4 Principles to Build Your Tribe

There is a science to building belonging. Here’s what I have learnt from my own experience building peer groups and communities.

Do you have a tribe? Does your brand have a tribe? Are you looking to create a tribe?

This is my tribe. In this photo are dozens of experience creators and facilitators who I nominated to join my community, PEAK-XP. It feels like I have known them for ages.

The Peak XP tribe.

A tribe is defined as a close group of humans who share a concern for each other’s welfare. A tribe is a little bit more extreme than a community. A tribe stands for something. A community may just exist around a shared activity, whereas a tribe has a purpose and identity.

My tribe is a group of thrill-seekers who value health, personal growth, and playfulness. My community PEAK-XP is a platform for me to interconnect my tribe and offer them value. It’s located on Slack.

Travelling the world studying the science of social bonding and immersing myself in different tribes taught me that there is a science to engineering belonging.

In this article, I want to share the 20% that got me 80% of the results. I hope the lessons help you create your own tribe, strengthen your brand’s tribe, or inspire you to improve the tribes to which you belong.

I think that building tribes and connecting humans to one another is one of the greatest acts of generosity. Helping others by connecting them with others is not often compared to buying gifts for someone or taking them out for dinner. But it is more powerful!

I believe tribe-building is a form of giving, and so I implement these principles in my day-to-day life.

Cultivate shared purpose and values.

Again, again, and again, I read about the importance of purpose and values. The specificity of who is in your tribe delimits the belonging that can be experienced within the tribe. If the purpose is not thought out, your tribe will suffer the ‘everything and nothing effect’ whereby members of your tribe do not know why the tribe exists and who the tribe is for.

The purpose of your tribe is the shared outcome that everyone is working toward. Is it personal growth, cooking expertise, animal ethics, or marriage improvement?

Reflecting on the purpose of your tribe and the values that underlie this purpose is essential to building a self-sustaining tribe. That is… one that operates regardless of whether you are there fueling it.

All of this ties into the mistake of overinclusion. With diversity and inclusion as the new focus for many leaders, the importance of exclusion has been lost. Your tribe is not for everyone, so do not include everyone.

For years, I included everyone in my community. Finally, I drafted some core values and started being selective about who I let into my tribe. This is one of my sign up forms for my community. You can see that joining my tribe is not for everyone.

Share stories.

Stories were the medium for transmission of cultural information before the invention of writing and computers. In copywriting, story-telling is one of the most powerful ways to sell a product. The same applies to tribe-building. Humans are wired to resonate with others’ experiences. We are empathetic beings and can’t help it.

Stories relating to the origin and values of your tribe will stimulate interest in the tribe and also strengthen your shared purpose and values. Stories inspire people to live the tribe’s values. Stories also inspire people to join the tribe.

Stories, of course, contain a protagonist. This is the main character who goes on a journey to overcome a particular challenge. This challenge is significant. Resonance with the protagonist in the story what attracts more tribe members, especially if the purpose of your tribe is to address said challenge.

Here’s an example of a story.

One of my tribe’s core values is Thrill. We define it as openness to new experiences, seeking the excitement of new experiences and connections.

During my workshops, I like to tell the story of arriving in NYC for the first time. I did not know anyone, but regardless I decided to attend a high-profile networking event in a high-rise. I showed up alone and introduced myself in front of fifty people as a party scientist. Everyone laughed. Then, given a last-minute opportunity, I decided to lead a session during the event on the science of bringing people together. It went well.

My courageous networking and leadership led me to make some awesome connections. I met the leaders of massive communities in the city and was invited to a private event for facilitators and event producers.

At that event, I did not shy away from the opportunity to lead. With the 20 people I wanted to connect with, I led a group sit—which erupted in a cheer at the end. Then, multiple people wanted to talk to me.

My embodiment of thrill led me to build a network of friends and collaborators in NYC, in less than a week.

My tribe members resonate with the challenge of building belonging in a new environment, meeting new people, and facing the fear of embarrassment.

Focus on the first impression and the last impression.

