It's more than just Milkshakes. Get the latest on Jobs-to-be-Done here.

Dave and Brenna from MeetUp on JTBD Radio

Chris Spiek


During this episode Dave and Brenna talk about how Jobs-to-be-Done is being used at MeetUp alongside their well-established usability testing practice.  They even share some of the Jobs-to-be-Done that people hire Meetup to do and the subtle anxieties that go along with joining a Meetup group and attending a Meetup!

Tune in to hear the backstory about how they first discovered the Milkshake video from Clay, and then went on to overcome the anxieties related to talking face-to-face with consumers without a script or a user interface to use as a topic of discussion.

They even detail their analysis and debrief process, as well as the meetings that they use to share the findings throughout the company.

Show Notes & Links

Here is a list of items referenced in this episode:

Jobs-to-be-Done Radio

Click to view episode transcript.

Announcer: Welcome to the latest edition of Jobs to be Done Radio where we
discuss how to apply the jobs to be done framework to understand
why consumers switch from one product to another and ultimately
how to get more customers to switch to your product. And here
are your hosts.

Chris: All right, welcome to the latest edition of Jobs to be Done
Radio. I’m Chris Speck as always I’m joined with my partner, Bob
Mesta, and Ervin Folkes. Hey guys.

Bob: Hey, Chris.

Ervin: Hey Chris.

Chris: And today we have a couple of very exciting guests. We’ve got
Dave and Brenna from So you guys learned about Jobs
to be Done at a Switch workshop in New York over the summer, in
May. And we thought it would just be a great idea to get you
guys on. I know you’ve been using it quite a bit, and sharing
the insights around Meetup and continuing to do interviews, and
that’s always exciting for us to hear. So we’re really stoked to
just you on to kind of hear how you are using everything, and
how it’s been going. So welcome, guys.

Dave: Thanks.

Brenna: Thank you.

Chris: So give me a little background. Before you came to the Switch
Workshop how much did you know about Jobs to be Done? How did
you end up finding the workshop and kind of give me the back

Dave: Sure. Meetup has been well known for their [usability], so we bring
in a lot of people into our Usability Lab, which Brenna runs. So
we’re always having people who use Meetup come into Meetup
headquarters to talk to them. And one of the things I saw early
on was the milkshake video that Clay Christianson gave. And I
was always fascinated by that. But there’s never any kind of
meat to go with that, and so it’s kind of like, oh, that would
be awesome if I knew what to do. And then what ended up
happening was that I think somewhere over Twitter someone
mentioned the mattress interview that you guys did on Jobs to be
Done Radio. And once I listened to that that really was the
spark like, oh, wow! You know, this is great. We could do this.
You know, we have people coming in; we do have these questions
about what’s going on, and why don’t we try that. And then right
away I think I talked with Brenna about that, and then right
away I had some anxiety. Speaking of forced to do it, it was
like yeah, this is a great idea, but I have no idea what I’m
doing and I’m scared. So one of the things that happened was
let’s do this Jobs to be Done thing, but let’s wait a little
bit. That was my first reaction–let’s not do it because I don’t
really know what I’m doing.

But then I guess the force was just seeing people come in every day, you
know; watching people come into Usability every day and being
like wow, this is a missed opportunity. We should really, really
try this. And so I talked with Anna and Brenna. They both work
in qualitative research here at Meetup, and kind of said let’s
just dive in. Do you remember some of our earlier interviews?

Brenna: Yes, I remember. I listened to the podcast and I thought, okay,
I’ve got this. People do this all the time, no problem. But I
guess what I felt like was different before we went to this
workshop was the analysis piece of it, because I personally
didn’t really look at the analysis materials. I guess it hadn’t
really hit home, because this is different from how I currently
do interviews, but you know, the fact that you are putting this
timeline in and going so far back to the person you’re
interviewing’s experience with regards to the subject you’re
interviewing about, so I was totally onboard to give it a try.
And I think it was kind of fun to just try and it was great
because we interview so many people and user test with them all
the time, and we always try new things. And sometimes if they
don’t go well or if it’s different from what we thought, the
interviewee never really knows; it’s just sort of something for
us to realize afterwards. So we love experimenting, so I thought
that was great. But then afterwards at the workshop that was
when the framework itself really hit home a little bit more than
it had previously when we were trying it.

