Masters Series Transcripts: Sarah Meredith (Australian Country Director at Global Citizen) and Martina Hughes (Founder at Tantric Blossoming) — How to Build a Community Around Your Business

Camille Monce —  June 12, 2018 — Leave a comment

Marketing is about building relationships — to retain good customers and reach new ones in a way that encourages them to become repeat customers. This podcast outlines the key steps to building a community.

Sarah Meredith is the Australian Country Director for Global Citizen, the movement that aims to end extreme poverty by 2030. Global Citizen has set itself a goal of building a community of 100 million and with 8 million working with them already, they are well on their way.

Martina Hughes is the founder of Tantric Blossoming, the largest Tantric Community in Australia. Martina says community is all about relationships and it is strengthened by shared risk. She outlines 3 essential elements of community building.

Disclaimer: Transcripts may contain a few typos. Similar sounding words can lead to them being deciphered wrongly and hence transcribed likewise.

Interviewing Public: When you aim at being the best in what you do, you can get some references. And I must say that was very helpful to grow my business. Yeah.

Interviewing Public: Yeah. So when I think of my community, I think of the 1500 people I’ve got on my Meetup group. I’ve had one contact today, from when I put up a discussion topic. On the holiday. My only feedback I get is from those that actually attend my meetups.

Interviewing Public: They like that personalization, not a generic advice up to a point you can do personalization for that tend to just follow templates to make it look the same but the content I just write per person.

Serpil Senelmis: For WeTeachMe this is the Masters Series where industry professionals share their secrets to business success. I’m Serpil Senelmis from Written and Recorded. An old adage in business is that it costs more to attract new customers than it does to keep existing customers. These days engaged customers become communities through social media groups, email newsletters, and customer relationship management software. Martina Hughes is an expert in building communities. She created Tantric Blossoming, Australia’s largest tantric community where she has supported thousands of people with workshops, retreats, and training.

Martina Hughes: Community is all about relationships. Having any satisfying fulfilling meaningful experience in life involves our relationships. And so I have three visions of what I say is necessary for creating community.

Serpil Senelmis: We’ll hear from Martina shortly, but first, we’re going global. Can you imagine how powerful We could be if we all work together. That’s the mission of Global Citizen with a goal to build a community of 100 million and end extreme poverty by 2030. Sarah Meredith is the global citizens Australian country director. She says partnerships are everything when it comes to building a community.

Sarah Meredith: Really want to take you on a journey today about who we are, why we exist, how we operate, how we build a community around our work. And really what’s next, what’s the vision for us over the coming two years, where movement more than 8 million people worldwide founded by three young Australians here in Melbourne, one of those is for Men Young Australian of the Year, Hugh Evans. Our mission is to build a movement of more than 100 million global citizens worldwide. These actions will help achieve this vision of a world without extreme poverty. essentially how we do it is we have a platform where we provide opportunities for global citizens to learn about the world’s biggest challenges. And if you go to globalcitizen.org, you’ll see that we have a policy areas where you can follow various issues that you’re passionate about girls and women, water and sanitation, finance and innovation, education, ending hunger, these are really critical issues. And then we invite global citizens in those areas to take action. And each action ends your award point, and that reward point. If you get five of them, you can use them to redeem rewards tickets. Now many in the world have the lucky opportunity to attend one of our major festivals. But we also offer tickets to concerts thanks to the partnerships with artists and promoters and here in Australia we’re very lucky that at the moment, we have tickets available for Taylor Swift, Shania Twain, Pink, the presets which is had Missy Higgins. And that’s thanks to the generosity of those artists giving us two tickets per show for global citizens to win here in Australia. Right now, we know that we need 260 billion a year to end extreme poverty. At present 150 billion is funded through what we call Overseas Development Assistance. And 100 and 10 billion gap in that financing. We know that the UN General Assembly passed a resolution calling on every nation to commit a point 7% of gross national income. So when you think about that, that’s 70 cents and every hundred dollars of Australia’s budget would go towards helping others overseas. And right now Australia in the commits point 19% of gross national income, about $4 billion, which is an incredible help and we are very happy that that money continues. But over recent years that has dropped. And we’ve been campaigning quite hard to have that increase because we know that the challenge is at the pinnacle of the moment in extreme poverty. Over the last decade, 1 billion people are being lifted out of extreme poverty. And we have 1 billion left that we want to get to in the next decade as we head to 2030.

