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SPI 677: How Gesche Haas Accidentally Created the Best Community

Bringing people together and fostering uplifting relationships is one of the most valuable services you can offer. That’s why, at SPI, we’re all-in on creating powerful online community experiences and sharing what we discover along the way.

Today’s chat with Gesche Haas of Dreamers & Doers is an incredible learning opportunity for anyone who’s made or aspires to create an online community. Her award-winning community has been going strong for nearly a decade, supporting women entrepreneurs and leaders. Today, Gesche shares her inspiring continent-spanning journey and the tools and mindset that have made her membership business a success!

We cover a lot of ground in this episode. Gesche and I discuss attracting new members without being salesy, crafting an effective application process, onboarding, and more. We also explore monetization strategies, virtual events, and the value of trusting your gut.

This is a fantastic conversation about organic community growth, so tune in and enjoy. And, if this interview inspires you, be sure to check out our community challenge to help you get started. It’s going to be a blast!

Today’s Guest

Gesche Haas

Gesche Haas is the CEO and Founder of Dreamers & Doers, an award-winning community and PR team amplifying extraordinary women entrepreneurs and leaders. Dreamers & Doers has built a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem of over 35,000 women globally and is one of the most long-standing community businesses, launching nearly 10 years ago.

Gesche’s views on the tech space and beyond have been featured on Bloomberg TV, CNNMoney, The New York Times, Huffington Post, Business Insider, Forbes, Fortune Magazine, Refinery29, Broadly/Vice, and other major media outlets, as well as at the United Nations, where she spoke during the sixtieth session of the Commission on the Status of Women. Gesche was also awarded ‘Forbes Next 1000,’ ‘VOTY 100 Community Builder’ by BlogHer, ‘Empowered Woman of the Year’ by WWD/Variety/Ciroc, ‘The Buildies Profitability Award’ by Calm Company Fund, ‘Best Remote CEO’ by RemoteRated, ‘New York Talent Cultivators’ by Techweek, and ‘Best of Tech’ on Twitter by CB Insights.

Prior to founding Dreamers & Doers, Gesche held senior positions at several venture-backed startups in roles covering growth, strategy, finance, operations, and business development. She also spent five years as an investor at a healthcare-focused hedge fund (~$3bn AUM, SAC spin-off). Gesche is half German, half Chinese-Malaysian, and was born in Swaziland, Africa.

You’ll Learn


SPI 677: How Gesche Haas Accidentally Created the Best Community

Gesche Haas: We tell everyone, like, once you apply, like you are committed, essentially. And then you submit your payment info as part of the application. And they don’t get charged, but as part of the application. But if we make it very clear that once they get accepted, that day, they get charged. And the thing is, like, we want people who are committed, right? So that helps us just suss out our people who are serious versus like, oh, maybe I wanna try it out. It’s, like, the application in itself actually takes quite a time to, to fill out. And also sometimes people will not submit payment, and I’d say 80% or 90% of the people who don’t submit payment are also the people who will never submit payment.

Pat Flynn: Today’s guest accidentally built an incredibly successful community, and this is a really amazing story because it really shows that any of us can step up and create a community that not only generates revenue on her business, but helps a load of people too. And today we’re talking with Gesche Haas, who is the founder of Dreamers & Doers at And her community, the way it started it and the way she manages it, the way she prices it, the way she lets people in, onboarding, everything, she spills it for us today. And it’s awesome because I got inspired by this. In fact, we at SPI are all about community and so to have Gesche on to tell us about hers is amazing. In fact, I found her on the Circle page.

We are big fans of Circle. We use Circle for SPI Pro and inside of our All-Access Pass, and I saw Gesche as a testimonial on the circle page and did a little research and I was like, this woman is absolutely impressive, I gotta get her on the show. And she was happy to join us. So without further ado, here is Gesche Haas. You can find her at You’re gonna love this. This is awesome.

Announcer: You’re listening to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, a proud member of the Entrepreneur Podcast Network, a show that’s all about working hard now, so you can sit back and reap the benefits later. And now your host, he makes a mean instant pot Hawaiian Kalua pork. Pat Flynn.

Pat Flynn: Gesche, welcome to the Smart Passive Income Podcast. Thank you so much for joining me today.

Gesche Haas: I’m so excited to be here.

