Sneak Peeks

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Sneak Peeks

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With a casual (we're joking) 20 years under his belt building community programs at B2C and B2B companies and nonprofits, Joshua Zerkel is leading the charge on how to create community programs, bring like-minded folks together, AND get your power users to work for you.

At Asana and previously Evernote, he's responsible for the creation, implementation, and success of their global community programs. If you've ever considered building community but not sure where to start, kicked one off but feel like you're at a standstill, or thought about ways to take some of the enablement burden off of your Support and Ops teams, this one's for you.

In this episode, we discuss:
• how to source high-quality information for education
• ways to enable your community with the right knowledge to help others achieve the best results
• the long-term effects of customer and community enablement and involvement
• creative ways to get customers more deeply involved with community and knowledge sharing
• catering to shorter attention spans by creating shorter content
• identifying what types of content to create and what resonates best

Where to find Joshua Zerkel:
• LinkedIn:
• Asana:

Where to find your host, Ken:
• LinkedIn:
• Twitter/X:
• Change Enablers, a community by Tango:

Like what you heard? Subscribe, leave us a review, and let us know who in Operations and Enablement should be our next guest.

Ken Babcock (00:00.963)

Hey everyone, welcome to the Change Enablers podcast. We have a super exciting episode today. I have Joshua Zirkle here who leads community at Asana. A lot of you probably know and use and love Asana. Before Asana, Josh was also doing this at Evernote. So another product you probably all know and love. And Josh is really the engine behind a lot of those communities of users that are such avid fans of those products. So Josh, welcome to the...

to the show.

Joshua Zerkel (00:32.059)

Thanks Ken. Hello everybody.

Ken Babcock (00:34.867)

And as the audience knows, I like to start with some rapid fire questions just to get the juices flowing. Um, the first one I always ask, what are three software products that you can't live without today?

Joshua Zerkel (00:47.118)

Sure, so the one that I use probably the most regularly is called Future. This is a personal training app that's technology paired with an actual human behind the scenes who actually gives me my routines and gives me feedback, so I really love it. I also use italki. I am in the process of learning another language and my tutor is...

in the italki platform and so we meet there twice a week. And I really love it. It's a great community also, which I really appreciate. And then finally, I'm like a lifelong learner. I really love books and audio books. And so I also am very frugal. I don't like to pay. So I avail myself of my local library, but since I am a tech-oriented person, I use Libby to access lots of great content that is made available from my local library.

I love all three of these apps, I use them constantly.

Ken Babcock (01:39.887)

Awesome. Well, we'll come around to that at the end when I ask you what you're listening and reading. I guess I'd mostly be listening. But yeah, I hear you on audiobooks. I've recently come around to that. I was always someone who was very stubborn, like I need to hold a book in my hand and read the words on the page. But what really broke me into it, I kid you not, I was on a road trip and we listened to Harry Potter.

It was like a 36 hour road trip. The voice actor that does the Harry Potter books set the world record for the most number of voices, uh, acted out in an audio book. It's like 150 or something. Um, it's so impressive. So anyway, that, that changed my tune entirely. So now I'm like, now I'm like all about it when I'm in the car, when I'm on a run, uh, audio books are, are a go-to. Um,

Second question for you. This is a little bit different. I want to tailor this specifically to your experience. Um, you know, when you've been building community at the, at these companies, what's, you know, maybe a common practice or, or like a common executive mindset that you feel like just needs to go. Like whether it's antiquated or, um, you know, it's, it's irrelevant to, to where community should be today.

