Camille Ricketts began her career in journalism, at the Wall Street Journal, in 2006. In 2010 she joined Tesla, where she worked in communications alongside Elon Musk. She transitioned into marketing and became the Head of Content and Marketing at First Round Capital and then went on to become the very first marketing hire at Notion. In today’s episode, we dig into community-led growth—what it is, and when and how to pursue it. We get super-specific on how Notion championed their most loyal users and built a passionate community, and the incredible outcome it had for the company’s growth. We also talk about how to create great content, and how content can drive growth for your business and brand.
Thank you to our wonderful sponsors for supporting this podcast:
• Eppo—Run reliable, impactful experiments: https://www.geteppo.com/
• Flatfile—A CSV importer that says yes instead of error: mismatch: https://www.flatfile.com/lenny
• Vanta—Automate compliance. Simplify security: https://vanta.com/lenny
Where to find Camille:
• Twitter: https://twitter.com/camillericketts
• LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/camillericketts/
Where to find Lenny:
• Newsletter: https://www.lennysnewsletter.com
• Twitter: https://twitter.com/lennysan
• LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lennyrachitsky/
• Ivan Zhao: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ivanhzhao/
• Simon Last: https://www.linkedin.com/in/simon-last-41404140/
• Lexie Barnhorn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexisbarnhorn/
• Ben Lang: https://www.linkedin.com/in/benmlang/
• Claire Butler: https://www.linkedin.com/in/clairetbutler/
• Jessi Craige Shikman at First Round: https://firstround.com/person/jessi-craige-shikman/
• Brett Berson at First Round: https://firstround.com/person/brett-berson/
• Josh Kopelman at First Round: https://firstround.com/person/josh-kopelman/#mystory
• Shaun Young on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shaunyou/
• David Pierce at The Verge: https://www.theverge.com/authors/david-pierce
Additionally, Camille would love to shout out Nate Martins and Andrea Lim, who ran Notion’s content program:
• Nate Martins: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nate-martins/
• Andrea Lim: https://www.linkedin.com/in/andreawlim/
Content and companies referenced:
• Community & Content Resources: https://tinyurl.com/yrxbb542
• Station F: https://stationf.co/
• Figma: https://www.figma.com/
• Canva: https://www.canva.com/
• Stripe: https://stripe.com/
• Stripe Atlas: https://stripe.com/atlas
• Salesforce: https://www.salesforce.com/
• First Round Review: https://review.firstround.com/
• Jobs to be done framework: https://jobs-to-be-done.com/jobs-to-be-done-a-framework-for-customer-needs-c883cbf61c90
• The Only App You Need for Work-Life Productivity: https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-only-app-you-need-for-work-life-productivity-1521640800
• Product Hunt: https://www.producthunt.com/
Referenced in lightning round:
• Obviously Awesome: How to Nail Product Positioning So Customers Get It, Buy It, Love It: https://www.amazon.com/Obviously-Awesome-Product-Positioning-Customers/dp/1999023005
• April Dunford on Lenny’s podcast: https://www.lennyspodcast.com/april-dunford-on-product-positioning-segmentation-and-optimizing-your-sales-process/
• April Dunford’s guest post in Lenny’s newsletter: https://www.lennysnewsletter.com/p/positioning
• Harry Stebbings’s podcast, 20VC: https://www.thetwentyminutevc.com/podcast/
• Lenny on 20VC: https://www.thetwentyminutevc.com/lenny-rachitsky/
• Fleishman Is in Trouble: https://www.hulu.com/series/fleishman-is-in-trouble-710e51f8-3387-404d-8b07-e7c9b766d11c
• Notion: https://www.notion.so/
• Arc: https://arc.net/
• Superhuman: https://superhuman.com/
• Cron: https://cron.com/
In this episode, we cover:
(00:00) Camille’s background
(05:43) What it was like working with Elon Musk
(07:38) Working at Notion in the early days
(12:16) What is community-led growth?
(15:48) How Notion measured the impact of marketing efforts
(16:35) The most successful community efforts at Notion
(18:24) Why metrics aren’t always necessary for community growth
(19:52) When it makes sense to invest in community-led growth
(21:34) How creators make money using Notion
(23:12) The Ambassador Program and Champions Program at Notion
(27:20) Why founders should consider investing in community and delay monetizing some features
(31:03) Companies that have done well in building community
(32:54) How to determine the level of community engagement appropriate for your company to invest in
(34:00) Using Camille’s 2x2 grid to implement community
(36:42) How to launch an ambassador program
(41:22) Advice for founders who want to build community
(47:17) How Lenny got his first 500 newsletter subscribers
(48:58) Examples of Camille’s most impactful content marketing
(51:20) Content-market fit: how to determine the needs of your reader
(53:37) Content categories and the time it takes to create top-notch content
(57:02) The future of comms and how the press helped Notion grow
(1:01:35) Lightning round
Get full access to Lenny's Newsletter at www.lennysnewsletter.com/subscribe
Camille Ricketts (00:00:00):
The way that you think about product market fit, you have to think about content market fit. So even though content feels like it's running adjacent to the actual product that you're putting out there, you still have to think about who is my audience? Who is the audience that I really want to have? Who is the audience that is going to be drawn to this most? Who are they? What is it that they really need in their lives? Even abstracting content from it at all. What is it that they need to get promoted? What is it that they need to avoid failure? What is it that causes them a great deal of anxiety in the day-to-day of their lives or their work? And can you create some type of content product that is going to address this for them?
Welcome to Lenny's podcast. I'm Lenny and my goal here is to help you get better at the craft of building and growing products. I interview world class product leaders and growth experts to learn from their hard won experiences building and growing today's most successful companies. Today my guest is Camille Ricketts. Camille was the first marketing hire at Notion and longtime head of marketing at Notion. Prior to that, she was head of content and marketing at First Round Capital, where amongst many other things, she launched the First Round Review, which holds a very special place in my heart because a guest post in the First Round Review essentially helped me launch my now career of newsletter and now podcast. Camille also did content marketing at Kiva and also comms and PR at early Tesla where she sat right next to Elon Musk for about a year and she shares some really fun stories about that.
In this episode, we focus on two areas that Camille was very early in and has tremendous insights around. One, community led growth. What it actually is, when it's something you should invest in, how to do it well. All based on her experience building Notion's early community, which was a huge part of Notion's early success. We also talk about content marketing. When it's worth investing in, how to do it well, and all kinds of tips for building a content marketing machine. It was a total blast chatting with Camille and I am really excited for you to learn from her. With that, I bring you Camille Rickets right after we hear a word from our wonderful sponsors.
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Camille, welcome to the podcast.
Camille Ricketts (00:04:29):
Hello there. Thank you so much for having me.
Absolutely, my pleasure. You have such a fascinating background working at so many world-class companies with so many fascinating people. Could you just take a minute to talk about some of the wonderful things you've done in your career just to set a little context for folks?
Camille Ricketts (00:04:47):
Yeah. Well thank you for characterizing them as wonderful.
