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The eXd Community is on a mission to help educators design an equitable new world

This week's story

The eXd Community is on a mission to help educators design an equitable new world

When Caroline Hill left her job as a high school principal in 2015, she took two big ideas with her. First, she wanted to explore the role of race and equity in inclusion work. Second, she wanted to see how that work fit into the idea of how we, as people, can design and innovate new worlds for ourselves. 

To explore each of those ideas, she built a framework called equityXdesign. Her intention? To merge the values of equity work and innovation with the intentionality of design.

Caroline Hill

Mind Cake Vault is showing aspiring cake pop connoisseurs just how sweet the treat business can be

It took a little bit of time for Tiffany Johnston to find her (literal) sweet spot.

After quitting her full-time job in search of something more fulfilling, Tiffany started a gig at a local bakery shop. She didn’t have any formal baking experience, but after a few months Tiffany found herself responsible for creating cake pops—and loving it.

Tiffany Johnston

With the Mindful Living Collective, this psychologist answered the call for connection in the middle of the pandemic

As a psychologist and mindfulness teacher with nearly 20 years of experience, author Elisha Goldstein knew his way around the world of courses. And there was always one thing that stuck out to him.

Elisha Goldstein

How Luvvie Ajayi Jones created a fun, safe space in the middle of a “dumpster fire of a world”

After years and years of keeping up with her adventures, Luvvie Ajayi Jones’ followers decided enough was enough. They were going to need a name for themselves:

“I’ve been blogging for 17 years and I have a really engaged and plugged in audience who wants to know what I’m up to. And five, six years ago, they were like, ‘We need a name. Rihanna got a Navy, Beyonce got a Beehive.’ So they took a vote, and we ended up with LuvvNation.”

Luvvie Ajayi Jones

Welcome to Teach Music Online, a membership that’s ready to face the music

Carly Walton had spent over three years traveling the world and teaching music online. But when a music company reached out for a prospective partnership, she wasn’t sure where it would take her.

Curious about the world of online courses, she agreed to create one for the company. But after a year, the collaboration just wasn’t working. Carly and the company decided to part ways:

“They basically said, ‘You create the course and we’ll sell it,’ but they never sold it. It was rough because it was a lot of work. But afterward, I thought, ‘I need to do this on my own.’”

How a membership dedicated to women traveling solo found a way to flourish during stay-at-home orders

When it comes to the subject of women and travel, most people either focus on the romanticism of exploring the world solo (think, “Eat, Pray, Love”) or the danger of going it alone.

But Beth Santos knew there was more to it than that.

In an effort to shed some light on the world of women traveling alone, Beth started sharing her own experiences on the Wanderful blog in 2009. Over the years, it blossomed into a community where women could find resources and share their own experiences abroad.

Beth Santos

The duo behind this membership site is guiding passionate dog owners on how to train their pets from home

For thousands of years, dogs have been man’s best friend. Unfortunately, for the last decade, there’s been little progress made in the dog training industry.

But Natalie Dobkins was set on changing that.

Natalie Dobkins

There’s another path to financial freedom and Wealth Without Wall Street is showing its members the way

What’s the first thing you think about when you hear the words “financial freedom?” There’s a good chance you start imagining trading stocks, keeping an eye on your 401K, or following the Dow. But financial advisors Russ Morgan and Joey Mure want to change that.

It all started in 2017. The pair started thinking about how they could teach people to become their own bankers. They believed that generating passive income was the key to gaining financial freedom and decided to start a coaching initiative, Wealth Without Wall Street, to prove it.

They knew that once people understood how their money could work for them, they could control their own investments, instead of leaving them in the hands of the financial market. And according to the brand’s Director of Marketing, Thomas Coiner, they knew they could do it without touching Wall Street.

Russ Morgan and Joey Mure

Think Human Resources is boring? You haven't been inside the Academy to Innovate HR

When Erik van Vulpen and Nando Steenhuis met working at a venture builder in the Netherlands, just a few months after graduation, they had no idea where their collegiality would take them. 

