Gina Bianchini brings her community-building and subscription expertise to this episode. She joins Robbie to discuss the role of community in building a broader Forever Transaction, why some communities go off the rails, and how to use community as a starting point for membership, before layering in other elements of value, like content, digital courses and subscription commerce.

  • 1:57 – Why Gina decided to create another online community platform after leaving Ning
  • 5:40 – The distinction between launching a subscription company, and an ad-based one
  • 8:20 – The Myth of More – why content is not always the answer
  • 11:36 – Subscription Overwhelm and how to avoid it
  • 13:00 – How MightyNetworks defines “community”
  • 15:47 – Knowing when not to build a community
  • 16:39 – How COVID turned a community from social running to career networking
  • 18:12 – The importance of focusing on helping a customer achieve their goal, not consume a product
  • 22:26 – Two common mistakes when building a community
  • 23:25 – The right resources and structure for starting that nascent community
  • 26:26 – MightyNetwork’s extra easy approach to onboarding
  • 31:21 – Story Time: how a group of Cacao Growers built a MightyNetwork of their own
  • 33:10 – Gina’s advice for entrepreneurs and executives who are sitting on the sidelines of community
  • 34:48 – Robbie’s Speed Round


Robbie Baxter [00:00:04] We all want a business like Netflix or Amazon Prime. Businesses where once a customer engages with them, it becomes automatic and a part of their lifestyle from then on. But how do you build that Forever Transaction? I’m Robbie Kellman Baxter and I have been studying subscription and membership models for nearly 20 years. In this podcast, my guests and I share the secrets and strategies of the Membership Economy. Join us for Subscription Stories: True Tales from the Trenches.

Robbie Baxter [00:00:40] Welcome to the show. It’s your host, Robbie Kellman Baxter, sharing subscription stories with you. And today’s guest is Gina Bianchini, founder of MightyNetworks. Gina has dedicated much of her career to ushering in a new era of creative business built on community and brings a unique perspective as a serial entrepreneur. In addition to MightyNetworks, she also co-founded Ning and grew it to over 100 million users in 300000 active networks. We’ll be talking about how to launch and build community as part of a broader Forever Transaction. We’ll also discuss how to incorporate other elements of value into your membership, such as content, digital courses and subscription commerce. Welcome to the show, Gina.

Gina Bianchini [00:01:33] Thank you for having me.

Robbie Baxter [00:01:35] Such a pleasure it’s always fun to talk to you.

Gina Bianchini [00:01:38] The Forever Transaction and the Membership Economy are like awesome books and I’m not even getting paid for saying that. But they’re fantastic and I think that the work that you do is tremendous. And I certainly learned something. So when you asked me to do this, I was like, of course, because, I’m going to learn something in this conversation from you.

Robbie Baxter [00:01:56] Well, thank you. I’m thrilled you’re here. I want to jump in and ask you something that I don’t know if we’ve ever talked about, which is after founding Ning, one of the first and most successful online community platforms, why did you decide to do it again with MightyNetworks?

Gina Bianchini [00:02:09] Great question. Two main reasons. One is I fell in love with our customers. I fell in love with our customers. So when I get to meet people that have it and brands and companies, I mean it, it’s the uniqueness of human beings is one of the most special things. And when you are running a community platform, you get to see that in full effect. So when someone shows up and they’re like, hey, I’m really passionate about bringing together user experience designers or cacao producers or I have a idea for people’s ability to write their PhD theses in a more supportive environment. Those are all, so on any given day, I’m like, people are really cool. So, you know, and really interesting. And so that certainly is one aspect of it. The other was, you know, very simply, I didn’t think that we were anywhere close to being done. So we sold Ning and we were, with Ning, I would say we got a lot of things right. And we got one major thing wrong, which is that we thought that we were an advertising based business. It is, in fact, a SaaS business and it is, in fact a subscription service for and enabling creators and this customer that is bringing together people around a specific interest, passion, goal, lifestyle, purpose. And when I figured that out, it was really important to me to do this again. And it really is doing it again. I mean, it’s evolved and it certainly is relevant to now. But fundamentally, I believe and I think history proves this out, which is the world bends and technology bends towards decentralization. It bends towards a world where there are millions of unique and vibrant communities in our vision of the world, led by creators and led by brands that are bringing people together to master something interesting or important to them. It’s like Ning was unfinished business for me, and I believed that whether it’s email lists or social media, we would see an explosion in the number of creators and brands that could actually bring people together, that people were getting more interesting and more specialized in how they defined their interests, their passions, their goals, their purpose, and that there would only be more demand for the things that we had learned at Ning. With respect to how to bring people together, how to enable that creator or that brand to bring people together with purpose. And basically we said, all right, let’s go. And so we went. We’ve been going. Let’s do it again.