Camille Ricketts (00:04:51):
I feel like it's been a quite circuitous path, but definitely has taken me to some interesting places. I started off as a journalist at the Wall Street Journal and then found my way into communications and marketing at Tesla Motors where part of my responsibility there was to sit to Elon's right and make sure he had all the data he needed at his fingertips when talking to the press, which was deep end of the pool on the PR learning. And then after that, found my way to First Round Capital where I was really fortunate to be at the ground floor of First Round Review, if anyone out there watching this is familiar with those pieces. Was there for about five years. Loved that team. Really incredible folks. And then they had invested in Notion really early on, and so I was able to meet Ivan Zhao as a result of that and him and Simon, and they gave me the opportunity to join as the first marketing hire at Notion. And that's what I was doing up until recently.
I love that Elon tidbit. I like that it was on his right. His right hand person. What was that like? And is there something that you learned working alongside Elon, sitting next to Elon, about operating, working that maybe you've taken to other places you worked at?
Camille Ricketts (00:05:59):
I mean, it was a long time ago, so I'll caveat that. This was before Model S came out even. So a lot of my work was, and this was a great opportunity, but driving around in the Roadster and talking to journalists and letting reporters ride in the car, which was very seductive and I think maybe just a little unfair from a PR standpoint. But in terms of what I learned, that was really the first job that I had that was necessitating just being incredibly on point with all the information. So making sure that I knew everything that could possibly come up in a conversation, being incredibly well-versed in just the topics at hand, I think that served me really well. I just have to be really, really, really quick and on it. And then the other thing that Elon I think is very talented at or definitely at the time really made an impression on me was painting an emotional picture of the vision that he was really going after and being able to convey the emotional quality of the mission to the people he talked to. So definitely at the time about the electric vehicle revolution and then space travel, I think he just knew how to make people feel about it that really enlisted a lot of hearts and minds and that is something that I've taken with me for sure.
Would you say that was the most stressful place you've worked or have you found more stress post Elon?
Camille Ricketts (00:07:15):
I think that that was the place where you just needed to be so on your game. Game face every single day. Which is a wonderful skill to learn. And then I think there were other moments in my career where just the stakes might have been a little bit higher. Certainly at Notion every day felt like we're building this thing together and we're in this very special moment. So yeah, I think there was a mix there.
Speaking of Notion, I think you mentioned this and if not, you were the first marketing hire at Notion. Is that right?
Camille Ricketts (00:07:44):
What employee number was that?
Camille Ricketts (00:07:47):
I was number 11.
Camille Ricketts (00:07:49):
Yeah. So it was really a small squad of folks at the time.
And how big are they now, roughly would you say?
Camille Ricketts (00:07:55):
The last I heard, I think that they were around 400. Maybe a little over 400.
Amazing. And I think they're worth ... I don't know. Last valuation was like $10 billion. So there's been quite the journey. Must have been quite the adventure being at Notion during this time. What's maybe the most tangible memory of working at Notion in the early days? What was it like early day Notion?
Camille Ricketts (00:08:15):
I think a lot about just what the environment felt like. This was the first very small startup that I had worked for. When I left First Round, I really wanted that experience. And the first office that I worked in was really just like a home. It literally had an apartment on top of this loft space and it just felt like we were a group of people who lived there together during the day, but it had that kind of home spun really warm quality. So we all took our shoes off. There was beautiful furnishings and rugs and we would all just sit around and drink tea and work together on these couches. So it really had that feeling to it. And then there were little quirks. I like to reminisce with my colleagues who were there at the time that we didn't have a great HVAC system.
So during the summer it was really hot and then in the winter it was really cold and we would have these big industrial fans and at the time we were like, "Oh, this is really bizarre." But now it's one of our favorite memories to talk about. Or for a while we didn't have overhead lighting, so me and my colleagues who were there working really late at night, it would just get darker and darker and darker. And one of my favorite folks there actually had a headlamp that she would switch on at a certain point in the evening. So that's the stuff that really comes up for me. We were all working really hard and in this thing together, but it's that team familial quality that stands out to me.
I love how some of these early moments where it feels like, what the hell are we doing? We have to wear headlamps? It's super hot. When you're in it, you're like, this isn't maybe how our startup should be going. And it feels really painful and hard. But looking back, it's always the best memories, those hardships.
Camille Ricketts (00:09:52):
It truly is. And the moments that we were there late at night really trying to get something done before a big launch the next day, that's where our hearts lie, I think, to a large extent. That crew that was there.
On that note, and when you're talking about stress working with Elon, you talked about Notion had a different kind of stress. What's maybe the most stressful memory you have of working at Notion? Whatever you can share.
Camille Ricketts (00:10:14):
This is something that has long since been rectified, but the first day that we came back from break in 2021 ... We had all been sort of away for the holidays. We reassemble. I think it's January 3rd, 2021 perhaps. Had a massive outage that day. And so it was literally all hands on deck. We're suddenly seeing all of these people on Twitter pop up, on the Reddit pop up being like, "Oh my gosh. What am I going to do?" And it really reinforced for us how central Notion had become to so many people. So on one hand it was kind of this amazing moment of realization of how vital this thing we were building was all the time, which adds to the stress in the moment, but also your motivation overall.
And then we also saw on Twitter, and this is part of why community is such a core focus of mine, but people being like, "They're trying really hard to get it back up. Give them a break." Or like, "Sending hugs to the Notion team. We know you've got this." And we really appreciated that and that was just a very heartwarming aspect of it. But that day was definitely a scramble and we wanted to be as communicative as possible. So my team was really central to making sure that everybody knew what was going on, what the efforts were being made to fix it, time horizon, all of that. So they've long since hired the best infrastructure people I think in the industry and refactored the database and everything. So it's not an issue anymore, but certainly that was a moment of stress at the time.
It's interesting looking at those times. When you're in it, you're like, "We are going to die. We're down. People will stop using Notion. We're in big trouble." When really people always come back if it's an awesome product. I think of last things down for a week, JIRA or Confluent, and people come back if it's an awesome product.
Camille Ricketts (00:12:07):
I think that's a good tactical learning and hopefully a takeaway for folks who maybe will experience that moment is that truly there's more resilience built into the system than you might think.
So speaking of community, you talked about just how important that was during this time and then just in general. I was doing research on you and things that you've done over your career to prep for this podcast and I found there's two areas that you've led the charge on and we're ahead of the curve on and in part help innovate. One is community led growth and two is content marketing in a big way. And so I wanted to focus a lot of our chat on these two areas. Community led growth, it feels like a very buzzy topic on Twitter. Everyone's always talking about how the future of growth is community. You've got to build a community. You got to be community led and all these things. And so I want to try to make this concept concrete and help people understand should they invest in community. How can community help you? When does it make sense to you? When does it not make sense to invest? And so maybe just as a first question, just what is community led growth? What does that actually mean as a concept?
