#178 – Behind the scenes of community building with members to solve the metabolic health crisis | Cissy Hu & Mercy Clemente

Episode introduction

Show Notes

Levels strives to build an interactive community of members where people can help one another and share information about metabolic health. Look for multiple new shows per week on A Whole New Level, where we have in-depth conversations about metabolic health and how the Levels startup team builds a wellness movement from the ground up in the health and wellness tech industry.

Episode Transcript

Mercy Clemente (00:06):

I would relate that back to community building as well. In that you’ll oftentimes feel like, “Oh, I need to really be connected to a lot of people to feel like I’m really part of a community.” But we’ve had members who have found friends through the Facebook group, through Instagram, and it’s these small, tiny moments of connection similar with habit formation, right? We’re trying to help our members build positive eating habits and making positive choices meal by meal. It’s not, “Oh, I made one decision and I kind of lose the day from that making a decision that spiked my glucose levels.” It’s these tiny, small connections that end up being some of the most meaningful ways that people experience Levels through the eyes of another member. And so the same tiny experiments that we’re doing translates really well over to these small, meaningful connections. But it’s not a huge overarching need to feel like you’re connected with the entire community. Like one or two of these relationships can be extremely meaningful for some of our members.

Ben Grynol (01:11):

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 (01:24):

We started doing these episodes not too long ago, and there are these episodes where we decided to dig into functional areas. What exactly does each function do? Sometimes for people who are either interested in Levels and what we do as a team or prospective team members who are looking to join. It’s also really important for our own team members, because being remote, being async, being at any company, sometimes you don’t really know exactly what does [inaudible 00:02:03] do, what does growth do? And so we thought, why don’t we have different team members just talk about what they do with each other?

Ben Grynol (02:08):

And it gives insight into and provides color really into what each of the functions does. So we’ve done one with product today. We recently did one with partnerships, and here’s one with community. It’s a bit of a minisode, but Mercy Clemente, part of our ops team also, Josh’s sister, if you’ve tuned into other episodes, and Cissy Hu who leads community as part of the growth team, the two of them sat down and discussed the four pillars of community, the things that Cissy’s been working towards as far as education, identity, belonging, and ritual.

Ben Grynol (02:38):

All of these things are important factors in building on engaged community and focusing on things like behavior change over a long time. But what does that have to do with new and existing community members? What we’ve realized is that all people want different things. Some people want to engage digitally with the community, other people don’t. Some people want to have very small group experiences, micro communities with their family or friends to be able to engage and talk about the Levels data that they see. There are lots of different things and there’s not necessarily one playbook that can be run against all these community initiatives. So we keep tweaking levers, we keep figuring things out, and to give Seth Godin, our good friend a hat tip, people like us do things like this. We’re always trying to figure out what those little pockets are and how we can best engage with the community. No need to wait. Here’s a conversation with Mercy and Cissy.

Mercy Clemente (03:34):

So Cissy, what does community mean to you, just in general in a broader sense? What does the word community mean?

Cissy Hu (03:40):

Yeah. So to me, community is coming together with others who you share a common experience with. Whether that is a common experience through a rite of passage or a shared set of rituals that you all agree upon. A community is all around us, whether we explicitly name them or not. So think about the groups of people that you grew up with, whether that be family, the folks that you went to school with, your colleagues that you work with, rec leagues that you’re a part of, book clubs that you’re a part of, or places of worship that you go to. So many of us tie our identities to the communities that we affiliate with and the people that we share similar values and belief systems with.

Cissy Hu (04:19):

And to me, the core of it is this sense of a shared experience and doing something explicit together that somebody else may not feel if they’re not part of that group of people.

Mercy Clemente (04:33):

Yeah, I completely agree. I think it’s something that just innately, every individual wants to be part of some sort of community. They want to feel that sort of bond and comradery with others, even if it’s on something, some, something so simple. Once you have that similar bond, you genuinely feel close to that person. You found your tribe or your community in general. With that being said, how do you think community at Levels will, well, how do you think it’s kind of come about and how do you think we should really continue to build that up and really strengthen that pillar of the company?

Cissy Hu (05:07):

So to the core Levels is about empowering our members to make positive behavior change around the food choices that they’re making every day.

