The Key to Facilitation ~ Rotem Carmely

 A great community experience doesn't just happen all on its own. That's why I interviewed Rotem Carmely to learn the keys to facilitate a cohort-based course community.

We Covered
  • How Rotem got interested in serving CBC creators (01:49)
  • The biggest problems Rotem sees in the creator space and why facilitating a cohort is the solution (04:55)
  • How Rotem began to address these problems in her app (09:18)
  • How to begin facilitating an environment where members feel like they are in it together (13:04)
  • The number one thing a facilitator must do (21:34)
  • How to create a safe environment where members are willing to share their struggles (26:14)
  • How to structure the cohort in a way that encourages members to share their struggles (30:47)
  • Other ways to give members the space to share their struggles (34:10)
  • How to involve other members in conversations so you’re not the only one responding to questions and things (37:48)
  • Final questions (40:12)
In a Nutshell
  1. Without facilitation, members won’t get the support they need to get the promised result of the cohort-based course
  2. The number one thing a facilitator must do is create a safe environment where members feel at liberty to share their struggles vulnerably and to seek help from the facilitator and other members
  3. To create a space where members feel free to voice their struggles…
    1. Start by opening up about how you used to share the same struggle
    2. Center the group coaching conversations around solving their problems
    3. Encourage members to ask questions inside the community
    4. Know your members well enough to tag them into conversations they can help with
    5. Trust the principle of reciprocity. If a member receives from another member, they’ll want to pay it forward
Full Transcript

[00:00:13] Jonathan: Ahoy, captain! Welcome to Cohort Captain, the only super actionable podcast made for cohort-based course creators. I'm your host, Jonathan Woodruff. There is a big difference between running a cohort where members just so happen to be taking the course at the same time versus running a cohort where members feel like they are truly in it together on the same team, fighting together to reach the same goal where the community really makes the experience and the results way better than if they had just taken the course by themselves. It's just not that immediately obvious how to facilitate that kind of environment. 

That's why my guest today is Rotem Carmely, a co-founder of Clustered is an app that helps you build, deliver, and scale your cohort-based course. And because Rotem is intimately involved in her own community of CBC creators using her app, she is in a unique position to give us her perspective on what makes cohort-based courses successful and namely how to facilitate a cohort where the community makes a big difference for each individual member.

What's up Rotem?

[00:01:37] Rotem: Hi, Jonathan. So happy to be here. I love your intro. I wish I wish you could introduce me everywhere. I could just take you with me everywhere and be introduced that way.

[00:01:49] Jonathan: I, I'm very grateful that you're here, grateful for your time. And, I'm curious how you became interested in serving cohort-based course creators to begin with.

[00:01:58] Rotem: Yeah, that's a, that's actually a funny story because it wasn't our initial intent. Our initial intent was actually to service people that are looking for the best way to work on their professional development. And our, when we got together, my co-founders and I were actually on a mission to get people together to work through challenges together.

It was before the pandemic. so we were actually doing a lot of tests in the physical world doing events and thinking about how do we want to build our app that is specifically designed for creating this support system for people around professional development challenges. When, what we discovered, during our testing and during the feedback sessions that we had with the early users was that people were really looking for facilitation and this kind of extra support they can only get from someone who is an expert or went through something similar and already kind of had frameworks they could use in order to teach people how to do it.

So that's when we started looking into courses into the learning and development world when it kind of was simultaneously where the pandemic started. And so many people are in our network were looking for, like, new ways to teach online, and for, kind of new platforms to teach and to facilitate courses that they already built or workshops that they did offline and they wanted to transition online.

So it was a really great opportunity for us to say, “oh, well we built such a cool app for a group, kind of group collaboration and learning and engagement. How will it work in if it put it into like the learning and development world?” 

And it was really amazing, like the first feedback that we got and the first few programs that we had on our platform really show that this, this is the right way. And this is when cohort-based courses kind of started blooming and people started using this phrase, so it really got us excited about the future of education. And we realized that we were building something that could really benefit this world of online learning.

And also learned about, kind of all the problems that the online learning world had and how cohort-based courses are the natural evolution of what the online education world was. So that's got us really excited to start working on something that would really solve problems for creators in this space and not just students.