Camille Ricketts (00:13:09):
Yeah. I think it has become quite buzzy and it's certainly aspirational for a lot of product led growth companies and even those that are maybe a little bit outside of the product led growth orbit. And we're seeing all of these startups I think also come out that are about community and how to enhance the effects. In terms of how I think about what it actually is, it's when your community helps you achieve such ubiquity and such name recognition that it actually allows you to start moving upmarket into the enterprise. And I know that might be very specific to enterprise oriented companies, but that's how we defined it at Notion was the fact that so many people were talking about this, sharing what they had built about it, honestly starting businesses of their own around it to formalize the relationship with teams that I think it de-risked Notion as a choice for a lot of companies just because they had heard about it through so many channels. They had seen it on social media, they've heard about it on a podcast, their friend told them about it, they saw a billboard. All of that lended itself to larger and larger companies and teams buying more and more seats. So I think that's the power that the community had for us. And I see that also being analogous to what companies like Figma have been able to achieve.
It sounds like a lot of the way you're describing it is basically awareness. Brand awareness is what you found to be maybe the most useful element of this community that you built around Notion.
Camille Ricketts (00:14:31):
I love using the word discovery because I think that that is even a little bit like a step further than awareness where true discovery is when you have intent to find out more. You've heard about it so many times or you've been intrigued by something that someone has told you to the extent that you're actually going to take the step of now learning about it. And that's where we really wanted to play and to emphasize our work.
Got it. So it sounded like the KPI/OKR of your team was get more people aware and excited to explore Notion.
Camille Ricketts (00:15:08):
Yeah. And maybe this is a helpful tactical point. I think when people think about acquisition or discovery or brand awareness or brand in general, they're like what collection of metrics are actually going to give us insight into this? And the one that I found to be the most instructive was net new visitors to the Notion website. So month over month, how many new people who had never been there before were motivated enough to come and actually learn about the product. And that was really the responsibility of the brand team and the folks that worked with me on community and content and all of the awareness campaigns that we were putting out into the field was about getting more new people interested.
So that begs to the question, did you have any clever ways of attributing that new traffic to stuff your team did versus the SEO team or other teams?
Camille Ricketts (00:15:58):
In particular I'll call out the influencer marketing efforts that were really being run by this incredible woman, Lexi Barnhorn, where they were incredibly measurable. Where we were like, okay, well we're sponsoring people for this amount, these creators across these platforms and we know that people came from that content directly to the Notion website. So we were able to draw really tight connections. So I think that some types of content lend themselves to that. And then also with community, there's certain things you can do around helping your community members report on how many people are attending, et cetera, to give you that sense.
So you may be already answering this question, but I'm curious what efforts had the most impact to achieve these goals that you had of creating more awareness and discovery motivation and things like that. What actually worked?
Camille Ricketts (00:16:48):
So I'd say that the community efforts that were very big for us we're the ambassadors. Also making sure that people were hosting in-person events. This really took off in 2019. Obviously we paused for 2020, 2021, but now I just spent time with Notion's head of community, Ben Lang, who truly is the mastermind and genius behind so much of this and he says that they're back up to 30 in-person events a month around the world. So that really helped on the international scale of spreading ubiquity and ended up lending itself to relationships with Station F in France, which is the biggest startup campus in Paris. So really helping us work our way into those types of networks and then supporting those people to also start their own businesses and derive whatever reward they were looking for themselves. So we really wanted to align our goals with theirs.
A lot of those folks actually started revenue generating businesses as consultants or course makers or influencers. Some of them just wanted to build their own platforms online. So all of our efforts there are around building guides or counseling people one-on-one or making it easier for them to actually achieve those goals for themselves was also a big part of this growth. And then like I said, influencers. This was something that Ben started exploring in 2019 and we were so pleasantly overwhelmed with the amount of traction and traffic that was driven by working with some of these influencers. And now that program has exploded into a multi-channel effort that's huge for Notion.
Awesome. The influencers makes a lot of sense. I want to learn more about this ambassador program and what that was about with events and maybe just broadly, I imagine a lot of founders might be listening and they're like, "Yeah, this all sounds awesome, but how do you know if it's doing anything?" Events. That would be great, but how much is it worth investing? How much time and attention does it take? How do we know if this is actually ROI positive? Is there anything you learn there about just ... Is it a founder must believe in this as a thing that is probably going to work sort of thing? Or is there something you found to convince people like, yes, this is how you can know it's working?
Camille Ricketts (00:18:58):
That's a great question. I think that we were really fortunate that Ivan saw the inherent value in community from the very beginning and was deeply supportive. And actually one of my number one recommendations for anybody who suspects the community could be a big growth driver is to not make metrics the be all end all at the very beginning. So we didn't necessarily start measuring things very concretely until last year with community. Mostly because we had already seen so much organic scale that we saw being tied to our community efforts in some way in terms of where we were geographically expanding, how people were reporting that they had discovered us whenever we surveyed them. So that type of motion. And I think for any company that is seeing this type of just organic fervor, one of the worst things you can do is say, let's cut this off at the knees if it's not generating ROI.
I imagine internally there's just like obviously this is good. We may not be able to measure it, but it feels like this is very good for Notion. It feels like especially for a prosumer product like Notion, it makes a lot of sense because it's driven by people using it and then they bring it into the company, like you said. Maybe it's less ROI positive or just one enterprise product. Do you have any thoughts there? Is this a great strategy for prosumer enterprise products more so than more enterprise-y?
Camille Ricketts (00:20:19):
Definitely I think if you have a long sales cycle or a high price point where there has to be many, many, many touchpoints in order to get somebody to decide to buy, I'm not sure that community should be the number one thing that you invest in. Certainly for freemium products, I think for a lot of them, especially if they have what I'm going to call the atomic unit of sharing, which I will define out, it becomes a no-brainer. I think that community lends itself particularly well if you have something that your product creates that people want to share because it exhibits something about themselves. So at Notion it was templates or even people just creating their own workspaces and being really excited to show them off. So Notion really benefited from being a creative product, but the same is true of Figma or Canva or any of these where showing people what it is that you've created is an aspirational thing to do. Because you are showing that you are really well versed in how to use the products, extremely organized. You're self expressing in some way. So if your product does have that element to it, I think that community is a great investment.
You touched on this point, and I don't think people realize this, but you can make a lot of money creating templates on Notion, right? That's a whole ecosystem. Can you talk about that? Because I don't think a lot of people know this.
Camille Ricketts (00:21:45):
Yeah. This is one of the reasons that I would advise any of the companies that feel like they fall into this category start early. Because you need to nurture all of these different routes that people in your community can take. Certainly early on I think that the people that we initially recruited in the ambassadors didn't see themselves doing maybe even close to a million dollars in business around helping other teams succeed with the product or selling templates. I remember really early on, probably mid 2021 we heard of one creator who had made $35,000 in four months selling one template and that was a very common story then from that point forward. And helping them do that, actually creating the guide material and the networks and also the connections between the people who are running similar businesses who could help each other, that all became really fundamental. But to your point about, oh is this actually related to the enterprise motion for Notion? So many companies now of many sizes are relying on the consultants that first came up through our community and some of those consultants are now employing dozens of other people.
That's incredible. There's no better way to motivate someone to evangelize Notion than have their income rely on Notion.
Camille Ricketts (00:23:00):
And it's also just inspiring for us, honestly. There's so many people who started off with not very many followers and now they are celebrities within this ecosystem.
