What Clubhouse Has Taught Me In Just One Month

A New Social App That Offers Real, Genuine Connection

Clubhouse is a new social networking app that launched in May of 2020. The developers describe the app as “a space for casual, drop-in audio conversations,” but after using it myself for almost a month, I have quickly learned that it is much more than that.

Social media platforms have always boasted about their ability to connect people, share information, and learn about each other, but they rarely achieve these things. And if they do achieve them, it’s only halfway. Conversations (though they happen fast) don’t happen in real-time and words get lost in translation or cut short by a character limit. Meaningful, valuable connections are rare. Clubhouse changes that.

The real-time voice chat of Clubhouse eliminates that loss of context, tone, and meaning, making the conversations that happen on the app more valuable, clear, and collaborative. It’s like an in-person networking event, except better because you have access to people across the world, not just the people in the same physical space with you.

In less than one month of using Clubhouse, I have learned a lot about the app and the power it has. Here are the top ten things that Clubhouse has taught me:

1. Your Voice Matters

Everyone’s voice matters, Clubhouse has given everyone a platform to express their thoughts, perspectives, and ideas. 

2. Everyone Belongs

No matter who you are and what you are passionate about, there is a community waiting for you.

3. There’s Power In Diversity

One of the reasons organizations stagnate is they surround themselves with people who look the same, who have the same background, same experiences, and same perspectives. However, Clubhouse shows us the power that diverse thought has to build a better world.

4. Listening Is a Powerful Tool for Personal Growth 

Too often, we live in a world where we want to be heard, but Clubhouse teaches us that everyone has powerful insight worth listening to, even if they don’t have a prestigious title or a leadership role. Listening is the most important part of having a valuable conversation.

5. The World Is Connected 24/7

With Clubhouse’s Global community, we are able to collaborate 24/7 and work together to understand and solve each other’s problems. 

6. It’s Important To Be Clear and Concise

With rooms ranging from ten to thousands of people, Clubhouse teaches us the importance of getting to the point. Beating around the bush isn’t valuable or productive. With the ability to add a short personal profile, there is no need to introduce ourselves and our backgrounds. Getting to the point in a clear and concise manner makes for a powerful contribution.

7. Everyone Has a Role They Can Play

In Clubhouse, you can play any role you are comfortable with—moderator, speaker, or just a listener. These roles enable us to create platforms on topics for audiences of thousands or a private room for only two people.

8. It’s a Give and Take Environment

To flourish and grow, you have to give to Clubhouse as much as you take. The strength of Clubhouse is that it encourages everyone to be a part of the discussion. And for the topic to thrive, you need to participate with your voice as well as be a part of the audience who is listening in to the diverse perspectives of the others.

9. Two-Way Discussions Are Better Than One-Way

In a world of one-way presentations, lectures, and webinars, Clubhouse is showing us that hosting the voices of individuals who are passionate about the topic and listening to what they have to say is more powerful than speaking at them and asking for input later.

10. Multitasking Is Encouraged

Clubhouse is a 24/7 ecosystem. We all have responsibilities and priorities that need our attention, but that doesn’t stop us from listening in. Discussions can be put in the background like a radio while we do other things, and we can jump in when we can.

All these things come together to create genuine connections in a way that hasn’t been done by social media in recent years, or possibly ever.

Honorable Mentions

False Spins Are Checked by the Community

In a world driven by sales and marketing spin, the ability to have a live narrative allows us to call out the imposters and shed light on false or manipulative spins.  

Your Network Is a Powerful Tool

To build anything you are passionate about, you need a supportive network. Your network is not just your community, but anyone who can help you achieve goals or simply share in your passions.

Change Is Here

All the discussions that I have been a part of on Clubhouse have shown that the world is constantly changing and that change is happening faster than ever. Platforms like this one are a big part of that.

Your Voice Is Your New Look

Because Clubhouse is an audio-only platform, it eliminates most of the vanity that exists on other platforms and puts your voice front and center. 

There Are Unwritten Rules:

  • Turning your mic on and off repeatedly is like “clapping” to show support or encouragement.
  • Adding a host or guest to an event without permission from the room’s creator is frowned upon, even though the app allows you to do so. Be courteous!
  • Wait your turn. You will get your chance to speak, but listen first.
  • State your name when you start speaking and when you stop. This helps the folks who are hearing-impaired and using closed captions.
  • Everyone has the right to speak and offer their perspective. Titles don’t matter; passion does.

About Clubhouse

Right now, the Clubhouse app is still in beta, and new users need an invite to join. Each user receives two invites when they sign up and this method of adding new users has spread like wildfire. The number of users has jumped from 600,000 in December 2020 to 10 million in February 2021. It’s quite possible that everyone will have Clubhouse before the app’s official release. It’s a testament to how great this platform is, and also how innovative. 

Clubhouse didn’t wait around until everything was completed to be shared with the world—they don’t even have a website yet. The app already has millions of users, but those users are also beta testers, and the improvements made based on their feedback will undoubtedly make this app user-friendly and sustainably successful.

The conversations that are happening all day, every day on Clubhouse are truly amazing. If two heads are better than one, imagine what 10 million can do. 