And this is where we are now, where we're trying to really create tools and frameworks and help people create these kinds of experiences. so the people on the other side, the students could also benefit the most from these experiences.

[00:04:55] Jonathan: So tell me more about the problems in online learning that you've noticed. cuz I want to get into the solution of it and like how you've kind of addressed these problems in facilitation and with your app. but tell me about these problems. What problems are you seeing in the online learning space for creators that really caught your attention that you wanted to serve?

[00:05:18] Rotem: Yeah. Like I think that kind of traditional online courses that were very video-based, self-paced learning were revolutionary at the time, that, you know, platforms like Udemy, Teachable, Thinkific, all of these platforms that really let people put their knowledge out there and be able to also scale it in a way that, like, it's just impossible before, and also let students just have amazing access to information and knowledge, but it really lacks what really effective learning experiences have, which is accountability, support, community. It's very difficult to learn just you in front of the computer without having any kind of feedback from your environment or from someone that's already been there.

So that's why the graduation rates on online courses, specifically video self-paced courses are around 5% and that's like a good number. So most of them are in the zero to 5%. And I think creators today are very, just very disappointed a lot of the times. They work very hard to put something out there, but at the end of the day, they're not generating that much revenue as much as they thought they would. They're not generating as much impact as they thought they would. And they work really hard on putting a product out there that is really just drowning in the sea of information that is out there on the internet.

And it's very hard to stand out that way, when you don't really offer anything extra or create a community around the specific topic that you're an expert in.

[00:07:08] Jonathan: So one of the things that I love that you were just talking about is, I feel like there's this culture of people who tell us how easy it is to have this like stunningly amazing, highly profitable, highly scalable course that just takes off right away. You create this course, and you're a millionaire in like a month, you know? And you know, they, they preach the scale, like they're a preacher on the pulpit telling you to drink their Kool-Aid basically, that you know, it’s going to be super easy. And this is how you do it. You just have to like do blah, blah, blah, you know, whatever their tactic is and you buy their course to learn how to do it, of course.

[00:07:52] Rotem: Yes, of course. So it’s kind of its own industry that serves its own basically just like coaches learning from other coaches on how to do the same thing. And it ends up not being very effective for anyone new coming in.

[00:08:08] Jonathan: Yeah. And you mentioned 5% is like a good rate for that course completion. Yeah. so it's like, you know, maybe someone will sign up, but they're, do they even do the work? Do they even… if they're not completing the course, they're probably not getting the result, right? So, you know, what's the actual effectiveness of the course? So…

[00:08:27] Rotem: I think it also really depends on the topic. Like there are some topics that, you know, that you can watch a few videos until like, okay, now I know something, but there are some topics, especially around soft skills, which are the most wanted skills today in any job force.

Like, how do you learn leadership from, you know, watching a YouTube video or from even listening to a podcast, no offense? Like, how do you, how do you get something like that is so conversational and developmental. How do you learn something like this without any kind of feedback or learning inside a void without any kind of support or feedback from your peers? It's just impossible to learn something like negotiations, like authentic leadership, things like that. It's just very difficult to learn just watching a video or reading a book. It's just very hard.

[00:09:18] Jonathan: Yeah, for sure. And so you saw this challenge. Well, first of all, you saw this problem in the online learning space, and this was meanwhile, while you were looking on a support system to help folks with their facilitation, so how did you begin to kind of connect these two things, seeing this problem and knowing how you could help out with it?

[00:09:41] Rotem: So of course we did a lot of research. And so what are the main problems that students have today and what are they communicating, what are they saying that is missing for them and the learning environment? And especially post pandemic, people started talking about isolation and loneliness, and having you know, no peers to connect with.

People are looking to gain some confidence in their skills and what they can do. They want to take control of their career. So it was clear, that like the traditional solutions or not really working. So we were really kind of like, okay, we already have an understanding of that people want to meet other people. People really need this kind of connection in their life. And it seems like a very kind of natural development for our product to also add a layer of learning into it because it's just natural when you're like, okay, even if you're in a networking environment, if you're going to a networking event, it's usually around some kind of a topic that you want to learn and that you want to develop.

And personal development is just tied so deeply with, with learning, and I think a lot of people think about learning as like, okay, this is just, you know, a module that you learn and now you know something new. But honestly we are in the world of, an era of ongoing learning.

