March 16, 2023

Sabbaticals in the Age of AI: Finding Opportunity Amidst Job Automation with David Spinks

Sabbaticals in the Age of AI: Finding Opportunity Amidst Job Automation with David Spinks

Today Greg is joined by David Spinks,  the Founder of CMX and author of The Business of Belonging: How to Make Community Your Competitive Advantage. In this episode, Greg and David talk about sabbaticals, bots as community managers, and having a personal board of advisors.

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Production Team:
David Spinks:

0:00 - Intro
0:50 - Sabbaticals: Why you should take one
7:55 - AI community managers
23:55 - Ethics around bots in communities
31:30 - What's next for David Spinks
34:50 - Advice from Seth Godin, Ryan Hoover, Scott Heiferman and others (sort of)


Greg: Daddy Spinks.

David: Yo,

Greg: this is real. David Spinks, welcome to the show. Um,

David: Greg Isenberg,

Greg: for those of you who do not know David Spinks well, that's wild.

David: first of all,

Greg: First of all, you know, get it together guys. Um, he's the author of The Business of Belonging, which is my go-to community book and a must read.

He was, you know, the founder of C M X, which is a community company, events, services business that got acquired by Bevy, and now he is from a sabbatical, which. , I want to start there. You took, you took some time off. What did you.

David: Well, I learned that sabbaticals are dope. First of all, uh, highly recommend taking a sabbatical. I mean, I, I think like one thing you learn is that burnout is something that you aren't always totally aware of in the moment. Or you might know that you're tired or you're exhausted, um, but you don't really know the extent.

It's the kind of thing that like, until you stop everything, like you put everything down and. Get back in touch with yourself in the present moment. Only then do you realize exactly how empty your tank is. And so like, I was like, yeah, you know, I was, I was still kind of hustling and getting stuff done and working hard and like, you know, I, I don't know that I would've told you that I was burned out before.

I stepped down from C M X and from Bev and started my sabbatical and then, and then I did sabbatical and I turned off social media. I didn't use social media for months. I turned off email. I didn't have any meetings. I didn't do anything for work. I didn't write, I did nothing. and I started feeling better slowly.

It ultimately took me, I think a whole year to get back to a hundred percent, but started feeling better. And you just start to realize like, Oh, shit. Th this was an option to feel this way. Like you didn't even know that you could feel better. Right. Because you all, all I've known for 15 years now of, of cranking on startups and business is like, I, I've only known that mode.

And so it kind of just, I think the biggest thing I learned is that there are other states of living, and you probably don't recognize it if you've been doing the same thing for a long time. And a good way to, to find it is to drop everything.

Greg: taking a year off is goals for a lot of people, but for people who don't have a year to take off, how do you take off some time, recognize that you're burnt out and then deal with it and Yeah. What, what, what advice do you have there?

David: like from a financial perspective, I understand not everyone can take that time off. You know, my wife and I saved a lot of money, over our career and so, you know, we just are using our savings. My wife took the last year off as well, so we kind of did a sabbatical together, moved across the country, had another baby.

So there's like a lot of other factors in there for us. Um, of course, like any, anything you can do to step back and create space is always gonna be good for you. And if you can't do a year, but you can only do a week, do a week, um, I would say that. For most people, you can take more time off than you probably think you can.

I think a lot of people say like, I can't take even a day off. I can't take a week off. Like there's too much to do. You can , you can, you'll be fine. Um, especially if you're at a company that has vacation time. Like take it. If you have unlimited vacations, I'm great. Take unlimited vacation , you know, put it, put it to use and, things will not fall apart even though you think they will.

Um, right. Like a big, a big thing that, you know, I I was struggling with was, this is my baby, it was my company, C M X and a team that I love to work with. And I was like, you know, what's gonna happen to the company after I leave? And you know, there, there's, there's like a lot of ego in that right to, to think that, um, it's all about me.

but I've, I've just been so used to being the leader of the company for so long. It's, it's hard to imagine it without me. , but stepping back and, and this happened in small ways, when I would take time off, it created space for other people to step up. It created space for new leaders to form. It created space for other people to figure out what to do without me there, and a lot of really good things came out of it.

So even leaving for a few weeks or a month and then coming back, you, you might find that you're coming back to a more sustainable situation because it'll be a, it'll be a lesson that it doesn't have to all fall on you. You don't have to do everything. You have really great people around you who can step up and help.

Greg: What about leaving a community? you know, so there's a lot of people here who manage communities who are listening to this, who manage communities or even just manage audiences. what do you do when you're starting to feel a little burnt out and you need to take a step back?

David: the challenge with the community is you feel like you don't wanna let the community down. Um, maybe you'll feel like the community will suffer if you're kind of the active leader of it and, and you're gonna step away. or, or you might feel like you're gonna lose trust. I think that's something that a, a lot of community people struggle with is like, I can't leave my community, my com What are, what will my community members think?