Robbie Baxter [00:05:16] Yeah. So one of the things you brought up, so you kind of brought up two key points about why do this again? Why start another company in the same space around building communities and networks? And there were two big reasons. One was you felt like you had unfinished business. You were just in the infancy of community creation and allowing for this glorious blossoming of decentralized, specialized communities. The second reason was that you said you launched as an advertising business and you realize it’s a software as a service business. In other words, it’s a subscription business that is being paid for by the creator. Can you explain this distinction and why you feel like it’s so important to get that right?

Gina Bianchini [00:06:02] So here’s the reason that the ad business versus the subscription business matters. So first and foremost, we’re living in a day and age where digital advertising has two monopolies, Google and Facebook. So what you never want to do with monopolies is compete directly with monopolies. So from our perspective, you know, there is no advertising. I think this is like a non-controversial perspective. There is no advertising business for new services. There just isn’t. And second, and probably more importantly, we have a customer and we have a customer in this creator in these brands where there’s a very clear exchange of value. Which is I have a platform. And we offer a platform that you Robbie could show up and bring your people together around memberships.

Robbie Baxter [00:06:55] I, Robbie do show up on MightyNetworks, by the way. But yes, full disclosure.

Gina Bianchini [00:07:00] And you can actually charge a subscription or you can, on our platform, or you can offer it for free because you sell a different product or service or because you want to do something out of the goodness of your heart. But I think there’s been too much of this narrative of people just want to build communities and they’ll do it for free. More free work has happened this way that is unnecessarily free and has actually, I think, limited and stunted our understanding of the power of communities and specifically the power of communities that are built on a network that gets more valuable to every member with each new person who joins.

Robbie Baxter [00:07:38] Yeah. So well said. And when I think about my work with the Forever Transaction, it becomes really important to know who your customer is. And I think in this case, the community leaders, the community organizers are working for the community members and not for the advertisers. And that’s also really important, because when they think about where to go next and where to spend their time, it’s about delighting the people that are members. And as you’ve said, you know, helping them achieve their goal, pursue their passion, master a skill instead of bringing eyeballs so that we can get a certain number of impressions.

Gina Bianchini [00:08:20] This is one of the biggest growth opportunities for anybody that is thinking about creating a new business or transforming their business because it’s just so darn obvious and so few people do it. And what I notice, and I don’t think this way, but so many people start with content, they start with like, oh, I have to like build content, I need more content or I need to program more events and content and panels and all, like as the value proposition of your Forever Transaction or of your subscription is all about, I called the myth of more, like more content, more programing, more perfection, more production value, more, more, more. And what really we all want is to make, as the end user, we want to make better, more well-informed decisions about the things we care about, whether that’s our career, whether that’s our health, whether that’s our wellness or spiritual practice, whether that’s other important interest from parenting to homeschooling to personal finance to retirement. And if you have a brand or a purpose that is adjacent to any of these critical topics in people’s lives, you have an opportunity to not just bring your customers together, but to bring your market together. But it’s just the brands that are going to win over the next five years are those that are thinking about how do I network together in a bigger purpose. All of the people who could be my customers, not just who are my customers, but who could be my customers. Because we live in a day and age where you can actually build that kind of a network on your own off social media where you are not controlled by the algorithms in a way that just wasn’t even possible five years ago. And I think that that’s only going to get more powerful from here.