So maybe coming back to the ambassador program, that's separate from this selling Notion templates ecosystem. What is the ambassador program?
Camille Ricketts (00:23:19):
They're actually quite blended because the folks who are excited about Notion, it takes a lot of forms. Sometimes they want to host events, sometimes they want to build templates. So we would actually have channels inside of our Slack instance for the ambassadors that had these areas of focus based on what people really were passionate about or wanted to do and they were like a force multiplying flywheel for each other. Because a lot of folks would enter the ambassadors program and then I'm happy to talk about champions as well, which is a little bit different, and then discover what it would mean for them to build templates and it became motivating for that reason. So on the champions side of things, and this is maybe speaking a little bit more to the enterprise as well, we wondered if the same DNA that existed among consumers for the most part in the ambassadors could work for folks who were inside of our customer companies. And so we launched another community, another Slack instance for folks who were the most passionate or the most avid users of Notion inside of our customer companies, which has become just a wonderful channel for customer success to be more communicative with those companies, make sure that things are sticking or obstacles are being overcome. And that's been designed very specifically that way and it has been really, really valuable over time.
Okay. So let me try to understand this. Champions are basically the most active users of Notion. You put them in a Slack and help them become even more excited and make sure they're happy. Ambassador. I still don't totally understand what is an ambassador? Is that someone you're paying to help promote Notion? What does that actually mean when you're an ambassador?
Camille Ricketts (00:24:52):
They're people who are really just passionate about the product. So it's not transactional. They're people who love building with Notion. They love sharing what they've built in order to help others. And they really just want it to be a bigger part of their lives. And I think that one of the points about community is that it's not just a one-to-one conversation with us. The big draw over time, maybe people joined because they would get early access to features. We would get their feedback. That became really important for our product team or because we would offer AMAs with some of our folks internally. But over time it was really because they were forming these bonds with each other and learning so much from each other that most of the time someone would come in and say, I'm struggling with this or I don't quite know how to use this and it would be another member of the community that would help them more immediately. So it really allowed them to form these dense networks of friendships that I think became just a positive part of people's lives.
What I'm taking away from this partly is you identify a group of people that are interested in Notion, excited about Notion and then just lean in to support them. There's people that are buying Notion and that are power users, help them be better power users. Influencers that are kind of excited about Notion, pay them to promote Notion. Then the ambassadors that are people just passionate about Notion, help them be more passionate. And then the people making templates, help them be successful. Is that roughly how you think about it? Just identify something that's working and make it more effective?
Camille Ricketts (00:26:21):
I think if it doesn't sound too reductive, yes. I would also say that one of the things that I think Ben was best at is not putting a one size fits all experience on any of this. I think that some communities get built where people are like, okay, well we have this community and it's going to be this and this and this, or these are the types of programs we're going to offer or these are the types of interactions we're going to have. As opposed to I think a lot of listening of the people who are actually participating. Really early on one of the things that Ben did that I thought was really amazing was he'd spend a ton of time just on Zoom having conversations, one-on-one conversations, semi small group conversations just saying, "Why are you here? Why do you like participating in this? What is it that would make it better?" And really helping our entire team follow their lead. I would recommend highly not necessarily coming in with preconceived notions about what a community needs to look like.
You touched on this, that if the founder believes in the power of community, this becomes so much easier. A lot of founders are like, "Nah. That's a waste of time." Do you think founders are convincible that building community and investing in community is worth it? Have you seen that effective where a founder just comes into it being like, "Nah, I don't think this is worth our time," and then they get convinced later? Or is it just like, "Nah, forget it. Don't even try."?
Camille Ricketts (00:27:45):
I mean I've talked to a lot of different people who come at this with different impressions and everybody knows more about their company than I do, but I do think that if ubiquity or just the sheer word of mouth engine is something that is going to be valuable for your company over time, I would really urge people to sit down and really think carefully what is going to be more conducive to our long-term success? Is it going to be that ubiquity or is it going to be revenue now? And I think if we look at a lot of the companies that have been just wildly successful from the start, they're people who have pushed off maybe monetizing every little thing if it's going to really put a damper on that type of enthusiasm and momentum that people have to share it at what it is they're doing. Because there's always opportunity I think later once you have that big tide of people who are not just excited but also legitimizing what it is that you do every single day, that gets mobilized in a lot of different directions and you have a lot more options then.
What's interesting about Notion is you have high LTVs when you sell to larger companies, but the initial users are often just regular folks. And so I think it's a unique place where you have cash to spend on making it ubiquitous and getting the word out through all these community efforts because it'll pay off. And a lot of companies probably don't have that advantage. So would it feel right to say that this is really effective for product led, growthy, freemium products most? Is that a good way to think about it?
Camille Ricketts (00:29:20):
Yeah. Or I think if organic growth is something that you see being really beneficial or if organic growth happens to be something you really have to crack because you don't always have everything you need for paid growth from either a resourcing standpoint, team standpoint, really figuring out how to get that organic flywheel going can serve you well. It becomes this buttress for any paid growth you explore in the future.
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What other companies come to mind when you think about companies that effectively did community led growth, did community well and grew in large part because of community?
Camille Ricketts (00:31:14):
I've mentioned Figma a couple times here so I don't want to beleaguer the point, but they're certainly a team that I've looked up to through my entire experience at Notion. We were kind of sibling companies in a way. Huge kudos to Claire Butler over there who I knew led all of those efforts and we would trade a lot of knowledge back and forth, which was so lovely to have that relationship. But they did an amazing job I think in a similar vein to Notion of saying, okay, people are really excited to create these things and then put them out there on the internet. So how can we just fuel that particular motion out there? The other example I'll give, which is a little bit of a different tack is Stripe. And when Stripe launched Stripe Atlas, not necessarily core to the initial product line that Stripe was known for and what had been foundational for them, but allowed them to build this community among probably their core demographic at the time, which was founders and startups that were growing through the stages to mid-market, they were able to cultivate this huge audience of founders around giving advice and providing them with resources to actually get started and do that zero to one journey.
So while it was adjacent to maybe what the company's core mission was, it allowed them to actually create community among their customer base because they were like, "We're knowledgeable. We can share these things with you that we know are core to your journey." So I would encourage anyone who's thinking about community that way to be like, "Oh, maybe it doesn't have to be around our product. So specifically. What other knowledge or resourcing can we offer to the people who we do want using our product that's going to be really instrumental for them and can we convene them around that idea?"
I'm noticing a strong correlation between legendary generational companies, Figma, Stripe, Notion and community efforts and building community. That's interesting.
Camille Ricketts (00:33:05):
Yes. I'm a big proponent. At the same time I don't think that community is right for every company. I think that there is definitely an analysis to run on that. But hopefully this is helpful for those who can identify that those are attributes they have.
To pull on a thread there, what are maybe thoughts for when it probably doesn't make sense to invest a lot of efforts into building a community around your product? We talked a little bit about high-end enterprise products. Is there anything else that just like, man, it's probably not worth your time?