Part of the reason? Their backgrounds were totally different. Erik had studied Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Nando had just finished coursework in Entrepreneurship and New Business Venturing. And yet, this unlikely pair put their expertise together to tackle an equally unlikely field: the business of Human Resources.

Erik van Vulpen and Nando Steenhuis

Practice makes perfect: How Qpractice is giving interior designers the confidence to ace their exams

As a certified interior designer, Lisa League knew that acing the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam was no walk in the park.

She was determined to make it easier for her fellow designers to pass.

Lisa had struggled when it came to studying for her own exam. There weren’t many resources—online or otherwise—to help interior designers prepare, and the resources that did exist were frustratingly limited.

Lisa League

Take note: How this community seamlessly combines courses and a membership dedicated to visual note taking

Doug Neill knew he wanted to help people master the art of visual note-taking. But when he decided to merge his interest in sketch noting with his background in teaching, he wasn’t sure where the journey would take him.

He started with a WordPress site, where he started building online courses and resources around the concept of sketch noting with the help of a handful of plug-ins.

But between technological frustrations and a lack of dedicated community space for his course members, Doug quickly found himself outgrowing the platform.

Doug Neill

The Night School: A ‘magical’ membership seven years in the making

For over seven years, herbalist and author Maia Toll had been trying to build a community where she could guide people toward caring for their inner, sacred selves with medicinal herbs, essential oils, crystals, astrology, and more. But despite her best efforts, she just couldn’t find a solution.

Her idea for a community space started when she opened Herbiary, a multi-city natural wellness store. Maia had put together a monthly subscription e-booklet for her customers, “Your Wild and Wonderful Witch,” where she offered insights and stories and linked to remedies and materials for purchase.

Her audience grew rapidly. Soon, with the help of her in-store team, she found herself expanding the e-booklet into a WordPress site, renaming it Witch Camp. But the site was cluttered, convoluted, and hard to maintain. Shortly after, she found herself back at the drawing board.

Maia Toll

In the Mix: Meet the brother-sister duo creating a flourishing community for artists

Brother and sister artists Lee and Sarah Rubenstein hadn’t expected ArtSnacks—their art supply subscription box—to take off as quickly as it did. But as their number of subscribers grew, they found themselves looking for ways to bring their new artists together.

Inspired by one of their customers, the siblings started a monthly ArtSnacks Challenge, inviting people to share their creations on Instagram with the #artsnackschallenge hashtag. It was fun, but something was missing:

“Instagram is great for showcasing your super polished final pieces. But it’s not necessarily a great place for connecting around the work. And we wanted to give our people a central location where they could hang out, share their progress, and get feedback.”

Lee and Sarah Rubenstein

Thriving in the art world: How a community of visual artists use mastermind groups to realize their dreams

Jamie Smith and Tara Lee Bennett had a simple goal: To make it easier and more obvious for visual artists to make a living doing what they were meant to do.

With no obvious or “one-size-fits-all” path for artists to generate an income, this Vancouver-based pair started organizing a monthly “mastermind” group, a dedicated space for peer-to-peer mentoring. Their intention? To help fellow female, nonbinary, and gender fluid visual artists make a living from their work.

Why focus on this specific group of visual artists? It was simple:

“[Being an artist] is a lonely profession. Worse, like the rest of the world, there’s a lot of inequality. Our goal was to change this by creating a safe, supportive space for female, nonbinary, and gender fluid artists to learn and grow together.”

Jamie Smith and Tara Lee Bennett

How two creators transformed their community from tech headache to thriving network

Gary van Warmerdam and Eva Beronius had been trying to bring their expertise together under a single membership model. But they kept hitting snag after snag.

The pair had started working together in 2015 after Eva took one of Gary’s courses. They instantly knew that their work was compatible: Gary focused on changing beliefs and releasing repressed emotions through conscious awareness. Eva focused on the intersection of meditation and conscious mindfulness.

