As women’s history month comes to a close, we’re proud to announce our collaboration with The Lauder Institute Alumni Association. In April, over 100 women from around the world will connect for the inaugural session of the Lauder Meridians pilot. Groups will meet regularly for the remainder of 2023 to connect with like-minded-Lauder Women.
We are on the lookout for organizations to pilot the Circl.es Women Leaders Program, inspired by this groundbreaking collaboration with Lauder Alumni. Connect with email@example.com, Head of Community Growth, to learn more about this opportunity.
The Circles Team is excited to share about some of the awesome stuff that we’ve been working on. Read on to find out about the new features that we know you’re going to love.
One Circle to go, please!
Don’t want to miss your Circl.es session while you’re out and about? The CircleSpace Mobile/Tablet App allows you to connect from anywhere (with video!), while still enjoying the features that make for a powerful small group learning experience.
More Circles, More Learning!
Ever wish you could group into smaller circles to have a more focused or intimate conversation? Now you can: Breakout CircleSpaces multiply the power of your circle by creating additional spaces within sessions.
Track Your Progress
Gather new insights and learn more about your circles through the data in our improved dashboard and analytics sections.
Be There Or Be Square(d)
Maintain focus during sessions by engaging visual full-screen mode and blocking out background sounds with noise reduction.
For those who lose their keys
We’ve made logging in easier than ever; Single Sign-on (SSO) allows new users to sign up with Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Microsoft & Okta.
Our community is growing and we’re offering more ways than ever for you to stay in the loop as we expand. Check out our latest blog post, and connect with us on LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook #circlesnotrows. We’re excited about these updates, and as always we welcome your feedback.
Please feel free to reach out with any questions or comments: firstname.lastname@example.org call us at +1 (866) 303-4255.
Meredith Moore launched Interesting Women Leaders in ATL Virtual Circles Luncheon so women could connect and have “bigger conversations.” The owner of Atlanta based Artisan Financial Services, Meredith surveyed the small group landscape and couldn’t find the right senior leadership group for women. She shared: “I wanted to create a space where people could have authentic conversations.”
A YPO client suggested Meredith try Circl.es after the client’s Forum gathered on the platform. The initial luncheon took place during the pandemic, and Meredith has continued hosting one every few weeks, inviting different leaders each time. She sparks conversation by asking three simple discovery questions, and says she’s blown away by the transparent way the women engage. Their vulnerability seems to flow from a combination of facilitated questions and the Circl.es platform design. “I don’t know exactly why Circles works, but something about it leads to open conversations.”
She’s referring to the X-factor that our team at Circl.es finds hard to put into words: the magic that groups experience when meeting on the platform. Meredith describes it this way: “I’m a financial advisor–not a psychologist. But these circles are like therapy.”
After gaining permission from each attendee, Meredith posts a screenshot on LinkedIn and tags participants as a way of connecting the women together, resulting in a curated community of females in corporate leadership.
To gather women for each luncheon, she asks alum from the last circle to replace themselves. “There’s so many women who want to attend now; I think there’s a sense of luncheon FOMO.” As the world slowly opens back up, Meredith finds herself hesitant to convert the virtual luncheons into live events, saying “I’m fascinated by the amount that gets disclosed on the platform. I don’t know if people would feel comfortable sharing the same things face-to-face.”
Is this the kind of space you’re looking to attend or create? Let’s talk!
Union Square Ventures is a New York based venture capital firm that believes the best way to support their portfolio is by helping them learn and connect with each other. In addition to broadening access to content and community, their team has focused on building strong, trusted leadership networks across their portfolio of 115 active companies around the world. Their Network Lead, Lauren Young noted: “our team’s primary focus is to help our companies build better businesses. One way we do this is by increasing the speed of knowledge shared across the network.
“USV as a firm believes that we are not the experts in the room; rather, leveraging and building upon network effects can be one of the most impactful ways to build successful companies.”
USV as a firm believes that we are not the experts in the room; rather, leveraging and building upon the collective knowledge within our ecosystem can be one of the most impactful ways to help our companies build successful businesses.” Because of Lauren and her team’s proximity to the intense realities facing leaders of growing companies, they continually see the need to keep company leaders connected. “Building a company can be very hard, and today, the pace and intensity of growth and problem solving is never-ending. That’s why we seek out new ways to provide a trusted environment for senior leaders, executives, and founders in our portfolio to connect with industry peers.”
