Building communities around a movement

This article originally appeared on Claire Rampen’s Medium. For more, head on over to her site!

In conversation with

In honour of International Women’s Day this month, I’m profiling impressive women who are doing work worth shouting about in the sharing economy & community space.

 


Let me introduce Ria Lupton, a woman who deserves to be crowned as community building royalty in her resident city of Toronto. Her achievements in the space are many; Founder of Community Builders, Founding Director of Women Who Code Toronto chapter, Director for SheWorx Toronto chapter, Community and Content Lead for Startup Open House and more, all on top of her day job commitments.

As our conversation unfolded, I began to realise the power of Ria’s innate ability to build communities around herself, which she says began as a child and continues to this day. To give you an example, she tells me that she opened a Twitter account when she moved to Toronto and every time she met someone new (be it in person or virtually), she added them to her follower list. She now follows over 4,700 people.

             A card written by Ria, aged 12 — a love of community started early !

But building a super-sized network wasn’t even her focus. She entered the community world thanks to her academic background (a mix of computer engineering, information systems and UX Design) and a desire to explore her passion for marketing. Looking around, she saw engineering teams building products without really having a community of users identified, and failing when they hit go-to-market. It sparked a realisation;

“you can have the greatest product in the world, but if you don’t have a community, you have nothing.”

So, in an effort to move away from working on products in isolation, she embarked on a career in the world of marketing and found herself supporting the Women who Code movement, back in its early days.


So how did she build these communities to the size they are, and get so many people to join the movement?

The first thing that strikes me as a reason for success is Ria herself; she’s business-like but also open, curious and interested. In essence, she embodies the qualities needed to build a community and attract people to a cause.

During our conversation, she reflected on her experience as a community builder and had a lot of practical wisdom to share:

1. Give without expecting to get

As a community builder or founder, you need to be prepared to sacrifice with no return in the beginning — you can tell a mile off if someone is creating something for their own self-interest.

This first point embodies patience. No matter if the community we are building is for work, our social life, career support, causes, or hobbies; if you set out to quickly achieve your own deadlines, you will not succeed in getting others to follow.

2. Talk about your achievements as a group

Measure your impact! Who is your community serving? What value are you delivering? Talking about this is what keeps people around. Measurement is often overlooked as a business device, but it is crucial even in extra-curricular communities (maybe even more so). If people don’t feel like they’re part of something that is progressing, growing, or achieving its goals, motivation will wane.

3. Identify your purpose

The level of impact your community can have will be directly related to the clarity of your purpose. If you’re not clear and differentiated, people will not follow.

I appreciated Ria’s candidness about impact, telling me stories of communities she’s contributed to which haven’t managed to sustain themselves, or which she’s stepped away from. It illustrated her point perfectly; if people start to forget why they were turning up and contributing in the first place, they will quickly lose interest.

4. True communities are more than their umbrella organisation

Building a true community and building a brand are very different activities. A community should be about fostering relationships and when tested, they should endure, even if the umbrella organisation does not.

This point really resonated with me as I have worked in the commercial community space in the past. There are many businesses out there who try to connect more deeply with their customers but they never quite get beyond going through the motions. A customer’s desire to help stems from feeling part of the community, be it online or offline, and that will only emerge when you include your customers from the ground up. In other words, include them in your mission, in creating your brand and in determining what it stands for.

4. It takes a community to build a community

Don’t underestimate the importance of mobilising others to help you. Ria shared a useful tip; contact five friends and ask them to each bring someone along. When people are being relied upon, they feel more invested in the cause. Use this to build your community and open its reach wider.


It was such a pleasure to speak with Ria and hear about her community experience. Her genuine desire to build communities, to serve others and wider causes is really admirable, and I can’t wait to see where it takes her next.

Thank you to Ria for being the first interviewee in my mini-series celebrating International Women’s Day!

February in Review – Favourites and Lessons

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Where did February go? It all passed by so quick!

I was really good at blogging regularly in January but then February rolled around and it all went down the crapper. But all things considered, Feb was a good month.

Favourite things and moments from Feb

1. C & I celebrated our second wedding anniversary and prepared for a major life change.

Colin and IThis is a photo from our civil ceremony. LOL check out my $16 Forever 21 dress… ooooh so fancy!

2. I read 3 books this month (or finished reading)

Virginia Woolf in Manhattan by Maggie Gee
Genre: Fiction
Review: Highly Recommended

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The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
Genre: Fiction
Review: Recommended but more of a YA feel to it

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Born with Teeth by Kate Mulgrew
Genre: Non Fiction
Review: Is this her real life? Cause WOW! recommended reads…

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P.S: As you can see, I am sticking to my resolution of solely borrowing from the library and I have been really good! Super proud of myself for that!

