Jillian Bejtlich – Community Lead at Calendly – Supercharging GTM with the Community

Quote of the Show

Community is for conversation, collaboration, and connection. It's about giving people something they can't get anywhere else.

Key Takeaways

  • Community is not just for awareness and acquisition; it can have a significant impact on adoption and advocacy.
  • Advocates are crucial for building a community; they can bring in their networks and help grow the community organically.
  • To set up a community, start by finding your advocates and building meaningful relationships with them.
  • Swag and gamification are not always effective motivators for community members; understanding their intrinsic and extrinsic motivators is key.
  • ROI measurement for a community depends on the type of community and the available data, but NPS and attribution can be useful metrics.


In this episode of Revenue Today,  Jared interviews Jillian Bejtlich, Head of Community at Calendly, who debunks the myth that community can only live at the top of the funnel. She emphasizes the importance of community in the adoption and advocacy phases of the customer lifecycle, where cost savings and organic growth can occur. Jillian explains that the community should be aligned with both the organizational and customer needs to be successful. She also highlights the importance of listening and understanding the customer perspective when starting a community. Jillian shares her approach to resetting expectations and aligning community goals with the overall business strategy.

[00:00:00] Jared Robin: Boom. Sales, marketing, RevOps, and Customer Success. It’s sink or swim out there, and yesterday’s strategies and tactics won’t help you today. This is Revenue Today, and I’m your host, Jared Robin. Join me as we interview top revenue leaders in our community to learn what steps we could take right now to help you scale more effectively.

[00:00:26] Revenue Today is posnored by RevGenius and RevRoom. And we’re on a mission to build trusted spaces for curious revenue professionals who are collaborating on the future of B2B GTM.

[00:00:40] Welcome to another episode of revenue today. I’m really excited about this one. Um, we’ve been diving into community leaders lately, um, and how community contributes to a big part of go to market. And today’s guest has been Contributing to communities since 2007, working in it since 2011. She’s helped architect many communities ranging from software as a service base to even the defense industry.

[00:01:11] Most recently, she’s taken the lead a Calendly, uh, following a long stint running community at Zapier. So she’s got a plethora of experience. Welcome my guest today, Jillian Bejtlich. 

[00:01:27] Jillian Bejtlich: Hey, thanks for, for, yeah, I’m super happy to be here. 

[00:01:33] Jared Robin: Awesome. And, you know, I, I have so many questions to ask you because, um, you know, community being a part of GTM is misunderstood or not always understood fully, right.

[00:01:47] Yeah. And it’s, it’s, um, the challenges, uh, we have, you know, with dealing with others and, uh, you know, in, in our company and in the space, but diving right into it. If I were to ask you to debunk a myth about GTM or, or, or generating revenue, what would it be? 

[00:02:07] Jillian Bejtlich: So when it comes to community specifically, I think the one that I, I see the most that I always want to debunk is that people assume that community can only live at the top of the funnel.

[00:02:17] They think that community is simply there for awareness and acquisition. And once you’ve done your job there, you’re good. You’re done. That’s it. Um, and you see a lot of communities try to launch with, with this in mind. They’re pretty much there just to kind of like generate leads or to kind of like get people on the door.

[00:02:34] The reality is that community is so much more than that. Um, most of what I do, I tend to focus on If, if awareness and acquisition are the first two phases of the customer life cycle, I really love hanging out in adoption and advocacy because this is where you actually see cost savings happen. You see transitions happen and you really see that stuff that you’re like, oh, my gosh, this is, this is doing something.

[00:03:01] This is actually having an impact on the business. Um, it, you know, it, it saves you money. It’s free advertising, but you got to get there. You actually have to get past that initial strategy of awareness and acquisition. And you really have to lean in and be like, I trust that bigger things are coming. And too many communities don’t do that.

[00:03:22] They only focus on those first two phases because they’re like, community is part of GTM and GTM is all about that. They forget about the rest of that customer life cycle. 

[00:03:32] Jared Robin: So how do you get started, you know, being a head of community coming in and helping the team realize the importance, 

[00:03:42] Jillian Bejtlich: you know, I think it’s funny, kind of like a superpower.

[00:03:45] You have to have is actually, um, realizing when to sound a little crazy, shut up and listen. Um, it’s actually really important. So one of the things, you know, I’ve been accounting now for, you know, Either seven or eight weeks. I actually don’t remember. It’s less than two months. That’s all I know. I was just talking to my boss this morning and I was like, I know it’s more than six weeks, but it’s less than 10.

[00:04:07] So it’s somewhere in there. But my time here so far has been about listening. I have been talking to people across the organization. I have been interviewing customers. I’ve been interviewing non customers. Um, I’ve been talking to other community leaders and it’s a lot of me asking four or five questions sitting back.

[00:04:25] Okay. And letting those people tell me about what it is they want to see out of a community, what they don’t want to see out of a community, how they feel about Calendly, how they found Calendly, why they don’t want to use Calendly, um, that’s actually where you got to start, which is really. Kind of counterintuitive to a lot of a lot of people because they come in and they’re like the organization wants this and and they go sprinting off with that information when the reality is, is that if you start a community and it’s not perfectly aligned between the organizational needs and the customer needs, you’re not going to get to those last two phases I’m talking about.