Chris: So did you try to like wing it? Because it sounds like you’re
in a different position, right? Because a lot of the people that
we talk to are like, you know, I’ve sent out some surveys and
I’ve done some quantitative stuff, but we’re actually going in
and saying, look, you need to sit down face to face with the
consumer. And they’re kind of looking at us like, I don’t want
to do that–that’s terrible. But you guys are in the opposite
position. It’s like we’ve got a stream of people walking through
this office you know all day or all week that we can just change
the conversation a little bit. Did you try to go in and just
say, hey, let me ask some different questions, after you heard
the podcast?

Dave: Yes, absolutely. It was kind of like diving in feet first. And some
of the first interviews I remember afterwards that the debrief
time was just like kind of a mess. I’d think, oh, I shouldn’t
have asked that. A lot of it was kind of like thinking through
like what are we doing, you know. But it was a lot of fun, too.
I have to say that’s one of the most enjoyable things about
being a product manager here at Meetup is that you get to talk
face to face with real members all the time, which is great. We
hear real member stories all the time. So that’s one of the
awesome things about really getting down to interviewing people,
is that you heard their stories.

Brenna: We’d finish an interview and the person would leave the room; I
love that, only the form, when we first started talking about
it, because you know, I would love to hear what they got from
that. And it was really great, because sometimes we’d pick up on
the same key things that were just so obvious you couldn’t wait
to talk about it. And other times it would be great to hear
something that he’d picked up on that I hadn’t thought of
before. So the analysis part, the (inaudible) was so fun, and
that was really a great part of the experience.

Dave: We’ve kind of developed a little bit of format effort for debriefing
where we talk about the timeline, and we try to build the
timeline together from our notes. We talk about the four
(inaudible), so we got each other’s four quadrants of the forces
diagram. I talk about what forces we saw, and then we’ll ask
each other, do you think you could play the role of the person
that we just interviewed?

Chris: Awesome.

Dave: And can you be in their shoes? And then we try to come up with a
commercial together for that person. We’d ask questions about,
why do people join Meetup? Why are people joining Meetup? And we
also ask organizers why do people become organizers with Meetup?
So each time we’ll try to tailor a commercial in our heads
about, imagine there are a bunch of sad people, you know, alone
in their rooms and then maybe they’re dreaming of hiking or
something like that, and so we play out this commercial that
will play for that particular person and see if we can capture
what we think are the forces and the context that will push them
forward to join Meetup, or (inaudible 07:47) which is fun, too.

Chris: Yes, that’s just awesome. We’ve been doing that for a while and
it’s just one of those things where it pulls everything
together, but it also cements the story in your head. So you end
up naming that person by the commercial you create, you know?

Dave: Right.

Chris: Very cool.

Chris: So one of the things that we’re all about are like patterns.
How often are you hearing the same story or the same set of
forces or situations? Have you gotten to the point where you’re
able to detect, like, yeah, it’s like one of those things where
they’re like ten minutes into the story or twenty minutes into
the story and you’re saying, oh, yeah, we’ve heard this before.
This is a very kind of discrete job.

Brenna: Well there are definitely things that we started to pick up on
after a while. One instance is we would see people who were told
about Meetup by a significant other, which was something that
was funny. And it was just a really great tie up that we’d keep
seeing. I think the more compelling one we saw, and sometimes
you have to dig a little bit to find this, but people who were
sort of triggered to look at Meetup by a certain time of the
week. So for instance someone who was looking for a job; he
joined Meetup on Monday morning, because it was Monday morning
and everyone else was going to work, and the fact that he wasn’t
going anywhere but his roommates were made him want to sit down
on his computer and try to find a solution. And another guy we
talked to joined Meetup, was new to New York and didn’t have a
lot of friends yet. So it was maybe Thursday or Friday night and
that time of the week rolled around and he realized he didn’t
have any plans for the weekend, no one was texting him.

Dave: No text messages. That was the trigger.

Brenna: Yes, no text messages on Friday night. So then that sort of
triggered him to again start looking for a solution. And that
was the interesting thing that we thought of, and that was a
really interesting way to slip people up, because there seemed
to be some . . . to the extent that we could (inaudible 09:50)
out the jobs we found that there was certainly looking for a job
job, and then my friend’s job, and so it was interesting that
the time was . . . and the great thing about that was we can
look at their Meetup account and see what time they joined, and
sort of verify it. Because sometimes people report it. It’s
funny when you ask really specific questions, like when did you
join Meetup? What time of day? What day of the week? And we
could actually go back and validate that and say, oh, that’s
true, actually. In some cases it wasn’t true.

