Growing a Community with Video & Facebook, Nick Pettit Interview

Nick Pettit

How do you build a community for your business, blog or startup?

Recently at FOWA London I got to meet Nick Petit – from Treehouse. Nick shares some really hot tips on using social media to grow your audience into a thriving community.

In this interview you will learn:

  • Why video is so effective for building a community
  • How to use Facebook Pages effectively
  • Why Facebook Groups is such a powerful way to build a community (I never knew this)
  • What Twitter ninja tricks you can use

Check it out:


Nick on Twitter


Growing a Community with Video & Facebook, Nick Pettit Interview

Howard: Hi everyone, Howard from here. I’m here at “Future of Web Apps” and a very special guest to chat to, Nick Pettit.

Nick: I don’t know I was such special guest but, alright. Thank you for the introduction.

Howard: And Nick’s part of the team at Treehouse and he’s called to be an expert at building a community using video, and we’re gonna chat about that. So, Nick, yeah, how’s it going?

Nick: It’s going pretty well, just rocking at Treehouse with Ryan Carson and friends. We produce video tutorials for web designers and web developers and we also recently added iOS tutorials which are…

Howard: Sweet!

Nick: Yeah, people seem to be loving it, which is great. Treehouse is actually not launched yet. Treehouse is the major rebranding or reimagining of ‘think vitamin membership’ which is live right now [you know]. You can sign up for that right now and It’ll [you know] be a lot of the same content to treehouse but treehouse is gonna add a lot of cool stuff like quizzes and badges that you can earn and cool little word videos here and there and it’ll launches on November 7th. So we’re supper excited about it and you can check it all out at right now.

Howard:, so if you are a developer and you’re interested in learning more, that is the place to go. It sounds really [really] cool. And you, over the past, you’ve built up really strong communities using video. How is web video a really effective way to build a community?

Nick: Videos is just such a powerful way to communicate with your users or [you know]with your community. Because when people see your face it really has a powerful psychological effect. When people see a smiling face [you know] instead of maybe just like a screencast by itself, it really can add a lot of [you know] communicative for emotional power that just wouldn’t be there otherwise with just a static site or a blog.

I mean, it’s also great for people that don’t feel like they’re really [you know] real good at writing. I know, like Gary Vaynerchuk felt like he missed the whole blogging thing just because he feels like he can’t write that well and so he’s like, you know, “Ah I’ll video blog and start it.” but then he’s like “I can do that.” So, it’s you know in terms of building community it’s just a more intimate way of interacting with people.

Howard: Sure! Awesome [awesome]! and you were mentioning you’re doing some cool things with the Facebook groups and that’s the way you can further as well as [getting] putting in the initial video [tell us] talk about some ways you can further engage the community.

Nick: Yeah, so Facebook pages and Facebook groups are really interesting. They’re very different animals. With pages, if you have like a pre-existing page that’s already really popular I think that you should try to use that in combination with Twitter.

Because, Facebook pages and Twitter by themselves are pretty powerful but when they’re use together it gets really awesome. [Because you can] it’s sort of difficult to have a conversation with your community on Twitter because it’s really just you talking to everybody else unless people are following a hash tag or something. But if you want your community to talk to one another and really engage with one another about a topic you can post a discussion question on your Facebook page and then if you click, I think it’s like you know the status or like when you posted it, there’s a little link where you can actually link to that specific discussion question. You can tweet that out and say [you know], “What do you think about this? Join our discussion on Facebook.”, or ,“Discuss with us on Facebook.” And then that would bring people to your Facebook page and [you know] they can talk to talk amongst themselves or sort of like give their opinion and then see what everyone else said as well so that’s really cool. So that’s Facebook pages.

Facebook groups are [you know] if I was creating either a page or group today I would definitely go for group because groups are just [you know] so much more conducive to community members talking to one another because it comes up in their feeds and everything.

Howard: More so than pages?