3. Started my novel writing course – which I am really enjoying and highly recommend.

4. Hosted the inaugural event for Community Builders with some amazing community builders. – creative baby that I have been working on for almost 2 years now.

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5. Finally got comfortable with calling myself a founder – even though I have shied away from the term for the longest time because I didn’t want to make others feel uncomfortable. But I realized that me taking credit for shit that I have done does not take away from others and if people feel like it does, then that’s not my tribe and I do not want to collaborate with folks like that. Thank you Karen with helping me with this. ❤

6. Received my first ever Once Upon a Book Club Box and I am so stoked to experience it for myself!
(soooo I did splurge on books here ;))
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So what is this book box? Well, it is a phenomenal reading experience.
In each box, you receive a book and several gifts. Throughout the book there are post it notes that correspond to gifts. Once you reach a page with the note, you open a gift that  is labelled with that particular page number & each gift has something to do with the story.
See? HOW COULD I NOT?

I’ll let you know how it goes!

7. Hosted another successful MARKET for work
I am so incredibly lucky that I get to hang out with incredible marketers and get to call it work!
Shout out to Reba and Regan (my colleagues) for working on some dope swag for this event too! LOVVEEE!

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8. Got to hang out at Honest Ed’s one last time!

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For those of you that don’t live in Toronto, Honest Ed’s was an iconic bargain store from the 40’s, that is now being torn down to make way for condos. Think of it as dollar store on some pretty good crack.

My work a.k.a RIGHTSLEEVE Marketing designed the merch for the farewell party and as a result I got to hang out there on a weekend with some amazing folks.
Funnily enough, everything I own from Honest Ed’s is Elvis Presley themed. Go figure!

Lessons

1. Setting boundaries is extremely important – not just for others but also for myself.
It is so easy to lose yourself in all the hubbub of every day life.

2. Speak the fuck up
Most people have no clue how you want to be treated or if you don’t like something – so speak up!

3. Self care is as important as breathing
Love yourself and everything else will fall into place!

Things I hope to do more of in March 

1. Read more

2. Blog more

3. More bookstagram photos

4. Get ready for April! EEEEEKKSSS

That’s it on my end for now! I am incredibly excited for March, there is ton of work to be done but there are some really exciting things and projects on the horizon. What a time to be alive!

Weekend Musings

Virginia Woolf

One of those weekends where I felt super blessed to have so many people in my life who genuinely care about me. Thankful for everything in my life right now ❤
I wish every weekend was like this one. The energy and the light of the weekend ensured that I was on cloud nine all weekend.

Work is going to be busy this week but looking forward to it too. Have to drag myself out of bed at 7:30AM for a medical appointment, so I should probably head to bed. It is currently past 1AM where I am but obviously WordPress will show a different time stamp.

Weekly finds:
I found this incredible website (thank you Traci) to kickstart your morning with Short Stories each AM, if you are into that sort of thing! https://goo.gl/Tkn3zn

Things I am looking forward to this week: 
I think I mentioned this earlier on here that I am taking a novel writing course with Don Gilmore and I couldn’t be more stoked! I look forward to the class each week but I think I am going to volunteer to have my work critiqued for the week after.

Aspirations:
I want to start writing every morning, not specifically things I want to post on here but taking a piece of writing and improving on it every morning per week for 30 minutes each.
Let’s see… We have a spare room right now that I can turn into a writing nook for the meantime but I also have my desk set up in our solarium where I can easily write.
It doesn’t have to be fancy, just a space that inspires.

Perhaps I will ask my husband to write with me as well.

Does anyone have a morning routine that they use for improving their writing? Let me know!

January Recap

I want to say Happy February and hope your January has been great but to be honest it hasn’t been that great. Just take a look at the executive orders from Supreme Orange leader.

What is this world coming to? I don’t really know but I really hope we don’t get to see World War 3.
Well to be honest, our world, as we know it, has been at war for a while. Look at the situation in the Middle East. But now, more than ever, it is even harder to not think about it.

However, here’s to hoping that February will be way better than January.

Also, it is our 2nd wedding anniversary this month. So I am hoping for a miracle 🙂

Books read in January: I started a few and I am almost at the end of 5 of them. Does that count?

 

The Diaries

I am thinking I should split my diary like content from bloggish things by tagging all my personal ramblings with “The Diaries” – though isn’t everything on here, technically, my personal ramblings?

Anyways, weird week. I decided to say goodbye to something I perhaps, in retrospect, should have said goodbye to a long time ago because I was clearly not appreciated. To me it felt like I have done everything I possibly could to set it up for success but apparently I am a disappointment because I am leaving after having dedicated 3 years of my life to it as a volunteer. (I hope you can hear my eyes rolling to the back of my head) Ah well you can’t please everyone now, can you?

