The Upside

Knowing the Difference Between Audience and Community

This past weekend, I watched a film with my kids called Marcel the Shell with Shoes On where Marcel, an adorable one-inch-tall shell living alone with his grandmother Connie, seeks to find their long-lost community with the help of a documentary filmmaker named Dean.

We were all so touched by the film—we laughed, we cried and we cuddled under warm blankets as we discovered through Marcel the importance of finding community.

[NOT a spoiler alert] At one point in the film, Dean makes a YouTube video with Marcel to reach out and ask for help in finding Marcel’s community of shells.

The video goes viral, but Marcel, in all his innocence, has an epiphany as he reads through the thousands of comments:

“An audience is NOT a community.”

Of course, this reminded me of The Upside.

You see, a lot of brands, organizations and influencers have an audience. But remember what Marcel said about an audience not being a community.

  • A community is supportive, not transactional.
  • A community is an ecosystem with unique interactivity among individual members.
  • A community is filled with people on a common journey together.
  • A community is about connectivity beyond the influencer or brand.
  • A community is when the good of the group is also good for the individuals in it.

Ultimately, Marcel survives without his community but he doesn’t THRIVE.

As you think about your own journey, ask yourself:

Are you part of a community of people on a common path who help you thrive?

…Or, are you part of a wider audience that keeps you on the same trajectory year after year?

Erin Halper

About the Author

Erin Halper is the founder and CEO of The Upside and the leading authority on independent consulting. Since launching The Upside in 2017, Erin has helped thousands of professionals transition from corporate life into consulting to achieve flexibility, autonomy, and a renewed sense of purpose in their careers.

Erin has been a frequent speaker at Columbia, NYU, Harvard, and Brown and has been featured as a leading future of work expert on dozens of podcasts as well as in Forbes, Business Insider, Nasdaq, Crunchbase and many more.

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