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10 Things Entrepreneurs Can Learn from Occupy Wall Street


Regardless of what you think about the politics of the Occupy Wall Street Movement (that isn’t the point of this article – at all.), there is something to admire about their ability to galvanize people all over the country – and the world – into a movement that is drawing so much public attention.

I’ve spent some time looking at the organization through a business lens – particularly the business lens that is focused on building a community. While there are a TON of shortcomings to point to (aren’t there always in any community?), there is much to learn from what they’ve done right.

From a business perspective, here are 10 lessons that I’m really paying attention to:

#1 – At the outset, OWS tapped into a deep emotion felt by a broad swath of people – in this case anger.


#2 – Early on, OWS crafted a succinct, sticky message to help people identify in (or identify out) – “We are the 99%”.


#3 – They tell people exactly what they need to do to be a part the community – “occupy wall street”.


#4 – They stayed dedicated in the early days of chaos.


#5 – They stayed dedicated when most everyone thought their idea for a community was a flash in the pan. And while they haven’t lasted through the winter yet, they’ve lasted a lot longer than most people thought they would.


#6 – They quickly established an internal, democratic structure to hold the community together (and are experiencing very public growing pains).  While this may not be the most efficient system in the world, it allows members to have a voice in their community, which is essential community glue.


#7 – They create and rely on specialized teams, or work groups, to handle specific community management tasks, i.e.  PR Work Group, Sustainability Work Group, Finance Work Group, etc.


#8 They use social media as a vehicle to build In Real Life communities, not a s a substitute for In Real Life communities.


#9 They find a way to get what their In Real Life  communities need. No electricity for laptops? No problem. They set up bicycle powered generators. Alas, they haven’t quite figured out how to handle the bathroom thing yet.


#10 In the end, one of their biggest keys to getting as far as they have is their ability to galvanize smaller, well-organized groups into a bigger movement.


BONUS LESSON: Manage your image problems before they manage you. In recent days, OWS has lost a lot of public opinion points because they failed to have this in place. Is their image irreversibly tarnished? Only time will tell.


As I said at the top of the article, these lessons aren’t about whether you agree or disagree with what OWS is up to (and neither is the comment section for this post, just fyi.) This is about looking at a group that got some things really right, learning from them, and putting those lessons to use in our own communities.

I’m keeping this list close at hand as I continue with my community building. At the moment, I’m choosing my top three to start working on now. Which three do you think will be most useful for you to put into place quickly? Please share in the comments, okay?

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