Stoa Digest #60: My journey with Community
and the learnings along the way!
It is Sonali’s last week in Team Stoa. She kicks off a new journey in an unfamiliar land later this month as she pursues her dream of studying Msc in Psych at Texas A&M University. It’s something that she told me on Day 01 at Stoa, and I’m happy to see it materialise, yet sad that it’s goodbye for now. Very bittersweet.
I like to think that even though I’m fairly new to the community space, it has enveloped me with a sense of purpose that I haven’t seen businesses have before, all thanks to Stoa. When any business revolves around a group of people with similar goals, ideals & motivations, it changes the nature of how we operate day to day.
For me, the meaning of intergroup interactions and what it means to be part of a community have changed forever. I understand it now to be more than just a physical or digital space for customers to hang out. It is a feeling and a utility.
Any community starts by identifying shared values—the things that you’ll ask customers to abide by when they become members. Then you’ll need to structure initiatives to better plan what you need to offer your members (or do for them)
Recently, I read up a paper by psychologists D.W. McMillan and D.M. Chavis who define the sense of community as a feeling that members have of belonging, a feeling that members matter to each other and to the group, and a shared faith that members’ needs will be met through their commitment to be together.
They theorized in their research that the community needs to provide some things to be successful. Let’s look at this from the lens of Stoa.
At some point in our journey as a community, we have debated on the concept of what it means to be a member. I’ve often thought if there is a basis of comparison between contributions made by two individuals but there isn’t. At Stoa, the underlying ideal has always been about taking from and giving back to the community by principles of equity not equality.
Membership for us has meant respecting boundaries, emotional safety, mutually assured personal development and intersectionality in thought and perception.
I’ve seen insecurities creep up in almost every fortified system we are part of nowadays. Influence is a buzz word and many tread carefully around it. But influence in a community is essential as long as it is bi-directional. In Stoa, members feel empowered to have influence over what a group does, and group cohesiveness depends upon each person having some sort of influence over the other.
This influence also stems from some aspect of trust that is built within our community. I’ve seen people build trust in our community and follow through with commitments both personal and professional. It has been refreshing to see vulnerability and selflessness stem in corners on our Discord server and in breakout rooms during community nights!
What I’ve seen at Stoa, that has been a very successful win so far is that, along with the people who have trusted us on this journey, we have built a thriving sense of community where each person has a little voice inside their head and heart saying they are right where they belong.
‘Oh you’re from Stoa too?’ is a phrase that I’m know will be heard across the country, online, offline and in places big and small.
The Stoa team has been a reflection of the emotions that echo in our community. I found people from all facets of life, walking completely different paths but towards the same north star.
As I bid farewell to being on this side of running the community, I realise that what defines success for a community is the little things. A virtual pat on the back by someone in a different corner of the country when you’re feeling down, words of encouragement by a newly found friend, ranting your heart out to someone you only met once in a breakout room and opening up to give and take.
I wish each of you the very best on your journey and thank you for being a part of mine.
📣 Announcements 📣
We are very excited to have Sharang Khandelwal hosting a Kaksha on Dissecting UI/UX Design on Wednesday, 10th August at 8 PM!
Sharang Khandelwal will be talking about his experience working in the field, bursting some myths around UI/UX and some tips on how you can start your journey using Figma & Canva!
A little more about Sharang, he runs a small design studio in Mumbai called Unclutter Design for 3 years, where they focus on UI & UX Design as well as brand design. In the last 8 years, he has worked with agencies such as Canvs/Club, Dentsu Webchutney, Career Ninja & Ogilvy. In his free time, he likes playing squash, sketching & gaming. One of his current interests includes learning more about 3D, VR & No-code solutions.
🍩 Community Drop 🍩
We’ve heard your woes, and we’ve partnered with The Captable to offer Stoan’s an exclusive member discount on their annual subscription plans!
If you haven’t heard of The Captable, they are YourStory's premium subscription platform for dissecting financial news and financial teardowns of organisations in India, especially in the startup ecosystem.
Use code 'STOA22', when purchasing an annual plan, and you’ll get flat 55% off on your plan 🎉
🐝 Community Buzz 🐝
Shout out to Shreya for hosting another amazing Stoa Food Walk, exploring the gems nestled in HSR, Bangalore.
🥳 🎂Birthday Parttaaayy! 🥳 🎂
Happy birthday Omang Agarwal!!! 🎂 🎊👯🍾
9th Aug: Sajid Korbu
11th Aug: Varsha Arun
12th Aug: Khushbu Nehita
🥲 Meme Wars 🥲
Well, there hasn’t been a war in a while, but just two alums of Stoa raising the challenge to the young ones.
TID Joseph’s Machines which are inspired by Rube Goldberg machines.
c u nxt wk! ✌️