Nick: Yeah, at least that’s what we found with our Treehouse group which has been amazingly active which we haven’t seen with pages as much. It’s more us posting a discussion question and then people talk about it were as with groups it’s a lot more people [you know] asking for feedback about their app or asking specific questions to other community members so, yeah.

Howard: Why do you think that is? Is it part of the way the groups work or…

Nick: We’re still trying to figure that out. I think it is because when people comment in groups or [you know] they liked your comment in a group or they [you know] mentioned you or post a comment on like one of your post on a group it comes up as a notification in Facebook and it will also come up in their feed. I think a lot more so than pages cause I know pages do come up in the feed but I’m not sure what the exact.

Howard: Yeah, there is some…

Nick: Algorithm is there.

Howard: Yeah yeah. I know exactly what you mean.

Nick: But, yeah, we’ve seen a lot more activity on groups.

Howard: Ok, so to that point would you do the Twitter tactic you were talking about you know like posting out a question and ask to join them in would you the same on groups?

Nick: You could but we found out that you don’t even need to.

Howard: Don’t need to. Right, cool.

Nick: I mean posting a question like that and then twitting about it is really more so to get people to start interacting or talking about something and just [you know]maintaining brand awareness whereas with a group that really happens all on its own which is a lot better because it’s a lot [you know]more natural for people.

Howard: Awesome! So somebody who has a startup, they got a page maybe they already have a lot of followers. Would you recommend them to startup a group as well?

Nick: Yeah, I think that you know if they don’t have like thousands or tens of thousands of followers or something on their Facebook page or any [you know] most people don’t. I think it’s worth making the transition into a group.

Howard: Really? Wow, that’s really interesting, yeah.

Nick: Because the interaction is just enough to sort of merit the for the future.

Howard: Yeah, that’s really [really] interesting. And going back to Twitter, [do you have] how did you find building the community on that? Is it all about just putting content on your driving instrument or do you have another way or ninja ways on doing that?

Nick: Yeah, I mean Twitter is really about [you know] just, I guess, thought leadership and also [you know] communicating with your followers [you know] really like getting their opinions about things or getting their feedback. We actually just lunch a sort of a little bit of a social game for the launch of treehouse.

Howard: Okay.

Nick: [And our initial idea for] we’re just trying to have some fun with the launch [you know] and I think we went about it [you know] a little bit half hazzardly because basically like [you know], “Twit with this hash tag and this link and we’ll start [you know] unlocking this cool like videos and sneak previews of treehouse…” and people reacted terribly to that. Because people…

Howard: Really?

Nick: Yeah, [because] well, people said that [you know], “I don’t wanna like promote your product for you and [you know] all those stuff.” And in _____ it really made a lot of sense. We’re really like, “Wow, you guys were right. That was actually a terrible idea.” And so [you know] it was really all about us pivoting and taking that feedback and we realize [you know what] really all we want to do is make treehouse the best way to learn web design and web development and we’d be no where without our members.

And so rather than let them twit about us to other people we had them twit at us and so @reply on treehouse on Twitter with you know your new ideas for a new feature or topics that you’d like to learn about from us then you know that would start unlocking rewards and you know people reacted much better to that and it made so much more sense.

Howard: So interesting. Such a good idea.

Nick: Yeah, so yeah it’s really about us listening [you know] you need to have big ears with a small mouth.

Howard: Yeah, that is really great Facebook and Twitter tips there and well I know you got to jump back to the conference. So just one last one before we let you go.

Nick: Sure!

Howard: Startup just pretty much getting started and they want to start building a community. What’s your number 1 kinda thing they should do today to start building that?

Nick: Really [you know]consider video as a tool to communicate. It’s not just all Twitter and Facebook [you know] text is great. Well written copy is essential, but having [you know] a really good video or just communicating with your users through video is really personal way to get to them and I think a video isn’t being utilize to its full potential by a lot of startups.

Howard: Sure, okay.

Nick: So I would say like consider video as your number one marketing tool, yeah.

Howard: Cool! You heard it here. Well, thanks very much, Nick. Let’s get back to the conference now. We had Nick Pettit here and of course you should check out more Nick on or

Nick: It’s


Nick: We really want but it’s for now. Yup!