But they struggled with meaningfully putting their work together online.

Gary van Warmerdam and Eva Beronius

How marketing maven Trish Martin guides members to build technicolor brands in the Chromatical Club

Trish Martin was getting burned out.

With her business Chromatical, the Melbourne, Australia-based marketing expert had been offering one-on-one coaching to creative small business owners. But it was starting to wear her out. She was struggling with chronic fatigue. And it was getting to the point where she could only see one client per day:

“It was getting really bad for my health. I was ruining myself every day. It wasn’t scalable, and I knew that something needed to change.”

Trish Martin

Here's how The Unemployable Initiative is helping solo entrepreneurs build 7-figure businesses

Jerod Morris already knew that combining a course with a community could be a gamechanger for any membership.

And he was already pretty familiar with Mighty Networks, too.

Jerod had first found Mighty Networks when he was looking to expand his podcast about podcasting called The Showrunner. He had been trying to find a place to host a course and a thriving community together:

“We wanted a place where people could interact that wasn’t a Facebook Group, that provided some of the benefits of a Facebook Group, but without the negativity. We ended up starting at Mighty Networks.”

Jerod Morris

Hold your horses: Bringing equestrians together with a compassionate approach to training horses

Adele Shaw had spread herself too thin.

In her work, she focused on a holistic, integrative way to train horses that considered the body, mind, and emotions of both the trainer and the horses themselves. Then she decided to share those methods via social media.

The response from fellow horse lovers across the world blew her away. It was immediately clear that her methodology was resonating with people:

“It was just this runaway train that took on its own life. And it was the catalyst for me launching a full-scale business, just based on that response that I got.”

Adele Shaw

Do it live: This sound engineer created a membership site dedicated to the craft of audio for live events

Nathan Lively had always known where his passion lied: in the niche world of live sound engineering. And with Lively as his last name, it sure seemed he was destined for it.

In search of fellow sound engineers who shared his passion, Nathan started Sound Design Live in 2015, a podcast where he could share his experiences and insight, and interview leading innovators in concert, theater, and corporate productions.

Before he knew it, Sound Design Live started gaining momentum. And little by little, Nathan’s audience started asking for more.


How Crystal Paine created a mastermind membership to help fellow bloggers level up

Crystal Paine was led by one big belief: that everyone has a message to share with the world. But she knew too that for most people, the hard part was getting their message out there.

Crystal had had her own message that she turned into a popular blog, Money Saving Mom, which in turn became a successful digital business. She had the experience and the tools to help bloggers spread their own messages. And she knew she had to give back:

“After a few years, my followers started reaching out, asking for a behind-the-scenes look at what I was doing. They wanted to know how they could make money blogging, and they wanted a place where I could take them through the steps of monetizing their social networks.”

Crystal Paine

No perfect parents: This couple created a membership site for families to build compassionate connections

Cecilia and Jason Hilkey knew first-hand that modern parenting wasn’t exactly easy.

The wife and husband team had realized, as preschool educators and parents themselves, that for some people traditional parenting methods of punishment and rewards just weren’t cutting it anymore. And they knew there was a different way to parent, a way that relied on communication, connection, and tending to the emotional needs of children.

Cecilia and Jason Hilkey

Picture this: How two artists created a membership site for aspiring children’s book illustrators

Steph Fizer Coleman and Denise Holmes both knew from personal experience that children’s book illustrating was hard to break into.

Steph, a West Virginia-based children’s book illustrator and licensing artist, and Denise, an illustrator and picture book-maker based in Chicago, had never met in person, but they had built a personal and professional relationship after connecting through an online class five years before.

As they stayed in touch, they grew closer. And eventually they started thinking about the resources they wished they had had when they got started in the industry.

Steph Fizer Coleman and Denise Holmes

Giving back to a career that gave him so much: Bringing together UK finance professionals

Lee Robertson was always good at considering the big picture.

In 2018, the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority had changed the rules around socializing in the financial sector, making it harder for professionals from different companies to get to know each other.

