James Swanwick: Hello again, I am James Swanwick. Today we’re talking about how to produce and create a community, whether it’s with an online business or an offline business, or whether you’re just trying to be a community creator in general even if you don’t have a business. Today we’re talking to a fellow Australian, Kat Abianac who is a serial community creator, and a professional social media community manager. She’s also a mindset enthusiast and she helps mostly therapists, coaches and creators have consistent five-figure months in their business and she’s also a boundaries champion. I’ll get her to explain that in a little second. Kat, welcome to the show. Great to have you here.
Kat Abianac: Thanks so much, James. It’s awesome to be on. Boundaries champion, that’s the one. I didn’t know they put that in there, that’s funny.
James Swanwick: Tell me about boundaries. What are boundaries?
Kat Abianac: Oh, boundaries, I love them. I got into this a few years ago, because when you do start to put yourself out there in any context, it doesn’t matter if it’s business or personal, whenever you start showing up in a new environment, I feel like it’s the same recurring things that come up for everyone. We kind of all have those same fears, you know, like fears being seen, fears of people feeling that we’re presenting ourselves in a way that we don’t intend to. I think boundaries fix a lot of that because it separates this is me, from that is you. It helps us maybe not project so much of our stuff over there and let go of outcomes as well. So I find it a really valuable scope scaling community management because it’s amazing James. I’m sure you’ve come across these two, but you talk to these wildly successful, impressive, incredible humans and they still have sometimes they’ve just got people ringing them all the time and they feel like they have to pick up and they can’t say no when they feel obligated. Sometimes when the first step that I helped someone with is learning how to set appropriate boundaries that can change their entire lives, let alone my business. So that’s why I say boundaries champion.
James Swanwick: Yes. It’s not actually like I was thinking like lawn balls or board games, like Monopoly or Snakes and Ladders that I hadn’t come across yet. Boundaries champion is all about setting boundaries and keeping boundaries.
Kat Abianac: Yeah, keeping is the important part. I often find people say they’ve set a boundary, but they’ve set an expectation and they forget the enforcement part. The boundaries ain’t about the other person, it’s about the action you’re choosing to take and just letting go of your connection to the outcome or the reaction of the other person while mitigating obviously.
James Swanwick: I just want to ask another question on this before we move on. Can you give us an example of how you set and enforce boundaries? I’m not sure whether enforce is the right word, but how do you set boundaries, and then how do you ensure that they are met?
Kat Abianac: Okay, cool. Do you want to throw a situation that may or I can pull up a really common one if you like?
James Swanwick: Yeah, a common one would be great. Go for it.
Kat Abianac: Okay, so the really common boundary is when a spouse changes their behavior because of the way they’re showing up in a business that’s new. So generally, it’s a timing position. What will happen as it impacts on the spouse in a position where there tends to be a little bit of codependence instead of interdependence. Where they rely on the help and it’s really supportive, but they’re okay to function without it and they accept it when they’re not going to receive that support. I love Alex Charfen’s podcast where he always talks about your spouse is the most important thing in your business a lot of the time, and it’s so true. So when somebody, for example, their workload temporarily increases, and they say when we’re having those conversations, I’m struggling a little bit because I’ve got all these duties and I’m like, I can’t tell you what to say or do in your personal relationships but here’s what I’ve done before. When I’m doing a big launch, I would say to my partner, for example, I’d really like your support with this, this, and this. Can you please let me know if you’re not able to provide it, because I’m going to pay for somebody to come in and do these things while I do this launch, and have this thing work out, and it’ll be for this amount of time. It’s kind of giving those options and just knowing you know if they don’t give you a response, the boundaries that you pay someone to come in and do it anyway. Like you need the thing to happen regardless of what happens on their end so you just do it, you solve the problem. I had this conversation, probably about a month ago with one of my clients and the outcome was he actually fixed a lot of stuff that was coming up in her relationship. Their partner actually ended up being a lot better supported by the end of it, then than they would have been had she not launched and that rear its head in the first place, the dependency issue.
James Swanwick: It’s funny, isn’t it? Like a lot of these things, everything comes down to communication, have crystal clear communication.
Kat Abianac: Yes, every time and sometimes we feel like our problems are so special, and unique and like, we’re the only one that’s ever had it, and it feels so big. When you step into a community, and that community is really well framed as a place where you can share to a certain, you know, level and it’s trusted, and you start sharing your problem and you realize that you’re sitting with 40 people who have the identical problem. Sometimes that’s all it takes to put it into perspective and then you can see the solution because a lot of the time we’re already getting told the solution that we just think our problems are too special for it to work.