I wonder if years from now I’ll look back at this and laugh because it won’t be significant in my life at that point. It does happen to me a lot… When I read my old diaries, a lot of the stuff doesn’t even make sense to me anymore.
Of course that could be due to the fact that I chose to write with a fountain pen in my old diaries and the ink has simply vanished in many places.

Also I used a lot of aliases for people in my old diaries – just look at me referring to my journals as old diaries, as if I am an author or something.

Anyways, as I was saying, I used a lot of aliases and frankly I don’t remember half the people who were mentioned in those entries. Will I forget more as I age? I am not even that old, I am only 29!

Maybe I should choose an alias for myself for now so it can help me forget that I am upset. And then when I forget the alias, I will also forget the fact that I was / am upset at this point in my life.

Side note: Writing always helps me focus and calm down. So I am hoping to get some done over the weekend so I can just relax and be back to my normal self.

Currently Reading: Virginia Woolf in Manhattan by Maggie Gee

#currentlyreading I am feeling extremely #bookish today and hence the barrage of posts👌🏼📚🤓 This is my current read! Soooooo good! Virginia Woolf comes back to life because an author in 21st century wills her back to life through her imagination… these are their adventures through Manhattan, while Mrs. Woolf gets used to modern life!💕 nope there is no black magic involved, it is sheer will power. I wish I could bring Charles Dickens to life this way!🤓✨📚👌🏼 . . . . #library #book #read #currentreads #bookstagram #books #bookshelf #bookworm #bookaddict #bookaholic #booklover #feminist #virginiawoolf #manhattan #tea #mug #society6 #maggiegee #virginiawoolfinmanhattan #fiction

A post shared by Ria Lupton🇨🇦🇸🇬|29|bibliophile (@roastedkeyboard) on

The story revolves around a 21st century author who wills Virginia Woolf back to life. Actually, Woolf just materializes out of thin air in New York Public Library one day and she is a hoot and a half!
Not only does Virginia has to get used to modern life, she has to figure out how to earn money and get a room of one’s own.

I am halfway through the book but I have no idea what the ending will entail and I am trying not to let curiousity get the best of me – so I can enjoy the ride.

What are you currently reading?

Life so far: Pen Pal from Australia, Library Haul and life in general

I am trying to deal with a lot of things on a personal level and taking it one day at a time. Life is good, I am not complaining but when life happens all at once, sometimes you have to take a step back and analyze and make some tough decisions.

So that’s what I am doing right now and trying to deal with it through reading a lot.
I went to the library today and picked up some really interesting books, well, at least they look interesting, and I can’t wait to read them.
1. Virgina Woolf in Manhattan
2. Design Sponge at Home 
3. The Girl with All the Gifts — everyone has been raving about this on instagram and I really wanted to check it out!
4. D.I.Y Magic — I picked up a copy of this for my sister but decided to borrow one from the library to read instead!

(P.S: Follow me on instagram if you want to see photos of these books or books in general! )

I also have a pen pal from Australia now! and I am so bloody excited! 😀

I haven't had a pen pal in forever! I love the #bookstagram community! 🤓💕✨🙏🏼📚 . . . . #penpal #letters #bookish #book #snailmail #bookshelf

A post shared by Ria Lupton🇨🇦🇸🇬|29|bibliophile (@roastedkeyboard) on

10 Things I am Grateful For

I was chatting with my mom last night and was complaining about something and mom said, instead of complaining about things that you don’t have or things that are going wrong, be thankful for things you have.

That really made me think. We get so caught up in things that we don’t have that we forget all the blessings bestowed upon us on a daily basis.
With that in mind, here is my list of 10 things I am grateful for. I’d love to see your list too 🙂

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1. My family
Family is always first. Mom, dad, Hubster, Sisbug…I love you all more than I can ever express and I am extremely thankful to have you in my life.

2. Health – seriously health is everything

3. Good Friends
I am blessed with so many wonderful friends in my life.

4. Love of learning
My parents have instilled a love of learning in me that I am extremely grateful for!

5. Life experiences
I have lived quite the life in my 29 years on earth and I am thankful for every single experience, both good and bad.

6. Books
I mean for real though! Thank the lord for this!

7. The ability to feel
I am an extremely emotional person but I am beginning to realize that is a strength and I am embracing it fully!

8. Career
I have a great work fam and a career I love!

9. Food, Water, Safety

10. Love
I love therefore I am.

P.S: I am back from Vegas! So I will be getting back to my normal blogging schedule – all day errry day!
Should I do a Vegas recap post on here?