#50 – Unlock your superfans & they’ll grow your brand for you | Airbnb’s Dorothy Kilroy & Ben Grynol

Episode introduction

Episode Transcript

Dorothy Kilroy (00:06):

There’s two models of fans. You can be a product-first company where you look at user problems and you say, “Great, I am going to start with the user’s needs and their pain points, and I am going to build a product that supports their pain points.” Or, you can start with just create the product and hope that addresses the pain points. But if you want to address pain points, you have to listen.

Ben Grynol (00:32):

I’m Ben Grynol, part of the early startup team here at Levels. We’re building tech that helps people to understand their metabolic health, and this is your front row seat to everything we do. This is a whole new level.

Ben Grynol (01:04):

There’s fans, then there’s super fans. You hear about this all the time when it comes to people who are part of a movement, that being an engaged community, that being people who follow a cult brand or who are so engaged in what is being done that they really feel immersed, they feel part of it, they feel compelled to be part of the journey. And so, Dorothy Kilroy oversees community at Airbnb. She’s also one of our advisors. She’s been on the podcast before, and she has a lot of interesting insights around the way that Airbnb uses super hosts. Those are the most engaged hosts on the network to onboard other hosts, new people who are coming on to the Airbnb marketplace who want to host their house.

Ben Grynol (01:46):

So Dorothy and I sat down and we talked about everything pertaining to super fans. In her words, she always says, “The most engaged people, eventually somebody’s going to get a Levels tattoo. It’s inevitable.” You hear with brands like Supreme, you hear it with brands like Airbnb. And so, Dorothy and I sat down and we talked about this whole concept of super hosts, super fans and how the Levels community ties into it. It was a really interesting conversation and, like always, it’s great to talk to Dorothy about community. So many great takeaways. Here’s where we kick things off.

Ben Grynol (02:22):

There is this idea of onboarding that we’ve talked about, or Airbnb has done with hosts and super hosts, and how you’ve scaled that internationally in different countries. And so, what I wanted to pick your brain about and get more insight was this idea of onboarding through community, building a flywheel through community, and figuring out if there are opportunities for us to do it. Because the heuristic is, or the thought experiment is, what would it look like if we had our most engaged members help to onboard new members, to give them this high-touch, white gloved experience. So yeah, want to dig into this whole idea of super host onboarding, the way you’ve done it at Airbnb and explore to learn all about how it’s gone down.

Dorothy Kilroy (03:12):

Awesome. I’m excited. So it’s interesting, because one of the things that happened in, I would say, the last 10 years is there’s this movement towards this influencer model that has just started to democratize how we actually do growth. And so, what’s great is you have all of these smaller startups, even just influencers, that are starting to be able to create their own businesses, direct to consumer, in a way that we just never had before. You needed just massive marketing dollars to reach that.

Dorothy Kilroy (03:48):

And I think what has spun with that is just this ability for us to be able to find who are your true, and I think you used this word earlier, who are your true super fans? What is your relationship with them? And then, have you empowered and enabled them to actually go build growth for you? Right? And so, if you step back and you look at Levels, I mean I still talk about my first experience joining the membership of Levels, and that’s how I think about it.

Dorothy Kilroy (04:20):

I had Sam and Josh and Mike D. call me, text me, to check in on me. They’d never met me before. They were just super excited to have a new member and that experience, that welcome that I got, that handholding, that turned me into a super fan, frankly. I was like, “This is unbelievable. I’m not just proving my health. I have found a platform that cares about me.” And then, in turn, I can turn around and tell 20 other people in my community that I know care about this, “You guys need to try this.”

Dorothy Kilroy (04:56):

And so, you think about that model. So, the influencer model-at-large has grown, we all know that. But I think where we’re shifting to a new paradigm is instead of the number of members that follow you, the number of likes that you get, I actually think it’s beyond that now into, where crosses the line are where your super fans are and then how you’re actually growing through them. So, I work at Airbnb and one of the things that we got schooled on very early by Brian was how do you build something that a hundred people love? Right?