Camille Ricketts (00:33:34):
Like I said, if it's more of a sales led culture that you have, which is definitely true of products that are a little bit pricier or that require longer contracts, so understanding that. But I do think the community takes on different forms and I think when you hear the word community, you think of a big forum of some type, whether it's a Slack instance or something else where people are chatting away all day long. And I don't think it has to be that. That's not the only representation of it. So if you think about what is going to be right for you at any given time, I actually created this two by two matrix, which maybe I'll share with you after this. And on the axis you have, whether you have hit product market fit or if you're still exploring product market set and then whether you're strongly enterprise or strongly consumer. And based on where you land in that two by two matrix, there's a form of community or a community related initiative that could be right for you.
So just to give you an example of maybe an extremely different form factor from Notion, let's say that you're still on your way to product market fit and you're a strongly enterprise oriented product. I think that you have the opportunity to do customer advisory boards, which is really convening even smaller circles of ideal fit users and making sure that they are connected to each other as well as you, and then incentivize to provide you with feedback. Understanding that they're really on the ground floor of this journey with you and that they're going to be able to have influence over whatever you do in the future. Those folks can end up growing into your biggest evangelists and I've seen that happen a number of times and I would still consider that community even though maybe that is not what comes to mind for folks.
Well I imagine that becomes the seed of a community that you eventually build. Let's definitely link to this in the show notes. Can you give maybe a couple more examples of this grid? So that was pre-product market fit and then what was the other?
Camille Ricketts (00:35:32):
Enterprise. Okay, cool. Yeah, what are a couple other of the elements of this grid?
Camille Ricketts (00:35:37):
So if you're strongly enterprise and you have product market fit, let's say, this is something that Notion has really benefited from, but really emphasizing the champions in the consultants communities. So the folks who, like I said, may be inside of your customers who really get it, really get your value, really are excited to help you land and expand perhaps inside of their companies, making sure that they have a place to gather and a place to feel like they are more connected with your team than the average person gets to be. That they are special and that they have access. And then on the consultant side, like I said, just making it really easy, removing friction, helping promote the folks who want to be out there, helping you succeed with more customers. Like Salesforce. I know that this is a golden oldie of an example, but if you talk to anybody who was really early at Salesforce, they really went into this where they saw people emerging who wanted to help other companies. This layer of people who didn't work at Salesforce but saw the opportunity to help other companies actually succeed with it, implement it, grow with it, and that's become a massive part of Salesforce's model. And so if you're in that quadrant, figuring out how to start moving people in your customer base into those categories.
This is awesome. Maybe let's do one more of this grid and then we'll leave one for people to click into and check it out.
Camille Ricketts (00:37:04):
I'll talk about Notion's quadrant, which is the one that I would put up and to the right, which is you have product market fit and you're maybe a little bit closer to the consumer side of the spectrum. Obviously Notion runs the full gamut, but I would say especially early on I think that that's where we saw things take root and that's where I think ambassadors and influencers really take off. Individuals who are going to be extremely vocal, extremely excited, and where you're going to see more of this wildfire spread, at least trying the product, using the product, understanding what the product is. So if you can try to fuel that type of motion if you're in that quadrant, that's helpful.
I want to come back to this ambassador program real quick because it feels like something that a lot of people talk about and can do and especially in this quadrant of product market fit and consumer. How does this work? Is it you select, here's 100 ambassadors we're going to pick because we think they're awesome and they're great examples of people using, say, Notion and then we're just going to provide them with all the help they need to be successful with Notion. How do you think about creating an ambassador program?
Camille Ricketts (00:38:10):
I actually think it's pretty analogous to when you're thinking about positioning your company because I think the best first step for any positioning exercise is to think who are our best fit customers? Where it's like these are the people that seem to be really getting it. They're paying us more, they're talking about it just organically. So really figuring out everything about who they are and making sure that those are the people that you're actually inviting in early. So the initial base of the ambassadors program which started back in 2019 was just 20 people and they were the 20 people who we happened to see be the most vocal already across Twitter and a couple of other social media platforms because they had that shared quality of wanting to be really vocal and expressive about their experience with the product. So that would be my advice for how to get one of these rolling.
And then what do you do for them?
Camille Ricketts (00:39:13):
Definitely making sure that there's enough incentive built in, right? Because like we said, it's not meant to be a transactional relationship, but we want them to feel like they are having a special experience, that they are connected with the company in a unique way. And it was so interesting to us how giving them the preview of features was so motivating to them and being able to use them and then give us feedback and feel really heard by the product team. So that was a big area of focus and I know that that still is and it's become even more of a robust conversation between the community and the team at Notion itself.
And then also we would do these very special experiences where Ivan or Akshay or Simon or MLM who's the head of engineering there would be available for these conversations where they would answer questions and it would feel like a very proprietary space. I think that that was really interesting to people. And then of course the things that you would suspect around subsidizing events. Making sure that people felt that they were actually supported by us to throw these events. And then also promoting their work. So if you look back at the social media channels, so much of the focus is on putting the creations of the people we were working with front and center as opposed to talking about just what the company was up to.
Have you ever written about just how to design an ambassador program or has anyone written about how Notion did this? Because this is really interesting.
Camille Ricketts (00:40:42):
I don't know if anything has been written or went into all of this detail, but it was truly one of the more magical and I think still is one of the more magical parts of this entire endeavor. And now that team is three people. So Ben who's still there doing amazing things, Francisco who joined us in 2021. Or sorry at the end of 2020. And then Emma. And they are just all day every day talking to people around the whole world. The international component of this is also just completely wild to see.
This could be a future First Round Review post, which we'll talk a bit about.
Camille Ricketts (00:41:21):
Last question about this segment. Say someone is convinced they want to start investing in community and we talked about this two by two, but maybe just broadly if you had to boil it down to two or three pieces of advice for founders, for teams thinking about investing in community led growth and community in general, what would be some of those pieces of advice?
Camille Ricketts (00:41:44):
I don't know if you want to link to this in the show notes as well, but I actually put together some commandments for community builders.
Camille Ricketts (00:41:51):
Some alliteration. So the thing that I think were very defining for us early on, I already mentioned something about this, but not trying to hit a number early on. So don't dilute the impact of what it is that you're trying to do in order to show growth. I think that that's very important to protect yourself early on. So making sure that you are learning what individuals really want out of this and making them feel like they're very seen and very heard. That was a big area of focus and I think it's what kept people really engaged and coming back and feeling like this was a secondary family for them. And then one of the things that was most interesting to us that once we started sharing what was going on in the community with folks at Notion. So we would do this during all Hands meetings or on Slack, Ben would post these really incredible updates of just all of the activities of people in the community and what they were up to every month.
And it was just so inspiring for everybody inside the company that I think it all rallied us to do even more, I guess, day to day and really understand who it was we were building for.
Is there any other commandments you would add for if you already have a community going? If you have something bubbling for things you should do to keep it healthy and consistently good and growing?
