A Silent Book Club meeting is exactly what you’d expect groups gather to read their books in silence in local bookstores, cafés or bars. The community started when two friends frustrated by the traditional book club model flipped the concept on its head. Now, 220+ chapters of silent readers gather around the world to partake in communal reading. Silent Book Club offers a space to dispense the small talk, a relief to many introverts. In our conversation with Laura Gluhanich, the co-founder of Silent Book Club, we dive into the importance of creating a welcoming space in all senses of the word, both physically and online.
“It's not that introverts don't want to talk to people. They really value quality conversation over talking to big quantities of people. [Silent Book Clubs] appeal because you can get that little bit of conversation about something that you're interested in. You don't have to come up with small talk. That appeals to the type of person that appreciates that mix, and I think most people are kind of ambiverts.” - Laura Gluhanich
Laura Gluhanich and Guinevere de la Mare are the type of people who always had a book in hand and enjoyed reading in public spaces. But they shared a mutual frustration for the traditional book club. These sessions were often hard to schedule, and many times required reading a book that wasn’t of interest.
So to satisfy their desire for social reading, they got creative. They transformed frequent dinner outings in their San Francisco neighborhood into a shared time for quiet reading. They called their rendez-vous a “Silent Book Club”and it became a ritual for the two friends. Soon, other friends started to tag along and they began formalizing the invitations with Facebook events. Then came a series of infection points–people reaching out in Alabama, Japan, Serbia, Italy, the UK and more to start their own Silent Book Clubs, features in NPR and Oprah magazine—that brought them to 220+ chapters today.
Our correspondent Mia Quagliarello talks with Laura about how she and Guinevere learned from their careers in online community building to make an assertive stand with their community guidelines. She talks about how they, as a team, have documented dream partners, personal values and deal-breakers, that have served as an underlying shared basis for decision making. Together they have continued the Silent Book Club as a global passion project with the support of volunteer hosts on the side of day jobs, Laura as the Director of Programs at Him For Her, a social impact venture aimed at accelerating diversity on the corporate board, and Guinevere de la Mare as a UX Writer at Google.
Find more stories from community leaders who are passing the torch and supercharging their leaders.
👏Learn more about Silent Book Club and say hello at https://silentbook.club/
✨Say hi to our correspondent, Mia Quagliarello, and checkout her work with Flipboard and the Burning Man Project .
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Note: This transcript is automatically generated, and there may be some errors.
Welcome to the Get Together. This is our show about the nuts and bolts of community building. And I am your host Bailey Richardson. I'm a partner at people and company and a coauthor of get together how to build a community with your people, which is now available on Amazon. In each episode of this podcast, we interview everyday people who have built extraordinary communities about just how they did it. And this episode is a momentous one because it's hosted by our get together correspondent. My queen Mia quali irrele what's up Mia say hi. Hey Bailey. How's it going? Good. Yeah. So Mia, tell the eager folks at home, who did you pick as your interviewee on this episode of the podcast?
Speaker 1: So I picked Laura
Speaker 2: We love the introvert happy hour. I'm an introvert myself
Speaker 1: That sounded like right up my alley. So yeah, the silent book clubs started in San Francisco in 2012, and they're now 220 chapters around the world with more waiting to be added. It's amazing. Some of the longest running chapters are in Birmingham, Alabama Nagoya, Japan, Novi, sad Serbia. So it's really global
Speaker 2: Novi sod, Serbia. Dang, that is wild. That sounds like maybe not a huge city in Serbia, but I actually do not know. I will do my geography check later.
Speaker 1: So this community is an extension of the work Laura has done by day today. She's the director of programs at him for her, which is a social impact venture aimed at accelerating diversity on corporate boards. She's also had community roles at places like Google and Ning.