Ben Grynol (05:38):


Dorothy Kilroy (05:39):

How do you really focus on what they love, rather than just what they’re going to purchase or what they care about? They really love it. And it sounds impossible to do, right? How do you do it? But the formula is again and again the most simple. You start by listening, right? You start by-

Ben Grynol (05:58):


Dorothy Kilroy (05:58):

… listening to those, whether it’s your guests and your hosts in our world. Or, in the Levels world, you start by listening to your members. And I’ve seen you do this early on with some of the book clubs, with some of the listening sessions. And instead of just listening to just one piece of feedback on the product, you listened to their entire experience, goals, my lifestyle, how I’m using it, how it works for me here, how it’s not working for me there, and you just listen. And you find all these incredible nuggets and opportunities when you stop to listen. So I think that that’s the start in block basically.

Ben Grynol (06:35):

So, the question is, before there was a super host onboarding, what was it that the team did from an onboarding perspective? And then what was the insight or the experiment? Was it all tech driven, where, hypothetically, you have everything built out in the flow as far as the onboarding, the onboarding flow, and that’s part of some tech stack? And then what was the insight when you thought, “Let’s go high touch and personal.” What did those things look like before? And then how were you thinking about running the experiment and then taking some data around it? What was the unlock that led to that growth that you’re like, “Oh man, we just have to double down on this thing.” Was it an actual experiment or was it something that just organically happened as you massaged levers for onboarding?

Dorothy Kilroy (07:27):

I think it was really through a lot of that listening, right? When we listened to our community, our hosts, on, “What was it that took you to become an Airbnb host? What was the moment?” And we found over and over again that it was not general marketing, it was actually having a conversation with another human. And depending on your industry, there’s often a long cycle to when you become a member of something. So, if you were to become an Airbnb host, it’s actually a very considered decision. There’s a lot of logistics to think about. It’s not just shopping and putting it in a basket and checking out. There’s a very long life cycle to get to that place where you decide to become one.

Dorothy Kilroy (08:14):

And when we really broke down, where were those moments of truth that you then decided to make that? It was a conversation with another human. In tech, I think we always love to be able to automate something and remove that human part. And you realize people are influenced by others massively. And so, how do you facilitate that conversation with another human? How do you just enable that? How can the tech enable that, rather than how do you take away the conversation with the human? Because that’s what we usually want to do. How do you enable that?

Dorothy Kilroy (08:47):

And so, the starting was just getting the insights and then learning, okay, one of the best ways to be successfully onboarded is actually to have a conversation with somebody else that understands you. So whether that’s in your local neighborhood, with the same situations with short-term rental laws, with the type of guests that are going to be traveling to that area, with thinking about, “Do I need to move out of my space? Do I need to get storage?” Just some of the general logistics, “Do I use a lockbox or a keyless entry?” Just those very basic logistics questions that is very helpful to be able to talk to someone else. And so, learning that that is the best way to onboard, we then said, okay, how do we facilitate that? And so-

Ben Grynol (09:35):


Dorothy Kilroy (09:35):

… we did was we picked what we would call our best hosts and we looked at that through a lens of experience. So, time hosting, time on the platform, excellence in hospitality, really, really high quality. They understood what it means to deliver it. And we talked to them and we asked them were they interested in helping onboarding new hosts? Of course, as predicted, they were already doing it, because when someone is usually passionate about something, they’re already doing it anyway, right?

Ben Grynol (10:08):


Dorothy Kilroy (10:09):

They do it naturally. They like to actually talk about it to others. It’s the same with the Levels community in many ways. Those, like myself, who just love the product, I can’t help myself telling others about how great it is. No one is asking me to do that. I just can’t help myself, because I’m having such a good experience myself. And so, then formalizing that for them to say, “Hey, we see you see. We see that value that you’re bringing and would like to make sure that we give you just stature in the community, frankly,” before you even get to any compensation, to say, “You’re a leader in our community. You represent an ambassador that is building for the good of the community and we want to build a program around you.” And that’s where we started.