Pat Flynn: I’m excited that you’re here too. I know that you have an incredible story as far as your upbringing and, and that having a very big impact on what you do now. So why don’t we start there.

Tell us about your upbringing and how that molded you into who you are today.

Gesche Haas: Yes. So I was born in the Kingdom of Swaziland, which is now called Eswatini. So I was born in Africa. My dad did development aid for the German government. So we moved around a lot, but, so that’s where my journey began. Then I moved from Africa to Germany to Malaysia, to Singapore, to Germany, to Beijing, to Hong Kong, New York, and now out of all places Wyoming. And I’m also, and I’m half German and half Chinese Malaysian, in addition to that.

Pat Flynn: Wow. That’s a lot of places. I mean, those are places I, I want to visit one day. And how, how, like at what age had you visited like that many countries?

I’m, I’m trying to get a, cuz you know, I just lived in one lo two locations when I was like, up until I left for college. So that, that’s all I knew. I’m curious, like, how, how many countries did you visit, visit at, at a young age? Like, what did that do to you as a person? How, how did you find that? Was it easy? Was it hard? Was it interesting?

Gesche Haas: So a lot of these countries, and a lot of these moves happened before I was a full adult. So we would move every two to four years. So that’s all I knew. Constant change, constant moving. And then even while we lived abroad, we would travel a lot. So we, we spared a lot of countries within Asia and I think for me that was just like changed by seeing people who are so different was just the default. And I think it’s shaped me in the way that I just perceive a lot of realities that, and that I see that there’s so much possible in the sense that I think that that’s what shaped me as a founder. Like if I see that something isn’t working out for me, I think that things can be different because I’ve seen so many different scenarios that’s literally like what my upbringing was and also relating to other.

I think I can relate to a very wide range to people, but everything also has a flip side. So for better or worse, I, and I try to not judge myself with that, but I feel like I’m better at making quick friends. But I’m not so great at staying in touch or, or going super deep sometimes because I was just always so used to ever changing environments and ever changing friends.

Pat Flynn: That makes sense. And, and that’s interesting cuz as a founder, that that’s definitely an amazing characteristic to have is just the ability to adapt quickly and to learn about people really fast so that you can create for them. But now you have this incredible community with like 30,000 women all over the world who, who stay connected now for long term with you.

And I’m curious, like how did you make the shift into the digital world of community? I, I just find it so fascinating cuz it’s like in real life you were spread out and you were across all these different places. But now here you are in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and now you have this community that you’re now attracting people to this one spot that you’ve created.

What was your journey like into the digital space? I’m curious.

Gesche Haas: Yes. So I think it’s probably, my guess is very different from a lot of people you have on your podcast. So Dreamers & Doers, which is the name of my community, started 10 years ago and it actually first started offline and it was a very happy accident.

So I myself, I wan’t a digital native other than maybe on a personal level, but I had worked in finance. I had worked at a few early stages companies and found myself being in the early stages of being a founder for the very first time. And I quickly realized that nothing I had done before prepared me.

Quite treacherous journey of having to figure out everything on your own, having existential fears. So as I was doing that and as my friends and family who weren’t entrepreneurs couldn’t relate, they constantly were like, when are you gonna get a real job again? Why are you working all the time? What are you working on?

Anyhow, I found my people, which were other entrepreneurial women, and at that time, not digital at all. And what we did is we met up over brunch and everything changed from that moment onwards. Once I found my people and once we got to connect and we gotta to talk about our businesses, we gotta support ourselves through our struggles.

It was the one thing I couldn’t stop working on, but it was all offline. So it was weekly, weekend brunches, and it grew organically from two to four to 10. And I even had people at the time say like, oh, you know, you’re working on these like business idea, but why don’t you work on this community instead?

And I was like, no, you’re crazy. It’s a community, it’s not a business. And in lo and behold, a year into like not being able to stop working on Dreamers & Doers while on the flip side, you know, the business ideas I was working on, I, I kept changing them. I couldn’t stick to them. I decided to go all in.

And that’s when we added the digital component. Very clumsily, admittedly. We added initially like a Facebook group and then we tried to figure out how to monetize and this so long before communities and monetized communities were a thing. So that’s how we started. Not very strategic in the early days, but it was a very a happy accident that has led us to where we are today.