[00:05:02] In fact, you may not even get to the first two phases. 

[00:05:05] Jared Robin: Yeah. How do you, how do you reset expectations? Like if you’re hired, And, um, and they want the first two phases, they want top of the funnel. They’re like, yes, we want to increase calendar users, 30% YOI and community is the newest thing we’re adding.

[00:05:24] It’s a tough market. How do you, how do you help with that or help level expectations? 

[00:05:33] Jillian Bejtlich: Yeah. Um, so I kind of like to use a bit of a sandwich method, um, which is tell them what they want to hear. Tell them how it’s going to be and then tell them what the future looks like. Um, and a lot of times it is kind of reinforcing the whole, yeah, community can help you at the top of funnel.

[00:05:51] Absolutely. I’m happy to help you do that. Research shows that our customers are looking for this and the organization is looking for this. This is the overlap.

[00:06:04] There’s some dogs in the background. That is all right. I’m totally a dog person. No, no worries. Uh, but yeah, like really kind of doing that, that sandwich method of like, Hey, we’re here. We’re here. We’re here. Um, and try to tell them how it’s going to be. Um, and you know, I, I love. My management crew, but I even had to do that there.

[00:06:25] I had a, you know, even during the interview process, they were like, this is what we want to do with the community. And I was like, no, that is so exciting. But I also had to remind them and say, okay, there’s actually elements of this that we need to change how we’re going to do it. We need to try to do things like this.

[00:06:40] Um, you know, to give you an example, 1 of the things they’d asked for was they’re like, what about gamification when gamification be cool? And I was like. Okay. You want to have a support community and gamification, those two don’t jive. Um, and really kind of talking through why that is showing them their research.

[00:06:57] Uh, and then also now at this phase, bringing in the user research, like actual testimonials from customers and non customers and being able to say, actually, this isn’t what they want. This is what they want. 

[00:07:09] Jared Robin: The biggest question I’m hearing, like, like early stage companies, let’s go like. Earlier they really want that top of the funnel and they’re, and they’re pushing forward more.

[00:07:22] How do you set up, you know, a program for them and what, what are the important KPIs? And then, and then we’ll go with, you know, the, the, the later stage companies after, but I’m curious. Yeah. 

[00:07:36] Jillian Bejtlich: So, I mean, actually the most important thing for an early stage company is advocates. So someone out there, um, Loves your product.

[00:07:45] Someone out there is super excited that you exist. Um, and this is actually really fun when you’re a small stage company because you have a much smaller user base. You get to know these people. You can build real relationships with them. Um, and the reality is that these are the people to start. Start your, your community.

[00:08:02] They’re the ones who are going to help grow it and make it what it is. Um, and like, for instance, right now at Calendly, we have this amazing program called the Calendly Collective. It is our advocacy program. Um, that’s who I am leveraging. Like this, these are my, my early phase people. I mean, granted, Calendly is much bigger at this point.

[00:08:20] We’re not a startup anymore. Um, but that’s the same type of notion where I am leaning on these people and telling and asking them, What do you want? What can I give you? What are your needs? What are your wants? What are your motivators? Um, and it doesn’t matter at this point that you know, we’ve been around for as long as we have, or if we’ve been around for one year, I still be leaning on that group of people.

[00:08:41] And that’s probably like my biggest piece of advice for, for early phase companies that are going, Oh my gosh, we need a community. Go find your advocates first. Like, you literally can start off in a slack channel. You can have a weekly roundtable with them. Doesn’t matter to me, but you need to create meaningful relationships because those are going to be your original community members.

[00:08:59] Those are going to be the people that bring in their friends that bring in their networks. That’s going to be how you grow that community. 

[00:09:05] Jared Robin: How can you best, um, outside of giving them community vibes, how can you best encourage them to help you drive those top? I’m, I’m, I’m pushing on the top of the funnel because I do think, um, I’d love to hear your point of view on how to make it really organic.

[00:09:23] It’s the trickiest thing. 

[00:09:26] Jillian Bejtlich: Yeah, yeah, no, 

[00:09:28] Jared Robin: it is by nature. It’s not super organic. 

[00:09:34] Jillian Bejtlich: Yeah, it’s not super. It’s funny. It’s not super intuitive, but it’s you really have to get to know those people and understand what it is they want. Like, they’re intrinsic and extrinsic motivators. Once you’ve figured that out.

[00:09:48] You’re going to be able to get them to you, and they’re going to feel more amped up about that personal connection. They’re going to feel more positive about that company. Um, and that’s when they start recommending you. That’s when they start talking about you in places. That’s organic top of funnel growth.

[00:10:06] Now, sending them a piece of swag and saying, hey, you got to go bring in 50 people. Now that’s not organic. And that’s, that’s another big mistake. I see a lot of early communities make is the whole, like, we need swag. Oh, my gosh, we need swag. We have to send out swag And I’m like, oh, no. That’s actually not organic growth.

[00:10:26] Like it can be a motivator for some people. And that’s why it’s important to ask those questions, um, but really get to know what these people want. Um, and I mean, for instance, some, some things that you can use to motivate people, um, being able to influence. Product growth, transparency into your product road map, um, you know, getting a chance to understand the company’s strategy, meeting other people just like them, pretty much anything where people feel like they’re, they matter, um, is going to be a motivator, especially in those early phase companies, because we all want to feel like we’ve had an impact https: otter.

