How to Get Together with Bailey Richardson, co-founder of People & Company and co-author of Get Together

This week we sat down with Bailey Richardson, the co-founder of People & Company and co-author of Get Together (which just launched yesterday!) We’re talking all things community to client work and co-founding an agency.

 
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What do you find is the biggest challenge your clients have when seeking to build community (and what are a couple things you do to help them overcome that challenge)?

The universal fear of having no one show up to your community. "What if no one shows up?"

And, this fear doesn't go away, even for individuals organizing communities that are thriving. Aria McManus, the founder & leader of Downtown Girls Basketball, shared that this concern just doesn't go away despite running her basketball get together every Tuesday night. She still has this nervous energy every time she shows up to the basketball court and she continues to be thrilled when someone does show up. 

What we say in the book about combatting this fear is to get started first with the most passionate people. You want to first pinpoint these people--find the folks who give a ton about your purpose. Your job is to focus on the people who already bring the energy--those who already engage, contribute or attend. Don't try to conjure motivation out of thin air. Start with keen participants. These people will show up for you.

What's the goal of writing and sharing these case studies?

People don’t learn just from instructions. They learn from role models. You can’t be what you can’t see. 

We wanted to tell real, diverse stories because the main goal of this book is to inspire more people to get their people together, from homegrown running clubs to big organizations. 

We want to help more people get their people together because we believe authentic communities will make our civic society more engaged, businesses more purposeful, and personal lives more meaningful.

We're a community of freelancing women, can you tell us a word of advice from your experience of going from such an early employee of Instagram, to freelance / client work to co-founding an agency?

My main advice with professional decisions is that, in many ways, these choices are very personal. My journey reflects my values and interests and financial situation. Yours should too! So, take my advice (or anyone’s!) with a grain of salt. 

My second piece of advice is that for me working in teams is powerful because some days I just don’t have the positive energy I want. On those days, I can draft off of my business partners or collaborators. So, who can you draft off of when you need it? Find a community that will lighten your load, and for whom you can do the same, and you’ll do better work over the long run. 

 
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Your agency is all about growing community, but you deleted your IG a couple years back. What made you decide to do that and where are better places for you and your clients to share and build community?

Oh golly, big question! 

I hope this comes off in the Washington Post article I was in, but deleting my account was a very personal decision. It just wasn’t bringing me the social value I wanted anymore. It transformed into an advertising platform (a space optimized to sell things vs. connect humans), and I often feel like that’s trickled down to individual users. We are selling ourselves to one another. 

At the end of the day, I had spent a good 6 years on Instagram. I’d love if someone makes something new where social connections are truly the focus and the value offered to users. 

When we advise clients, the recommendations for online “watering holes” are really dependent on WHAT their communities like to talk about, and what media or spaces can support those conversations. So: it differs based on the community. 

I’ll have to look more into what platforms event planners and poetry lovers hang out on then… So, who has grown your favorite community, and what is a special element about it?

That is so hard to answer. I love and admire, sincerely, so so many of the groups in our book. 

But I’ll answer with a personal choice: Aria McManus started Downtown Girls Basketball, a team “for girls who are bad at basketball” that I play with once a week here in New York. (They are featured in our book trailer quite heavily!)

Doing that one activity once a week with these confident, playful, creative women has fundamentally shifted my experience of New York. I have the space to do something I love with people I love once a week, guaranteed. I’ve made new friends, and regularly make new friends. Just one or two communities can change your life for the drastically better. Aria brought that into my life. 

Well if it’s “for girls who are bad at basketball…” I just may join you. Last thing - please tell me one interesting tidbit you think the Freelancing Females community would benefit from!

Just that this quote is what it’s all about. People are our greatest resource. Let’s be better to one another. 

The dream of a peaceful society to me is still the dream of the potluck supper. The society in which all can contribute, and all can find friendship. That those who bring things, bring things that they do well. That we create conditions under which a potluck is possible. 

- Ursula Franklin

Interview by Lisa Ann Markuson







Tia Meyers