And I’ll quickly also add, while our extended community has, at this point, over 35,000 women and consists of a jobs platform, our core community is closer to 700 to 800. And that’s like our paid community. That’s where we spend the majority of our time. 99% of our time we spend on our paid and slightly smaller community.

Pat Flynn: I love it. Thank you for that context. I love that origin story because that’s where real connections happen is often in person, right? And you got to know exactly who these women were and the language that they spoke, and that you were just like them. I think that’s really important. This is why I always try to encourage people to go out and meet people in person.

It was hard to do during the pandemic, of course, but that’s where a lot of my mastermind friends have come from, who I’ve been with for a decade now. And there’s just so magical that happens. And actually for a while I was actually hosting San Diego, which is where I’m from, an entrepreneurial meetup downtown once a month.

And just like you said, it’s like it started out with 10 people, then it was like 30 people, and this was a free thing, but it just, I think, proves how much we want to feel like we belong to something. And especially as an entrepreneur. I mean, you know this, your people know this, my people know this. It’s a very lonely place sometimes to be an entrepreneur.

And I mean, your parents seemed like they were a little bit more traditional, similar to mine, questioning your decisions to go into entrepreneurship. Like especially with, with the Asian descendant background, that’s very common. Like be a doctor, be a lawyer, like do all these things. When you find your people, you stick with them.

And then bringing that online I think was really smart. And I’m curious, the core group that you have, I believe it’s hosted on Circle, is it not?

Gesche Haas: Yes. Yes. And that’s how I discovered you first. So yes, we were on Facebook and for the longest time we wanted to switch, especially being a premium community, it just wasn’t a good look being on Facebook. And the functionality, giving the whole team like community, PTSD for like so many reasons. And then we, we kept exploring all the platforms and we just, cause we wanted to only switch if it was really, you know, if the juice was gonna be worth the squeeze. And then once we found Circle, we know it was it.

And then we just waited till they launched a few additional things and then switched over and have never looked back.

Pat Flynn: I’m just gonna tell you like, sell me, I’m not a woman, so I probably wouldn’t make sense for your community, but sell me your course. How do you position it? How, how do you position your community?

What are the things that you offer and how do you convince a person who may be just getting introduced to you and your brand? This idea of, of what is behind this paywall and, and Dreamers & Doers. I know it’s amazing, but why don’t you sell it to us and and tell us like the benefits of it.

Gesche Haas: I’m super excited to do this and I’ll also give the fun caveat that we actually never sell. I’m really proud in some ways, and I mean there’s no right or wrong, but like the fiber of our community is that we really invest in our members and the experience, and then the members are the people who sell for us because our curation is actually a really big part of us.

So we, if we got all the wrong people, that would be, I mean, first of all, they wouldn’t get accepted, but that also wouldn’t be in our interest so it’s kind of like a fun thing to mention and I’m happy to dive in more like how we do that and, and what we don’t do. But working is Dreamers & Doers. So Dreamers & Doers is, we like saying, an award-winning community and PR team that amplifies extraordinary women entrepreneurs and leaders.

And we stand out that we have this really curated process where like if you join, you’ll find your people. You have this really high hit ratio of finding very high caliber, impressive, and values driven women where one plus one can equal a hundred, right? Like if you’re in the room with the right people and you have the right infrastructure, so much is possible.

And that’s what we make possible with the community. The right people are in the room and the, all the different ways to connect with them and amplify each other. On purpose, we curate also for diversity because, so we aren’t, don’t have an industry or stage focus necessarily because we find that as an entrepreneur, like the questions and the needs that you have can evolve so much.

So just having a community that supports that is really crucial. And then a core, core part of what we do is PR because, for better or worse, found that sometimes as a woman needing external validation can be more important than for most men. In terms of like if you wanna get investors, partners, sometimes even believing in yourself, like just that external validation makes an exponential difference for women.

So we’ve seen that just level the playing field on a micro level on women individually, but we also highly invest in that because we think it creates systemic change. But changing who and what gets portrayed in the media. We are rewriting the future. So that’s why when someone joins as a member, you get PR for a fraction of the price, then it would be for a PR agency.

And oftentimes you pay multiple thousands of dollars for a PR agency with wow results. So for us it’s like high results and low cost. So super high ROI in terms of our end community.

