Powered by Circles

We often talk about our results, namely, how we produce small group experiences with a strong feeling of connection, breakthrough, and high engagement via our platform and method – The Circl.es System.   At this point in our evolution as an organization,  we are pleased to be empowering organizations, communities and schools to leverage what we’ve built to realize impact and engagement by scaling up Circles to connect individuals in meaningful ways. 

For the past few years, we have been delivering small group experiences, combined with service, which we’ve called “managed service” and someday soon, we will offer Circl.es as a software as a service (SaaS) platform for purchase.

Recently, we created “Powered by Circles”, a model with only a bit of hand-holding and a lower price-point. This is a step on our way to creating a more pure SaaS offering, and it has confirmed that clients can benefit from the Circl.es system and platform on their own.

Here are some recent stories:

Jodie McLean, the CEO of EDENS, a progressive, community-oriented real estate development organization, learned about Circl.es at a global digital seminar managed by the Circl.es team. There, she experienced the power of the small group, inclusive circle, and contacted Circl.es for her organization’s one-day Values-based Leadership Summit.  

EDENS’s culture is one based on close relationships, authenticity and inclusion, so it was critical to create an experience – not just a meeting. The vision was for the entire organization to connect in a psychologically safe space to show up for, and care for, each other.

The Circl.es team provided design consultation and administrative training to the EDENS project team. In just a few hours, a group of EDENS employees were equipped to moderate two sessions for 20 circles, engaging 200 employees in all. The Circles experience was rated 8.7/10 and 9.7 for facilitation. EDENS will continue to use the platform for recurring Circles and another organization-wide gathering. They are now empowered to design, facilitate and manage this experience independently. 

Pablo Cerdera, the Director of Restorative Practice at Wharton, experimented with the Circles platform for several months before considering how he might leverage it within his institution. When in-person instruction was cancelled and 600+ new students had to be introduced to one another virtually, he turned to Circl.es. 


While Pablo had a process in mind, Circles Design Lead, Jonathan Hefter, helped him hone it for a virtual experience that would scale. Together, they trained approximately 50 students on the New Student Orientation Team to become Circles facilitators, in one session. The Circles Ops Team helped set up smooth onboarding and supported the event behind the scenes, proactively heading off issues and fielding only 3 support calls for 600 people. The New Student Orientation Team went on to welcome new Wharton students to their Fall 2020 class in simultaneous Circle sessions, and participants rated the experience 8.69/10, with a 9.72 facilitator score. 

Andy Bailey and his business coaching firm, Petra Coach, has a tradition of running EO-style forums. Andy had a vision of engaging the executives of Petra Coach’s client organizations in forum groups on Circl.es. With 200 companies in their community, they saw a chance to organize forums by executive roles, beyond CEOs. Petra’s coaches are skilled facilitators with their own forum process, but were challenged to imagine a path to scaling up to hundreds of forums. Circl.es gave them a smooth operational process and a way to guarantee consistency and quality of experience. With just a few hours of setup and training, they launched a scalable forum group experience for their clients.


Powered by Circles is a path for an organization looking to acquire the expertise necessary to design, facilitate and manage your own virtual Circles experiences.

Our services focus on three processes that are essential to success:

Design. Powered by Circles starts with a client’s vision for how to run a session. The Circl.es System and design team helps effectively translate that to virtual delivery at scale. They point out how to leverage the best features of the platform. And in the process, transfer some experience and wisdom so clients design future programs on their own. The Circl.es Design Lead shares sample agendas, makes design recommendations based on best practices and passes along valuable expertise to empower the client to design future experiences independently.

Facilitation. The Circl.es Video Space features provide ‘training wheels’ for facilitation.  To scale, very often organizations and communities rely on staff or member facilitators, many of whom are leading in this way for the first time. Powered by Circles includes a Digital Facilitation Handbook, communication templates, delivery of a sample session and a Train-the-Trainer program. While many clients have experienced facilitators or their own process, the Circles System and team helps quickly translate this for virtual, and at scale.