Joshua Zerkel (03:03.746)

That's a good question. I think it's less of a mistake than just not as informed as people might be. I think because of where community has come from, it usually sat in a support organization and was designed to deflect tickets. Because of that, a lot of the lens that people look at, the possibilities of community through is through the lens of support. Whereas I think that's super, super reductive. A helpful way to look at it, I think, is

The world of customer success. 10 or 15 years ago, companies didn't really have, for the most part, customer success teams. It was kind of like, what is this weird function that's in between sales and support? Now every company that offers any sort of, especially B2B product or service, has a customer success team, it's not even a question. And that team does a lot of things that weren't really defined before. Community is in a similar spot where

there are communities that are still support oriented, which is great. Then there's ones that are much more expansive, like the ones that I lead, where they are essentially a marketing channel, but a person to person connection channel in that. And so I think a common misunderstanding is what community can be and can do, just because there aren't a ton of great examples of what's possible yet. We're still building all of that.

Ken Babcock (04:28.343)

Yeah. And for all these B2B companies, you want those power users, right? Those power users are going to, um, you know, drive a lot of other users to the product, right? There's referral behavior, but beyond that, and we'll talk about this in a bit, they can inform the roadmap a ton. I mean, if, if product teams aren't listening to users, they're not going to build the right things. And so making sure that you have those, those folks that are advocating for your product and for your company.

Joshua Zerkel (04:57.65)


Ken Babcock (04:57.666)

It has cascading effects.

Joshua Zerkel (05:00.182)

Yeah. It's just a way to get really close to the people that care about what it is that you're building, the offering that you have. Community is a direct conduit to these people and it's a great way to encourage them, to help them learn about what you do, to advocate on your behalf. Community can do all these things and many more, not just deflect tickets, but also.

Ken Babcock (05:21.847)

You know, my last rapid fire question, it's kind of funny, you know, cause, cause you spent your career building communities. This question is kind of about like, how do you escape, which is, uh, where would you go in a zombie apocalypse?

Joshua Zerkel (05:35.294)

Yeah, I think my first instinct is to go someplace like Hawaii, like go to an island where it's hard for people to approach, although granted there are already millions of people there, but you know, if things really went to hell in a hand basket, at least it would be pretty, like the scenery would be pretty, rather than what I'm guessing most cities would turn into, which is like a dystopian nightmare scenario.

Ken Babcock (05:57.747)

Yeah, I buy that. I buy that. I watched, uh, my wife and I watched The Last of Us on HBO and extremely entertaining because you're like, Oh my gosh, this is like real places. But they're totally adjusted to what's going on in the show. But yeah, cities seem terrifying in that, in that world. Switching gears a little bit, uh, cause you know, we all know that we're going to survive the zombie apocalypse when it does come. I do want to just jump in and dig into your

Joshua Zerkel (06:15.897)

For sure.

Ken Babcock (06:26.483)

experience, you know, I think, uh, one thing that we talked about as we were prepping for this episode is actually thinking about, you know, what does that customer success, that customer education look like and how do you make sure that, you know, you are creating, uh, high quality information, high quality documentation to get people to be able to advocate for you. So in your mind, you know, when it comes to education, how are you sourcing

high quality information and how are you making sure that it stays high quality over time?

Joshua Zerkel (07:01.246)

Yeah, it's a good question. So I think for me, there's a couple places where I get that. One is I'm lucky I had an organization of size. We have a customer education team. It's their job to create really high quality content with a high degree of polish that we can present to our customers. So I think that's one side of the equation. And then there's the other side, which is the community generated content.

This is equally valuable because this is real people telling their use cases, sharing their templates, talking about the ways that they're using Asana or previously Evernote so that we have both the here's the company's voice and then here's the customer's voice in the mix of those two things. You customer can find what's right for you amongst the community produced or professionally produced content. There's going to be something that resonates with you and

In terms of the level of quality and the accuracy, it varies, especially with customer-generated content. But what matters there is more the authenticity. Whereas on the company-created content side, we're really looking for accuracy. Authenticity, of course, also, but it needs to be exactly perfect in terms of what we're telling people the capabilities of the product are. So between these two sides of the equation, I think we end up with really high-quality information.