Speaker 2: And tell me why, why did you want to interview silent book club besides the fact that you are an introvert yourself? What got you excited about, about
Speaker 1: Them? I was just so fascinated with this idea of a thriving community of introverts and how you build community. When one of the criteria for participation is silence in our interview. She talks about this as well as the importance of setting the tone for your community. From the beginning with guidelines that you can enforce. We also talked about the value of having co-hosts, how to tackle scaling challenges. And of course we had to nerd out on books too. And for us, how does a silent book club work? So it's a meetup in a cafe bar or bookstore where people come sometimes with friends sometimes alone and read silently together. Typically the host greets everyone. There's chit chat for about 30 minutes. As people get settled, then there's total silence for the next 60 minutes. As people read their books and everyone's reading something different after the, after someone breaks the silence, there's more socializing.
Speaker 1: It's kind of people wander out. I found it to be really low, key, fun, and really rewarding. I read 20% of my book in an hour and I was just so surprised at how much you can read when you focus on something 100% amazing. And I always like to ask my, my everyday cohost Kevin, when you know what really as a community builder, what really stood out to him about the people we interview some kind of approach or tactic or insight that they had. So what stuck out to you about your conversation with Laura? There were so many things, but if I had to pick one thing, I would say that what really stood out to me was the importance of creating a welcoming space in all senses of the word, whether that's in a physical space or online. So not only is it a place where you can dispense with the small talk and just be okay, reading quietly, which is a huge relief for some people, but from day one, Laura and her co-founder going to be, or Denmark have set community guidelines that they strictly enforced to keep the club as accessible and inclusive as possible.
Speaker 1: And then they've managed to instill all that in an army of co-hosts who helps scale the goodness of the salmon book club. It's pretty amazing since COVID, they've mostly pivoted to online events with each chapter organizer, determining what's best for them. While also following the advice of local health officials. The fun thing is that this opens events up to anyone who wants to join and has an internet connection. Whenever you're has sat in on Italian meetups and Laura stopped by one based in South Korea. So it's a new way for the community to connect more broadly than they have in the past. They've also started online author chats to help support writers who aren't able to tour. All right, Mia, should we jump into the podcast, jump into the interview. Let's do it, Laura. It's so great to be talking to you. Hi, nice to chat with you. So I would love to just start at the top with the origin story for the silent book club. What motivated you?
Speaker 3: So I co founded silent book club with Guinevere Dale Mayer, and she and I both used to live in San Francisco. She still lives there. I'm in Denver, but we lived about four blocks away from each other in the neighborhood called Nopa. And we used to meet up at a restaurant together and just kind of hang out. And we were the type of people that always had books with us. So we could like read while you're waiting for each other and things like that. And there was one time where we had dinner and we were just kind of talking about how frustrated we were with book clubs in general, they would tend to Peter out, or they were just really hard to schedule for, or you'd end up reading something you actually didn't want to read. And we talked about how much we still love reading and reading in public.
Speaker 3: And we both were kind of like, well, why don't we just do this together? Where we, we bring them whatever book we want to. And we read, we just kind of started calling it silent book club and, and we would tell our friends, I, you know, they'd say, Oh, what are you doing tonight? I'm going to silent book club with Gwen a beer. And they'd be like, what is, what is that? Can we come to it? Or like, Oh, okay. Yeah, sure. So, so we really started organically and then we would actually start planning them and like inviting our friends on Facebook to join us at our silent book club. And it really then started growing from there where people would move away and start throwing chapters. And then like other people we'd never, we didn't know, found out about it. And that's kind of, when it really started taking, would
Speaker 1: You consider yourself an introvert? Is that why this sort of idea came to you in the first place?
Speaker 3: It's interesting. I used to be very extroverted when I was younger and the older I got, the more that I really value alone time. And I also just really value smaller groups versus big groups. I think that's a big change. And I think silent book club really hits that sweet spot of usually it's, you know, five to 15 people. You're all kind of into reading. So you have the shared kind of passion. That's what I think it really kind of appeals to people who may be introverts, but also maybe extroverts.
Speaker 1: Yeah. Can you take me through what an evening is like with the silent book club? How are events formatted and how do they go? Yeah, yeah, sure. We have a structure.