A pivotal moment in building your tribe is when someone joins the tribe or arrives at one of your gatherings. Research on memory has shown that humans remember the beginning, peaks, and ends of experiences. This means it is important to begin a relationship on a strong note.

My goal during these moments is to make newcomers feel accepted, valued, and included. I begin my gatherings very intentionally, with connection games and energizers. When new tribe members join my online community, I reach out to them personally to welcome them, and I nominate them to introduce themselves and ask for help.

For gatherings, the last impression is just as important as the first impression. Would people come back for more if the experience merely petered out? Or if it ended with a bang and a feeling of “I want more”? My favorite rituals for ending my classes are designed to produce this feeling. They include appreciation circles, inspirational speeches, and vulnerability sharing.

Create a platform to tighten the tribe.

In Tribes, Seth Godin says that leaders give people a platform for organizing around a purpose. This platform is one that enables intercommunication between tribe members. The easier it is for members to connect with one another, the more likely social bonds are to form. This means community leaders must be intentional about building a platform that enables members to connect with one another. And they must create an environment where engagement and reaching out is encouraged.

I have implemented a private platform for my tribe to connect with one another and for community engagement to be visible to everyone.

Ask for help.

I remember a quote from an article in the Harvard Business Review, written by Brenee Brown: “She found that asking for help was the #1 trust-building behavior in a survey of over 1,000 leaders.”

In my own tribe, I encourage people to ask for help because it is the basis for belonging. I role model the behavior and I also have created a digital message channel strictly for asking for help.


Here’s a summary of my principles: Be intentional. And exclude.

Remember: relationships are slow. Be patient. Belonging develops slowly, over repeated encounters. Rushing belonging is not the right approach.

Trust me, I have rushed for 70% of my life. And it has led to some below-average communities.

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The Elixir of Life—The Human Connection Professional Manifesto


This is my plan for ending the loneliness and depression epidemic that plagues modern society. In one sentence—we must upgrade how humans gather and socialize.

This manifesto explains my dreams, declares my life’s purpose, and defines the human connection movement. I describe my core values and life philosophy, based on the science of happiness. My intention is to inspire human connection professionals, aspiring and established, to view their work as a part of the solution to a public health emergency.

Preamble—

Welcome to the modern renaissance.

Since the establishment of social media and rampant consumerism, belonging and social trust have decayed North America. According to research reported by the Atlantic, interpersonal trust continues to plummet in America. And historically when this happens, nations fail.

In the last 30 years, there’s been a shift. From WE to ME (See Instagram.com). Community involvement and civic engagement is on the decline. ‘Getting ahead’ is common vernacular. People are hoarding supplies for the financial or institutional collapse (See Google: Toilet Paper AND Covid). It doesn’t look like cooperation will win.

Have you noticed the shift from WE to ME?

Have you been to a gathering and observed that most people are there to show off their lives, not to connect with humans outside their clique?

Have you noticed that most videos on Youtube about motivation or success focus on egocentric pursuits instead of community-centric pursuits?

Have you scrolled on Instagram or TikTok and witnessed the epidemic of attention-seeking and external validation?

Have you felt the rise of ‘self-image management’ in how people present themselves online and in the real world?

Sometimes, it seems like we’re all trying to compete with each other on who is living a better life… doesn’t it?

It was not always this way… you know.

Our tribal ancestors were vibrantly socially connected. They regularly came together and danced. They had rites of passage for youth. They raised their children communally, looked at each other in the eyes, took care of each other, shared rituals… and most provocatively, they defined success in collectivist terms, not individualist ones.

Take a look at the anthropological record, and you will quickly confirm the vibrancy of community life. It’s mostly been lost.

How our ancestors embraced communal life and ritual is illustrated in countless records. In Dancing in The Streets: A History of Collective Joy, journalist Barbara Ehrenreich draws from anthropological research to conclude that communal rituals and celebrations are innate to the human species.

Ehrenreich describes the communal values of indigenous tribes and chronicles the decline of these values during industrialization:

In today’s world, other people have become an obstacle to our individual pursuits.

In Healthy at 100, author John Robbins explains that vibrant personal relationships were a conspicuous characteristic of the centenarian zones, including the Japanese people of Okinawa, the Hunza people of Pakistan, and the Abkhasians of Russia. For one, these people shared experiences together.

