In this episode of Masters of Community, we speak with Nicole Crentsil, CEO at Black Girl Fest. She wanted to solve her problem of not seeing enough people like her in the world of tech, culture, and art by creating her own event called Black Girl Fest. They expected 300 people but 3000 people showed up! Today, Nicole is an Angel investor and was named in the Forbes 30 under 30 list. She was also named as a LinkedIn Changemaker in 2021. In this episode, Nicole talks about how diverse communities can be kept buzzing through intersectional programming, how to launch your community through a highly successful first event, and how to grow your community beyond its core identity and location. She also sheds light on why organizations indulge in tokenism, how they can avoid it, and how they can truly embrace inclusion and diversity. Who is this episode for? Community managers who are interested in building and engaging highly diverse and truly inclusive communities. Three key takeaways: 1. Intersectional programming in diverse communities: Communities often exist in spaces where there are so many different stories and channels in which people's stories interconnect and expand. There’s no single path human stories will take. Accessible, inclusive, and authentic programming that taps into stories emanating from intersectional commonalities is the key to connecting to different subgroups in diverse communities. 2. Keys to a successful community launch event: Expect your launch event to be successful if it’s a one-of-a-kind event in your sufficiently-large community. People in under-tapped communities will invest their time and money to find opportunities and form connections among people of their own kind. Start small and engage people in your immediate networks who believe in your cause and who are smart and competent in their jobs. Operate with an ethos of passing the torch back to your community. 3. Growing your community beyond its core identity and location: If the issues dominating your community are also reflected in similar communities in various parts of the world, expanding the community should not be a big challenge. Talk to regional champions and seek their help in expanding the values of your community; you can borrow from the CMX Connect architecture. Tap into common events such as International Women’s Day (the full month of March) for Black Girl Fest. Notable Quotes: 1. “It's so obvious when a brand or an organization who's trying to be more diverse or trying to speak to a specific community hasn't put that community to the table to make the decisions, to decide, to plan, to produce...it's sometimes offensive, it's disingenuous and it's fake” 2. “I think organizations start with diversity and that's why we end up seeing more tick box scenarios where it's just like, fill the room with people that have different religions and backgrounds and skin tones. Then great. We've solved the problem... And it's like, no, you haven't solved anything. You've just got a bunch of people in the room.” 3. “If you don't embed it as not the thought and you just embed it like every day, you wouldn't have to worry about this DEI thing that you think is a problem” Answers to rapid-fire questions: 1. What's the most impactful book you've ever read or a book that you love to give as a gift to others? “Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race” by Reni Eddo-Lodge. 2. If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would that food be? Pesto pasta and cheese. 3. What's a community moment you'll never forget? A group of older Black women held Nicole’s hand and told her how amazing her work is and told her to not stop. It was a very emotional moment for her. 4. Have you ever worn socks with sandals? Yes. 5. If you could sit down for coffee for an hour with one community builder, dead or alive, who would it be? Michelle Obama. 6. Which is your most exciting angel investment? Nicole’s first investment in a company that essentially created hair extensions that match black women's hair texture because their product-market fit was genius. 7. What advice do you have for someone who wants to become an investor, but doesn't feel they have the identity of an investor? Find your community first and learn to utilize that because the network effect is quite powerful. 8. What's the weirdest community that you have been a part of? A Tumblr community where they loved playing the Sims game. 9. Tweet-sized deathbed advice? Believe in yourself first, before you need anyone else to believe in you.
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