The Joy of Community with Porter Palmer
Play • 43 min

This week, in the very first episode of our podcast, we play some inside baseball with Elana’s partner in crime Porter Palmer. Although we are all life-long learners, we would say Porter is an expert in community building and authentic communications. Porter is in her third year of working with Leoni Consulting Group (LCG), most recently as the Director of Joy.

Porter spent her early career as a special education teacher for nearly a decade. Elana and Porter discuss the circumstances that developed her career from the beginning, from societal pressures limiting the options of what a woman can be, to a deep love of “seeing the light come on” in her students, to being able to support teachers and students as a community builder now. Porter and Elana also tell the story of how they met while working two other positions at other companies and then working together at LCG.

As a community builder, Porter discusses the nuances between engagement, audience, and communities. To her, caring is an essential part of any kind of community. Porter discusses how powerful that care has been in some of the communities she has developed. For marketers trying to develop that care in their brands, Porter reminds founders to return to their passion and tell their stories. 

The bullet points/episode skeleton:

  • [2:45] Porter’s introduction
  • [5:15] “My parents told me I could be anything, but society really told me that I only had a few choices as a female. And that was I could be a stay-at-home mom, but I never wanted to birth a single thing. I knew I didn’t want to be a secretary so I didn’t take typing. And I felt like my other options were to be a nurse or a teacher, and I didn’t want to be a nurse, and I was really good with kids.”
  • [7:13] “It’s not an accidental path, but the path I’ve taken and the things that I get to do now are not things in my wildest imaginations I thought that I’d ever be blessed to do.”
  • [9:22] How did Porter and Elana meet?
  • [12:03] Define what hiking is, for us, please. “The idea of walking in the heat for fun?”
  • [12:29] “One of my first times in a slot canyon in Texas.” “I am not wearing hiking clothes at all.”
  • [13:30] “You need to hire Porter.”
  • [14:52] “We just had a conversation and decided we wanted to do good work together.”
  • [15:50] What is Pinterest? 
  • [17:50] Everything you need to think about to build a community.
  • [18:16] “At all levels, everybody needs to know you are a community-focused organization. And that starts internally with how you treat each other at work, and how you treat your customers, your potential customers.” 
  • [19:56] How do you turn an archive of information into a community?
  • [21:43] The difference between community, audience and engagement.
  • [22:32] “A Community happens when you don’t even have to be there as the brand.”
  • [22:51] Community is like a campfire.
  • [23:56] Community is a mindset and a commitment. 
  • [25:05] “In order for it to be a community, the members have to care for each other.”
  • [26:15] “Is it caring, is it belonging, or is it both?”
  • [27:11] In a community, there is a give and take, but in a network, there can just be a lot of take.
  • [28:51] Why educator communities are so great.
  • [29:18] Do you want to share a story about community building that gives you goosebumps? // four marriages, surviving cancer, changing careers, and giving courage
  • [33:10] Educators are so isolated that they don’t know what they’re doing is amazing.
  • [35:05] “Community gives educators courage to take risks in a safe enough place.”
  • [36:11] Advice for edtech brands trying to reach and engage with educators.
  • [36:46] Sharing your passion as an edtech brand. What are you trying to solve for teachers?
  • [37:10] “Work is love made visible.” from Khalil Gibran.
  • [38:17] “Educators don’t care about your products. They care about the challenge they have and if your product can solve it.” (Elana)
  • [39:37] You have to be consistently providing value.
  • [40:10] If you were to be remembered for one thing, what would it be?
  • [41:07] “I hope people remember me for seeing the good in them.”
  • [41:37] “I hope people will always remember I did my work with a great deal of love.”


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