Management.  For several years, the Circl.es Operations Team has been setting up, managing and measuring large implementations of Circles. It takes some work to scale intimacy. Powered by Circles can efficiently train you to use features we’ve built into the platform, and to avoid the many mistakes we’ve made. Still, we’ve noticed that some clients prefer us to handle the logistics and administration of programs so they can focus on design and facilitation, or perhaps their long list of other jobs. Either way is fine; the Circl.es team can continue to provide outsourced support, or transfer this capability to a client team leveraging our platform. 

Ready to try Circl.es in your own organization?

Powered by Circles allows us to get this high quality experience out into the world at a much lower price point. The cost varies according to the number of users/month and services provided – all aimed at empowering organizations to successfully scale human connection, virtually.

The Circl.es Team is excited to take this step toward helping more of the world connect in a meaningful way. If you are interested, we’d love to share our scoping and pricing model in more detail. You can get in touch here.

Connection Without Campus: Circl.es Helps Wharton, Harvard and the Aspen Institute Replace the Irreplaceable

connection without campus

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

Creating Connection

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.

Circl.es Partners With The Ken Blanchard Companies

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.”

Exciting Updates to the Circles Video Space™

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

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! 


Facilitator Mode

facilitator mode

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!

From Inspiration to Connection: TED Meets Circl.es

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

TED Circle

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

What started as a one-off conference turned into a global non-profit that continues to inspire audiences to open their minds to new ideas.

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.

Case Study Results: Millennium Forum

Do Circles work?

Hard data is hard to get. And then there’s the question: What outcomes are we looking for?

We’re proud of our partner, Millennium Forum. They run an amazing Circles program for K-12 teachers. Their research partners and team have helped them design ways to measure and learn from outcomes.

First, some context…

In general, we talk about three categories of outcomes:

• Educational. Circles make it easier to sustain and apply learning, extending programs like manager training.

• Social. Participants get close. They help and support each other in ways that transcend any particular topics.

• Cultural. A circles experience shifts you to be more inclusive, vulnerable, and accountable. Diversity becomes a strength.

Each Circles program and partner emphasizes different outcomes. Millennium’s “Theory of Change” focuses on the second and third categories. By taking care of each other, educators will take better care of their classrooms.

Their latest mid-year results show real success:

What about you?

Do you suspect similar outcomes from your Circles programs, only haven’t measured them? Are these high scores for helping teachers help students analogous to helping managers help employees?

Case Study: Adding Depth of Communication in a Fast-Paced Environment through Peer Learning

Managers at a growing national company operated within a fast-paced environment, where intense workflows often limited interaction opportunities. The company sought to cultivate a sense of unity among its managerial workforce, and to increase connectedness with the company culture and vision.

After careful consideration, Circles peer learning emerged as the best option to achieve the following objectives:

  • Building relationships
    – unite diverse department managers through engaging, in-depth discussions.
  • Conscientious leadership
    – create high-performing leaders that drive company culture and values.
  • Individual growth
    – promote an environment of continued learning and self-improvement.

Through Circles peer learning, participants deepened connections through meaningful conversations involving vulnerability, leadership principles and the power of story. A balanced culture of a unified collective and individual growth emerged through the Circles experience.

Circles supported facilitators to create a psychologically safe and inclusive space in which every member felt visible and valued. The experience was carried forward beyond the structure of Circles peer learning, and was developed as a company-wide practice focused on meaningful engagement.

Access the complete case study

Circl.es for Teams

I’m overdue for a Circl.es update.

Over the past three years, we’ve been building software for peer learning circles. Those of you that know the story know that this mission came from a personal place. My YPO and EO forums, Henry Crown Fellowship at Aspen, or even M5’s Battle of the Bands were the most impactful learning experiences I’ve had. The Circl.es team and I have been chasing the question, “Could everyone in the world grow in a peer circle?“ The software we built, with a new kind of virtual meeting space at its heart, helped launch and scale learning programs at schools like Harvard Business School and companies like Square and Bankers Life.

Along the way, though, we discovered something interesting. The practices that drive effective peer learning generally happen during powerful meetings. These practices foster more authentic communication, quickly build connection, and help people listen to each other. They gently push people to surface and address bigger issues than they might normally do.

