The 16 Benefits of Private vs. Open Communities

For 2017 I invested more than $10K to participate in private online communities (more than $15K if you include the associated travel and related expenses). For 2018 my investment has already exceeded $30K, and I’m looking to bump it to $40-50K within the next several months. — Steve Pavlina


Today I dissect a long-form, incredibly high quality blog post by Steve Pavlina from 2018 called ‘The Rise of Private Communities‘ — for Pavlina, the investment he’d made into private communities was better than Bitcoin. Earlier this year Scott McKeon and I established a private community called The Constant Student, and I’ve since taken the time to deconstruct Pavlina’s post whilst cross-referencing my own experiences and learnings over the past 10 months.


If you’re interested in i) joining, ii) understanding or iii) creating a private community I highly recommend you see this through. I’m a famously frugal person, but whenever I read Pavlina’s blog post I feel like spending five figures on private communities. We are still early in this movement, and it will have significant implications for the future of our world in how we live, work and learn together.


This is a long-form post, so I’ve summarised the benefits below. We go through each of these in-depth in the article.


Summary of benefits of private vs. free communities

  1. Less trolls and spammers
  2. Less noise
  3. More active members
  4. Restricted, selective, and more hand chosen members and therefore experience, somewhat proportionate to the cost (the more you pay = the better the quality and results).
  5. ‘Smartest’ person in the Room is the Room — ensuring the quality of the Room is key.
  6. Action and results based, rather than discussion based
  7. More resources dedicated to improvement
  8. Interacting with more results-oriented people is infections
  9. Deeper sharing — higher quality relationships quicker and easier, with more transparency around numbers too.
  10. Direct coaching (and other goal-focused benefits)
  11. Material and Resources are tailored for you
  12. Accountability
  13. Better Cost-Benefit Ratio
  14. Faster growth
  15. Quickly inherit a strong network of intelligent and successful peers
  16. Change your entire culture and environment without moving


Firstly, what is a private community? How is it different to a free community?


Think of an exclusive Gentleman’s Club — unlike an open community where anyone can join, a private community is more selective about who it welcomes as a member. There is normally an application process and a degree of filtering carried out by the community’s leadership.


Yes, private communities can be free. They can also be paid. They can be run online, in-person, or both.


A few examples that sit on the exclusive side:


Communities are everywhere and have been part of our way of life since the early stages of evolution. There are plenty of open communities, but their value is often diluted by:

  1. A lack of shared identity
  2. A lack of selectivity in the membership process (getting access means something)
  3. It’s easy to come and go


Yes you can find free communities and have a positive experience. In saying that, much of the below that Pavlina brings up in his article will be hard to come by in free communities.


Restricted access


Because not everyone can join, specific requirements need to be met for you to even be considered for a private community. More exclusive communities may have an involved application process with multiple interviews, and can cost tens of thousands of dollars annually.


These are often smaller, as a pose to the thousands or perhaps millions in popular free communities. For example, Pavlina has 95 paid members in the community he runs and feels that this is more than enough.


A modest barrier can serve a valuable purpose to filter out the tire-kickers and preserve the community space for members who are more intentional. It also reduces spam in the community space. Trolls and spammers normally flock to free communities because it is easier to get in, others are there are spamming it too, and there’s limited to no social accountability. That’s the reason why Facebook, Twitter and Youtube comments get so fierce — there are no penalties to being rogue in open online spaces.


Meet the Elite


The nature of these communities is that they filter out the less serious people, leaving you with those who are more dedicated and serious about the subject.


As Pavlina notes, this tends to scale with the cost and/or the qualifications necessary for access. It seems to be a pretty natural way to filter – just increase the effort involved to join! We see this with programs and accelerators all the time — a detailed application process or set of entry requirements forces you to place a higher value on whatever you’re opting into.


I participated in Akimbo’s Emerging Leaders Program last year, where I met in one cohort of 80-90 people a lifetime worth of collaborators, more so than in 16 years of formal education.


Though this was free, they used the application process trick — after filling out a stack of questions, you had to make a video introducing yourself. This made people value it and treat it seriously once they got in — and not everyone was accepted, making acceptance special and valuable. Yes, kind of like being accepted by the cool kids at high school. If everyone gets accepted, they’re no longer the cool kids! Selectivity is special.


For more on the importance of filtering in group settings, see my post on Who is the smartest person in the Room?