Ken Babcock (08:25.475)

Well, and you have, you know, you have this tremendous luxury, which is that customers are creating that content. Right. And I think a lot of companies can't, can't lean on that, but it sounds like you've almost adjusted your strategy knowing, Hey, there's going to be this voice in the room. So for us, when we create our external documentation, it maybe needs to take on a different tone or it needs to, uh, adjust in some way, um, or compliment that. So

You know, how often are you having that conversation? And is there, is there sort of a, a world where you say, Hey, you know what? We, we know customers are going to be talking about this in particular. So maybe let's, let's either augment that or stay away from it.

Joshua Zerkel (09:09.482)

Yeah, I think it's more so the latter where let's say that we are doing a feature launch. We have ideas that customers will be really excited about this. So we spend extra time and effort figuring out what documentation will be needed. How do we launch it in a way that will get especially advocates in the community excited? How do we equip those people with resources and tools and content so that they can talk about it with their own networks?

And I would say this even for companies that don't have like a robust customer education team, or frankly, no one assigned to customer education, where they're focused more on internal training and education. There's usually some people that are excited about telling people about how to do things, how to work strategies that can help them be more successful ways to use products that are used internally. These are people that you can think of as your own internal community and really leveraging.

the excitement that these people have, or frankly even just the interest that they have to co-create content can really be a game changer. And we happen to do that with our external community, but it could just as easily be done with an internal community as well.

Ken Babcock (10:20.939)

Yeah, we talked about that a little bit too, which was, you know, enabling your community, making sure that, uh, for the people that have that internal motivation, uh, and, and really want to be helpful. Arming them with the best, uh, documentation, the best tools, the best, uh, even just like soundbites from the company. So what is that like from an operational standpoint?

What does that look like? What are you doing for them? How are you bringing them into the fold? How are you making sure that, you know, that those advocates are out there sort of like as an extension of your team, really.

Joshua Zerkel (11:00.034)

So I think it comes down to a few things. The first is we want people who care about what we're doing, who are advocating on our behalf, who are excited about what we're offering, to feel like they're included. And so one of the ways we do that, we have an ambassador program, which people can sign up for. And once they are an ambassador, they're all under NDA, which means that we can then share with them things that are coming in the roadmap before the general public is made aware. We typically invite them to a webinar where they can...

not only see the new product or features that are coming, but we invite someone from the product team, like the PM or the product lead, who can speak to this audience about, not just here's the feature, but here's why we developed it. Here's why we think you'll be able to benefit from it. Here's how we see it being useful for you. And here's how we incorporated your feedback into developing it. So it's really enrolling the people who are in our community into what's coming. So...

Part of it is that behind the scenes information that they feel that they're getting because they're special and they are. And then part of it is we need to equip them with like actual assets, tools and resources so that when they're advocating on our behalf or even just sharing something around a launch just as an example, they don't have to create stuff from scratch because as it turns out, people already have day jobs and creating content probably isn't on their list of things that they wanna spend time on. So.

We'll give them things like shareable social assets. We'll give them a one-pager guide of like, here's an overview of this feature. We'll give them talking points so that if they are talking about a new feature with their team, here's how they can easily position it and its benefit. So we just try to think about if we were in these folks' shoes, how and what would they need in order to advocate on our behalf? That doesn't mean they have to use everything that we've given them or anything that we've given them, but we essentially give them a toolkit.

and then they can use what makes the most sense for them in their organization.

Ken Babcock (13:00.931)

I love that. I think there's also something there that's just like this, like very human element where it's like, you're getting led in on a secret. Um, and people love that. I mean, I, you know, I think that can work not just with your community, but, uh, I mean, like motivating teams, motivating people, like giving them a little bit more context.

even with customers too, whether it's like a beta program, making them feel like they're seeing something that only they have been invited to see or that they're being tasked with kind of sharing with the world. I think it can be really powerful tapping into that.

