In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Lloyed Lobo. He is an entrepreneur, podcast host, and community builder. He is the co-founder of Boast.ai, where he leveraged the Community-Led Growth model to bootstrap the company. He is also the co-founder of Traction, a community empowering over 100k innovators through connections, content, and capital.
His book titled From Grassroots To Greatness: 13 Rules to Build Iconic Brands with Community Led Growth. Lloyed explores the intricate art of harnessing the community’s strength as your ultimate acquisition channel, brand differentiator, feedback source, retention lever, and catalyst for transformative change.
Lloyed shares the impact and value of communities in personal, professional, and societal contexts. He shares some of his personal experiences and how the concept of community has helped him. Furthermore, he explains six common traits, referred to as “CAMPER” – Connection, Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose, Energy, and Recognition – which are crucial for building thriving and sustainable communities. It’s important to be consistent in community-building efforts, suggesting that true success often comes after a long series of efforts rather than a few attempts.
Questions I ask Lloyed Lobo:
- [03:10] Was there some problem you were trying to solve that said I have to write this book?
- [07:05] There are some people suggesting that advertising and some of the traditional marketing ways have become less effective, that they even do not work at all, and that community is in the last frontier. Would you support that idea?
- [10:39] Would you say that a strong component of building a community is that there has to be something to rally around or against?
- [11:32] The subtitle of the book has 13 rules. In your research, you had thousands of interviews, how’d you get it down to 13? Why are those the most important?
More About Lloyed Lobo:
- Follow Lloyed on LinkedIn
- Listen to the Traction Podcast
- Lloyed’s website
- Pre-order From Grassroots To Greatness: 13 Rules to Build Iconic Brands with Community Led Growth
Get Your Free AI Prompts To Build A Marketing Strategy:
Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!
John Jantsch (00:00): Hey, this is John, and before we get started, I have a gift for you for being such an amazing listener. Everyone's talking about AI these days, but most of it's about tactics. We've created a series of prompts we use to create strategy, and you can have them for free. Just go to dtm.world/freeprompts and grab yours. Now. Let's get started.
(00:30): Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. This is John Jansen. My guest today is Lloyed Lobo. He's an entrepreneur, podcast host and community builder. He is the co-founder of Boast.ai where he leveraged a community-led growth model to bootstrap the company. He's also the co-founder of Traction a community empowering over 100,000 innovators through connections, content, and capital. We're going to talk about his book, which is titled From Grassroots to Greatness, 13 Rules to Build Iconic Brands With Community LED Growth. So welcome to the show, Lloyed.
Lloyed Lobo (01:10): Thank you for hosting me, big fan and I'm excited. It's like you watch those people, listen to those people and then eventually have the opportunity to do something with them and you feel honored. It's like this celebrity moment here.
John Jantsch (01:25): Well, I've been doing this for a long time, so hopefully you have heard a little bit of it. So if those of you that watch the video clips, I know those of you listening won't, but I love your hat. They're hard to forget your last name. Lobo,
Lloyed Lobo (01:38): A great entrepreneur once told me that you got to do things to stand out, right? It's all about standing out. And if you look at Mr. Beast, actually one of the things he did does is stand out is one of the biggest influencers now on the planet. I mean, he does things like cure a thousand blind people or gave a homeless guy $20,000, started a free car dealership. The thing is, those who are afraid to be a little eccentric, a little authentic and a little different, often blend in with the rest. And if you are just like everyone else, it's hard to become an iconic brand.
John Jantsch (02:15): I mean, it's not for everybody, but there's no question pissing some people off occasionally is one way to get noticed. Like I said, it's not for everybody, but it certainly works.