Dave: That’s one thing that’s interesting that we found. So since we had
this data we could actually verify things. One of the things
that we heard was that, oh, yeah, I joined a whole bunch of
groups, right. So when you go to sign up for Meetup you can join
groups. The model is that you join groups and then you go to
events that are in the groups. So one of the things that we
heard was like, oh, yeah, I had this burst of joining and I
joined like tons of groups, and things like that, all at that
one session. But then when we would actually go back and look at
the data and their perception of time was like off–it was
compressed. So actually what would happen is that maybe they
joined a couple groups on that one day, and then a day later, or
two days later, they would actually join a bunch. But in their
minds it was all one burst–it was like one continuous stream of
joins, which is actually not what they did, and we found

Chris: So have you gone through and had conversations around what the
implication of that is, because they see it as one event in
time, it sounds like?

Brenna: I think one thing that could be possible is that when they
joined Meetup–and I’ve seen a lot of people experience this in
user testing–a lot of people are kind of amazed and excited
about just everything that’s available to them. But looking at
all the groups is different from actually saying, I want to join
this particular one; I’m going to click the button and become
part of this group. So one of my theories is maybe people just
are confusing that feeling with, well, I’m looking at all this
stuff and there’s so much to go through, with actually joining a
group, which only a certain number of people actually take that
step and join a group.

Chris: Right. So it’s the anxiety of pushing that button, you know.

Dave: Right.

Chris: It’s the whole thing of when do I actually do it? Do I want to
join? Do I not want to join? What is this really about? And so
at some point maybe there’s not enough information there, or to
be honest, they haven’t asked themselves enough questions about
what they want to do, and so when they click that button it’s
like, what am I getting myself into? And so there might be
something you can add to say, let me ask you three questions
about what you want to do and why you’d want to join this group,
and then we can help you align, to set the expectation. Because
to me it sounds like it’s the shock or the act of looking the
shopping part where people are trying to go, do I want this much
commitment, or do I want this much input? Do I want this many
people? I mean, there are just a lot of decisions before you
kind of click that button, you know.

Chris: The other thing, is the experience of being in a group
different enough from just looking at the group? Do you know
what I mean? When I click ‘join’ is it like fireworks and I’m
getting a bunch of emails and I get my . . . because it sounds
like it’s almost like they can’t remember if they joined or not.
So is there a big enough change when they actually cross the

Brenna: Yes, that’s a good point. And I can remember lots of cases
where people didn’t remember which they joined, or if they told
us they joined something but they didn’t. So I think that could
be possible as well, that maybe it doesn’t feel as emotional to
them or something when they press that button.

Dave: Right.

Chris: It could be that the job that they’re doing right there is
actually browsing rather than joining.

Bob: Right.

Chris: So they think that they’re joining, but they’re actually just

Bob: And that might be what you think about is a two buttons instead of
one. One is like, you know, just follow the group, and the other
one is participating with the group. Because it’s like, and it
might be that they need that middle step of watching the group
to figure out whether it’s for them, and you’re asking them to
commit when they don’t know enough yet.

Dave: Right.

Brenna: And actually to further complicate things we learned that for
some people there was less anxiety about looking at groups and
joining groups, but so much more anxiety about actually
attending a Meetup event.

Chris: Oh, yeah.

Brenna: And so we are finding that that force was so strong and even
though the force to join Meetup seemed really compelling and
strong, (inaudible) people were saying things like, this is the
perfect solution for me, or how come I didn’t find this earlier.
But then those people had never attended an event. And when we
got down to it we learned that their habits were just so strong
that they didn’t feel like leaving the house, or both. It could
also be that the event was just so anxiety provoking that they
turned to another solution that was a little bit easier.

Chris: I’m curious; was the anxiety around, and you don’t have to
share if you don’t want to, but was the anxiety around who
they’ll be if they actually joined the group? Or was the anxiety
around meeting a bunch of new people who were in the group? Did
you dig into that at all?

Brenna: Yes, but I have a feeling it was more the being at the Meetup
event and we heard a lot of different things why somebody would
be anxious about going to a Meetup event. And a lot of it was
just around feeling awkward or uncomfortable. We had some people
say their English wasn’t good enough. There were a couple of
people who spoke English as a second language, and that was
really interesting to hear that couple of times. And these were
people who actually came to Meetup because they were from other
countries, and wanted to meet Americans, because they felt like
they were stuck in their bubble of their own culture. But then
when you got down to it they were so anxious. Well, that was one
of the reasons they cited; that their English wasn’t good
enough, and so both of these people we interviewed said that
they sort of retreated back into their current friend circle,
that consisted mostly of people of their culture, because that
was a lot easier.