James Swanwick: Thank you for sharing, I appreciate that. Kat, tell us a little bit about you, where you are based, what you do and how you came to be doing what it is that you do, just share your story a little bit, if you would.
Kat Abianac: I spent many years working in the Australian Taxation Office, I had a team there and I ended up working on their social media team as their Facebook channel expert. By that stage, I had a very young son, can’t remember how old he would have been when it started but he was diagnosed with down syndrome at birth. So you know, I do like my community so when he was born, I started a playgroup, which is still thriving, I don’t go to it very often, I show up too often, he’s almost eight now and that daily, like they run it, like a champion, there are so many families now. That was probably the first community, I’d say, I’ve written about this before, but it was the first community where it wasn’t an option to just leave and I found that really interesting, because communities also can make you deal with your stuff. When you have a child with Down syndrome, and you find out at birth, it’s not an opt-in, opt-out, okay, well, I’m just going to raise my child as it is typical, because while that’s inclusive, it’s not really that inclusive, if he never has any friends with down syndrome, that’s a bit weird. I’m really well connected with other parents, in fact, you know, inside one of my coaching programs, our financial coach also has a child with Down syndrome. It comes with good and bad qualities, but I think people often go their whole lives without ever having community and not true community where there’s no opt-out button, and once you get that I think it can bring up a lot of stuff. Sometimes the first time people experienced that unconditional support where maybe you aren’t showing up as hard as you should, but people still have your back. And often I find that’s why people keep school friends around for so long, or maybe friends circles that aren’t that suitable, but they may not help them move forward and do have your back in some way. I had Parker, I was working at the Australian Taxation Office and I ended up leaving to work for an influencer called Constance Hall who not many men have heard of, but she was the best selling author in Australia in 2016, she had a book called like a queen. I was her social media director, actually, and her community manager. Before that I worked two jobs for a little while then I kind of struck out on my own and started my own business, supporting people to grow their own online communities, just kind of transferring that offline skills online. I think that’s really important is never underestimating just the plethora of existing skills people already have. I think sometimes they feel a bit silly when they come online and they don’t know how to set up a Facebook group or do really simple things yet. They have you know, they’ve got a thesis, and they’re over here, not trying to, they’re trying to fumble around the live stream button but once you do pick up those little things and let your influence shine, there’s such a space for everybody on the internet.
James Swanwick: A lot of business owners, you know, they’re helping people, they’re coaching people but there’s no community group, there’s no community field. So what are some of the common mistakes you see and then how do you combat those mistakes? Like, what would you suggest someone does instead?
Kat Abianac: Yeah, I think one of the most common is teaching, kind of leading with your toolkit. I see a lot of, I mean think of an industry for me, and I’ll tell you what they do wrong. Let’s say business coaches, let’s pick on one of our own. I see business coaches out there, they’ll be saying, the reason you’re not succeeding in your business is because you have a poor mindset around these issues. People are reading these posts, and they’re like, I don’t have a poor mindset, I’ve got a great mindset. The truth is around that issue they might have had a poor mindset, but they don’t know because of their pre belief, they really haven’t kind of gotten to the point where they recognize that needs to be fixed. Sometimes when you know too much, you share too much. So the biggest mistake people have is not taking it back to the basics and speaking people’s actual pain points back at them.
Like I know, we’ve all heard it, sell people what they want, and give them what then they need but I think people see that as being unethical, because they don’t understand how to do that ethically and that’s really important. In one of my communities, I just teach people how to grow a Facebook group to 10,000 members, my free community, I’ll just help them get to 500 because that’s where they’re at, right, and they want leads. Now, are they going to get a huge amount of leads from a Facebook group of 500 people? A lot of the time, yes, because it’s their friends they’re putting in there that they’ve already got influence with, but most of the time, no, they’re not. But that is how they’re going to start the community that attracts people that helps them grow their online profile and presence. So I lead with that and I say, would you like to get leads online dropping in your inbox, just by setting up a Facebook group and I like, huh, that’s exactly what I want. No, they’re not going to hit join on the group and wake up in the morning and lead to hitting their inbox. But if they show up and do the free modules, that’s what they’ll get and it helps them start transferring the influence online. Some people say that it has been easy so there’ll be like, you can’t say that, you need to, you need to tell them that it’s hard work and take them through the whole steps and framework. If I could get everyone listening to this podcast to take a takeaway, one thing, James, I think it would be, when you’re talking about your topic of expertise, to sit next to them, like you’re in the room, hold their hand, and just give them that one next step they need to just get to the next place. Talk that to death in really simple language that shows that you’re an expert and then once all acknowledge that there are some have, then you just take them to the next place in really simple language. The sign of an expert is being able to explain something in only a few sentences or words and the listener understands conceptually, what to do next.