Not only do they plant and harvest and eat together, but people share with their neighbours the experiences of birth and bereavement, of children marrying and parents dying. In this way, the community is able to take part together in the most joyous and frightening moments of life. — John Robbins, Heatlhy at 100 (pg. 33)

People in these communities cared for each other.

In Okinawa, Hunza, Vilcabamba, and Abhkasia, there is a deep sense of human connection and social integrity. People continually help one another and believe in one another — John Robbins, Healthy at 100 (pg. 284)

Tragically, as Robbins explains, western culture and modernity have reached even these remote peoples. As a result, their cultures have decayed and the people are no longer living long and healthy. Diseases of modernity have reached even these populations.

It’s disheartening, isn’t it? But it sure makes sense. The strength of one’s social relationships is known to predict longevity. And modern culture does not prioritize depth of relationships.

Research has shown again and again that the healthiest thing we can do is spend more time engaging in meaningful, face-to-face connection.

I created VYVE to revive a culture of connection in the modern world.

Western culture has been plagued with egocentrism, materialism, and consumerism.

According to landmark research by Tim Kasser from Knox College and Richard Ryan from the University of Rochester, these three isms are damaging our health and relationships. They found that goals in the four areas shown below contribute to a higher sense of well-being and goals in the three toxic areas/values can actually breed dissatisfaction and increase both anxiety and depression. These toxic goals perfectly embody western cultural values.

Courtesy of the University of Rochester.

In the words of Johann Hari, author of Lost Connections — Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression, “Just like junk food has taken over our diets, junk values have taken over our minds and made us sick.”


As human connection professionals, we are taking a stand for a different way of life.

We know about positive psychology. We know that the quality of our relationships is the most important factor in our happiness. We know that the research on human well-being has proven beyond a doubt that relationships are more important to our health and well-being than our individual success could ever be.

Informed by the research, we believe… The authenticity and vibrancy of our personal relationships is the strongest indicator for a good life.

To live life to the fullest, we must question mainstream cultural values. They cause us to miss out on what’s really important in life: contributing to a community we love, working on projects we love, and sharing experiences with people we love.

We choose to prioritize the moments where we feel most alive. Moments where we feel heard, accepted, empowered, and ignited. These moments would not feel the same — and in many cases, would not even exist — without other humans.

These moments characterize humanistic communities. These communities cultivate the vibrancy, authenticity, and well-being of their members and their interconnections. Humanistic communities are under attack by a virus. A virus of the mind—hyper-capitalist dogma and profiteering. Accumulate, control, and protect resources at all costs.

In the current mental health crisis, we see the need for an overhaul of western cultural values. From individualism to collectivism. From achievement to community service. From distrust to open-heartedness. Humanistic communities must be revived and rebuilt.

As human connection professionals, we have devoted our lives to building humanistic communities and to giving the elixir of life—human connection. We believe this is the most effective way to advance human well-being.

As a community of professionals, we empower each other in our quests. We help each other increase our impact and our financial freedom.

Our Mission

to give the elixir of life — human connection.

Our Vision

face-to-face human connection is the most commonly-practiced health habit and is prescribed by doctors more often than any other medication.

Our Dreams

1. A local headquarters for human connection professionals in every metropolis.

2. A physical social club where human connection practices are facilitated on a daily basis in every metropolis. Like CrossFit, but for human connection.

3. A global institute whose purpose is to create new human connection professionals and entrepreneurs.

We envision a global network of thousands of human connection professionals across the developed world, comprising hundreds of local chapters. In these physical spaces, facilitators will work together to engineer, launch, and lead businesses about human connection.

They will also facilitate human connection modalities, in the night, in the morning, and in the day. Every day.

Picture this. You arrive in any city and you can find your tribe immediately — other people who deeply value human connection and want to give it to as many humans as possible. You have like-minded entrepreneurs to mastermind with, and there’s nightlife experiences that actually nourish you.

Our Philosophy — the 5 Vs

Vibe: I take responsibility for my life and my vibe.