These filters aren’t perfect


Pavlina makes the following points

  • If you charge for a private community, some who want to join simply won’t be able to afford it, even if they are willing and deserving Highest-ROI Customers. In Constant Student, we’ve overcome this with scholarships, which has re-framed the idea of a place in the community being ‘given away for free’ and people really value it.
  • You may get the opposite — more serious members who just have ample money to throw around.


While this system isn’t perfect, Pavlina is still a big believer in this private community idea — and so am I. He says “If I’d known ten years ago what I know now, I would have bought into paid communities a lot sooner”. We are still very early in the private, online and paid community movement, but logic and our evolving use of the internet suggests that their widespread adoption is an inevitability.


In a world where who you know tends to be more significant than what you know, the private community model is a way of re-arranging our focus of learning from content and information to community and people — to those you network with, complement and grow alongside.


Much more active


Pavlina loves that members of private communities tend to be way more active. “Easy come, easy go” says Seth Godin — the easier you make it for people to join, the more likely you are to attract lurkers who don’t contribute much.


This is definitely something we’ve juggled with the Constant Student. At the start, we were hungry to find our first members and drive early engagement, meaning we approached a broader range of people and made it relatively easy to join — now we are tweaking that journey. We are making it more difficult to join the community so we can improve and maintain the high standards.


For those new to the private community space, this idea might seem a little absurd, but Pavlina points out that:


“Given the choice between joining a free community and a paid community in the same field with the same features and run by the same people, I’ll gladly favor the paid group. Why? Because it’s a virtual certainty that the paid community will be smaller, tighter, more committed, and more professional. The elite members will largely be found in the paid community.”


The conversation is about return-on-investment, not cost-minimsation.


Imagine you had a business selling headphones, and that for every $1 you spent on online advertising, you made $10 profit. If you cut spending by 50%, you’ll spend 50 cents but get $5 back. If you increase your investment to $10 in advertising spending, you’ll earn $100.


Pavlina’s point is that private communities work out the same way. Again, this comes to the ‘quality of the Room’ that I talked about.


The podcaster thought experiment


Imagine money wasn’t a limiting factor, and you had a podcast. Would you rather meet people willing to pay $100 to join a private community of podcasters, or $10,000 to join the same style of community?


Assume no feature differentiation between these two communities — they are like-for-like in terms of design. Perhaps members suggest challenges they are interested in to grow their podcasts, and invite you to join for accountability. They also share tips on how to get guests, identify new channels of growth, and make introductions to quality guests.


Which community would you rather join, if money weren’t a limiting factor?


If people are willing to invest $10,000 into their podcast journey, I’d argue that those are the sort of people you want to meet, and be in a community with. We assume they’ll be able to help you access better guests, suggest better challenges, and hold you to higher standards. Assuming their standards are higher, that means you will be in an environment where you hold yourself to higher standards.


For you, that means getting better results

  1. All you have to do is put yourself in the right community
  2. The features aren’t what makes the community, as this doesn’t change between the $100 and $10,000 scenario. The features aid or inhibit the community — what makes the community is the people in it. In community, the other people are the real product.


Knowing that everyone else paid $10,000 to be in this community makes you treat it seriously, show up with your game face on, and make the most of it. It also intimidates the hell out of you — you feel like you are average in comparison to the other people in the Room, and that’s good.


Creating an exclusive, higher-touch and higher-service premium community space not only applies the principles from Who is the smartest person in the Room? but also Joe’s rule of 10x Potential. It levels you up even faster, the same way the higher maths class got to learn at a faster rate than the more general classes at school.


Russell Brunson, the prolific digital marketer and founder of ClickFunnels tells a story — an old mentor gave him an instructional film to watch. Handing him a copy, he then asked for his wallet — Brunson obliged, handing over his wallet, for his mentor to take out all the notes he had.


“Why are you taking the money?” Brunson asked, suddenly hundreds of dollars lighter.


“Because if I give you this for free, you won’t make the most of it. But because I’ve taken your money, you’ll actually watch it, and you’ll watch it straight away — and you’ll value it” (paraphrased).


Brunson watched the film that night.


More Action and Results


Pavlina points out that private and paid communities are usually focused on taking action and getting results. Free communities on the other hand seem to be discussion-based.