The former CEO of a London-based wealth management firm, Robertson knew how essential these relationships were. It was how he and his peers had risen in the ranks and built their businesses.

Yet, scheduling meet-ups at the local pub was no longer practical, or for younger financial advisors, even desired.

Lee Robertson

Giving binge eaters a “weigh out:” How 2 therapists built a community to get at the root of eating disorders

A licensed marriage and family therapist, Dr. Ashley had been working alongside her fellow co-director, psychologist Dr. Julie T. Anné, at A New Beginning, an eating disorder treatment center in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The team had spent two decades helping patients recover from eating disorders. But they could only help so many people with their in-patient programs (which were also expensive). They recognized that there were many more people were suffering in silence with lifelong binge and emotional eating who couldn’t come to their clinic. That motivated these therapists to look beyond conventional eating disorder treatments.

How could they reach more people with proven programs and practices that would make a meaningful impact on patients’ lives?

Dr. Ashley Southard

How Zac Workun built a membership site to help youth pastors feel less isolated

Tulsa, Oklahoma-based youth minister Zac Workun knew his calling as a youth minister was the right one for him. The fact that it was also isolating and, at times, lonely was something he chalked up to the price he paid for pursuing his purpose.

Until the day that he and his best friend and fellow youth minister Chad Higgins launched their Youth Ministry Booster podcast as an experiment.

Very quickly, he and Chad realized that they were not alone. Their podcast grew rapidly from a regional to a national audience. That’s when Zac had his a-ha moment. His ministry could extend to supporting his fellow youth ministers in honing their craft, strengthening their service, and staying grounded mentally and emotionally in the process.

How esthetician Christine Byer created a paid membership site that proves there’s beauty in community

Christine Byer was flat-out exhausted.

The master esthetician had spent years working herself to the bone growing and managing her following on Facebook and YouTube, where she had been posting video tutorials about skin care and aging gracefully.

Although her YouTube tutorials had started out as a way for her to build her business, she discovered something surprising in the process. Social media was far from a community where her followers were able to get to know each other. In fact, the reason she was exhausted is that she was answering everything herself.

It wasn’t sustainable.

Christine Byer

Christine Byer Beauty Club

"These people needed to know each other:" How a healer transformed her spirituality podcast into a paid membership site

Alyssa Malehorn knew the hardest part of breaking into the broad world of spirituality was finding people who were exploring the same questions and ideas she was. People on her wavelength.

A spiritual teacher and psychic medium, Alyssa had started a podcast with partner Zack Fuentes called Raw Spirituality in the spring of 2017. It was a way to share insights on core concepts of spirituality, like “awakening”—your initiation on the spiritual path—and “ascension”—a process where one moves to a higher level of consciousness.

Alyssa Malehorn

Raw Spirituality

How a social worker discovered the secret to helping adults with ADHD take control of their lives

Eric Tivers was doing just fine as a clinical social worker with a thriving private practice and a side hustle as a podcaster.

He had absolutely no idea that he had a calling as a mentor and coach online for groups of adults with ADHD:

During my podcast I impulsively, stream-of-consciousness said, ‘Hey I’m thinking about doing these online coaching and accountability groups and I’ll have more information for the listeners next week.’

Little did he know just how much demand there was for this kind of online group coaching.

Eric Tivers

ARC Alumni and Coaching Groups

Do it now: This cartoonist created a membership site to stop artists from procrastinating

Jessica Abel knew the biggest hurdle for serious artists was easier said than done: Making the time to get their creative projects done.

As Jessica, a full-time academic and part-time cartoonist, spoke to her friends and peers, they all seemed to have the same challenge. They loved their work. It was their heart, soul, and reason for being. Yet, there was a common enemy plaguing their daily lives, procrastination.

Jessica Abel

How Tara McMullin pioneered virtual conferences to connect small business owners across the U.S.

Tara McMullin has served as a coach, mentor, and leader to thousands of small digital businesses over the past decade. 