Speaker 3: We share out to all of our organizers, but we definitely allow flexibility. So some chapters do things very differently. Although I think most, pretty much follow. Basically we say plan for about two hours, the first 15 to 30 minutes, people arrive, you settle in. We definitely encourage everyone to purchase something wherever we happen to be at a cafe or bar or even a bookstore. And so you kind of spend the, the initial time getting to know each other, maybe sharing what you're reading. And then usually it's 45 minutes to an hour of basically sustained silent reading for adults. And then at the end, there's another, you know, usually 15 to 30 minutes where people are kind of wandering out, like talking about what they read, I'm talking about whatever else they might want to chat about. So there's definitely still connecting, which is really nice, but you've got that middle chunk of time to really just devote to a few chapters or whatever it is that you're reading.
Speaker 1: And do people come alone or do they bring friends or do they make friends? Yes. All of the above. It's really fun. Like people come alone, but I actually just, I went to a silent book club that was hosted here in Denver by the library. And it was part of a series they did for a winter reading and a program. And the woman said, Oh yeah, the first event. And actually some people exchange numbers. I don't know if it was for friendship or potentially something else, but so people definitely meet each other. And how strict are you about the silent piece? Like, are people whispering during their dedicated reading time?
Speaker 3: It's just one of those things that would be odd for someone to just randomly start talking. And usually we're in a setting, whether it's a bar or a cafe where like you can get up and go talk somewhere. If you want to, you can get up and go wander the shows if it's the library. So there's kind of plenty of options to get up and move around. But yeah, sometimes people laugh out loud at what they're reading or kind of like react and they might like bring up, this is what I just read that made me Yelp and surprise. It's fine. It's not really a big deal. I think the other thing is just, there's always ambient noise, like kind of wherever you are, if you're in a park again, bar, et cetera. So it's not like you would hear a pin drop anyway, there's kind of that white noise in the background.
Speaker 1: I mean, one of the reasons why I was so excited to talk to you on a podcast about community building is that it's just seems counter intuitive, that you would have built this blossoming community when, when you know, silence and introversion are part of the equation. How do you cultivate
Speaker 3: Communities when participants perhaps are a little bit more introverted? It's such a good question because I think it's not the introverts don't want to talk to people. I think they do really value quality of conversation over like talking to quantities of peoples. So this sort of appeals, because you can get that little bit of conversation about something that you're interested in and it actually is like really easy facilitation for talking to people. You don't have to come up with small talk. So I think that kind of appeals to the type of person that appreciates that. And I think, you know, most people are truly kind of ambiverts it's the range. And so, for example, I don't think too many of our organizers are super far on the introvert side of the spectrum because you have to still show up and host an event it's really great.
Speaker 3: It also just means that people sort of respect the space and respect the quiet and they appreciate it. What do you think is missing from our lives today that people need to kind of carve out this science time for silent reading in these public spaces? There's so much distraction. And I mean, I think a lot of it is our phones, which are wonderful devices, but also it's actually really hard to sit at home or sit even by yourself somewhere and not pull it out and start looking at it or like watching whatever the TV is on at the bar. And so this is a really nice sort of opportunity to just cut that time and to not be responsible for it. I think as nice to you, I've both organized, I don't book clubs and I've just attended and it's kind of nice when it's just someone else saying like, okay, time to read now.
Speaker 3: And then you do, and then you kind of get woken up, like, you know, 45 minutes later hour later having gotten into your, your world and whatever you're reading. And I think it's really hard to do that otherwise. Definitely. So in terms of training your hosts, if someone wants to be a host, what do they need to do? Yeah. And it's interesting too, because all of our hosts come to us proactively and that's kind of how it's always been. I was thinking about, you know, do we do any vetting? And basically if you've made the effort to start up a chapter and submit it to us and then kind of like, we walk you through steps to get there, that's sort of the vetting. If you want to host, we basically just ask that you kind of get it started. So you come up with a day, you come up with time, you find a location and then you engage with us and we'll provide you with branding.