Dave: We also heard at least a couple cases of where someone was to the
point of going to the group, but they stood on the sidewalk
across the street to monitor it, and even wait like a couple of
light (inaudible 17:30) before they mustered up the courage to
cross the street. So there’s some of this like, I need to use my
eyes to vet the group. I need to look and gather courage or
gather information to overcome my anxiety. And I’m just going to
stand across the street and see who shows up before I make that

Chris: That’s fantastic. It’s like window shopping, like you’re going
to peak into the restaurant and see what the crowd is like, and
I’m going somewhere else. So the interesting thing is like when
we’re in like the retail space and we do like packaged goods and
stuff like that, you’ll see people kind of add up and anxiety
and then there will be like elements of pull that allow them to
cross those anxieties off, right. So it’s like you know, I don’t
know if this thing’s going to function the way they promised,
and then all of a sudden they’ll start talking about the return
policy–like, I still don’t trust that it’ll work, but I know I
can take it back so I can kind of cross that anxiety off. Have
you been able to talk to people at that level of depth that have
actually overcome the anxiety, just to understand it–like, I
was up against it, you know, and then finally something dawned
on me and I was able to overcome it?

Brenna: That’s a good question. Actually it felt–I’m trying to think
of the people who did attend Meetups. I don’t know if we have
anything like that, because I’m thinking of one person in
particular who joined Meetup, joined the group, ICP to a Meetup
within maybe 15 minutes. He was really ready to do this. And he
didn’t have anxiety, but it seemed . . . and I actually don’t
know what it was that made the pull stronger for him. Some
people just seem to have the will or something, but I’m not

Dave: In one case I can remember where someone was like, yeah, my
significant other is not disapproving of me not being engaged
and things like that, but I can tell. You know, I know that if
she comes back and I’m still on the couch through the whole day.
. .

Brenna: Yeah.

Chris: Right.

Dave: So there’s a little bit of that pressure there.

Chris: So there’s a little bit of a trick that we always do; you’ll
talk about the timeline and then you’ll start to project forward
and say, what was going on afterwards? Because sometimes you
don’t get that anchor; sometimes it’s an event in the future,
like, yeah, if I have to go home and tell my wife I didn’t go,
oh, my God. I’ve got to go in there. So the thing is there’s
always a cause. So sometimes when you’re digging through the
story up to the event, sometimes when it’s not making sense it’s
like, all right, there has to be something in the future; what
is that. And then they start saying, well, what else was going
on? And that’s where you’ve got to play it out and say, well,
what would your wife have said, or who else did you tell you
were going? Sometimes there’s just that future-orientation that
pulls them through it because it’s like, yeah, I don’t want to
lose face in the future, and so it’s a fear of what would happen
if they didn’t go.

Dave: That’s good.

Chris: I’m just going back to your comment about the person across the
street and the person who was kind of like English is their
second language. And again, people ask, so what do you do with
that? So I want to just kind of throw some ideas out there of
can you create like a mini-Meetup, which is no more than ten
people. That allows people who don’t want to be overwhelmed by
too many people around them, and says, we’re going to run a mini-
Meetup which is ten people, so it allows people who have those
anxieties of large groups the ability to kind of interact at a
completely different level. And so it makes it more exclusive or
more intimate or something like that. And it’s just an idea of
when you start to see these patterns it’s like, all right, how
do I reduce that anxiety. And again, I’m not sure you can do
that or not, but I’m just trying to make sure people can
connect. Because they see observations like, well, what do I do
with that? And so, to me, I want to make sure that we can close
that loop and help people understand that once you see it, there
are different things you can do.

Chris: Well, my head went with when you said that, the idea is maybe
if you change the form factor even.

Chris: Right.

Chris: Instead of the Meetup warm-up; this is going to be a conference
call. All you’ve got to do is pick up your phone and just call

Dave: Oh, that’s a great one.

Chris: And say to everyone, we’re just going to talk. And that way
you’re not physically there, you didn’t have to actually get off
the couch, but you can kind of talk to people and kind of get
the energy of the room going.