Um, if I'm not even willing to show up, then how can I ask them to show up? Right. and those are all valid feelings and I've experienced them. It's, it's all the more reason to be building up a team around you in, in a more sustainable system. If your community revolves all around you, that's probably a red flag to begin with that.

it's overly centered on, on one person and you're not creating more of a distributed sense of connection and responsibility and leadership. So I think you have an opportunity there to make your community something that can and should live on without you. two, I think like you're human and communities will always gravitate towards leaders who are human and honest and direct.

And so if you tell your community that you've put your heart and soul and blood, sweat, and tears into this community and you're starting to feel burned out and that you're gonna need to take some time to yourself. Any community that wouldn't be supportive of that is probably not a community that I'd wanna be a part of, right?

People who hear that experience will be able to relate to it, will be able to understand it, will be, will be grateful for everything that you've put into the community and will want you to take the time and refill because, you know, you, you have to bring the best version of yourself to your community if you wanna be a great leader.

So taking a month off, taking time off, um, to be able to come back stronger is, is a good thing for the community. And if you really feel like it's time for you to move on, it's time to hand off the reigns to new leadership. It's time to transition. Um, then that's gonna be the best thing for the community as well, because you staying on as a leader, um, when you don't have the energy anymore, when you don't have the heart for it anymore, when you're not able to give it your all.

Um, and you're, you're suffering your burning out. It, it's not gonna serve the community well. It's, it'll be much better to then hand off leadership to the people who, are gonna bring that energy and, and that ability to, to stay really focused to the community.

Greg: So I came across this product today called Atris, A T R I S. Their tagline is an AI community manager.

David: Mm-hmm.

Greg: community manager. So I'm just on their, on their website. I'm gonna tell you a little bit about what it does, and I'm curious if you think, yeah, I'm curious if you think like it could help in moments of, you know, community manager needs to step out for a bit and, or just even if you have a community manager, enhance it.

So here's what it says. It says the problem, so it works with Discord and Slack, and it says when a customer joins your Discord, but Discord is a noisy platform and it's hard to find good information quickly. A confused community member is much more likely to churn. Uh, in addition, it's hard to find links to documentation, tweets, blog.

what they do, how it works, you add training data. So Atris scrapes data from Slack, discord notion. Basically places where you have data, they also monitor it. So if you like add new notion pages, it gets added. You connect a bot, so then you connect, like it's basically a discord, slack bot. Then your community members could ask it anything.

So it's basically like, I don't know if you've seen, like Shopify has now an AI assistant in their shop app. Instacart has a, like an assistant. and then the use cases it says like developer communities, fan audiences, video game tournaments. Anyways, I'm curious what you think about using AI and something like this to help community managers run sustainable communities.

David: Yeah, absolutely. I think it's. I was gonna pitch you on starting a community manager bot product, but I guess they already built it. So, uh, it's one of, you know, I've been keeping this long notes list of ideas of things I wanna build over sabbatical, and that's been one of them. I, I, it means it makes perfect sense look like there are things that humans are really bad at that we're not built for.

and one of those things is being able to hold and process really large amounts of data, to be able to pull out the right data at the right time for the right information, for the right needs, rather. So for a community's a really good example and any community manager knows this experience where like, break this down into like jobs to be done or specific problems that that occur, one is somebody comes to a community and.

Um, a few things might happen. One, they might be afraid to ask any questions cuz they're new to the community. They don't wanna ask the same question that's been asked before. They don't know the social norms, so, um, they wanna start learning, they wanna start engaging, but it's a big leap to post in a community, especially a large established community.

and so, uh, they might not at all, right? A bot can help with that because it creates a very simple, easy way for them to ask a question and get an answer to that, to that question without having to interact with other people, which will help them become more familiar with the community, with the social norms of the community, with the basic questions that they might ask that will lead them to the point where they can be more comfortable asking a question the same way they might go read all of your help docs and search your website, and like they have to do all that work to get that information.

A bot can make that easy. Right. Number two, they might go ahead and post a question, but yeah, it's the same question that's been asked a thousand times by every other person who, who joins a group, right? Like in C M X, the amount of times that someone's come in and just been like, Hey, how do you grow engagement in your community?

It's like so broad that it's impossible to answer it. We've seen it a thousand times. Or like, Hey, what platform should I use for my community? It's like the same thing over and over and over again. And regular members will get pretty tired by that. Great. A bot can help eliminate that. Cuz if a bot can help answer, you know, the, the top.

Hundred most commonly asked questions, then that will lead your members to ask more specific, more nuanced questions, go into more detail, and that will lead to better conversations as well. Um, and then on, not just on the content side, but on the, you know, think about it as like the c r M side. So every community, especially, you know, really large communities will have thousands and thousands and thousands of members, and every community manager knows this question, Hey, who, who should I talk to about, um, building engagement for, uh, direct to consumer products?

Okay, well let me see, let me rack my brain for the 10,000 people in, in my Discord or Facebook group and think about like who's the exact right person who has experience with this, maybe who's like based in your region, who, um, you know, is at the right experience level, right? And like, I just have to pull this up from my head.

And so what we end up doing as community managers is we create these shortcuts in our heads and we kind of have our go-to people. And so, um, you know, if someone asks me for a specific recommendation, I'll either have that go-to person and I keep sending everyone to that same person, which is one really overwhelming for that person.