Robbie Baxter [00:10:18] Yeah, I mean, I think that what you just said is so important for my listeners who are building subscriptions, the myth of more is definitely alive and well with organizations thinking, you know, I need to have all this video content. I need to have all of these articles. I need to have all of these events. And actually, the bringing like minded people together under your brand umbrella and making it a safe space for them to help one another and support one another is much more sticky and potentially much more valuable than any single piece of content.

Gina Bianchini [00:10:57] That’s right. And so something else happens as well. So, you know, we talk to our customers every day. So thousands of creators. And here’s something once we point out to them the myth of more, something really interesting happens. They basically come back and they say, I didn’t think about it this way. But one of the reasons why I’ve canceled memberships is because I felt overwhelmed and that I wasn’t actually getting the value I was supposed to get from it because I didn’t have enough time to consume all the content that I was getting from this membership.

Robbie Baxter [00:11:36] Subscription overwhelm is one of the three major causes of subscription fatigue. One of the three big reasons people hate subscriptions when they say they hate subscriptions, it’s a lack of product market fit. Why are you making me subscribe to a book? Right. Why are you making me subscribe to something I’d rather just own? Second thing is, why did you hide the cancel button and make it so hard and scary for me to even imagine how I would ever get out of here if I wanted to. And then that third one, subscription overwhelm, like the big pile of New Yorker magazines where you’re like The New Yorker is great. I love them. They have great content. But it makes me feel bad about myself because I can’t keep up. And even though the price isn’t so high, the fact that I’m not getting the value I could be getting makes me feel bad. Whereas if you flip that and you say there’s a community and I can go support someone or I can get feedback or advice or input or just, you know, commiseration on something that I’m experiencing, I think that’s really the magic of of membership and the magic of community. So I want to ask you, are there ever cases where an organization should not lead with community if they’re trying to build a Forever Transaction, they’re trying to extend the relationship they have with their customers, are there cases where you’d say no, you don’t need a community that is not the place to invest your resources right now?

Gina Bianchini [00:13:01] Yes. So let me even go back one one step, which is I want to offer a new definition of community. We all start with we’re gonna learn together and support each other, give each other advice. And those three things are I tend to describe those as like Charlie Brown adults. Those terms mean nothing to people. Those terms no longer mean anything to people. And what the most valuable communities do from here is they bring together a very clear profile of member to master something interesting or important to them. So there’s a journey. There is a progression to the best, most effective and successful communities, especially those that charge money because people pay attention to what they pay for. And so when you replace content with progress and a journey to master something interesting and important to people that they are doing together, you are essentially creating that. I think about it is the scaffolding for people to share not advice, but their own stories, their own experiences and their own ideas, which expands the conversation. Advice actually shuts a conversation down. So if you have that sort of clarity around, it’s not about learning and sharing and growing together. It’s about how do I, as a user experience designer, make better, more well-informed decisions about my career, about my product, my actual skill set of what I bring to user experience design or you can imagine financial advising or anything else in between. So when you think about this merging together of a network of people that are mastering a topic together, and it tends to be a topic that has some educational dynamic to it, like you don’t just like wake up and know what it is and then also where the stories, experiences and ideas of other members can contribute to your understanding and your ability to make those better decisions. That’s really where the magic happens and where you can actually charge a premium for just the membership, just the membership alone. So where does that work the best? It works the best when there is a very clear identity of your customer. So you are a product for user experience designers or you are you see the value and your product or service or your subscription is for, you know, financial advisers or for people that want a plant based diet or for cattle producers because they’re just gonna keep coming up. So where does it not work? It doesn’t work where you have a very sort of low consideration product. Like, I would use the example of, like, nobody wakes up in the morning and says to themselves, you know what I really want today? I really want to meet other people who drink Diet Coke. Nobody woke up this morning and said that they want to meet and build relationships with people who drink Diet Coke. But they probably woke up this morning saying to themselves, the world is uncertain today. It is. It is undergoing rapid change. I’m just trying to figure out what does it mean to be an entrepreneur, user experience designer or a Cacao producer in a moment, in a time when the world is changing fundamentally. And I’ll give you an example of this. So there is a network on MightyNetworks called Oiselle. And Oiselle, I think they sell women’s clothing and women’s athletic clothing. They have, in addition to their physical products, a community that they originally had on their own kind of custom app. And they moved to MightyNetworks. And it is essentially for women athletes to meet and build relationships and find each other and running groups in physical locations. And they charge about one hundred and twenty dollars a year for that privilege. And it is the one of the most active MightyNetworks that we have. And when COVID hit, first of all, it was hard to understand how they were going to go on running, you know, excursions together or sort of have that same physical community. But because they had a virtual network that allowed for that physical delineation, but also to meet and build relationships with other people, one of the things that started to happen is that these women started to network with each other around their careers.