Chris: Use a Google Group kind of thing, or something like that, where
it’s a visual kind of Meetup or an auditory Meetup, or it could
be just a Skype or video chat kind of Meetup that’s just so many
people. That allows you to kind of say, hey, what about this.
The thing is I think it has to be designed from an interaction
perspective of, like we do warm-ups, like, everybody come up
with one idea about this. So you make sure you get participation
around the table. But I think those are really important
observations, but how do you translate them into requirements or
service requirements to say, how do I help break down that
anxiety, or how do I create more pull, or how do I make it more.
The other thing is knowing that there’s a future event, a future
thing. It might be, tell two people that you’re [interviewing] and who are the two people you’re going to tell you’re going to
the Meetup?

Dave: Yeah.

Chris: And so now you create the anchor in the future to say, holy
crap, I told them I was going to go and now am I going to go?
I’ve got to go.

Chris: They’re going to ask how it went.

Chris: Right.

Brenna: We actually interviewed someone who lied to her mom about going
to a Meetup. She had told her Mom about it and her Mom called

Dave: When she was supposed to be at the event.

Brenna: Yeah.

Chris: But that’s an interesting energy that we can leverage or figure
out how to again help people make progress, because think about
it as you’re helping them to connect and connect socially, and
build content if you will. And the notion that they can’t help
themselves, so what you can you do to kind of coax them down the
road. Because they’re not signing up because they don’t want to,
it’s just like the heat of the moment that says, yeah, I just
can’t do this. And it’s like, all right . . .

Dave: It’s easy to back out, right? It’s like, I’ll just stay here and keep
working or go back to what I was doing.

Chris: Right.

Bob: So in their situation what’s the big hire, what’s the little hire?
Because it seems reversed in my mind.

Chris: I think the big higher is just signing up for Meetup, and the
little higher is it could be a medium higher would be the groups
that I joined and the little [highers] are the actual meetups I
go to.

Chris: Okay.

Chris: Well, there are different levels of consumption, and we’re
going to bucket them together or not. But there’s signing up,
there’s joining a group, and there’s actually committing to a
Meetup and then there’s attending one, right.

Brenna: Yeah, and people drop off along the way.

Chris: And so to me, we always spend quite a bit of time talking about
consumption, what is consumption really look like? And it’s like
what do they get out of it if they just sign up? Do they have
more confidence, do they feel like they’re now connected to
things, and then what’s the consumption when they go to a Meetup
and what’s the transformation function like. I walked in this
way; I had the Meetup and I walked out this way. What’s
different about me, and how do I know I consumed? And we got a
lot of this from like doing an education work where you’d talk
about a student and the teachers would say, I taught the lesson,
but the student actually didn’t change at all. And so there’s
obviously no consumption of education when the teacher teaches
and the student doesn’t do something different. And so it’s
trying to think about what’s real consumption in this case.

Brenna: Yeah.

Chris: At the different levels; the big hire consumption, the medium
hire consumption, little hire consumption type of thing. As you
start to dig into this it’ll help you not only with the low-
hanging fruit, but it really will help you refine the offering
you’ve got.

Brenna: And actually one thing I was thinking about when you were just
saying that is another pattern that emerged is for a lot of
people who did not actually attend a Meetup and may never attend
a Meetup, they would tell us, oh, I joined a Meetup, I joined
this group, and you know, I told my brother about it. He would
love a Meetup. I told my friends about it, and they would
totally love a Meetup. So it was funny that that person was a
big fan of Meetup, joined, and even said to us, I don’t really
think that these events are for me, or something. So they are
consuming it in a way, and sharing it, but they are not actually
committing or attending a Meetup.

Chris: Yeah.

Brenna: So that was really interesting to see.

Chris: I wonder how much the Da Vinci principle plays into that; the
Da Vinci principle being the idea of–Leonardo Da Vinci had a
lot of paintings and projects he never finished, because of his
mind. Once he saw it in his mind that he completed it, for him
it was done. I wonder how many people are just like that. For
me, just signing up for the group, I’ve already taken this step
toward progress, you know.

Chris: I actually go back to (inaudible) business software last week,
right? And we saw Cathy Sierra, right? And the whole notion of
don’t build a bad-ass app; help your user be a bad-ass. And the
notion is that by just joining up does it make him a bad-ass to
say, hey, I joined Meetup and it did this. It was like, wow!
Meetup. You should know about . . . and it gives them the power
to bring new things to the group, even though they never really
go to any of them, but it brings the news and makes them feel
like a bad-ass. So I just throw it to Cathy, if you haven’t seen
it, Cathy Sierra has on the Business of Software site, like, a
talk around how to get away from just building features and
benefits into apps and focusing on helping your user be awesome
as opposed to your app being awesome. It’s a really good talk if
you have a change to see it. It’s something always good to check

Chris: One of the other topics I want to talk about is kind of how
you’re using the insights. And I think where I’d like to start
is that I don’t know if there are any right answers to this, but
I’ve had a lot of conversations up to this point with software
groups that are interested in understanding the differences
between like user testing, usability testing, and like concept
testing and prototyping. Have you changed because of this,
because I guess I don’t have a real good understanding of what
the test were like before Jobs to be Done, but I have this
vision of, you know, show us how you would join a group, and the
understanding kind of the barriers to that–like that true
usability. Is that what you guys were doing before, and how do
you categorize it?