Sarah Meredith: So we know that if you want to influence governments and you want to influence policy, you need a movement of people, a constituency of people that say to that government, this is a priority, we need to invest in at. So we’ve been working hard to build a movement across the globe have active citizens who will reach out to governments, they’ll reach out to corporates, they’ll reach out to their friends and peers and say, we want to end extreme poverty and the time is now. This is why we’ve created our model of building a community, which is based around four key areas, one, individuals signing up, it’s all free. And we have 8 million at the moment and we’re building to 100 million as is our mission. We also gather an army of the biggest artists and talent on earth. And when we mean by that is that we host music festivals, but we also ask those artists to make commitments through their social media and through the networks. And at the moment, we’re very excited that we have Chris Martin as one of our Global ambassadors, he’s signed on with us to 2030. And he curates our festivals. You may have seen Rihanna as one of our ambassadors, but we also have a number of artists that have appeared over the years at our festivals. We also work very hard behind the scenes to work with governments and policy experts, partnerships are everything for our community, we cannot achieve any of the actions receive any of the commitments without the partnerships we have. They may be with other NGOs, they may be with business, or they may be with governments and some governments really want to champion these issues such as Norway if you’re really passionate about water and sanitation, and they came on board in a partnership with us to make large scale commitments. We also partner with unexpected brands and really try to influence the work they do, but also in trying to get them to leverage their reach to increase the number of global citizens we have. We partnered with Gucci’s time for change around gender equality. We’ve partnered with Johnson and Johnson around health campaigning in vaccines, we partnered with Procter and Gamble about water and sanitation. So I was talking about our audience and that’s really important for us because we need to understand our community to continue to build that community, work with them and ensure that we’re meeting the campaign issues of interest, as we know that our audience is 63% female, which is why we do a lot of gender equality campaign. Girls are very passionate about that and as you will see from recent movements, we’ve been on this issue for a couple of years, but it’s really shine that now is the time to really talk about gender equality, and 50% of millennials, which would be unsurprising to many of you, we use technology as our platform. But we also have some of the coolest artists in the world and people want to get on board that our impact is the most important way that we communicate back to the community because we could have this entire movement, they get a ticket, they get five points and then I move on. But we remind our global citizens well those five actions that you took to get a ticket actually resulted in these wonderful outcomes. 30 million actions have been taken on our platform, which is an incredible number. We track those numbers around the different themes and make sure that we continue to drive them up. those actions resulted in $35 billion in commitments made on our stage, which is pretty incredible. Those commitments will actually affect the lives of more than 1 billion people. We have a partnership with PWC, we independently audit all of our commitments to prove that because of the actions of global citizens, that commitment was made. And we’re also releasing regular reports to say, this government came on stage, got a big announcement and got a little publicity and they made this commitment. We’re actually been tracking their delivery of that. And we do a traffic light system, about the delivery of those commitments, constantly reminding people that the impact of the work we do and the commitments we make are critical in the efforts to end extreme poverty. So how does our community engage with us? We’re pretty clear. We want your voice, we don’t want your money. Your voice is the most powerful thing you have. Many people feel disempowered with the political system. As someone who’s worked in a very long time, I can tell you that your voice is actually pretty powerful if you use it in the right way. And we try to amplify your voice. So say, we asked you to send a tweet to the Prime Minister asked him to increase Australia’s Overseas Development Assistance budget. That’s pretty important because if he says 100,000 tweets about that from constituents, it’s going to impact his view about whether that’s a priority in the budget. We also ask people to sign petitions, we present those petitions and every opportunity we can and we just had an event in Brussels, launching our sheet as equal campaign, where we presented petitions of hundreds of thousands of global citizens to take an action around gender equality.

Sarah Meredith: We also ask everyone to download the app. So you regularly get engagement. And if you haven’t, please download the app. It’s really cool. You get a constant feed of what’s happening in the world around development. But in general, it really talks about a lot of the issues facing the world, not just about the Sustainable Development Goals. And it also gives you lots of actions that you can take quite easily. We also really try and engage with that community by driving really creative, cool content, and really challenging what is quite a complex issue in breaking it down so people can have a bit of fun and share it with their friends. We actually had a video that went viral where our team in New York rewrote the words to Adele’s Hello. And then we sent it out about calling your member of parliament because that’s a perfect example of how we can engage our community and really start to grow it to an even bigger community. I just like to wrap up with what’s next for us this year is the hundredth anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birth, which is a pretty unique moment, he really had the greatest call to action end extreme poverty. We launched it in London, and we’ll be taking it to our festival in September this year. And there may be announcements about other opportunities throughout the globe about events are doing and it’s the generation to end extreme poverty, and we just have a little inspirational clip to get you excited. Hopefully, you sign up to Global Citizen, you start taking action and you join the movement.

Nelson Mandela (Recording): Not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings..

Sarah Meredith: Thank you very much.

Serpil Senelmis: How impressive growing a global community from just three young Australians with a vision to active citizens worldwide and 13 million actions. It just shows how powerful a community voice can be. Next up on the Masters Series we’ll explore the tantric way of building community.