[00:11:02] ai 

[00:11:02] Jared Robin: That’s pretty cool. How do you, how do you leverage a calendar tool to, um, and, and, and to rile up advocates? I’m curious what you all do with that. 

[00:11:15] Jillian Bejtlich: So, you know, it’s really funny. I I’ve done a lot of user interviews and one of the things that’s come up as a bit of a theme is that. Um, we get really excited about Calendly, like, we’re really excited about how efficient it is.

[00:11:29] We’re excited about what it does for us. We love the fact we don’t have to go back and forth about, you know, this time at that time and, you know, all of that great stuff. Um, but the funny part is, is that you couldn’t go to Thanksgiving dinner. And, you know, you’re having a conversation with your grandma and she’s like, Oh, what have you done recently?

[00:11:46] And you’re not going to be like, I made my calendar more efficient. Like, it’s just not something you’re going to be able to do. Um, but the reality is, is that community Cal only community. These are other people who are just as ludicrously excited about these cool calendar automations and efficiencies as you are.

[00:12:03] Um. So that’s kind of like how you generate some of this buzz. Some of this excitement is it’s a network for calendar automation and scheduling aficionados. Like, that’s, that’s kind of cool. You know, it’s such a niche, but that’s actually where community tends to be most successful is that when you give people something they can’t get anywhere else.

[00:12:25] Jared Robin: Now, um, what’s the impact you hope to have on like the 

[00:12:33] Jillian Bejtlich: Calendly user or 

[00:12:34] Jared Robin: the outcome that you’re hoping to generate? 

[00:12:36] Jillian Bejtlich: Yeah. Yeah. It’s kind of twofold to start threefold longterm. Um, the first one being is that. As the company grows, people need information. They need support. They need how to they need troubleshooting.

[00:12:52] Um, and we have an amazing support department. They are top notch, world class, super, super brilliant people. Very, very kind, but there’s only so many of them. And that means that sometimes, even though you’re in the moment, you’re working on the thing, you’re not going to get an answer. As you’re working on it, you’re going to have to put in a support ticket.

[00:13:11] You’re going to have to wait a bit. And at that point, maybe you’re already out of the workflow, et cetera. Community is going to really let you get more information in the moment, um, by having a ever growing collective knowledge base. Um, so that’s kind of number one is really around changing support, changing knowledge, access, and everything like that.

[00:13:30] The second part is around inspiration. Um, people. Really, I mean, it’s amazing all the time saying to me things like, yeah, I have, I have one event type. I have my like one to one meetings, but I’ve heard about collective. I’ve heard about round Robin. I’ve heard that I can have all of these different like calendars, blah, blah, blah.

[00:13:51] How, what, what do I do? Like, I don’t even understand where to start and. That’s really cool because this is an opportunity for us to connect, you know, sole entrepreneurs to small business owners, small business owners to enterprise people and kind of everyone share that knowledge, um, in ways that really past geographical industry, um, you know, socioeconomic barriers, really kind of get around all of those.

[00:14:17] Um, so I think inspiration is going to be a huge, huge piece of that. Thank you. And the third part is ideation and feedback. Um, this is a really cool opportunity for people to tell us how they want to use Calendly and how that they, they’d like to use Calendly, um, and for us to get a lot more visibility into all of that and also for us to be more transparent with users.

[00:14:37] So kind of like three really big impact areas. 

[00:14:43] Jared Robin: I love it. And I love how you’ve broken this down. Um, let’s take a step back. Uh, we, we have our advocates. And it’s so interesting that this is the, the first step and, and, you know, thinking logically going back even before that, like, let’s, let’s say you don’t have product market fit as a company, does it make sense to build community or, or what, what’s, what’s the starting point?

[00:15:10] Like when does it click in that. Now we should start, start a community for our product on the early side. ’cause there’s people that are like right away. 

[00:15:23] Jillian Bejtlich: Oh yeah, no, for sure. I, I actually really think you have to have advocates first. If you don’t have advocates, you shouldn’t be having a community yet.

[00:15:30] Because communities are for conversation, collaboration and connection. Like that is the, the big things. If you don’t have advocates, you don’t have people yet that wanna have organic conversations about your product. Um, now, With that being said, your advocates could be people you don’t know of yet. They could already be on Reddit.

[00:15:50] They could already be on Stack Overflow. They might be on the app formerly known as Twitter. I just can’t seem to call it X. Um, I just, 

[00:15:58] Jared Robin: I just re, um, updated my app and the old logo is still there. I’m wondering when that’s going to turn. 

[00:16:06] Jillian Bejtlich: Yeah. Mine just changed the other day, but yeah, your advocates could be a lot of different places.

[00:16:11] But more than likely, they’re not on your platform yet. You need to go find them and give them a compelling reason to be on your platform. And when I say your platform, I mean, your slack, your community. Heck, even your email, your zoom. Like, there’s a lot of ways to build community that don’t necessarily mean that you have to have a community platform yet.

[00:16:29] But if you don’t know who those people are, you’re going to have 1 of those, you know, a movie from like, what, the 90s, the field of dreams, you can build it. It does not mean that they’re going to show up and play ball. Yeah. You really have to actually have players there before other people are going to start showing up.