Pat Flynn: Yeah, I mean that’s almost even, even for just the PR part alone is almost like a no-brainer, not to mention the community and being in the right room with the right women.

Can you get more specifi about the PR stuff, if you’re willing to do so? This might be proprietary, so you don’t, you don’t have to, but tell me about what that exactly means?

Gesche Haas: So we take an agile approach in the sense that what, what we don’t offer is like we won’t go out for you and pitch a specific story to a bunch of different outlets.

There is a lot of value in that. It’s also like highly costly and also questionable how many results you get. What we do is we take a streamlined approach, so we have existing relationships to very high caliber partners ranging from NASDAQ to Thrive, to Blocker, to Create and Cultivate and various others.

And we highly invest in these relationships. And we will do a mix of either Roundup articles, so we’ll do topics that someone can contribute to. And usually you’ll have a called 95% chance that you will be featured if you contribute. And then we have a staff in-house. Like the former head editor of The Muse and a lot of others who will do quality control, who will edit it, we’ll make sure that everything’s on point that you’ve mentioned, and then you’ll get featured and then you have this opportunity to share the article.

We’ll also create personalized images. You can include the logos on your website. It just really helps for momentum, creating social proof and, and a lot of different things. That’s wonderful. Not as much, but we also do a few individual spotlights. That’s part of it. In addition, so that’s like the core of what we call a PR hype machine.

But we also source podcast opportunities. We source speaking opportunities in various others like we, so we go through the TEDx web website to all like the heavy lifting. So all of that also is part of what we offer.

Pat Flynn: Wow, that’s an amazing service to offer, for sure. That sounds, that sounds great. While we’re here, can you just tell everybody where to go and check out Dreamers & Doers really quick in case they’re curious?

Gesche Haas: Yes, so it’s our website, which is That’s our website. You’ll find all the info. We accept members once a quarter and we’d be so honored to receive an application if this sounds aligned to you.

Pat Flynn: That’s awesome. So, Application. We have an application for our higher level community, SPI Pro.

Tell me about your, you, you mentioned it a little bit, right? Sort of filters and make sures the right people are in there, in there. How did you define what the right people is in your application process or for your application process? Tell me about that.

Gesche Haas: So for us, it’s one individuals that can contribute and individuals that want to contribute, and that’s where the impressive and values aligned comes in, right?

So we take a human first approach and a curation. So we oftentimes, because the curation part is one of the hardest things we do, but also the most important things. So real talk. Sometimes we go in and be like, Oh, should we evolve this process, make it simpler? Should we just look at number of years of experience or you know, total amount of revenue.

But we keep coming back to like looking at each individual application. So someone, once we accepted the youngest member ever, and she was 20 at that time, but when she had a first seven figure business when she was 18, or another example is a founder who’s very, very early stage in her skincare line, but her last company had a hundred million valuation.

So we really take a that approach of like, oh, How do they have some sort of experience where they can actually help others and they aren’t, you know, just graduated and have no business experience. And the other part is like, do they actually want to contribute? Cause someone might be so impressive on paper, but if they just want to take, take, take, right, they wouldn’t be a good fit. So depending on the person and depending on what they write cuz we have our questions really, like we’ve teased them out to kind of like have people open up. And, and, and also the, the questions asked like, in what ways are you going to contribute so we can the process itself, the application itself weeds out a lot of people, but if we cannot see a few red flags, we might reach out to someone who’s a mutual connection for reference.

So we do that on a case by case basis as well.

Pat Flynn: That’s super helpful. When a person is accepted, how are you moving forward from there, is there any sort of, okay, now it’s up to them whether or not they want to continue forward or have they already paid prior to the application and then get a refund? Like what are the mechanics of that?

Gesche Haas: We tell everyone, like, like once you apply, like you are committed essentially, and then you submit your payment info as part of the application and they don’t get charged, but as part of the application. But if we make it very clear that once they get accepted, that day, they get charged. And the thing is, like I think if we had a lower price point, maybe we’d do it differently.

But like, we want people who are committed, right? So that helps us just suss out our people who are serious versus like, oh, maybe I wanna try it out. It’s like, you know, like the application in itself actually takes quite a time to, to fill out. So we like, right, just setting it up that way and, and also sometimes people will not submit payment and I’d say 80% or 90% of the people who don’t submit payment are also the people who will never submit payment.