Brenna: Yes, we actually use a variety of techniques in our user
testing program. So it could be something like, we could do an
interview. And before Jobs to be Done I had some interviews
before with people who (inaudible) me that maybe we were testing
out new concepts that was for branding people. So I would do
maybe a 10-minute interview, saying, how did you find out about
Meetup? What were you looking for? But not as in depth as this,
because this would take more time, and I wasn’t a (inaudible).
But yes, we would test that. So we did a little bit of
interviewing, and of course we would also test things that were
more on the usability side, so if I asked you to complete a
test, can you complete it, and can you use our app, and does
this function work the way you would expect it to? So it’s
really a spectrum of techniques that we use. But what’s
different is that this would be, I’ll have somebody in for 45
minutes to an hour, and show them four different projects,
interview them a little bit. When the jobs to be done it was for
some people it was really the entire session, it would be 45
minutes or so of just talking about starting from one action
when they joined Meetup and then tracing it back. And not
necessarily tying in any product ideas or concepts, maybe we
would mention something we’re working on if it was relevant, but
really just having them tell us their story.

Dave: We try to focus in two main camps initially, just kind of how like
our product teams are aligned. So we wanted the story of how if
you were an organizer how did you become an organizer. Like what
was the timeline from the idea of, hey, I can organize
something, and how did they get onto Meetup? So one of the
things that we found was that we kept going further back, trying
to figure out what actually was their job. So at first the job
was like, well, when did the first idea of joining Meetup and
becoming an organizer come in? But really, we had to roll that
back even further, because the idea of becoming an organizer
might have been bubbling much further up the timeline than the
idea of joining Meetup and becoming a Meetup organizer, if you
will. And the other problem that we tackled kind of, was
joining. So why did people join, and RSVP? I guess that’s two,
right? We tackled why did they join . . .

Brenna: And RSVP emerged from the joining, because they saw so many
people who were so excited about Meetup and joining, but were
afraid of RSVP.

Dave: And so those were kind of like the two problem areas that we were
tackling at first, and now we’re kind of experimenting about
what is the job that guests do. Because I’m really interested in
the idea that some people will plus one to a Meetup. So why do
they plus one to a Meetup? What are they doing? So we’re doing
some interviews about what is the job that guest does?

Chris: Give me a little bit on how the insights have been used,
because I know you guys are sharing it out. Have there been any
concepts or prototypes or any sort of solutions that have sprung
from these? I know it’s fairly new, because it’s just over the
summer, but I’d be interested in hearing about that.

Brenna: Well, the first thing that we did is we presented it to a
company, or at least at Meetup we had this internal Meetup group
where you can schedule a presentation anytime and invite people.
So we did a couple of presentations, one on the creating a
Meetup group interviews we did in one of the joining Meetup
interviews. So that was our first step, and then we just sort of
shared the findings and started to see what kind of ideas people
had and where we could go with this. We had a couple of ideas
that we put into user testing that were around–something around
joining. Because the thing that we found was there were so many
ways that we can try to address the issues we found. And another
thing we were thinking of is it seemed like a lot of people were
joining the wrong groups; they were joining social groups that
were a little bit too general for what they really were looking
for. They were looking for friends, and some of these groups
were too big and intimidating. So we took a couple of ideas and
put them into user testing. I feel like some of the plus one
research is sort of also related to the Jobs to be Done join
stuff that we did, because a lot of people found about it
through your friend, and bringing a plus one could potentially
alleviate some of the anxiety about attending the Meetup. So
that’s part of it. But it’s hard because some of the things that
we found in our interviews were–and maybe this is what a lot of
findings are like–but they almost seemed like big problems to
tackle, like wow, our Meetup starts, so anxiety rises, and they
say, oh, my God! That’s our whole model, people going to Meetup
events. So it’s pretty big. And like I said, there are so many
ways to approach this also. And it’s not; because we have such a
good user testing program, so people coming in we can show them
anything. But I think I would like to try more things, but
that’s what we’ve done so far.