[00:16:48] Jared Robin: How do you find them? Do you just scan all the socials or do you shoot an email to all of your users and say, are you that person? 

[00:16:56] Jillian Bejtlich: You know, there’s different ways of doing it. I find more often than not, you’re going to look on your socials and you’re going to find them. Like that is more often than not.

[00:17:04] I mean, like I can tell you right now with Calendly, um, I’ve been like crawling YouTube and Reddit. Um, The app formerly known as Twitter, you know, all of those and I, I, I’m finding people, I’m finding people that aren’t even part of our Calendly collective. And then I am finding our Calendly collective people out there in the wild.

[00:17:22] And it’s really cool because sometimes I’m like, I’m going to go check. I want to go see if this person is already in our, in our network. And a lot of times they are, which means that. Approach works like these people do have traits and attributes that they display organically without us even interacting with them.

[00:17:40] Um, and it does correlate to them actually being an advocate. 

[00:17:45] Jared Robin: That’s badass. So we, I have my advocates. Um, I, I found them under a rock, uh, what, what KPIs internally do I need to are, are, are the most important in your opinion for me to look at and try to like maximize on, yeah, 

[00:18:03] Jillian Bejtlich: I mean, I think now it depends on what it, what, what is you want to do.

[00:18:07] And that kind of sounds a little weird to say, but, you know, for instance, this is the other kind of, like, you know, if there was another myth to break, is that when we also say, oh, I want a community rate. I’m so happy for you. Which 1, which community do you want? Do you want a community practice? Do you want was.

[00:18:25] Support. Do you want knowledge? Do you want ideation? Do you want education? There are so many types of communities. Um, I mean like, just to give you an example for fun outside of work, um, I’m an admin for a Facebook group for female mountain bikers. We have 38,000 members. Um, it’s sheer chaos in mayhem. And then I also am an admin for another group that’s a local group that has two members and to.

[00:18:54] Those communities are actually two types of communities. And then the community that I ran at Zapier and the community I’m running at Calendly are actually two other types of communities. So your KPIs are tied to your type of community. 

[00:19:10] Jared Robin: Got it. So there’s no, um, there’s no repeatable playbook you’ve done.

[00:19:16] No. 

[00:19:17] Jillian Bejtlich: I hate to say, but no, I mean, there’s elements that you can repeat, but there’s no silver bullet. 

[00:19:23] Jared Robin: Walk us through it. Like it sounds like talking to people is like critical. How do you, how do you build your playbook when you come in? Yeah. 

[00:19:35] Jillian Bejtlich: Yeah. I mean, so the first thing you should do, so let’s, let’s say for instance, you know, you’ve just started at a company, you’re not in pulling number one, you’re probably not employing number three.

[00:19:44] You’re probably like, A little bit further out, um, get to know the people that already are there understand where that product has been understand how that product came to be. What niche were they trying to fill everything like that? Like, literally you need to put on your business strategist hat for. A while and ask all those questions.

[00:20:04] Um, I mean, can I give you an example? I’ve been running around county right now asking about our business KPIs. I have a whole list of business KPIs and I’m asking for definitions. I’m asking for formulas, things that people are like, why do you need that? Like, you’re, you’re a community person. And I’m like, well, I want to understand if I can impact those.

[00:20:23] So that’s, that’s number 1, no matter who you are, where you work, You got to understand business strategy. 

[00:20:29] Jared Robin: Can we, can we, uh, I hate this phrase, double click on that a little bit. The one line you’re a community person. Why does this matter? Myth. I want to bust community. It’s still lied with core KP eyes.

[00:20:46] Yeah. 

[00:20:47] Jillian Bejtlich: Yeah. So, um, it’s funny because every company I’ve worked at, I’ve always had people push back and be like, Why are you asking about our revenue? Why are you asking about our churn? And I’m like, because I need to know, I need to understand how these things are happening. Um, and the reason being, like, to give me an example, I’ll use churn.

[00:21:05] Um, I’ve been digging into churn accounting. There’s a variety of reasons why people turn some of them are completely normal and natural. And it’s like, well, duh. Yeah, of course. But like, let me give you a real example. 1 people tend to turn not not a huge number, but some people turn because they assume that Cal only is missing key functionality that they need when in fact, it actually turns out that they’re not using their calendars correctly.

[00:21:34] So this was a light bulb moment. I was like, oh my gosh, I have an opportunity to have a calendar etiquette section of the community where we talk about how blocking off time on your calendar impacts Cal only functionality or how buffers or how time zones. There’s all these intricacies that people assumed were our fault.

[00:21:57] When in fact, they were actually just people not knowing how to use their calendars. So by understanding churn metrics, I’m able to actually develop my strategy. And that’s why community people need to know everything, which is 

[00:22:13] Jared Robin: kind of awkward at times. Theoretically, you could work with the growth people and say, okay, you’re getting this drop off at this certain point.

[00:22:22] Do you want to send them an email to join the community? To test If that’s going to solve it, right? Like 

[00:22:29] Jillian Bejtlich: right, right. But even before then, like now I know specifically right in my community, I need to build this proactively. So even though my community’s probably not launching for like another four to six weeks, I have already started building this part of the community.

