Interview: Building Support Through Community. Martine Resnick on Atlanta’s Business RadioX

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Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX Studios in Atlanta, Georgia hosted by Lee Kantor.

Lee Kantor: [00:00:31] Lee Kantor another episode of Atlanta Business Radio, and this is going to be a good one. Today on the show, we have Martine Resnick with The Lola. Welcome, Martine.

Martine Resnick: [00:00:42] Hey, Lee, how are you doing?

Lee Kantor: [00:00:44] I am doing well. I’m so excited to get caught up with The Lola. For those who don’t know, can you share a little bit about what you’re up to?

Martine Resnick: [00:00:53] Yeah, absolutely.

We are a women’s co-working space in Atlanta.

We’re also a community and a digital community, and we’re based in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward right behind Ponce City Market. Our space has been open three years. We opened right before a pandemic, which was always fun, opening any business with a physical space in a pandemic. But we’re still here and we’re thriving.

Lee Kantor: [00:01:24] So how has the business changed? Like you mentioned, the pandemic happened, and folks are kind of interacting with work and doing work and community a little differently today than they were a couple of years ago.

Martine Resnick: [00:01:38] Yeah, for sure. I mean, obviously through the pandemic, when we weren’t able to meet in-person, so we pivoted everything online pretty much within a week, which was kind of crazy because we were doing three or four events a week.

We were piecing everything together with Zoom, with Slack, with Eventbrite, with all these different platforms. So, we quickly realized we needed a one community hub to bring everyone together. And so, we launched that for a new Member platform with Mighty Networks.

I really love Mighty Networks, they keep the software up to date, they listen to their community, they teach you how to use it and how to build community effectively in the online space. So now we can host events and programing and have conversations between members, community groups and promote all of our in-person stuff and our happenings at the space through the platform.

Members now are interacting digitally too. Everyone’s obviously much more comfortable with Zoom and technology and the app on their phone, and I think that just presents a lot more opportunity for connection where you don’t have to physically be together, but you can still feel connected to your community and ask questions and get support remotely.

Martine Resnick: [00:03:06]

There is still a huge amount of value in in-person connections and I think that’s shown by members very keen to come back together.

And it’s funny because before the pandemic, if we’d have said speed networking, everyone would have run a mile. But we were talking to a group of our members, and they said, Honestly, we just need to reconnect with people and we need to do it quickly because we’ve neglected our relationships a lot in the last couple of years. So, if you can just get us connected to as many other members as possible, that would be great. I never thought I would hear anyone say that!

We do networking a little differently at the Lola and it is very much built relationships and authenticity and spending time with one another so that collaborations and partnerships come more organically. I think people are really craving in-person connection right now.

Lee Kantor: [00:04:00] Yeah, we’re seeing the same thing we have. We a lot of our business is done in person as well. And especially historically, we’ve done a lot of work remotely doing broadcasts from events and tradeshows and conferences and things like that. And then through the pandemic, obviously that wasn’t happening, but now,

It’s starting to open up again and you feel a real sense of hunger, they get so excited, hugging and shaking hands and just kind of these things that we used to take for granted are now like something, you know, that they’re celebrating.

 

Martine Resnick: [00:04:35] Yes. Before we did most everything in person and I think it’s been an interesting shft. The things that are learning opportunities, like workshops, we still do digitally because it gives more people the opportunity to join depending on their busy schedules. And we can also record it and post the replay. Plus, it can be more interactive with slides and stuff like that. So some of the experiences actually lend themselves really well to a digital environment. Anything that’s more social, or if we have like inspirational speakers talking about personal stories, then those things do lend themselves more to the physical space.

It’s been interesting and fun to kind of play with thinking about which situation suits best depending on what we’re talking about.

 

Lee Kantor: [00:05:23] Now, your business, obviously, community and relationships are are kind. The secret sauce. Are you finding other entrepreneurs’ kind of leaning on community and relationships as tools to build their businesses as well?

 

Martine Resnick: [00:05:40] Oh, yeah, absolutely. And I would say that honestly, at the core of what we do and I think and I mean even Eileen, my co-founder and I, I feel like, especially through the pandemic community, is how we built the Lola from the start. And even more so,

I feel like I’m learning from other entrepreneurs every day organically. I think a really important part of any kind of business growth strategy is your community and your network.

And some communities say don’t promote yourself or sell your business inside the platform. And I and I understand why they would say that, because sometimes it can feel really spammy and people aren’t there for the right reasons. However, because we know people know what they’re getting into at The Lola and they really want to be there because they truly want to be part of a supportive community. It never feels like that.

We even have like a channel in the platform where it literally says, “Promote yourself,” tell us what you’re doing, celebrate your wins, tell us about your new launch etc… We really encourage it because I think people hold back on doing that. That’s why we’re here, to help each other and support each other.

And we often buy services, products, consulting advice from each other because we’re all kind of in it together. And you can’t be an expert in everything.