Pat Flynn: That’s really smart. I, I really like that.

Gesche Haas: And I also think people who don’t submit payment, like if they do end up joining like the, like, they just aren’t gonna be as committed to the community and to fellow members. So it just might not be the right time for them or not the right community.

Pat Flynn: You do, you do need to have, a person have some skin in the game in order to actually contribute and feel like, you know, there’s something at stake there even so I, I think that’s really smart. What is the price point of the community at this point?

Gesche Haas: So we charge quarterly or annually, and it’s either 675 per quarter or 2,250 per year, and it’s about to increase. So we like as, you know, we always increase it for new members as we add our to our offerings. So that’s happening after the next quarter.

Pat Flynn: We’ve done the same thing.

Gesche Haas: So when, when anytime you wanna apply, like just know that at some point it’ll increase, or whatever price you’re seeing right now, you get to lock that in. So don’t wait too long if you know that this is the right thing for you.

Pat Flynn: Wonderful. Person applies, they get in, they get charged, they’re happy, they’re excited.

How do you welcome new members? You bring people in per quarter. I’m curious to know how you manage that and get people excited and, and you know, essentially train them to start engaging right away. Tell us, tell us what the onboarding process is like.

Gesche Haas: So first, In my mind, the onboarding starts with them coming on our website, them looking at the application and then filling out the application.

So that’s why we kind of like designed the application where like we actually have them opt into our values and then you can be see drop offs. You know, some people are probably like, oh, this is silly, or like, this is not like my jam. Right. Like, and it helps us, like, first of all, one in the same person might behave differently in our community because we structured it that way and it’s, we are people that might not be a good fit.

So onboarding starts before they even get accepted. Then we welcome them. And like many other communities, we obviously have like an onboarding flow that shares with them, like what our core offerings are. We always offer welcome calls, a total of two per quarter, and it’s two different opportunities to join.

That involves like an overview as well as a way to get to know them, each other. And yeah, those are the core parts. And then we have a series of like ongoing events that we kind of schedule in a way that they can join them short after they have joined. And then we also do like check-in emails. Like because we are a high-touch community, all members have access to our membership concierge, who’s like a serial founder who’s raised capital.

So like a very high caliber person that they have access to any, anytime one-on-one to support them. So we also make sure that they get those invites to connect with our membership concierge during that beginning phase. And throughout their journey.

Pat Flynn: That’s wonderful. You had just mentioned events. What kind of events do you host in there and how do you get people to show up for them?

I’m curious.

Gesche Haas: Yes, so we host roughly close to a hundred per year, and it’s a mix of either educational or connection focused. And we also do annual surveys. So with the annual survey we can see like, oh, we asked people like, how many events have you actually attended? The truth is that, and I would guess that this is applicable to many communities, but like it’s only a certain percentage of members that actually attend.

And I think especially for demographic like ours, that’s just so busy. You’re a founder, you’re a woman on average, and maybe this is like bias, but I guess we all arise, but like, you know, if, if you have kids and, and all of that, like you just like have a lot of demands on your time. So people just don’t have that much time for events.

And I think for every community, it’s helpful to include events because it, it, it helps give them the opportunity to join. It helps them in maybe in some ways also like see the value for the price, but I would, like it’s never a goal of ours to be like, oh, all our members have to attend all these events because we know that they get so much value also from the pr, so much value from our curated resources that, yeah, I mean they do join events, but it’s not like core KPI where we are like, oh, we need to have 80% of our members join all the events.

Yeah. But the mix would be to answer the question like educational, and we only feature members for the educational events, so it’s a perk to our members. That they get to be featured. And for the connection events, we like using a woman founded company called Gatherround, which is really fantastic. And another, not only woman founded, but member company is called Orbiit, O R B I I T, which is a software that allows you to connect members.

One-on-one for 30 minutes once a month or however often you want.

Pat Flynn: Oh, that’s fantastic. Thank you for those resources. The event thing is interesting in our community as well, because like you, I mean, we have a worldwide audience. Everybody’s busy. They’re, they’re founders, entrepreneurs as well, so we try to focus on what they’re going to learn.

