I'm a big fan of Peter Thiel's book Zero to One. Building something from nothing is one of the hardest things that anyone can ever do, and the difficulty intensifies if you don't have good models to follow (especially when building something brand new). So, to pay it forward for those who have provided us resources that guided our success, this is our story for how the Co-x3 Family came to be.
So what is Co-x3? Co-x3 stands for co-creation, collaboration, and community. We're an inclusive group of like-minded forward thinkers that want to effect positive change in the world. Recently, we've embarked on a journey to gamify our lives and made a pledge to live intentionally in 2020.
"A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.”
- Seth Godin
Every successful community has a sticky factor - something that aligns every member on a shared vision or mission. In religious groups, the belief in their faith is what holds them together. For video games, it's the unchanging rules of the game - that's why cheaters and hackers are so universally hated.For Co-x3, we believe in relentless growth, learning, and productivity, and what holds us together are actionable systems to follow. Many of us felt frustrated when engaging with other growth-centric communities that solely focused on theory-crafting, as the motivation that is generated is short-lived and does not provide long term measures for engagement and success.
At Co-x3, we are equipping creatives, students, and second winders with shared best practices and knowledge to level up every day, systems to put your learning into action, and a supportive community to make sure you never struggle alone.
This living document has 3 sections:
- Documented Wins - To learn our thought process and significant milestones to watch out for.
- Tools We Use - What you may need if you wish to embark on this adventure.
- How can we be helpful? - If you're itching to build a space for your tribe to thrive, we want to help.
Who will benefit the most from this guide?
- Passionate community members who love the Co-x3 Family and are fascinated to learn more about the exciting history and inner workings of how Co-x3 came to be.
- Anybody who feel frustrated in not being able to find their tribe, and are considering building their own. This living document should offer you guidance on how you could potentially embark on this adventure, milestones you can benchmark yourself on, and the motivation to start today.
- People who have full-time obligations and believe that they don't have the resources to build a successful community, I want to give you the how; as long as you bring the why and the what.
Project #1: Co-x3 Kickoff 🌎
Timeframe: January 1, 2020 → April 20, 2020
This project was conceived on Nov 10, 2019, and officially 'kicked-off' on Jan 1, 2020. I followed my be intentional life framework to plan and execute this project successfully.
The goal was to:
- Build a supportive community where everybody can openly share problems, seek solutions, and be supportive;
- Bring together like-minded entrepreneurs, students, and second winders who are equally as passionate about productivity, growth, and learning;
- Share inspiring knowledge that changed my life, to help guide others;
- Create meaningful systems that help us do much more in less time.
Good goals explain the 'why' behind all relevant tasks that we work on.
The initial key results were to achieve:
- Active community of 25+;
- Active community of 100+;
- 3 true fans of Co-x3;
- Reach 10,000 people with my message.
Key results are measurable outcomes that validate that my goals were successful.
Nov 10, 2019
- Released video about gamification theory and MVP of #theGamificationProject.
Nov 22, 2019
- Released follow-up video detailing a full walkthrough of #theGamificationProject;
- Launched beta version of #theGamificationProject.
Dec 6, 2019
- Featured on the Keep Productive YT Channel
As I started onboarding family members and friends, I learned that a lot of people don't really know how to plan and execute their success plan effectively (asking why, what, and how). This is not our fault, as so many educational institutions prioritize 'just do' instead of 'ask why'. So, I realized I had to share one more fundamental component to ensure that our community found success with our resources.
Dec 27, 2019
- Released huge youtube video about my 'Be Intentional' life framework.
The overwhelming support for my sharing on Reddit and Facebook gave me the confidence to seriously build a community centered around productivity, growth, and learning - with the stickiness of having actionable systems to follow. To accomplish this successfully, I knew I needed a few key things in place.
- A place for members to congregate (town square);
- Exclusive resources for members for self-improvement (a strong reason for joining);
- Patrons who share the same vision and want us to succeed (market validation).
So, I spent a month preparing all the materials to have a successful launch. During this time, I made sure that I had a temporary website with a Cloudflare worker script + notion page on my conradlin.com domain (archive) with a Mailchimp embed sign up form to capture email addresses of people who really resonated with my sharing.
Additional key results were added:
- 20 positive reviews of our resources;
- 10+ monthly patrons of Co-x3.
Jan 26, 2020
- Released 1st newsletter to the Co-x3 Community titled 'Let's Be Intentional';
- Launched the Co-x3 Community Page for members to find highly effective notion templates that helped me be highly productive;
- Launched Patreon - to provide special and customized perks for supporters who identify strongly with our mission;
- Launched the Super Package for patrons only (combining our best templates into one package for easy duplication and onboarding).
- Released follow-up video on how to be intentional with actionable templates to follow;
- Launched our Discord Community, a space to hold friendly debates and discussions on all topics growth, and collaborate on our latest innovative projects;
- Created 3 patron tiers to provide additional perks for extremely passionate supporters;
- Conducted a lightning talk with Tiago Forte in Singapore;
- Joined Notion office hours with Marie Poulin;
- I worried about the responsibilities of sharing advice;
- At the end of the month, we had 51 total patrons!