Take Sydney Startups, a free Facebook Group I’m a part of. I rarely interact with it, and have only posted three times:

  1. Looking for quick quotes for a book I was doing about learning
  2. Trying to promote the info night for my online community, The Constant Student
  3. Looking for engagement and support for my book launch.


I’m not a very good member of this community. The only value I’ve added to it is giving work to a graphic designer I saw post in there once. I don’t feel particularly strongly about this community — I’m a huge lurker and low-value member. It’s easy to get in, and I’ve seen a lot of my own friends on this page who aren’t really that entrepreneurial, somewhat diluting its meaningfulness. It’s also filled with promotion-heavy posts (I’m guilty of contributing on the odd occasion to that).


It doesn’t feel special, it doesn’t feel concentrated, it’s pretty bland. Here are the top 3 posts that sit on my feed right now from this group:


“Anyone else feeling frustrated and helpless on the way things are going and where humanity is heading. We became ego centric with little regards given to fellow humans , animals and environment!”


Ruairi has written a long post asking about office politics in testing and introducing an app to his company, via HR.


Next is Christine:

*”*G’Day! Any EdTech Founders in the house? Tell me what you do! (I’m an Aussie running an EdTech biz in LA. Down to share info on the US Market, fundraising, VCs etc.)


They’re all pretty generic, and none of them grab me. It dilutes my experience, creating noise and making me less likely to go on or contribute here going forward. I also suspect that any responses and comments on this post will not lead to much meaningful follow through, because of the easy come, easy go principle. People are quite reactive because it’s easy to post, and easy to comment… there’s no real cost. Meanwhile, it’s hard to gage the quality of people because it’s free and easy to join the group.


This free experience is great for many other reasons, but you can see why it’s so discussion-based. In the Constant Student, one of the things that has worked well is running niche 4-week challenges and group calls on very specific pursuits like writing and podcast launching. In this way, we build long-term relationships with a deeper appreciation and understanding for what one another is doing and where we are at in our projects. This is a much stronger call-to-action and focus on results, as a pose to discussion, and we still have many improvements to make. Because it’s our core focus, we work on continually improving it, rather than a free community without guidance that can’t be improved.


To go back to Pavlina:

I was surprised to see that private community discussions were normally much more focused on specific how-tos, action steps, and goal-oriented progress. The members wanted results, and they leveraged these communities to help them solve real world problems and to make progress.


Of course, it helps when the progress you get from these communities is measurable, quantifiable, tangible or clear. This is something we’ve realised with Constant Student also — a lot of the personal growth value was less tangible, so we’re shifting towards a focus on projects for our community members, and achieving their MVL.


Aligning the focus of the community


Pavlina makes another great point — the investment in the community creates the need to get the most out of it. This forces you to focus on results, which creates alignment top-to-bottom. This is harder in a free community.


If managers of a free communtiy need to monetise it so they can justify their time investment, needing to do so via advertising or other means can compromise the integrity of the community and what is in members’ best interests. For Pavlina, a specific example was joining a community to help him achieve a six-figure launch, which he’d never done before, but can now confidently replicate! Not bad right!


It’s very natural to begin by testing out free communities to begin with. I think that’s a great place to start if the concept of private, paid and online communities is very new to you. Over time, you can monitor your progress and the need for more service by upgrading to something more private and dedicated.


Finding implementers


We’ve found in The Constant Student that any discussion-based elements of the community soon lose engagement once people are ready to move on, level up and take action on projects. That makes perfect sense.


We’ve found that the social connections and discussion help give people a bit of confidence that:

  1. There are other people like them
  2. They are connected to those people if they need them as a resource, and
  3. They’re not so crazy for pursuing their own projects.


We’re now evolving to meet this priority of serving the members who are willing to take action. These people are highly motivated, and they don’t want to hang out in free Facebook Groups answering simple questions, or chat endlessly without taking action. So, once you’re at a a stage where you want to implement, improve or grow your projects, where are you going to hang out? You will want to find other people implementing and taking action.


“Connecting with results-oriented people on a daily basis is infections” — Pavlina.


It’s the whole “you are the sum of the five people with who you associate most” (but I’ll come back to this)


It will raise the standards of the interactions you accept and expect offline and online. You will find yourself less content with spending time on social media, and more involved in higher quality interactions.