Ad Guy: The Masters Series is presented by We Teach Me, Australia’s biggest school. WeTeachMe connects you with face to face classes in your neighborhood. Learn what makes your heartbeat at weteachme.com. The Masters Series podcast is produced by Written and Recorded. Journalists for hire, Written and Recorded, record podcasts, and write blogs that tell your story. Have a read and listen at writtenandrecorded.com. And now, back to community building.

Serpil Senelmis: Thanks Ad Guy. Martina Hughes experienced a deep inner awakening with Tantra and wanted to share that with the world. So she created Tantric Blossoming and it’s become the largest tantric community in Australia. Martina says community is about sharing risks. It’s also about sharing challenges and having a sense of collective achievement.

Martina Hughes: Community is all about relationships. Having any satisfying fulfilling, meaningful experience in life involves our relationships. What led me to start Tantric Blossoming? Actually, there are a few things that led me to start Tantric Blossoming. But one of the key factors was my desire to make a difference in the world. From when I was very young, I had this internal burning desire to make a difference. I didn’t know how I was going to make a difference but there was this coal that was drawing me to stand up in the world to stand up for something and to support people to experience transformation. In actual fact, when I started Tantric Blossoming, I had no idea that I was starting a community, I just wanted to help people feel better. I wanted to help people have better relationships feel more connected to their bodies. And so I started off with some very short events, sacred sexuality for women, and some private sessions, helping people to unravel their conditioning, helping them to get more in touch with their body to be able to have more effective communication. And all of that was going well for a few years. And then I felt a call for something more. And this sense of people had been to my workshops, wanting to come back and experience regular connection with others who’ve been to the workshops. And so for me, I went, okay, they don’t want to keep coming back and doing the same introductory workshops. What can I do that gives them a space for connection, a space that feels like community. And fortunately, I had a dream around that time, and in this dream I saw people coming along to an event with me where they would do tantric practices, simple things like massage and touch and eye gazing and communication practices. And in that dream, I saw how that could be a way for people to come together regularly and grow through using these practices. So I started Tantric Nights in 2008 and for me, that was the beginning of community around the work that I offer, because with Tantric Nights, all of a sudden people who were longing for more connection in their life, people who were longing for the feeling of community had a space that they felt safe, had a space where they could connect to others. So in some ways, my entry into community was a little bit of a happy accident, you could say. And so I have three visions of what I see is necessary for creating community. And so these three keys are to have a shared vision. So for me when I created Tantric Nights, the vision was to create a space for people to connect for people to feel for people to be able to share experiences with others. And it turns out that a lot of other people had a similar vision of wanting to have that experience. I’m used to being somebody who does a lot of things alone and being an entrepreneur. There’s that sense of Oh yeah, I know how to do this, and I’ll do it solo. Tantric Nights grew really quickly, like my very first event, I had 12 people there, and within six months I had 80 people there. And so pretty soon I was going I need Help for this event. It’s no longer a one person event. So very quickly, I realized that I needed a team around me to support me. And that building of a team around the work, gave other people a sense of being able to step in, because people felt what it was that I was offering. And people wanted to be part of that. If your vision is strong, other people will come to you and go, yes, I have a similar vision. And I would love to be part of what you’re creating. Now, I’ve had a lot of people coming towards me over the years with similar visions. Not all of them share my values. So I have values around responsibility, integrity, growth, expansion, being of service, and another of the values we have at Tantric Blossoming is why to be that sense of the joy of life, that joy that comes from serving others. So for me to say yes to collaborating with somebody to say yes to somebody being part of our team, they also need to share our values.