At this point, I was pushing out updates for both #theGamificationProject and Be Intentional Templates, with requests for templates coming left and right. Altogether, we had 10+ templates ranging from finance tracking, timeboxing, personal CRM, meal planner, etc. - all bundled into one super package for patrons to enjoy.
- Released a video guide on how to build a blazing fast website powered by Notion for free;
- From interacting with members, I learned that our community helps givers give;
- Huge update for #theGamificationProject for custom badges to keep track of streaks;
- Shared that being intentional does not mean you should be taking life too seriously;
- At the end of the month, we had 60 total patrons and our discord had over 100 members!
We got our first top 100 supporter, who shared a touching story of why what we've built means so much to her.[/caption]We kept creating new templates and improving templates every week (all documented in our newsletters). It was extremely rewarding to see that our systems were useful for others to follow and learn from.
"Hey Conrad, you’re a super hero. Like seriously, I’ve been doing Notion builds & developing template structures for over a year, & your level of depth & detail on how you’re configuring each section for very intentional living is so incredibly refreshing & impactful. I was already impressed when you initially announced the gamification. I can’t wait to look into this more & see how I can incorporate some of these tactics in my own Notion workspace for more Intentional Living. Looking forward to connecting with you & the Co-x3 Community."
- Sean Wildenfree
Early Apr 2020
- We took a BIG step and moved to mighty networks and got our own custom domain;
- Hit 100 members inside the community within a week of launch (100% migration);
- We started weekly catchups on Sundays to engage in honest accountability;
- Created a leaderboard space in the community to post weekly character progression;
Our very first Saturday Council Meeting! We went through a quick walkthrough of our space, held a meet and greet session, started our first week of honest accountability via our gamification avatars, and discussed various upcoming community events and contests. It was lots of fun, and was a great sign for our future to come.
Much love to everybody who supported us in the inception stages of Co-x3 - we really couldn't have done it without you!
To celebrate the successful kickoff of our wonderful Community, I shared a personal story about why I created Co-x3, and why it's a community built for you.
Project #2: Co-x3 Scaling 📈
Timeframe: April 20, 2020 → June 30, 2020
April 20, 2020, was a meaningful day for me as it was my birthday! I decided to use this day to deeply reflect on the work I've done (not just on this project, but overall) and plan my next 'year' properly. After hitting 100 members in the community and over 60 monthly patrons, it was clear that we've found some product-market-fit. So, with great haste, we focused on ensuring that our community was scalable and manageable.
Our next goals were to:
- Create content that motivates and is accurate, honest, and inspiring;
- Automate and streamline busy work and management.
Our corresponding key results were to achieve:
- 25 true fans;
- Active community of 500;
- 1,000 youtube subscribers;
- 5 reliable leaders for Co-x3.
Late Apr 2020
- Delivered big expansion pack to the super package, adding progress bars, user guides, and much more;
- Our resident personal trainer Peter created a comprehensive home workout plan for Co-x3 to stay fit together;
- Released early access to our Power Up Your Motivation training library;
- Migrated to convertkit and automated our email flow so members can gradually catch up on emails;
- Added an annual plan on mighty networks for community members who want to support us long term!
- Our resident graphic designer Vivian designed a spring theme concept for our Co-x3 Wallpaper!
- 30 new lessons for our Power Up Your Motivation training library;
- Initiated Co-x3 Adventures, events designed to boost motivation and spark collaboration;
- Veronika shared a comprehensive collection of resources that helped her master Japanese;
- Huge video drop for theming your own immersive fantasy workspace in Notion + theme library;
- Theming update to #theGamificationProject + splitting of the super package into individual templates;
- Had our first Co-x3 TTRPG Session as part of our Saturday game nights initiative!
- Went on Notion office hours to share 8 amazing examples of websites you can build with Notion for free;
- Built API connectors between Patreon, Zapier, Integromat, Convertkit to automate workflows.
In May, we were focused on taking feedback and delivering more and more advanced value to our patrons, to ensure that our community continues to grow and learn. It was incredibly encouraging to see so much support from individuals who really resonated with our sharings and worked hard to help enhance the community in any way they could.
- Held a reflections masterclass to teach how to conduct structured planning and execute effectively;
- Started daily standups in our leaderboard space (proposed by Tamir!);
- Released early access to the Creator's Toolkit - how to create and share meaningful + impactful content;
- #theGamificationProject is officially out of beta + 2 new youtube videos!
- First build with me office hours youtube livestream was massively successful;
- Built a page for community-sourced inspirations (lovingly tagged CSI by Ann and beautified by Aless!)
- Kickstarted daily accountability parties at 9am Eastern for a virtual wind-up/wind-down of our day;
- Secured an official domain for Co-x3 - http://co-x3.com;
- Together with Harry and Veronika, we created our own self-hosted virtual meetings room at meet.co-x3.com!