Howard: Okay, awesome. Thanks very much, guys. See you soon.

Nick: See yah!


How to Build a Business from Vision to Exit, Guy Rigby Interview

vision to exit

How do you build a business from vision to exit?

 Recently I got the opportunity to connect with Guy Rigby, author of Vision to Exit: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Building & Selling a Business.

In this interview you will learn:

  • Why you have decide what type of business you want – before you start
  • How to establish if your business is scaleable
  • What the critical success factors are for your business in the first 3 years
  • The common traits between the entrepreneurs who ‘make it’ and don’t
  • Why, if it’s not broken – you should break it!

 Check out the interview here:

Buy the Book: From Vision to Exitvision to exit

Connect with Guy on Twitter

Guys Book:

Make Your Passion Your Day Job, Interview with Emilie Wapnick

what to blog about

Thinking of starting a blog but not sure where to start? Worried you might choose the wrong topic? Want that blog to become your day job?

In this interview I caught up with Emilie Wapnik, founder of, author of Renaissance Business, make your multi-potentiality your day job and owner of the world’s coolest shirt! I’ve known about Emilie for quite a while now and seen how, in just under a year, she started a blog, built a thriving community, quit her day job and now does what she loves full time (blogging, writing and helping others).

Emilie helps new bloggers decide what their blogs should be about (which from my experience is one of the most stressful parts of starting a new blog). Her new book, Renaissance Business, brings you through a step by step process how to decide what your blog should be about, how to make it unique and snazzy & how to grow a thriving community.

I wish her book was out when I started my blog – it would have saved my weeks of stress! It’s exactly what a new blogger needs – no hype, just great advice. Even after reading it now I’m making changes to my blog on the back of it. Thanks Emilie.

In this interview you will learn:

  • How to choose the blog topic that’s right for you
  • Why NOT to listen to the advice most business coaches will give you
  • What is the most important element you need to decide on
  • How to bring something unique to your blog
  • How to grow a thriving community

Check it out:

Download a Free Chapter

Buy the book

Get one on one coaching with Emilie (Emilie’s blog) 

 Have you had trouble choosing a topic for your blog? Tell us in the comments below

A Lesson in Innovative Product Design. Interview with Richard Farr

prompt it teleprompter

Great videos without the 'umms' & 'ahhhs'










Do you create online video? Ever wish you could remember everything you needed to without looking at your notes?

While in Sydney I caught up with Richard Farr,  founder of one of the best inventions I’ve seen all year. – a great little device that turns your iphone or ipad into a Teleprompter. This allows you to read complicated speeches while looking straight at your web cam.

In this interview you learn how Richard got Prompt-it featured in Techcrunch, how children helped him with product design innovations and how the idea for a seriously innovative product like Prompt-it was born.

Check out the interview here:
Links: (you can buy one directly on the site)

Prompt-it on Twitter

Prompt-it in Engadget and Gizmodo

Google Please Hire Me, Interview with Mathew Epstein

google please hire me

What do you do when you want a job really really bad?

Why not do something like what Mathew Epstein did and make the ultimate online CV with his kick-ass site and video (I highly recommend you see it – it’s great).

I found Mathew’s site when everyone started tweeting about it last week and I thought – I gotta chat to this guy! In the interview we chat about why he made the video, how he made it, how his site has got over 300,000 hits in under 1 week and, if Google are going to hire him. check it out:


Mathew’s personal Blog 

Mathew on Twitter

Any thoughts on Mathew’s idea? Share them in the comments below


Are you an Innovator? Interview with Hal Gregersen, The Innovator’s DNA

Hal Twitter

Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezo’s, Richard Branson, all innovators, but what do they do differently than everyone else? And what things can we do to become more like them? I speak to Hal Gregersen, co-author of The Innovator’s DNA – Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators about Questionstorming, the Medici effect and, of course, how we can become more innovative. Check it out!