People never finish learning. It's not like you are okay, I'm done with my school, I'm done with university, I'm good to go, I don't need to learn anything else. But no, you start a new job and you have any challenge, and, and then you get promoted and you have a new challenge, and you constantly have challenges in your life and your work.

And sometimes these are not challenges that are easily solvable within any kind of environment that you're in, if it's at work, if it's at school, if it's even with peers or, or even with your family and friends, these are things that are very difficult to solve on your own.

And sometimes you want someone else's opinion or an expert to give you like, you know what I've been through this. I will teach you how to do that. And there are so many like new world skills that it's just like impossible to learn anywhere except for on the internet or from other people, other communities.

So people are constantly looking for these things: okay, how do I learn these life skills that will, you know, help me stand out in a super complicated job market or like a super competitive job market. How do I get that promotion? How do I negotiate my salary? These kinds of things that are, they're not Google-able. It's not something that you can just ask and you'll get an answer.

Things are very specific to your specific case. So even if you watch a, like a, an online course on the general topic or read a book, it's not necessarily going to be something that you can actually use afterwards that are not necessarily have any actionable results for you.

So I think this is why this is the time where we are, we're seeing this massive need for more customization, not just in the way that we connect with other people, but also in the way that we learn and how it's intertwined. It's just inseparable.

[00:13:04] Jonathan: So let's dig into that. Just the fact that it's inseparable to the connection and the learning piece of this. And I want to dig into kind of the how to. So you were mentioning when we met before that, you know, there's a difference between, you know, not all CBCs are created equal, that, you know, some CBCs, it might feel like the cohort members are just taking the course and it's just, they're doing it at the same time, but that's just kind of the extent to which they're connected. Versus the CBC where like, it truly feels like they're, like they are in it together. 

And so just starting at a high level, big picture here, what are some of the things that we can do as cohort-based course creators to facilitate an environment where our members feel like they're truly in it together?

[00:13:54] Rotem: Yeah, I think definitely it, what you said is true is putting people in a room or in a slack chat or a Facebook group or any kind of a, you know, online, or even offline, kind of a setting, it's not enough. You have to, like, once you take on being a CBC creator, you also take on the role of facilitator and connector, communicator.

It's super important. And I think not like people think, oh yeah, I just need to show up, you know, do some sessions, and people are just going to work it out, and it's not really the case. And we've seen a major difference in students' success. And of course, uh, effectivity and personal satisfaction, the more the facilitator was involved and the more facilitation that was involved in the cohort-based courses.

Because it's like you go to a networking event, for example. Right. and you just stand there, let's say you're introvert. And you have the, you don't know anybody, and you go, you listen to the lecture and then you go home because you're, you just didn't know how to start talking to people, but let's say there was someone taking you by the hand and telling you, Hey, look, Jonathan, this is Rotem, then we get to know each other. You are working on the same thing. Or if there was any kind of workshop or any kind of an active piece of the event that got you into like learning about each other and understanding each other more, that will make it a whole different experience. 

So just putting people together in the same space, it's not enough. You have to work on building these connections. For example, I learned a lot about, about facilitation and about really super quality facilitation is the Transcend Network, for example, which is a place that I highly, it's a amazing network for any startup founder in the EdTech and future of workspace, where they really take the time and learn a lot about anyone in the fellowship and how to connect each other. And I've gotten a lot of inspiration from this network when I'm working on Clustered and what our product team is working on and what we can do better for these course creators, because understanding how to facilitate, how to create this kind of environment, it's not just, okay, just do this and it will work. It requires some effort, and it requires some frameworks that you need to use and implement into your teaching style.

[00:16:32] Jonathan: So tell me more about the frameworks. How do you begin to actually start building those connections once they are in your community?

[00:16:41] Rotem: Yeah. So I think first of all, something that we put a lot of emphasis on is group size. It's like when you're having these zoom sessions, you have these breakout rooms.
They're there for a reason, but there's, it's very hard to create any kind of discussion or any meaningful discussion, in a group of over 8 people.

There's just not enough room for people to be vulnerable, to feel safe, to be able to talk about their problems, and actually be able to grasp and listen to everybody. So if you're in a huge cohort with another 200 people. you're very, very likely to feel like, oh, like unsafe or feel like I don't really have the space to, to be myself and really know other people in a meaningful way.