And two, doesn't give other people the opportunity to help. So it's not very inclusive in that way. Or I just won't have an answer. I'll be like, I, I don't know. Honestly, I can't think of a person off the top of my head to introduce you to, um, maybe you should just post in the community and ask, and maybe it finds the right person, right?

But this is exactly what, uh, AI bot can help with because it can take literally the c r m of your community. It can organize and categorize. Everyone in the community, not just based on like tags and stuff like that, but it can look at all the content they post in the community and know, okay, this person's a good expert in this topic.

This person's an expert in this topic. And so imagine if you could go to a bot and say like, Hey, I'm hoping to meet someone with, you know, that can help with A, B, and C. And the bot can say, great. Here's, you know, five people in the community that are active that have expressed interest in helping other members on these things.

Uh, let me know if you want to connect with one of them. You say yes, and then the bot goes to that person and says like, Hey, this new member joined. They specifically asked about A, B, and C. Um, you're somebody who's has a lot of experience with this. Would you wanna connect with 'em? Yes. They say, yes, great bot connects them.

Awesome. That's gonna do that a thousand times more efficiently than any human community manager. We'll ever be able to do. So that's just like two examples. And I think there's a lot more where actually bots are gonna be much better at large scale community management than humans are

Greg: I mean, this is gonna be a, this is a tough conversation to have, but you know, I feel like if anyone, I can have it with you. You know, it's fast forward five years from now, do we even have large scale communities that aren't. Managed by these bots? Like is the, is the greatest community manager of a large community a bot?

Or is it a human?

David: Might be a bot. It might be a bot.

So I,

Greg: you know,

I'll, I'll, I'll, be honest.

David: yeah. Well, what do you think

Greg: I mean, it's, it's, it's a bot. It's a bot in the

sense, because, first of all, the bot is unbiased. Meaning

David: Well,

Greg: it's more unbiased than a human being.

David: sure. It, it has collective bias from all the human beings.

Greg: Yeah. it's okay. Human beings are extremely biased, even if it's subconscious based on where they grew up. , uh, what language they speak their experiences in life, You know, the, the biases in a bot would be if, you know, the human who is behind the bot essentially, codes it in a way that, inject some of those biases.

But my thinking is if you compare a bot to a human being, I think a human being has way more biases than a bot. So that's one thing.

David: True.

Greg: Second thing is what you were describing around like essentially a community manager, like having this internal Rolodex that they're just sort of going through, like it worked for small groups of people, like how human beings were designed to like carry out community, like small pods of people essentially.

Not these mega discord or slacks or whatever where you have tens, sometimes hundreds of thousands of people in there

David: Yeah. No, it breaks.

Greg: breaks.

David: Okay, so there, there's also a difference between, you know, if we could suss out the, the question into, into more specifics, like, who's gonna be running the community? Bots are humans. Well, um, there are aspects, there are large aspects of the communities that I think are gonna be run by bots.

And we described a couple examples there. There are things that bots can't do, um, or won't be as good at. Like, I don't know that a bot is going to build the community from the ground up. It's like recruiting people, um, will be hard because that's, sure. It could optimize email outreach, which is weird.

Imagine just like a bot going out there and just emailing lots of people. Like it'll probably happen. Um, but it's not gonna build relationships in the same way. definitely not if it's being transparent and it's saying it's a bot. If you don't know it's a bot, then maybe it can still build relationships to some stand to some extent.

But I think growing the community will be hard. I think, creative collaboration will be hard. Like a bot is good at summarizing, and it c it can even be creative to some degree of, but it, it's limited by what's existed before if you wanna get people together to be ideating on something new, right?

Like if, if we ask Chad g p t right now, how do you measure a community? Its answer is gonna be based on the best answers to this point on how to measure community. it's not going to come up with a new way that we haven't really thought about yet, I

Greg: Yeah, no, not yet.

David: right. Not yet. Yeah.

There, there are layers that we might get to. Um, but so like there are things that humans. Will always come together for, and, and the actual conversation is gonna be humans. So one, one thing that's fun to think about, is, we talk a lot about like leaderless communities.

How like, oh, it's, it's kind of like a kind of one of those bullshit utopian community things that people say like a perfect community has no leaders. Um, which like, I don't know, I don't think that's true, but Ima like a, a bot might actually be the most efficient way to get to that point where Yeah, a community is literally all about the members cuz the leadership, the facilitation, the introductions, the sourcing, the right content, the moderation, all that can be done by a bot.

It's the actual conversation and interaction and relationship building that the bot's not gonna do. And all the members can do that. Like if you go to any community that's like, sure, the leader could be facilitating conversations, but once a community's organically growing and running, it's the members having those conversations, building those relationships.

So maybe the best way to get to a true leaderless community is to make the bot the leader.

Greg: maybe, maybe here's where I think humans still have the edge on, on bots, so you know, being in a slack, being in a discord, something like that. Text-based communication, that's like a low, low resolution conversation versus let's say, sharing images or sharing vi video or, uh, having live video or being in person, uh, with a lot of people, you know.