Dave: Also, with the guest research we’re doing right now, part of the idea
is that we really want to focus on the timeline of when people
think about inviting guests. So what we’re doing now is some
experiments around social confirm emails. So right after you
RSVP for a Meetup, you know, we want to hit you with the idea
that you can send your confirm email to a friend. And so we’ve
been user testing this as well, and this is kind of coming out
from the idea of the timeline. When do people want to invite
friends? When does that idea come and when can we hit them? So
for some people, one of the things we heard was interesting, but
I guess we haven’t heard it again, but one thing that was
interesting was that one person said like the Meetup is an
excuse to meet with a friend. And so the job was the Meetup was
just an event that he could use as an excuse to invite their
friend to, and he could catch up with his friend. Another
interesting thing from that was that this particular person
would invite the friend at the last minute and it would depend
upon how likely that person was to reject them.

Chris: Yeah.

Dave: So if it was a high likelihood of rejection the invite would come
last minute, so that there was a built-in excuse, like oh, I’m
sorry, I’m not giving you enough time, and I fully understand if
you say no. But would you like to go to this Meetup with me? And
the more likely they were to say yes, it would be further out in
the timeline. So those are kind of the things that we were
thinking about and how you can hit somebody with the idea and
see them with the idea at the right time.

Chris: So this one of those things, and I guess I want Bob and Ervin’s
input on this, too. This is one of those things where I’m
hearing you say this, and it’s like if I’m running the business
and I’m the CEO, I want like a whole–and maybe this falls under
you, Dave, because I know you’re kind of on the product side–
but I want to whole group of people devoted to anxiety
reduction. Like this is a big enough thing where it’s like,
here’s the group. There’s a designer, a developer, somebody on
the testing side, somebody on the insight side, but it’s like
your metric is reduce the anxiety, get people in the door, and
we’re going to figure out how to measure it and you’ve got
prototype test concepts, push things out, and just try to dial
that in. Is there anything like that going on or is it just an

Dave: No, it’s absolutely going on. Like each of the teams have a different
focus here. So my focus right now is on that Meetup experience
and so that’s why we’re trying to delve into the role that
guests play. What is the job the guest plays. So we’ve actually
done some interviews, came up with an idea. We put it out for
testing and we’re rolling it out as a split test, with all sorts
of different copy as well, so different people get different
types of copy that we think hit different types of jobs that
they’re doing. And we want to see which one the people respond
to and those kinds of things. So it’s all in the works right
now. It’s actually being put out right now.

Chris: I have two thoughts. One thought is to try to study or capture
the information about multiple meetups, and to see if people can
actually see Meetup as doing several jobs as opposed to Meetup
is my place where I find my friends, and LinkedIn is where I go
and find my business colleagues; versus somebody who says, I can
use Meetup to do three or four different things. Like, where is
the switching between jobs, so they can see Meetup as something
bigger that just that one or the first one that they did. And
so, part of it is the real growth is going to come from two
areas; getting people to see that I can use Meetup to do several
jobs as opposed to oh, I’m doing this, yeah, I’m going to go
hire Meetup to do that. But it can do several things. The other
though is I think Chris’s point is the notion of non-
consumption. How many people want to go to a Meetup but don’t?
And so what’s holding people back because that’s where you go.
Just by focusing on the people who go and making a better
experience, it actually might be like in Jason’s terms like
you’re going up market and making it better for all of those
people. But you just actually create more and more anxiety for
those people who are at the low end going, God, I can barely get
out the door. I’m afraid to go out the door. And so my thinking
is that how do you make sure you balance that and do you build a
sub-brand or a different kind of architecture that says, you
know, like I said, Meetup mini for those people who are trying
to reduce anxiety and Meetup [uber] for those people who are
like, it does a lot for me, so something along those lines.
Because what I would be afraid of is that I would get stuck in a
hole there where Meetup just does one job, and I think Meetup
does a lot of jobs.

Dave: Yeah.

Chris: I know you guys touched on this before, but what’s the formal
share out process. I thought I heard at some point you were
doing like a weekly deal, or a monthly deal. Is there a lot of
structure around that when you share out the interview findings
to the group?

