Glennon Doyle stumbled upon massive success by accident. The mommy blogger turned Oprah bestie and author wrote a ‘25 Things About Me‘ blog list and posted it on Facebook (be honest, we’ve all shamefully done at least one).
Her raw and authentic truth struck a chord. “Hours after she posted her list, [her] inbox was filled with dozens of emails from friends and acquaintances saying, ‘I never knew. . .’ and ‘Me, too.’ And the rest was. . . as they say–history.
Fast forward and today Doyle has graced Oprah’s stage, has published a best-selling memoir, created a movement through her insanely popular blog Momastery and raised more than $7.5 million for charity in just the 5 years.
If you’re a writer or aspiring changemaker of any sort, Glennon’s success is the stuff dreams are made of. I was late to hop on the Glennon train, after I heard her speak during Oprah’s Super Soul Sessions this spring, I started an NYC book club in her honor. The way she has grown and upleveled her accidental business really resonated with me. In fact, her story led me to reassess everything I planned professionally.
Here’s a look at four impactful lessons I’ve learned from Glennon Doyle this year along with easy action steps we can take to build communities, credibility and industry expertise.
1. Expertise is weak without authenticity
It’s unconventional advice in a culture full of gurus. But one Glennon’s greatest strengths is her status as the “every woman.” She may call Oprah her friend, but she’s not trying to impress us with her connections or wisdom.
“ I don’t have answers […], I only have stories,” Glennon said on the second episode of her Facebook show Coffee & Revolution. Instead of focusing on positioning yourself as an expert with all of the right answers, focus on sharing relatable stories. As the late Dr. Maya Angelou said, “People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.”
Keep this adage in mind the next time you take the stage to speak or write your next blog post. Do you leave your audience feeling inspired? Were they impacted enough to make a change? Storytelling allows us to contribute to a larger conversation. This is in stark contrast to lording over a crowd with your expertise. It also invites people into the conversation with us. Engagement is key if you want to grow and sustain a business in the digital age.
2. Fill the skills gap close to home
For new entrepreneurs the decision to hire a team is both an exciting mark of achievement and scary AF. Your work is your baby and to turn it loose into the hands of a stranger can be terrifying.
We all know growth requires us to seek support. This means we need to hire people to fill our skills gaps. If hiring makes you nervous, consider Glennon’s path: Hire from your inner circle – if you can find the skills you need.
For example, Glennon’s sister (know by her fans simply as “sister”) has been Glennon’s wing woman for years. These day she sits at the helm of all things Momastery and plays a part in Together Rising, Glennon’s 501c3. Keeping business in the family is not ideal for everyone. If that’s your case, look to your network for new talent.
3. Take the stage before you’re ready
Public speaking is one of the biggest fears most human beings face. For Glennon it was no different. In a podcast interview she shared that her fear was so intense she would make Sister sit on stage while she spoke (with no explanation at all for the audience).
But as time went on she learned to connect with live audiences in the same way she did from behind her computer screen. Public speaking is one of the best ways to connect with others and build the all important “Know, Like and Trust” factor. While blogs, vlogs and podcasts can all be edited, live speaking is unscripted reality.
By the time Glennon landed a coveted spot on Oprah’s Super Soul Sessions (i.e. the Ted Talks for Oprah’s audience) she was a seasoned speaker who could make the audience laugh, cry or take action through her live storytelling. If you want to move the masses get on a stage as soon as possible
4. Build community conversations
I had heard of Glennon long before I read her bestselling memoir Love Warrior or saw her speak on Oprah. Her blog Momastery was frequently shared in my social media feeds by both moms and non-moms alike.
Glennon’s unique style of “truth-telling” and humor hits a chord with women. Even if we don’t have kids, a history of eating disorders or addiction like she does. One of the most powerful ways Glennon has grown her emerging empire is by bringing her community into the conversation.
Whether she hosts “family meetings” on Facebook Live to discuss feelings about world events, or by referring to her community as “Love Warriors” she creates dialogue. She also creates opportunities for her community to give back with Love Flash mobs; designated days for the community to give to families in need through her non-profit Together Rising. They’ve gone on to raise millions of dollars in a mere few days during humanitarian crises in Syria and during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Texas.
When she asks her community for support people often feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves. Glennon was never just a blogger talking at her audience. She was the leader of their squad, but every single person who landed on her website felt like they were an important part of the team.
Creating a true community can feel like an overwhelming task if your end game is numbers. Instead, think about your favorite communities, online and offline. Look at the traits that make those groups valuable. Think about ways you can re-engineer their tactics to compliment your big vision.
When it comes to naming a community it can be tricky. Feminist Marketing Consultant Kelly Diels suggests to make it a verb/noun combo (i.e., the action your group takes and the type of people they are or want to see themselves as).
If you want to create a highly engaged community to support you and your work at every turn, take a few lessons from Glennon’s playbook. There’s almost no one doing it better these days. Just remember to lead with the truth, include other voices and ask for support along the way.
This article has been edited.
Ashley Williams is the host of the podcast Green Is the New Black, a coach, political activist and feminist. She loves telling stories, creating impact and addressing the cross-section of personal growth and social activism. Connect with @AshClayWill on Twitter.