not being at that point celebrated because we didn't know they were knowledge.


And I know that without the company's guidance, this is just people organizing, people just organizing on on on Facebook, you know, guys like a couple draggled with the TV.


I mean, I definitely acknowledge that my experience may not be typical, but it's helpful because you kind of you kind of begin to look at it from another side. You know, I didn't necessarily have to struggle with sort of building community on social, but I did have to think about some other challenging things because my biggest thing was how do I begin to engage this community in a space that I control. You know what I mean? Facebook is as amazing as they are.


Like they don't give you the data that you'd like to have. You don't own emails. You don't own the demographic specifics that you'd like to have. So as somebody trying to build a business on that front, it's very difficult. So what my other challenge was in terms of kind of first design was how do I begin to bring people to an owned and operated platform that we have? And that was a talk dotcom. And not that you're looking to compete with it, but I was like, I just need to have a core group of people that I can talk to and engage with on a direct basis that would allow me to begin to do some data research again to beta test.


So the very first thing that I did from a content perspective was offer a free online social digital video content campaign over the summer, in between our first and second season, the show was down and we weren't shooting anything. So but the community was still there. You know, we were like, well, why aren't we doing something to kind of keep them engaged? So we launched something called Summer Healing Sessions, where Jada basically did over about five weeks these video sessions with folks kind of talking about some of the key issues and things that she does to rest rejuvenate.


And we had a text that we decided to use, and it was a great way for us to get people to kind of come to the website because they had to sign up and give their email address in order to be included in the process. And that allowed me to get I mean, probably 40 to 50 thousand email addresses. And like I said, wow, four to five weeks, you know, and obviously the star power of Jada helps.


We definitely bought some paid ads to kind of promote it. So those things help. But that was a great base. Clearly not the millions of folks that we had on Instagram and Facebook. But if you think about it, you're talking about sort of break even for a business, you don't necessarily need a ton of emails in order to kind of begin to drive revenue to be profitable. And so obviously, the more we could get, the better.


But, you know, I mean, like one hundred and fifty thousand emails would have been great for me to do a decent business. And the sky's the limit from there. Yeah.


Did anything surprise you or stand out to you as you were getting to know some of these early folks?


Definitely. And it's so funny. We actually called our kind of the women who were running the local groups that are dogs.


And when you go. Yes, exactly. Let me think. Well, I'll be honest, one of the things that was a pleasant surprise, especially related to our two dogs, was just how sophisticated they were, you know what I mean? Like, these these women were sophisticated. They knew social and not I mean, obviously very. But there they were just very sophisticated. And like I said, in many ways were becoming kind of the face of their own local groups.


And so that was exciting and promising because one of the things that I was always mindful of is it's very dangerous to build a company on the face on quote unquote, the back of one person bottleneck is bottlenecks. So Jada obviously was the face of the show. And you had Willow Ogami. But I was mindful of you. If I don't have Jada in the room, will people come?


That's that's kind of a question and room being a little bit more broad.


You know, she's not in the video. If she's not here, she's not there, you know. And so what I began to see from the dynamic magnetism that the ladies who are running the groups had is no. I mean, I'm I'm sorry. Yes. People will come people will begin to connect with local folks who are helping them, teaching them, bringing them into community in a way that is very powerful and sustainable and sticky. And that was a pleasant surprise because you never know, is it?


Sometimes you can be a little a little fearful that that that won't be the case. And so what we began to do is really lean into celebrating and supporting them, giving them the tools. If we started a kind of a bi monthly Check-In call with all the ladies and they're about 15 of them with Jada on the line. And like I said, wow, that's awesome.


I love that.


I mean, I am sure nobody miss that. Exactly, Jada would shout them out when when we did social, you know, from the show on Facebook or Instagram. So we just really want to try to celebrate and let them know we need you, we value you. And you are just as much a part of this, if not more important to this movement and to this company's growth. As you know, obviously, Jada and Will and Gammy and even myself as the leader.