In the fall of 2021, as part of their ongoing efforts to connect leaders across companies, USV in partnership with Circl.es customized a version of Circl.es Foundations; a six -session journey of 90-minute sessions facilitated in curated small groups. Lauren explains how it fits a specific need in their broader learning and development curriculum: “Partnering with Circl.es has enabled us to provide a new layer of support: small group peer connectivity. Over the years, we’ve been asked by countless portfolio leaders for access to a space where they can ask questions and connect with others who are facing similar challenges. The foundation of this program was built from their feedback.”
“Partnering with Circl.es has enabled us to provide the exact layer of support we wanted– which was small group peer connectivity.”
Based on participant feedback, they have focused on two sorting criteria: department and seniority level. “Enabling participants to meet leaders who not only have the same functional expertise, but who are also facing similar leadership opportunities, increases the chances for them to develop stronger, more fruitful relationships.” Lauren shared that one of the reasons they’ve partnered with Circles is to enable the executives in their network to really build a personal advisory board that they can turn to when they’re facing a challenge. Participants validated the importance of the peer element, with quotes like “I’m able to get perspectives on real time issues from peers” and “it’s great to have a place where I can be vulnerable with peers.”
Across the board, Circl.es Foundations yielded a fantastic response from USV participants: 100% of respondents would recommend the experience to a colleague. Overall, the feedback overwhelmingly validated the need for peer small groups in order to lead in the current climate. As one participant shared: “Being able to have a deep-dive session on problem-solving, and having it facilitated through a discussion broken up by certain themes, was very useful.” Participant Emily Bunin–Senior Controller at Kickstarter–shared that “transitioning into leadership as a professional can be challenging, and lonely at times. My USV circle provides a safe and supportive environment for me to face my fears, practice vulnerability, and remember that I’m not alone.” At Dwolla, Director of Finance Alicia Eichmeier mentioned that “it’s great to have a place where I can be vulnerable with peers” and Operations VP Jackie Ward said “it pushes me outside my comfort zone.”
“Transitioning into leadership as a professional can be challenging, and lonely at times. My USV circle provides a safe and supportive environment for me to face my fears, practice vulnerability, and remember that I’m not alone.”
Looking ahead, Lauren plans to continue to integrate participant feedback as well as the overall needs of the portfolio into this program. “Understanding our portfolio’s needs is critical to understanding where we, as a firm, can provide the strongest value proposition for them.” She appreciated the emphasis on strong facilitation, leadership-specific content and peer-led development that Circl.es has prioritized in their product and platform. Together, USV and the Circl.es team will add a layer of social learning into the fabric of the USV Network in 2022, forming new Leadership Squads each quarter, and providing peer learning & growth in a scalable format that reaches leaders one circle at a time.
To realize any major goal, two heads – or three, or four, or eight to ten, connecting authentically in a circle – are better than one. Steven Krein, CEO & Co-founder of StartUp Health, knows this from personal experience. As he and his partner Unity Stoakes built a company to invest in “Health Moonshots” that strive to improve the health and wellbeing of everyone in the world, he has tried to bring this kind of deep, intentional community support to his portfolio of 350 investments in 26 different countries.
When first designing a peer network for StartUp Health, Krein drew upon his personal experience as a young entrepreneur in the Young Presidents Organization (YPO). There, through monthly meetings with fellow entrepreneurs, he learned that even though everyone has their own exciting projects, they don’t have to navigate challenges alone. “The trust and peer support,” Krein says, “and knowing that I’m going to have dedicated hours every month to do that, has been invaluable to me as an entrepreneur.”
So, when StartUp Health started out almost ten years ago, Krein arranged his founders in groups, based on the YPO model, and brought them together to gather face-to-face. But, as their portfolio grew from local to global companies it was no longer feasible to gather entrepreneurs in a physical space. In shifting to a virtual format, Krein tried using “Zoom, and all of its predecessors” hoping to still parallel the YPO magic the community brought to his career. In short, it just wasn’t the same. “We had been connecting eight to ten entrepreneurs at a time,” Krein says, “but we didn’t have a reliable, dependable, intimate way of doing it that really created the trust and consistency that I thought was needed from what I experienced in YPO.”