Robbie Baxter [00:17:51] I remember you talking about that and what a surprise it was that once these, you know, these women, had actually gathered for one objective around health and fitness. But because they built a layer of trust, they were able to expand the topics that they were able to credibly cover, which I think is fascinating.

Gina Bianchini [00:18:12] Well, your customer does not actually necessarily want to spend all of their time talking about your widget. What they want is the opportunity to talk about the things that are important to them in pursuit or in mastery of their own identity.

Robbie Baxter [00:18:30] This is so important. And this ties in really well with the with the concept of a Forever Transaction, which is people don’t buy your stuff because they want to buy your stuff. They buy your stuff in service of achieving a goal. You’re one step on their journey to achieving their goal. I buy a white blouse to speak at a conference not because I want a white blouse, but because I want to look professional at my speech so I can maximize the likelihood of the speech going well. And the closer an organization can get to that goal or that passion of that customer, the more they can align the value they provide to that goal, the more value there is going to be for the customer. The more likely that customer is to stay, be sticky, and the more likely you are to maximize your lifetime customer value. So I think that what you’re saying Gina is really, really important. And even in your Diet Coke example, if Diet Coke had built a community around, let’s say, having fun, making time for joy, fitness and any number of bigger goals that we have that might drive us to buy Diet Coke. And if that were a credible part of their brand, that could be a community. It’s just that right now, most of us don’t think it, like Diet Coke is such a product.

Gina Bianchini [00:19:43] And there, what I have noticed at larger companies is that there’s always so there’s these sort of innovative folks that are like, wait a second, we could own our market. We could own all small business owners. We could you know, we don’t have to pay Facebook in this pay to play model to access small business owners. We don’t need to be the main advertiser in a digital media business that is aggregating eyeballs of small business owners. We could actually build our own network and be the premiere place for small business owners to come and make better, more well-informed decisions about their businesses. And when they happen to want accounting software, probably they’re going to be more likely to choose whoever put that out there. Or, you know, we could actually start to build bundles for small business owners that are beyond the products and services that we offer. And here’s what happens. This is super important, because I’ve seen this happen across multiple companies multiple times. There’s always somebody on the marketing team who then comes in and says, well, we should have our brand more front and center here. Why aren’t we talking about American Express? Why aren’t we talking about go daddy? Why isn’t this about our product or service? And by the way, you know, we could theoretically reach more people if we reallocated that to a social budget. A social budget you don’t control. You’re renting eyeballs. You’re not building relationships that you own with your customers and your prospective customers. And I’ve seen this happen across so many different organizations that one of the things that I think is going to be the real forward thinking brand leaders, whether that’s a CEO, whether that is a head of marketing, whether that’s a head of customer success, is the leaders that are thinking more broadly about their market and owning the time and attention of people in their market in a in a long term relationship. So it’s a little bit like, you know, I’m going to do you favors and I will come back to you in the future for a favor. But I will give you more value right now than you could ever get otherwise. And there are so many brands that just they’ve told themselves that they can’t build a network because only Facebook and Twitter have networks, you know, and or Instagram, you know, they couldn’t possibly do that. Well, they absolutely can.