Cissy Hu (05:15):

When we think about the food that we’re choosing to eat, it’s deeply connected to a lot of the rituals in the cultures that we grew up in, the households that we grew up in. And so eating actually is inherently a very communal activity. And so when you think about Levels and our focus around helping people make healthy food choices, that is explicitly what we’re trying to do is build a shared identity around being somebody who cares about metabolic health and who wants to form a healthy identity around choosing the right foods on a daily basis. So for us, building community at Levels is about creating a platform for our members to spread the significance of metabolic dysfunction. If you don’t pay attention to the choices that we’re making every day in our kitchens, at cafes, at restaurants, and ultimately the goal is to help our members find their people who are on similar paths to them as well as share similar health goals.

Mercy Clemente (06:14):

I mean, I definitely agree with that. It’s always interesting to see how somebody will say, “I’m really struggling with this one aspect.” We recently have our getting started cohort where we assisted people walking through the Levels program starting from beginning and going through the whole 31 month program. And it’s just interesting to really see how people will post, “I had this and my body just didn’t really do well with it. Does anyone have any suggestions? I’m feeling a little down.” And suddenly you have five, 10 people who are all sending messages saying, “Hey, I had the similar result. And then I tried it, I tried that same food and then I went for a walk. And then when I had that short 15, 20 minute walk, my numbers were completely different. We recommend you try that and let us know how it works.” Just simple things like that instantly start to build a bond between you and these other people who are going through the same thing with you and you realize, okay, I’m not on my own.

Mercy Clemente (07:07):

Other people are also having these ups and downs with their spikes and their scores, and this is something where we can all sort of continue to build this bond and continue to grow and help each other out. And I think that’s something that’s really exciting that we’re going to continue to focus on at Levels.

Cissy Hu (07:23):

So at that point, I’ll actually touch on the fact that we often hear from some of our members that they have a hard time finding folks in their inner circles. So the people they’re spending their day to day lives with, oftentimes they’re finding that the people that they’re closest to don’t care as much about metabolic health yet. And so they actually find a lot of solace in meeting with people in our Facebook group, talking to the Levels community broadly, listening to our podcasts, reading our blog posts. They find a lot of solace and connectedness with those folks that they actually don’t know, but share the similar goal of wanting to manage their metabolic health and are interested in educating themselves.

Cissy Hu (08:04):

And so part of it is helping our members find people that they wouldn’t have otherwise had access to.

Mercy Clemente (08:11):

Yes, I mean I’ve seen that so many times honestly, in our Facebook group in general, when we first started the Facebook group back in, I think it was April of 2020, it was right before I started. I started in July of 2020 and initially we were trying to be a little more involved, but then we slowly started backing off a little bit on how quickly we were to respond because we saw that other members were jumping in when they saw someone post like, “Hey, I’m struggling with this.” And they immediately would jump in and give ideas and suggestions and words of encouragement. And then it kind of from those small comments and likes on people’s posts, it continued to help build that sense of community in that private Facebook group.

Mercy Clemente (08:49):

And so now we have a few thousand members in there and it’s amazing to go in and see someone that’s just feeling down cause they’ve had a rough day and they just didn’t sleep well. They’re stressed out and they’re just not eating well that day. And other people are like, “It’s okay, It’s just one day. Go for a walk. It’ll really help your numbers even out.” Little things like that where it’s just awesome to see how the community has not changed, but how it’s grown so much in a fairly short amount of time, a year and a half or two years now, and how it’s going to continue to grow and continue to expand.

Cissy Hu (09:20):

Yeah, that’s a great point. I think our Facebook group initially started with a group that was predominantly team run and over time it’s really evolved into this beautiful community run Facebook group that we essentially reserved this space for our members to speak and connect freely and candidly and learning together, sharing recipes together, and ultimately trying to problem solve together rather than us driving those conversations.

Cissy Hu (09:45):

It is amazing to see that some of those members that are now more veteran members who are jumping in to answer those new member questions, those are folks who a year ago were new members themselves and seeing the growth of some of our members is pretty amazing. And over time, the goal is to help all of our members, whether they’re at the start of their metabolic health journey, whether they’re years in, feel like they have a space and a home to manage their metabolic health with Levels.