- Created our value bomb library with Drew, to crowdsource the best pieces of content from our long-form sharings;
- Ayden thoughtfully suggested to create social media accounts to share the best insights from Co-x3 with the world, and so we secured @thex3family on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.
Community support just kept rolling in. Everybody was so excited to help, and play a role within the community. We even attracted Alex, who built his own gamification system entirely in excel a few years back (it has 10+ sheets and over 10,000 entries, ask him to show it to you - it's amazing) and decided to co-create with us to bring advanced gamification into our project. Without his help, we would not have innovated on skills and talents, item shops, or even pets.
At the end of the day, this is a community built for YOU, and this is YOUR STORY.
Project #3: Co-x3 Alignment ⚖
Timeframe: July 1, 2020 → Sep 30, 2020
500+ family members later, and thousands of growth-minded individuals on the email list, it was extremely important to build alignment and share what Co-x3 stands for, so we can best take advantage of network effects. We'll be updating this document when this project ends on Sep 30, 2020! Be the first to learn by subscribing to our mailing list or joining our community.
Tools We Use
These are all the tools we use to power our community. We constantly improve our setup, so do check back often to see what's new.
Whenever you see FREE or $XX.XX, this is how much we paid for their service when we were using it - they may have additional paid plans that we did not need to use. All prices in USD.
- I started off with MailChimp - FREE
- Pros: Free, embeddable on my website
- Cons: I felt the limitations of the tool in setting up email conversion funnels. When I was using it, it was just for capturing emails signups and sending out weekly newsletters (which is low value)
- Switched to ConvertKit - $29.00/month
- Pros: Can set up email automation to slowly introduce concepts to new subscribers.
- Cons: Still feels like an unpolished tool. Does automation really well, but a lot of quality of life features are lacking (eg. lack of analytics to showcase which email specifically converted a lead into a paying customer, and integrations with other softwares like Patreon occasionally break).
- We started with Discord - FREE
- Pros: Free, Integrates with Patreon
- Cons: No threaded conversations and notifications all over the place meant our 100+ community members were logging into 50+ notifications after a day of inactivity, with no idea where to start looking. And if they had to re-ignite conversations they were a part of, that was tough.
- Switched to Mighty Network - $100/month
- Pros: Threaded conversations, online events, dedicated spaces for conversations, courses
- Cons: Expensive, laggy at times. We are still exploring options like Circle, Tribe, or even hosting our own site.
- I use Notion as a CMS to power my personal site - FREE All the pros and cons are listed in this article.
- We use Cloudflare's unlimited workers plan $5/month to host our notion pages (toolbox, wiki) on a custom domain and integrate chatbots, email sign up forms, etc.
- They have a free plan available, but our traffic easily exceeded the limits on launch so we had to upgrade.
- I ended up also using workers to host my notion+gatsby powered website after Netlify started getting rate limited by Notion (our guide on how to use Notion as a CMS went semi-viral and Notion started getting swamped by requests from the same host)
- To self-host our virtual meeting rooms at meet.co-x3.com, we are using Digital Ocean's $5 server + Jitsi Meet FREE - Open Source!
You can get $100 credit (2 months expiry) if you sign up with our referral code!
- Domain Names - Varies from $5/yr-$20/yr
We use namesilo because on average they offer the cheapest domains and transparent renewal rates
- We use Rebrandly to make custom links and analytics - $4/mo We pay for the $4/mo tier because we needed a way to handle 404 and homepage redirects. If this is not important to you, then this utility is free.
We also use zapier, integromat, automate, gumroad, stripe, and other SaaS services on their FREE tiers. Most likely I will share a writeup when the API integrations we use are more robust, so others can benefit from our automation journey!
Some of the links mentioned here are affiliate links that give you exclusive discounts for signing up but feel free to google the services directly if you prefer.
How can we be helpful?
I hope I've made it obvious that starting a community does not require any upfront capital (we earned support from patrons while we were still using completely free tools), and can be achieved with just a little time and effort (creating this community was a passion project that I spent my weekends on while juggling a full-time job!).
If you're curious to learn how to extract your creativity in ways that are engaging and meaningful to a specific audience, I share a comprehensive creator's toolkit that includes a feature-packed template that will help you organize and answer:
- Where can people find me?
- What am I sharing? To whom?
- How can I start producing?
The amazing thing about Co-x3 is that we've attracted such a wonderful and diverse community, that we've had many sub-communities crop up and grow, leveraging shared resources and economies of scale. If your overarching values align with productivity, growth, and learning, I believe in economies of scale, and I'd be happy to help your community grow within the Co-x3 Family.
Here are some ideas of what we can do together:
✅ A dedicated community space within our.co-x3.com;
✅ Co-host meaningful courses for a community passionate about your content;
✅ Co-sponsor world bosses to collaborate on positive social impact projects.
If this is something you're interested in, you can reach out to us and share about your passion in the Co-x3 Community.