Dorothy Kilroy (10:55):

And then we facilitated with a lot of smart technology to be able to match hosts that have similar zip codes, backgrounds, but also whatever the stage of their home was at that they want to host in. So whether it’s an entire home, whether it’s a private room. Whatever their situation is, the better we can match, then that’s obviously going to help as well. And then facilitation for communication, too. So the wonderful thing that’s I think unlocked for us in the pandemic is that there’s a lot more tools that are readily available, that people are now not intimidated by, to jump on Zoom calls to connect with maybe others more readily. So that was another unlock, and that has just been a fantastic way to actually grow hosts. Not just to bring them on, and you can look at the numbers of that, but the quality you bring on that are set up for success.

Ben Grynol (11:47):

One of the things around this idea of the insights, when you’re gleaning these insights about people who would say, “Hey, the reason I became a host was because I learned about it from another host,” was that an Airbnb-initiated conversation, where you had connected hosts, or was it through the community calls that you do? The feedback calls? It was just an informal thing that came up? Someone’s like, “Oh, my friend was a host or my neighbor.” You know what I mean? Was it an organic conversation that you gleaned that insight from or was it something where you had the hypothesis beforehand and thought, “Okay, let’s try to connect people and see what happens?”

Dorothy Kilroy (12:25):

No, it was definitely from listening and understanding.

Ben Grynol (12:30):

It was just organic. Literally people were like, “Oh, my friend told me or my uncle or my aunt-

Dorothy Kilroy (12:36):

Yeah, exactly. Hosts told us that’s what was happening. And I think there’s two models of fans. You can be a product-first company where you look at user problems and you say, “Great, I am going to start with the user’s needs and their pain points and I’m going to build a product that supports their pain points.” Or, you can start with just create the product and hope that addresses the pain points. But if you want to address pain points, you have to listen, right? So why is it hard to become a host? Why is it intimidating? I even remember on some of the members’ calls that you held for Levels, some people saying, “It’s still sitting in the box.”

Dorothy Kilroy (13:13):

And why is that? Why is that intimidating to get started? What is it that you feel intimidated about to get started? And so, when you hear that and then you listen to that, then you can create solutions to those user needs, when you can say, “Hey, this is how you use it.” I mean, there’s now great videos and content that you have, “This is how you put it on. It’s not that intimidating. Let’s show you that.” And then also, “Here’s how you look at a 14-day cycle. Don’t worry about getting it perfect on day one. You have 14 days to experiment and you could do longer than that.” So I think you’ve started to build a lot more content that helps it be less intimidating for that onboarding.

Dorothy Kilroy (13:51):

And so, I think that’s listening to your members. And we did a lot of the same thing, where we just found a lot of the best ideas, actually, just come from listening. And it’s interesting as companies get bigger, it’s so obvious, but we forget to do that. And then what typically happens as well, then we say, “Well, we can’t scale that. That sounds great, but we can’t scale that. We can’t scale that very high-touch solution that our customer or member has told us.”

Dorothy Kilroy (14:18):

And, in fact, I think that is the challenge, right? I think a lot of the time you have to just experiment on, okay, let’s try something that doesn’t scale, just to see does it work first? Let’s see if we can just take a small cohort. Let’s see what we learn. We know that that solution is not going to scale. So maybe it’s something like, crazy, in-person, very high-touch, one-to-one. And you’re like, “Okay, that’s not going to scale.” But that’s okay. What you learn in that is how you break down the things that really matter.

Ben Grynol (14:50):

When you decided to double down, when you said, “Okay, cool.” We’ve heard this end number of times, 10 times, through these community calls, and then you’re like, “Wow, we just have to do this.” And you put together the, even if it was five super hosts, you put together this program, this test, this experiment, to figure out if high-touch engagement in the onboarding process would lead to better retention with these other hosts. And then that becomes a flywheel, because they tell other hosts and onboard other hosts.