Lee Kantor: [00:07:12] Yeah, that’s I understand. I agree with you that, you know, they don’t a lot of platforms don’t want it to be this. Just pitch, pitch, pitch, pitch, pitch.

But in most people’s lives are so busy, it’s hard to help another person without some financial compensation. Like you have to get paid in order to survive.

So, if everybody knows that, you know, the more you’re getting paid, obviously, the more people you can be helping. So if you can reframe selling to helping, you know, maybe it’ll help people kind of get past that. It’s almost like a mental block.

Martine Resnick: [00:07:50] Yeah. No, for sure. And actually, it’s interesting that you say that. I just came out of a workshop we did with Kate Kordsmeier, and we were talking about nurturing sales and your business. Actually, I am a true believer in this,

Sales is always kind of felt as a sleazy kind of thing or you don’t want to do it because you don’t want to be pushy. But, if you look at it more of like, how can I help solve problems and support my community organically without then you’re not directly selling, you’re solving problems for people and the problems that you would then sell with your services.

I think they get to know you through that lens and they’re like, well, hey, this person solved all these things for me and now I want more of that. And now I’m willing to pay for their Membership or their service or their product because I want more of what they’re offering.

Lee Kantor: [00:08:46] Yeah, it’s sales kind of has a bad rap, I think, and a lot of people are afraid of it. But without sales, I mean, you know, nobody eats as the saying goes, you know, somebody has to sell somebody something in order to kind of continue to be in business. I mean, that’s what this is about. Yeah.

Martine Resnick: [00:09:06] Absolutely.

Lee Kantor: [00:09:09]

Do you have any advice for folks that are looking to maybe invest in their community and and build a network that can really serve as a support system for themselves?

Is there any advice on how to do that? Or and obviously, I’m sure you can share a lot about the why you should do it because since it’s at the core of your business as well.

Martine Resnick: [00:09:34] Sure, absolutely.

I think intentionally building your support system (or your network) is really, really, really important. You have to start from a place where you begin with your values and your why.

Like, why does my business exist? What am I about? What are my values? What are the values of my business? Often in entrepreneurship, our personal values are somewhat attached to our business values because that’s why we start businesses in the first place.

When you get really clear on your why and build your goals for your business through the values, then I think then it becomes quite apparent.

For example, what are the kind of people you want in your network who’s also who also are aligned with your values and kind of your goals and are heading in the same direction? And then what I think once you’re clear and on that solid foundation, then it’s about identifying what gaps do I have?

We have a skill set in something, my career was built on marketing and branding and so I’m really comfortable in that space.

But I’d been in corporate for 20 years before I started my own business, so there were some other areas that I lacked skills in even in the Marketing space. For example, I don’t know how to code or build a great website from scratch. I think we built our first one using Squarespace using their templates, but then I was like, Okay, now we’re kind of more grown up, we need something better. I needed somebody that knew what they’re doing to really build this solidly so we get good SEO.
Think about what you are really good at. Focus on that and then fill in the gaps and build your network and your community around the things that you are not good at and learn from and who can you learn from and start from that place. You don’t even have to become a customer in the beginning. People put out blog posts and free content, downloads and workbooks.

Spend time learning and listening and following other people.

And then when it feels like then it’s the right time or a good fit, then you can consider supporting them more and buying their products.

Another way to look at it. We have our friends, we have our family, we have people from our maybe our ex-corporate careers. But,

The people that really understand the boat we’re in are other entrepreneurs and other like-minded entrepreneurs, like the entrepreneurs at The Lola. Our members are very purpose driven. We all really want to build businesses that we feel connected to.
It’s finding more of those people because it’s a self-perpetuating cycle, right? You surround yourself with smart, ambitious people who are trying to do the same thing you do, and it’s just a snowball effect. So like it helps pull you along.

Lee Kantor: [00:12:38] Now when you’re working with your members and your clients, how are you helping them wring out the most value, because there’s a lot of co-working spaces. I know yours is focused on women, but you’re always have to kind of push that value line. Are you is it constantly about education? Is it are you proactively helping them network with each other? What are some of the kind of the deliverables a new member can expect when they’re part of The Lola community?

Martine Resnick: [00:13:13] Absolutely. Bringing those women together and saying to ourselves, okay, when they first enter The Lola, what do we first want them to do?

We want them to meet other members and build their community and build their network.

And I think we’re getting better at this. And I think we are, in fact, overhauling our onboarding program now because

What we really want is that first connection, that first impact to be we want you to meet other people, because that just starts a snowball of inspiration, connections, collaborations, and ideas before we can even solve problems with workshops and events and programing.

We have a goals and accountability group which is a great place to start because everybody has goals, and it can be hard to stay motivated and true to those goals. So, that’s one of the first places we want them to go to meet other people.

Another program that we encourage new members to join is Cultivate Connections, which is a peer-to-peer mentoring program where we match Members with other Members who are maybe one is a couple steps ahead, maybe they’re in the same place, and then we rotate them every six weeks so that they’re meeting other new people.