James Swanwick: Yeah, I’ll give you an example. I have one of my businesses, I help people quit drinking. I’ve been doing that now since 2015 and helped about 20,000 people reduce or quit alcohol.
Kat Abianac: Amazing. I love that I saw it. I love it, everything you stand for. I also am a non-drinking cat. So yes, I do.
James Swanwick: Thank you. I appreciate that very much. It’s a successful business. I help lots of people and we help lots of people, it’s great that we get huge benefits for people. One of the things I found challenging in my business has been trying to encourage people to join a Facebook group that is about quitting drinking, because a lot of people have a lot of shame or embarrassment. There’s a lot of stigma around their drinking and so trying to get people to hit like on a Facebook group that helps you know, a free group that helps people to, to quit drinking has been challenging. What’s been even more challenging is getting the people who are in that group to engage once they’re in that. Certainly a lot of the folks who end up becoming clients of mine share with me that they didn’t want to be in the Facebook group, or they didn’t want to comment in the Facebook group. They’re worried that it’ll get out and that people will know that they, you know, this thing that they’re pretty much, for the most part, trying to keep secret from husband or wife or friends or family or bosses or staff or whatever. How might you approach that, to try and create a community of people who are engaged, not just a community, but an engaged community? How might you foster that around a topic where people are kind of scared or worried about revealing themselves?
Kat Abianac: I love this so much, because it’s such a perfect example of you having such a specific toolset that you support people with. It’s so obvious and, and you’re like so many businesses where people have to reach their pain thresholds to come and approach you. So what I find and I know a lot of people will be relating, as you said that and then like, that’s, that’s like me with mine, I’m selling the tools, but then I can’t make the community. So it’s taking it a couple of steps back and seeing what they all have in common. If you take it back a few steps do you find you work more men or women?
James Swanwick: It’s about 55-45 women to men. Most of my demographic are mostly over 40s or over 35’s but people in 40s 50s and 60s. I don’t want to say ignore people in their 20s in their 20s or 30s but certainly, people in their 20s don’t really care as much about not drinking as they do in their late 30s and early 40s. Starting to get into the middle of middle age of life.
Kat Abianac: So when you take it back a couple of points, and you find the entire demographic something funny that happens is they don’t always need to want to quit drinking yet. It might even be around if they will have a community in common that they tend to be in and then growing that in some way but linking it in by regularly running. I always tell people to run a challenge. So what challenge can you run to get someone a really quick queen? So if I was to ask you that, I would say so when people are starting to quit, and I can relate because I used to have a mummy wine at night and for me, it was white. I was like, Oh, geez, I’ll put on like five or six kilos. I could go on a diet but also I drank like three bottles of wine this month so I just stopped drinking wine, there’s my calories. And actually what made me quit, it wasn’t the weight but it was realizing that it was affecting my gut health, I was experiencing inflammation. I had a fuzzy brain, which I thought was wine, but it was the inflammation in my body. I started to go alkaline and that’s when I really got into natural health and wellness. I went 100% low tox. So maybe like coming a couple of steps back and looking at like, what does a low tox entrepreneur look like? What does a five-day challenge look like? How could you frame up a challenge for people who are drinking and they haven’t built the belief yet that they need to quit, that they’ve got the external knowledge. I always talk about morals versus ethics. Morals are what you personally believe in to be your truth and that’s your highest values. You don’t always logically agree with your morals, but that deep down and that’s what shows up in your everyday behavior. I don’t know if you’ve ever done the John Demartini values quiz on his website, but it’s eye-opening. When you look at ethics, that’s the opinion of the collective it’s the external. So when we hear ourselves saying I must, I need to, I should, that instead of sitting id, you know. Freud talks about id instead of sitting in that id, he was sitting in superego, which is just what everyone else is telling us to do, it’s ethically what people around us want. So even bringing someone into this community that’s healthy and reflects more with their true values. Because at the core that everyone wants community, they want love, they want connection. By bringing them into this community, you’re just doing them such a favor by getting them back in line with their morals, and away from external ethics, especially in Australia where there’s so much of this normalized, it’s just horrific. So even doing things like her reduce inflammation and bringing people across who might be biohacking, or they might be into natural wellness and that sort of thing and doing you know, five day reduce inflammation in the body it might be just one of the side steps that you don’t drink for the 30 days. That’s kind of how I would consider approaching it, working back as far as you could to where people adjust pre belief. They are ready to make the choice but they’re not sure how and you just hand them the first step.