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 OG's 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.


And it sounds like this shift from maybe a fan club to a community, not to say that it was only a fan club, but its communities have leadership that creates more leaders. And it's it's challenging to accomplish that. And there's also all the risks and trade offs of really distributing ownership in that way. But at least from a community building perspective, you certainly can just accomplish more together than you can alone. Absolutely.


Yeah. And I think that it's funny because we often have this internal conversation with my leadership team about this kind of idea of like fan club versus community spaces. You know what I mean? Because Jada was already a celebrity before roundtable thought came along. So there were definitely fans of table talk that were there because they were friends of hers. And that was a category that we kind of realized we could potentially do something with. But beyond that, there were people in the especially in the Facebook community who really wanted to do the work, you know what I mean?


Like who were who were not just about kind of like Jada looks amazing and her clothes are amazing and this is the thing or Willow's hair is amazing or that was real cute would get me to said in terms of his game was the queen of mean.


She was great in terms of her her words and stuff that I think can kind of be on the surface a little bit where you think about kind of fandom, but really leaning into folks who genuinely were coming to the table every week and obviously coming to the types of products and experiences that my team began to create because they wanted to develop, they wanted to heal, they wanted to get better. They wanted to figure out how to live their best life.


And I think those were really where the community component came to be, because I think that they were more willing, like I said, to try and experiment because, you know, some of the stuff we did, folks didn't like and we were like, OK, got it. We will try that differently, you know? But in general, the consensus across the board was, yes, this is great. One of the things that we launched over the holiday season last year was a game, and it was in partnership with a company called We're Not Really Strangers.


A young lady has started this game and the whole point of it was creating an experience for people who otherwise might not get to know each other because they're strangers.


But the reality is, if you ask a few questions, you realize how much more. Connected. We are in actuality, and so we developed an expansion pack with her. So the idea was you think you know people closest to you, but how do you really know them to especially family?


Exactly how many times have you had these conversations that are just not really like the elephant in the room, but you're not really saying it, you know, or I'm your mom. But I'm also a woman who has passions and has all these other dreams and stuff. And so that actually was one of our most popular products because in many ways it empowered people to have their own red table talk conversations, but it gave them a really easily accessible tool. And I mean, the box was red.


You could take it on the road with you. You could really have a conversation really with anybody. It ended up being a helpful kind of case study for us to sort of understand, OK, like this is sort of a really nice medium because it allows people who may be more casual fans of the show, but are still interested in having a cool game that that speaks to the brand, but also the people who really, really were like, no, no, I really want to be able to enlist these these these tools in my life.


Another also gave them a tool that they could really do. And some of the stuff that we got from our fans, I mean, it was absolutely beautiful, just people talking about how the games helped them break through things and learn stuff and in ways that I think they may not have been able to do otherwise.


I love that I want to ask you a question that goes back to something you said a few minutes ago about zeroing in on the most passionate people.


That's like, you know, Kevin, in my creed, we're like telling everybody that we are drinking that Kool-Aid, you know? And you're a businesswoman. You've worked at big media companies.


And it's really hard to to work at a media company and see big numbers, like a million people following us here. And also understand that in some cases it's important to zoom in on maybe a set of most passionate people.


And I'm just curious, how did you know that you needed to do that? How did you know what was your thinking about these 15 people or worth an hour long phone call? How did you realize that, given the size and scale of your reach overall? Yeah, definitely.


You know, it's it's a combination of things. You know, I think the first thing was, you know, having worked in media and media ranging from sort of ABC News, which was a more kind of mainstream, you know, accessible and in many ways commodities bubble type of news to a Bloomberg media, which was more specific in terms of its target audience and the types of things you get to be able to kind of like think about how you're able to take advantage of that to having worked in just traditional entertainment content.


