Cult Leader

At some point towards the end of last year, I decided that it would be a good idea to try and create a community of software leaders since such a thing did not, to my knowledge, exist and I really felt like a place where they could get the kind of help they needed would be a useful thing.

It’s also the case that I have built a lot of tools and it seemed like somewhere that I could share them, and start discussions around how those tools are used to solve common problems that software leaders experience.

Later I had it in mind that I could sell some kind of subscription services to the community that builds upon what is available. In mid-March, and with little fanfare, I launched a Discourse based site called COMPASS. Since then I’ve tried, gently, to encourage people to sign up and maybe ask a question.

The result has been a total failure and it turns out that I made a mistake on two fronts:

The first is that COMPASS is also the name of the system of tools I designed that I use with clients. It stands for Customer Operations Mission Perspective Advantage Software Strategy, the pillars on which I build. So that was already confusing.

The second mistake is more subtle. My friend Graham Ruddick, who has a lot of experience in helping people building communities, described what I was doing as more like creating a ‘broadcast platform’ than a community. Today, as I was talking to Amy Faeskorn about this, I realised that what I was actually doing was saying “Join my cult”.

The seed of this thought was in a recent conversation with someone else who was thinking about creating a community but didn’t know where to start. For various reasons I couldn’t see how to say “Come join COMPASS”. Because COMPASS is all about me. Not all about software leaders.

I think I got foxed because I did Seth Godin’s “The Marketing Seminar” which is also based on Discourse and feels like a community in that you are with a cohort of people all learning the same material. But it’s actually not a community at all. It’s all about Seth. That’s okay, you’re learning from one of the greats of marketing.

But I am not Seth Godin. What works for him will not work for me.

So, now, I am rethinking. How do I create a community for software leaders? Not invite people to join my cult.

Betting big on Roam Research

I’ve been using Roam Research as my primary note-taking and writing tool since December 2019. It immediately struck a chord with me, despite numerous short-comings something fundamental felt right. The fundamentals of the concept were sound.

This caused me an immediate problem since I had been working on Mentat (since early 2018) as my primary note-taking tool. However, Roam caused me to rethink what a note-taking tool should be. At that point, I took that out of my requirements for Mentat. There are enough itches left to scratch and I am interested — when Roam has an API — to wonder what I might do with them both.

The Roam team have announced their pricing of $15/month or $500/5-years. I was one of those who “liked” the tweet announcing their $500 “believer” plan as an indication I’d be up for it.

I do have some disagreements with the team (I guess with Conor) in terms of how they have prioritised work in some areas. But I feel like, overall, they are on a good track and while there are (and will be) other tools, Roam and its team, is worth betting on.

So I will be signing up for the $500 when it’s available and looking forward to seeing where the application goes.