69 minutes | Nov 20, 2018

S2 EP7: Designing Brand Communities for Belonging — with Charles Vogl

We long to belong. The desire to be a part of a community is a fundamental human yearning, yet broad swaths of Americans have never felt more isolated. In fact, four out of ten report regularly feeling lonely, and very few have more than two people they consider confidants. Why is this happening? What can we do about it? Is there an opportunity for businesses and organizations to fill the void? And if so, how do we design for belonging in brand communities? Today, Jeffrey takes a deep dive into the concept of belonging with executive consultant Charles Vogl, author of The Art of Community: Seven Principles for Belonging. Charles describes his personal feelings around being an outsider and discusses the top three trends contributing to the loneliness epidemic in the US. He shares his experience at Yale Divinity School, explaining the pervasive ‘crisis of belonging’ on campus and how that phenomenon informs his current work. Charles also offers his definition of community as shared mutual concern and discusses how brands might foster genuine connection among a customer base. Jeffrey asks why leaders and event planners miss the mark, and Charles uncovers the necessity of facilitating shared experiences and investing in the growth of diverse groups. Listen in for insight on the value of story in revealing what a business values and learn how you can build a brand for belonging. Key Takeaways [4:34] Young Charles at his most free ‘Paradise and play’ on Hawaii beach More outgoing, social than siblings [6:11] Charles’ feeling of being an outsider Multiethnic (Chinese American + Austrian surname) Lack of representation in media taught not welcome [10:51] The rise of loneliness in the US 3 in 4 don’t have friends they want 1 in 2 experience anxiety as result [14:05] The causes of this loneliness epidemic Move more than past generations Leaving home faith traditions Digital lives (more screen time = less happy) Decline of public institutions [19:09] Charles’ experience at Yale Divinity School ‘Crisis of belonging’ in campus culture Inspired to help people feel connected [25:09] Charles’ definition of community Share mutual concern for one another Opportunity to feel connected, trusting [28:11] How Charles describes the structure of community Includes full members, novices and visitors Leaders facilitate growth of mutual concern Must feel safe to reveal things about self [39:21] How to foster mutual care among a customer base Provide temple for meaningful rituals Symbol represents values (e.g.: Harley Davidson) [43:56] How to foster diverse communities Help members be who want to be Enrich rather than just ‘hang out’ [47:55] How leaders can create moments of openness Shared experience requisite to mutual concern Opportunity for intimacy (see each other) [57:06] How story fosters a shared experience Stories reveal values (not website) Must be REAL, accessible [1:01:26] What Charles is pursuing in the next year Inspire leaders to foster community Combat loneliness and isolation Connect with Charles Charles’ Website The Art of Community: Seven Principles for Belonging by Charles Vogl Resources ‘Work and the Loneliness Epidemic’ in Harvard Business Review Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life by Eric Klinenberg Carrie Melissa Jones Jayzen Patria Robin Zander Responsive Conference ‘Loneliness … An American Malady’ by Carson McCullers The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers Quest 2019
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