Mercy Clemente (10:13):

Yes, definitely. I mean, two members that instantly come to mind that are those veteran super super members in the Facebook group are Natalie Vanderpump and Gabe Mendoza. They’ve been around and in the program and in the group for probably at least a year and a half I would say. And it’s just awesome to see how quickly they jump in to help people out and how encouraging they can be.

Mercy Clemente (10:35):

And it’s just exciting to see how our members are now growing into honestly new types of roles where they’re like, “Okay, I’ve learned so much in the amount of time I’ve been using Levels. I want to share this knowledge with the newcomers and help them and encourage them and push them to keep trying things.” It doesn’t matter if your score is low for the day experiment, experimenting is a big way of learning what works for you and what doesn’t work for you. And trying those different substitutions, it’s a very great thing to see.

Mercy Clemente (11:05):

It’s inspiring from our perspective to see how much people have grown because at the end of the day, someone who is in a similar spot as to where Gabe was two years ago can look up towards Gabe and see, okay, Gabe. Gabe had a start two years ago and he’s grown a ton over the last two years in terms of the knowledge he’s acquired, the experiments he’s done, to your point and the lifestyle changes he’s made and be able to see that, yeah, there’s this, the quote, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” Hopefully helps many of our members feel like there’s a model, someone’s modeling the journey that they’re hoping to embark on.

Mercy Clemente (11:43):

So part of our community building efforts is really shining a light on the Natalies and the Gabes and the Maureens of the world. So going into how we plan to really shape Level the community at Levels, what are some of the, I guess some of the principles and stuff that we’re going off of to really form this whole program in a sense of continuing to build this bond among members?

Cissy Hu (12:08):

Yeah, I’d say the, There’s two primary guiding principles that we lean on when we think about what community building at Levels looks like. The first one is solving the metabolic health crisis for all. And so when you think about the metabolic health crisis, there are so many different ways that this manifests in people’s lives and the choices that people are making on a day to day basis based on lifestyle are like, how much sleep they’re getting, the type of food they’re putting in their body, whether or not they’re moving their body, whether or not they’re getting outside for sunlight, all of that funnels into managing the metabolic health crisis at the individual level.

Cissy Hu (12:47):

So the initiatives that we’re working on are really designed to be accessible and inclusive to all of our members, not just people who practice a specific dietary preference. For example, we are, the goal here is to empower all of our members to make healthy decisions that are right for them regardless of the current behaviors that they’re making, the dietary preferences they choose. Really the goal here is to try and solve this crisis for everyone so we’re not supporting one type of dietary preference over another to the exclusion of others. So that’s the first piece. The second piece is we have this internal philosophy at Levels called everyone on support. And similarly, it’s really critical for us to both keep our members top of mind in everything we do, but also the general dynamics of our community. And so it’s important that our broader team have a pulse on what our community is up to and build with our community and our members, not just for them.

Cissy Hu (13:48):

So how this looks in practice is back to the Facebook group that you mentioned earlier. It started off as a space where a lot of our team members were moderating conversations, seeding some of the conversations. And over time, it’s really become this space that’s reserved for our members to be able to speak freely about the challenges they’re facing, whether it be constructive feedback for Levels and the problems that they’re having in their day to day lives. Rather than driving a lot of those conversations, we’re encouraging our members to connect. And then from our side behind the scenes, we’re reading every conversation that comes through the Facebook group and sharing it with a broader team with a weekly recap of what’s happening every week. So whether that’s highlights, low lights, common questions that are coming up, the goal is not to lead these conversations and stifle some of the constructive conversations that are coming out of the Facebook group.

Cissy Hu (14:45):

Rather it’s supporting people and making sure that the rest of our team, not just the folks that have access to the Facebook group, are hearing these conversations as we build for our members.

Mercy Clemente (14:55):

I know that in your weekly community updates or posts on the community updates are super helpful, not just for the ops or support team, which is where I mainly work at, because it kind of gives us like, “Oh, people are also, we’re getting a lot of emails and help scouter for our support role from people having the same types of questions and then seeing that they’re also talking about it in the Facebook group.” It’s helpful for our design and engineering teams to see, “Okay, this is something that members are either really liking or they’re really not liking or really not understanding.” And it helps us to then put out new documentation on why we made this update, or possibly even some situations where we rolled the update back because we realized it just didn’t work well, we tried something out, we experimented with it, and our community didn’t like it.