[00:22:46] I’m already proactively building content around calendar etiquette. So the moment I open up the doors to my pilot, to my restricted group, they’re going to be like, Oh, time zones. Oh, buffers. Like this is already going to be there for them, which means that I am going to hit the ground running when it comes to all acts, all aspects of GTM, not only awareness and acquisition, but I’m already hitting the ground running adoption.

[00:23:15] Jared Robin: If you know that like people are activated once they set like five meetings in a two week period, I’m just making fake numbers. Um, you could show people how to set five meetings in a two day period for, for all the other stuff. That’s 

[00:23:29] Jillian Bejtlich: exactly what it is. We can influence behavior. That’s, that’s like the, the, the serious magic of community is like we, if we have the information that we need on, on all aspects of the customer life cycle, we can proactively influence the behavior of our customers and help you get the desired outcome that you’re looking for, which is so 

[00:23:50] Jared Robin: cool.

[00:23:52] Felt like a relevant tangent. Let’s go back to the playbook. We’re coming up with a playbook now. I had to call that out because, um, She’s, you’ve probably heard it multiple times and I’m sure the listeners are thinking that, but, uh, we’re listening now, now the second aspect of building that unique playbook for, for your community or your company.

[00:24:20] Jillian Bejtlich: Yeah. So after you’ve gotten past business strategy is when you start getting into having to actually understand your customers. And when I say your customers, that’s kind of a very broad term, because actually you want to understand your customers, your non customers, your competitors. Um, you want to understand people who have turned people who have rated you poorly.

[00:24:40] You want to talk to everyone that you possibly can. Because what you’re trying to figure out is you’ve now kind of looked at some, some K P I driven data around how are we acquiring people, how are we losing people, how are we retaining people? Which ICPs or which, you know, personas are, are, are the most impactful, um, Now you want to understand from the customer perspective, what are they actually experiencing what’s actually happening in their world.

[00:25:06] So, for instance, 1 of the questions I’ve been asking a lot is, do you remember how you found Calendly? And it’s really funny because some people are like, oh, my gosh, I remember the email that I got that someone had a Calendly linked in and I was like, what is this magic? Other people are like, I have no idea.

[00:25:22] It’s just been here forever. Um, but it’s important to ask these questions because it helps you understand. Friction points and opportunities from the customer perspective, because they’re the ones that are going to tell you. Oh, yeah, I tend to be setting up Cal only stuff on weekends because only time that’s quiet.

[00:25:41] Which means that they’re going to have support access problems, or they say things like, oh, yeah, I really don’t like sending in tickets or using chat. I prefer to Google. Great. That’s another friction point. And so you kind of keep identifying these things and you keep building up your strategy. Um, so now you understand the business side.

[00:25:59] Now you understand. You know, your, your, your user side. So that’s kind of like chapter two in the 

[00:26:04] Jared Robin: playbook.

[00:26:08] Is there chapter three? 

[00:26:10] Jillian Bejtlich: Oh, yeah. There’s like 25 chapters, this book, and it just never stops growing. But it’s, you know, when you, you start getting like chapter three, this is now where you kind of doing that overlap. And you’re like, all right, cool. I understand the company. I understand the users. What’s the community strategy?

[00:26:25] Um, and that’s kind of where right now, you know, We’ve taken all this information, we’ve picked a platform, we’ve picked an overall strategy, um, we’ve identified the community personas, um, you know, we’re at the point right now we’re working on the community architecture, we’re working on the taxonomy, the navigation, these are all kind of like different chapters that you’re going to work on, they’re a lot smaller.

[00:26:50] So instead of being like, you know, a textbook for each one of those, they’re kind of like, you know, like actual chapters. Um, But it’s, it’s a lot of pieces and I think that’s also kind of the interesting thing about community is that a lot of times we try to get shoved into like some little corner of GTM and they’re like, yes, you, you’re going to report to marketing or you’re going to go sit in customer support, whatever.

[00:27:13] And it’s like, 

[00:27:14] Jared Robin: it is, it is the 

[00:27:17] Jillian Bejtlich: 2 big ones, but the reality is that community touches everything. Um, and so, you know, I, I hope. If there’s any founders that are listening to this, eventually, I want you to remember that because you’re going to have this person probably way too enthusiastic. Like, I am what you can’t see is the amount of hand waving and hand gestures going on.

[00:27:41] We’re very cross functional. We’re very happy to talk to people. We’re very happy to do research. Um, but we also need to have the autonomy to say, hey, I need to go talk to engineering. I need to go talk to growth. I need to go talk to finance. I need to talk to security. Like, that’s how community works. And that’s that’s the interesting part about the playbook is the playbook starts crossing into all of these different functions and.

[00:28:02] Yeah. So much. How 

[00:28:04] Jared Robin: do you, how do you align, right? Because, um, parts of you aligns one way, parts of you aligns another, is that just like your hires? Like you hire one CS support community person, one marketing, I’m using the word support. It could be a different title, but you get the idea. 

[00:28:22] Jillian Bejtlich: Like how do you build out a team?

[00:28:24] Jared Robin: Community isn’t often its own. Pillar in GTM, right? Like it’s, it’s nestling somewhere under revenue. Um, you have customer success going to customer success. Sales and marketing ops going to rev ops now. Yeah. Sales, self explanatory. Right. Community could report. To multiple places to for sure, cleanly, right?