James Swanwick: So it wouldn’t be like a quit drinking support group community, it would be to improve your life support group. Within that, you might then talk about, hey, if you’d like to quit alcohol go here or it could be like an over 40 years health and support group or something like that.
Kat Abianac: Oh my gosh, like biohacking for 40 plus entrepreneurs. Haha. Honestly, like you got women in their 35 to 44-year-old women spend the most money on the internet. They want to buy that, they just don’t know how because it’s so massive, it’s so male-focused, you know, like hacking and gut health and by the bulletproof and they’re just like, I just want to be low tox and not drink wine all the time. And then you’ve got men over there kind of doing the same thing going on. Is this to me? I’m not sure but, man, I mean, I just turned 36 on Sunday kept me, and sent me the link.
James Swanwick: Biohacking for 40 plus doesn’t quite seem like, I always think that people have a natural aversion to the word biohacking.
Kat Abianac: Yeah, something around that, like. I agree for the reasons I just spelled hat because I feel like it is quite masculine but, you know, like the whole load talks or reducing inflammation. I know there’s a lot of generic terms in there. But I also think people focus very much on what to get across in that group ninth and getting to keep it a little bit more basic, that helps too.I can tell you how I started one of my communities, which is probably one of my biggest ones. It was because I was reading Quora, do you ever go on Quora?
James Swanwick: Yeah, I mean, I don’t do it regularly. But I’ve been on it, yes.
Kat Abianac: Cool. So Elon Musk’s ex-wife is quite prolific on Quora. I had no idea till I saw this post and it was somebody who’d said, All I know is how to become a millionaire, You just work hard and you know, get lucky from working hard, but how do you become a billionaire, that’s not luck. It’s not, you know, a lot of them. Elon Musk’s ex-wife came along and she wrote, and this is not any word for word, but it’s the most beautiful post you could read. It went crazy viral, which is how I came across it. She said, You need to find one thing that you’re truly passionate about and you need to become the best in the world at that one thing, and you just focus on it and dedicate your life to it until you’re the it, the subject matter expert. Once you’ve done that, you need to find your next best passion. If you don’t have one, go and make it happen. Develop a passion, like emotionally anchored this thing, create it and then become the best in the world at that thing. Then to become a billionaire, you build a bridge and you link the two.
James Swanwick: It makes sense with Elon Musk, he loves space travel, didn’t he? When he was a kid growing up he loved all that kind of stuff and then he created SpaceX, which was a company. So he created Tesla, he’s got $2 billion brands running simultaneously plus he came in with PayPal. When he was a kid growing up in South Africa, he used to dream of going into space and Neil Armstrong, were his heroes and all those NASA astronauts were his heroes. Later on in life, he kind of merged tech because he loved tech, he was a bit of a tech nerd by his own admission. So he merged his geekiness for tech, with passion for space to create SpaceX, which now has government contracts with NASA. They’re now exploring missions to populate Mars, hopefully within his lifetime. So yeah, that makes sense. Passion, mixing two, two passions together.
Kat Abianac: So that’s my question, then. What’s your other great love? What’s the other thing that you’re passionate about?
James Swanwick: Well, I mean, I, I love sports. I love my Tottenham Hotspur, Premier League, English soccer club. I like playing music, piano, and guitar, and I love traveling. I love international travel. So I’m trying to see if I can find something that can blend those two things together, as well as helping people quit drinking.
Kat Abianac: I love that. I’m gonna think more on that. That’s the other thing, it’s not something you just need to decide and roll. We’ve actually tested a few online communities first and I also did a little bit of market research. So I was like, if I were to create a community that supported you with blah, blah, blah, would you be interested to see, reply to this email and let me know, then when I hit a winner, that was the community I created. So I think I sent maybe two or three of those and I just got an overwhelming response to and I went, that’s the winner. You’ve already got your demographic sitting on a list, drop them in, if I would you, if I were to create this for you, would you be interested? Let me know and I’ll see what I can do. Once you start kind of voicing it out loud, it’s either just going to, the funny thing about communities is that like, I don’t know, if you read Big Magic. Okay, a beautiful book by Elizabeth Gilbert and a lot of people call it the best business book of all time, because it’s got nothing to do with business. She talks about ideas and it’s like how they just roll around the universe waiting for someone to pick them up. She’s got examples of all the times that it’s happened. Sometimes these ideas and those ideas that come to you when you’re in beta state in the shower, and then you forget them, and a year later, they come back up, and you do it. It’s just the things that we know, when I do it, like the time isn’t rock. These ideas are floating around the universe waiting for you to pick them up and just test and try it out and see if those ideas are ready to come into the world yet. I think entrepreneurs have this ability to pick up more of those ideas and play with them. I think there’s a lot of focus on picking a winner when sometimes it’s just about picking a horse and riding it and seeing what comes of it. When we do hit that winner, we have the skills and tools to just make it go because by the time I found that perfect positioning for me. I got that Facebook group to 10,000 in less than eight weeks, I think was about six weeks, and I hit 10 K.