Lloyed Lobo (02:25): The story with the hat was I used to have Lobo hat and I'd wear it everywhere, and when we sold 50% of the company or majority of the company and I transitioned to the board, I ended up depressed because I'm like, I left my baby. I built my baby on this company. It's funny because for a founder, no matter how good the financial outcome, leaving a company you started that you sacrificed your family for is like fraught with mental health issues. And a friend of mine gave me this hat as a joke. I wore it in the podcast. It's stuck now where I go to the gym. People are like, Hey, you're that guy from LinkedIn or I went to an art gallery. Oh, we see our content on LinkedIn, so it stuck.
John Jantsch (03:01): That's funny. So let's get into the book from Grassroots to Greatness. This sometimes comes off as a lame question, but a lot of times the answer is brilliant. Was there some problem you were trying to solve that said, I have to write this book?
Lloyed Lobo (03:13): Definitely. So my journey throughout my life has had one common thread, and that is community. So my parents grew up in the slums in Mumbai where they made a movie on it, slum Dog millionaire. And anytime I visit my grandparents who had 10 kids, I'd ask them like, you barely have place in here for your kids. Why do you have this random person here? And he said, he would always say the only way to create abundance in life is to help others without expecting anything in return. Today, of course, these kids are in the slum, they're all well off. But then when I was eight or nine years old, the Gulf Warhead, I was born in Kuwait and security had lapsed, came together to rescue the country. Every building became a sub-community, right? What is community? Put your hands and say, I have a problem, or I have an aspiration.
(04:01): You find other people and they come together. And the way that effort was coordinated, because there were no cell phones, there was no internet at the time, you'd go down the building with concern faces and somebody would say, Hey, I'll organize security. I'll guard the building from this time to this time, all organized food and supplies and water, and that word of mouth spread from building to building and eventually evacuated us to safety. Then another time was when we were bootstrapping both. We had no money, we literally had no marketing team. Marketing was like me, and we bootstrapped this business to 10 million in revenue through building this traction community where we're bringing our ICP, our audience together around their aspiration and their goals. This community of practice, in fact, our investors who bought half the company, the growth equity firm, they came to attraction community event.
(04:51): And through my entrepreneurial journey where it's like something's working, something's not something's great. One day it's great, one day it's like I'm failing, I'm falling. And so when things were going great after two failures and did an events company where the founder ran off with all the profits and then boast was a struggle, bootstrapping, and as soon as we started to make money at boast, we lost a twin. We were expecting twins. One passed the other was born four months or so early and spend that time in the incubator and we relied, my wife and I relied on this community called Fish's mom's group to bring us some sanity in terms of hope and how other people who were in that situation dealt with it. When we were looking at other babies pass away in the nicu, and then finally when we sold a majority of both stepped out of the day-to-day, I ended up depressed.
(05:41): I felt I lost my identity. I was the face of this company, became overweight, became insufferable, and the Peloton community is what saved me and brought my mental health to stability. And so when I sat here saying I could do anything with my time, I can be anywhere, what should I do? I said, I think I need to write about the impact of community to the world and pay homage to the community that's given me so much. From the slums to truly the slum dog millionaire journey, which was fueled by the community. And I truly believe this, yesterday's innovation always becomes today's option and tomorrow's commodity. If you look at the Gs, you couldn't get ahold of it. Then it became an option in the car today, there's CarPlay, you don't even need it. It's commodity. But if you build a community, you won't become a commodity. A perfect example is Apple. They don't have the best features, but they fall in love with their customers and sell that aspiration. They're not nitpicking on, we have this many megapixels camera, they're talking about the aspiration. So that was very important to me to share that journey.
John Jantsch (06:49): So we've always had community. If you think about the one you described in Kuwait, and then churches have always been communities, schools have always been communities, but I think they've really come to the forefront with the fact that we can have community now anywhere. We don't have to be in a physical place. There are those that are suggesting that advertising and some of the traditional marketing ways are really become less effective and maybe even not work at all at some point. And that community is in some ways sort of the last frontier. Would you support to that idea, that notion that you think it's going to really be the way that everybody has to market?