Mercy Clemente (15:40):

And that’s totally okay. This sense of having the freedom to post your thoughts and your opinions and how you’re feeling throughout the program and seeing what other people are saying is really, really helpful. I think not only for our community members, but also for our team as well, to really learn from them as well as them learning from us, it’s a two-way road, I guess is what I’m trying to say. It’s a great learning experience for everyone to see how those things can change and progress and how we can make the product better for them and how they can guide us into the right direction and we can say, “Okay, this is exactly what they’re looking for. This is what we’re going to go towards.” So I guess going off of that, how do you think the community has evolved? I know we’ve said that previously we were closely moderating the Facebook group, and now it’s kind of mainly just everyone can kind of post what they want.

Mercy Clemente (16:30):

And we have kind of stepped back and hands off, but how do you think that we will continue to change community involvement at Levels and grow this so that people feel comfortable to share these different insights they’re learning in more places than just the Facebook group?

Cissy Hu (16:47):

I’d say we’re relatively early days still in community building since the start of the company community, which has primarily been a focus in the last around the last year, has been highly experimental. And so in the earliest days, we were focused on connecting these small groups of early members with our founding team and with experts in the metabolic health ecosystem. And so a lot of that was community calls, book clubs that we hosted with Dr. Lustig and Dr. Sinclair, as well as Coke Challenges, where we were encouraging members to experiment with how being sedentary after drinking a Coke might impact them versus going for a walk after a Coke might impact their glucose levels.

Cissy Hu (17:31):

And so from the start, we started small over time. This year we’ve continued to experiment now with more of an eye towards micro communities. And so to date, we’ve really been focused on nourishing these little micro communities where people are bound by time, for example, when they join Levels. So that might be a new member or by interest, so that might be someone like a crowd fund investor who invested in our series A crowd fund round. And so I would say over the last two to three quarters, we’ve really been focused on bringing these smaller groups of folks together, our crowd fund investors. We hosted for the future of AMA series with Josh Casey and Moz, with our new members, we launched a onboarding party series where new members have an opportunity to meet new members that are also starting out on their journey, as well as somebody from the Levels team who can help them make the most out of their journey.

Cissy Hu (18:27):

We also relaunched the Getting Started program, which is a program explicitly for someone who is new to Levels, who wants to start with a group of other people at the same time, who also just starting out on Levels. And we host them a private Telegram group and for 30 days they go back and forth and talk through their learnings, ask us questions, and really have an opportunity to make the most out of the program with people who have similar goals. So the last cohort we just ran was anyone who is interested in managing weight loss. In the future, we might do one around their dietary preference. So over time we’ll continue to experiment with these small micro communities. But I’d say the biggest evolution is going forward, we are looking to expand the reach of our community programming. So we started small, but as we are growing, there’s a lot of opportunities to engage the broader community and members who have been around for a bit.

Cissy Hu (19:28):

I’d say more recently we’ve been focused on some of our new member programming, but over time we’ll be doing things like relaunching the formally known as the challenge, the community challenges. We’re going to be launching community experiments where on a monthly basis we encourage our members to join one another and experiment with one explicit experiment. So have members do experiments around what is consuming a glass of apple cider vinegar do to their glucose levels when they’re eating a carb heavy meal. Does it make an impact? Does it not make an impact? And helping our members build this muscle of experimentation and over time, hopefully they can learn from one another and then become inspired to actually do some of this experimentation on their own.

Mercy Clemente (20:16):

Yeah, I mean, I’ve tried the apple cider vinegar experiment personally, and I’ve noticed such a difference. And I try to implement it on the days where I know I’m going to try to splurge a little bit on what I’m eating and not watch those carefully.