Speaker 3: We provide you with sort of this schedule. We also have a Google group. That's all of the hosts globally. There's just a lot of opportunity to kind of share best practices to talk about, you know, how you get people to show up, to talk about how you partner, maybe with local organizations to help hosts and things like that. So it's really kind of, we provide that organizer community and then we also provide a lot of documentation and a lot of one-on-one support for getting you off the ground and how many chapters are there around the world? I think we're up to about 220. Wow. And there's another probably dozen in the queue waiting, waiting to get added, which are the most active. And what have you learned from some of them? So some of our most active, it's interesting, there's a London London's been active for, I think almost three years or maybe even three years.
Speaker 3: And they consistently have a couple of meetups a month. They have a couple of co-hosts and they max out on their RSVPs every month. Similarly, Toronto has a couple chapters. They also kind of max out. I think one thing that we've learned over time from a lot of these groups is co-hosting is sort of the way to go. I think that's great for kind of any community management organization, especially when you're talking about in person, if you have a cohost, it means you get a little bit more support in terms of just having someone to help shoulder some of the responsibility and ensures that every meetup has at least two people and then it just expands the invite pool. So that's one thing we've learned over time and specifically from some of these chapters, but it's really remarkable what a couple of our other longest running chapters are in Birmingham, Alabama in Nagoya, Japan in Novi, sod, Serbia.
Speaker 3: So there's kind of all over the place and it doesn't need to be super urban place necessarily. It can really happen anywhere. So what is running silent book club taught you about community building and community management as a whole. It's interesting whenever you and I, we each had spent more than a decade sort of an online communities or online offline communities as our full time roles. And so we actually took a lot of what we learn from those and applied it to silent book club. So like as an example, our online community primarily hosted on Facebook. We have guidelines there that we'd like strictly enforce. Some of our other experiences have taught us how to sort of enforce things like guidelines and professional way, how to not take things personally online. One of the things that actually we're really proud of, and we kind of, I think learned specifically from running silent book club, is that you can actually have a community that reflects your values and you can have like a thriving community that, that you sort of do actually enforce codes of conduct and community guidelines.
Speaker 3: I think that's something that's missing from a lot of communities. I think a lot of platforms are sort of scared to take a principled stand and say, you know, we're not gonna allow racism. We're not gonna allow bigotry. It's not actually your right to participate in this community. This is not penned in any sort of declaration from 300 years ago that you, you get to participate in every online community. And, and we've actually taken a really strong stance where it's, if you are personally attacking someone, if you say offensive things, like we just remove you from the group, we were nervous about that at first, it's like, is this going to damage us? Are people going to find this? And NPO, occasionally people do they think, Oh, you're censoring me. And we're like, you know, we're, you know, this is just, if you choose to do this kind of action, like this is the consequence and this is in our guidelines.
Speaker 3: And again, it's very clear. So, and then the flip side is everyone else in the community really appreciates it. And they say, we love space. We feel like this is really welcoming. We know that you spend time on this and it's a special space for people to participate when it came to putting together that code of conduct, how did you decide what your first principles were? And then how did you get those across, like it's on your website or, you know, and how do you keep reinforcing them? So we have over 50,000 people in our Facebook group and that's definitely sort of a strong component of our community. There's always in person meetups, but if you're not in one of those cities or can't organize, or can't get that out of the house, this online community is the other space. We didn't have guidelines on day one, but within the first few thousand members, we did, we moderate every single person that joins the group.
Speaker 3: And we moderate every single post that gets added into the group. And some of the rules are just like pretty straight forward. We don't allow any self promotion that might be a blogger or a blogger or an author. One of the things that we try to do is not make a judgment call and say, you know, this promotion is okay, and this isn't instead, we just say, you know what? Like you can promote elsewhere. That's just, isn't the group for it. That's something that we kind of do across the board. Similarly, it's you can't be racist. You can't be sexist like you can't post inflammatory content that is offensive. And then we actually have a couple of other things that are a little more subtle. One of our guidelines is if you post an image of a book, you have to also include the title and author and your post.