Lloyed Lobo (07:26): I truly believe that I embody it because if you think about it, marketing is taking up, look at 2023 because we went through this boom tech boom and then the interest rates went up and so-called recession. Marketing is taking a bloodbath in 2023. It costs twice as much to generate the same results from the same marketing tactics. TikTok, Facebook, all the CPMs are up. The spend is way off whack, and businesses are spending less and less of marketing because even with generative ai, what you're seeing is you're seeing sameness in content people now people are generating content through generative ai. Consumers are tired of this clickbait, this spam, these popups, these ads sharing personal data to access crappy white papers seeing the same thing over and over. But if you look at some of the best, most iconic brands, Harley Davidson being a perfect example, they almost went bankrupt in the eighties.
(08:21): They rebuilt the company on the ethos of community wasn't a marketing strategy, it was a company strategy. Employees went out and started writer clubs, employees become writers, became employees. It had oversight from the president, and that community organized the Save Harley campaign. Today they organize breast cancer awareness campaigns. There's a purpose behind it, and I think if you have a great purpose that goes beyond your product or service, you'll build an everlasting sustainable community. And I like that you brought religion. My mom's a very devout Catholic, and so as a part of my research, I was researching religions as well as brands. And when you look at every iconic brand or religion or cult has this path, they start with an audience and when they bring that audience together, it becomes a community. Now, when the community comes together to create impact, it becomes a movement.
(09:16): And when the movement has unwavering faith in its purpose, it becomes a religion or cult. Everything from Christianity to CrossFit follows that pattern. You see a lot of influencers today on LinkedIn, on TikTok and whatnot, they think they have communities don't. The influencer is gone, the community is gone because it's not a community, it's an audience. It's a one-way communication. So how do you bring them together to talk to each other without you being in the room is a community. And then when that community creates impact or products or whatever it is, it becomes a movement. And that's what Harley did. They were coming together to create awareness. Mr. Beast, great community, it's going to be everlasting because his community has come together to donate $20 million to evacuate the oceans of 30 million pounds of plastic. All of these things, those are purposes that go beyond the brand, and I think that is really important
John Jantsch (10:17): As a community. You look at some of the communities that are out there and they are counter to something, right? I mean, Harley Davidson really preaches the idea that free spirit writers we're kind of counter to something else that's out there in society. And I think most community, I mean you could even say Peloton is an example, that there is a so-called enemy, if you will. Would you say that's a strong component of building a community, is that there has to be something to rally around or against?
Lloyed Lobo (10:47): It has to be an aspiration, a goal, or some challenge, right? And it's funny, as I interviewed maybe a thousand or so community leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, and one thing I found very common actually, I found a number of things that were common, but the one thing was very key driving force is they're driven by some spite or anger to change the status quo, to prove the naysayers wrong, to do things a different way than it's currently being done. And in many ways you say happy people don't drive change, but people who have a spike towards something will drive that change.
John Jantsch (11:28): Yeah. So the book, as I read in the subtitle, has 13 rules. I'm curious if you want to share, visit a couple of rules, but before that, maybe a lot of times when people you researched a thousand or did a thousand interviews, how'd you get it down to 13 and why are those the most important? And then again, maybe share a few.
Lloyed Lobo (11:48): Definitely. So I asked the same set of questions is like, why did you get started? How did you bring people together? How did you seed it in the beginning? How did you continue to grow and scale it? How do you retain them? And then how do you make money? I think one of the most important things is there's a lot of focus on metrics, and I think metrics is important, but we get caught up in these sort of acronyms and these buzzwords, but really it's all about asking the right questions, right? It's as simple as that, and that is what metrics are to me. It's like if you're looking for an answer, ask the right questions and make sure you ask the same questions because then you'll get the answers you're looking for. And you can find patterns if you ask some, it's like AB testing and marketing, right?