Vitality: I prioritize my physical, mental, and social well-being.

Vibrancy: I see myself and others as limitless sources of positive, playful energy.

Vulnerability: I ignite fun and belonging for myself and others.

Venture: I seek the thrill of catalyzing new connections and experiences.

We embrace the presence of others fully by creating, initiating, and contributing to connections.

We generate our own courage to create epic moments and express our radically authentic selves.

We sacrifice our egos by giving up the need to appear cool or high-status, to create fun and belonging for others.

We bring people together through celebratory rituals, dance parties, and sing-a-longs wherever we go.

Our Identity as Human Connection Professionals

We are facilitators of community and connection

We are reviving a culture of human connection

We are nurturing vibrant relationships in our lives

We are elevating our selves and our impacts together

Our Movement

We are the life force of the modern renaissance.

By building communities about human well-being, we are combatting the epidemic of loneliness and depression in this world.

By spreading belonging and positivity wherever we go, we are giving normal people hope for the future of humanity.

By empowering others to become community catalysts, we are reminding every human of what they know intuitively…

Connection is what defines a good life.


— Jacques ThePartyScientist.com, Founder of VYVE

My name is Jacques. I am the founding party scientist of VYVE. I have led communal celebrations on the mainstages of festivals, within the double-decker buses of London, in the Zoom rooms of Fortune 500 Companies, and throughout public streets, subways, and beaches of 12 countries counting 🌎

VYVE began as a public health initiative founded in 2017. During my Pharmacology degree, I worked as an emergency medic at music festivals for three years. Reviving dozens of young people motivated me to start a sober partying company called Party4Health.

Under Party4Health, I brought thousands of strangers together at hike raves, bike raves, beach parties, street parades, and even… underwear runs. All without a single city permit. Leading hundreds of parties, workshops, and gatherings, I learnt how to design and facilitate shared experiences, unlock human expression, and foster meaningful relationships and belonging.

Fundamentally, I am motivated by the public health benefits of meaningful human connection and community. I have dedicated my life to envisioning, engineering, and leading communities because I am alarmed by the degradation of mental health and human connection in western culture… due to COVID, social media, and mainstream cultural norms.

Lying is Antithetical to Human Connection


Learn why you should never lie. It does more harm to you than you think.

Lying is a choice to not cooperate with others. I have decided to stop lying. Let me give you some reasons why you should too.


Doesn’t it feel horrible to lie? Yes, it does, it haunts us for the rest of our lives sometimes.

When we lie, we refuse to give someone a clear picture of reality. When we offer false encouragement, we do the same. When we try to prevent our loved ones from experiencing disappointment or embarrassment, we are putting a band-aid on the issue. Down the line, our lies eventually surface and lead to more harm than if we had just been honest.

Do you want to be regarded as trustworthy? Do you want to be regarded as someone who offers unbiased feedback? Do you want people to trust your word? I want that. I want people to take me seriously. I do not want to be the boy who cried wolf.

When we lie, we program others to ignore our word. We give people bad expectations about ourselves. “Jacques won’t show up. Jacques won’t fulfill his commitment. Jacques is manipulating me.” I never want people to gossip like this about me. So, I pledge to stop lying.

My pledge was an outcome of reading an essay, Lying by Sam Harris. Here are my takeaways and how I am applying them to my life.

Intent

  • Truthfulness is different from fact-fulness. Truthfulness is a trait characterized by the intent to communicate with honesty. To be truthful is to communicate your reality — what you know and feel. To be factful is to communicate an objective reality determined by science.
  • Truthfulness is a virtue. It’s a sign that you want to invest in a relationship. It’s a sign of respect: This person deserves to know my truth.

Dehumanization

  • When you lie, it actually increases your deprecation of others. It conditions you to dehumanize others; ‘they don’t deserve the truth.’ When you lie, you are exercising the wrong muscle — cynicism.
  • When you lie to another human, you categorize them differently than how you categorize yourself. You deserve the truth but others don’t.