Yet, her truly unique strength is in how she adapts new technologies to both reach and connect her people. 

Not only does she run a new podcast consulting and production company from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, but she’s come up with an unique approach to using virtual conferences, virtual retreats, and virtual co-working “spaces” to deepen and grow her other business, a thriving membership site called The What Works Network.

Where many of us today are playing catch up to all things virtual, Tara is an old hand. And what we see from her is just how dynamic (and, dare we say, fun) a virtual approach to a business can be. 

Tara McMullin

The What Works Network

How a #30DayHairDetox built a natural hair movement

When looking to make the switch to natural styling, the Internet can be a bewildering place to look for help.

Aeleise Ollarvia and Aishia Strickland, experienced hair stylists and experts in natural hair care, were not having it.

Frustrated with the misinformation they saw online, these hair artists set out to share a bold stance on how black women should style their curls: Eliminating shea butter, coconut oil, castor oil, and “everybody’s favorite gel”—Eco Styler—from their routines.

On a whim, they launched a #30DayHairDetox email campaign and discovered there was a movement happening in people’s inboxes.

Aeleise Ollarvia and Aishia Strickland

Black Curl Magic Digital Salon

Do you really need an app? The surprising choice J.T. O'Donnell made to get results for her clients

J.T. O’Donnell gets people results.

From new grads just starting their careers to soldiers leaving the military, managers starting their next chapter to women returning to work after a break, she helps people develop a fresh, exciting picture of where they want to take their careers and then guides them through the process of creating and following a concrete plan for getting there.

J.T. O’Donnell

Work It Daily

Extraordinary success is not accomplished alone: How Dan Miller’s "48 Days" became so much more than a book and podcast

When you’re the best-selling author of 48 Days to the Work You Love with a wildly successful podcast and weekly email newsletter that 87,000 people, what in the heck would inspire you to spend the past year investing your time and energy in 626 people on a brand new platform?

For Dan Miller, it was the power of a connected network of entrepreneurs that gets more valuable to everyone with each new member who joins.

Dan Miller

How a premium coaching program takes therapists from acing exams to building a thriving practice

Miranda Palmer has come a long way since launching her first free Yahoo Group in 2005.

Back then she was an aspiring therapist who had just failed her licensing exam by one point, and she wasn’t alone. Many of her grad school classmates were in the same boat.

So, when a handful of her students at a local university showed her how they were using a Yahoo Group to study together, a lightbulb went off.

What if I created a study group for aspiring therapists for us to pass our exams together?

That’s exactly what she did. ZynnyMe was born.



Meet Martinus Evans and 5,270 "Back of the Pack" runners not afraid to be "Slow AF"

Martinus Evans didn’t want to start just another Facebook running group for his fans.

As a creator with more than 32,000 Instagram followers (@300poundsandrunning), he had seen many of his peers take this route, but it didn’t make sense to him.

First of all, with so many running groups on Facebook, it would be hard to stand out. Second, it seemed crazy to try to inspire his members to crush big goals on a platform where they would be bombarded by off-topic distractions and political vitriol.

Martinus Evans

Slow AF Run Club

How a floral designer launched her own $18,000 floral business school

Kathleen Drennan has two great passions in life: business and flowers.

In 2014, she left her successful marketing career, started a floral design business, and grew it into a highly profitable, six-figure enterprise.

But something struck her. She noticed that many of her fellow florists lacked the business skills she had grown up learning in a family where business principles were discussed at the dinner table.



Kathleen Drennan


This financial advisor went from idea to successful launch of its first membership site in 45 days

Taylor Schulte wondered what he was getting himself into.

Sure, he had a flourishing financial advisory practice in his hometown of San Diego, two successful podcasts, and a wealth of marketing skills and expertise.

But he didn’t know anything about running a membership website. Uncertainty was running through his mind:

“What if launch this and no one joins? Do people really want another community?”

Taylor Schulte

Advisor Growth Community

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