Joshua Zerkel (13:37.218)

Absolutely, and I just think people like feeling included. They like feeling like they're part of something. And if you are lucky enough to have people care about what it is that you do or the service that you offer, already that's fantastic. But give those folks like a bear hug and figure out what will make them feel that reflection of like not only do they see you and love what you do, but you see them and you appreciate them. What will close that loop? What are the things that you can put in place to...

help them really understand how important they are to you and your organization. And that could be as robust as a community program or as simple as a thank you card. And people just want to feel included, like they're part of something and giving them access behind the scenes is a very, very powerful motivator for people who are motivated already.

Ken Babcock (14:24.727)

Absolutely. Uh, I think that's great. There's, there's also just an underlying, you know, business proposition here, which is, you know, sometimes you just don't have the operations enablement or support, you know, I know we tread lightly on that one, but maybe you don't have those resources in a full-time team, and so you're looking to this community to kind of like. Augment your existing workforce. And, you know, I think that that, uh,

Joshua Zerkel (14:49.582)


Ken Babcock (14:52.823)

That's a unique proposition for smaller teams. I know we're not, maybe not the Asanas and Evernotes of the world, but do you have any advice for maybe people that are just starting out with community and how they should think about it? Maybe what are those aha moments for you where you're like, there should be a community aspect here. Like what are the signals the team should look for?

Joshua Zerkel (15:16.822)

That's a great question. So the things that I would look for are first, you have to have something that people really like. If your product is already starting to receive positive feedback, if you are hearing from customers that are messaging you on social media or emailing you and saying, hey, I really love what you're doing, make sure to note down who those people are because those are the genesis of your community right there. Those folks will be the ones that you'll wanna reach out to and say,

Hey, we're thinking of starting a community program. Let's have a chat about what you'd like to see. What might be a benefit to you? And I think starting with that genesis, you can begin identifying what are some initial strategies that we might want to create. Could be as simple as a Slack group that you create for your biggest advocates. Could be as robust as a multi-layered community program. But I don't think you need to start huge. I think you can start really small. And...

Your most engaged advocates will tell you what they think when you ask them, Hey, if we were to create a community program, what elements, what you might, you want to see? Would you want to have a chat group? Would you want to have events? Would you want to be invited to meet our product team? What would matter to you? And let them direct where things go. That doesn't mean you have to do everything that they ask of you, but the signals will be pretty strong when you start asking people what it is that would benefit them.

don't assume that you know what it is because you may, but you may not. And better to ask the people who actually care. So I think that's a good place to start. Even if you have a small team, if you have a product, chances are there are people who are using it. If there are people who are using it, hopefully you have people who like it. And that's really all that you need to get started.

Ken Babcock (17:05.44)

So what you're telling me is maybe if you're the California DMV, you don't start a community.

Joshua Zerkel (17:11.482)

Yeah, I think the places where I would avoid starting a community are if you have a product or service that people either really don't like or I think perhaps even worse don't care about. Like there needs to be some level of this is something I use because I need to or I have to. Hopefully there's the added layer of I need to or have to and I like it. But if this is something that is just unfortunately if you're offering is something that people are

inert about, or actively don't like, maybe don't start with the community. Maybe I would start on like, how do we, how do we better go to market in a way that encourages people to like what we do?

Ken Babcock (17:55.735)

fair. I think you probably have other existential questions before.

Joshua Zerkel (17:59.946)

Yeah, there are other things going on that you might want to focus on first before trying to engender some community feels and results. I would probably begin with those.

Ken Babcock (18:06.975)

Yep. Yeah.

I agree. So with this extension of the team, I think there's always this trade-off of, OK, hey, we're extending our own internal team a little bit with these external community members, users. Internal team members, you have a little bit more control. You have a little bit more context, maybe. Obviously, you're creating great documentation, and you're creating great content for them to repurpose. But there's probably some pitfalls to that approach, too.

there's probably maybe some watch outs where, yeah, we're, you know, we're going to trust you with this, but you do lose a little bit of that control. So, so what, what are the common watch outs that you'd highlight for, for listeners?

