5 Minute Book Review: Built To Belong

A peek into what’s on our Head of Community’s bookshelf 👀

Taylor Harrington
Groove With Us

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What book am I taking a deep look at this month?

Built to Belong by Natalie Franke

A short teaser for those who haven’t read:

This is a great book for those who are leading a community of people who may, at first glance, think the other people in that community are their competition.

Natalie shares her first-hand experience creating Rising Tide, her take on ‘a rising tide lives all boats,’ and the positivity she’s seen when community members reframe competition to collaboration.

Specific parts that left a lasting impact on me as a community leader:

Rising Tide was born from a hashtag that went viral: #communityovercompetition. At the time, Natalie says:

“The idea of collaborating and cheering for one another in the entrepreneurial space was a foreign concept” (pg. 29).

She saw all these small business owners and thought:

“We [are] all independent boats in the same ocean” (pg. 28).

This imagery hit home for me. The Groove community is a collection of independent workers all over the world, yet we’re bonded by our shared experience of navigating the uncertain waters of our wavy career paths and our courage to do things differently. When we gather to connect with one another, we are experiencing the chance to help each other rise up.

“Applaud courage and vulnerability when we see it” (198).

This is such an important reminder for all community leaders. ⬆️

Community builders often have the chance to see their members at highs and lows. As a leader of a community, it’s important to acknowledge how much courage and vulnerability it can take to speak up, whether the thing they’re sharing is positive or negative.

Inside the Groove community Slack group, someone recently highlighted how a new client was impressed with their work, so much so, that this client made a video to capture how appreciative she was. This was such a powerful highlight for me to read because it showed me that this member felt safe enough to say, someone recognized me for my hard work, it really changed my day, and the people I want to share this excitement with are you all (fellow Groovers) because coworking together helped me finish that project.

“Core values reach out a hand and say: Hey! This is who we are and what we believe in. Our community lives by these beliefs, and we will fight to defend them. If our core values resonate, come on in. You belong here” (pg. 166).

Core values are something we’re continuing to craft at Groove as a betatesting community. Natalie argues that your community’s core values should be loud and clear to help people know if this is a place they belong.

I really appreciate this framing because as a community builder it can be hard to draw the line to say who belongs and who might this not be a good fit for. By saying “if these resonate, come on in”, it’s also saying, if they don’t this isn’t for you, in a very kind way. I appreciate that subtle nudge.

“Human beings are not highlight reels” (pg. 138).

Let’s say this again and loud for the people in the back 👏 I love this line. Social media and resumes too often reflect that people are easy to describe in 180 characters or that the person you see on their profile captures their whole essence. As community leaders, we must think about how we set up norms for folks to share who they are on a deeper level than a ‘highlight reel’ and design our products to make that possible.

Something I’m still skeptical about:

Natalie wrote, “Comparison isn’t just the thief of joy — it’s the plundered of purpose, the burglar of belonging. It is a dagger forged in the fires of our deepest fears and insecurities that threatens our very well-being” (pg. 129) This is what I would call her “hottest take” in the book.

While I agree that comparison can have these negative effects, it can also help us see what’s possible and reveal insightful reflections about ourselves. Comparison opens a door for us to dig deeper and understand why we’re comparing ourselves to another person. We might ask: “Do I really want what they seem to have? If so, how can I get there? And, if I don’t, what have I prioritized instead and why is that a good thing? How can I celebrate my choices while still admiring theirs?”

It can be difficult to reflect on the benefits of comparison, but when we do, it’s worth it. Comparison can help us understand our purpose, rather than plunder it.

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Taylor Harrington
Groove With Us

Head of Community @ Groove 💃🏼🕺🏼 Love bringing people together ✨ Curious about the future of work, community, & online learning 🤔 Board game player + reader