Robbie Baxter [00:22:26] So two things, I want to pull out two really interesting mistakes that you pointed out that I agree with you on, and I see them all time. One of them is overemphasizing product instead of customer mission and focusing too much on talking about the product instead of focusing on what is this customer here to do and trusting that when the time comes to buy the accounting software, they’re going to be more likely to buy yours. And the second one is thinking, and this kind of goes back to your myth of the more, is that the more people you reach, the better and that all reach is equal. So my reach of a person on Facebook is equal to my reach of a person on a private network. And that’s just not the case.

Gina Bianchini [00:23:08] A view on Facebook is three seconds.

Robbie Baxter [00:23:11] So you’ve talked about, you know, and I want to talk about kind of get into what how do you start a community? Because a lot of people have this sort of chicken and egg problem, like, well, I need to get a whole bunch of people together and I don’t think I can do that. But I’ve heard you say, like, you can start a community with five people. Talk to me about what are the resources you should allocate and what is the right structure for starting that, nascent little community.

Gina Bianchini [00:23:38] So, number one, you can start a network with a small number of people. Remember, you know, Facebook started in one dorm. The way that networks work is that when you get something that is valuable to, again, ten if ten sounds too small to you, like, I would never dedicate resources to something that has ten people. Make it 30, make it 100. But the point is that it is a small number of people that are mastering this topic together. And so our recommendation, you know, is, hey, get together 10 people for four weeks. Each week you’re taking on a new topic with a new case study, a new challenge and a new result each week and then build on that again and build on that again and build on that again. And that sort of breaking it down into this very concrete core of value of progression. It has enabled people, I mean, over 50 percent of the people who show up at MightyNetworks and who are subsequently successful are starting communities from scratch. They do not have a social media following. They don’t even have an email list. And there are two things that you need when you’re starting from scratch. One, you need a very clear we call a big purpose. This is who are you bringing together? So it’s a very simple sentence with a beginning, middle and an end. It’s we bring together who you bring together user experience, designers, cacao producers, small business owners, marketing leaders, transforming their businesses into subscription companies to make better, more well-informed decisions about their practice based on the stories, experiences and ideas of us and other members so that we can make a successful transformation, increased revenue by 20 percent. The list kind of goes on and on in terms of what those benefits are. So you need that clarity because a community can’t just be like, oh, well, we’re going to bring like minded people together to learn and share and grow together because people are like, that doesn’t mean anything to me. Tell me and show me how I am going to get immediate value from this. And then there’s a second thing that’s super important that keeps getting lost, especially by big companies. There’s an assumption that people are going to know what to do when they show up. So it’s a little bit like, you know, oh, well, all the hard work is just finding these people and getting them there. And once they’re there, then they’ll figure out how to engage. And it’s a little bit like showing up at, like a workshop. And imagine there was no facilitator and you were just supposed to figure it out on your own, like how you’re going to get value from all the other people there and you don’t even know how to meet them. And so we actually have a very simple structure called community design. And it’s really easy. And you just have to put a little bit of structure in place so that people know how to contribute. And once you have your big purpose with a clarity of how people are supposed to contribute, they will contribute. Because this thing you’ve already shown them how it’s gonna be valuable to them. And again, it’s not valuable to them because they’re talking about your product. It’s valuable to them because they’re making better, more well-informed decisions as leaders, as practitioners, as a human being with a goal. That’s really, you know, who wants to master a topic together. And sometimes I get asked the questions like, well, I teach art classes. And so is that really mastering something important or interesting together? It’s like, yeah, that is. That’s exactly what it is. So when you start to think about those things, it’s the combination of a big purpose and a concrete way of contributing that really unlocks a community that self organizes once you set those parameters and once you set those goals.

Robbie Baxter [00:27:33] So onboarding, I mean, that’s what I call it, is critical in a community. It’s those first seconds, minutes, days after somebody decides to join. It’s choreographing the experience they’re gonna get. It’s guiding them, saying sort of like this is what you need to do.