I had a really good education and kind of understanding what are the things that are necessary to kind of scale something, you know, and when you're talking about a piece of content like everyday news, you've got to work really, really, really hard to kind of figure out what are the things that are going to make people come back, because you can go anywhere to really get that news, you know, ranging from a movie or TV show that has like rabid fans and people that are going to come and they're going to tweet.


And just because they're so excited about the content and I think kind of walking that spectrum over the course of my career, one of the things that became very evident to me is that in order for me to reach the level of power and access and I think reached with this community, I got to figure out how to tap into the I'm sorry, the Facebook.


I got to figure out how to tap into this broader community. And so but in order to understand the broader community, I need to understand the local community because they can probably tell me how they're feeling. And so that's why I decided to go to go local first. You know, I feel like, you know, in many ways we think about statistics. You don't have to like talk to everybody to kind of understand what the essence of the data is showing.


You can kind of talk to some specifics. And these women were from all over the country. I mean, they weren't specific to a certain geographic area, graphically, like similar.


They were, but they had passionate I mean, they were most of them were.


I think they were maybe like two men and many of them were black. And I think there may have been a couple of Latina women in the mix. But in general, at least I could kind of say, OK, I've got a woman in South Africa, I've got a woman in in in California. So at least when I think about trying to create the most ideal environment for kind of understanding and data collection, this is going to be a little bit more reliable than if it was like everybody was in California.


So that's honestly what drove me to kind of start there. And then from the lessons that I learned from honing in on them and just understanding how far their reach was, because, like I said, these women were building communities on their own, that while they didn't reach half a million, you're talking about growth rates over the course of a six to 12 month period that we're in the 50 percent to 100 percent. I mean, women start with members of their Facebook groups that may have been in the ten thousands by the end of the year.


We're fifty thousand. Forty thousand. I mean, so they knew what they were doing and they were able to grow. So it just it was like, why not start here? Because if I can understand the best practices that these women are doing, I can then model that out, create an entire program that allows me to begin to recruit other women to do the same thing in their communities. And that was the idea. We were going to basically create an entire kind of community building program where we would have our oggi sort of be the best, best in case examples.


And people could come to the website over time that we were going to build out and get instructions on how to start their own community group. Here are some videos here. Lessons over time is we're able to coordinate the show topics with perhaps in person or virtual experience that the women wanted to do. But if you're able to create a system that is scalable, the sky's the limit. And then you have a really nice network of people who can then become like buyers of your products, testers of certain things you're trying to promote, you know, showing up to geographic events that we were planning to host across the.


That's amazing.


I love that you had all these these insights, I feel like sometimes we interview these different people on this podcast and you're like, dang, you just had the right read, you know, and it's not necessarily like this specifically is in your background, but you you understood how to, like, analyze information in front of you and pull out meaningful insights and make strategic decisions even in a community building context. So it's just sad to hear you like process, process those decisions totally.


We recently interviewed a woman on the podcast who was a super fan of Mariah Carey's and she's 16.


Bonkers. The story is bonkers when she's 16. Mariah, like, kind of spotted her at a tower record signing because Bri had brought a binder with six thousand notes from six thousand different fans.


And she came on to work for Mariah Carey to help mobilize the fan community and to help at the time kind of get Mariah on TRL and the virtuous cycle between kind of the fans working together to get Mariah videos up on the charts into Earl. And they're still doing that billboard and Spotify and stuff. It's crazy. And the value that they got back was, of course, seeing Mariah succeed, but also just acknowledgment.


Yeah, acknowledgment from Mariah in different forms, which was what Bree sort of facilitated was, you know, these people that really love Mariah feeling like they had more access and connection to her information about her.


And you talked a little bit about acknowledgement with these DJ's earlier and maybe different members of the community. But how did you think through that?


And you're coming in maybe to add some process and structure to a blooming community. How did you think about the importance of that and any kind of process or structure you put around it?