And what they’re gonna take away from that moment. And if they happen to be able to come live, that’s just kind of like a bonus versus like we used to do, here’s a live event. Like, don’t miss it. And people would miss it and just be like, oh, well I’m not getting value here cuz I, I miss the thing when really it’s still massively valuable even after the fact.

So we’ve been trying to reposition that and that’s been working really well for us.

Gesche Haas: Framing is so important, like how you frame anything, right? Like you can turn a bug into a feature, right? You can make them feel bad for not having joined or you can like reword it slightly, reposition it. And I think for communities nearly more than anything, like the framing can, can make such a difference in terms of like the value that’s perceived.

Pat Flynn: For sure. I do wanna get into how you sell without selling, but before we get into that, cuz that sounds very amazing. I’d love to know what maybe some of the growing pains have been. Every community starts somewhere and as they grow, you continue to uncover new challenges and new obstacles. What has been a hard thing as you’ve grown this community that you’ve learned to figure out or maybe are still in the middle of?

Gesche Haas: Yeah, so we’ve been doing this for 10 years and I’d say the most excruciating pain was in the early years, oftentimes when I was like a one woman show and just like working nonstop and also not trusting my gut enough. And also, you know, for the first two years we didn’t monetize and so burn entirely through or burnt through a lot of savings.

So you can imagine that was painful and there in the early days I would like try to get a lot of input from community members, and obviously I still do. The reason I’ve dedicated my life to this community is because I, you know, so deeply care about the women in our community. But in the early days I would like try to like, you know, do polls or like do these dinners and try to get input, and then the input would just be all over the place.

Or we’d ask concrete questions like, oh, should we monetize what you pay for this? And they’d be like, yes, you should. And I’d pay a dollar. And then so I realized like the hard way where like I have a good gut, right? Like otherwise I wouldn’t be doing this in the first place. And to actually not listen as much to what other people are thinking.

And that includes both community members as well as like other stakeholders. And just to go more on my whim, even if it’s the exact opposite of what some other people are thinking. And I think that made such a difference to just be like more unapologetic and then also obviously the more like we, we were became sustainable.

We had reoccuring revenue, we more than covered our cost. Being able to hire a team like that made such a difference. Now the problems look different now the problems are like scaling, training and all of that, but I would say it was more painful in the early days for me personally.

Pat Flynn: What was one example of one of those things? People were saying, or perhaps wanted, but you went with your gut instead.

Gesche Haas: So many things, or one thing was conferences. Everyone was always like, oh, you should do a conference. And that was more like a personal decision because I think as we build a company, if it’s a company or community like we in some ways like have so many options, so many decisions we can make for ourselves.

And it’s in some ways like this blessing, but in other ways also really hard. And some of these ideas could be great in terms of like make great business sense, but I think it needs to make sense to you as the founder, as the leader first and foremost, right? So even though maybe we could have made a lot of money with conferences, like it’s not something that excites me personally, I think.

Yeah, so it’s not just even strategically, does this make sense? But like, do I actually want to do this? Because if I don’t want to do this, I’m not gonna excel at this, or I don’t want to continue doing this. And yeah, so we didn’t do that. And for better or worse, like we’ve actually, last year it started like been getting acquisition offers.

And I’ve built a company in a way where like I’m like, I really like this company. I like the people I work with. I love our members. I love how I’ve structured this, that I didn’t continue pursuing the acquisitions or the offers that we got. That can potentially be a downside. Like if you build a company you love so much, you might get to a point where you’re like, I don’t actually wanna sell it, but I think it’s a good problem to have.

Pat Flynn: Gesche, thank you for that honesty and and vulnerability there. Let’s talk about selling into this community. It’s obviously doing very well. How are you bringing new people in? And, and you had mentioned earlier, you’re, you’re doing it without even being pitchy or selly. Tell us a story there. How’s that work?

Gesche Haas: And I think it also goes back to what is right for you? Like other people might love selling and who knows, maybe I’ll start another company that’s much more selling focused like the. Selling in itself isn’t necessarily wrong at all, but I think just thinking about like what’s the ethos of a community and what, what reflects that in terms of like infrastructure as well as like quote unquote marketing.