Omission and Comission

  • There are two forms of lying. White lies, and blatant lies. White lies are when you knowingly exclude or omit information. Ex: False encouragement. When we make white lies, we undermine our friends’ clarity of reality. We protect their inaccurate picture of reality. We protect them from discomfort.
  • Lying by omission has an energy problem. It takes physical energy to step up and take the responsibility to communicate honestly with others. In some cases, it will just not be worth the potential conflict. Imagine telling people what you actually think about them all the time. That would be exhausting.
  • Avoiding blatant lies is a lot easier. These are lies that are committed. This is deception — when you knowingly give someone inaccurate information. These lies are active. Whereas, white lies are passive.

My application: I avoid lying by omission in relationships that really matter to me, and in high-stakes situations. I do not lie by commission.

Mental accounting

  • It takes effort to track your lies. There is a heaviness to reflecting on the past so that your actions are aligned with your lies. To keep your lies from being discovered, mental accounting is required. Mental accounting drives you out of authenticity — you always have to be thinking about whether your actions will reveal your lies.
  • Summary: Liars must keep track of their past so that they are not found out in the future.

Those are the main ideas from the essay. In one sentence, lying is a refusal to cooperate with others; a recoil from a relationship.

Moving forward, I intend to adopt the following behaviour changes.

— Do not lie to others in front of others.

— Do not lie by commission.

— Do not falsely encourage others when you think it’s a horrible choice.

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3 Methods for Creating Interpersonal Psychological Safety

Learn how to create the permission for others to express themselves.

Role modelling is at the center of creating safety for others. If you’re not expressing yourself, then don’t expect others to be express themselves. Most people are just waiting for someone to break the ice and create a permission force field for quirkiness and authenticity.

The acronym DIE, which refers to ego-death, outlines the three approaches for producing safety for others. These strategies are about the first letter, D: Demonstrate risk-taking.

In my free Masterclass, I go into more depth about DIE, and the plethora of approaches to creating interpersonal psychological safety. You can sign up for it here.

Be involved in the moment

Presence is about being in a place and not being absent-minded. Involvement is presence plus engagement. This means that you are interacting with the moment, contributing, creating, and playing with it. Presence is a great start. But on the spectrum of passivity to activity, presence is in the middle. Involvement is on the active side. Involvement is the opposite of consumption.

Disclose about yourself and your feelings

When we disclose to others how we are actually feeling, people feel our authenticity. When people feel our authenticity, they feel safe to authentically express themselves too. The meaning of authenticity is the alignment of actions and feelings in the present moment. By being the first person to disclose something real, something you’re feeling, you create space for others to do the same. When disclosure is embodied, it means that the feeling is actually present. This is what people feel through your voice.

Be the first

The first dancer, the first one to cheer, the first one to reach out, the first one to trust. Being the first is about giving up on waiting for fun, and taking responsibility for creating the fun. Don’t wait for others to start doing something. Be the first. How I like to do this is by being the first to approach, the first to get excited, or the first to admit something about myself.

Here is me being the first one to dance and initiate a dance party.

This was a brief summary of one the modules in my course: The Fun Intelligence Quotient. Sign up for my lab and be the first to know when it is released.

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How to restore social trust in society


Social trust is one of the best metrics for the health of society.

Read this article if you are interested in learning about the systemic causes and solutions for loneliness and depression.

In this article, I present the problem of social distrust — how it has infected our cities and will continue to fester unless neighbourhoods are completely redesigned around belonging. Then, I present an inconspicuous solution: public human connection rituals. And vyving.


Growing up, I was fortunate enough to live in a rural neighbourhood with high social trust. My parents allowed me to bike ride wherever I wanted. There were a lot of other families in the neighbourhood. I knew pretty much all my neighbours and had probably been to all their houses for dinner at some point.

Cities are not like this.

Most neighbourhoods in cities are plagued with social distrust, a metric I learnt about while researching the Happy Cities team. Their research has revealed some interesting results.

One of the best ways to measure social trust is by asking people how much they trust their neighbours, local law enforcement, and co-workers. It turns out the factor most integral to our well-being is trust in neighbours.