(12:33): If you change three things, you don't know what drove the results, but if you ask the same thing over and over again, you'll get the answer, you'll get a pattern, you'll be able to see a pattern. So that was the key thing. So a couple of rules that I'd love to share, right? One is a framework which is a play on Daniel Pink's Amp, which you may have heard of. And so when I looked at these communities, I found AMP was great, but to build a thriving sustainable culture community, there were six common traits that these companies, these cultures, these community had, and I called it camper, which sounds cheesy, but I say if you have proactively instituted camper in your company, your community, your culture, you'll build capi campers. Camper stands for connection, autonomy, mastery, purpose, which is from Danielle Pink. And then energy and recognition with connection.
(13:23): What I found is that these communities, they foster genuine bonds and build bridges. When people feel connected, it empowers them to support one another and grow Peloton is a great example. Turns out sweating and working out together even virtually leads to a great sense of comradery. The other one is autonomy. Nobody wants to feel micromanaged. When people have the space to make their own decisions, they take ownership and drive innovation. A great example of that community was the Basecamp community. This company is a project management tool that invented Ruby on Rails. Ruby on Rails has spawned thousands upon thousands of startups as a framework, as an infrastructure to build products on. And that autonomy not only is a part of the community, but how they run the company, and it's helped them achieve tens of millions in profit with only 80 employees working 40 hours a week, and no investors, their competitors have thousands of employees and hundreds of millions in funding.
(14:21): So that was the second piece. Mastery, of course, everyone wants to get better and better at what they do and become experts in their field. Purpose is a key one. I truly believe there's no good or bad people. There's shades of gray. Everyone is well intentioned. It's just life happens. You want to give, you want to create impact, but taxes and mortgage and kids doesn't give you the opportunity to do that. But when you attach with a great purpose, even if you contribute a small portion, you feel like you're part of the whole thing. There was an urban legend with President Kennedy walking NASA at midnight, and he sees a janitor sweeping the floor and he asked, what are you doing at this hour? And the janitor says, sir, I'm putting a man on the moon. That is what great purposes. When it goes down to the person with the lowest position, they feel Patagonia is a fantastic example of purpose.
(15:17): They promote this environmental stewardship, but not only encouraging their employees to volunteer for these initiatives, they lead by example. They donate a big chunk of their profits to nature preservation. Then the fifth one is energy creating this atmosphere of enthusiasm, passion, and positive vibe. When your culture is full of lively energy, it sparks inspiration. I mean, you can ask yourself how many times have you been in an environment where they have connection, where there is autonomy, there's mastery, and there's a great sense of purpose, but the energy is a drag, it's dry, and you're like, I just want to get out of here. You watch presentations and we are with great people around the room, but you're falling asleep because there's so energy is really important because community is a marathon of the heart and mind, right? People are giving their time. Oftentimes they're not paid like volunteers and whatnot.
(16:12): How do you keep them excited? Energy is really important to do that. And the last one is recognition. They proactively acknowledge and appreciate the efforts of others. When you celebrate efforts, no matter how big or small, and just say thank you to people or give them things to appreciate them, they keep coming back for more. And we're in 2023 where job loss has been at an all time high, yet people have opportunities, right? I could go and drive an Uber and then part-time do DoorDash and then be on five or Upwork and make a hundred thousand dollars to support my lifestyle. Why do I join a company and do a nine to five? There has to be in addition to all of those things, if I'm not recognized, then I'm out of here, right? A lot of companies fail to proactively recognize their people. If you treat people with love and help them grow, they'll treat your business, your community, your culture with love, and your company will grow.
(17:04): So those were six common traits I found. So the first thing was figure out how this fits because the last thing you want to do, and as I talked to more and more people in 2023, they asked me, oh, how do I start a community and when will I start making money? So if you don't start with the thought of how do I give and how can I give without expecting anything in return? And if you're looking to monetize on day one, then you may as well not do community. Invest in ads, invest in cold calling. There's tons of direct response marketing you can do. Community is a long-term sustainable business strategy, and that's why I say start with this ethos of community, which is camper connection, autonomy, mastery, purpose, energy recognition. If you don't have that in your D n A, people will find it to be contrived and it'll be short-lived, right?