Camille Ricketts (00:43:12):
Yeah. I mean this is going to be a little contrarian perhaps, and I mean this is just one data point for me, but not growing it so big so fast. One thing that we actually thought about pretty carefully was what a rate of healthy growth would be. So there actually is an application process for joining the ambassadors. It's a very light application process and it really is just so that we know how many people are interested in this. And then they're inducted around ... I think at the time it was 20 people at a time every month. So that it wouldn't feel like all of a sudden this had changed in terms of how the interactions were feeling, but rather gave everybody time to welcome the new people in and get to know them. And one of Ben and I's favorite things ever about working at Notion I think was when we would induct new people into the ambassadors and they would introduce themselves and say, "Hey, I am from Venezuela and here's the ways in which notion has changed my life."
Camille Ricketts (00:44:11):
"I'm from Hong Kong and here's how it's changed my life." And all of that was just so fulfilling. That would be the number one thing I would say is give your community time to actually grow in what feels like an organic fashion as well. Because I think ironically, and then I'll stop rambling about this, but if you grow to something like, oh we have 5,000 ambassadors, which feels really good to say on a website, the conversation is actually very muted. I think because people feel like they're speaking to an auditorium whenever they say anything. I think it's because you don't really have a sense of who else is there with you. So helping to defray those concerns I think is a good course of action.
I've seen the same thing with the growth rate being really important with my newsletter Slack community. I think most listeners probably know this, but if you're a paid newsletter subscriber, you get access to the Slack community. There's about 10,000 people in there. And I find the filter of people that are willing to pay for content like a newsletter is a really good filter for awesome people. And so it ends up slowing growth in a really healthy way and then just creating this filter of the people that really want to self-improve and value the sort of thing join, and it becomes a really amazing group of people.
Camille Ricketts (00:45:31):
Yeah. It feels like such a ... I don't know. There's an emotional quality to it I think when that's the case. And all of those people end up being so incredibly impactful. The last point I'll make about community at Notion is that a lot of those people, and we actually ended up launching I think a channel for folks who wanted to do this in particular, but run communities external to Notion's actual owned communities. So you end up with Facebook groups that have ... I think Notion in Vietnam has like 250,000 members. Or the subreddit, which I now know has 210,000 people in the Notion subreddit. And those are all run and moderated by community members who just love running their own communities.
I feel like you've achieved your OKRs of ubiquity of Notion.
Camille Ricketts (00:46:19):
Yes. It was always a value at Notion to make sure that we were reaching as many people as possible.
It's working. One tactical question. Where does the own community of Notion live? Is it a Slack? Is it an online thing you've built yourself?
Camille Ricketts (00:46:34):
It is in Slack. And the thinking there, and it still is, was that we really just wanted to be in the course of people's everyday lives. We didn't want to be this other destination that you would have to make a point to going to every day.
That's exactly how I thought about it with my newsletter Slack community. PMs and founders, they're already in Slack all day. And just that badge, being on the app telling them there's something to check is such a powerful feature versus download a whole new app or go to a whole new website, you're never going to go there. It has to be 10 times better to pull you to a whole new site and change your habits.
Camille Ricketts (00:47:05):
I absolutely agree.
I'm glad we're all on Slack. Slack's so underrated. I feel like people hate on Slack all the time, but it's such a good product.
Camille Ricketts (00:47:14):
We all love it. It's just becomes something we take for granted in the background there.
Yeah, exactly. Okay. This is a good time to shift to our second topic, which is around content and content marketing. So you started the First Round Review at First Round?
Camille Ricketts (00:47:26):
I don't know if you know this, but First Round Review was a big part of my early trajectory with this newsletter life. I did a guest post in the First Round Review and that was-
Camille Ricketts (00:47:37):
I remember this.
That was a huge deal for me. That was my first 500 subscribers to my newsletter.
Camille Ricketts (00:47:42):
Then I did another guest post down the road, but that was not as important. It was a big part of my early path down this life. And so thank you for creating that platform. I was very honored to be involved.
Camille Ricketts (00:47:57):
That's fantastic to hear and exactly what we wanted to have happen. Just extraordinary operators being given a platform and then using it to do whatever it is that they wanted to do. That was part of the dream always.
Camille Ricketts (00:48:11):
Yeah. I'm thrilled because now people are learning so much from you.
Yeah. It's an inspiration for where when I started too, just I wish I could be as good as the First Round Review and the stuff just keeps coming and coming. It's amazing. And I know other folks run it now. I don't know if they want to be named. They like to be behind the scenes.
Camille Ricketts (00:48:27):
They do, but I'm going to shout them out anyway because they do such an extraordinary job. I mean, Jessi Craige Shikman over there has been doing this now for longer than I did and she is absolutely incredible and her team is extraordinary and I don't miss it every single time it comes out.
Yeah. I tried to thank her my post. She's like, "Don't mention that. I'm behind the scenes."
Camille Ricketts (00:48:44):
Maybe I'll ask her.
We have to give her some cred somehow.
Camille Ricketts (00:48:56):
Yeah, absolutely. She deserves it.
So kind of zooming out, content marketing, maybe just to give some examples of just what are some of the most impactful things you've been a part of that come from creating content? Whether it's Notion, First Round, anywhere else, what are some examples?
Camille Ricketts (00:49:11):
Yeah, I'll give a few examples. Obviously First Round is a huge example and so I'd be remiss in not going into some detail there. And truly that was a team effort from the very beginning. I joined in 2013 and again, I was just so fortunate to work with a leader who believed in it from the very beginning. Josh Kopelman, who's the partner there who was just a massive supporter of mine. Phin Barnes on the partnership team. But then particularly Brett Burson who was running the platform team, which is where all of these value added services lived.
So it was me and an events person and the talent person and Brett just gave us all of the runway and all of the belief and support that we needed. And he was really bullish on content and really helped from the beginning, connecting me with incredible interview subjects. Because this whole thing, the only reason I think it survived and did as well as it did is that we were able to land a few really big names at the very beginning. And then of course that helps you down the road whenever you're trying to convince anyone else to do it because you say so and so and so and so have already been featured. So that was I think just a big point of confidence and also tactically, for anyone out there thinking about it, if they can leverage whatever connections they have in that vein.
I was at dinner with Brett yesterday.
Camille Ricketts (00:50:29):
Oh my god. What a guy, right?
First Round event. What a guy. That guy's amazing. I'm a huge fan. He's built an incredible platform and program at First Round.
Camille Ricketts (00:50:39):
And he's one of the people that I've learned the most from, certainly. But more specific to your question around what the content program was able to do there, certainly discovery of First Round. I think prior to that it was a very successful VC fund, but I think we got in front of all kinds of people, particularly in non-traditional geographies or non-traditional founder types or all of that. People who are inside large companies like Google, Apple, Amazon, whenever we would look at our list of subscribers, we had an disproportionate number of email addresses within those companies that were clearly curious about the startup experience. And I think First Round Review was helpful in moving them more toward that mindset and then them obviously understanding that First Round would be a great first stop for them.
What would you say is key to content being valuable? So you're talking about the First Round Review became really effective for people learning about First Round, working with First Round, discovery of First Round, but it's not just with content you just write some stuff and it works. It doesn't work that way. What have you learned about just what do you have to get right? You mentioned have names people recognize. Is there anything else you've learned over the years of just like, here's what we need to get right if you're trying to use content as a way to create discovery and awareness of your stuff?