Speaker 3: And this is just for accessibility reasons. And it's one of those things where it's a little thing. It's a little thing that we tell people to do every day, but it's the effort that we want to make sure it's a welcome place. And it's sort of accessible to as many people as possible in terms of funding. That's always a big question for our listeners. How do you fund the silent book club? Luckily those full time jobs basically support us as functioning adults. Mostly we do get some money though. We have an online store that we relaunched last year with. I think it's great merchandise and great ideas. If you're a reader, if you have a friend who's a reader or a family member and you need to buy a gift, found the book club is a great store. We partnered with some really amazing designers to basically commission some work specifically for us with our branding.
Speaker 3: We also have partnered with publishers and other brands who sort of aligned with our audience and we do some giveaways and promotions and things like that. Honestly, the combination of both the partnerships and the store basically covers sort of the costs of, you know, the website and the newsletter and sort of that stuff. And the, of the time we spend, which is pretty considerable is just kind of volunteer. And what's been the biggest challenge you've faced in running the silent book club. The amount of time it takes given it is a passion project. Yeah, it's tough. It's rewarding in so far as people really love it, but it's not putting food on the table. And then as we're growing, we hit scaling challenges and those are actually kind of fun to try and solve like an example. We used to basically publish every single event on our website.
Speaker 3: So we had a calendar, you could go to our calendar and you could see where every silent book club meeting was happening around the world. As you can imagine that worked when we had 10 chapters or even 20 chapters, but once it got up to about 50 chapters, well, adding 50 events to a calendar a month is not really possible. So what we did is we shifted to a map. So now we have a map where you can see every chapter you can see, but you have to actually click through and go to that chapter's website or Facebook group or meetup in order to see when the next event is. So it's kind of like figuring out those types of things that are interesting challenges, anyone who does community as a profession, you're like a loss leader in a lot of ways for a company. So the budgets are pretty scarce, but there's basically nonexistent if you're doing this as a passion project. So figuring out ways to scale on a budget is really challenging.
Speaker 1: Are you able to harness your members to kind of help with these scaling challenges?
Speaker 3: Yeah. Yeah. For the Facebook group, we have a couple of volunteer moderators who are amazing. And we're actually looking to add a few more because again, we've kind of reached the point where we, we need it. So we do, we tap into members for that. The nice thing is our organizers are just also passionate and, and really enjoy sort of hosting in their local chapters. So they do a lot of work around kind of promoting their own local chapters. And as a result, our brand gets promoted as well. But one of the things we also do try to do with those partnerships is kind of benefit those chapters as well. So again, as we partner with publishers, if we can do something for the chapter organizers too, then they get that benefit.
Speaker 1: If you had a magic wand and you could grant any wish that you could for the silent book club community, what would it be?
Speaker 3: I would say universally, except for maybe one or two members, our community would like the state of Missouri to not jail librarians for, I'm not censoring students' reading habits. I don't know if you've heard about that, but no legislation, there's legislation up in the state of Missouri that could possibly have a school librarian sing jail time and students read what is considered to be inappropriate. That would be my magic wand is, but then also I think, you know, I've talked a little about these partnerships and we are planning some more things down the line, particularly in 2020, we're doing some, we have some fun stuff in the works in partnerships with our chapter organizers and then also hopefully some other campaigns and things like that. So I think just having people support us and when we go out with that, that'd be great.
Speaker 1: And where's this all going? Like, you've gotten some great press, you have hundreds of chapters. What does success look like for you if you haven't already hit it?
Speaker 3: Oh, I mean, we would love to be able to quit our day jobs and do this. So to have it sort of support us, that would be great. And we definitely have like some dream partnerships. We'd love to talk to, you know, Reese Witherspoon or Oprah and chat with them about their book clubs and how we can maybe I'll connect. We definitely have some sort of brands or people that are dream partnerships and then otherwise kind of figuring out a way for this to be sustainable for us and ideally for it. Yeah. Some of these folks who have been giving their time to be able to support them as well.
Speaker 1: Well, I would love to talk books. You know, what are some of the more popular books you've noticed your members are reading these days? Pretty much anything.