Then came 2019: A fellow YPO member asked Krein if he had seen Circl.es. “It was instantly the answer for what I was looking to bring to my community,” Krein says. “To be honest with you, I think it’s made all the difference over the past year for our portfolio. Circl.es gets you off Zoom and makes you feel more connected. There’s a warmth to being in Circl.es.”
“I think it’s made all the difference over the past year for our portfolio. Circl.es gets you off Zoom and makes you feel more connected. There’s a warmth to being in Circl.es.”
Besides recreating a feeling that mimics how individuals connect in a physical space – in circles as opposed to “rows of tiles” – Krein and StartUp Health’s entrepreneurs love Circl.es for its design with best practices on how humans best build relationships in mind. Instead of relying on a hierarchical structure for how sessions are typically hosted in traditional meetings or on webinars, everyone is in the circle and no one is the host; they are all equal, as in the simple yet universal symbol of the circle.
“You can tell Dan [Hoffman, the creator of Circl.es,] is intimately focused on the details of a YPO-like experience,” Krein says, “It shows that it’s not just people working on a product – it’s a product that’s had a lot of thought gone into it.”
To make this warm, thoughtful experience possible, Circl.es collaborated closely with StartUp Health to design Health Transformer Circles and a program that tailored the software to their objectives. They worked together to create 14 circles, with an average attendance of 8-10 per circle, including co-moderators. In just four weeks, Circl.es launched the personalized program, laying the foundations for a culture of belonging and engagement with consistent norms and protocols. As a nod to his inspiration, Krein even integrated YPO members to serve as mentors within each circle giving his entrepreneurs an opportunity to collaborate with additional outside perspectives that also understand the power of surrounding a startup founder with the right network.
“It’s an incredibly useful replication of what happens in person”
Krein especially appreciates a few key features. He says it’s helpful that the presenter goes to the middle of the circle with a timer in the upper-righthand corner to guide. He also loves the virtual representations of raising your hand, giving a thumbs up, or even having everybody’s circle crowd into the center for a virtual hug. Details like incorporating music and changing colors, too, provide a sense of progress and closure, while the agenda lets the group know when it’s falling behind. All of these aspects help recreate the closest version to an in-person meeting as possible, while reminding members that they’re in it together. “It’s an incredibly useful replication of what happens in person,” he says.
Of course, Krein couldn’t love Circl.es if his entrepreneurs and staff didn’t see the value. These entrepreneurs say that it offers a fresh and engaging approach to discussing business and personal issues, while helping them build the deep and value-aligned relationships they need in order to solve complex problems and make the world healthier. And for his staff, there’s been an opportunity to engage further with these entrepreneurs as well and become more embedded in their needs, strengthening the overall company focus and culture within the portfolio.
Now, already in year two of the program, Krein realizes that a hierarchical and cold video conferencing software could never work. In addition, when the pandemic hit, StartUp Health had already embraced a virtual format of their program which eliminated the need to pivot quickly to this approach. All he had to do was remember, from his YPO meetings, the essential role that a reliable, dependable and intimate circle of peers plays in innovation and connection. Krein says, “Circl.es is very much one of the monthly rhythms that all of the entrepreneurs get to participate in.” Now, when StartUp Health’s entrepreneurs feel disconnected or stuck, they look forward to their next session on Circl.es as a reminder of collaboration and inspiration.
“Even though creating communities is hard, Circl.es makes it easier.”
Building the best peer network collaboration opportunities for entrepreneurs has been an ongoing quest at StartUp Health and Krein now rejoices in seeing the entrepreneurs in his portfolio connect, make strides towards their goals, and is reminded that even though creating communities is hard, Circl.es makes it easier.
How does a company dedicated to building community achieve this among its own employees?
It’s a question that EDENS, a retail real estate owner, operator, and developer, has set out to answer. For more than 50 years, EDENS’ mission has been “to enrich communities,” said Caroline Davis, EDENS’ Vice President of Employee Engagement. “Peoples’ quality of life is higher when they are able to interact in a place that adds value and meaning to their life.”