Get it here: Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators (affiliate link)

See also: (book co-authored by: Hal Gregersen, Jeff Dyer & Clayton M. Christensen)

Hals Twitter:!/HalGregersen

innovators DNA

Check out the book!


Are you an Innovator? Interview with Hal Gregersen, The Innovator’s DNA

Howard: Hi everyone, it’s Howard from Startup Remarkable here. [And] today I have the great honor of having Hal Gregerson, author of new book The Innovator’s DNA recently I Amazoned on that. [And] it’s a great pleasure to have you here, Hal.

Hal: It’s great to be with you. Thank you.

Howard: Great! [Today we’re just gonna] after reading the book I really wanted to just have a quick chat about what is it that makes us an innovator? What really kinda practical steps can entrepreneurs like ourselves take to be more innovative?

Hal: You know, entrepreneurs do what I’m going to describe naturally and for many of us maybe who aren’t naturally innovative we can become the same way. And so what it comes down to as we’ve often hear of the tune or the notion think differently. What we discovered with this research looking incredibly destructive innovators was that they think differently because they act differently. And if you were to walk in their everyday world and be able to watch what they do they engage in behaviors that help them get creative ideas and so they’re always provoking the world with this questions that just really upset people sometimes but they’re trying to get underneath the surface of what’s going on here to figure out how might we do things differently.

What if we did it this way? Why not that way? Now they observe. They put their eyes on where they’re observing like anthropologist and they basically they [you know] pay really careful attention to the world and they talk to a lot of different people. We call it networking for ideas. Now it’s talking to people who, not only look like us, but who think differently than we do to provoke new ideas. And finally, now they’re really they have this experimental approach to the world. It might be experimenting with food, it might be trying something different, going to a new place on a vacation, and it might also be a willingness to just try something different at work to be able to figure out a better way. So they really act differently to think differently.

Howard: Great! And reading the book I tell you it was a great fun book to write because your studying some really [really] exciting people. And at what point do you think this is something you know you talk about Jeff Bezos a lot and Steve Jobs a lot and is this something that they always did or did they learn it or…

Hal: [Laugh] I think it’s a fun question which is [you know in] a fun way to answer this question is to remember that Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs and other incredibly well known founders of this innovative companies they were ones four year olds. And when I walk around the world wherever I go, whatever country I’m in, four year olds act like four year olds. I don’t care if they’re famous or not. Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs were not famous when they were four year olds. But they did what you and I did you know. They asked the four year old kinds of questions. Why not, why this, why that, they observe carefully. They talk to different people. They try all kinds of new things. They think laterally or associationally connecting the unconnected. We did it all when we were four years old.

And so what’s unique about many of these innovators is that when they were growing up from four years old to twenty four years old, they had adults in their world either in schooling systems or at home or their community. They said, “Guess what. Don’t let go of those skills, keep them running, make them go.” And so some of it is the world we live in is, not just some, it’s really about 60 or 70 percent of anybodies innovation capability does not come from their DNA. It comes from practice. It comes from doing certain things about 30% of it does. But that’s the small portion. The big portion is just doing things differently.

Howard: Great, and that as well leads us on nicely to the next question which [I suppose] one of the things I thought was great about the book is that it has a lot of practical tips and you see I have them marked here. The book is a great read and so [I suppose] you kinda outline five core areas how we can become more innovative in the book. And maybe, could you just briefly bring us through them? Maybe give us one of your [I suppose] one of the practical kinda tips how we might be able to implement them.

Hal: The logical way of thinking through them is, most innovation starts with a question. So it’s essentially you know I’ve got to get a new question and generate a better way of thinking about things by asking provocative questions. That’s the first piece. The second piece becomes [you know] I don’t just sit in my chair inside of my office asking clever questions. And what we know from the research is that if I do that, I might not gonna get great ideas that actually create value. In other words they generate something that somebody else wants.

So, if I start asking productive questions and then get out of my office and either go make observations of actual people to see [you know] what are their needs, what are the jobs to be done, what can we do here that could be done differently, or it might be that I literally talk to a lot of different people in a systematic way. Or I go at night and I experiment with the world and I try different things to see how it might help me get some new ideas. When I do that stuffs, that’s how I generate the new ideas.