Speaker 3: The thing that's on the best seller list makes it to both in person events and then also the online community and the ones you hear about over and over again. So like educated by Tara Westover becoming by Michelle Obama. Those are kind of always present. Not surprisingly, we have a strong Harry Potter fan contingency, so those are always in the mix. And then when I think about sort of our in person meetups that I host, it's interesting, I actually see a decent amount of professional and self development books. So like Bernie Brown, but also maybe business books. Usually there's a few folks who are into fantasy Saifai in the midst of some series. Yeah. And then like best-sellers classics, there's kind of a whole range, which is fun.
Speaker 1: What have you read lately that you just, you're just still thinking about,
Speaker 3: There's actually two books that I read in the last year that have stuck with me. One is the gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee. He's the same writer who wrote the emperor of all maladies a few years back, which is about cancer and the gene and sort of takes that a little bit further. So this is nonfiction, but I think he's actually one of the best nonfiction writers out there in terms of making extremely complex ideas actually like understandable. And then I just think this is such a, not as often talked about thing, but it's, it's actually really pervasive is, you know, whether it's cancers or genetics as it applies to sort of having kids or disease or illnesses. So I just actually love that book as a nonfiction book. And then the one that kind of made me laugh and cry is a book called that can't kill us until they kill us by Hanif Willis. He's an essayist. If you look at his book and you look at the, the essays, it's, it's kind of like all music, it's like music criticism, but what he actually ended up talking about is so much more than that. It's like socioeconomics, it's race, it's gender, it's pop culture. It's definitely like about America. And that book just like tore me apart. It was so good
Speaker 1: Adding that to my list. Well, how many books a year do you read?
Speaker 3: I love reading and I, I usually tend to read about 25 to 30 books, which is to me like a reasonable amount. And then there's, you know, people who are in our group who read like 50 or 100. And so I always feel a little, I don't feel shame per se, but I'm also just like, should I be reading more as this organ I'm spending all my time moderating without reading. So that can't read as much.
Speaker 1: What are some of your tricks or tricks you've heard from your community about squeezing reading in aside from of course attending the silent book club events? I think audio books
Speaker 3: Are kind of like the big way that people read more. And because then you can read on commutes and you can read in the car and yes it is reading. So audio books are one way or the other. And I, and I, this is actually something I used to do and I don't do it as much. And I think it's clear from the amount of reading that I get done is, but it's just setting aside basically 15 to 30 minutes before bed. And not necessarily every night, I used to do it four nights a week. That was kind of my rule. And it's such a great way. Not only to kind of get through the reading, but also to get off the phone and to sort of get your brain, I think, ready to sleep. I feel like that's one of those tricks that actually has multiple benefits and I should start doing it again.
Speaker 3: One of my tricks is to listen to an audio book at 1.5 speed. Is that cheating? No. And I've heard that too. And I've heard the 1.5. It still sounds sort of like normal enough. And then once you get to like two or higher, it actually kind of distracts from the book itself. Yeah. Yeah. I can't go higher than 1.5. Are you reading more than one book at once? That's actually another one of my tricks. I have one audio book going and then a print book. Yeah. Usually I have two to three, usually it's one fiction and one nonfiction. And then there may be, yeah, like some short stories or essays or poetry or something. Cause then if I get stuck on one, I can go to the other two. What book do you think everyone should read hands down, no matter who they are or what they're into.
Speaker 3: That's just, this is the hardest question. I will say that the book that I've given the most often is Franny and Zooey by JD Salinger. And I think it's way better than catcher in the rye. I like, I was trying to pinpoint why I love it so much. And I think it's because it has a really, to me it's like the perfect mix of like humor and sarcasm with earnestness. And I think that's like, what I really love is when something is earnest, but also it doesn't take itself too seriously. It's a great book. I don't know how to describe it more than because there's some spirituality to it, but again, there's humor. It's about family. So I think that would be my recommendation, I will say, because you had sent this question before. I also asked my cofounder what books she recommends. And she said that she always recommends wonder by RJ Palacio, it's a middle grade novel.