I mean, I definitely thought it was important, like I said, because many of these women had been working for months on their own without really any acknowledgment. And I listen, I this is just sort of me as a business leader who kind of has also said even kind of understands how incentive structures work. And everybody has what I call their currency, whether it's money, whether it's praise, whether it's promotion, whatever the case is. But at the end of the day, everybody likes to be told told thank you.


You know what I mean? And, you know, and that's just kind of basic principle. So, you know, honestly, the first thing I did when we actually connected with all of the women who were the OGs was send them all thank you package. I mean, something signed from Jada t, a t shirt from Red Tabletop, you know, just like a really cool thing just to sort of start and acknowledge the work that they have been doing and just sort of in a very personal way, just to kind of establish that personal connection.


So this wasn't something that we promoted on social or anything. It was just stuff that they got. But again, because we had the platform of the show to also leverage, you know, they were coming on every week. We also began to incorporate shout outs to these women, but also other people, obviously, who were doing things that were noticeable to us as a team.


Sujata well, think they got the airtime airtime. Exactly. You know, so after the show, they would shout people out, thank you so and so, you know, using their handles and stuff. And that's just the beauty of social media, because then you're able to let people know, hey, like, if you do certain things, you will get celebrated. And ideally, that encourages them to do more. I mean. So that was sort of how we thought about it.


Just from a very practical perspective, as I begin to think about sort of infrastructure and process, I honestly went a lot to the group to ask them, you know, hey, what are some of the things that, you know, we should be doing? And I'll be honest, I think one of the things that really helped the team even get more organized of our OGs was when we actually because we because we probably met for about three or three or four months just picking up the phone, calling them.


But then we realized, OK, we're going to start sharing certain secrets and internal information with them because we wanted them to feel like they were part of the family. And so we had them all signed non-disclosure agreements, confidential agreements. And we were initially concerned that that was going to turn a lot of them off because you never know. Like when you start kind of asking people to sign paperwork, it can be a little scary.


I like, give me everything. Let me know that I felt like they were insiders. And so that in itself is a sign of celebration. It's a sign of, hey, I trust you. You know, it's a sign of thank you for what you've done so far. And I want to bring you more into the fold. So stuff like that, from an infrastructure perspective, at least with OG, began to allow us to create even more systems for us to say thank you.


So when we did surveys and stuff, you know, we kind of layer in certain things. You know, like I said, when the plan was to fly all of them to California, we had actually planned to do my gosh, that would have been amazing. Yeah. But, you know, just to kind of have a retreat, I was.


Jada would have been there to help support, but also bring in some other elements to create some really cool programming around that. That was the idea. And then in terms of the broader community, and this is where certain things, like some of the original content programs, like I said at the Summer Healing Sessions, we did something over the summer which was called the refresh. A lot of those things were free. And the whole point of those types of campaigns was to really sort of say, thank you.


We appreciate you coming. We know that the show is only successful because of you. So here's kind of free content, free tools, free things. You can sort of download that, if you're interested, will allow you to do more in your own life. And people really appreciated that. They really saw because we were giving away some gems that we were giving away very, very good information. And folks were just like, wow, I can't get this anywhere else and it's free.


Were there any, like, big challenges that you felt like you still couldn't crack with community building or anything that you feel like you took as a misstep?


Yeah, definitely. Well, it's funny. I don't know if this was necessarily offensive on my part, but the deal that they struck prior to me joining in terms of kind of getting the show going and getting on Facebook actually gave Facebook and this is not common, but gave Facebook control of all of our social media pages.


So, whoa, partner, you know, they were funding the show. So not not by no means saying there's anything necessarily wrong with that. But it proved to be a very difficult hurdle for us to overcome because Facebook has its own very specific things that they are mindful of and their legal team is very, very vocal.


And so some of the stuff that we wanted to do, we all will. All of the stuff that we wanted to post on the main Facebook pages had to be run through their team, their legal. And and so some of the stuff, you know, it was like if we wanted to give health information out, that type of thing was a little bit more taboo just because of concerns about liability and on that kind of stuff. But that was a big hurdle because, again, we did not own those channels.