So, when Mark Benioff got the idea for he didn’t just sit in his office. He worked for 20 years at Cisco figuring out enterprise software systems. And then he sold a lot of them to small medium enterprises plus size enterprises but it really didn’t work great and they weren’t doing a fantastic job selling it to them. So he takes a sabbatical. He experiments by going off to India and he talks with this incredibly spiritual people about the world and he explores that place. And he also talks to a real wide variety of interesting entrepreneurs. People who see the world differently, and technology people. And then he gives himself time to put this all together and then at some point his swimming in the ocean, the Pacific Ocean, with the dolphins. And it all comes together, he connects the unconnected. What if we sold enterprise level software like Amazon sells books? It’s like putting this two things together and that creates cloud computing. And we know the story but that’s how we do it you know. We literally engage in those actions in order to get the new ideas.

Howard: Yeah, I remember, that was a great story. I really enjoyed it swimming with dolphins part especially. One of the things you mentioned there about asking the right questions. One of the tips you talked about is question storming. Now, I’d never heard of it before and I was like, “That’s such a good idea.” You kinda flip on brainstorming asking the questions instead of trying to come up with all the answers. Do you have any examples of people that have used that and I supposed opened up the answers to the questions that are relevant?

Hal: Absolutely. And so I watch people use this individually and we work with executive teams doing it as [you know] as a team. And essentially, when we get to the point that we’re stuck trying to figure out a solution to a problem and all of us, whether be personal or professional, we have some sort of a problem that we don’t have a solution to. It might be a relationship issue or it might be a professional technical kind of issue but we don’t have a solution. We thought about it, we wrestled with it, we’re trying to figure it out, but it’s just we’re not getting anywhere. You know those moments, right? When we hit that moment, that’s the point of which this question storming can be powerful.

And so, It might be that I’m trying to figure out a better way of selling something and what I would do individually would be, get a journal. Paper based journal, electronic journal, Ipad, whatever. And everyday keep a journal. And for five minutes, write down questions, nothing but questions about the problem. And if we do that day after day it’s inevitable that within 7-10 days we’ll start asking very different questions. And that’s the key _____ point because I can’t get any solution if I don’t ask a different question. It just goes with the territory. And so that’s how this folks do it. They literally brainstorm questions at an individual level by asking the questions along the way.

I was working with one company that was trying to get a more positive brand image up there in the world. And what we literally did with the group of senior executives was figuring out… We get a question storming where the group of people asks nothing but questions. You get a big white board. You get some markers. You tell everybody shut up if you don’t have a question to ask. And let’s just ask nothing but questions. And you demand at least 50 questions about the problem before you let go. So, its question question question question. You write them down. You look at the question. You think about it. What could be different here, how could I see this differently. And what happens is, when we question storm, what I notice is sometimes people who don’t say anything actually have the best questions. And their provocative and they generate new perspectives. So what we did, by the time we got down to question 73 in that question storming exercise no. 1, people are a little bit tired because they’re not used to thinking in questions. And it’s like a muscle that never gets used. They said, “You know, this is just exhausting at one level.” But they realize when they went back and look at those questions, they were asking the wrong question in order to get a better brand image. And that lead them down to an entirely different path on what they are doing.

Howard: Ok and so using that example than, they will go through all that questions, look to answer them, but they would see, as going through that process, which are [I supposed] the questions that they should be asking.

Hal: Well, if you go through that individually or as a group and you’ve got this long list of questions then at that point it’s ok. Which of these are worth pursuing? And one of the questions about the questions might be again which one is surprising. Which one is surprising enough that it’s like, “Wow! I never quite thought of that. And if we had an answer to that it might give us the solution here.”

So, the question then becomes the foundation from which I go out and do something with the question. I go out and make some observations in a different industry or in a different country about that particular issue. I go out and I talk to five different people and these things are five practical things just like question storming you know. It’s literally putting on my agenda or schedule. It’s putting three different lunches, one per week, for a series of three weeks with somebody in a completely different industry or a completely different country of origin or completely different technically professional background than I have and talking with them about the problem we have.