Think about it. When we trust our neighbours, we can let our kids play freely. We can leave our door unlocked. Naturally, we socialize more in our neighbourhood. We participate in more community volunteering. We have more shared meals with neighbours. We invest in community infrastructure. We do not litter or steal, because they KNOW us.

Having trust in our fellow city inhabitants reduces crime, increases well-being, and amplifies social connectedness. It is one of the greatest metrics for community health.

So how are we doing? Taken from America Is Having a Moral Convulsion, featured in the Atlantic, not too well.

In 2012, 40 percent of Baby Boomers believed that most people can be trusted, as did 31 percent of members of Generation X. In contrast, only 19 percent of Millennials said most people can be trusted. Seventy-three percent of adults under 30 believe that “most of the time, people just look out for themselves,” according to a Pew survey from 2018. Seventy-one percent of those young adults say that most people “would try to take advantage of you if they got a chance.” 

This an urgent problem, because most societies collapse when trust collapses as explained in the article.

So what can be done?

Let’s first begin with what I do. Then, let’s expand it to more societal solutions — such as redesigning neighbourhoods, cities, and economies.

The Practice of Vyving

Public acts of joy have an impact on social trust. When we see strangers expressing themselves and playing with each other, it signals to everyone around them that it’s safe to do so. Expression and safety go hand in hand. Play happens when humans are in a parasympathetic, prosocial mode. This is why the presence of play within a neighbourhood is a sign of community health. Safety and trust lead to more play behaviour.

But it also works in reverse. The public expression of joy and practice of play can create a sense of safety and trust within a neighbourhood. And this, my friends, is the mechanism of vyving.

Vyving works by activating public spaces with joyful acts of play and human expression — namely singing, dancing, and frolicking.

Vyving combines place-making and public joy expression. Vyving defined — 

To ignite joy and human connection in public spaces — by means of dancing, singing, and playing with other humans.

Place-making is the process of creating quality places that people want to live, work, play, and learn in. Vyving is a form of place-making because it ignites human celebration in public spaces. It creates mental associations between public spaces and human expression.

What does vyving look like?

I vyve as a self-development practice. I vyve to restore social trust in our cities. I vyve because it can reduce crime and facilitate belonging. It’s backed by social psychology. 

When you play publicly, you invite others to play with you.


Vyving is a great tactic, but it is superficial. The root cause of social distrust is how cities are physically designed and how the economy incentives either cooperation or competition. This environment matters. So, idealistically, how can we change the environment? Let’s dive in.

The Overhaul of Cities

Neighbourhoods must be a certain size. Dunbar’s number is the maximum size of relationships a single human can maintain; after this number is exceeded, interpersonal trust is not as automatic because anonymity increases.

This is one of the largest problems in cities — we’re all anonymous. If one of us were to wrong another, anonymity would ensure that it would not come back to bite us. Anonymity breeds social distrust.

Neighbourhoods must also incorporate communal spaces. Gathering spaces. Places where the community can engage in its rituals and activities. The relationship between proximity to parks and well-being has been shown. But I challenge the urban designers to go farther: to design spaces where community programming regularly takes place.

The more pedestrian a neighbourhood, the higher the trust. This means that we must design cities around alternative forms of transportation, instead of the private automobile.

Not being an urban designer, I’m sure there are countless projects rethinking neighbourhood design. Based on my research on human connection, the method I will emphasize is the shaping of the environment to make belonging a default. Public spaces, communal kitchens, shared vehicles, and smaller buildings (Dunbar’s number).

The Overhaul of Economic Incentives

The most significant and elusive intervention relates to economic incentives. Does the economy incentivize us to trust one another? The simple answer is no. The American-style economy incentivizes exploitation and profiteering. The economy incentivizes personal achievement. When everyone is pursuing their own goals, instead of community goals, it’s difficult to trust others.

I dream of an economy with an entirely different metric than GDP. One that reflects the depth of our human connections, not the depth of our pockets. I am excited about what Bhutan has done. They have overhauled their economic incentives, and that’s why they’re one of the happiest countries on Earth.

I know that blockchain will play a role in the economic transformation.