So for us, because we’re such a high-touch community, like we invest so much in the experience, and it’s also not something where like, because it’s, you know, a relatively large investment that someone might, you know, maybe see an ad for and be like, oh, I’m gonna apply, like people will want to do their due due diligence and more.

So they want to hear from people they trust, why they should join. So when people apply and we ask them like, how did you find out about it? Most often what we’ll hear is like, oh, I heard about it for like years from, for us, because let’s say we didn’t do that, we just focus on ads. Like people probably wouldn’t apply or the wrong people would apply.

So for us, like, because we care about people who want to be there, who are values aligned, like that is the right approach. And then there’s a few other organic things that we do that I always recommend other communities to do, where it’s like, because we are a curated community, members are proud to list it on their LinkedIn, right?

So LinkedIn is our biggest source of our platform where people find us. But members obviously wouldn’t list it if they weren’t proud, right? But like we do create the infrastructure where like we create, you know, a page that explains how they can add it and why they would add it. So we make it easy for them, but it’s our members who decide to want to show it off.

Pat Flynn: That’s amazing. Thank you for that. I am curious, when you have these quarterly promotions, or excuse me, quarterly sort of groups of people who come in, how are you, maybe you’re not necessarily selling, but you are priming people in some way. Like do they get on a wait list in between and then you kind of let them know that the doors are opening can, can you offer a little bit more insight into that?

Gesche Haas: So they can apply anytime. So we don’t close applications, but we do obviously receive like you have to, you have to apply by a certain deadline to be able to be included for a certain cohort and also to secure certain pricing. If we are increasing pricing shortly, and we do receive most applications like two weeks leading up to the deadline.

It just, it seems to be the standard for most communities who have a similar model. We don’t nec, like, we’re just literally, like for the very first time ever we posted something on Instagram, like, oh, deadline in two days and we did something on LinkedIn, but we hadn’t done that prior, but we probably should.

So we’ll do that going forward. One thing we do do is that we let our members know, The deadline’s coming up and we have a referral form. So while anyone can apply on the website, like obviously if someone gets referred from an existing member, we give it a lot more weight. So members, current members are primed that it’s coming up and we will soon be, you know, mentioning it a little bit more on our external channels which is would be a good best practice to have.

Pat Flynn: That’s really great. As we finish up here, Gesche, again, thank you so much for this. This is super insightful and I even have some new ideas that I’m gonna take to my team as well thanks to you, I’m excited to hear. What would be the one piece of advice you would offer for brand new community creators? If you want to tap into what it was like again, when you first started, and even though it was in person there, there are some challenges during that time.

And there’s a lot of limiting beliefs that a person might have when they’re about to bring their people together into a community. What advice would you offer somebody who might be struggling with a lot of those struggles at the start there.

Gesche Haas: To really realize that there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong answer and to invest in developing your own compass. For example, we have this long curation process, but that just works for us. Like I would actually highly like discourage it for like many other communities. So rather than focusing on like, oh, this one tactical thing that this one community that seems successful did like, just like who are you as a person?

Why are you doing this in the first place? Do you even want to be doing this in the first place? What would mean success for you? What would mean failure? Like cuz there is even a scenario on paper, you do really well, but you hate your life, right? Like, and to me at least, that is not success. So really sussing that out early on.

Cuz I can’t tell you like how much time I wasted in the early days questioning or looking at like what is the right thing to do? What should I do? If I’d just been, like, what do I want? What like downsides am I okay with, right? In the early days people would like nearly like devalue me because I hadn’t raised capital, because I didn’t do all these things and until I, myself then also like embrace it. I’m like, I, like we got opportunities to raise capital. We didn’t want to. And yes, maybe in some rooms I will be not like the coolest person. I’m totally okay with that. And now a lot of companies that had raised a lot at that time aren’t around anymore because, you know, they couldn’t hit milestones and then, you know, didn’t have a runway.

So I think it’s really developing your inner compass. And there’s so many ways to do it, but like in a really tactical level, like I do love journaling and just like literally at the end of the day being like, how do I feel? And just like you’ll notice certain things of like, Hey, I actually don’t like managing people.

Or like, Hey, I really don’t like conferences. Whatever y your things might be. But I think being really disciplined about that, like, just really, it’s like lead to exponential, like success, whatever success means for you. And I feel like we don’t invest enough in that.

