Exciting! We’re launching The Watercooler

An online community for leaders looking to become better

“How do I become a better leader?”

I’ve spent my entire working life trying to answer that question. The answer, unfortunately, has never been very clear. I found books to be one-sided, conferences require you to be there in-person, and mentors who I trust not always available (nor do they always have the experience or answers I’m looking for!)

So we built “The Watercooler” — an online community for founders, CEOs, owners, executives, and managers to talk candidly about our struggles and our successes. No matter where you live, no matter where your company is located in the world, we now all can support each other on the path to becoming better leaders.

Who The Watercooler is for

  • Business owners who don’t have the time (or have never been interested) in attending leadership seminars, but crave thoughtful discussion around how other folks think about leading teams.
  • Managers who are having a tough time transitioning into their new role, or feel like they haven’t learned any of the “leadership stuff.”
  • Founders who’ve been hiring quickly, and scaling and managing a rapidly growing team is starting to feel overwhelming and a little perilous.
  • People who believe that great leaders never stop learning, and continually ask themselves: “How do I become a better leader?”

What we talk about at The Watercooler

At The Watercooler, we chat about things like…

  • Company culture — Organization structure, goals, employee handbook, values, mission.
  • Individual performance — One-on-ones, feedback, reviews, career growth, check-ins, promoting people.
  • Hiring & Recruitment — Best practices, salary range, job description, interviews, hiring committee.
  • Tough Conversations — Inappropriate behavior, body odor, harassment, firing people, conflict.
  • Benefits — Healthcare, 401ks, paid time off, flexible hours, equity/options, profit-sharing.
  • Remote Companies — Challenges of building a great remote environment.

And more: Growing the business, product strategy, work-life balance, social events.

Who makes up The Watercooler Community

At The Watercooler, we value leaders who have a shared commitment to becoming better — those who come from a place of humility and honesty. Upholding those qualities are important and is the only way we can ensure an open dialogue on sometimes tough and personal topics.

As a result, we have a strict review process for members. You can either be referred to The Watercooler by a current member, or you can apply for membership here.

About two weeks ago, we invited current Know Your Team account owners as part of a private beta… and it’s been amazing to see the conversations, honest insights shared, and helpful advice exchanged in only 14 days. We’ve discussed topics like “how to let someone go” and “how we run our all-hands meeting” and “how to create fairness between locations in a distributed company.”

With 130+ folks who joined our initial private beta, here’s what a few folks have told me about The Watercooler so far:

“The Watercooler has become one of my internet pitstops, providing a daily dose of inspiration on how to build great businesses, straight from those doing it every day.” — Sean Conner, Managing Director of Marketing at Guerrero Howe

“It’s easy to feel isolated in leadership. The Watercooler is a daily reminder that we’re in this together and can help each other.” — Chris Powers, Director of Engineering at Sprout Social

“I’ve only been signed up a couple of days and already I’ve found some good ideas that I’m implementing, and some inspiration for things I’d like to do.” — Chris Lilley, Director at Black Pepper Software

How much The Watercooler costs

The Watercooler is just $20/month to join (or $200/year if you’d like to save 15%). This is to cover our maintenance costs and ensure we have a high-quality, moderated community.

Hope to see you at The Watercooler!

As a CEO myself, reading the threads in The Watercooler has been energizing. It’s made me feel like, “Phew, I’m not alone!” and helped me think through my actions and thought-processes on certain topics. I’d love to include you in the conversation. And, please feel free to share it with friends and colleagues who you think might benefit and add value to the community.

I look forward to learning from you at The Watercooler. See ya there!

Apply for membership to The Watercooler today.

PS: Please 👏 this post if you’d like others to benefit from The Watercooler. Thanks so much (and please say hi at @clairejlew!)