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What does it mean to build an Authentic Community around your business?

hand holding pineapple with sunglasses

Building an authentic community around your business has a lot to learn from Fyre Festival and the disaster that was the greatest party that never happened.

Here’s how I landed on this: I have watched each of the FyreFest documentaries at least 5 times.

If you haven’t, here’s what you need to know:
Netflix’s take: who could have known? We all thought this guy was legit!
Hulu’s take: this guy got way too much money and f*cked over the Bahamian local economy.

[And lessons from both: if Ja Rule is your biz partner, there are some things you need to rethink.]

Ja aside, the big takeaway: it was a white man’s jerk off with a side of schadenfreude for the rest of us.

Fyre Festival is wildly compelling from every angle of the trainwreck, and for the purposes of online businesses, here’s one of our big takeaways: what you sell and what you deliver absolutely have to match up. And the same holds true for building authentic communities in online spaces.

Building an authentic community in your biz isn’t just issuing a gorgeous invitation, it’s creating the bombass party to match. It’s facilitating connection, both to you and among the members of the community, to create a deeper sense of belonging.

Let’s be clear: the party is WAY more important than the invitation – what you are delivering needs to outdo the invitation. 

Using FF as an example, the only thing they ever had to entice folks was the invitation (which is also a beef I have with most sales pages, more on that in another post…). They went all out creating their promotional videos, they were extremely keyed into what their target demographic wanted and would be looking for in a new music festival, and they knew what would sell. They preyed on the concept of FOMO and sold more money in tickets than most of us will see in our lifetimes.

All that promo was the first failure of FF: the invitation WAY outweighed the capabilities of the party.

So even though there are plenty of online biz coaches who say you gotta market the thing before you build it so you know if folks will be interested, I disagree. Before you even issue the invitation, plan the party: decide what you’re building, why you’re building it, and the impact you want it to have both on YOU and the members of the community. Only when you know what you’re inviting folks to can you ensure an authentic experience

Which is a perfect segue into Fyre Fest Failure: you gotta deliver on the basics consistently. Only bring the wow factor after you’ve done the minimum on the regular.

Authentic connection is built upon trust: the quickest way to foster trust is to consistently set expectations and meet them.

That’s it – it’s really that simple in concept, but as we all know, following through on the reg is HARD.

Make it easier on yourself – rather than try to create the calendar of content or events that you think you “should” have to please your folks, just start with what you know you can do consistently. 

Finally, what FF never did: own up to your mistakes. Take your role as a leader seriously.

Even if it was due to so many things outside of your control, there’s a difference between explanation and excuses and that difference is responsibility. When we offer excuses we place the blame on someone else, something else, we refuse to see our role in the error. With explanation we acknowledge all outside forces AND our role within them and take responsibility for our failures.


Building an authentic community around your business isn’t hard in theory, but it takes some commitment and resilience in practice.

If you’re unsure where to start (you already know what I’m going to say!): look to your values.

free download Values Check example pages

Look to what you value most, what your audience values, and meet them there.

Issue the invitation – and wow them with the party on the inside.

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