Mercy Clemente (20:27):

And it’s incredible to see how different it makes. I mean, how much of a difference it makes in my numbers when I know I’m not going to eat very well that day. It’s really inspiring to see how much these small little experiments can help people and know like, “Oh, I tried the apple cider vinegar challenge. Do you want to try it?” And posting it to share for the whole team to try out. It’s one small thing that helps to strengthen that bond of feeling, however many members that you’re associated with are also doing it, it kind of, it’s encouraging and it makes that small little experiment more exciting, at least in my opinion. It does.

Cissy Hu (21:05):

And to your point about making it less lonely, I think early days when you’re first starting out on Levels, you realize, “Oh, there’s so many different foods that impact me in ways I realize I thought I was a healthy eater.”

Cissy Hu (21:18):

And having these little micro tools like drinking apple cider before a carb heavy meal, going for a walk after your meal, eating fiber screens before a carb heavy meal, all of these little strategies may work for some people, may work, may not work for other people. And just having all of our collective knowledge is hugely important because there are going to be things that resonate with some community members and there are going to be things that don’t resonate with some of our community members. And so trying to figure out what are ways that we can bring initiatives forward to have the broadest farest reaching impact is something that we’re going to be focused on going forward in addition to some of the micro community building work we’ve been doing.

Mercy Clemente (22:02):

That’s great. And another thing to note is that just because you have a toolbox full of tools doesn’t mean you need to use all of them.

Mercy Clemente (22:08):

If just a certain, a few tools in that box work for you, then stick with those few tools and continue to use them. You don’t have to try every single possible experiment or continue to use every single possible experiment on a daily basis. It’s finding what small things you can do for yourself and implementing those in your day to day life or however often possible to make these small changes that will have a lasting impact on your health overall. It’s a really great small activity or thing that you can experiment with and change that will have lasting effects on you.

Cissy Hu (22:44):

And I would relate that back to community building as well. And that, you know, oftentimes feel like, “Oh, I need to really be connected to a lot of people to feel like I’m really part of a community.” But we’ve had members who have found friends through the Facebook group, through Instagram, and it’s these small, tiny moments of connection similar with habit formation.

Cissy Hu (23:03):

We’re trying to help our members help positive eating habits and making positive choices meal by meal. It’s not, “Oh, I made one decision and I kind of lose the day from not making a decision that spiked my glucose levels.” It’s these tiny, small connections that end up being some of the most meaningful ways that people experience Levels through the eyes of another member. And so to your point, the same tiny experiments that we’re doing translates really well over to these small meaningful connections, but not a huge overarching need to be to feel like you’re connected with the entire community. One or two of these relationships can be extremely meaningful for some of our members.

Mercy Clemente (23:51):

Just like you were saying, you don’t need to be bonded to everyone that has ever done Levels, but finding the few people, finding your tribe. I remember there was someone that I had interacted with at one point who said, “I need to find my tribe.”

Mercy Clemente (24:02):

And then I’ve slowly been finding it through Levels, and I will never forget that because she’s like, “It’s just a few people, four or five of us, and now we all have a private group chat and we text regularly about little discoveries we’ve made or things that we’ve struggled with and it’s just a great encouraging little thing.” She said, “I would’ve never found these people had it not been for Levels and starting to do this and posting one time and then finding all these experiments from other people.” Along with that. I know we recently had the first member in person meetup we were talking about before Natalie Vanderpump had posted in our Facebook group about, “Hey, I’m in the Pacific Northwest. If there are other members here that want to go for a hike, feel free to send me a message.” And she got, I think there was 10 people from the Facebook group that they all had never met before, but posting this one thing, they all were able to go and meet up with each other.

Mercy Clemente (24:52):

And now they’ve got this communal bond and it’s just a small group like you were saying, and it’s just those small interactions can make such a big impact. And it’s just really awesome to see how these little moments can make lasting changes in people’s lives.

Cissy Hu (25:09):

Yeah, the example of Natalie’s meetup is a perfect one in many ways. That is just one small thing, small ping that Natalie put into the universe to see if anyone’s around, would be interested in meeting up. And she formed the first member’s meetup and going forward, one thing that we’d love to continue to do is shine a light on members who are really interested in creating in person community. Right now we’ve predominantly been focused on online events as well as things that are more asynchronous just like our company. And so over time the hope is that we will be able to power some of these meetups that our members are hosting and have meetups much broader and across the US and hopefully internationally.