The COVID-19 pandemic, however, put EDENS’ work to the test when communal interaction in public became a health risk, and stay-at-home orders were legally mandated. This was as much a challenge to EDENS’ internal sense of community as it was to its business.
As with so many other companies that went remote in March 2020, EDENS found this change “radically shifted the way we interacted with each other,” as Davis put it, including a “level of fatigue” with standard video platforms used for meetings. “That piece of feeling truly connected was missing,” Davis added.
This physical disconnection also made the equity and inclusion work EDENS had already committed to that much harder. This was most starkly clear over the summer when EDENS hosted an all-staff meeting to discuss Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” The entire team used a standard virtual platform in which many people kept their cameras off. Consequently, the conversation failed to reach a desirable level of authenticity and emotional safety, according to Davis.
EDENS CEO Jodie McLean remembered a platform she had used previously that could help her employees connect. After using Circl.es at the Aspen Institute Resnick Aspen Action Forum in her capacity as a Liberty Fellow, McLean decided in October last year to purposely build an opportunity for EDENS to use the platform.
“I’ve never partnered with another vendor who felt more integrated and more supportive than Circl.es”
Circl.es joined forces with EDENS to facilitate a value-based inclusive leadership summit with content inspired by the curriculum the Aspen Institute had created. The process included helping with the logistical challenge of forming groups in the platform and ensuring all groups had consistent experiences. “I’ve never partnered with another vendor who felt more integrated and more supportive than Circl.es,” Davis added. “They felt like an extension of us, and it was incredible.”
Circl.es was game-changing for EDENS for a few key reasons.
First, rather than convening a 200-person staff in a single virtual space, employees were broken up into smaller groups — circles — that allowed each member to have “true equity” as Davis described it. Circl.es accomplished this by keeping all group members on camera and placing them each in individual, equal-sized circles, within a larger circle. Rather than reinforce a hierarchy that sometimes happens in a corporate setting, Circl.es created a space in which every employee had an equal voice — in which they were able to talk to each other rather than talked to.
“Circl.es’ features helped conversations feel less awkward and more authentic,” Davis noted. On other video platforms, participants tend to talk over and interrupt each other, mainly out of the lack of being able to perceive others’ body language or other subtle social cues. Circl.es eliminates this by allowing participants to raise their hands, sort participants into a set order in which to speak, and “making everyone feel like their voice was equally important,” said Davis.
Participants’ ability to give other members in their circle a hug or lend support in the form of a “plus one” also helped facilitate a conversation that was “fluid but purposeful,” according to Davis — especially when it came to discussing difficult topics, like diversity and equity, which was the focus of the readings to which group members responded.
It turned out that breaking apart was exactly what was needed to help the company feel more together.
Circl.es “gave us a chance to hear different perspectives from people who think differently than we do,” one employee reflected. Another shared that the platform “allowed for uncomfortable discussions in an intimate environment” and noted “it was easier to share this way.”
In fact, in a post-discussion survey, while at least 50% of employees reported they did not initially want to come to the meeting, 90% reported that they loved the experience.
What’s more, the staff’s experiences with Circl.es had an immediate impact on how they interacted with each other. While reconvening for a debrief of the Circl.es experience in their normal video platform, employees were “incredibly active” in the chat box, which Davis noted had rarely happened in previous meetings. Employees were “showing support and reaching out to each other and saying how much the day meant,” Davis continued.
Circl.es has since become such an integrated part of EDENS’ communications structure that it’s taken on its own vernacular. “We say, ‘This is something we should get into a circle and discuss’…it’s become this special place for people to meet that feels very safe,” Davis said. Most recently, EDENS used Circl.es to reconvene the same groups who met in October to discuss another Martin Luther King, Jr. piece, “The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life,” in February. Though it was a busy time for the company, “people made the time and felt really energized after the conversations,” Davis said.
“We know when we connect with each other, we drive our engagement, which impacts our wellbeing at work,” Davis said. “It helps our productivity and that’s an investment that is well served.”