Joshua Zerkel (18:52.542)

Yeah, so I love community. It can do all sorts of things. And by and large, it's wonderful, but it's also unpredictable. Unpredictable in the sense that as it turns out, you're dealing with people and people are unpredictable. And so I think the biggest mistake I see teams make when they're thinking of launching or starting a community program, especially from the marketing perspective, is treating it like it's any other marketing initiative. For those of you who are not marketers, most marketing initiatives work like this.

We create something, people see it, and then they take an action, and then we don't really see them again because they're doing whatever that action is. In the world of community, we do something, community responds, and then we have to continue the conversation. So think of this as ongoing relationship building, not a set it and forget it type of strategy. So I think the first pitfall is just recognizing that if you decide to build a community, internal or external,

Think of this as a, we started and we never end it. It's never done because if we're doing it well, it continues to grow and people are engaged. Engagement means you need to spend time from the company side, stoking those fires. Yes, at some point you will get enough community members that a lot of this will become self-sustaining, but you always need to manage it. That's part of the job of the community team. The other thing that I think is harder for most folks to understand when they are starting a community program.

is I, as an example, can have a launch that happens at Asana. I can equip community members with advanced information. I can give them a tool set so that they're ready to talk about it. I can't make them like it. And part of what makes a community program great is authenticity. If people do like something, I want them to talk about it to their network, online, offline, in ways that feel authentic to them and their voice. The flip side is

Ken Babcock (20:44.111)


Joshua Zerkel (20:46.754)

people aren't gonna like every single thing all of the time. And people, oftentimes our biggest advocates, will say when they don't like something. And that feedback is as valid as when they do. And so you have to go into launching a community program knowing that while you can do your very best to equip people with the positive messaging, to help deflect any negative messaging that might come out, that doesn't mean everyone's gonna have something positive to say all of the time. That actually...

to me, lends credence to why community is so great because it's totally authentic. It's not just marketing messages, it's real people saying real things, but that can be a very bitter pill for a company to swallow when they see their biggest advocates saying that they're not happy with something that has been released or a change that's been made. But that is part of the deal that you make when you.

Ken Babcock (21:39.255)

Yeah. And you've, and you've created a safe enough space and trust that people feel comfortable saying that, which I think is important. Excuse me if I'm applying a little bit of a marketing lens here, but you know, based on what you described with sort of that long-term relationship in that ongoing conversation, what are the metrics that you care about? Like how, how do you, when it's, when it's time to, you know, report in and say, Hey, here's how, here's how his community is going.

Joshua Zerkel (21:46.126)

That's right.

Joshua Zerkel (22:08.354)


Ken Babcock (22:08.707)

What are the things that you're pointing to and what are the metrics that you're saying? Hey, this is how we should care about it. Not, not like a conversion funnel.

Joshua Zerkel (22:16.386)

That's right. So this is where things get both interesting and complicated in the world of community building. There is no agreed upon set of metrics for what you should be tracking with your program. I think this really depends on the company, where community sits within your organization and what the goals that you're trying to ladder up to. So that's all context for how I think about metrics generally within a program itself, I look at two types of metrics. First, there's.

what I call program health metrics, which for me, my program has three pillars. There's the ambassador program, which is membership. There are events, and then there's the community forum. Each of these pillars has metrics that indicate how well the program itself is performing. So for instance, I have metrics that are tied to how many new ambassadors we recruit each fiscal year, how many events and how many attendees come to each of our events.

how many people are being added to the forum during a given year. So these things tell us like, is the program itself, is it driving more engagement in the program? That's great, but literally my team is the only one that cares about that. What the rest of the business cares about are the results that getting those health metrics up drive. So for us, because of what our program is designed to do, it's really designed to get people

actively using Asana and sharing it amongst their team. So we look at metrics that really matter to the rest of the business, like do people that engage in the ambassador program retain better? Do their accounts grow? If people attend an event about a specific feature, do they use that feature more in the 30 days following the event than they did prior? So these are things that the rest of the business is actively trying to move as well.