So I think think of it as a spectrum, like the lowest level is just like, essentially messaging back and forth. And a human being is, is incredible at being in person and drawing upon personal experiences to create that connection that, really helps with community. So, good news, community managers, you're gonna outperform 10 on 10 on that because you'll be able to, let's say you're, you know, you're, you're hosting a.

You know, a yoga community, um, and you're doing like, hot yoga with 10 other people. You can be like, hot yoga, save my life. I used to be a meth addict and now I'm doing hot yoga and it changed my life. And a bot can't say that.

David: No bot that I know.

Greg: My bot not yet,

David: Not yet until bot, until bots start doing meth and falling in love with high yoga, uh, . I love, love the example. You're right, right? Like, you know, bots don't have trauma and humans connect around trauma. They connect around those shared experiences and Yeah, like in person, bot can't do in person, right?

Not yet. Um, the more, the more human traits come into play, the less the bot will be able to provide that. Even like, I mean, we already know, like Zoom feels less human than talking in person because there's all. Little subtle things about how we interact. Like right now, I can't look you in the eye.

I can look at the camera, I can kind of look you in the eye, right? But like, I can't look you in the eye. So we're actually on a chemical level, not able to connect on the same way that we're able to in person. And there there's a chemical reaction that humans have. Uh, when we are together in person, when we can touch, when we can smell, when we can see each other, when we can look each other in the eye, when we can hug.

Like these are things that bots are not gonna be able to do. I mean really like at the end of the day, we're in communities to connect with each other, to feel heard, to feel cared for, to uh, feel like we're not alone. And I don't care how good a bot this is. Why before I was like, well, it depends if the bot tells you it's a bot or not.

Cuz it can use all the exact words that a human does. But the very knowledge that it's a bot will undermine any sort of relationship that you can build with it.

Greg: It's gonna, it's gonna tell you it's a bot. yeah. I hope, um, you ever see the, you ever see the Jetsons

Two interesting things about the Jetsons, um, regarding bots. So, Rosie from the Jetson, she was like the mechanical maid. First is She never called George and Jane by their first name. , she always called them Mr. And Mrs.

Jetson or Mr. And Mrs. J, which lesson there is like your bot. Of course you're like, it was programmed to do one of those two things, either calling it Mr. J, Mr or Mrs. J or Mr. Or Mr. Mr. And Mrs. Jetson. So human beings are just like better at knowing like the context. and especially with like human, you know, looking at someone's crying, looking if someone's laughing and based on that reacting in an interesting way.

So that's one thing, uh, which is interesting. The second is her antenna always flashes and beeps at the start, at uh, and the end of her sentences. So every time she would say something like Clock. the antennas would go. And it's another example of how mechanical they make Rosie out to be. How she's like, basically just coded.

and I think that's another issue with, with bots in general, like that's the, that's the con of bots is that, it's very difficult to get them in an I R L setting to act a bit differently. Also, I just wanted to bring up the Jetsons.

David: Take every opportunity I can to bring up Elroy. Um, yeah. So, but like, these are thi these are choices that people made, right? To build rosy that way. And so you would hope that people who build bots will build bots that always make it clear that they're a bot. But, you know, if someone chooses to build a bot and, and not have it tell people that they're a bot and it just says, you know, send out, I, I, I went through on my newsletter like an example of can a bot build a community?

Like what would it look like for a bot? And I had it do all these tasks that I would do if I was launching a community. So I had to identify potential members, I had to identify potential leaders to bring in, to do q and as I had it, write the email to invite. To like recruit people to join the community and try to make that as compelling as possible.

And it did a pretty damn good job of writing an email that sounds compelling, that like, it made it sound like a, i i I use a tree community. Um, and, and where everyone pretends to be a different kind of tree. And it came up with all these great tree puns and it like talked about the mission and the values of the tree community and how we all speak a tree langu.

Like it came up with some stuff that I'm like, this actually sounds like a I don't know if everyone would be interested in it, but it sounds unique. Like people who are into it would be really into it. And so like a bot can send out a really compelling recruiting email. A bot can send out a really compelling onboarding message.

A bot can start really interesting conversations. It can do pretty much all the things that a human would do when launching and managing an online community and. Would you know that it was a bot? May, like, sometimes you can tell, sometimes you can't. so if someone chose to build a community and have the bot not tell people that it's a bot, I, I think that a community would still form and we would never know.

Greg: Yeah, I think the ethics behind, is this a bot or not? I think if the bot makes the de the decision to like send the email, then to me the ethical thing to do is to be like, this was sent by a bot, but if David Spinks is behind, you know, chat g p t in the sense that he put it, you put, you prompted it, you looked at it, then you might've changed a few words, you edited a few things.

And even if you didn't edit, you just like copied and paste, but you're like, I proofread this. Then I think ethically it's okay, uh, to be like, it's me, it's David Spins. Um, just like it's okay to like, if you're going from point A to point B on a car, um, like that's kind of like a mechanical thing, helping you get somewhere quicker.

David: Different

Greg: How's it different?