There is a crisis of trust in North America. So what can we do about it? What micro-actions can you and I take to be a part of the solution? To close this article, let’s commit to embodying trust. Let’s commit to forsaking cynicism. It’s too easy. It generates distrust. Let’s commit to the following behaviours.

  1. Look people in the eyes and smile as you pass them.
  2. Dance and sing in public regularly.
  3. Get to know your neighbours. Invite them over for dinner. Offer to supervise their children.
  4. Focus on relationships, not transactions. In other words, stop trying to take advantage of people.
  5. Finally, lobby your local politicians to invest in local place-making.

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The Community Mentality


What distinguishes a leader from a community leader? An entire philosophy.

In this article, I introduce the mentality of the community-builder. It will transform how you do business, how you connect with others, and how you view community-building. Prepare for a paradigm shift.

I often tell people — community-building has been a spiritual experience. I tell them this because I want to emphasize the difference between community-leadership and executive leadership. It’s a different attitude. It’s a different method.

Operating VYVE, my entrepreneur’s association for human connection professionals, gave me the chance to practice the community mentality. After 6 months of trial and error, the mentality has forever changed how I view leadership.

The community mentality….

It’s behind-the-scenes, altruistic, empowering, opportunity-creating, and generous. It relies on patience, selflessness, and trustfulness.

In one sentence: an attitude characterized by a sincere desire and excitement to elevate others and set them up for success.

Organically, I have adopted the mentality. I think it is because I have experienced the intense fulfillment and connection that accompanies making others feel good, proud, and fearless. I have helped countless community leaders face their fears, try new things, and prevail. 

What is the method by which the mentality drives people forward? Instilling self-belief in others and creating fertile environments for progress.

Self-Belief

I tell people everyday that they are more capable than they know. I remind them of their past achievements. I tell them how important their work is. I acknowledge the progress people are making. All of this does one thing. It cultivates belief in oneself.

If I try for long enough, I can and will succeed.

When we adopt the mentality of a community-builder, we are reminding people to believe in themselves. We remind them the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Fertile Environments

Practically, those who’ve adopted the community mentality share the spotlight. They bring people into the spotlight. They build platforms and show off the work of others. For a great example, you can check out my newsletter, where I feature 4 human connection professionals every week and mention countless.

Not only do they feature and spotlight others’ work, they build platforms for people to do their work. They introduce potential collaborators to each other. They send out personalized resources.

The common theme is that they are an ambassador for the person’s initiative. They are serving with no expectation of return, merely for the joy of giving.


How do you adopt the community mentality? The community mentality makes life more fulfilling. It gets you high off empowering others. It gives you the kindness bliss. So, here is a checklist for adopting the mindset.

Ask yourself how you can help others first — the community mentality is based on service. It’s about amplifying the work of others by cultivating fertile environments and self-belief. When you help others, they will trust you and naturally want to reciprocate. What goes around comes around.

Give credit away — when you succeed, tell everyone who helped you succeed. Others are much more responsible for our achievements than we think. Every time you hit a milestone or get attention, use it as an opportunity to acknowledge the values and character of your community members. Here’s an example: every time I recap a community event, I recognize the participants who contributed to the event.

Focus on community success — individual success is often prioritized over the success of the community. This mentality encompasses different metrics for success. Instead of your own wealth and status points, look to the collective wealth and status of the community. When we cooperate, everybody wins and we end up with more well-being and wealth than if we just focused on ourselves.

Ask people how you can serve them better —open the channel of constructive feedback between the community leader and the community members. This reminds them that it’s safe to be candid and that your purpose is to serve them. Do what you want to do by all means, but don’t ignore the problems your community members face.

Seek to interconnect — the more interconnections within a network, the stronger the social glue becomes. As a community leader, I introduce people to one another all the time. I am always asking myself at the end of my interactions with others: Who do I know who could play a part in this person’s success?


My greatest guidance for adopting the community mentality is to shift your self-talk from ME to WE. Catch yourself when you’re thinking about WIIFM — What’s In It For Me. Instead, ask yourself how you can conveniently amplify the work of the person in front of you without falling into a helper’s complex.

So go out into the world, and during your next interaction, try out the mentality. It will take time to integrate so be patient.