Camille Ricketts (00:51:54):
This is something that I think we chatted about briefly, but the way that you think about product market fit, you have to think about content market fit. So even though content feels like it's running adjacent to the actual product that you're putting out there, you still have to think about who is my audience? Who is the audience that I really want to have? Who is the audience that is going to be drawn to this most? Who are they? What is it that they really need in their lives? Even abstracting content from it at all. What is it that they need to get promoted? What is it that they need to avoid failure? What is it that causes them a great deal of anxiety in the day-to-day of their lives or their work? And can you create some type of content product that is going to address this for them and is actually going to have that value?
So I think approaching content the way that you would a product in a lot of ways is very instructive way to sort of start hashing out your strategy. Starting with your audience, understanding their big needs. You've heard this, I'm sure, and most of your audience has, but there's the vitamin versus painkiller dichotomy. And painkillers always win. So can your content be a painkiller? Can it help people out of situations that are causing them a lot of pain? Can it help people stop being so confused or can it make them even feel less alone in their experience? That was a big one for First Round Review is helping operators share failures or suboptimal situations in the spirit of helping many other people feel like that was normalized and that the experiences they were having weren't as dire as maybe they had thought.
I love that. It connects so much with the way I think about writing. I use the jobs to be done framework a little bit here where I'm just like, what job am I doing when I'm writing a post? And you tell me if this makes sense to you, but I feel like there's four jobs to be done of a newsletter. Either how people make money. There's newsletters, here's how to invest, here's how to buy Bitcoin and win. How people make money. Entertain people. There's a lot of funny things, memes and cartoons and things like that. How people get better at their work or life, which is the category we're in. And then inform people. Like news.
Camille Ricketts (00:54:02):
Yes. What they didn't know before. Yeah.
And it feels like you got to do really well. You got to pick which bucket you're in. And let me know if you can think of any others because these are the four that I always come back to. And then pick your bucket and then it's be the best at that thing in your category. The way I think about it.
Camille Ricketts (00:54:18):
I love that listing out of those and also the acknowledgement that there are emotional jobs to be done. That there are not just utilitarian jobs to be done. It's not just, you didn't know this before and now you do, but it's like you felt this way before and now you don't or you do. And I think that that's underestimated. So I love that you called out entertaining people because we're all working in an industry where it's wonderful to interact with some of that sparkle and levity. So I love that approach.
And something else that goes unsaid I think in the way you talked about this is just putting in the time to make it really high quality. If you look at a First Round post, how much time would you say goes into in the typical First Round Review post?
Camille Ricketts (00:54:58):
Oh gosh. Here's where I'm going to shout out my writing partner at First Round, Sean Young, who was there with me for most of my time there and he and I would always, always talk about this. But it would take eight hours to just write the thing. And that's after you had done all of the prep work of making sure that your interviewee was feeling really anchored and understanding a topic that you were both really excited about and making sure you were mining all of the tactical gems from that conversation. And then you would start writing and that would be another eight hours. I don't know if that's your experience, but certainly was ours.
Yeah, very similar. I don't tie myself, but I feel like the median time to write a post for me is about 10 hours.
Camille Ricketts (00:55:37):
And that's I think the key that a lot of people don't think about. One is they don't have the time, and two, they don't realize they should spend this much time because the bar's so high for content on the internet as we all know. There's so much stuff out there. And so to get above that noise you have to really make it really good and that just takes time. And I find this really strong correlation between the time it takes me to write a post and how well it does. It's very highly correlated. And the advantage folks like say the First Round Review have and I have is I do this and there's a team doing this. And so people that are doing this on the side, it's much harder because they don't have that time.
Camille Ricketts (00:56:14):
It is. I end up admiring those people a lot where I'm like, how are you doing this?
Yeah. They're sacrificing something.
Camille Ricketts (00:56:19):
Yeah. But truly, it's a very shared experience with you. And I think that a lot of that was making connections between the information that you had available from these interviews. So not just straight here's what this person said, but how can you draw connections between those things, connect the dots, pull out bigger themes. All of that is really where I think a lot of the time went.
So you said you had this content market fit questionnaire that you talked through. You're going to send me a link that we can point people to check it out, right?
Camille Ricketts (00:56:51):
Camille Ricketts (00:56:52):
Absolutely. A lot of it is about getting to know your audience to an almost beleaguered degree.
Which is basically what job will you do for them, like you said. And so that makes sense. Maybe a couple more questions. Something that I've noticed a lot, and this is related to content and just PR and stuff like that. I've noticed a lot of people on Twitter and founders are trying to pitch this idea that you don't need to think about comms and press and PR as much because now you can go direct. You can have a newsletter, you can write, you can tweet, you can LinkedIn. Do you feel like that is where the future is going for founder press and comms and things like that or do you think you still need to have a really strong comms, press, PR org within your company?
Camille Ricketts (00:57:36):
That's a great question because I think that there's been just a lot of change in this space over the last five years and certainly very strong opinions from all over the ecosystem. I'm a big believer in comms. And I don't just say that because I used to be a journalist or I used to work in comms. But I think that there are very few and far between incredible megaphones for what it is that you or your company is doing where you get to reach such a breadth of people with that stamp of credibility and notice. How do you get somebody to say, "Hey, this is really something you should pay attention to."? Obviously I support all of the owned media efforts that are really working and bubbling up. And like I said, influencer I think is going to be a massive shift in how we discover things, but maintaining a wonderful relationship with the press, being straightforward, being that brand that is going to be accessible, I really think that that pays off.
And just to give you one example, David Pierce, who I think is one of the best working journalists in tech today, he's at The Verge now. He was covering personal tech for the Wall Street Journal early on at Notion and published a story that said this is the one work-life productivity app that you'll ever need. And that was Notion's big break. Truly, if you look back at the graphs, that made a demonstrable difference. And I've seen that happen time and time again. And one of my other efforts at First Round was helping companies in the portfolio figure out how to DIY comm strategies. And I saw this again and again that the companies that did get stories that really told their mission, it made a big difference for just discovery awareness. The number of people who wanted to be involved with them as candidates, as investors, as customers.
This gives me a new post idea of just what are the big breaks of companies? What was the moment where they started taking off? Note to self?
Camille Ricketts (00:59:36):
Yes. The other big thing for the Notion was product hunts. I want to give them-
Oh, okay. So posting on Product Hunt, that was a big deal for Notion.
Camille Ricketts (00:59:44):
It was. And it remains a big deal. If you go on Product Hunt and you type in Notion, you'll see just how many templates have been able to get noted because of Product Hunt.
So it's the templates being posted, but then also the launch of Notion on Product Hunt?
Camille Ricketts (00:59:58):
Yes. And Notion 2.0. And then whenever we would have a major productized launch.
Wow, that's awesome. Man, Product Hunt just keeps kicking.
Camille Ricketts (01:00:07):
Notion AI very recently for them, which couldn't be more exciting.