David: Well, my GPS isn't like how I'm crafting my identity. , you know, your words are who you are. It's how you're presenting yourself to other people. It's how you're building relationships. So, you know,

Greg: let's say you publishing on spell check and you have spell check. Isn't it a similar thing? Like what's the difference between

David: similar, like it's a spectrum on a, on a, you know, if you look at it as, as a, as a kind of grid, you know, on, on one side of the X axis you have. Google Maps and on the other end you have a full on, you know, her style robot. There's a spectrum there. And, and using Jet Chat g p t to write an email on your behalf, and not saying it is probably closer to the, her end of the spectrum than the Google Maps end of the spectrum.

Greg: you were running Apple, let's say, you know, would you make it so that if you know every email you sent, if it was edited with chat G B T, it would have some sort of disclosure,

David: So like, I'm not, I'm actually not sa I'm not saying that it's wrong for, you know, Greg to useche G P T to get a client to pay their bill. You know, it's, uh, it's okay to do that because I think that you're still reviewing that and you're making the choices say like, these are the words I choose to send.

You're making that choice. I don't think that's unethical for you to use chat G B T to give you the words

Greg: for the record there, you know, you're referring to how I recovered $109,500 from a client who wasn't responding to our emails, and I used chat g p t to do it. what I didn't post in that thread is that I drafted the, the email I, well, I prompted. I got that, uh, I edited a couple things.

I actually sent it quickly to my lawyer. I was like, is this like a good collection? And she was like, it's perfect. She, she didn't, she had no

David: Review.

Greg: yeah, no comment. Sent it.

David: Yeah. So, so, yeah. You know, even if you didn't do that, you, you were still the human reviewing it and it's, you, you're sending it under your name and you chose to go ahead with those words. So, you know, I don't think it's unethical anymore than, I don't know, is using a ghost writer unethical, um, may, maybe that's even more unethical cuz you're like kind of using someone else's creativity to write on your behalf.

Um, but like a bot just giving you the words to use It's great. And, and going back to the community example is, is actually I think really good for us as community builders cuz the amount of emotional labor that we have to take on to manage communities. Like when I have a situation in community where I have a member who is, I have members who are fighting each other, or I have a member who's really angry at me or at our business and I have to, uh, deescalate conflict or I, I have to, Respond to someone who's really upset with me.

That takes so much emer emotional energy to come up with the right words, to thoughtfully engage with people and community professionals, community builders, we have to do this day in and day out. And that, that, those are the most extreme ones, but even small ones, you know, someone who's having a hard day and we want to give 'em the right words.

Um, someone who's having a challenge at work and you wanna give them something very practical. It's just a lot of energy that's constantly going into helping community members. And that's another thing I did in the newsletter example. I had chat, G P T. Respond to, um, someone who made like a vulgar comment in the community, and it was really good.

Like it was maybe better than what I would've written to moderate a community. When a, when a member violates the rules and says something offensive and great, now I can take that, edit it a little bit, and I didn't have to spend half an hour perfectly wording this highly emotional piece of text. Now, now I can, as a community builder do this much more sustainably.

Greg: also, like you're the goat of community. So the fact that you, who has so much experience, you know, being a part of hundreds if not thousands of communities and seeing it firsthand, get something back from a robot that's like really good, if not maybe even better, that we can come up with quickly. I think quickly is, is, is is the important piece cuz like, yeah, maybe if you spend 30 minutes like drafting it, it would be great, but you're, you know, you're busy, you've got a hundred things you're doing, you know, your baby's crying, you know your employees, this, you know, there's a lot going on.

So I think, the cool thing just about AI in general is it allows you to be multiple places at the same.

David: It certainly makes you more efficient and we talk about it from a time perspective, but I think the emotional perspective is also really


Greg: Yeah. So, shifting gears a little bit, or maybe not shifting gears that much. you have all this knowledge in community. you're a free agent. Uh, there's this ai boom happening. There's a community based businesses boom happening.

David: I feel like I've written three newsletter articles about like what I'm gonna do next and all of them kind of start with like, I have no idea. Um, uh, what I'm doing right now is, is a few things. Um, I'm writing cuz I like writing. Um, I mean, I hate writing, but I like the outcomes of writing and I like the end products of writing.

Um, I like the torture of writing and so I'm doing the newsletter. I really enjoy that. Um, writing is how I'm going to get motion to. Put myself in the position to find things that excite me. I think it's really hard. People who just kind of sit around and wait for a lightning to strike and to get inspiration on something they wanna work on, but they don't move their feet, they don't get any motion.

It, it's, you're just hoping that it finds you by, I think by writing, by putting stuff out there, by putting content out there, you, you're essentially putting out these signals, you're connecting with people, you're thinking you're pro processing. And so that's what I'm doing. I'm just thinking, processing, sharing, writing.

Um, so I'm putting a lot of my effort into the newsletter right now. That might become my full-time thing on its own. If I can really generate enough income from that. Um, or I might lead me to whatever comes next. Beyond that, I'm consulting. Um, so I have, uh, three clients right now. I have two more I might sign and then I'm probably pretty booked up.