Pat Flynn: I love that. That’s so key. You had mentioned some people maybe not wanting to build a big team.

When, when did your team, or when did you start building a team in this process and, and what does that look like now?

Gesche Haas: So in the early days I was probably too lean, but I think it’s really hard to like exactly define like what’s too lean. Like you always cannot adjust and course correct. The hardest hires for me were community hires, especially in our case because we care so much about them being high touch, being relatable, being like high caliber.

Also wanting to stay with the community and I think people underestimate how draining, emotionally draining it is to run community. So people we had like wouldn’t last and it’s just was a really, really hard hire. And I think also because I essentially was the key community person originally, it was hard to essentially like replace it, but that was just really hard.

My first hire who’s been, I’m really proud to say with the company for over five years was my right hand. Hannah, who is amazing and I think just like what are the tasks that you can, like delegate early on I think are super important to figure out. And I spent a lot of time training her in the early days.

It was painful in the early days, but it’s one of the best investments I’ve ever made. Because she’s just so familiar with the company. She’s also so committed. And one thing we do now, and it’s also has to do with like the type of company you wanna build, but the one thing I’m hyper optimizing for is a long-term fit.

Like, oh, if this person maybe could maybe do a better job short-term. Like, I’m like, will this person want to stay? I don’t wanna train someone up and then they leave. So that’s what we’ve optimized for and coverage of that. Multiple people can cover multiple roles and it’s just been so wonderful to have this company so committed that loves working so much for this company and that, yeah, we, we’ll be with this company for a really long time. And my, one of my super, my secrets that I’m happy to share is it’s called Magical Teams, which is actually one of our member companies, but they essentially have made hiring, like we press the easy button on hiring anytime we need to hire someone, we work through them.

And it’s just been so fun because they basically are experts in hiring. They run the entire process a cost lesson if I would’ve run it myself. Yeah. We, we love working with them for hiring and support.

Pat Flynn: Magical Teams was the name of it?

Gesche Haas: They’re so good.

Pat Flynn: Magical teams. I love how you’re also just amplifying your own members in that way.

That’s, that’s really key. And it just, it just shows how much you care about your people and that, and that’s been throughout this entire process and throughout this entire interview today. So, Gesche, thank you so, so much for this very insightful information and, and your energy. If you could tell people one more time where they can go to get access to your community and you on social, perhaps if, if you’d like to connect with them there, tell us all the things.

Gesche Haas: Yes. So is the website. We have our membership that you can obviously apply for, but we also have a monthly newsletter called The Digest that you’ll find and it’s free and we get a wonderful feedback on that. So, we’d be super excited to welcome you two either. And then me personally, I’m most active on Instagram where I share a little too much real talk.

So if you enjoyed that, you can find me there at @GescheHaas. Yes. So excited to be here.

Pat Flynn: We appreciate you. Thank you so much.

Gesche Haas: Thank you.

Pat Flynn: Hey, I hope you enjoy that interview with Gesche Haas. Again, you can find her at She’s incredible, and she just, first of all, Gesche, thank you so much for coming on and congratulations to you and your success.

And speaking of success, I want you, the listener to be successful with communities as well, and that’s why May, here in May of 2023, we’re dedicating a lot of effort into helping you build your community. We have a challenge. It’s coming out very soon, if not already, you can find it at

Again, Go there. You can read all about how exactly we’re gonna walk you through the process of getting your community started, and that’s in partnership with Circle, and it’s gonna be an amazing opportunity for you to finally get this go in mid-year or end of year, or beginning of next year, whatever you’re listening to, this.

We’re gonna have a blast. Thank you so much for listening. If you want the show notes and all the links mentioned here today in this episode with Gesche, all you have to do is go to and you’ll find the link to the challenge there as well. Again, one more time, No spaces, no dashes. That’s it. I appreciate you. Good luck and we’ll see you in the challenge. It’s gonna be a load of fun. Cheers. Oh, and it’s free. Yeah, that’s it.

Thank you so much for listening to the Smart Passive Income podcast at I’m your host, Pat Flynn. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. Our senior producer is David Grabowski, and our executive producer is Matt Gartland. The Smart Passive Income Podcast is a production of SPI Media, and a proud member of the Entrepreneur Podcast Network. Catch you next week!

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