So group size is super meaningful. That's why we actually called ourselves Clustered because the way that groups are being formed and on our platform on our app, as small clusters of five to 10 people, and we highly advise creators to keep it that way. So even if you have a big cohort, let's say a hundred people for successful creators, you can cluster them to 20 different clusters.

You can also give them different names. You can also say this cluster is for people from that background and these are from that background. You can do some work, it can create a questionnaire, and then you can cluster your people ahead of time so they can get the maximum from the experience, because they are really a part of a like-minded group of people.

So it's super important to create this kind of intimacy. And we're trying to help creators do it at scale, kind of manage everything from the back office. So group size is super important. 
And also people need to understand that if you're taking on creating a cohort-based course, the better you know your people, like the people that you're teaching, the better the experience is going to be for them, and also of course, like the bigger the transformation and the bigger the price you can charge. 

If you're saying I'm going to get to know you, and you're going to get to know me as a facilitator, as a coach, as a mentor, however you want to call it, you're going to have direct access to me. And that means I have direct access to you. And I can also learn from you. And I can also understand what are the specific challenges that you have so I can help you better. So that's really meaningful. And that really, as a facilitator, you can use the specific challenges people are going through in order to serve the group better. So you'll know like how many of these challenges are shared?

How many of these challenges are unique? How could I make my next cohort better to serve these kinds of challenges better? And it creates this feedback loop that is only possible in a real cohort and experience and a real meaningful learning experience because you are as an educator, as a mentor, you learn about the people that are going through the experience and whether something is effective or not, and you can on the go, you can already correct yourself and you can change the program and adapt accordingly.

So that is really, really for me, one of the magic things about cohort-based courses, the way that the feedback loop is created between, between the course creators and the students. So I think these are the things that are important to focus on. Even if you're not like a top facilitator and you went to, you know, you took a lot of courses on facilitation and you read all the guides and all the books, like you can just focus on like, how do I get my community to connect?

How do I get people to talk to each other? How do I get people to be vulnerable and be open about their challenges? How do I create them the most, like the safest, safest environment possible. And how do I get to talk? How do I get people to talk about their challenges so I can know which challenges I really need to focus on, what my customers are saying, what my students are saying also, because then you will be able to… 

Like, the next cohort, you're already be able to use better marketing keywords, and you know the problems better, understand your audience better. So it's really kind of this magic circle that happens in a cohort-based course. So really focusing on creating intimacy and vulnerability for what we can see is like the number one indicator whether a facilitator would be successful.

[00:21:34] Jonathan: Okay. That is super interesting. Like the number one indicator is, can you say that one more time? The number one indicator for whether the cohort will be successful…

[00:21:45] Rotem: Like when we say that the number one indicator, whether a cohort would be successful and the satisfaction level would be high and the graduation rate will be high. If the facilitator was successful in creating this kind of feeling of intimacy and vulnerability, because then people engage, then people come into the app again and again, and they come to all the sessions because they don't want to miss out, and they feel connected to the rest of the people in the cohort. 

They want to know, oh, like Jane from last week said that she had this issue with their boss. Look, I want to know what's happens this week and what she's going to say in the next session. And I want to know how it's addressed by the facilitator so I can also learn from myself and people are really learning from hearing other people's challenges, right? 

Like if, one of the biggest problems right now in online, definitely online communities, is what I call this success porn, where everybody seems to be successful, and it's just a facade, and you don't get to learn anything from it.

It's just boring. Right? Like if I would now join a cohort of other founders and they're all like, oh yeah, I'm, rocking it. I'm doing amazing. I am, my startup is super successful and we raised like millions of dollars and they're not going to talk about their challenges. They're not going to talk about what are they doing to solve these challenges or, you know, or being open about where they are, where they want to be…

I'm just going to get bored and leave because it's not interesting. And there's, it's not just going to make me feel bad. It's also just gonna, it's like, I'm not learning anything here, so I don't feel connected to any one of these people because they didn't open up to me. So, it's really is about like engagement is a lot, not just about, oh, look at all the wins, but it's about how do you create an environment where people talk about real problems, create meaningful relationships between themselves. and not just like, you know, all of these, a lot of online communities, Facebook groups, slack groups just became like one of this big promotion, you know, like platforms where you're just learning about what other people are doing, which is cool, but it is not impactful or effective in any way to your own personal situation. 