Um, And I've just, you know, I, I enjoy that cuz it, it gives me lots of ideas to write about. For one, I get to work with a lot of different kinds of companies. I'm working with a company that's doing micro schools, so it's a very unique community problem. I'm working with a, a physical gym and, and personal training company.

and so, I enjoy doing that. It gives me a variety of different kinds of community problems to solve. Um, I'm doing this talent collective thing as well, so I'm helping companies hire for community. I have over 160 really incredible candidates that I curate in, in the collective. And I help companies who are hiring connect with them.

They're all people who are open to new. Job opportunities. and that's mo mostly been a way to just help people through kind of the layoff, uh, crisis that's happening. and for me it's, it's, it's another kind of, I'm, I'm sort of testing different products that can be passive income as well. Um, I'm, I'm sort of designing more of a independent, creator lifestyle business to see if I can do that.

You know, I have two kids now. I'm not feeling so motivated by like trying to do some big VC back thing. I'm feeling more motivated by having autonomy of time and lifestyle and being able to pick up and drop off my kids and, spend my time doing the work that I want to do. So, lightning might strike.

I, I, I remember how I felt when, when we started C M X and the energy I felt around that. it was like I couldn't stop myself. I, I wanted to throw everything I had into that. I don't think I've found that thing yet. Um, when I find it, I'll know it. Until then, I'm just gonna keep writing.

Greg: Okay, I got a, I got a fun set of questions to answer, which, uh, you're gonna have to answer it. So, cuz you're here. You're here, you're here. So you've interviewed some incredible people at C M X. I'm gonna go through a f a list of those people, a short list of them, and I'm gonna ask you if that person was giving you advice on what to do, what do you think they would say? Okay. So to start, one of my favorites, and I know one of your favorites, Seth Godden. If Seth Godden was sitting here and he was giving you advice on what you should do, what is the one thing you should. What do you think he would say?

David: It would be very short and poetic, um, something along the lines of, Do the thing that you can do in a way that no one else can do it. I think he's always been very much about, finding the uniqueness in yourself and that one thing or voice or message that you can bring to your work, to the world, to marketing copy to anything, that, It comes from your unique story and your experience and no one else can do.

And like you can only find that by going inward. You can't find that by like looking for the best market opportunity. You're trying to make money. You can only do that by kinda looking within yourself. That's what I think Seth would tell me.

Greg: I love that. Go, go inward and, and, you know, keep going. Uh, number two, our, uh, our friend Ryan Hoover. What would Ryan say?

David: Um, I think Ryan would be a little bit of the opposite of Seth. I think Ryan's a very pragmatic business mind, uh, who would kind of see the opportunities in kind of like business, uh, community-based businesses that's growing. Um, you know, he and I have talked in the past about doing like a course together or.

I've talked to him recently about, um, one thing I've thought about is doing a sort of fund for community. So being able to invest in, uh, community-based companies and community-based software. and he obviously knows a thing or two about that. so I think he, he's someone who just like sees he's such a good finger on the pulse of tech and products and kind of the zeitgeist of, of business and I think he would, he would spend a lot of time helping find like where things are going and what I can build to, to put myself in the right position to catch that momentum.

Greg: I agree. I think he would want, you to, you know, you've got so much built, built up knowledge and you're in the right place at the right time, and I think he'd want you to build the right product for that. so I think that's, that's true. A few more. Scott Heiferman, uh, who founded

David: Hmm. he probably told me to start a nonprofit. I feel like Scott's like one of the most authentic community founders in the game. And, um, I haven't talked to him about this. I'm curious what he would say, but I get the vibe that he's like, if he could do Meetup again, it would be more of like a Craigslist, Wikipedia style.

Just like open belongs to society kind of platform. and I think like he's just a visionary with, with those kinds of community. Platforms and, and building tools for community in, in, in that mindset. And so, I think he would probably tell me to look at like, what society needs the most right now.

And forget about market, forget about business, forget about the capitalist aspect of things. Just what's the most human impact I can have, uh, by building community, uh, tools or software or, or programs.

Greg: Okay, we're gonna do three more. Joe Navarro, who's fam famous for the power of non-verbal communications.

David: that's a tough one. That f. First of all, my, my interviews and work with him was a long time ago, and he, yeah, so he is an FBI agent who, um, watches shit. It's amazing, like the stuff he shares about like how you can read people based on their body language and their emotion. He probably would have watched this interview and noticed how my face was twitching at certain points and where my hands were.

And he'll say like, Hey, when you said these three things, you seemed really confident, but when you said these three things, you lost confidence and you felt very uncertain about yourself. So you should probably focus on those three things that that made you act confident. And I have no idea what those are.

So if Joe watches this, let me know.

Greg: David Marquette, former nuclear submarine, captain and author of Turn the Ship Around. What would he say?

David: Ah, David's awesome. That's such a good book. Have you ever read that book?

Greg: No, but uh, it's like one of those must reads, right?

David: You should read it. Yeah, it's, it's incredible. Um, Shane, Shane Mack was, who introduced me to Lieutenant David Marque originally. And he's amazing. He's just like the kindest person. I got to go down actually for three or four days and spend time with him in his house, um, down in Florida. He like lived right on the ocean and we just like rift on business and community and leadership, um, and just like hung out.