Ben Grynol (15:22):

Was there an extrinsic factor that you had or was it all just like, “Hey, five people…” I’m going to assume it’s five, “Hey, five people, do you want to be part of this thing, because you clearly love the company?” Or, was there something that you incentivize them with so that they felt like, “Hey, I’ll do this because I want to be a part of this.” Or, sorry, I’ll do this because I’m getting something in return for doing it.”

Dorothy Kilroy (15:45):

Yeah, so it was both. We’ve had a longstanding referral program for our host community. So anybody can go to Airbnb as a host and get their code and give that to others. And I think, probably 10 years ago, that was in itself was pretty innovative. There was referral codes were still somewhat nascent and they were great. And I think there’s a lot of fatigue on them now because I think everybody has a referral code and there’s just more fatigue. So we took what was the bones of that referral program and we said, okay, how do you build something that actually incentivizes beyond that? And there was a few pieces.

Dorothy Kilroy (16:25):

So there’s the intrinsic motivation and the extrinsic motivation. The first thing was actually giving tools to be able to facilitate those conversations. So like I said, some hosts were already doing this. But how do you give premium content and tools that you can’t find anywhere else to actually help you facilitate those conversations, to make you an even greater master of what you were already doing?

Dorothy Kilroy (16:48):

The second thing was stature within the community, recognizing that craft and saying, “Hey, you should be recognized for this. We should make sure you’re rewarded for this. We should hold private circles for you to learn about new products and features before they launch, and we should hold private circles for you to be able to provide feedback, forums where you should be able to critique our products, our policies, our services, because we really value your insights, since you’re such a fantastic user of the platform.

Dorothy Kilroy (17:19):

Then you get down into other ways to recognize, which there’s obviously still part of that original referral program. They receive a bounty for their work. You can’t just take your super fans and just pay them to be your growth engine. I think that doesn’t legitimize the craft and the skill that they’re bringing enough. And you can use cash to some advantages, for sure, but I think it’s so much more than that. And so, you have to bring a combination of all the pieces.

Ben Grynol (17:54):

When you were undertaking this network-driven, it’s network-driven growth, but it’s still very much an experiment, as far as the one to get the flywheel going. What was the north star metric that you were looking at to say, “Hey, this experiment will be successful if x.” Was it around the idea of number of new hosts? Meaning a super host is incentivized, maybe extrinsically and intrinsically, just out of the love of Airbnb, the love for Airbnb? Was it the number of new hosts that they would bring on board, so that created the flywheel? Or, were you more focused on the idea of retention? Meaning, the next host that comes on board from great onboarding doesn’t churn, or churn minimizes by whatever percent, or was it both?

Dorothy Kilroy (18:47):

It was really around how many successful hosts were you able to onboard through the funnel. So not just how many did you fill at the top of the funnel, but how successful were they within a time period, and were they set up for success? So what we know, and it’s interesting you and I were talking about earlier, what we know is your first few bookings are very predictive of your success for the entirety that you have on the platform.

Dorothy Kilroy (19:13):

And so, getting to your first booking, your first review, all of those things matter massively to the success and the longevity. And so, what we know through that is that, okay, how do we measure success from this? It’s not just the number you bring on, it’s actually how set up they were for success. So that’s how we measured it based on few metrics that we would look at there.

Ben Grynol (19:36):

Yeah, because the high-touch onboarding, we’ll make the assumption that high-touch onboarding leads to better retention, more engagement and a higher propensity to even engage in having a first booking? I’m making an assumption that, without great onboarding there’s… You can fill top of funnel as much as you want, but there might be drop-off because it’s like, “Nah, I decided not to get a booking. I’m pulling out. I’m not doing this.” And that’s where that onboarding flywheel starts to come into effect, where it’s like if you can get them the first, whatever, three bookings or five bookings and they’re high quality bookings, and they feel good about the process…

Ben Grynol (20:16):

I’m making an assumption that the difference between one mediocre booking and churn, versus three amazing bookings with great onboarding is night and day as far as the retention and the LTV of that person being a host. Also, you’ve got such an interesting model. Because I think we’ve talked about this in past conversations where, because of being a two-sided marketplace and… Many marketplaces will have supply and demand crossover, meaning somebody on the supply side can also be a customer.