Gina Bianchini [00:27:49] Yeah, it’s easier than that, because most of the time when people hear the term onboarding, they’re thinking product. Oh, this is the number of nudges and the number of, you know, and it’s really it’s simpler than that. It’s how am I supposed to contribute here such that I’m not going to look like a jerk. I’m not going to be a spammer. Right. People aren’t going to like think I’m weird. So it’s the clarity. So you’re right. It’s onboarding, but it’s less product onboarding. Of course, it’s much more about, you know, we’re big believers in having a weekly event. One of our favorite ways of getting people to contribute concretely is what we call give ask day. So one day a week, there’s a new post that profiles a member or somebody that you would like to have as a member, which is actually how we built that. We ended up building that community. We came up with our own way of building it into one hundred fifty thousand person community. So you basically have a give ask day. You profile member and it’s who they are. It’s one thing they have to give to other members of the community and one ask they have of the community. And then you basically have a call to action says now it’s your turn. What’s your one give and what’s your one, ask? And you do that once a week and you rotate who you profile. That is one of the fastest, easiest, and again, you’re probably listening to this and you’re like, duh, and also that’s a really good idea because that was the reaction I had to it. And that’s an example of onboarding.

Robbie Baxter [00:29:23] Yeah, exactly. And the important thing, the reason that I call onboarding out as a key part of building a long term relationship with customers is exactly as you described, that people need to understand quickly how they’re going to get value and how they’re going to become part of the system. Start making it into a habit. And then the second piece of that, what I always think of is the corollary. In SaaS, they call it customer success, but it’s the concept of having the organization say it’s our responsibility to make sure that each member has ongoing value. So onboarding is like let’s give them value right away, because that’s critical, because otherwise they’re gonna decide not to come back. And then once they decide that they’re going to come, how do you make sure that they make it a habit that they keep getting value? And your weekly events, that give ask day, that is so clearly defined about what they’re supposed to do and gives them this immediate adrenaline hit of both hey, I helped somebody, and also, hey, I got some some help for myself is a great way to build that drumbeat of value that, customer success.

Gina Bianchini [00:30:31] Here’s what’s so interesting. I am sure that there is someone listening to when you say value up front, they’re thinking content. Yeah. They’re thinking like that needs to be a video or we need to have a special PDF guide that has a really high production value. The value in many cases is clarity on your big purpose. Here are the things, here’s who we serve, here’s what we’re gonna do together, and here’s what you’re going to get from doing that. And then just having this scaffolding, this ability to say, hey, here’s you know, here’s a poll to answer. Here’s the way that we share stories. Here’s the way that we model a give ask. Those are all value based activities that are not content.

Robbie Baxter [00:31:21] So I would be remiss and everybody in my audience would be really frustrated if I don’t ask you to tell us the story about the cacao growers.

Gina Bianchini [00:31:30] On Thursday, we have office hours, so we’ve been using Zoom before, like Zoom became a household word. And so everybody sort of shows up on screen and people are from all over the world. And on this particular day, there were some very sort of counterculture looking people sitting under the most beautiful suite of redwoods. And I’m sitting there thinking to myself, oh, God, what do these guy like? What is your community like? Thinking to myself that these look like beautiful Northern California people that are in the agricultural business and all of those plants and things that happen in Northern California. And so when they raise their hand, because we workshop people’s different communities, and I’m just like, OK, this will be the first time we have people that are, you know, more out there than typical. And then they said, yeah, we are cacao growers, and we want to create a community of cacao growers and producers around the world. And I was just like, oh, my gosh, thank you so much. Thank you so much for growing cacao.

Robbie Baxter [00:32:45] What did you think they were growing?

Gina Bianchini [00:32:48] What do you think I thought?

Robbie Baxter [00:32:50] Oh, gosh.

Gina Bianchini [00:32:53] It’s actually a little legal in California, and Colorado but it was definitely one of those things where I was like, don’t judge a book by its cover. Don’t judge someone sitting under beautiful California redwood trees by its cover.

Robbie Baxter [00:33:09] Very good advice. I want to ask you for advice for entrepreneurs, executives who are sitting on the sidelines of community and thinking either our business is really old and traditional and I don’t know if we can go there or it seems like too much work or I don’t know if I have the team to do it. What’s your advice for them?