And you can’t really learn a lot from it. So it's really important to create spaces like this, where people can be themselves and be vulnerable. So that's why, that's what we feel like. Why would someone go to a cohort-based course? It's not just to, you know, learn ABCD that they could read in a book. They're learning. Okay. Someone had a problem, being open about their problem. How did they solve their challenges? How are they now solving their challenges? This is what keeps people engaged.

[00:24:39] Jonathan: Wow. That's like, my mind is like, woo, like ding, ding, ding, like very interesting. Just everything that you're saying. So the number one thing that we can do is to help people be vulnerable about their problems. And it makes so much sense. I mean, when we think about social media, it really is this uh success porn highlight reel of, you know, all of these successes that people have had, you know, Hey, I hit my first million today. Hey, I'm 30, under 30 in, you know, Forbes named me that, you know, it's just. It's not a problem. Like, you know, congratulations. That's amazing. Like assuming it's, you know, it's true. I I'm sure it is true everything these people are saying about their successes.

But yeah, when we're in a cohort, It's different because everyone in that cohort has a problem. Otherwise they wouldn't have paid a thousand, $2,000 to be in that cohort. Like they have a problem that they are trying to solve. So yeah, let's, let's talk about the problem. Like what problem do you have? What does that feel like? You know, where are you at, and where do you want to go? 

So that's just, okay, so, so we want to create this environment where they feel safe to talk about their problems and to therefore, you know, open the doors to you, being able to help them with their problems and the other people in the cohort to help them with their problems to, to solve those things.

[00:26:02] Rotem: Exactly. That's where learning happens. Otherwise it's just, it's just information going through from one person to another. It's not real learning. It's not real transformation.

[00:26:14] Jonathan: Yeah. And so how do you begin to create this safe environment? What’s step 1?

[00:26:21] Rotem: There are of course different frameworks for that. These are the kind of things that we worked through with people coming to us and what we teach people in our, you know, our clustered method or in our kind of bootcamps that we do, to help creators figure it out who their student persona is and how to connect with them. Because like the number one question that you need to ask yourself as a creator is like, okay, what are my audience's problems? A lot of times it's like, what were my problems? How was I able to deal with my issues and be vulnerable about them yourself.

So any creator that comes in there, like, and these are a lot of the online courses that I see or videos or YouTube, like, hi, I'm awesome. And come learn to be awesome like me. Okay. I'm sure some people are, that's what they want and that's what they want delivered and the way they want it delivered. 

But a lot of people are just like, no, I want a facilitator or someone to teach me that I can actually relate to. So if people can relate to you, they're probably not going to pay you also, to also learn from you. So there needs to be a good balance, like a level of openness and vulnerability on how you show up as well I feel, in your material and in your marketing and the way that you talk about your work and how you're going to help people.

Because if people feel like you're inapproachable, they're probably not going to feel super comfortable in being a part of your cohort. So it does, it does need to be like a good balance between like, okay, I'm successful. I learned some things, I knew how to overcome them, but also like I know this problem intimately because I've been there.

So first of all, like, you know, taking responsibility and ownership of your own vulnerabilities to make other people feel safe. That's kind of the number one way that you should lean into it and start building. And then you should really ask yourself, what are the things that I can connect with other people over?

What are the problems that my audience has? What is the kind of transformation that I want to get people through? Like what, what stage would they start, and how would I measure success, and how would people feel at the end? So these are the kinds of things that if you have them in mind, you're already starting from a good standpoint of creating this kind of safe environment. If you're coming yourself with the vulnerability, other people will join. And of course also just set up the setting this way. It's like saying, this is a safe space. This is a place where you can talk about things like that.

And if you keep it in like small groups and manage to get people also in the application process or registration process that you know, that are dedicated to, you know, to the process that you're trying to get them through, it's already a very good start.

[00:29:26] Jonathan: Yeah, that's interesting. And I see some parallels in just daily life, too, with being vulnerable and getting other people to open up about their problems. You know, just in life. I've experienced that if I'm presenting myself as high and mighty, and I know everything and blah, blah, blah, like other people will feel, I think other people will feel that I will judge them if they open up and, that's totally.