[00:28:54] Like what you said. Yep. How do you align? Internally? Um, 

[00:29:02] Jillian Bejtlich: this is gonna sound kind of weird. You kind of just roll with it. I know it sounds really strange to say, but you know, coming to Cal only for instance, um, I knew that I was going to be sitting under customer success, which sat under customer experience.

[00:29:14] And I was like, cool, that’s great. Um, I’ve also sat under support. I’ve sat under product. Marketing, engineering, uh, yeah, I’ve, I’ve worked for almost every function with the exception of finance and security. Um, and what’s, what’s kind of weird about that is that you stop fighting it. Eventually. I have this dream that someday community will be a pillar or like collaboration will be a pillar of its own.

[00:29:43] But you kind of just let it be. Um, and so like, my, my advice is like, you know, if you’re someone who’s looking to go hire this person, just give them, put them wherever it makes the most sense. And they’re going to have the most support,

[00:29:59] but don’t worry about really trying to make it perfect. So. Yeah, that’s, that’s kind of my, my advice there. 

[00:30:08] Jared Robin: I think there could be potentially less pillars than adding community to a fresh one. Um, I, I think, I think that’s the way we’re going and it seems like communities might just be the first to it.

[00:30:21] Like

[00:30:24] super interesting. Now the topic of measuring ROI on community is something that isn’t lost on anybody that runs community. Um, Like, I’m curious how to measure two ways. One, the marketing way, we’re just using the last example, the other, the CS or, or, you know, customer support way. And, um, yeah, how’d you do that along the way?

[00:30:52] I know you had some pretty unique stuff at, at, at Zapier and, and also community. Tends to be part of this dark social thing, right? Or this dark funnel. And if you’re doing it right, it gets real dark and it gets real potent. Right. And, um, how are you measuring all of this? So, 

[00:31:14] Jillian Bejtlich: yeah, ROI is, is so funky because, um, it actually really depends on what data you have available.

[00:31:21] Um, you can measure ROI to some extent, no matter what. Um, but to give you an example. So at Zapier, we had the most incredible data science team. I love them dearly. Um, and they were able to do some amazing work where they were able to track. The activity of a specific user across our entire domain, um, pretty much, you know, how they visited a self serve resource.

[00:31:44] What did they do in the 7 days following that? Did they successfully use our product in 7 days? Did they submit a ticket in 7 days? Did they upgrade in 7 days? And because of that, we’re able to now start tying in things like, okay, did community likely impact, um, Retention, did it impact upgrades? Did it impact churn?

[00:32:06] Did it impact cost deflection? Um, those are all different ROI methods. Some of those are obviously revenue generation and some of those are cost savings. Um, so that’s kind of part number 1. and I’m going to say most companies, especially younger companies are not going to be able to have that level of data science because that is that is tricky business right there.

[00:32:26] I mean. Thank you. If you, if you happen to be a data company, you’ll probably figure it out from like the get go, but that’s hard. 

[00:32:34] Jared Robin: Yeah. Give me lean and mean early stage as well. Like early stages and this thing they call attribution. How do we deal with that? 

[00:32:43] Jillian Bejtlich: Yeah. So I think probably the best thing to do is, is you can lean a lot into NPS.

[00:32:49] And kind of say, okay, if someone’s happy, like, more than likely, and then this, you can also ask people directly, like, if they do upgrade, say, hey, what influenced your decision? And if there is an opportunity for someone to say, I found a really great use case in the community, do that put community in front of them as an option for attribution.

[00:33:09] That’s 1 of the big things that I don’t see people do a lot. And I’d love to see that happen is. Yeah. Put community in there as like, if you say, Hey, why are you turning, why are you upgrading? Why are you buying? You have like a multiple choice list, put community in the list. Like that is a really, really easy way for small, young, lean and mean companies to figure out that, that attribution.

[00:33:31] And it’s cool. Cause you can figure out where to put your money too. 

[00:33:36] Jared Robin: Spot on. Um, and what, what’s keeping you up at night now, I’m curious, some of the challenges that even somebody so tenured in community has. 

[00:33:49] Jillian Bejtlich: Um, I think, you know, there’s actually a lot of things like, I hate to say that I’m definitely someone who has, like, community induced insomnia right now.

[00:33:58] I think 1 of the big challenges in our space is that community professionals are expected to do so many things. I mean, it’s incredible. Like, just today alone, the amount of different areas that I’ve worked in already, like, I’m not even. What for 4 hours into my work day and I have touched everything ranging from S.

[00:34:22] S. O. to design. I’ve had a conversation about analytics. We talked about strategy. I have executive presentation coming up next week. None of these things are similar. Um, and community professionals tend to be a wear all hats. We try to be a master of all, but it’s hard to do. And when you’re in that process, setting up a community, there’s definitely this really.

[00:34:44] It’s not even imposter syndrome because it’s actually literally, you’re just like, oh, my gosh, I’m actually not an analyst. I’m not a graphic designer. I’m not a business strategist. I’m a community professional. And yet I’m being asked to do all of these things. And it’s exciting. It’s what keeps us here.