To learn more about Clubhouse, you can click here

If you’re already on Clubhouse, follow me! My handle is @mattalex5. I’m participating in conversations about the Future of Higher Ed every day. I would love for you to join me.

If you don’t have an invite yet, finding someone who is using the app and can invite you is getting easier every day. Reach out to your network on Twitter or LinkedIn; I’m sure you’ll be joining conversations very soon.

Don’t Let Technology Drive Your Transformation

Higher Education is on a jet-powered ride to a brand-new world and the models schools have used to run their institutions for decades simply don’t work anymore. To survive and thrive, every institution must transform some, or all, of the ways it operates.

Technology Mistaken for Innovation

For many leaders, transformation means installing the newest software. But, in the end, all they have done is attach new-world technology to old-world processes, and they are no better off than when they started. These leaders miss opportunities to forge new paths, to set new goals, to rise to the challenges of the new world around them.

This technology-based approach to transformation in higher education is driven by the Consultant/Vendor/IT complex with its iron triangle of vendor-partner consultants, technology vendors, and university IT shops. Many consultants have a vested interest with partner software vendors and will try to convince schools that their future success and sustainability depends on selecting their preferred vendor’s software.

Generally, IT shops are structured to do one thing—install and support software. Academic leadership has bought into the concept that change and innovation are purely based on technology, so they are all too ready to listen to what their IT group recommends. They are eager to accept the consultant’s recommendation that a new software is what is needed to move their school forward—but that is not always the case.

Over and over again, institutions reach out to consultants and get the same answer: “Buy this new software! It will solve all your problems!” It’s an answer that excites institutional leadership. As a result, they purchase the software.

The mandate for “transformation” is driven through the whole organization. For up to two years the institution works hard to implement the new solution only to be no better off than when they started. By the time the new software is in place, the market has moved on and the situation has changed. In the end, the institution has simply put one more block on a teetering technology tower, ready to collapse at the slightest touch. The institution’s technology portfolio doesn’t properly support their operations or strategy and is so inflexible that it prevents any change of direction.

And then, the cycle starts all over again. The winners in this story are the consultants, the software vendors, and the IT shop. The losers are the institution. Higher Ed struggles on, lugging all this technical debt and leaving students to navigate through contradictory and non-supportive systems.

How Do We Break the Cycle?

The answer is simple: Don’t hire consultants.

That’s right. Don’t hire consultants. Hire strategic partners.

You may be thinking “all consultants sell themselves as strategic partners.” But there is a significant difference between a true strategic partner and a consultant. It is the difference between an architect and a contractor.

A true strategic partner is the architect. Architects put their clients’ needs first and are focused on their goals. They are trained to analyze a client’s site or problem and design a structure that best fits the site or solves the problem. They work closely with their client to develop a fit-for-purpose design, and they develop their design and draw the blueprints with that client’s unique needs and goals in mind. They understand their client’s budget, the long-term cost of ownership of their solution, and the need to demonstrate a return on investment on the project. Only when all these items are understood and in place do they engage a contractor.

The consultant is the contractor. Consultants are best at following a predetermined blueprint to build the structure. You wouldn’t hire a contractor to design your house. Their expertise is carpentry, plumbing, and electric. Like a building contractor, consultants have a deep understanding of configuration, programming upgrades, and testing, not structural design and architecture. We need to stop hiring contractors to do an architect’s job. Institutions must find a strategic partner to develop the solution, and only then should they hire a consulting partner to implement whatever technology solution—if any—is required to achieve that goal.

How Do You Find a Strong Strategic Partner?

Before you start any innovation or transformation journey, you must be crystal clear on what your goals are. It is vital for the success of your institution to define those goals, independent of any technology solution.

For example, define your goal as “I need to improve my student’s experience,” not “I need to replace my SIS system.” If you understand what your overall goals are—independent of a technology product—you stand a much better chance of meeting the strategic goals you have set out to achieve.

Once you have clearly defined your goals, start looking for your strategic partner. When looking at a potential partner, first understand how strongly they are allied with a software.

A good strategic partner won’t have strong ties to a specific solution or set of solutions. They will be free to help you build a pathway that is right for you, not for the vendor.

Next, when you are selecting a partner, observe their approach. Do they try and understand what the strategic goals are for you and your institution? Or do they jump to a technology-based approach?

You need someone who listens and understands what you are trying to achieve, not someone who will come in with pre-determined answers.

They need to be able to work with you to layout an effective approach to meeting your goals, even if that doesn’t require new software.

Finally, clearly understand how they will support you though your journey.

A partner will be with you from the start and is committed to you for the long haul.

If a technical solution is required, a partner understands your goals well enough that they can help guide you to the technology solution and an integration consultant that works best for you.

This “find a partner, not a consultant” approach means not only changing how and when we create our strategies. It changes how we respond to the market and how we relate to technology. We need to create structures where strategies are designed and implemented quickly, with a firm focus on the destination. Having these clear goals and flexible structures makes for a successful partnership, which results in effective initiatives that are truly transformative.

Stop hiring consultants. Start hiring partners.