Who else needs better listening, authentic communication, and to face big challenges head-on? Teams. I’m talking about modern teams – creative, agile, small groups – not the kind when subordinates follow orders. This kind of teamwork requires psychological safety, accountability, and engagement, just like peer learning. We’ve started to discover that peer learning practices in team meetings can produce breakthrough performance and a sense of connection. This kind of real, high-quality “collaboration” is in demand.

When we surveyed friends that are managers (many of you), almost everyone had an issue near the top of their priority list that required better teamwork. “I’m a bottleneck.” “I need better division of labor on my team.” “I’m worried about losing a key person.” “We don’t have enough resources to make plan.” “We need to innovate.” And so on.

Regular, small doses of peer learning practices injected into meetings boost teamwork.

This is a more durable way to build teamwork than implementing project management software to create accountability, creating yet another inbox with Slack or a trip to the ropes course. (you should consider those things too. I do love offsites.) If our hunch is right, it’s a way for teams to build better and better teamwork over time, while getting things done.

We’ve been testing on ourselves for months. Our team meetings, in the words of our skeptical CTO, became “so much better.” Last month, we ran a small pilot for 15 standing teams. Two had technical glitches, three didn’t get it, but about 10 of them loved it and wanted more. So, we’ve decided to expand into a larger pilot that starts this January. Can Circles be a platform that helps teams learn and practice techniques that build teamwork, meeting by meeting?

I know that my YPO forum and my Aspen seminars are the best meetings I attend. I know that I feel more connected to those peers than to many others in my life. Many of my fellow participants in these “Circles” programs, say that they bring practices from Forum or Aspen back to their companies that improve them as leaders. But I’ve seen most of my friend’s attempts to bring their experiences back to their teams be clumsy. If only this was easier …

In my experience, the best innovations are not pure invention, they are cross-pollination. In 2019, we will find out if our peer learning software can instill practices that transform work teams. Happy New Year!

Are you interested in an easy way to build real teamwork? I’ll be I’ll be talking more about the practices and how we’re enabling them in coming posts. If you are up for it, try Circles in one of your upcoming meetings. I’d love your feedback. And later in the year, we’ll invite you to a formal beta program.

It’s Never Been Easier To Join A Study Group

 

Study Groups Can Change Lives, Fast. – Daralee Barbera, GAMA International

In the lead up to LAMP 2018, nearly twenty leaders from across the financial services industry went through a four part training to become experts in online coaching. The group included names like Bob Bacigalupi, Thomasina Skipper, Sina Azari, and Lisa Kelenic. The training was all part of a new program called GAMA Circles which takes the power of study groups and adds expert facilitation, training, and technology to make it easier than ever for GAMA members to develop, practice and apply new leadership skills. 

Study groups have long been one of the most effective tools for leadership development in the GAMA community. They are confidential spaces where leaders can get support on the most pressing issues facing their business. As Bob Savage of Savage & Associates has said, 

“If I had any great ideas during the time I ran my operation, eighty-five percent of them came from my study groups. Any time you get with true leaders, the excitement in the room is so great. You leave the study group with more ideas than you can implement and a new belief in the religion of the business.”

Study groups have a phenomenal impact on their members’ personal and professional growth. Some of the benefits include:

  • Professional development
  • Field management support
  • A personal Board of Directors
  • Personal development
  • Motivation and support
  • Industry big picture

While Study Groups have traditionally occurred in person, once or twice a year, the GAMA Circles program utilizes technology to allow participants to get the benefits from study groups on a monthly basis. Additionally, the inclusion of facilitators and coaches will speed up the effectiveness of each group and ensure each participant receives the maximum impact of the opportunity. If you are interested in joining a GAMA Circle, you can learn more here. The program will be kicking off this summer and will include ~100 of the top producers in the industry. 

Don’t miss this unique chance!

Becoming a B-Corp

Here’s a story about selling my previous business, M5 Networks.

Anyone that worked at M5 could see how living by a mission and values motivated us. The mission was not even particularly glamorous or unique, just simply getting customers to love us one by one. Measuring that gave us all real satisfaction. But there was always an undercurrent: Isn’t our real mission making money for shareholders?