[00:35:00] It’s why actually we keep coming in to do this job, but it’s also really, really overwhelming. It’s it’s it’s a lot to handle. Um, so that’s probably number one,

[00:35:14] Jared Robin: that that’s a big one, but what is, is, are there any other major ones? 

[00:35:19] Jillian Bejtlich: I think the other major one is, um, you know, right now, if you look on LinkedIn, especially if you’ve got community professionals in your network, you’re going to see all the layoffs. And it’s scary stuff. Um, and of course, there’s some people right now running around other, you know, experts and gurus that are saying, oh, this is the end of community management.

[00:35:37] It’s not. Um, I mean, when I started out in this field in 2011, um, there was probably less than 2000 of us across the world that did the type of work that I do. Nowadays, there are, I couldn’t even tell you how many there’s a lot more than than that very small number of people. Um, and what that means is that.

[00:35:56] Yeah. We’ve got people, all sorts of backgrounds and all sorts of levels experience. Um, our titles aren’t consistent. The type of work that we do is not consistent. Um, and I think companies are starting to realize that and they’re trying to move towards the future. They’re trying to get lean and mean. Um, and it’s just a really kind of chaotic place to be right now.

[00:36:17] You know, it’s, it’s, if you talk to a director of community at one place versus director of community versus somewhere else, a head of community, a community lead. Sometimes we’re the same person. Sometimes this person is two years experience. Sometimes they have 16 years experience that keeps me up at night right now.

[00:36:36] Like it’s, it’s kind of stressful. 

[00:36:39] Jared Robin: I posted today on LinkedIn, like, uh, like I called it like spread karma post. Cause I wanted to build a community on LinkedIn. I’m like. A lot of people are out of work. Um, comment here, like just cause that is a big thing. And what I’ve seen from community leaders, they become tier, you know, connecting the dots, you know, with advocacy being a big part, at least early community, they become customer marketers.

[00:37:08] They become brand like, um, they’re, they’re very, very versatile is, uh, is that they, they probably become a head of influencer marketing at some places and, and all of this. Yeah. Because that’s skill sets big. Now what excites you about the future? Is it, is it, uh, the ability to have AI running a community of AI bots and the community called meta AI or something?

[00:37:39] Jillian Bejtlich: Uh, I have thoughts on AI. Yeah. Um, I can definitely say, Oh gosh. So we did an experiment at Zapier. Um, this was really cool. We, I, I got to lead an experiment to see what would happen if we let an AI bot loose in Zapier community. Um, 

[00:37:58] Jared Robin: to manage it or to, um, what, what, what, what aspect give some context. 

[00:38:05] Jillian Bejtlich: We wanted to see what would happen if we let it loose as a support agent.

[00:38:09] So basically let it, let it think it was a Zapier employee who is answering questions. And the, we initially were like, all right, let’s just give it a go. And like, we, we really restricted it. We didn’t want to like mislead anyone. So we gave it a very specific spot in the community. We’re like, how about it?

[00:38:27] First off it was, it was patronizing. That was the initial voice that had was incredibly patronizing. And we’re like, that’s not going to work. And so we kept doing experiments, trying to get the right voice and tone and trying to like reduce hallucinations. We finally got it to a point where we were like, let’s try some like.

[00:38:46] Let’s try some famous people and see if it can find a voice and tone that works. Uh, turned out the voice and tone of Tina Fey was actually the best fit for, for Zapier community, which is really not a shocker. I, it was kind of a shocker. So we’re like, this is great. And we did a bunch of prompts to get to like the hallucinations down.

[00:39:05] And we got to a point where it was really good, but then it started getting confused and we never told it that it was Tina Fey. We said that it sounded like Tina Fey. And it started actually signing all of the posts. Love Tina. Have a great day. Tina. It actually thought it was Tina Fey. Um, so we actually had to shut it down.

[00:39:22] Um, it was really entertaining though. So it’s not ready. Like AI is definitely not ready. I think it’s a really cool tool, cool tool to use. And I am excited about it. I think that one of the coolest parts about AI is that. It, it brings together so much knowledge at such an incredible speed that no human will ever be capable of doing that.

[00:39:45] Like I can type in, you know, top use cases for Cal only for lead gen professionals, and I’m going to have to sit there and read and read and read and read. I typed it into open AI or chat GPT or whatever it is, and it spits back this amazing comprehensive article on all of the things that is so cool.

[00:40:04] Like I am so excited about that. Um, Yeah, that’s definitely like the AI side. And then, I mean, I’m also excited that this field keeps getting more and more official. Like, I mean, I can say to people now, yeah, I’m a community lead, director of community, head of community, whatever my title is, depending where I am.

[00:40:22] And more often than not. Unless I’m talking to like my parents, which will probably listen to this anyways. Uh, most people kind of know what I’m talking about now. Like I can explain it and they’re like, Oh yeah, community. I’ve used that before. And I think that’s pretty cool. It’s nice to actually not be like a mystery.

[00:40:44] Jared Robin: It’s kind of cool to be a mystery too. As long as you’re paying the bills. 

[00:40:49] Jillian Bejtlich: Yes, yes. That’s harder to find jobs. 

[00:40:52] Jared Robin: Totally. And you know, I, I, I want to, um, You know, learn so much about your strategy there. Want to learn a little bit more about you. I see, um, a combination of passes and medals maybe behind you.

