The Power of Communities

Communities are powerful things.

In his book titled The Business of Happiness, Ted Leonsis identified being part of “Communities of Interest” as one of the six key tenets to happiness, and I completely agree.

Communities are everywhere, and it might just be second nature that you’re part of many of them.

Your workplace is a community. The neighborhood where you live is a community. Your alma mater is a community.

I’ve benefited greatly from being part of a bunch of communities.

I’ve gained a lot from being part of the DC tech and startup community, as the network I’ve built has helped me transition into my startup career and will certainly continue to help me as I mature as an entrepreneur.

My b-school alma mater, NYU Stern, has been so influential to my career as well, and the Stern DC Alumni group is an amazing gang of smart, helpful people.

The same goes with Georgia Tech alumni in the DC area.

I’m also a member of many online communities, primarily in the areas of business and podcasting. These definitely acted as support groups as I’ve navigated the startup and podcasting waters.

What’s more important than benefiting from communities is contributing to them. Venture capitalist Brad Feld says to “Give before you get.” I agree, and I believe that the more you put into a community, the more you get out of it, now and in the future.

I help organize Startup Weekend DC events, and I love helping budding entrepreneurs launch their startup idea. Not only do I get to interact with other entrepreneurs, which I love, but I also get to make many connections with people who I might work with down the road. Win win.

I also help put together NYU Stern DC events, and being able to bring together and connect with with smart, interesting people is a huge plus.

I play softball with my Georgia Tech friends, though I’m not sure if they would consider that “contributing.” 🙂

And I try as often as possible to contribute my ideas and opinions to help other entrepreneurs and podcasters in my online communities.

Think about the communities that you’re part of. How much are you contributing to them, and what are you getting out of them?

I’d love to hear from you. Write your thoughts in the comments, tweet at me @mikewchan, or email me at

I hope you found this interesting! If so, please share this article with the share buttons on the left. Then sign up for my email list below and connect with me on Twitter for future updates. And check out my podcast at!

2 thoughts on “The Power of Communities

  1. Mike, this blog is great. I followed your earlier push for a blog a day and very much enjoyed meeting you at the Washington Post start up weekend. I work with online communities and also emphasize the ubiquity of communities , as some are turned off by the word. I do observe that keeping communities active with good community management engagement strategies and offline face to face events seem to yield the best results in a work environment. It would be great to discuss more and have you come and speak, if you are interested.


    1. Hi Mike, thanks for reading and commenting! I think you’re right – a combination of online and offline is engagement is key, both in the working and personal worlds. I’d be happy to discuss more! Drop me a line at Thanks again, Mike!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.