From Peace To Purpose: A book review of Purpose by Gina Bianchini

Deb Schell
5 min readMar 17

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As an avid reader and an online community builder, I read as many books as possible about online communities when they come out since this is a relatively new field.

When I discovered that the founder of Mighty Networks, Gina Bianchini, was coming out with her first book, I ordered it immediately. This 200-page short read is bound to be on every new community-builders reading list. You can find more information at purpose.co.

The book is geared toward creatives who are community curious, have a passion project, or desire to make an impact with their life’s work. Gina gives the reader examples of leveraging an online community to empower themselves and others.

I’m excited to share my thoughts, takeaways, and key themes that I’ve been able to outline to give you a good idea of the learnings that I’ve found helpful.

Gina Bianchini is the CEO, founder of Mighty Network, and creator of Community Design™, a proven strategy framework for understanding and growing communities online and in the real world. Over 8,000 people have taken her Community Design™ Masterclass, where they learn how to build a community so valuable you can charge for it and so well-designed it essentially runs itself.

Gina has been featured in Fast Company, Wired, Vanity Fair, Fortune, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and The New York Times. She has appeared on CNBC, CNN, and Charlie Rose. She grew up in Cupertino, California, graduated with honors from Stanford University, started her career in the High Technology Group at Goldman Sachs & Co., and received her MBA from Stanford Business School.

“I pictured a different future, one where creators owned their own communities.”

Gina Bianchini

Quick Takeaways

  1. In 2004, Gina Co-Founded Ning Networks (which means peace in Chinese), which grew to over 300,000 networks and reached 100 million people in just a few years before being sold.
  2. There are 70,000+ members in Mighty Community, where new community builders can learn the basics of creating a Mighty Network. You can click here to join today!
  3. One of the most successful Mighty Network highlighted is Kula Community with Adriene Mishler, a YouTube star with 11 million subscribers who had a 35,000-person Facebook group and transitioned that to a Mighty Network, which now has more than 220,000 members. Sarah Bowman has been an integral community manager in leading this community to success. (Fun Fact: Sarah Bowman is from Central Pennsylvania!)

3 Key Themes — Purpose, Practice, People

Gina defines purpose as a “practice and impact as the reward” in her NEW book, Purpose: Design a Community and Change Your Life — A Step-by-Step Guide To Finding Your Purpose and Making It Matter.

“I wanted to do my part to innovate how digital communities could work even better to help people meet and build relationships with each other both online and in real life. I wanted to work on something that truly matters in people’s lives, and this felt right,” Gina writes.

Gina makes a clear distinction between social networks and social media. She identifies Facebook, and any social network becomes more valuable when people join and contribute and can connect. Replacing the network “media” and a “newsfeed” controlled by a complex algorithm transformed it from a place to gather friends to an engine that generated data for Facebook’s advertising business.

She sees a new possibility for social networks — one that prioritizes purpose, intention, and culture. Gina learned that the fastest way to build a loyal, tightly-knit set of early adopters is by moving people off social media to an intentional online community that they invest in to connect to people with the same interests and challenges who want to gather for shared experiences.

Gina says, “Forged by my experience at Ning, I pictured a different future, one where creators owned their own communities and could design the cultures, experiences, and relationships they sparked between their own members.”

Here’s Why the Creator Community Economy is Booming: The Independent Creator Report (Commissioned by Mighty Networks) stated that only 35% of all creators feel they’re earning a reasonable income and putting in an acceptable amount of time and effort.

Building an online community and bringing members together on a platform a creator owns with minimal effort and no need to fight algorithms makes it logical for many creators to shift here and create transformation for customers and clients inside a network that values shared wisdom. This isn’t part of the book, but I find it helpful when considering the steps in setting yourself up for success as a community builder and knowing your options.

Practice Your Purpose

If you think this book is about data or metrics — it’s not. This book is about taking action and provides space to write, take notes, and journal. The most successful communities online are ones that started with a clear purpose.

“We realized every creator — or by now, the people starting communities on Mighty we called hosts, was succeeding beyond their wildest imaginations both in terms of impact but also in terms of revenue, when they showed up with clarity, intention, and what we realized was a purpose,” Gina writes.

But to get clarity and show up, it takes effort and practice. Knowing your journey is key to the steps in the pursuit of purpose. Gina helps you identify your Hero’s journey and transforms that into your “future story.”

Knowing your community concept and clarifying your purpose is a significant first step to your community-building strategy. Still, you’ll need to start thinking about how you’ll share this community concept with others.

Some Tips Gina recommends:

  • Get Community Curious — ask questions, seek out others, and share your ideas.
  • Let go of perfection and focus on what is most important.
  • Be realistic about your expectations and experience.
  • When things don’t work out, workshop it. (come up with new ideas or solutions)

“The goal is not to continue to feed social media or build another high-fructose corn syrup version of the human interaction. Nor is it to add to the noise with another chat platform. Instead, these tools and the innovators behind them seek to usher in an era where we can build a more intentional relationship among our purpose, the power of digital communities, and the incredibly powerful force hiding in plain sight — culture.” — Gina Bianchini.

In the balance of the book, Gina explains and provides examples of Mighty Network customers who’ve shared their experiences. She highlights her Community Design teachings and gives templates and frameworks that are right from the course and have guided more than 8,000 community builders in developing their communities.

If you are new to community building or looking to transition your content and audience to a more intentional platform, this book will get you started.

Check out my list of other community books here.

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Deb Schell

Find calm building a business you love.