[00:41:07] I’m, I’m curious to learn more about community outside of work and what you’re doing. Yeah. 

[00:41:14] Jillian Bejtlich: So I am a mountain biker, um, and a trail runner outside of work. Um, and a split boarder and a bunch of other sports. I’m basically always outside. I really like type two, type three fun. So things that are not exactly fun in the moment, but after the fact that you’re like, that was cool.

[00:41:32] Um, so that’s kind of me outside of work. Um, I actually love volunteering for races though, which is kind of a really weird flex, I guess you can call it. Um, I volunteer for the Boston marathon twice, um, which was. Mayhem, sheer and utter freaking mayhem. So two of my things up behind me are actually my volunteer badges from that.

[00:41:57] Jared Robin: Uh, we spoke about some of the humor that happens with volunteering for the Boston Marathon. Anything you care to share? Funny stories? 

[00:42:08] Jillian Bejtlich: Boston Marathon is, is, and continues, or has and continues to be just absolutely nuts. For anyone who’s not familiar with it, it’s about 30, 000 runners. Um, converge on Boston, Massachusetts, uh, for a single day for 26.

[00:42:24] 2 miles. Um, most of the runners have earned their spot. They’re really, really rigorous at qualifying times and everything like that. So these are like really, really, really strong athletes. And then of course there’s some charity runners as well. Um, I have volunteered in what’s called sector 10 before, uh, which is.

[00:42:42] About two blocks after the finish line. So at this point, you’ve gotten your metal, you got your heat blanket, you got your banana, your Gatorade. Um, and by the time you get to me, the adrenaline has started to wear off. Um, and the cramps have started. Uh, and so both times I’ve worked in sector 10, it has been, um, about five to eight hours of catching, uh, athletes before they hit the ground and screaming for medical and wheelchairs.

[00:43:11] Absolute sheer and utter chaos. It is, it’s like fun in a very strange way. Uh, I don’t know. 

[00:43:21] Jared Robin: How, how do you leverage, um, you know, this volunteer work, which, which very much has community components to it. It’s drawn in a big way. Um, actually the, the Boston marathon is the culmination of these massive effing community is like, Oh, you’re wrong.

[00:43:39] Caring for it. And this is like the Mecca and then, and then, Oh, side note, they’re going to New York. Next month or whatever it is, right? Like other places. It’s pretty wild. How, how do you take inspiration from that and those experiences, you know, outside of work and bring that into Calendly in this case?

[00:44:03] And you know, your past cases. 

[00:44:06] Jillian Bejtlich: Um, it’s a great question. I think a lot of it is basically Recruiting them When you work at these events, you volunteer at these events, you see so many types of personalities. It’s not like a homogenous, I’m a runner thing. Everyone is so different. Everyone has different backgrounds.

[00:44:23] And I love to bring that into my community work. I like to make sure that people can have their own voice, their own tone, their own background, their own perspectives, and be loud and proud about it. Um, I think that’s probably the most important thing. And like, that… That’s been really, really big for me is like, you know, even as I’m building out Calendly, as I built out Zapier, as I built out community at, you know, in the defense industry, all of these communities, I have made sure that people have had room to be who they are and bring their unique qualifiers, skills, attributes, whatever it is.

[00:44:57] I want them to bring those to the table because that’s what makes a community, a community. Like if we didn’t have that, we would just be a knowledge base. No shade to knowledge bases, but I don’t want everything to sound the same. I want some people to be typing in all caps, some people to be typing and slang, some people to be talking about trails and showing, sharing dog memes.

[00:45:16] Like be yourself, tell us how you being you has made you the person you are and bring that to the community. 

[00:45:25] Jared Robin: Let’s end on that. That is incredible, Jillian. It’s been a pleasure learning from you, um, today. How can people get in touch with you? 

[00:45:36] Jillian Bejtlich: I am all over LinkedIn. Um, not as active as I should be, but, uh, definitely come find me on LinkedIn.

[00:45:42] Feel free to send me a connection, questions, requests, whatever. I don’t care. I’m there for it. Um, I do a bit of like a community nerd series on there where I just kind of like write different Telling you how to run communities or kind of thought provoking questions. Um, but yeah, come, come find me on there.

[00:46:03] That’s usually the best way to get ahold of me. 

[00:46:06] Jared Robin: Thank you again. Julian. This is this has been awesome. We’re opening. Uh, opening up for GTM leaders, understanding community and collaboration and collaborative growth and all of this good stuff. It means the world to have you today. 

[00:46:24] Jillian Bejtlich: Thank you. It’s been awesome being here and yeah, looking forward to chatting with 

[00:46:28] Jared Robin: more people.

[00:46:29] Awesome. And everyone that’s listening, thank you for listening. Um, if you liked this, uh, Share it. Tell, tell somebody else, um, shoot up, shoot me a note directly. This has been another episode of revenue today. Thank you all for listening.

[00:46:46] Thank you friends for joining me. That was another great episode of revenue today. If you’re looking to listen to more episodes or for the show notes, go to rev genius. com for all my friends in the rev genius community. It was awesome to spend this time with you. Please DM me any feedback or ideas for future podcasts in our Slack channel or on LinkedIn.

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