Deeper sharing


The deeper sharing that goes on in private communities is definitely something we’ve seen in The Constant Student. I believe it’s a function of the following:

  1. We’ve created a safe place for people to be themselves, with nothing to prove.
  2. We’ve managed to connect people together in live conversations and removed the barriers between them.
  3. The greater effort required to enter the community, and the time invested makes the experience more special… ‘oh, I got in!’
  4. This creates an initial excitement, especially when joining the community.


This may be hard to fathom if you haven’t interacted with a private community before, but those who have will know what I mean when I agree with Pavlina — that these connections don’t take much time to forge at all (even when they’re virtual). Because of the filters and environment of these communities, honesty and transparency happens pretty quickly.


It’s like someone has done the first three dates on your behalf, vetting new connections for you — but on scale. When you join the right private community, it’s like slotting in to the fourth date with thirty or more people at once. That’s surely everything you need to work towards your professional goals.


It helps people take strides and make progress.


Furthermore, in private communities it’s common to see people sharing their specific financial results with other community members. You’ll see people share dismal results and positive breakthroughs alike. When the results are weak, they get analysis, advice, and encouragement. When the results are good, they’re invited to share more details about their success to help inspire and educate other members, and they receive lots of congratulations too. — Steven Pavlina


In summary:

  1. Best practices tend to spread through a private community faster because it’s easier to connect methods and processes with results
  2. There is less incentive to lie or mask results, as this is a barrier to people understanding your situation.
  3. Connections are of a greater quality and form more easily


Signal-to-Noise Ratio


See my above comment about Facebook groups, and my comment on how to set up the right ‘Room’ or culture for learning and progress. You can see why the signal-to-noise ratio is better in private communities, especially paid ones.

  1. The filters are much higher keeping out noisy, impulsive and low-bandwidth posts, comments, and sharing.
  2. To a member who is posting or sharing, there is more cost associated with making noise — people have invested more time, effort and money into joining a private community which makes them more averse to getting kicked out.
  3. Because of the above, there is less ‘fluff’ — that is, noisy and unnecessary chatter. Because the community is not generic and has a purpose, there is more specificity on what is shared there.


Imagine you loved history class at high school, but you were in the 10% minority. Only 10 of the 100 people in the class are interested, have done the homework, and kept up to date. What are the implications? The other 90 will have discordant conversations, ask dumber questions, and make the environment noisy.


But if you got the 10 most interested people and removed the other 90, you would create a very powerful environment. Because everyone’s done the work, and is highly committed to being there for the reasons of furthering their understanding, there is no basic slow-paced learning, and the 10 can press ahead… as far as the subject of history is concerned, they will have a much better experience, and leave the 90 in their trail, now they are no longer holding them back from getting what they need.


The private community concept works exactly this way. Pavlina writes in his post that fluff rates in private communities is around 5-10% of posts vs. 50-95% in free communities.

I’ve been especially impressed to see how far paid community members will go to help each other. For example, you might post a question and find that a more experienced member invites you to immediately hop on a call to share their best advice and solutions – for free.


This is something we’ve seen in the Constant Student too! Olivia jumped on a call with my brother Oscar to ask questions about cryptocurrency, and with Dom to get feedback on a running program. Lachy, who set up his business Fresh Hydration has had free follow-up calls with Auri (who is great with websites), Sean (who is great with influencers and digital marketing), Marvin (who had an insight on the water industry and how people consume drinking products) and Scott, Liam and myself — though us three are a formal part of the community leadership, the others are not.


Where else can you get this level of support, in so many areas? It beats coaching, which is normally hyper-specific to one specialty area, and marketing agencies, which can’t get you a conversation with someone in your target market for early feedback — in the community, Marvin was able to find Lachy. Check it out here.


A better way to exchange and receive free services


The power of these communities is incredible — they bring people together and remove the barriers between people who enjoy sharing, and the people who are ready not just to listen to what they have to say, but actually appreciate and action it.


If you’re like me, you enjoy giving generously, especially to people who are young, incredibly enthusiastic or early in their journey. What you don’t enjoy is wasting time — for many people, the real joy of a community is not the obvious things you ‘get’, but what you get by giving.


This is a better place and way to give generously — and giving generously is not always ‘free’. You can charge people and still give generously — but for those you help to succeed, that is an all-round net positive. People who are in a paid/private community indicate a level of seriousness that singles them out as more deserving of your attention.