Mercy Clemente (25:55):

Yeah, fingers crossed that we can get to that point. But I mean, the whole road is open, we can go wherever we want, it’s going to take time, it’s not going to happen overnight, but just getting to the point where we had members initiate meetup on their own is a massive step compared to last year, a year and a half ago where it was very few people in that group. Going off of that, who do you think the community is going to work with? Who does community? What are we really going to focus on with that?

Cissy Hu (26:24):

Yeah, so internally, I would say the function of community typically will sit under growth or marketing, and that’s the same case as Levels. Community sits under our growth function and we as a function, we are pretty far reaching in terms of the different teams that we work with. The different teams that I’d say that I spend most of my time working with are teams like content, support, partnerships, social, research.

Cissy Hu (26:57):

Most recently I’ve spent a lot of time working with our research team thinking through what does a experiment look like for our community members? And so a lot of that work is trying to find ways that can both further our community and our community member growth as well as some of our internal goals and finding the sweet spot of that where we’re both helping get content in front of our members, but also showcasing our members in content. Those are the goals that we work towards in trying to figure out where can we fuel the flywheel and both benefit our members as well as our team.

Mercy Clemente (27:32):

Yes, I mean that’s definitely a big focus. I know that we will continue to expand the community aspect, but also getting more team members involved is really helpful because everyone has a different perspective or different ideas that might help make one little change that could have a really great effect in building that community aspect at Levels.

Mercy Clemente (27:51):

And I know that, like you said, we have that the [inaudible 00:27:55] community thread that’s shared every week with new information that members have either shared on Facebook or we’ve received questions about continually that we think should be flagged for everyone to see. We’re also continuously getting feedback from members in our support channel. So that’s another big way that we get questions from people that are like, “Oh, I’m trying to find how to do this, or I’m trying to figure out how to do that, and feeling a little lone on this aspect.” And if we share, “Hey, we have a call, like an onboarding call that is being led next week, if you want to jump on that, here’s the Zoom link for it.” Small things like that that have those bigger effects and can really help people jumpstart their process in the program and make them feel a little more on top of things and a little more in control of that.

Cissy Hu (28:42):

Yeah, using support as an example. That’s actually a really good example of a team that community has collaborated with. There are a lot of different questions that come in as you know, kind of on the front lines of hearing from our members. And so over time the goal is to surface the most common questions and figure out how can we create community programming around these questions so that way members feel like they’re getting the information versus having to go to Levels and ask the questions. So being a bit more proactive around the initiatives that we’re crafting based on existing member feedback and then helping alleviate some of the questions that support might be getting if we’re able to help bring better members around to answer some of these questions or just set up different events to answer the questions before they even become questions.

Mercy Clemente (29:33):

So I guess continuing on that then, so what would be some of our priorities for the community and of our main focuses now?

Mercy Clemente (29:40):

And I guess over the next six months or so?

Cissy Hu (29:44):

Let me take a step back and talk a bit about our key pillars for community building at Levels, which helps inform some of the priority setting. There’s four of them. First one being education, second one being identity, third one being belonging. And the fourth one being ritual. Education is focused on raising awareness about the metabolic health crisis and helping create opportunities for our members to learn together from one another, from experts in our ecosystem. And experimentation guided by our team. Our content team has done a phenomenal job of putting out ultimate guides and varying blog posts, really anything you want to know about metabolic you can find on our blog. And so the goal is to work to pull some of the insights off the blog and bring it to life in some of our event programming and day to day touch points with our members.

Cissy Hu (30:35):

So that’s the first piece is education. The second piece, identity, I talked about this concept of you can’t be what you can’t see. And so working with our members to help them see other members who are further along in their metabolic health journey and mobilizing those newer members towards positive behavior change that might otherwise be challenging if they don’t see that it’s actually possible for them to achieve a higher state of managing their metabolic health. The goal is to help illustrate to them that they can shed old behaviors that no longer serve this new identity that they’re stepping into as somebody who cares about metabolic health, identity being the second one. The third one is belonging. Over time, we have spent a lot of time thinking through providing small micro community experiences to help drive deeper ways for our members to connect and we’ll continue to focus on that.