Ken Babcock (23:56.167)


Joshua Zerkel (24:08.638)

So it's, I think for anyone putting together a community program, it's really critical to figure out not just how do we get more people in our program, you need to do that, but so what? What is it that you are driving towards? And you need to have both of those and hold both of those types of metrics at the same time.

Ken Babcock (24:29.187)

You know, you've probably in that ambassador program, you've probably moved past the point where you're writing down the people that are excited, you know, especially with the scale that Asana has. And so, you know, a lot of what you're probably trying to do is make that ambassador program attractive. And so what are some ways maybe that you've gotten people more deeply involved with the ambassador program? How have you structured it such that

Uh, you know, it's not maybe this one by one recruitment, but you know, people look at that and they see it on a pedestal and they want to be part of it.

Joshua Zerkel (25:04.61)

So we have many strategies for getting people to come into the program. In the early days it was like a one by one handpicked invite people in and that may be the case for many community programs for a very long time depending on the size and the scale of what it is that you're trying to drive. For us, like our job is scale, like growth. And so we have...

A few different ways that we invite people in and get new people to find out about our program. Some of it is through our events, which are designed for scale. Some of it is if you use our product, after you reach a certain combination, secret sauce of using different features for a certain amount of time, you'll receive a notification that says you are ready to become an ambassador, come and sign up. And then we also do periodic email and social promotion of the program too. And there's no one way.

or one time that we know works for certain, but we know that once people are aware of the program, they wanna join it. And so getting ambassadorship in the hands of our customer success team and sales team and them talking about it with the people they're speaking with is also really powerful. So I think for anyone growing a community program, don't think there's only gonna be one way that people find their way in. Think of all the different touch points that you have with your customers, again, internal or external.

and think about how you can surface what you're building in the places where your people already are.

Ken Babcock (26:29.847)

And are there key benefits for those ambassadors? Like, what would you say that keeps people around, gets people excited to be part of the program? What are those benefits?

Joshua Zerkel (26:41.046)

I think there's a few things that Asana is a product. People who join communities like Asana's are generally very interested in the product as it turns out. And so for these people, a lot of it is that behind the scenes access, it's resources and tools to talk about Asana, the product with their teams. It's being invited to members only events. It's access to be able to connect with one another. So we have a private Slack group and we have a private Slack, a private forum thread just for ambassadors.

Ken Babcock (26:49.741)


Joshua Zerkel (27:10.538)

We also give ambassadors the opportunity to help showcase their expertise and their knowledge by leading conversations with other folks. So it's really about people, one, enjoying the product and learning more about it. For other people, it's about making sure that they have an opportunity to showcase their knowledge and raise their profile as an Asana expert. And for others, it's just being aware of more things that are happening and more ways to use the tool.

because they're hearing about it from other community members and can chat with them. So I think for people it really varies. I'm a big believer in the buffet model where I don't really know what people want to eat when they come to my restaurant, but I know if I have enough different things, someone's going to find something that they like on this buffet.

Ken Babcock (27:55.159)

Yep, yeah, that's great. And have you seen any sort of long-term effects of building these relationships, creating this level of engagement and involvement? What are maybe some unexpected things that have happened in the course of your career?

Joshua Zerkel (28:13.438)

yeah, this is what I love about this sort of relationship based education, relationship based marketing is as it turns out, you build relationships with people. And so I have made some really good friends from the ambassador program actually, all around the world, because I I've gone and done events where I've hosted ambassadors there and gotten to know people in the prep for an event at the event after the event, and we stay in touch. And, you know, even though

Ken Babcock (28:28.495)


Joshua Zerkel (28:42.154)

we started with this germ of an interest in Asana the product. As it turns out, community is really powerful. Even for me as the community builder and leader, I'm still part of it too, and I still wanna have conversations with people. And I think the biggest surprise for me is even in a very professional setting, like what we've built, there's still room for the personal relationships to evolve and develop too. And it's not just for me, we've actually seen people who've been in the ambassador program.

meet in the program and then go into business together. And so there's just so many possibilities that happen when you give people who are like-minded or share an interest the opportunity to connect. You don't know what's going to happen, but things will.