By 2011 the market  we’d pioneered, cloud phones, was heating up. The team and I knew that we needed to go bigger or go home. In the course of putting together financing for our big growth plan, ShoreTel’s CEO asked me to lunch. This evolved into a buyout offer. We faced two options: take some more investment and play more hands at the table, or move on and cash out our chips.

I was surrounded by VPs and VCs. The VPs were relatively new, and were tempted by a quick payback. The VC’s had a 6-year itch and rationally were motivated to return capital. Their structure, our structure, meant I was surrounded by people who were tempted to sell. Once we started to explore the SHOR offer, I was surrounded by bankers and lawyers. Their incentive was to sell. I tell this story to any entrepreneur considering their exit. Before things go too far, go for a long lonely walk and make up your own mind. Once a deal is rolling, a lot of people around will be pushing for it. As we at Circles know, peer pressure is a thing.

After the successful sale, there was a certain sadness. A lot people felt that M5 had more good work to do. Some of our customers and staff felt that we’d let down our mission in the name of a juicy buyout offer. I’ve now had a chance to reflect on that tension.

I believe that business is the best structure for propagating a change in the world, and for-profit is the most likely structure to produce fast growth. So I’ve been looking for a way to set the right balance for Circles, the company (formally incorporated now as Circles Learning Labs, Inc.) I want employees, investors, customers all to be aligned around a better balance of growth, profit, and mission. I want us to be able to make balanced choices between applications that are lucrative – like corporate leaders – and ones that may be lower price like helping my friend Aditya create circles for the 5,000 school principals he works with in the toughest parts of India.

I get that one part of that is maintaining control, and leading with strength. Warren Buffet only reports once a year and does it his way because he’s an amazing leader. Some family businesses have this figured out and are the most long-term thinkers around. Kudos to Circles advisor Jeff Snipes who has helped a community of “enduring” companies with a long-term view called Tugboat Institute. I think I’m a clearer leader now, and I do have enough control to make these choices.

Another part is structural: things like compensation and options, the deal we cut with investors, or the way we measure our success. I’ll write more on those things as they crystalize for us.

Ultimately, though, I do believe in the power of peers. I want to be surrounded by people motivated by business as an instrument for social good. I want that kind of peer pressure. The Henry Crown fellowship has certainly been a positive force for me in that regard. Circles is my fellowship project.

Another famous HCF project was the B Corporation. Three fellows set out to create a corporate structure that made shareholders responsible for both share value and mission. Almost a decade later, they’ve created the Benefit Corporation structure in almost every state. There are about 2,000 B Corporations worldwide. They’ve added a stringent certification process layered on top of the legal requirement. And they’ve built a vibrant community so these entrepreneurs can help each other. Famous B corps now include Warby Parker, Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, Honest Tea, Kickstarter, and the list goes on.

So we’re going to be a B. But we are going to go one step farther. Since we’re a new company, we’ll elect to become a benefit corp, B Lab’s requirement to ensure considerations of stakeholder interests in our governance, which will allow us to be a Pending B Corp. After a year of performance above the bar for certification, we will try to meet the high standards to become a Certified B Corporation. Plus, the Circles team is excited about having an impact in helping this community, our new community. So we’re prioritizing launching circles for B corp leaders. We’ve just started calling around to make friends in our new community and gauging interest in B Corp Leadership Circles. It makes sense to us to help these leaders, help each other, help the world.

If you are a B Corp leader and this sounds like something you want to be a part of, you can

In a world of physical distance, circles facilitate authentic human connection.

In a circle, 3-12 participants contribute equally, share openly, and push each other to act.

We spent years with academics and practitioners, honing best practices and building a technology platform. Our circles have helped scale peer learning, sustain manager and leadership development, move live training online, onboard new employees, support career development, teach collaboration, and build community.

We’ve been grateful for the support and the referrals from our large corporate partners, schools, and communities who have been hiring us to help design, facilitate and manage Circles programs.

In order to keep up with the interest in our system and technology, please help us understand your needs by answering a few questions.



Make human connections.

Get in touch to find out how you can get started.