One organization, TBWA, when they do advertising campaigns, they haul in boxes of hats and shirts from innovative companies. So, I might be working for IMB and I’m bringing in a bunch of hats and t-shirts from Apple and from Virgin and from Amazon and from Google. And they, literally, put on the hat of that company and they say, “Ok, if I work for Apple, how would I look at this problem?” And that’s what AT networking is doing. It’s getting me in the perspective of somebody else and how they look at this problem. It’s a great way to get new ideas.

Howard: Fantastic! That’s great, Hal. [Countless of time I] there’s a lot of areas I’d like to speak to you about and I supposed the Medici effect that you talk about with AT networking. I supposed, it’s the first time cause one of this things about networking, we all know what we should be doing, but it’s the first time I’d really heard it articulated why it should be, why [it is such] it actually is important advantage. Could you just explain the Medici effect to us very briefly?

Hal: Well, first, there has been a great book called The Medici Effect. And it’s essentially you get new ideas when you live in the intersection. And I leave in near Paris and it’s faster to drive in the Arc de Triomphe. It’s got 12 major streets coming into that circular road around the arc. And when you go into that intersection, it’s a given, if you get into an accident it’s both parties fault. [It’s just] it goes with the intersection. You’re gonna bump into each other. And what innovators do when they network for ideas or when they try to generate new ideas they intentionally go into the intersection where their gonna bump into new perspectives and bump into new ideas and bump into day to day they have never seen before. And it’s in that bumping in the intersection that we create this Medici effect which that word comes from the renaissance period in Italy.

Where the Medici family brings together people from all over the world, different professional backgrounds, different interests for _____ this part of Italy. And the family literally supports this explosion of new ideas. So that’s what we can do not just you know out there but we can do it in here. We create that intersection, that Medici effect, in our heads by going out discovering new things, experiencing new things, talking to different people. And then we’re pushed into a corner and we got to create a new idea. We have all this stuff that we bumped into that can give us a new idea.

Howard: Fantastic, great advice. Well, just ask you one more question, Hal. And before we finish up, if you were then, knowing everything that you know now, about what makes a good innovator. What kinda one piece of advice really kinda practical piece of advice somebody could put into action today would you give to [say] a young entrepreneur just starting up a new business?

Hal: Go with your strengths when it comes to these innovations skills. Some people love to watch the world – they’re observers, other people love to talk to people – they’re idea networkers, others they tinker, they experiment, they just try new different things. 1) Know what your strength is, what do you love to do, and what are you good at. 2) Make sure that you spend time, even when you’re starting a new business and you don’t have time to do it, to keep that skill alive. Do it. Force yourself to do it. Because you’ll never quite know what person you’re gonna talk to, what situation you’re going to pay attention to for your observations that might be critical at the next stage of your business. So it’s, [you know] know who you are.

We got this really great assessment that you can potentially use that gives people data around [you know] who are you in terms of these skills. It’s the But basically, it helps us know who we are. Leverage those skills and if we do them regularly it’s just short amounts of time 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes. It compiles, it compounds, at some point leads us to something really good.

Howard: Fantastic, great advice. Well thanks very much, Hal.

Hal: You’re welcome.

Howard: And everybody The Innovators DNA is available on Amazon and also the website

Hal: That’s it. Yeah.

Howard: Fantastic and I highly recommend there’s some great stuff so thanks for joining us, Hal.

Hal: Howard, thank you very much.

Howard: Thank you very much.

Hal: You’re welcome. Bye bye.


How to run a portfolio business? Timothy Bosworth, Think Big Be Big

Tim bosworth

How do you startup a successful dating site, consultancy, blog and create a series of children’s books? Impossible right?

In this interview with Timothy Bosworth from Think Big Be Big, we discuss what it takes to have a portfolio career; how to act on your entrepreneurial impulses and Tim shares the methodologies he uses to get so much done.