[00:29:53] Rotem: You're like good for you. Like, I don't want to be your friend.

[00:29:57] Jonathan: Right. Yeah. Like, yeah, they don't even want to interact with me anymore. I think I learned this in elementary school actually, just at a young age. If I, I don't necessarily have to what's the word… deprecate myself per se, but if I'm just uh.

[00:30:15] Rotem: There needs to be a good balance because sometimes there’s also over deprecation, you know, like people are, uh, feel like they need to be completely, you know, like I suck, in order to, to connect with people and it's not the case. Like you can be confident, you can be super aware of your own skills and what you bring to the world and also be vulnerable and open. It's just a way that you present yourself that makes other people want to connect with you.

[00:30:47] Jonathan: Yeah.

Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. I love that. And like, yeah, just being open about your, your own problems, like you were saying, and then the second part to what you were saying was, connect to people through their problems, essentially. And so when you were talking about that, I was thinking of, Louis Grenier’s program, his cohort.

I mean, essentially the way he structures the program is that he actually has the course pre-recorded. He drips it out each week. And then he does live calls, uh group coaching calls every week… is the way he's currently running it, the way he just ran his third cohort. 

And essentially, I mean, the, the calls have some structure to them, the group coaching sessions, but ultimately at the end of the day, the sessions are all about, Hey, tell me about your problems. What can I help you with? 

And the entire conversation, the entire program is centered around, Hey, what's your problem? What can I help you with? And, uh, of course they're going through each week, you know, tackling different assignments, and each week has an objective, and so it’s, okay, what's your problem, you know, going through this assignment this week, what are you struggling with this time, like going through this? 

Um, but yeah, it's all centered around these problems. And so I wonder if the core structure is kind of the key or a key element at least to centering the conversation around these vulnerable situations where people are opening up about their problems?

[00:32:13] Rotem: Yes, of course. And I think, like you mentioned, I think Louis is actually doing a really good thing that also creators on our platform do. And that's what that's, what's amazing about technology and what it allows for cohort-based courses to kind of, be scalable in a way where, okay, let's say you have content that you want to deliver.

You don't have to deliver it all live. There are a lot of things that you can still do, you know, asynchronously where you can just say, okay, this is, you know, me talking about topic “A” and here is some content that you can learn from and homework and everything, but use this, and then also have a space where you talk about it. Right?

Because if people just have the video or just have like, you know, this pieces of content, but don't have the space to, okay, what do I do with it? Like this, I can, I resonate with it, but now I want to know how do I make it actionable in my life. So creating this combo is super effective.

Like, okay, you can watch this whenever you want this week, but we're having our sessions on Thursday where we talk about this and you can come with your problems. So it also creates a really great setup, and a great context for the sessions, that is not for example, you know, like, I dunno, a mastermind or something like this where people just come and talk without any kind of context.

So that's what really cohort-based courses allow. It's like having this combo of context and content and a whole world that you can always tap into and also the community, of course. But then there's these like live elements where you bring your true self and you can ask questions and you can create these actionable items for whatever you're doing.

So I think the way that Louis is doing it and other successful creators are doing it. I think it's the way to go.

[00:34:10] Jonathan: Yeah. And it was interesting, speaking of his program... I was speaking to one of the cohort members after the program was over. And, it's interesting, she was saying that she felt more connected and she felt like she wanted to give to other members, you know, her advice, her time, whatever it may be when other members gave to her.

So like if she would ask a question or have a problem, you know, centering these conversations around problems again, if she would voice her problem and someone else was willing to help out, she like wanted to help that other person. She wanted to pay it forward to other people. 

And so it just reminded me of this principle of reciprocity when someone gives to you, you want to give back, and I think yeah, again, just centering these conversations around these problems really opens the door to that because naturally, if someone has helpful advice, they're going to want to say it, if they have the space to do so, if, as a facilitator, you give them the space to do so. 

So what are some other ways… we talked about group coaching calls… what are some other ways to give the space to people to voice the problems and help each other out with solutions that may be, they may be able to offer to each other.

[00:35:28] Rotem: Yeah, I think that's what's beautiful about community platforms in general, right? It's like that they have a space where like, if I have a question I can ask and get, you know, the community, kind of perspective on things. So the things that we saw on our app, for example, it is a mobile app, so it's very conversational. 