So our ability to really get as creative and as innovative as we would have, like just wasn't there. And to be frank, in my opinion, I felt that the show page for Red Table Talk was too focused on the show, like it was really about like promoting show clips as opposed to really building community and things that really, I think resonate with communities means like just all.


If you think about all the stuff that goes viral, you know, in in community beginning to celebrate kind of user generated content in a more specific way to encourage folks to come back because they're interested in seeing what the coolest thing is going to be from the community or whatever. Yes, we're able to do. And so I think a lot of the storytelling kind of as you go deeper behind the scenes for some of the episodes that we have, you know, there are some really dynamic footage that no one ever saw because the two hours but the show was twenty five minutes.


So that, wow, its content is not showing up on the screen. But I would have never I would never do a deal like that going forward. Yeah.


So it's an important point of like anything that might block you from being able to communicate honestly and making sure those messages are seen by your community is it's a pretty big red flag. I think it can be a really big challenge to overcome. And I hear you kind of identifying that very early on and trying to, like, create a space where you can communicate directly with these people.


Yeah, no, that's a huge point. And I can't reiterated enough, you know, I mean, because you always have a filter.


If you don't control that, you're trying to navigate. And and then also you just have time lags. You don't I mean, like in many instances, especially when you're dealing with social stuff, you know, the timing matters. How are you able to capitalize on something that might be hot or resonating well and kind of elevate it, that type of thing? And if you have to wait four days for legal to turn it around, I mean, you've kind of lost, lost, lost the opportunity.


The other thing I would say that we didn't do enough and we were working on that. But like I said, it was kind of ignored early on was the power of Twitter. And actually Facebook did not own I mean, we controlled the Twitter channels.


So that actually I think they just probably pretended like the word Twitter doesn't exist and the platform exists and them don't say that word, although they were much more aggressive about us using YouTube, to be frank.


But that's another conversation. Interesting. What are they you know, they weren't really as focused on it clearly because they didn't put it in the deal. And I think that, you know, I was able to bring on a head of content and head of community probably about eight months into my tenure, just because we were sort of dealing with some early on structural things that we kind of had to work through. And when when they both came on, they were like, we've got to use Twitter.


Because if you think about it, it. It's a natural extension, even though the show is video based and obviously has its sort of feel and vibe that I think comes with having a visual experience, the the topics we were talking about generate so much additional content and so much additional conversation and all the things that I think Twitter does well. You know, the show could also lend itself well to and if you think about subcommunities and conversations around topics dealing with, say, parents and stuff and relationships.


And so we began to break down some of the topic areas that we're beginning to sort of show up is like consistent things. So that's an area that I think, you know, unfortunately, we got to, but not probably as soon as I would have liked. And I think that we could have definitely done some powerful community building on that platform, too.


And would you mind sharing just where is the red tabletop community right now and what are you focusing on?


So the community, from what I can tell, is still primarily on sort of the Facebook Instagram platforms. From what I can gauge, I don't think there's been a ton of effort continued around creating our own direct communication, you know, to kind of direct to consumer direct community strategy that I was focusing on. A lot of the control of the platforms has shifted back solely to Facebook and Instagram, from what I can tell. But I think, you know, especially with the OG's you know, the infrastructure that I have set up is no longer in place, you know what I mean?


So I know that there is a desire to potentially engage with them. But right now, a lot of the current leadership of the show is focusing purely on making the show, which for me is a disappointment, because I do believe that the community was really where the power was and in terms of growth and opportunity for business, definitely where that foundation was going to be built. So, yeah, I mean, you know, it's I don't think it's being as prioritized as it was.