Gina Bianchini [00:33:29] My advice would be my email is [email protected]. And there are so many reasons to not get stuck by that. You do have the team. You don’t need all the features that you think that you need and one of the other things is it’s less about the work and it’s more about the fear. Like, what if people start bagging on our product? Or what if, like, we get a bunch of trolls or, you know, there’s just so many very simple, clear ways of addressing that, that I would just say, you know, we want to hook you up, not because we’re like trying to sell MightyNetworks, but because this is so obvious that when you look at your customer base as how do I bring my market together so that each person in my market, whether those are mid-level H.R. professionals, whether those are marketing leaders, whoever they are, that they can make better, more well informed decisions about the things that are most important to them. And I’m going to sell more products and services that way. If that sounds at all intriguing, you know, [email protected], because it’s so much easier than you think it is.

Robbie Baxter [00:34:45] I’ll put that in the show notes. That’s generous of you. And that’s wonderful. Speed round. Gina, what was your first subscription that you ever had?

Gina Bianchini [00:34:54] The one that pops to my mind is Elle magazine. When I was like 13 years old.

Robbie Baxter [00:35:01] What’s your favorite subscription now?

Gina Bianchini [00:35:04] I’m embarrassed to say what my favorite subscription now is, in part because I think I’m going to shift my subscription. But I made a deal with myself about a zillion years ago that I would work out on my elliptical machine that I have at my house if I had Us magazines. And so I can’t read magazines unless I’m working out. So I’ve had both this elliptical machine and a subscription to US magazine for literally a zillion years. But I’m about to shift from Us to People. And basically, if I can read totally Brain Candy magazine while I’m working out like that’s the deal I have with myself.

Robbie Baxter [00:35:45] I love it. My sister says US is People magazine for people who don’t like the stories about cancer patients.

Gina Bianchini [00:35:51] That’s exactly right. I’m going highbrow. I’m going to people.

Robbie Baxter [00:35:58] What do your employees love and hate about working with you?

Gina Bianchini [00:36:01] I would say hopefully love is I try to make what we are doing both important and clear and fun. I would say that, hate’s a strong word Robbie, but I would say that anybody who doesn’t look at how they can get better at their job or views feedback as a personal attack does not like working with me because I love getting feedback. I view it as a gift. I want it. And I think we all get better when everybody knows where they stand and what is awesome about them and what needs to be improved.

Robbie Baxter [00:36:43] Awesome. Thank you so much, Gina. We got some really great-

Gina Bianchini [00:36:46] Radical candor. That is, if you like it, you like working with me. If you don’t like it, you probably don’t like working with me.

Robbie Baxter [00:36:56] Great book. Great concept. Great interview. Thank you, Gina. Off you go to your community meeting. And thanks for joining us on subscription stories.

Gina Bianchini [00:37:07] Awesome. Thank you for having me.

Robbie Baxter [00:37:13] Thanks for listening, everyone. I’m Robbie Kellman Baxter, and this has been subscription stories. Today I was talking with founder and CEO of MightyNetworks Gina Bianchini. You’ll find more about Gina, as well as a transcript of our conversation at to hear other success stories of entrepreneurs and executives creating their Forever Transaction in this new and exciting Membership Economy. Subscribe to my podcast wherever you listen most. Also, if you like what you heard, please take a moment and give me a star rating and write a review. It takes less than a minute and it helps other people like you find our show. Thanks for listening and thanks for your support.



Gina’s Bio:

Gina Bianchini is the Founder & CEO of Mighty Networks, an online platform that serves “creators with a purpose.” Creators can offer experiences, relationships, and expertise to their members via community, content, online courses, and subscription commerce. All of these features are offered in one place, under the creator’s brand. In addition to Mighty Networks, Gina serves as a board director of TEGNA, a $3 billion broadcast and digital media company. Under Gina’s leadership, her prior company, Ning, grew to 100 million people in 300,000 active social networks across subcultures, professional networks, entertainment, politics, and education. Gina received a BA and MBA from Stanford University.


“You can start a network with a small number of people. Remember, Facebook started in one dorm.”

GINA BIANCHINI, Mighty Networks

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