It is based a lot about chats and on community kind of conversations. So you see that people kind of like, you know, sitting in an office and are like, oh, I have a meeting with my boss today. What do I do? et cetera. 

So it's to create this kind of, on the go learning experience where there's always access to the community and other people. So it's not like, oh, I have to remember this question for the session on Thursday and then you forget about it. Or, something else was addressed on this session.

So to have always a space where people can address their issues and put it somewhere so it won't get forgotten. So there's always a space for it. It's super important. And that's what we're really trying to do on our platform to kind of create this engagement where there's always someone to bring up an issue, and there's always someone to answer.

There's always someone to engage with the issue. And I think these are the true metrics of a good community where someone will put something out there and not, you know, not get silence. I think it's one of the hardest experiences of someone creating online. If you're putting something on Twitter, or if you're putting something on LinkedIn, it's like, there's always this feeling of like, am I speaking to a void?

Am I speaking to nobody? So people want to feel comfortable to put something out there and know that they will get a response. And these are the really magical communities where this happens, where you don't feel that kind of fear of rejection or being ignored. And I think that's something that is super important And in cohort-based courses, cohort-based learning and how to create a really safe environment.

[00:37:38] Jonathan: That's interesting. And so, I mean, I can totally picture starting my own cohort-based course and being afraid of like, oh my gosh, so I have these people in this community, you know, we've met each other. Maybe we're even talking about our problems already, but just being afraid of someone else asking a question and then I'm the only one who ever provides a response. 

And, you know, I can count on myself to provide a response, but I really do want other people to provide a response as well, especially if they have, you know, something meaningful they can add to the conversation. 

Is that a rational fear? Is there something actionable I can do about that fear to kind of mitigate that silence, encourage people to really hop onto those conversations and help each other?
Like how do you actually uh?

[00:38:29] Rotem: It's completely, yeah, it's a completely rational fear. And I think one of the best ways to solve this fear is to know the students that you have as much as you can, like if it's, if you're, even if you're doing kind of an onboarding interview or an application form or something, then you will know, like, for example, if someone answers a question and you know that there's another person in the cohort that might have the answer, but maybe they're just not, you know, didn't see it yet, or just, you know, didn't have the time or whatever. Like you can tag them and say, Hey, I know you were doing this. What do you think? 

You know? And that's like a job of a good facilitator as you're like, you're coming across as like, I know my people, I know who is here, and giving kind of an experience of, I don't, I'm not providing the answer, or I'm providing the answer, but I would love to know what X thinks. It happened to me a lot also in other communities where I'm in, where people tag me or like on LinkedIn or whatever, they’re like, oh, I think Rotem will know. Or, you know, or I do that in my cohort. So like, oh, I think this one will know because she went through the same experience.

So that's good facilitation. It's like, okay, I know I'm giving you the answer, but I'm also taking other people in the community that I think could provide some support.

And the person that is tagged, it would be like, oh yeah, nice, like, Jonathan knows me.

[00:39:57] Jonathan: Yeah, for sure. And then it's, and then it kind of feeds into that reciprocity, right? Cuz like, if, if you tag someone in the conversation, they help that person, now that person is going to just have this desire to help other people.

[00:40:08] Rotem: Yeah, it's a whole economy that's being built up inside the community.

[00:40:12] Jonathan: Love it. Well, uh, Rotem, we are sort of meeting the end here. Is there anything super critical we haven't covered yet, that you really wanted to talk about today?

[00:40:22] Rotem: I think there, we could probably talk for hours straight. So I don't think so. I think this world of cohort-based courses is still young, and there's still so much to discover. And I think also all of us working on platforms and working with creators, we're going to keep learning.
It's also a constant learning experience for us on how to serve creators and students better. And we're just going to keep learning as we build and discover new challenges as this vertical grows, and we're gonna try to find new solutions, and we're gonna, you know, try to figure it out.

How do we make it scale better? How do we make it more profitable? How do we make it more effective constantly? And a lot of people doing cohort-based courses now are kind of the first testers of how it's going to look like in the future. So I also think that creators that are going into this space needs to have some courage and also feel like they are kind of innovators or people doing something new, and they shouldn't be scared about failing because it's just a process. 