Ken Babcock (29:13.673)


Ken Babcock (29:24.895)

Yeah, that's really cool. Have you hired anybody from the community?

Joshua Zerkel (29:29.058)

We actually did. So when Asana was still much smaller, part of the way, one of the ways we used community was as kind of the tip of the spear when we were testing out different markets. And we did a series of community events in Tokyo about five years ago, before we had a presence in Japan, before Asana was localized into Japanese. And we had a community member there who was like a super fan and they offered to be the trainer at these events that we were hosting.

Ken Babcock (29:40.111)


Ken Babcock (29:57.324)


Joshua Zerkel (29:58.158)

And eventually that person became our first CS hire in Japan. Yeah. So you never know what's gonna happen. It's great.

Ken Babcock (30:02.767)

That's amazing. That's really special. Yeah, no, I mean, it's, you know, I don't know if you guys consider Notion a competitor, but if you read about the way that they've built community, they hired someone who was a Notion super user, this guy, Ben Lang. He knew what a lot of those community members were looking for, and so he built that community. So I think it totally makes sense.

Any other, you know, sort of unexpected wisdom you've gathered along the way or, you know, surprises that have kind of come about with the work that you've done just to, to kind of wrap up our discussion on community.

Joshua Zerkel (30:45.066)

Yeah, I think for me, one of the things I like about leading community programs is I like connecting with people. I'm naturally very introverted and so this is a way for me to get out of that shell and force myself to really be with and in front of people all the time. But it's really, it's really created a lot of really interesting and amazing benefits, not just for me personally, although that's part of it, but really unexpected things for Asama the company. Whether it's...

we hire someone from the community program, or we get a really good idea for a way that we can craft a marketing message, or we let people see what's happening and they get way more excited about what we're developing than we thought they would be. So you never know what direction it's going to take, how things are going to go, but by and large, it's usually really good. And I think when you build a community program with really good intent of not just like, how do we sell to these people, but how do we fold?

people, real users, real customers, into the way that we do business and make it really customer-centric, really good things happen. But you don't know what it's gonna be.

Ken Babcock (31:53.891)

That's awesome. And maybe my last question is not necessarily specific to community, but obviously Tango, we're in the business of documentation, sharing knowledge. I love the piece that you talked about where it's like, how do we equip our community with the right resources, the right training, the right documentation? I'm curious.

What form do those take? You know, what formats, you know, how are you disseminating information to your community and what have you found over time has been, has become more effective?

Joshua Zerkel (32:26.826)

Yeah, really good question. So when it comes to the types of content that we create, it's kind of, again, the buffet approach. I don't know what's gonna resonate with people, so we kind of create everything within reason. So usually we create like a one-pager PDF. We typically have a short video. Again, we have a longer webinar that's more in-depth where they get to meet the team behind it. We usually have short social clips, and that might be something about the feature and how to use it.

It might be like, here's something exciting that you can do with it. And I think we've seen an evolution of people requesting like really long form content, whether it's like a long doc or a long video, nobody wants that anymore. Cause nobody has the time to consume it. And so I think, especially for the folks who are watching or listening, I come from a world where I loved creating exhaustive sets of documentation.

Ken Babcock (33:13.231)

I'm going to go ahead and turn it off.

Joshua Zerkel (33:26.11)

I used to do productivity consulting and so I really loved helping people create a system or process and then really documenting the whole thing. No one would ever read these things but I really loved creating them but it doesn't matter if you're consumerism consuming the content. And so I think things have shifted so much just the way that we consume content as humans now there's just a shorter attention span. And so mapping content length and...

Ken Babcock (33:37.135)

I'm sorry.

Joshua Zerkel (33:53.314)

just the format to how people actually consume it is important. So like at Asana, we're constantly talking about ways, especially for our educational oriented content, how do we make it shorter? How do we make it more digestible? And that might mean taking a 30 minute video and chopping it into 30 second segments or one minute segments so it's more digestible for people. And that's something that even on the community side, we're constantly developing.