Not only has Circl.es benefited employees by “elevating” the way they virtually met, but it also helped the company itself. “We know when we connect with each other, we drive our engagement, which impacts our wellbeing at work,” Davis said. “It helps our productivity and that’s an investment that is well served.”
EDENS plans to use Circl.es well beyond the end of the pandemic, because, as Davis said, “EDENS employees now connect with the common language of gratitude for the conversations and connections they have with each other and the ability to be seen. I attribute that to Circl.es giving us the space and the place to do that.”
We miss campuses! The smell of crisp fall air, sparkling new school supplies and the smiles of friends we missed all summer. This isn’t just nostalgia; the campus is a powerful setting that energizes learning.
“An almost seismic sense of expectation emanates from a college campus. That is the true elixir of youth: the grand, the glorious, the magnificent hopes and dreams because all things – all things – are yet possible.” – Carolyn Hart
We mourn the loss of campuses for our children, but also for our grown-up selves. Some of the best ideas flow from formal offsite gatherings with colleagues, or informal dinners shared with peers.
Bolstered by a true sense of urgency and ingenuity, the instructors at The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard Business School and The Aspen Institute, turned to Circl.es to create an online space that feels as connected as meeting face-to-face. The answer, in part, was a unique virtual setting. But they also did things differently, designing inclusive interactions and using a process for engaging in small groups… circles instead of rows.
The Wharton School of Business
The Wharton School of Business is one of the nation’s top business programs. With 600+ incoming freshmen, they needed a way to welcome and orient new students that felt as genuine as the on-campus experience.
Circl.es is a system to create intentional, inclusive and authentic dialogue. Wharton’s goal was to instill a sense of belonging and connection for new students, who would not be able to establish community in an in-person environment. They married restorative practices with Circl.es technology to run 54 small group sessions in one day, welcoming approximately 600 new students and fostering a sense of community among them, even without setting foot on campus.
Each group was run by a Circl.es-trained facilitator (50+ upperclassmen leaders), with incoming students joining from all over the world. Circl.es gave these students a wonderful opportunity to join others, and find positive connections in a time when they may have been feeling vulnerable and unsure. As one student put it…
“It was my first encounter with my cohort leaders and other classmates. It felt great to finally open up and hear what everyone is thinking about the upcoming semester.”
– Wharton Circles Participant
Circl.es allowed Wharton students to hold space for each other and engage in restorative practices to support all new students, and ensure their year got off to a great start.
Harvard Business School
During the Owner/President Management (OPM) program at Harvard Business School, top executives look to expand their business knowledge, leadership skills and the overall value of their companies. Building peer relationships is a central part of the value proposition. When on campus, the program deliberately houses eight students together in a specially configured “living group.”
Living groups share their most personal experiences, both from business and life, as part of the program, so connection with others is key. HBS didn’t replace this by trying to simulate late-night dorm interactions. Instead, they wove small group work into the online course curriculum. This occurred in pre-program Circles, where students’ connections before beginning their coursework provided a ‘running start’ to their OPM experience.
Once the program was underway, Circles provided the space for students to engage in case prep work, small group breakout sessions, pitch/innovation competitions and project work in a way that organically strengthened these connections. The space even provided opportunity for the more informal & social aspects of the experience. An HBS Circles participant noted that trust was established after just two sessions. It was also said that…
“Circles did the job that the bar, dorm and cafe used to do.” – Chad Gordon, OPM Program Lead
By encouraging authentic virtual conversations, Circl.es transformed working sessions into opportunities for real connection and relationship-building.
The Aspen Institute
The Resnick Aspen Action Forum (RAAF) traditionally took place in Aspen, at one of the most stunning campus settings in the world. Without this asset, the team needed a new approach to ensure the 2020 seminar was as impactful online as it had been in person.
Because Circl.es allows people from all over the world to connect deeply, the seemingly insurmountable drawback of losing their campus actually turned into a benefit for RAAF; more leaders from around the world participated in 2020 than ever before.
One of the event leaders called Circl.es “The Great Equalizer” because people couldn’t see how everyone else arrived. They just logged in. The Circl.es platform provided the space for Aspen’s signature form of text-based dialogue with a cohort of Fellows from around the world. Over the course of the 3-day event, Fellows joined with their cohort, led by an Aspen Moderator for 90 minutes each day, and found points of connection with like-minded leaders they might have otherwise never encountered.