(17:52): You won't sustain it for the long Atlassian, the company work 40 billion. Their community organizes 5,000 events a year. I asked their chief revenue officer, how do you do attribution on this community? He's like, I can't, don't care. It takes care of itself. The company's growing, the product proliferating. I'm not going to nickel and dime on how it makes money. I know it takes care of itself. Or you ask Gainsight, the company was acquired for a billion. They created the customer success community a category. You ask Nick. Nick is like c e o and head of community, or even Brian Chesky at Airbnb. He's c e o and head of community. You can't do attribution with community. That's the thing. It's pretty hard because somebody comes to an event, they may pass on your details to somebody else on the team who goes and downloads a white paper.
(18:39): Those details go to an S D R who cold call, and then the deal gets done and get attributed to S D R, and then it says, oh, community did nothing, right? So that multi-touch is hard. So I think starting with that camper is really important. The second thing is figuring out the type of community you want to build. There are three kinds of communities, community of practice where you bring people together to educate them, to teach them something. I'm an engineer. My first job, I wanted to go into entrepreneurship. So I asked somebody, what's the best skill I could learn? They said sales and marketing. So I started cold calling for a tech company and then transitioned my way into running G T M operations. But everything I learned about sales and marketing was from HubSpot's inbound marketing content because nobody was talking about digital marketing.
(19:23): And guess what? Years later when I had the money and the position to buy a tool, I bought HubSpot. I was part of that community. So community of practice is that teaching people to become better versions of themselves about a craft community of product is turning your customers into evangelists. So teaching them about your product. And the last one is community of play. Bringing people together around fun. Right? Now, if your company doesn't have a product market fit, you're new, you barely have any customers, you don't have high retention, there's no point in building a community of product because nobody's going to want to be sold to. You want to sell the aspiration, the goal that your product is driving. So why do people buy HubSpot? Because they want to generate more leads. They want to become better marketers. So teach them to become better marketers is what HubSpot gets.
(20:17): So that's the second thing. The third thing is crucial is nail your niche. Figure out your ideal customer profile. What are their pains, their goals, their aspirations? Where do they eat, breed, drink, sleep, figure out their circle of influence. Who do they fund? Meaning what other services and tools they pay for? This will give you a list of potential partners. Who do they follow? Meaning who are the influencers they watch and listen to? So this will give you the list of people if you're hosting events or podcasts or to invite, and then what do they frequent? Meaning events, magazines, blogs, they read, so you could distribute your content there. So that is the third thing. The fourth thing is start creating an audience. You can either curate content, like summarize content from experts in your niche or be the expert for your niche yourself or do a mix.
(21:07): But you start by, once you understand your I C P, you can write down a hundred, 200 burning questions and that'll give you content ideas. You can even think about, if I had to write the ultimate guide to X, Y, Z, what would be the chapters and sub chapters and topics? And then from there, start creating content. Even something like this, we do an interview like this. You can turn it into an interactive interview. You can turn it into a YouTube video. You can post the audio to podcast. You can turn it into short form, clips the text into LinkedIn posts. You can turn in an ebook, you can turn the summary into a weekly newsletter. So it gives you content, multiple distribution channels, and you start building this audience. And once you start building this audience, then bring them together. One thing I found in this research is the value of senses.
(21:55): It was told to be my Jonathan Yaffe, the founder of any road, is that anytime you incorporate more than two senses, you start to build stronger connections. We're sound in sight. If we were in person, we'd be taste, touch, and smell. And this is what Red Bull does. And these high energy brand, they bring people together in person. Surprisingly even Yelp scaled a lot of their community through in-person events. And you look at a lot of these online products that you think, but a lot of their early activities were bringing people together in person because it builds bonds, comradery when you're engaging multiple senses. If you were in person now, probably this would extend for hours on end. We probably know each other personally. So that is really important to start bringing people together in person. And then the last one, there's a lot more tips, but these were some of the crucial ones is do it with consistency.