A whole ecosystem of stuff! Courses, coaching and more


Pavlina points out that in CGC there are video coaching calls most weeks running up to 2 hours. These calls get recorded and added to the membership portal for later viewing.


In Dru Riley’s community Trends.vc there is a higher priced layer of the community where you get access to weekly masterminds. In other creator (e.g. Pat Flynn) or consulting (e.g. Jack Butcher) driven communities there is a very natural upsell for those services.


“Some communities pack in so much value that you may feel a little overwhelmed by all the possibilities when you first join. I think that’s a good thing though. It can help you get used to abundance, whereby the main challenge is prioritising” — Pavlina.


Stronger Relationships


This is definitely a factor in the Constant Student. Our initial connection point is online, yet we have built incredible relationships in this community. At the moment, more of my deep relationships are with people I’ve never met in person, which is crazy.


There’s certainly a very positive impact you feel when being surrounded by people operating at higher wavelengths and moving at a greater pace in life. This is energising, and it forces you to raise the standards of your average interactions.


20-year-old Taryn Everdeen filmed a whole documentary about the music scene in her hometown of Norwich, UK. When I asked her why she chose to do such a thing, she replied, ‘people in Constant Student do things like that… they don’t need permission, they don’t wait to be asked… they just do it!’.


I think that’s incredibly powerful. Trust comes quicker, and so does reinforcement from the tribe — on an explicit level (e.g. ‘you could go and do this Taryn’) or an implicit level (Taryn just taking a cue from the culture and taking action).


You can also be much more brutally honest, which I love. James Fricker, host of Graduate Theory emphasised just how much he wanted more brutal honesty when he joined the community. Liam Hounsell will also relay onto you my brutal feedback about everything he does (the poor bugger) — it goes beyond love hearts and thumbs up buttons on social media.


The truth is, we are just more heavily integrated into one another’s projects and lives — it’s like forming teams for projects that are still individually owned, because everyone gets something out of helping each other. James helps Liam with Liam’s podcast, which also helps James learn things for his own podcast.


Material and Resources are tailored for you


Garry Vaynerchuk is a media magnate and master of creator content. As he points out, you must always contextualise content for a specific social media platform — blasting emails or social media posts out to everyone is never as effective, and ends up being a misuse of energy.


Even though content ‘is free on Youtube and Google’ — it is noisy. This creates a problem, as discussed before. A great example for members of Constant Student is that Googling ‘how to start a podcast’ is often confusing. It should be simple, yet the internet struggles to lay this out well — Google knows how to do everything, but struggles to tell us.


Content, material, and resources in a community are heavily contextualised and prepared for the specific type of people that are there. This makes it easier to speak in the right language for you, and address the problems common for people like you who go through a specific process. Most online material suffers from The Iceberg Effect… never giving a deep enough context for the reader’s benefit.


What’s the last thing you tried to do that really furrowed your eyebrows or confused you? You know the feeling, you spend hours on search engines, trying to figure out how to do some technological thing — but you also don’t want to bother friends with a stupid question.


A community with filtered resources is a real god-send in situations like this. It’s an inbetween solution.




Liam, James and I set up an intimate weekly call for launching our podcasts within the umbrella of Constant Student. This has been hyper-specific and great for accountability, as the social nature of it makes us accountable, accountability leads to results, and therefore with a bit of algebra we’re left with the logic that social = results. That simple.


The community experience creates a high standard for following through, as no one wants to get left behind. In Pavlina’s article he mentions that members in CGC had been spontaneously creating their own accountability groups without direction from the community managers, which is incredibly powerful.


We had Kelvin from Nigeria talk to Bennet, another Constant Student member about setting up a Writing Group. I was blown away and ecstatic to hear this, and helped him set it up right away. It’s been very powerful and has lasted more than a lot of our other community experiments.


It’s quite powerful to think about this model. The right community is a foundation for others to add to and build on top of. Kelvin’s logic was that we already had a decently sized community with writers in it… instead of trying to create an accountability group from scratch, why not use members of Constant Student?


In lower tier or completely free communities this is harder to maintain when there is less emphasis on results. Private communities attract people who are a lot more proactive. When you’ve invested money, you put more effort in — no one wants to feel like they’ve wasted money.


And, the best results come from letting the community have an active role in its own creation and determination.


“I often see my role as helping to remove barriers to connection and to add more structure where doing so can empower our members. The whole experience feels very aligned. It’s clearly a good use of my time.” — Pavlina


Better Cost-Benefit Ratio


“How you can beat free? As it turns out, it’s easy to beat free.” says Pavlina.