Ben Grynol (20:55):

Let’s take a three-sided marketplace, like Uber, somebody who is, or sorry, a two… three-sided. I’m thinking on-demand food delivery here. My brain goes… I apologize. Two-sided marketplace, somebody who’s a driver could eventually take a ride. There’s going to be crossover in some of that. But I think we’ve talked where you said, I guess it’s on both sides, the demand side and the supply side. People who had never been on the demand side and became a host and had a great experience ended up becoming a customer on the demand side and booked more book more nights in other locations.

Ben Grynol (21:26):

On the demand side, when they had a lot of great experiences, their openness and their willingness to be part of the supply side flywheel was higher. And so, it’s a matter of creating such a great experience in the entire stack. If one part’s broken, the onboarding’s broken on either side, but the onboarding, especially on the supply side, if that’s broken, that would be a pretty big gap in the flywheel it seems. I know that’s a little academic and nerdy.

Dorothy Kilroy (21:55):

I think that that is the whole point of looking at entire community. I think in marketplaces, we’re always very eager to separate supply and demand. And when you start to see the crossover of the product being used by both supply and demand crossing over, even if their original or their predominant preference is on one side or the other, you start to realize that the entire engine starts to feed itself. And so, we’ve had incredible success seeing a lot of guests who will travel in Airbnb, and right after they have that epiphany moment, “Oh my goodness, I could do this.”

Dorothy Kilroy (22:34):

Some of that is because they have a conversation with their host. And that’s an amazing time to ask questions, not be intimidated. We all know that feeling when we take a break from work and we’re away from our own environment, that we’re open to new possibilities, right?

Ben Grynol (22:48):


Dorothy Kilroy (22:48):

We’re just [inaudible 00:22:49] new ways of thinking. We’re open to new ideas, and some of that is that conversation that they have. And so we find that is an incredible source for us of people trying hosting for the first time, because they’ve been a guest.

Ben Grynol (23:04):

When you think about the growth flywheel and you think about the input metrics, I know it’s holistic, but when opening up new markets or when trying to get deeper growth, I know US is going to be the deepest market right now, because of the first place where Airbnb was established and all of these other factors. But, I’m making that assumption by the way, but I hope that it’s relatively okay. When you’re trying to unlock new growth in new markets, is it, hey, we know that X percentage of the demand side ends up becoming supply side, so the input metric is let’s drive more on the demand side, or do you go bottom up on the supply side to try to convert people to take more trips, or is it a little of both?

Dorothy Kilroy (23:55):

It’s a little of both. I think a lot of our tactics and strategy on the growth side is looking at a number of different ways. I think this is also a case of, as people learn and consume content differently, there’s a number of channels that they’re going to come through. And I think you and I have talked about this for Levels, too, right? We’d love to be able to attribute everything back to that one Instagram post that they saw and they learnt about the product and that’s where they came in.

Dorothy Kilroy (24:24):

I don’t think that it’s as simple as that. I think especially when it’s a very considered long-term timeframe to actually decide to become a host. You really need to actually think about all the channels. And so, it might be taking the trip and talking to a host, and seeing a marketing campaign about it, and, and, and. And what was that one strategy or that one channel that moved you over to decide to become? It’s probably impossible to fully break that down and attribute exactly [inaudible 00:24:57] that.

Dorothy Kilroy (24:57):

We do, we measure that. We’ll look at the efficiencies of that. But I think as you zoom out from it, you realize that it’s probably multiple conversations and multiple discoveries from that person before they were able to get there. So I think about that when you’re talking about their big… They try as a guest and then decide to move over to become a host as well. That might have been one factor in their journey and discovery.