Cissy Hu (31:32):

As well as I mentioned earlier, expanding the reach and so not just focused on new member programming, but also how do we reach members and our existing ecosystem who might not fall into our crowdfund investor community and find ways to bridge the gap across dietary preferences, background, age, and try and help similar people connect who have similar goals. And then the last one is ritual, because community has been highly experimental in the first phases of community building over the last year or so. We haven’t really done with a lot, done a lot with rituals. One ritual I can think of is our mission patches, which is a patch you can look forward to if you have completed different milestones with Levels like doing the Coke challenge. But the goal is to prioritize instilling new rituals around relationships with food. And so both with Levels, but as well as with food and the types of food that our members are consuming.

Cissy Hu (32:32):

And so building these rituals that rewrite some of the learnings and relationships they’ve had from early days of how they identified with the types of food they were eating based on how and where they grew up.

Mercy Clemente (32:47):

Yeah, definitely. I mean, those are massive parts of everyone’s life. Everyone has grown up eating like the comfort food. And that’s different for like you said, each, wherever your background is from, it’s probably different for each person, but as you grow up you kind of find out, “Okay, some of those comfort foods probably aren’t the greatest for me. And so let me see if I can find some simple swaps that I can still have that taste, that delicious, comfortable thing, whatever it is, but it’s not going to cause me to reach these crazy numbers.” And being able to figure that out and share that with other people or getting other people’s ideas on how they swapped this one thing and now they can have this delicious cookie or whatever it is and not have to worry is a big thing.

Mercy Clemente (33:32):

And it’s comforting to know that other people are also feeling not that frustration, but feeling that struggle of figuring out what is it that I can change out and how can I improve this one small thing to make things a little bit better for me.

Mercy Clemente (33:50):

What are some of the challenges that you think we’ll face to accomplish these things going as we move forward?

Cissy Hu (33:57):

Yeah, I mean I think the ongoing challenge that we face is thinking through what initiatives prioritize. Any role at a startup is prioritization and making sure that our priority stack reflects the needs of our members. And so there are so many different things that we want to do and want to launch, but realistically, there’s only a handful of big initiatives that we can take on every quarter. And so finding ways to run the experiment and quickly decide to shut an experiment down if we feel like it’s not resonating or really pour fuel on an experiment if we feel like it’s really resonating with the community.

Cissy Hu (34:36):

And so that feedbacks loop is really important, but prioritization and just having the bandwidth to be able to try and experiment with as much as possible is an ongoing challenge, I’d say. But with this experimentation framework, it’s great because we can wind things down very quickly as quickly as we started them.

Mercy Clemente (34:58):

Yeah, I definitely agree. I mean, there have been plenty of times where we have experimented with something completely random and just pushed it out there to see how members reacted. And in some situations they loved it. They were like, “This is the greatest update, this is exactly what we were looking for.” And in other situations we just received overwhelming feedback saying, “No, no, no, this is too much change. It’s just not at all what we wanted or needed.” And we were able to quickly say, “Okay, we heard you, we’re listening.”, and roll it back and make that one simple thing where we tried something out and we received the feedback and we listened to everyone saying, “No, we don’t like it.”

Mercy Clemente (35:31):

And we instantly just, “Okay, we understand and we will make something, We’ll make smaller changes going forward so that way you can kind of understand how these small changes are happening and then continue to learn from them and then continue to make new adjustments slowly and hear people as we go through them.” Because the feedback is super, it’s super important. I mean, it helps us grow, but it also will help members grow.

Mercy Clemente (35:56):

And yes, there’s always going to be, not always going to be easy, but these small challenges that will overcome as time goes on is really beneficial for, honestly, I think everyone.

Cissy Hu (36:06):

Yeah, and I’ll just underscore the importance of building for and with our members versus just for our members, I’ll mention that I’m working on creating is this concept of a Levels lab where we solicit feedback from our members at a more scaled up version where people can share their feedback on the different community initiatives they want to see versus us simply creating community initiatives around what we think they want to see. And so that’s something else we’re focused on is just gathering more feedback and making sure that the things that our members want to experience at Levels can come to life.