Dave: Well, like Brenna mentioned, we have an internal Meetup that everyone
is subscribed to. And as we find our findings we’ll put out an
event where all the findings are being shared and then everybody
who is interested in it will come and we’ll present the findings
and there will be talk about it, and there will be discussion
about it and idea generation that comes from that. So every time
there is something we’ll put that out. And people will join in
to kind of bandy about the ideas. And it’s been going great,
actually. The first few, people have really focused on anxiety.
And I think that really was eye opening to people. We found that
this anxiety force is keeping people from making progress, and
so people are really responded to that. They really keyed off on
that and really talked about that a lot.

Chris: So give me some kind of like the dimensions of it. How long
does it take; is this an all-day event, is it a half hour, is it
you guys just kind of talking and describing things, or are you
playing video or audio clips? Give me the feel of the room a
little bit.

Brenna: The presentation portion was maybe 25 or 30 minutes. We had a
series of slides. We started off by just explaining the
framework a little bit, and then that got into jobs, and the
force it is, because that anxiety force was a big finding for
us. So we talk about the force. And we didn’t show any video,
but we had just a lot of quotes from people that were pretty
powerful, that we included, and once we presented that. I mean,
I feel like this is the way a lot of our presentations go, at
least when I present research findings here. But I’ll get
halfway through the presentation and then the debate and the
discussion just becomes so vibrant that that’s pretty much all
we focus on. So I think that’s what happened with this one.
Because people choose to go to these events, I mean, the need
for the employees to participate in the presentations, so there
was a lot of ideas. And like Dave was saying, it’s a great time
to have a chance to just think about a problem that in a
different way might not have thought about before, and think
about how to apply it to the product. So it was a really fun

Bob: Awesome.

Chris: So I think that’s going to be just incredibly helpful for a lot
of people listening, because I talk to more and more people that
were in the interviews and this is so mind blowing. What do I go
do? And one of the things I keep going back to is that Meetup
has this great process where, give them a little information
about it, and it’s up to the people to decide whether they want
to attend or not. But it’s just a method to kind of get that
knowledge back out into the organization. I think you guys have
really cracked that open.

Ervin: Yes, that’s great; very cool.

Chris: Well, thanks a lot for joining. Any final thoughts or things
you want to leave with? I know we should say, you know, if
you’re in New York, join the Jobs to be Done Meetup. I know you
guys are still holding those. One actually just formed in
Toronto as well. The first one will be on November 20th. So
we’re trying to spring those up.

Bob: I have one final question for them. What’s the one piece of advice
that you’d give somebody who is kind of listening to the
podcast, but is where you were at before you came to the
workshop? And I don’t want to hear like, come to the workshop,
but I really want to hear, what’s the one . . .

Chris: But they should come to the workshop.

Bob: No, I’m not trying to get to that. What’s the one thing that’s like
you want to tell someone, because you’ve been I’ll say through
the looking glass, looking back is like, okay, do this, or don’t
worry about that.

Dave: I would encourage them to just jump in and find people who are also
doing Jobs to be Done in your area and just reach out to them.
I’m sure they would be happy to share what they’re findings have

Brenna: I just have one more thing. I think all the people we
interviewed had a really good time, and really liked talking to
us. I know at first I wondered if it was going to bore them or
tire them. Are they going to think it’s weird? But I think
everyone was a really good sport and we always had a good time
with every interview.

Chris: So it’s something to look forward to rather than dread. I think
that’s what we hear from everybody that’s gotten good at doing
repeated interviews. It’s like, I know the person’s going to
love talking about it, but those first couple of, it’s man, I’m
going to look like a fool, and they’re going to think I’m weird.
It never pans out that way.

Ervin: My thing is, if you’re listening to the podcast and you really
want to try to do this, I think one thing is to see if there’s a
Meetup in the area, and if you are a user and you’re doing this
and you want to start a Meetup, my thing is go to Meetup and
build a Meetup . . .

Bob: Start one. The hashtag jtbde. You know, if you’re in Chicago or San
Francisco or anywhere in the world and you’re going to start it,
throw it out on hashtag jtbde and chances are you’re going to
have somebody join up. So yeah, and I also want to say you guys
should follow Dave on Twitter at Mark Sweep. Brenna, What’s your
Twitter handle so people can follow you?

Brenna: Mine is.. I am, Brenna.

Chris: Awesome. Fantastic. Thanks for being on guys. This was awesome,
and we’ll hopefully talk to you soon.

Brenna: Okay.

Bob: See ya.

Ervin: Thanks, guys. Bye.

Chris :Bye.


  1. Pingback: Jobs To Be Done – Meetup in SF Bay – 1/23 | Alex Salinsky

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