Ben Grynol (25:23):

Thinking through this in real time, it’s probably easier. I’ll take a personal approach on this one and make an assumption. It’s probably easier to be a guest because the mindset is being transactional. So, you see that as a transaction, “I’m going to stay in a place.” But the idea of renting your place to people that you don’t know is very emotional and very vulnerable. You have to open up, you have to be very comfortable. So I would imagine that it’s harder to just say, “I’m a host and I’ve never stayed in an Airbnb.”

Ben Grynol (26:01):

For somebody to make that emotional decision, assuming it’s a personal property as opposed to a commercial property. One, that they bought the house or the apartment or the condo strictly to rent it out, that’s transactional. But if it is a personal space, it’s a lot more emotional. So it’s easier to transition the way in to being a guest first, and then from there thinking, “Oh, this is what the experience feels like,” and then you can maybe picture yourself back to this idea of having conversations with other hosts and learning more about the process. I would imagine that is an easier path into becoming a host.

Dorothy Kilroy (26:42):

Totally. In some ways, the way you’re describing, is exactly it. It’s a very immersive way, right? So like you said, it’s intimidating, “Other people in my home, in my space, strangers. I don’t know what they’ll do, who they are.” There’s a lot of intimidation that many of us of feel about having strangers in our home. And then, when you are the “stranger” and you’re the guest in that experience, you realize, “Oh my goodness, of course I’m going to behave well. Of course, I’m thoughtful about other people’s space and, of course, I’m going to want to leave it in a way that I found the home and be respectful of their rules. I want to be…” That is the majority of our platform.

Dorothy Kilroy (27:25):

Genuinely, it warms my heart every day when I see the millions of people around the world that are staying as strangers for the first time in someone’s home and how well they all behave. It actually restores your faith in humanity, because you realize that is actually really who we are. And so, I think some of that is the review system definitely incentivizes good behavior on both sides. But I think, for the most part, it’s also, when you know that the home is, belong to a person and you know their name, you are messaging directly with them, this is a person, they’re human, and you want to be kind to other humans.

Dorothy Kilroy (28:11):

I think it’s, maybe we don’t behave as well when we’re kind to companies or kind to corporations, but I think one on one, we tend to really think about behaving well to each other. So I think that intimidation gets overcome when they are actually immersive into the experience themselves.

Ben Grynol (28:31):

Yeah, it’s that idea of feeling attachment to personalization. So our caves, our homes, are filled with these sticks and stones. And if you are a host, you’re going to declutter toys that might be in a closet. Even if they’re organized, it’s like you don’t want people coming in and just being like, “Oh, there’s a pile of toys there.” And so, I think that can be a hurdle to get over.

Ben Grynol (28:55):

When thinking about this idea of people and health, it’s a very personalized thing, too. We’re all super individual in not just our health and wellness journey, some people are further along in the process, some people are early, but the idea that, biometrically, our data is completely different. That’s a fact. We’re just biometrically going to be different. And so, what we all respond to is going to be very different.

Ben Grynol (29:26):

And so, finding this way of creating connection, knowing that we’re all going to be at different stages, that’s one of the challenges. That’s where this insight came from where, hey, we should dig more into this idea of super host, super fans and how can we create the conditions and create a platform for people to have this experience that feels welcoming, if that makes sense.

Dorothy Kilroy (29:52):

Totally. Yeah. And I think that’s one of the beautiful things that I think Levels has done. I don’t think you have this very highly rigorous influencer program where you’re just paying for growth, frankly. I think you’ve built up a following by being really thoughtful about how you’ve grown, providing excellent service, but being really clear in the expectations of a two, “Hey, we’re a fast weaving company. There’s product features that we’re still working on.”

Dorothy Kilroy (30:20):

And I love the story that you told me about listening to some of the members and then, literally, within a day being able to launch one of the features that they asked for and they’re like, “Oh, my…” and then actually following through and telling them that, and being part of that early tribe and that feeling that you get, “My goodness, they’re listening to me.” This product isn’t fully baked, they’re continuing to make it better and better. I think that’s really, really powerful. And I think you’ve been very thoughtful about your growth that way. And I think your super fans are there. They’re out there. They’re already building your growth engine for you.