It was, it was really, it was special. And that was like, we barely knew each other and he just like invited me down to do that. He's like that kind of person. Um, what would he tell me? Um, I think David just like, uh, I think what he knows best is he's, he is, uh, you know, become this great author and speaker and, and that's what he does for a living now since he was, you know, retired from being a nuclear submarine captain. So, a little different. So he'd probably tell me, he'd probably advise me on that path, um, to continue to grow as a leader, um, for community builders to speak, maybe write another book, um, and understand, you know, he's, he's done the whole independent entrepreneur path, so maybe he could teach me how to do that

Greg: Alexis Ohanian, uh, co-founder of, uh, Reddit 7 76 Venture Fund. What would, uh, Alexis say as an OG community product guy?

David: Hmm, that's a good question. What would Alexis say? I think like Alexis gives me some similar vibes to Ryan in some ways. Like someone who just is so plugged into the zeitgeist and sees the big opportunities way, way ahead of a lot of other people. Um, and he just kind of brings a community mindset to every product, every company he works with. It's like there's always like a community undertone to it.

Um, what would he tell me to do? think something that, Does is, um, and I, what seems to be a priority for him in the last several years as he's kind of evolved is like really rising up a lot of other leaders and, um, whether those are like partners in his firm or other entrepreneurs, or his, like, passion for, you know, women's soccer leagues and things like that.

So I think he just like wants to rise others up and, and give, I think he has a big voice, uh, um, a big focus on giving a voice to people from underrepresented groups. And so I think he would guide me in that direction of like how to have an impact on giving the next generation of community builders and maybe great community builders who aren't getting their voices heard.

how can I help rise up their voices?

Greg: Okay. I got a bonus one.

David: Man, these are hard. You didn't prep

Greg: listen when I invited you on. I didn't, I didn't say it was gonna be, uh, super easy, but I think when, when I invited you on, I was like, Hey, let's just have an, you know, a conversation and we're having a conversation

David: This is true. This, that's a broad promise. A conver . This is indeed a conversation.

Greg: So the bonus one, and perhaps my favorite one is, what would 2014 David Spinx say to 2023 David Spinx 2014? because I think that's when I met you. Basically, we were both living in San Francisco, um, and you, you know, it was early days of cmx, uh, from what I remember, you were just getting it started, um, starting to see some traction.

Um, and you were doing it at a time where a lot of your peers and friends were doing like these big venture back things, and you were doing like more of a bootstrap thing in community, which was like not very, you know, attractive at the time. yeah. What would he say to, to you?

David: he would say to look for opportunities. in places that you love, that you have a passion for, but you, you feel like it's too small or there isn't a big enough business opportunity. So I, the re where I'm going with this is like, when I started C M X, I did not intend for it to be my full-time thing. uh, it was my buddy Max Chu. and I started together.

I had told him about the idea for the conference, um, over the years before that we got to know each other. And he was like, in, in 2014, that's when he was like, Hey, do you want to do this? I know how to run a conference. I'll handle logistics, and you lead speakers and kind of the brand and everything and. We did it, I was still running. Um, I was, I co-founded a company called Feast with my good friend Nadia, um, who I think you know as well. Um, and we were still doing that at the time, and cm, it frankly wasn't going that well. And, um, money was getting tighter and tighter. And so CMX was in part a way to like bring in some extra income.

It was an idea that I've had that I was talking about for a long time, but never pulled a trigger on. and part of the reason was I never saw community as this is the thing that's gonna be my big. Break as an entrepreneur. Um, and at that time I was definitely more focused than I am today at like, I was looking for.

Like, you know, what's the big thing? What's, what's the thing that I can really blow up that's gonna, um, hopefully generate wealth to have a lot of impact to like be the big business that I want to build, right? I wanted to have that kind of success under my belt. And I stu you know, feast was like an online cooking school.

It was like completely different. Um, before that I worked with, uh, SeatGeek and I did a and like an online blogging platform and community was always a thread through everything I did, but it was never like the thing, and people always called me the community guy back then. Like even when I was first, early in the career, they'd be like, oh, Davis Swings is a community.

And I'm like, no, no, no, I'm not the community guy. I'm an entrepreneur, I'm a founder. I like build businesses. I'm not the community guy. And they're like, yeah, okay, but like, talk to us about community. And then I talked to him about community for hours cuz it's what I loved and it was my passion. Um, and then it was only after that first C M X.

Just being in that room with all those people and feeling it and, and seeing the reaction from people who like, got a lot of value from that event and felt like they weren't alone for the first time in their career. And having those conversations that I was like, oh, this, this, this is what I've been meant to do.

Like actually the way for me to build something great as an entre entrepreneur isn't to go around community. It's through community. And so I think 2014 Spinx would say, keep an eye up for those kinds of things. Now what are the things that feel peripheral that you love and you just, for whatever reason, have an assumption that it's not the thing? Maybe inspect that and you might find some.

Greg: related to that, someone, uh, dmd me, something I said on the My first Million podcast, which I have no recollection of saying, is like, it changed my life. But what I said was, and I wrote it down, When you think about what you wanna spend your time doing, think about what you've spent your time doing.