Within their Circles, everyone was given an equal voice in the dialogue. In the end, by ensuring inclusion and fostering intentional discussion, the Circles seminars garnered rave reviews, such as…
“Every single member of the group expressed gratitude, value, and a desire to meet again.” – Aspen Circle Participant
For Wharton, Harvard Business School and the Aspen Institute, losing use of their campuses brought major challenges around delivering the high-quality education for which they are known. By teaming with Circl.es, they discovered a new path: intentional conversations that facilitate inclusive dialogue.
The world has shifted, and we know that we must strive to discover new ways of connecting. It’s not about a precise replication of the in-person meeting experience. No one can virtually reproduce a cool autumn breeze or the breaking in of new books. However, by keeping their eyes on the essential goal of human connection, these three institutions forged new ground in the Fall of 2020, by delivering world-class instruction with the power of intentional, small group Circles. They found a way to deliver connection without the campus.
Circles is pleased to join The Ken Blanchard Companies in announcing our partnership. The following is an excerpt from last week’s press release…
The Ken Blanchard Companies®, a global leader in management training, consulting, and coaching, announced today that it will be partnering with Circl.es to offer differentiated virtual and inclusive experiences using The Circl.es System™.
The unique setting and features of Circl.es take small groups out of the day-to-day and into intentional dialogue about their most important issues and challenges. Blanchard plans to leverage the power of Circl.es for group coaching experiences, team acceleration, and small-group peer-learning programs. Blanchard envisions that once these Circles gel, they continuously meet to apply and practice, engaging over months instead of days. Blanchard will also offer curated meeting templates that can easily be scaled across organizations that bring Circl.es to their organizations.
“Online sessions must be engaging and memorable if they are to be transformative. Circl.es will enhance the interactivity of our comprehensive suite of digital offerings, enabling learners to make the most of each experience,” said Madeleine Homan Blanchard, chief coaching architect, The Ken Blanchard Companies.
Dan Hoffman, Circl.es founder, added, “Human connection has always been important in development programs, and those lucky enough to have a Blanchard learning experience often value the relationships they build as much as the skills they acquire. In today’s virtual world, a system to foster human connection has become a must-have.”
We’re feeling thankful for the valuable feedback we’ve received as we build and grow Circl.es into a world-class platform. Our team has been hard at work making improvements to the Circl.es Video Space™, and we’re excited to share some new features we think you’ll love. Check out the overview below.
Hide The Agenda
With the click of a button, you can now hide the agenda in the Circl.es Video Space™. By reducing distractions, this option fosters a feeling of deep engagement. It also creates more space to share media and documents.
The Perfect Volume
We introduced a personal volume slider. When media or music is playing, everyone in the room can adjust their individual volume levels to suit their preferences. There is still a global volume control in the left-hand sidebar menu.
The Waiting Room
Quickly check that your camera and mic are working (and that your hair looks great!) before entering a session. Identifying any problems in advance minimizes the chance of disruption to your session!
We’ve added a “Facilitator Mode” option to Circl.es. In this mode, a designated facilitator is the only person with full access to the room controls, such as advancing slides and sharing documents or media. Work with your Circl.es Program contact to learn more.
Enjoy exploring. We hope to see you in Circl.es soon!
In early 2020, TED.com launched a partnership with Circl.es. The Circl.es System™ offers a new way to engage with TED Talks, helping turn inspiration into action, and routine conversation to meaningful connection, again and again. The Circl.es platform allows people to watch a TED Talk together online, enable a meaningful discussion afterward and then see what develops.
Everybody has a favorite TED Talk. Whether it’s Ken Robinson’s ideas on creativity, Brene Brown’s deep dive into vulnerability, or the offbeat genius of Ze Frank, with over 2,600 videos and 11 billion views there seems to be a TED Talk for everyone. With that many views, you’d think we’d all be inspired to live our best lives, or at least finally getting around to turning our dreams into realities. However, for many people, inspiration isn’t enough. TED Talks are usually viewed alone, and it can be tough to find an outlet for the wonderful new energy and ideas they give us. Over time, that motivation tends to fade, and we’re back to where we started.