But at the same time, you know, like I said, because there was already a strong. Just sort of organic momentum that I think kind of came from, especially within the Facebook group. People are still posting, they're still going to the main Facebook group to get advice and folks are still being vulnerable. Folks are still saying stuff that when I think about me, I'm like, wow, I can't believe you actually said that.


I mean, people talk about, you know, it's beautiful, you know, like their child tried to commit suicide yesterday. Their husband left them their husband gave them an STD. I mean, like, it's it's amazing the level of vulnerability that folks show in this group and people show up and they're there and they provide commentary and they give advice. So I do see that stuff still happening because I'm obviously still a part of the broader community. And so that's beautiful.


I just don't know if we're going to be able if the focus is going to be on turbocharging that, which is unfortunate because I think that there was a lot of power that could come from doing that, especially when it comes to just healing and helping people live better lives.


Yeah, it sounds like part of the driving purpose, part of the driving magic of red tabletops is healing through blatantly honest conversation. And if that is the purpose, it sounds like there's just so much so many wonderful ingredients to piece together, to provide some structure for to turbo charge in different ways to kill more people through blatantly honest conversation and especially how the world look like six months ago to now.


I think there's plenty of healing through blatantly honest conversation that can be realized because, you know, I'm not sure the show usually comes back in October. So I've heard that they're shooting kind of through my grapevine. And, you know, I'm intrigued to see how they continue to develop content sort of while shooting during kind of these covid production limitations that we have to maintain. And then the other thing is, I don't know if folks are aware, but, you know, there was actually an announcement made right around the time I was leaving where they were moving into a Latin version of a tabletop with Gloria Estefan as the kind of core celebrity.


And I think I did see the spot for Gloria Estefan. That's a good move.


You know, and it's interesting, you know, because I think there was absolutely a huge part of our community that was Spanish speaking Latin, Mexican, you know, the whole nine that really resonated and this joke. But usually talk to them. And also, when you think about a lot of the sort of just cultural just kind of cultural challenges that I think exist within the next community, there's a lot of diversity, which I think. Lends itself to some really interesting and tough conversations, and so the question is, will Gloria and her family kind of go there in the same way that Jada and her family did, if they're able to kind of get it going?


I know it's been kind of put on hold just because of covid, but that was another area where you're like, OK, there's a whole nother community that can be built off of this. Yeah.


You know, there's a lot of places to rent and some of what you did. But like you said, it depends on people actually being vulnerable, like up and down the kind of tree, the trunk of the tree, you know.


Jeff, what is working with a community like the red tabletop community meant to you or to the future of your work?


Well, you know, I will say that this was probably one of the best professional experiences I've had from the context of and you highlighted this early on. I felt that I was using every aspect of me, you know what I mean? You sort of have a 20 year career that spans kind of an interesting, unique variety of experiences. You know, like I said, I worked as a film producer, storyteller. You know, I've worked in sort of media companies doing everything from business development to digital strategy to working with product teams in developing technology.


And this was an opportunity to bring all of that together, in addition to layering in that I was working in a space that I really believed in personally. You know what I'm saying? Like, I really was excited about the mission that we were on the way we showed up in the world and the type of impact we were having personally. So you just feel excited about coming to work, you know, you feel excited about what you're doing.


And so that was just personally a very beautiful experience. And I will always be grateful for for being able to have that. I find it to be on this because I'm always like Jack, in your words.


But one of the things he's doing, nothing is more fun.


One of the things that you shared with me, I think one of our conversations was this analogy where you think about kind of the last 20 years of value that's been created by a lot of our major platforms, the Amazons, the Hubers, even frankly, the Facebook's and everything is software as a service.


So I would like one of my software as a service. Exactly. And you have said, you know, I think that one of the differences moving forward is this idea that community as a service is actually going to be a huge growth component and companies that are really able to kind of understand and, you know, kind of crack that code because it's not the same for every company. Obviously, that's not the same for every experience as you think about community.