I have access to that. I've been playing around. It's awesome. Maybe a last question along these lines is thinking about the founders that you've worked with. So on the one hand you have Elon who is very direct on Twitter to his audience, and then Ivan feels much less so and more under the radar and doesn't love tweeting a lot. And then First Round Review somewhere in the middle. Do you have any thoughts on how much a founder should invest in, say, tweeting and going and communicating direct to folk? Or is it more just whatever the founder is, their personality, just go with that?
Camille Ricketts (01:00:41):
I really do think it's about personality and what feels authentic. I think that so much of a founder's strength comes from leaning into where they know that they love to work, what they know about themselves. And I think that one of the biggest mistakes you can make on social media is giving yourself a quota that you have to hit and say, I have to say X number of scintillating things every week on these platforms. We've just seen so much more traction, even from the main Notion accounts when we're a little bit more reserved and we wait until we have something to say that has value.
Awesome. Any last closing thoughts before we get to our very exciting lightning round?
Camille Ricketts (01:01:19):
Closing thoughts. No, this was a wonderful conversation. Thank you so much for letting me share. Truly, I also want to make sure I'm giving a lot of credit away from all the people that I mentioned throughout. It was all just a major team effort and I've gotten very, very lucky to work with the best people.
Awesome. We'll try to link to all of the people you mentioned in our show notes. We try to do that every time. So it'll be a long show notes. And we're not done yet. We've reached our very exciting lightning round. I am going to ask you six questions real quick. Whatever comes to mind, we'll go through it pretty fast. That sound good?
Camille Ricketts (01:01:48):
Yeah. We'll see how it goes.
Let's go. No pressure. What are two to three books that you recommend most, that you've recommended most to other people?
Camille Ricketts (01:01:57):
Obviously Awesome by April Dunford. If you're looking to position your company, I don't know if you've read it, but it is a step-by-step guide. It's like 100 pages long.
I've read it. She's done a guest post on my newsletter. She's been on the podcast. So all over it.
Camille Ricketts (01:02:11):
Oh, fantastic. She's incredible. Yes. Oh gosh. I'm going to have a hard time coming up with two other books that have had that sizable of an impact.
We can keep it to one too. It's all good.
Camille Ricketts (01:02:21):
Can we keep it to one?
Yes. Just the one. All you need. What's a favorite other podcast that you listen to other than the one you're on currently?
Camille Ricketts (01:02:30):
I mean, I love your podcast.
Camille Ricketts (01:02:32):
Harry Stubbings never ceases to amaze me. We've gone on at Notion a couple times and I just really appreciate his approach to mining a lot of incredible information and unexpected stuff.
Harry Stubbings is the godfather of this podcast because I did his podcast and at the end of it privately he's like, "Lenny, you need to do a podcast, you idiot. Why are you not doing a podcast?" And that got me over the hump and look at us now. So yeah, huge shout out to Harry.
Camille Ricketts (01:03:00):
I love all of these connections that exists. That's wonderful.
Yeah. Next question. Favorite recent movie or TV show that you've loved?
Camille Ricketts (01:03:08):
Oh gosh. Recent. I went to go see Tar, which I know is going to be not everybody's cup of tea, but it was just incredible to watch this performance from Kate Blanchett. She learned German. She learned how to be a credible conductor of a major symphony orchestra. If you want to see a bravura performance, that's the one to see. And then recent television show I'm watching Fleischman is in Trouble. I love the book and I just think that the detail and texture of that show is super well done.
Awesome. My wife and I have been watching that and it's awesome. Last episode was less exciting, so I'm curious where it all goes, but I'm watching.
Camille Ricketts (01:03:44):
Agreeing. But every time Claire Danes is on screen, I'm riveted. Yeah.
Favorite interview question that you like to ask folks, either when you're interviewing at a place, hiring, anything that comes to mind.
Camille Ricketts (01:03:56):
Yeah. The one thing that was really helpful, because we used to do this thing at First Round Review where we would explore topics and be like, how do we get to a topics that's going to be unique or new knowledge or whatever it was. And it was, what is one thing that you think that led to your success that nobody else in your peer set has done? What was something that you did on a lark or that you were like, this is a big bet, or this isn't probably going to work, or it's a mistake that it even turned out this way, but it ended up being great. What is that one thing that was unusually conceived that you want to share with people?
I love that question. I almost want to answer it, but let's move on. What are five SaaS products that you use or have used other than notion that you found to be really good other than maybe Slack, which everyone always mentions.
Camille Ricketts (01:04:39):
I mean, I'm in love with Notion. The other thing, the other great love of my life right now is Arc, The Browser Company.
Oh my God, I love Arc. I just switched to it. I love it.
Camille Ricketts (01:04:47):
Yeah. It was something that I tried and within an hour I've made it my default browser and I just think it's beautiful and delightful in one of those intangible ways that a lot of these products are
Same. Yes. Cool. Oh, there's more. Yeah.
Camille Ricketts (01:05:00):
I already talked about Figma. I love Figma. I actually use it in my day to day life, which is one of the best parts of it is that folks who are not necessarily designers or highly technical can also get a lot out of it. Superhuman. Couldn't live my life without Superhuman. Whenever I have to go back into Gmail to set an autoresponder or whatever, I'm like, ugh, my eyes. So couldn't live without that. Gosh, I'm on sabbatical, so I don't know how many other SaaS products I'm actually using day to day so I'm going to keep it at three.
All right. Yeah. Use less SaaS products during your sabbatical. It's a good philosophy.
Camille Ricketts (01:05:33):
Yeah. I don't know if that was your experience, but just is. Oh, the other one I'll shout out, even though this is like a sneaky Notion plug is Kron. So if anybody isn't using the Kron calendar, which is now part of Notion as some folks might know, it is in fact the best calendar product on the market.
Sneaky, sneaky. Last question. What's a favorite read or course or just anything you'd recommend for people to level up their community building skills to build a community, run a community? What would you point people to?
Camille Ricketts (01:06:01):
I'm not aware of any courses that are necessarily offered. Ben Lang has done a number of AMAs or interviews, so if you want to just Google Ben Lang and the word community or Notion, you're going to find just a lot of incredible insight. And his experience has been, I think ... In terms of community people operating in tech, Ben is top level, so find whatever he's said.
Awesome. We will find it. We will link to it. Camille, I just met you an hour ago, but I feel like I've known you forever. This was amazing.
Camille Ricketts (01:06:34):
Likewise. Thank you.
Thank you so much for making time for this. Two last questions. Where can folks find you online if they want to reach out, learn more? You're on sabbatical now, and so maybe share what you're thinking about next and what you could be ... I don't know. And I guess this is the second question. How can listeners be useful to you?
Camille Ricketts (01:06:49):
Thank you for that. You can find me on Twitter. I'm just @CamilleRicketts. Super straightforward. Still sticking with it. And in terms of where I'm at in my life, I'm just interested in meeting as many fascinating new people and learning about things as possible. I've started going to these Founders You Should Know events for anybody who's interested about FYSK, and just meeting as many cool people who are building just incredible concepts. It's inspiring every time, and I just want my whole life to look like that. So get in touch if you're building something and think I could be helpful.
Amazing. Camille, thank you so much for being here.
Camille Ricketts (01:07:24):
Thank you so much. This was wonderful.
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