Samantha Barnes, CEO of Raddish, hosted her first Chairman Mom dinner last week, and the feedback was, again, insanely positive. (Welcome to those of you who joined Chairman Mom after the dinner and may be reading your first newsletter!)
The central question was inspired by the icebreaker I shared from the first CM dinner: Share one moment big or small that you are proud of. What resulted was an incredibly galvanizing, vulnerable, and powerful conversation that went until 2:15 am. That wasn’t even on our list of suggested questions, but it is now!
We launched this plan mid-February and ended the month with a pipeline of 50 hosts, way outpacing expectations. Clearly we’ve hit on something big. It’s hard to know how big, because only a few dinners have been actually hosted so far. March is going to be a massive month of learning for us.
We are capturing data via one-minute surveys after each dinner. There are already a few exciting early learnings: Everyone has said hosting a dinner was as easy or easier than expected. (Two-thirds said “easier.”) 100% of hosts said they were “very likely” to host another one. And 44% of attendees said they were “likely” or “very likely” to host a dinner themselves. That’s pretty insane potential growth of new hosts.
As existing hosts know, we EMPHASIZE, overemphasize, and then emphasize again that you should not feel pressure to provide an elaborate gourmet meal or clean your house. Pizza will be just fine. Everyone loves a potluck. You don’t need wine to get people to open up. We’ve been adamant that food, booze, and a gorgeous home don’t actually make for a successful dinner.
Guess what? When we asked guests what hosts could have done better, the bulk of the guests said “absolutely nothing” and no one said that they should have provided better food or a better atmosphere or location.
What makes these dinners perfect is that they are imperfect. I’m excited we actually have data to back up that women do not need to pretend to be Martha Stewart to impress other women!
A few hosts have asked for a space on Chairman Mom to share tips and what they’ve learned so far, so we’re starting a thread on that today. I thought about starting a private small group for hosts, but then it occured to me that there are probably a lot of folks thinking about hosting that would love to see the inside accounts of what people are learning.
It’s possible other female founders running a startup may also like to see what we’re learning. As someone who has spent decades in Silicon Valley, I can endlessly talk about the business strategy here. I have borrowed so much of this from the nitty-gritty details of early “handcrafted” processes Brian Chesky did at Airbnb and then scaled, the distributed “meet-ups” of companies like Poshmark, and believe it or not, a company called Housecall Pro, which makes mobile accounting software for professionals like plumbers and construction workers.
I met one of Housecall Pro’s founders and head of growth, Roland Ligtenberg, at a conference last year. He was talking about the astounding passionate and viral community they have built, how they’ve grown exponentially via small meetups their customers host. Around accounting software. I sat there thinking, “If he’s done this around accounting software, we are really missing something huge that we could build around Chairman Mom.”
He kindly spent hours the next morning at breakfast talking to me about what they’ve done and what I was missing at Chairman Mom. Six months later here we are, poised on what could be a huge growth engine for us. We’ll know a lot more in 30 days. Check out the thread if you want to host a dinner, attend a dinner, or just want to know how it’s going! I’ll post updates in there as we learn more.
And I can’t thank our early group of hosts enough. We are learning and iterating so much with each dinner, and the feedback from the guests is just off the charts. It’s a tremendous act of love to open your home to create spaces for women to connect, build friendships and community, and be able to be vulnerable.
In the time we’ve been in business, a lot of startups have come and gone and pivoted towards us and pivoted away, promising to offer the same things we do. We were also not the first, and there’s room for lots and lots of players here. We support everyone!
That said, there are a lot of behind-the-scenes things our team has done over the last three years that don’t get noticed or shouted out that have made us so successful at doing something that, let’s face it, is incredibly hard. If building an anonymity-heavy, privacy-first, non-toxic community where women can be vulnerable but not be attacked were easy, the rest of the internet would look a lot different.
But the biggest reason we’ve succeeded is because of the love you all show for each other every day, in real life and on the site. Thank you all so much.
Today’s new questions on Chairman Mom:
- I’m being harassed online. Please help!
- If you’ve hosted a Chairman Mom dinner, what have you learned? What advice do you have for others?
- Is MasterClass worth it?