Dorothy Kilroy (30:57):

I think it’s key to just keep making sure you have ways of finding them, making sure you have ways to connect with them. So where are the channels? How do you talk to them? Is it regular? Giving them some level of status in the community. Because I think that those… We talked about intrinsics and extrinsic motivators. I think that that has incredible longevity that will sustain that growth for you and not be a race to the bottom. That is really, really powerful.

Dorothy Kilroy (31:28):

And then giving them access to things that money can’t buy, right? I’ve seen you have some incredible book clubs, meeting with the founders, being part of some cohorts of experiments, trying out some of the new products that you’re beginning to think about, some of the new services, being part some of those beta tests, that sort of thing. That’s building a new level of fandom that others cannot really copy.

Ben Grynol (31:59):

Yeah. The idea of, we’ll call it badging, there’s a couple parts to this idea of social signaling through cues and intrinsic motivators. And the two parts to it are the external optics, so when people see you’ve got the badge, when people see you. Let’s use the blue check mark, that’s a classic one. That’s the head nod, “Hey, you’re in the blue check mark club, too. You are verified.” And that one’s maybe a little bit wider, because it might mean less.

Ben Grynol (32:30):

The more granular you get like, hey, you’re a part of that club of a hundred people who have achieved that badge or that status, that means something to, back to what Brian’s saying, build something that a hundred people love. Well, you can have these micro communities of the hundred-person club, like Coke challenge, the Coke challenge badge. [inaudible 00:32:52]… If you see somebody else who has that, the social signal that it sends or the cue is, “Wow, you are in on that, too.” Very interesting.

Ben Grynol (33:00):

What is the other side of it, though, is sometimes having these intrinsic motivators that don’t have external optics to them. Meaning, if nobody ever sees that you’re part of the Coke challenge club or part of the whatever badge club, is it any less rewarding to that person? And I think the answer’s no, because intrinsic motivation is what you make of it.

Ben Grynol (33:26):

So if looking at that badge every day on your desk or whatever it is, if looking at that every day gives you some sense of assurance that, “Hey, I feel grateful to be part of this club or something,” and nobody ever knows that you’re part of that club, that can still have enough fuel or enough meaning to say, “I love this thing. I feel connected to it.” It’s a very interesting thing to think how intrinsic motivation works when there aren’t social signals at play.

Dorothy Kilroy (33:53):

I think of it like your trophy chest. There’s a public trophy chest and there’s a private trophy chest, right?

Ben Grynol (33:59):


Dorothy Kilroy (33:59):

And there’s some things that are so great, they should be public, whether that’s… You could even go to accreditations, like college degrees or awards that people get. And then there’s things that are in your private trophy chest at home that maybe you achieved and that they’re not necessarily big social signals to others. And I think there’s value in both. I actually think instead of trying to decide between either/or, I think it’s both. And then making the ones that are external-facing be opportunities to connect, connect with others and using it as a facilitation to be able to connect with others that are like-minded, just like you.

Dorothy Kilroy (34:39):

Because… you and I talk about this a lot, but there’s one thing to provide a service to people where you say, “Hey, great, this is a Levels service that we can provide to you,” where your real most I think grows is getting access to a community of like-minded people, right?

Ben Grynol (34:57):


Dorothy Kilroy (34:57):

And so, finding those signals, whether that’s within the app experience, whether that’s through your own social platform that you’ve just used, that 14-day Levels challenge, whatever it is, and finding those signals to be able to connect with others suddenly makes your world actually more exciting. And so, you didn’t just get the service from Levels, you got the community, too. I think that’s where the power really unlocks and you get to that next level of passionate members who really love it.

Dorothy Kilroy (35:28):

And I think your super fans can be a massive starting block for that flywheel growing, and asking them how would they like to be recognized? Ask them rather than pontificating, wondering how, ask them how they’d like to connect with others. Ask them what matters for them in their private trophy chest versus their public one. What status that they’d like to have, what private access to things that they would value. It’s just really listening and asking them.