How are you approaching it in a really strategic way is going to really influence how successful you are over time. And that has resonated with me, to be honest. So as I think about opportunities going forward that are important, I sorry, that could be really interesting and important to me from a professional perspective. Whether or not I'm able to have a community component is actually important, just how hard it is because people are fickle and things are fickle.


You're not always going to read things. And one thing you might think is one way actually ends up backfiring. And I mean that in itself, I think as a business person is is a challenging component that I actually enjoyed being able to kind of have that be a layer of all the problems you're trying to navigate when you're running and starting a business is really is really intriguing and it's exciting.


So it's definitely influenced me. And it's funny because, like I said, I grew up with community. Like it's always been something that I've kind of used, even even saying you feel like it's sort of a cliche word. But I realize now that it's really important, you know what I mean? Like, it actually is something that I want to make sure is incorporated in not only my personal life, but my professional life. You know, it's funny you talked about you asked me my last question.


Come like, what am I up to now? And one of the things that I have always been very passionate about is community building, especially within the black community, around financial empowerment and legacy and intergenerational wealth creation. And so while I'm not sure if this is going to be my next job or whatever, but I do have a desire to ultimately shift into some sort of tech offering experience that is focused around leveraging community as a way to encourage financial literacy, as a way to really beyond that, because, I mean, there are a lot of apps out there that I think are doing that.


But really beyond that sort of thinking about how you can leverage community concepts, i.e., is there a way for us to bring together people who have a collective interest, single mothers who want to stay for the kids to go to college, or, you know, entrepreneurs who are trying to go from 50 million to one hundred million in dollars? And it's I'm still very early in this. But how do you layer that on top of a really interesting technology offering to create some some some really powerful change when it comes to folks understanding the true, true insights into how intergenerational wealth is created?


And I feel like there's sort of the surface stuff that you kind of get. But then there's like the deeper stuff, the like they don't want us to know.


Unfortunately, I've been in certain rooms and I've had the opportunity to be exposed to some of this stuff. So I feel like I can bring a very unique perspective to the table in addition to like the fact that if I wanted to layer in content, I can access my Hollywood connections to create compelling content to also push this forward. So that's an area of passion and interest of mine that ultimately I would you know, I am sort of working on sort of in the background.


Yeah. Yeah.


Well, there might be some people listening that are also interested in that. One comes to mind, maybe bernholz listening from our last point.


Yes, but yeah. Yeah.


I think that there's there's just to me like a we're limited and together we can do so much more. And there are spaces where deeper conversations like you might see something on TV and want to have that conversation yourself, are going to increase the value or deeper conversation you can have with other people who are also trying to figure out a financial question can can deepen the learnings. You're trying to have Bothaina think about where those social connections bring added value. And I think the funny thing is we're really social people.


So it shows up in a lot.


There's a lot of opportunity, I think, for a community to bring more value if it makes sense.


But. Brad Kivi, thank you so much for being on our podcast and sharing so many wonderful stories. It sounds like the red team will talk Ogg's are amazing human beings. And if you're listening, I hope to meet you all someday. Yes. Thank you.


I hope you guys are OK.


You guys absolutely keep keep doing what you do.


If you want to connect with TV, you can reach her on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn and at Kibbie, Anderson, Kibuye and DRDO. And it will follow or follow. Thank you to our team. Thank you, Rossana Cabonne, for sound engineering and editing it. Thank you to Katie O'Connel for marketing this episode. And Greg David for his design work can find out more about the work we do as people in company, helping organizations get clear on who their most important communities are, how to build with those people by heading to our website people and that company.


Also, if you want to start your own community or supercharge one, you're already a part of our handbook is here for you, is it? Get together, Bookham to grab a copy. It's full of stories and learnings from conversations with community leaders like this one with KVI. If you don't mind, we really appreciate any reviews on the podcast. And also, any time you click the button, subscribe, it helps get the podcast and stories like these out to more people.


So you don't mind. I'd be great as being. All right. Thank you. Talk to you next time.