Speaker 3: She said her kids fourth grade class read it, but it sounds like the theme is for people to quote, choose kind. She thinks that would be really helpful for everyone to read. I would love to learn a little bit more about how you found your cofounder and how you guys work together. One of your and I actually met with, we had a mutual friend, Fiona Tang, who I guess sort of ironically is my co founder of a consultancy, a community consultancy that I used to run. So if you're not connected us and again, like we, because we lived close to each other, we would hang out. And then we, this sort of just happened really organically. And when it came time to sort of like formalize, it was formalized into community first. And then we actually became an LLC in 2018. And so that's when it became sort of an entity that we had to like, you know, write stuff down on paper for how our relationship was going to be.
Speaker 3: I followed some advice that I had been told when Fiona and I were starting our company, which is basically start writing stuff down on a shared doc, a Google doc, basically like, what are your deal breakers? What are the sort of values you hold dear? And you want this organization to hold dear? Like, what are your dream partnerships? What happens if something comes up? Like, how would you, would you want to end it? What are possible outcomes in terms of being sold or being shut down or whatever it might be, and kind of like really having a brainstorm about what are some best case and worst case scenarios and how would you approach them? And so like having those conversations really early on in our partnership, first of all, like we kind of shared a lot of the same hopes and dreams as it were.
Speaker 3: And then we also kind of really aligned on values in terms of who we, we agree that there were certain sort of brands or organizations that we actually wouldn't want to partner with. And again, that was okay. And sort of like the values I talked about before, where we were okay with, with taking a stand and partially because this is a side project and because it's for fun, we felt like we could do that. And it wasn't going to, you know, like damage our livelihoods. This is getting really intense, but yeah, so we had these kind of hard conversations early. And then the nice thing is when you do that, then like you have this underlying sort of shared basis of how you're going to make decisions. And that really kinda applied to just almost everything, you know, whether it's like moderating a specific comment in a Facebook group, or like how we're going to draft a newsletter or how we're going to approach a redesign.
Speaker 3: It's like, it all kind of comes from the same place. So that's something that would kind of recommend anyone do, whether they're starting a company or a nonprofit or a community with someone is to just really kind of come up with those shared values and come up with sort of, again, those like best case, worst case scenarios and how you, how you want to make decisions early on. And then how do you divide the labor from there? Oh, well I'm lucky because Gwen Avir has an artistic component. So like she can actually do a lot of design work. I tend to be the person that like once to fill in the spreadsheet and the, so I'll do a lot of the like onboarding new chapters, getting them on the map, getting the emails sent out, doing that, going through that checklist sort of over and over again, a lot of this stuff I think is just towards our natural abilities, which is nice, but the good news is we overlap enough where we can take breaks and the other person can sort of take over if need be.
Speaker 3: We also, I mean, for what it's worth, we have a weekly check in. So we have a phone call every week where we talk about whether it's, you know, emails and inbox from potential partners or, you know, a longer term strategy or campaign that we want to do. We make sure to cover that. And then basically since 2018, we also do sort of annual get together where we meet up and sort of again, talk about like bigger picture things. And, and what do we want to spend our time on with regards to Salem club, like in the coming year? Fantastic. Laura, do you have anything else that you want to add that we didn't touch on? One of the questions you would ask is sort of like when we knew we had made it. And one of the things that I thought was interesting is kind of like the first inflection was, was yeah.
Speaker 3: When like strangers that we, people we didn't know, reached out to want to sort of create their own silent book club. And we're like, Oh, that's interesting. Okay. That means this is more than just us and our friends who, who sort of like get it. And then the other thing, the reason we incorporated was because organizations started reaching out to partner with us and we realized like, Oh, if we want to do anything, we need to have some sort of entity that we can do it as. And so we subsequently formed an LLC because of, you know, we kind of like looked at the different options and we also trademark silent book club. That was a huge inflection point for us to do that are like early 2018. We got a little bit of press and we got a little bit of sort of partnership requests.