First, he begins by making the point that nothing is ‘totally free’ because you have to invest time and energy to get value out of any community. It’s easy to put a lot of time and energy into something with nothing to show for it. I can safely say I’ve gained more personal benefit out of Constant Student than any other online interaction I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a lot of free interactions.


Thinking cumulatively about all the benefits above, it’s hard at this point to un-see the greater return you get in a private community. At the moment you’re spending the finite time you have one way or another — you’ve invested some of it in this very long blog post — so even though you can go on cheap-skating on things, some investments are really worth having if they save you time in a very meaningful way.


If a public or free community is just trying to grow for growth’s sake, this can come at the cost of focusing on making the community better.


The more valuable your time is, the more attractive paid communities will be for you. Consequently, free communities attract lots of people who don’t value their time much. Just go to a popular YouTube video and read some of the comments. It will probably make you fear for humanity. A paid community can actually do the opposite; the better ones will restore your faith in humanity – as well as your belief in yourself. — Pavlina


Free groups and open social media platforms sit along this spectrum from Youtube comments to premium and intimate private communities. If you’ve never had higher quality interactions before online or offline, then you might not have a sense of how much further you have to go!


The other people are a better investment of your time


When you know someone really well you can contextualise advice for them. In free communities or discussion-based groups, questions are normally looking to short-cut to the solution.


Here’s an example from a free online community I’m part of where someone is asking a crypto-related question. The call-to-action at the end is not directed, ‘willing to share their 2cents?’ — it’s open-ended not clear what the asker’s situation is.



In a private community you are forced to think more about your questions and what you say. It leads to less noise because there is a higher social cost to contributing noise. Consider how Derek Sivers seeks advice from his mentors — thinking about what they’d say first and reflecting on that before asking them.


Pavlina puts this perfectly too:

Contrast this with random people who read a few articles from my blog and then email me asking for tips or advice. Most of the time, these are people I’ve never talked to before. I don’t know them. I have no idea what their strengths are. I can’t give some random person quality advice without learning a lot about them. And if I do take the time to understand their situation better and give them some advice that I genuinely believe could be helpful, the likelihood that they’ll apply these ideas and share their results in a timely manner is pretty low.


Takeaway — people in private communities will allocate 80+% of their attention there, and less to free and open side interactions, just like you interact with more people in your local community than those outside of it.


Faster growth


‘You’re the sum of the five people you associate most with’ goes the old saying. This has always felt limited to me — completely ignoring the true impact of culture and environment. Culture and environment always have the biggest impact on human behaviour, not the five people you spend the most time with, because those five people are also influenced by the shared culture and environment.


Pavlina emphasises faster growth in his article, and the benefits of tapping very quickly into a network of successful and intelligent peers. It’s incredible to think that you can do this just by joining a private community, when there are people who go their whole lives without being able to tap into such circles or upgrade their peers.


In saying that, I don’t think he goes far enough to communicate the benefits!


I talk about the impact of environment in The Law of Cooling and can summarise it for you in the below visuals.


Firstly, ‘the rising tide lifts all boats‘. The right highly interactive community is like a rising tide, where the success of one drags up the success of others. This is not true of a stagnant interaction be it online or offline, especially in typical Facebook Groups — this only happens when you are intimately connected to one another’s lives, through real relationships.



For example, in The Constant Student, I usually do a one-on-one catch up with four different community members a week — a no-agenda session. This has helped me get to know them and see what is happening in their lives — things they’ll never comment on a Facebook Group or Slack Channel like the state of their relationships, any self-belief challenges, or ideas they’re sitting on bringing out into the world.


It’s also made it clear that the biggest limiting factors in their lives are the following:

  1. Fear and other limiting beliefs like ‘I can’t be an entrepreneur’
  2. Lack of awareness (of self, opportunity, or the Doors they’re neglecting on their current trajectory).


A Facebook Group or Slack can be very useful for things like interesting topics, announcing meetups, recommending contractors, but it’s not the place we’re going to have deepest impact.


The consequence of helping just five members in the community overcome limiting beliefs, fear, and a lack of awareness sends a strong message through the community. It creates a new culture, one that is different to the culture in their geographic location (France, Nigeria, India etc.). I gave you Taryn’s example earlier as someone who overcame limits to film a whole documentary ‘because it’s what people in the Constant Student do’.