You put something out there and you learn from it. And then I think, especially cohort-based courses give you the opportunity to do a lot of course correction on the go. So like, really my number one advice is just do a beta course. Start with something. Start with a three week course, start with a, like a two week course or a couple of workshops.

There are a million ways to see this unfold, and test different things out. And the tech and the like the apps and the services of course are there to service you and they will change accordingly. So, we know that we love to get creator feedback and feature requests and things like that on like what's missing what could be better, and co-create along with creators on our platform. It's super important to us. 

So it's not like nobody comes to us and we tell them that's what you should do in order to be successful. Like, we also ask a lot of questions and we try to take an active part with them to understand what works and what doesn't.

So it's a whole learning experience for everyone in the field right now I feel, that it's just striving to get better and better.

[00:42:40] Jonathan: For sure. Yeah, it's something I love about it is that it's a very young field that we're in that we're discovering. So much opportunity. Yeah. 

So, uh, Rotem I have just a couple more questions for ya, you know, quicker ones I like to ask at the end before we take off. 

So what are the top three resources that you'd recommend for listeners to learn?

[00:43:05] Rotem: Top three resources…

Except for this podcast?

[00:43:08] Jonathan: Oh, well, thank you.

[00:43:12] Rotem: um, top three resources. There are so many. Well, okay, top three sources. 
I think number one is actually not specifically about cohort-based courses, but it's about vulnerability in general and how to really embrace this kind of mindset. And for that, I really recommend Brene Brown and her books. She really taught me a lot about vulnerability and how to really emphasize it and manifest it in my life and in my relationships and also the way that I building the product.

Another resource I mentioned a little bit before is the Transcend Network community. I know not all of the listeners are people that are actually building in the space of future of education and work. But if you are, I highly recommend joining this network.

You're also feel free to reach out to me privately via LinkedIn or any other platform, and I can do an introduction. It's really one of the best communities out there for founders. 

And another resource. Like, my tip would be like before you start a cohort-based course, maybe try to join one, and look for like the top ones. There are a lot of different platforms. You can join one on Clustered or on other cohort-based courses platforms, and really feel the experience.

And also take notes. What works? What doesn't? And think for yourself, like, what is, how would I want my course to be like and what I could make better? Cuz it's very hard. I think it's hard to start one without having the experience of going through one.

[00:44:49] Jonathan: A hundred percent. Yeah. I think it's very valuable to take one yourself and like you said, to think for yourself, I love that because it just going back to what we were saying before, there's so much opportunity to, you know, really steer this wherever we want to take it.

There's no golden standard yet. We're all just kind of figuring it out. So always thinking about how we can make it better and, yeah, joining at least one, but ideally multiple cohort-based courses just to get different ideas and talking to other people. It makes a lot of sense. 

So, Rotem, I have one last question for you, and that is where can listeners keep in touch with you?

[00:45:25] Rotem: Yeah, so you can find me on Like, I'm always open for anyone's emails. Of course, I’m part of the Transcend Network community, and I'm on LinkedIn at Rotem Carmely. And also on Twitter, the same handle, Rotem Carmely. Or on
I'm super happy to hear from you if you want to connect.

[00:45:47] Jonathan: Awesome. And we'll have all that contact info in the show notes for y'all if you just want to click on them and go say hi to Rotem. So thank you so much, Rotem.

[00:45:58] Rotem: Thank you, Jonathan. That was so much fun.

[00:46:00] Jonathan: Yeah, so much fun and, um, gosh, some really great takeaways there. So happy new year and, uh, see you around.

[00:46:09] Rotem: You too. 2022. Let’s do this.

[00:46:11] Jonathan: Let's gooooooo.

[00:46:12] Rotem: (laughs)

[00:46:18] Jonathan: Thanks for listening. If you'd like to listen to more episodes, hop aboard If you'd like to be my matey, I would love for you to message me on LinkedIn or Twitter. And remember, always captain your cohort, always be my matey, and never lick an iceberg while your ship is passing by.


Popular posts from this blog

How to Start Your First Cohort-Based Course ~ Gautham & Aruna

How to Construct Reverse Testimonials ~ Sean D’Souza

How to Construct Reverse Testimonials for Your Cohort-Based Course