Speaker 3: And we were like, Oh my gosh, this is, this is okay. Like other people are actually finding like beyond sort of people that want to do this. People who are, want to write about it or want to, you know, reach our community or are finding out about those. And then last year we had, we were part of an Oprah magazine article and then we also were an NPR and those were both huge for us. And they were also kind of someone in each organization reached out and said like, Hey, we heard about this. We want to share this with our audience. And we were like, okay. But yeah, it's when something is growing organically and it was, it was pretty slow to begin with, but it was sort of like still growing. I think, you know, that it's successful at that point when it's just things sort of fall in place.
Speaker 3: Yeah. Thank you for bringing that up. That's actually a really important point and talk about like how communities grow exponentially. So yeah, it sounds like for you as the word of mouth and then, and then yeah, suddenly we're getting this outside interest. So we were in Oprah magazine in last February and we were like, Oh, this is huge. And you know, it was huge. We're like, Oh, now we're we never, you know, no connection to over whatsoever. But we were like, no, you know, but the NPR piece, which was an August and it was, it wasn't even on the radio. It was just, I think, I think it was just online, but that is the piece that basically doubled the number of chapters for us. I think we went basically from like 60 to 120 chapters in a month, it took us two or three years to get to 60.
Speaker 3: So that was huge. And it was sort of a lesson for us in thinking about where our community is and where like the audiences for these different, whether it's publications or whatever. And obviously Oprah's people that read Oprah magazine are readers, but in terms of people that would maybe organize events, the NPR crowd definitely sort of, we struck a chord with them. And so I think that was just an interesting kind of lesson for us and where to potential as, as we think again, sort of moving forward, like where to spend our time and effort.
Speaker 1: Yeah. And for other community organizations who are looking to build our community who want press, I mean, you still need to have that hook, right. Like your idea was really smart and different and interesting. And it literally resonated with people, but do you have any advice for other community organizations, you know, who are looking to build did have great press.
Speaker 3: Yeah. That's the hard part because we haven't really come up with a strategy of our own, I will say again. And actually I think empowering your local organizers to, to speak to their own again, like local press is important. So we have organizers in Italy. We've organized it kind of all over the world, but basically one of the organizers in Italy decided to go after local press and sort of similar, like as a result, we went from having two chapters in Italy to 18 in like two months because of their like local action. So we're really grateful for that. We celebrate that, but it's not something we would necessarily do or could do on our own because one of your speak some Italian, but, or in Italy or fluent, right. To, to kind of do that kind of effort. So I think, and then the other kind of side of that is even when press reaches out to us, we always offer to connect them to local organizers so they can get the story from the, from the other people who are participating.
Speaker 3: And, and, and so it really is kind of beneficial. It's beneficial, I think for the press organization. Cause they get, it's not, it doesn't come across as, you know, just talking to two people, some global place. And then also, obviously it gives those local organizers like a big boost. So I think partnering with that with your community organizers to really kind of reach that because the other thing is just, you start small. And so we definitely got like local press first. And then we got like some really kind of niche publications. I think poetry magazine wrote about us in the early days, Christian science monitor. And I think those were necessary before getting some of the bigger, bigger outlets.
Speaker 1: So if you want to connect with the silent book club, find firstname.lastname@example.org. And they're also really active on Facebook where their group is called silent book club,
Speaker 2: Easy enough. And if you want to learn more about people and company maybe applied to be the lucky, maybe we'll have like a second correspondence someday. You can learn more about us at our website, it's people and.company, not a.com. It's a.company. If you want a pester and Mia on the internet, she said, I can share her Twitter handle. It is at Mia Q say hi to her there. She's busy. So we'll see if she replies. Maybe you'll get lucky, final, final things. If you want to check out our handbook for how to build a community that's email@example.com, it's full of stories and learnings from conversations with community leaders like this one with Laura and final, final thing. If you like this podcast, we ask kindly, please review us and subscribe. It helps more people find the podcast and get it out into the world. Cool. Thank you. Thanks Bailey