James Swanwick: Wow. That’s an engaged community. It’s amazing.
Kat Abianac: The engagement was higher than the member count. Yeah.
James Swanwick: Yeah, I love that. A lot of business owners in particular don’t quite realize yet just the power that you can get from a super-engaged group of people. A lot of people spend money on funnels and paid advertising and conversion rates but when you actually have an active community who is conversing and engaging with one another, when you actually roll out products, they’re usually the first ones to just go, yes, I’ll have that. They’re already engaged with you enough, they trust, know, and like you, they trust, know, and like the group. Later on, as you roll out products that you want to test, you can always test them with that group as well. Still there?
Kat Abianac: I’m here. My phone slid, but it was me. I was driving, I do pace and I work. Our communities are so honest with us as well, they’ll tell you when something’s working when it’s not working, but they’re also so forgiving. That’s a beautiful thing because you end up developing such an amazing product and I can tell Swannies has a community. You had people around you that asked that you asked for so much feedback like the quality of the product. I was chatting to somebody randomly on Instagram who lives in Las Vegas, a friend of mine, Louis, and he was like, oh, check these out. I just bought the new Swannies and I’m like, hey, Swannies that’s so crazy, I’m doing this thing. He’s like, oh my God, Swannies, that’s so cool. I wish I’d had my affiliate code in my pocket because he just bought them. Just for people to get to raving fan level, he’d never owned them before and that was based on the feedback of like the three or four other people, I’m guessing around him that maybe had a pair or like feedback, he’d had from other people that are in Swannies. So it’s not just about selling the product, it’s about when you can get this group of people around you that are just your brand advocates, and forgiving and helpful and they’re just there for you. It helps you with your positioning and when you know your positioning what you guys have done, you’ve nailed your positioning, you know exactly who buys your product, that makes your paid traffic so much more effective. I see these people that are so skilled, and so incredible, and you watch them on stage or you complete you, you go through their course. I’m working with a speech therapist at the moment. She’s the most incredible speech therapist I’ve ever met in my life. She’s so effective, I’ve seen the work she’s done but she doesn’t have any way that you can buy her course online. You’ve got to send off an email and fill out an enrollment form and then get it back and do a bank transfer and I don’t have the people I can talk to. I did all this based on one woman, a friend of mine saying you need to speak to this woman. And I spoke to her, and I realized, but that’s not, she can’t scale that, you know, to charge a lot of money for his speech therapy course designed specifically for parents and schools. However, once her online communities are up and running, I’ll be recommending her to every special needs parent on the planet. I don’t have to do anything anymore,I just drop them in a group or I send them an Instagram link. So this is where backing yourself and just creating something, regardless of your positioning, where it is, as it stands, is so valuable, because your customers will do the talking for you. So when you’ve really got influence or an incredible product offline, don’t be scared to just show up and start with something because your existing community that you can’t say they’ll actually start doing a little bit of the work for you that is okay with you showing up perfectly for them.
James Swanwick: Yeah, I love that. Kat Abianac, where can we find more about you? If someone who is listening and they want to build a community or they want some help polishing their existing community, where can they find and get in contact with you?
Kat Abianac: Yeah, awesome, thanks for that. So I’ve actually set up a link for you. So I have a 37 module course that will help somebody build a community and grow it to their first 500 members. So if you go to https://www.katabianac.com/swannies you just click the link and it’ll let you enroll for free. You can work through and even if you don’t end up studying in a group, it’ll show you a whole lot about how you’re currently positioned. They’ll just kind of help you refine a lot of what you’re already doing online.
James Swanwick: Yeah, wonderful. I love that. That’s Kat Abianac https://www.katabianac.com/swannies. Kat, thank you so much for your time and your guidance. This was wonderful food for thought on communities and inspiring me to take a bit of action on a couple of little things that I’ve got coming up. So thank you for that.
Kat Abianac: Thank you very much for having me on. It’s super exciting. Can’t wait to share it.
James Swanwick: Yeah, of course. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.