Circl.es is a one-of-a-kind interface that facilitates conversation and connection…
“I notice that people really feel comfortable using this platform to share. It’s different to the other video call tools that we’ve been using. Circl.es allows us to replicate the actual experience of being together, sitting in a room and talking in a group.” – Stefania Bette, Host
And that feeling, that difference, is by design. Circl.es was built for collaborative peer learning. It’s about more than simply helping people talk online; Circl.es helps people have meaningful conversations online. After delivering program after program, Circl.es baked the best practices into software… the platform’s user-friendly features have been carefully curated to ensure everyone feels part of a productive, inclusive and authentic conversation. It’s unlike the common video call.
Ting-Ya Liang, a TED Circles host in Taiwan, started hosting as a way of reconnecting with friends. In her experience as a moderator, she’s grateful for the deeper connections and in-depth conversations the platform helps create. She said,
“It’s like I’ve been able to get to know those people again, even after knowing them already for 5-10 years.” – Ting-Ya Liang, Host – Taiwan
It’s exactly that kind of deeper knowing that Alyssa Hampton, TED Circles Program Manager, envisions. In late 2019, Alyssa found Circl.es, and saw in it a way for her community to connect more deeply. TED Circles did a 3-month pilot, and set up themed monthly content to guide the groups’ hosts. Circl.es provided the process, platform and people to enable the accessible, intentional dialogue that Alyssa wanted for the TED experience. Then, the Covid-19 pandemic forced people into isolation, and human connection became more important than ever before. Usage exploded.
Alyssa recalls how one participant described getting to know a coworker for the first time, even though they’d “known” each other on a surface level for years. So often, we regularly encounter someone without really knowing their amazing ideas or their powerful stories.
In 2020, diversity and social justice came to the forefront of global focus. The topic of resilience was scheduled for a June TED Circles discussion, but one host decided to have the talk early. It turned out to be an intense and rewarding experience, deepening understanding and broadening perspectives. The Circl.es System™ provided a psychologically safe space to have the conversation, and the technology designed to foster depth of presence and sharing.
TED Circles is not only helpful for reconnecting with friends or reaching a deeper level of conversational intimacy, but it could also lead to your next job opportunity. Hannes Gänzler, a host in Germany, credits the platform with helping people network into their next career move.
“It’s great because it sparks great conversations. Quite a few people that have met during TED Circles have then gone and gotten jobs because they have connected with the right people.” – Hannes Gänzler, Host – Germany
Through Circl.es, TED Talks became a shared journey for anyone who wants to grow. The transformational post-talk experience, once only afforded to those who gathered in-person, is accessible at scale. Whether showing up as a host or participant, every person can be part of a profound exchange of ideas and emotions.
Even when a chosen video doesn’t resonate with everyone, because of deeper conversions that Circles generates, the discussion is still worth it.
“I hosted a session where a couple of people didn’t love the video that we watched, but the participants said at the end that even though they didn’t love what they watched, they still came away having had a great conversation and took something from it. – Jennie Zeiner, Host
It also affords participants the opportunity to discuss topics they might otherwise not engage with…
“I enjoy the fact that so many people get a chance to share their views on a subject that we might not get to discuss on a day to day basis. For example, this week’s topic was resilience – I would never call my friend and ask him how he feels about resilience, but the fact that there’s an actual team structure, talk, and takeaways as well as people sharing their own stories and experiences means that it really works. These sessions are expanding our community without us ever having met each other physically.” – Mukund Hari Nathany, Host – India
In 2012, Head of TED, Chris Anderson explained,
“It used to be 800 people getting together once a year; now it’s about a million people a day watching TED Talks online. When we first put up a few of the talks as an experiment, we got such impassioned responses that we decided to flip the organization on its head and think of ourselves not so much as a conference but as ‘ideas worth spreading.” – Chris Anderson, Head of TED
Anderson himself started hosting Circles in March. After his first conversation wrapped, he tweeted his reaction to his 1.5 million followers, “I loved this.” Clearly, TED Circles, and the Circl.es platform that enable it, are ideas he thinks are worth spreading.