(22:45): Anything worth doing is a long slog. We started traction by doing meetups and pizza nights. 10 people showed up the first time, then 20, then word spread, but we never stopped. And one day 200 people showed up to this co-working space and the GM of the co-working space is like, guys, this is not a meetup. This is a full blown conference. Now that evolved into the Traction Conference, and today we've had C-Suite from Uber to HubSpot to Shopify show up. But you got to do small. And then one day it hits. And even our subscriber base was small and we kept doing it. The pandemic hit, we freaked out. We had to cancel a conference. We had 50 some odd speakers. So I reached out to all the speakers and said, Hey, instead of doing a virtual conference, which I don't have the fortitude to do it, I can't sit through a two day virtual summit.
(23:36): What if I interviewed you every week for an hour and made it a live virtual one hour live summit and we'll turn the recording into YouTube, the audio into podcast. They're like, love it. It eventually ended up being twice a week and subscriber base went from thousands in two years, 120,000, just that cadence. And it's funny, we were, when we sold half the company to growth equity firm, they're like, what is this inflection point here? Your revenues just went up like this in those two years to like 10 million and you have no marketing team or spend. And I showed another thing about the number of webinars and events we were doing, because the word spreads, hundreds of people start joining. First it's tens, then the word eventually spreads and you get the social proof of the speakers. Of course the brander of the speakers and the audience, the other people who are coming. And more and more and more people show up and you build that cadence. But most people just stop. They stop after the 10th thing. Magic doesn't happen at number 10. Magic maybe happens at a hundred. And there are stats like from YouTube, even some of the best content creators have seen, I'm not talking about shorts, but I'm talking about long form videos that they had to create a hundred videos before they saw meaningful traction. That just does, consistency is the magic ingredient that leads to overnight success.
John Jantsch (25:04): It's almost its own algorithm. So Lloyed, I appreciate you stopping by the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. You want to share where people can connect with you and maybe find out a little more about from Grassroots to Greatness?
Lloyed Lobo (25:16): Definitely. So I'm active on LinkedIn. Follow me, I post one to three times a week and generally content around entrepreneurship, bootstrapping, community mental health. So do follow me there. My mom made it weird for me growing up by putting an E in my name, it's Lloyed, but she put an E in there and I was bullied as a kid a lot. And one day I asked her, why did you put this E in there? Why did you have to make me different? And she's like, I always dreamed of you becoming an entrepreneur. When I was living in the slum in India, I wanted my child to be an entrepreneur. And I said, if he ever became an entrepreneur, he would want to trademark his name. And if I put an E in there, that would allow him to do that. I don't know if it's true or not, but in terms of that philosophy there, but that was the story. So Lloyed Lobo on LinkedIn.
John Jantsch (26:04): Yeah, it's a great story. And I must admit, when I was looking at my show notes, I was like, Hey, is that right? So it worked. It worked. And the U R L was probably available, of course.
Lloyed Lobo (26:15): Definitely. The funny thing is Lloyed Lobo without the E is not available with the E, some software developer has. So I'm on LinkedIn with that. lloyedlobo.com, fromgrassrootstogreatness.com. And then if you want to tune into my podcast, it's Traction on YouTube, traction by Lloyed Lobo on YouTube or traction on Spotify. Thank you so much. This has been fantastic, John, big fan.
John Jantsch (26:41): Thanks. Now again, I appreciate you taking the time and hopefully we'll run into you one of these days out there on the road.
Lloyed Lobo (26:46): Definitely. Where are you today, by the way?
John Jantsch (26:48): I am in the mountains west of Denver.
Lloyed Lobo (26:52): Oh, cool. I was just in Denver last week for a boast board meeting, and now I'm in Dubai. I spent half my time in Dubai and half in San Francisco. A
John Jantsch (27:00): Lot of air miles.
Lloyed Lobo (27:02): A lot of air miles. Awesome. Have a good one.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.