Meaning like if you are, like spending hours talking about community. Like there must be a reason why you're talking about it. Like, you know, you're, you're, you're curious in some capacity or you have this innate understanding of it. So I think that's a really, it's an insight. I don't even know if I said it, but apparently I said it, um, that, you know,

David: it was either you or Aristotle. I, you know, I always get you too

Greg: Yeah, it was me, Sam Par or Sean for he said it. but yeah, I

David: They get enough credit for, for these, these one-liners. We should give you this one.

Greg: yeah, so yeah, I think, uh, 2014 spins probably had that in mind when, when he was giving you this present day advice. Um, I like doing this exercise because it's like the personal board of advisors, uh, framework, which is. Like in your head, who would be like your personal board of advisors living dead?

Uh, people, you know, people you don't know. You can even, you know, add people that you don't know onto that list and, and say like, you know, I don't know Gary Vayner truck, let's say, but what would Gary Vayner truck say about this? Um, what would my grandfather say? What would my, you know, and then you can play it out.

And it, and the reason why it's helpful during crossroads, like this is, and, and this actually goes back to biases too, is everyone is gonna give you advice and everyone has some bias advice, and sometimes it's good just to like, get as much advice as possible. And then from that, see what really sticks with you, what feels good.

so I leave you with, that David Spinx. I'm happy, uh, you got to join us for, for an episode.

David: I'm absolutely honored to be here. Always, always fun to jam. I feel like we could do an entire podcast, like show, like launch a new podcast and just do this every week and talk about community. So maybe that's what, is that the advice that Greg Eisenberg would give me?

Greg: what do you think 2014, Greg Eisenberg would, you know, advice what? What would he say and what would 2023 Greg Eisenberg give you advice? What would that be?

David: Um, I don't think, I don't know that 2014 Greg Eisenberg feels that different than 2023. Greg Eisenberg, I feel like you've been pretty steady. I don't know.

Greg: So, yeah, what would that advice be?

David: if only I could ask you I'll just share the advice you've given me, which is, you know, find the fun,

Greg: Yeah.

David: you know, find the thing that brings you joy. and I, I think I actually, I think about that all the time. I think it's, it's hard advice when I, the way I used to apply it is like, I'm like, oh shit.

Like, what brings me joy? And then I start thinking about it and it's, you start trying to like, find the things that bring you joy. It's like, well, I like playing basketball, but like, like, is that like, I don't, I don't see a thing that I'm gonna do there that's like my business or my, my career. And I don't know that I want that to be my career.

It's kind of like my fun thing, and I always kind of go in that loop. But the way I've been using your advice, just so you know, Is like as a filter whenever I come up with ideas. So I have this long list of ideas of articles I wanna write and projects I wanna launch and people I wanna collaborate with.

And it's easy to start feeling overwhelmed cuz like, all right, well there's all these things. Which one should I do? And, and you start to think about the criteria for, you know, what, what you should focus on. And I've just found that that advice is really helpful in those moments to go through it and just feel like, literally pay attention to your heart and what, what's, what's getting you going when you look through it?

What's something that feels like it will bring you joy if you do it? And that, that's been a really helpful gauge to eliminate some things that like, seem like good ideas, but I'm like, I don't wanna do that every day. Um, and find things that like actually that there's some things that seem like they might be really fun to do there and I should explore that more.

Greg: Someone once asked me, what is the purpose of life? And I remember being like, first of all, I'm not Gandhi or, uh, Mother Teresa, but I'll take a stab at answering it, which is have the greatest amount of moments like the greatest ratio of pinch me moments that you can possibly have in your.

So for example, like if you're going through life and you're not like pinching yourself, being like, wow, this is so like, incredible, amazing, whatever. Then do things that try to get you, you know, pinch me moments. And this can be in business, meaning like doing things that get you really excited, having great meetings, closing business, creating products that do really well.

But it can also be in like life, right? Like having a child, you know, you've had, you know, two children now and that's many pinch me moments. Could be a lot of different personal milestones and it's really about architecting your life around these pinch me moments. So, thank you David Spinks, people could follow you at David Spinx, S P I N K S. On Twitter and there, there's his, his newsletter, which is a must subscribe, his book, which is a must buy, and that job board he was talking about, which you can go check out Hopefully no AI generated copy.

David: Nope, it's all me, baby. spinx,

Greg: 100% spx, 0% AI for now. We'll let you know

David: I'm a bot and I just haven't told you

Greg: Well, rumor has it that you're so similar to me that one of us is a bot There's only one real spx, one real eisenberg maybe, or you know, one of us is real based. If 50% of this podcast is correct is real.

David: Well, it's been delightful to talk to myself,

Greg: If you like this episode, please, please, tweet at. . Um, and we'll bring on SPX for more and for those also who made it to the end here, go sign up to community College. I'm bringing it back. It's a, uh, a course where SPX is actually, he's shown up in the past. It's a co it's a course to teach you how to build a community-based product, understand niches, build community, and you can go check that out at community college dot late checkout studio. Class starts in April.