Martina Hughes: And then, of course, we live in this world where technology is changing things really, really fast. Online communities are popping up all the time. Social media is changing the flavor of the world. So it’s very important as an entrepreneur, creating a community to stay tuned in to make sure the vision stays current. Because when I started tantric knights, the vision was very much around creating space for connection. But also I was in a period of growth then, within a few years, people started asking me for retreats, people started asking me for training programs, and so part of having an effective community is listening to the people who are part of your community, listening to what they want, what they need, what they’re expecting. And having that sense of there being dialogue that’s not just from leader to participants and team members, but actually conversations that are between participants, between team members, but also coming back to facilitators and leaders. So the conversation needs to be able to go in all directions. And it’s been really, really effective for me to listen to the participants in our groups to have that sense of what they’re looking for what they need from us. And so then that led to me creating retreats, creating training programs, which have helped me to develop both as a woman as a facilitator and as a person. I remember a business mentor I had a few years ago. questioning me on my vision. And I was going through a period of time where my vision was a little bit wobbly, and kind of going, ah, I’ll go with the flow kind of going through one of those spiritual phases where it’s like, I’m just going with the flow, and I’ll see what happens next. And I remember my business mentor saying to me, would you get in a plane with a pilot who didn’t have a clear vision of where he was going to take you and I went, okay, good point, good point. And so at that stage, I went back and revisited my vision. And in revisiting my vision, getting really clear that I want to empower men and women to live the most authentic life possible. Because for most of us, we’ve been on the receiving end of conditioning. We’ve been on the receiving end of contraction since we were children. And a lot of people are leaving and feeling quiet, shot down quite painful. One of the common things I noticed when I talk to people is that most people live with this sense that something is missing in their lives, but they don’t actually know what is missing. Another big part of having a community that feels connected is shared risk, shared experiences, shared challenge. Our retreats are limited to 20 people. But in that way people have the sense of knowing that they can journey deeply in this retreat container, they can journey deeply with each other. Also on the element of risk with keeping our numbers limited, people feel safe. They’re taking a risk, they open their hearts, they share some of their painful stories. They share some of their joys, breakthroughs. They share about things that affect them deeply. So there’s an element of risk taking in the way people show up in our spaces. There’s certain advanced retreats where we asked people to get naked and dance so people to get naked and gaze into each other’s eyes. Most people say to me beforehand, there’s no way I’ll ever do that. I’m not getting naked in front of a group of people. But when they do it, it changes their world. Because what we’re most afraid of is being emotionally naked. Our clothes are really just the mask for hiding how we feel by hiding our fears, our anxiety, our joy. And so I can see a few interesting faces in the audience go, I would never do that.

Martina Hughes: But what I’ve seen is that after people have been naked together, And recognizing that it’s not actually a sexual experience. It’s not about getting naked, to have sex, to do things to each other but it’s taking a risk, it’s leaning into challenge together. It’s discovering new edges. And generally there’ll be at some point at which every newcomer looks around and goes, wow, this is really beautiful. And so much easier than I thought in my mind beforehand. It takes down a lot of our walls that takes down a lot of our barriers. Not saying that that has to be your recipe for your community to go and get people naked. But what risks and challenges might you build in? Like there’s personal development seminars where people walk across hot coals, and the sense of achievement of walking across hot coals gives people both the risk and the achievement of going somewhere. Also in our space, ritual is really important. I went to a seminar in the us a couple of years ago, which has a really strong community and they have a number of ritualized parts of the conference, where have an opening party and a closing party and certain other regular parts of it. So, ritual gives people that sense of our I come to the space and this is what I feel, this is what happens for me. So, ritual and those shared experiences take people deeper into themselves. And then what I see as the third key is a sense of belonging. The number one cause of depression is people not having a sense of belonging, not having a sense of belonging to family, to tribe, to community. And so the way we live nowadays, with people living individually rather than in extended family or not living in extended community space, it impacts people greatly. And so, at Tantric Blossoming, there’s an element in everything we do of showing people that we care whether it’s a private session, whether it’s a workshop or over trade or an online course, letting people know that we truly care and who they are as a person is valued by us. So that way, I have clients and community members who have been with me for say, 10 or 11 years. I might not see them for two or three years. But then all of a sudden, though, kind of hit a crisis point in their life, and they come back and they come back because they know that Tantric Blossoming provides that space of caring, that space where they can open they can grow. They can experience challenge, and new ways of being. Even in our online interactions though, if I’m running a zoom webinar, I’ll take time to check in with people, take time to see how people are feeling because that’s part of what’s missing in our online world today is people’s feelings are not being included. People’s feelings are not being allowed to take up space. So that element of caring is very much part of what we’re offering and it’s part of what has people feel like Tantric Blossoming is home for them. And it’s something that a lot of my regular clients and community members will say that when they come into the spaces with us, they feel like they’re home again. And on some level, all of us are longing for that feeling of home in our bodies, the feeling of what’s it like to be so comfortable that I feel at home in my own skin that I feel really happy and confident with who I am. And so I encourage all of you, as you’re working on your businesses and developing your community to have a look at what is the shared vision that you’re putting out there? Is that a vision that other people can easily step into and become part of? Are you creating opportunities for others to make a difference with you? Also, what are the experiences you’re creating for people? Do those experiences touch their hearts? Do those experiences challenge them? Do those experiences inspire them? In some way experiences what will make the difference in their life.? And are you cultivating a sense of belonging? Your community so that they know they have a tribe, they have a network, they have a support system behind them. If you work with those three keys, you’ll find a lot of fulfillment for yourself as well as for your community members. Thank you.

Serpil Senelmis: So a key takeaway therefrom Martina for startups and businesses is to know what your shared vision is, and whether you’re cultivating a sense of belonging. Thanks, Martina. Next time on Masters Series, work, life, balance does it really exist? For startups and entrepreneurs, the boundaries around work and life tend to blur. So we’ll explore some different approaches to getting the balance right. Until then, I’m Serpil Senelmis from Written and Recorded and the WeTeachMe this is the Masters Series.

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