This is the importance of targeting individuals on the identity level.


In summary, members are not just impacted by ‘the five people with who they associate most’ — because in the right culture and environment, those five people will grow even faster.


The second diagram is how I summarise in one visual the power of effective communities and ecosystems.




In the Constant Student I always say ‘we’ve done your networking for you’. There are people who can make websites, people who have built great podcasts, authors, e-commerce entrepreneurs, young raw talent who are very eager to learn… and much more.


I’m also practicing what I’m preaching here. One of the communities I’m looking to join is at Trends.vc because I think I’ll make progress on a whole range of meaningful variables:

  • Launchpad — Support with some of the courses and digital products I want to launch, like our online resource centre for entrepreneurs, creators, authors and podcasters.
  • Early feedback and first customers — This community is a whole gathering of people in relevant target markets for early feedback and first customers.
  • Challenge to level up — these are more serious entrepreneurs who, implicitly and explicitly, will force me to speed up and level up.
  • Followers and engagement with my ideas — I know from my content and podcast that these sort of people resonate with the ideas I write about. They’re also connected to other people who are growing, building and contributing. This community could be a major platform to helping me get more recognition for my ideas, and help get them to people who will benefit sooner.
  • Potential collaborators — Some of the projects in my pipeline have obvious holes and talent gaps. Where do you go to find new people to work with? I expect many future collaborators will be here.
  • Efficiently placing myself for future opportunities — I’ve thoroughly enjoyed private equity investing in the last 12 months. It’s still early, and I have a ton to learn, but I deliberately place myself in positions that will attract these opportunities in the future. In an aimless free discussion group on Facebook or Slack, it takes way more time and effort to build relationships because there is more noise to sift through. For the price of this community, the upside I get to position myself for future investment opportunities here is a no-brainer.


The question I ask here is, where else can I go to get all this in one place? Not many, if any places.



I know that a lot of people have been losing interest in the daily drivel of the usual social media outlets. If you haven’t tired of it yet, then I challenge you to list the specific gains you’ve made from your previous year of participation in such outlets. Was last year one of your best ever? Did you push yourself, raise your standards, and achieve your stretch goals? Are you entering the new year with an empowering peer group? Do you feel excited and optimistic about the road ahead?


If you like your answers to these questions, great. But if not, don’t blame yourself. Blame the quality of your peer group, and then go change it.


In his summary he concludes: “With all of this growth has come a greater level of satisfaction from life. Private communities can deliver a delicious combination of connection and results, and they can set you up for long-term success with an empowering peer group.”


We’re bullish on private communities for the following reasons:


  1. The community model is the future of business.
  2. The rise of DAO’s and Web3 will be the next evolution in online communities.
  3. They are being embraced by big brands and creators to drive more revenue and customer experience. They are being used to generate value around NFT’s.
  4. The ultimate form of any experience is social.
  5. Scalable impact and income – husband and wife duo Jack & Celia Butcher run a million-dollar business with Visualize Value on their own.
  6. They’re the future of living — instead of paying taxes to large an inefficient governments, over time we’ll pay monthly or annual memberships for accountable, incentive-aligned community managers and leaders to facilitate valuable experience for us.


I’ll also be following up on this post with a toe-curler on private ecosystems too — so stay tuned for that, which will show how the concept of private communities can be taken even further. Sign up to get notified of new posts here.


Summary of benefits of private vs. free communities once again


  1. Less trolls and spammers
  2. Less noise
  3. More active members
  4. Restricted, selective, and more hand chosen members and therefore experience, somewhat proportionate to the cost (the more you pay = the better the quality and results).
  5. ‘Smartest’ person in the Room is the Room — ensuring the quality of the Room is key.
  6. Action and results based, rather than discussion based
  7. More resources dedicated to improvement
  8. Interacting with more results-oriented people is infections
  9. Deeper sharing — higher quality relationships quicker and easier, with more transparency around numbers too.
  10. Direct coaching (and other goal-focused benefits)
  11. Material and Resources are tailored for you
  12. Accountability
  13. Better Cost-Benefit Ratio
  14. Faster growth
  15. Quickly inherit a strong network of intelligent and successful peers
  16. Change your entire culture and environment without moving


Sponsored by our community — The Constant Student.


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