Martine Resnick: [00:14:52] When you join the Lola it’s almost like a 12-month program. We have a monthly theme each month and attached to that monthly theme, we’ll put out articles and we’ll bring in speakers and we’ll host workshops. Often other members are speaking at those events or hosting those workshops. We try and keep that in the community because there’s so much knowledge and so much value here already. And we also work with Friends of The Lola as well because we want to make sure we’re bringing in the best people we can. So it’s an education opportunity and those environments are opportunities for connection. Connection is a goal.

We want to share some knowledge, but then how do we bring Members together to brainstorm and workshop and mastermind some of their problems together so that they can help each other?

And it’s amazing. I mean, we just had one now where we were brainstorming the brand promise for the business so that you can more effectively sell your business. And four or five members were having like aha moments left, right and center because they said, Oh, when you set that, that made me think of another thing and I just changed my brand promise. And here, what do you think of this? It was kind of real time masterminding, which I always love to see.

 

Lee Kantor: [00:16:12] Now, is there a story you could share that maybe kind of brings the Lola to life for our listeners in terms of what is the possibilities? Is there kind of a serendipitous meeting that happened with between members that enabled one or both of them to get to a new level? Is there a story that’s rewarding or memorable to you that can kind of encapsulates the value promise of the Lola?

 

Martine Resnick: [00:16:40] Of course. So this was actually a story from early on that always kind of like warms my heart and I think about it. So one of our Members, Amy’s APHIS, hosts a Life Design program and she’s actually about to kick off a new one in January. And it’s something we’ve done always.

Amy basically uses “design thinking” to help you design the life that you that you want.

You go through this six-week program and again, you’re kind of you’re mapping out two or three or four options and then honing in overtime on one so that you’re not limiting your thinking.
After they’ve thrown all the ideas out, then they hone in on their plan (an Odyssey Plan) and present it to the group. The group then come together and build on the idea and brainstorm.

Through one of these programs, we had a Member, Scarlett, who has a really awesome candle like handmade candle brand called Young Gentry. There was some transition going on with the business, she’d been in business a few years, and she was trying to take it to the next level.

They called it “Scarlet’s Leap.” That day she really took a leap forward that could have taken her months to come up with alone. But in that one session she was able to workshop with other Members and really take her business to another level, which was just awesome to see.

Lee Kantor: [00:18:29] Yeah, it’s amazing when like-minded people who have a heart of service come together. Just magic can happen.

 

Martine Resnick: [00:18:38] Yeah, really. And it’s interesting because it doesn’t happen. I mean, as I mentioned, I spent a long time in corporate and great cultures, great communities like really great people to work with.

But I realized when I stepped out of that environment and started building The Lola community, suddenly it felt very different. The energy really shifted. Everyone was really there to help each other. The competitive kind of edge had gone and it truly was like, How can I help you? Really, what can I do to help you and how? That is just really magical.
Even if you are in a corporate career, having an environment or a space or a community network that’s outside of that is really important because you can show up differently, you don’t have to filter so much. There’s not the internal corporate politics that sometimes goes on.
In our community no one’s trying to be competitive, even if they have very similar businesses. I see those people get together and and work together and collaborate.

We had two members that both had like bookkeeping, accountancy, businesses and when one was really busy they would send the other one clients and they really were offering the same services. But instead of seeing that as a negative thing, they just work together.

 

Lee Kantor: [00:20:03]

I think it’s so important today to have a community that you have are filled with people you trust, that you’re rooting for, that you’re supporting and celebrating. I think in today’s world it’s just we’re bombarded with so much and we need kind of that safe place so that we are not as stressed and we’re not getting burnt out and we don’t feel isolated. I think that that everybody needs that nowadays.

Martine Resnick: [00:20:32] Agree.

We’re social. Humans are social. We thrive in connection and collaboration.

 

Lee Kantor: [00:20:42] Well, if somebody wants to learn more about the Lola, where can they go?

 

Martine Resnick: [00:20:46] If you want to go to our website, it’s the-lola.com. We have some great free gifts on there. You can download our guide “How to build high quality connections to grow in business”, and that will put you into our welcome series. So you’ll get for about a week, you’ll get emails and you’ll learn more about us. Or if you just want to sign up for our newsletter, you can do that at the bottom of our home page.

 

Lee Kantor: [00:21:13] And then also for folks who are listening that may not be in the metro Atlanta area, there’s still a Digital Memberships as well, right?

 

Martine Resnick: [00:21:22] That’s right. Yeah, you can if you go to the-lola.com/memberships or click on the membership tab ofrom our home page, you’ll see there are two membership options. We have coworking in person and then for a smaller amount you can join our digital only membership and we have monthly, quarterly and annual payment plans.

 

Lee Kantor: [00:21:44] Well, Martine, thank you so much for sharing your story today. You’re doing important work and we appreciate you

 

Martine Resnick: [00:21:50] Thank you so much. Thanks for having me.

 

Lee Kantor: [00:21:52] All right. This is Lee Kantor. We’ll see you next time on the Atlanta Business Radio.

 

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