Ken Babcock (34:18.687)

Yeah. And I'm sure people listening are thinking, Oh, but like, there's so much context, there's so much nuance. And I think what you're saying is, is maybe not necessarily strip it down to the bare bones, you know, cause people still need to get to a certain place with the documentation where they know what they're doing, but you know, really think about how can that information be applied in the moment because of those short attention spans, nobody wants to read the preamble.

You know, people just want to get down to business. Um, you know, I always, uh, I always joke about, uh, when we were at Harvard business school, they open all the case studies with this like long preamble that makes no sense. It's like, Oh, the CEO was sitting by the window looking out on a dreary day. I was like, Oh my gosh, like, why do I have to read this? And I think a lot of people have that reaction to exhaustive documentation, even if

created with the best intentions. It is truly exhaustive and comprehensive. People just wanna get down to business.

Joshua Zerkel (35:21.182)

Yeah, I mean, I think even for me, I love consuming content, but I have no time. And so what I'm looking for is probably what everyone is looking for is what are the essentials? Give me the essentials. And if I need to go deeper, show me where and how to find that information. Don't assume that I need all of it upfront, because I may not. In fact, even if I may need it, I don't have the time to see it right now. So I think it's shifting our mindset into how do we be exhaustive?

to how do we give enough just in time so that the person who needs it has what they need at the time when they need it, and just enough so that they're interested in learning more later, but not right now.

Ken Babcock (36:01.183)

Yep. I mean, hey, we're the working generation that was raised on Cliff Notes and Spark Notes. And we want to know what's critical. And then, hey, if we want to read the book, we'll do that. So that brings up my last question. I teased it a little bit at the beginning, but what's something you're reading, listening, watching right now that you'd want to share with the audience?

Joshua Zerkel (36:12.558)

That's right.

Joshua Zerkel (36:24.018)

Yeah, so I have become like a grandparent where I am an article reader and an article sender, much to the chagrin of everyone in my network. If we still had like paper magazines and newspapers, I would probably be clipping things out all the time and sending them to people. But I actually still am very interested in the world of like general tech oriented productivity. Like I read

Joshua Zerkel (36:54.218)

Really, I would frame it as positively oriented, productivity oriented content, because I believe we can all be better and do better, and whatever better means to you is completely up to you, but I'm always looking for these little tweaks to make things easier, faster, better, more efficient. So a lot of the things that I read are related to that. I read a lot of blogs around, well, I do a lot of business travel, so I'm always interested in what are the latest adapters? So I read this crazy blog called Too Many Adapters.

Ken Babcock (37:23.826)


Joshua Zerkel (37:24.05)

All sorts of random stuff that just helps me live a mechanically better day-to-day life.

Ken Babcock (37:30.567)

Yeah, and it gives you some time back. I mean, that's music to my ears. I mean, that's why we built the productivity tool.

Joshua Zerkel (37:32.984)


Joshua Zerkel (37:39.51)

Yeah, I think, you know, in our world of work, it can really be easy to feel overwhelmed. And I also believe that on the flip side of that, there's lots of small things, small changes that we can make that help put us back in the driver's seat. And so even as an already organized person, I'm always looking for not the next great thing, but like, what's the small thing that I can do to make things more effective for me?

Ken Babcock (38:05.208)


Well, we'll connect offline on that because I need some help in certain areas. But Josh, thanks so much for joining us on the podcast. I think there's so many insights here that the audience is going to be able to take away. So really appreciate your time. We're big Asana users at Tango. And so if folks are, you know, considering different platforms, highly encourage you give us on a look, but thanks again.

Joshua Zerkel (38:35.554)

Thanks Ken, thanks everyone for listening and feel free to find me on LinkedIn. I'm happy to chat with anyone who's curious.

Ken Babcock (38:41.807)


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