I write a personal newsletter serving 903 human connection professionals in becoming world-class facilitators, entrepreneurs, and community-builders.

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How to Design Cathartic, Ecstatic, Communal Experiences


Edgy experience-design principles you haven’t heard of.

Read this article if you are passionate about creating transformational experiences. I will share with you the principles I leverage to take people out of their heads and into their pulsating bodies.

After reading Recapture the Rapture, by Jamie Wheal, I was little confused as to what to do. He talked about the importance of rites of passage, of sacraments, of responsible entheogen usage, and of scripture and worship. But, I was not sure what to actually do as a community architect.

His chapter on ethical cult-building was insightful but not practical. In his culture toolbox, he elaborates five elements: metaphysics, ethics, scripture, deities, and sacraments. I had never thought of metaphysics and scripture in the context of community building, so this was a plus. It really broadened my understanding of my mission to revive human connection in the developed world. Jamie argues we need to build new metaphysical and ethical frameworks to accomplish this…

But I’ll leave the theoretical and sense-making frameworks to the philosophers. As a facilitator and party scientist, I am much more interested in sacraments. Specifically, rituals involving social-bonding.

Meaning System 3.0 is a fancy term for a new culture that saves humanity. A culture that transcends the gender and culture wars and unites us all in facing our greatest challenges as earthlings. In describing Meaning System 3.0, Wheal emphasizes the importance of three habitual processes embedded in human life: catharsis, ecstasis, and communitas.

Catharsis is release and healing. Ecstasis is liberation and transcendance. And communitas is heartfelt connection to humans, self, and nature.

My mission in simple terms is to normalize a practice of cathartic, ecstatic, communitastic expression. And I believe a great way to realize this is through the modality of collective joy. However, the experience design principles below apply to all types of experiences. They are universal.

Finally. Let’s identify the principles for designing rituals that meet the standards for Meaning System 3.0.

Set the Stage

Participants must know that the experience has a different intention. They must see it in a different light. This is not just an entertainment experience. It is a transformational one. And so, how we invite people and communicate the experience to people must be informed by this unique intention.

We want our participants to drop in to a different state of consciousness during the experience, and so they must enter the event with aligned motives. The goal is not fun or socialization or relaxation. The goal is to heal and transcend.

In designing my experiences, I set the stage by crafting an excellent ‘liftoff package’ for my attendees. Within the liftoff package, I describe the techniques we will be using, I explain how they can participate, and I give them accurate expectations. I want them to know where they are going so that they can fully trust me as a facilitator and fully participate in the experience.

The second way I set the stage is through video communication with my guests. Again, this is about building trust. With transformational experiences, your guests need a level of safety and trust to fully open their hearts and give up control; surrender is an essential characteristic of transformation. They need to know, like, and trust you as their host.

So whatever we can do as hosts before the experience to cultivate this is indispensable. Direct communication is one manner. Giving your participants activities to do before the experience is another. Yet another is what the host does to open their transformational experience: the opening ritual.

I have discussed the importance of opening rituals in many of my other articles (see how to bring people together in a pandemic). An effective opening ritual does the following: 1. it promotes a sense of psychological safety among participants; 2. it evokes a prosocial and relaxed state of mind in participants; and 3. it generates a sense of trust in the host.

In summary, setting the stage involves building trust before your guests arrive and orchestrating an opening ritual.

Set Intentions

The intentions of your guests deserve a section of their own. If intentions are aligned, participants will validate one another’s liberation and expression. If they’re not, participants will not feel safe to let go and release. So, it’s necessary to be very clear as to the purpose of the experience. Ensure that people who are just looking for a fun or social thing to do are not present. This damages the bubble of psychological safety.

Guide participants in their intention-setting by referencing the purpose of the experience: to transform through accessing altered states of consciousness. If you make this clear, you will not have to deal with the confusion of uncomfortable guests.

Incorporate Techniques of Ecstacy

At last, the most juicy part of this article.

Wheal discusses multiple techniques of ecstacy in his book: sex, respiration, entheogens, pain/pleasure, and music. A technique of ecstacy is a means to induce an altered state of consciousness that produces a profound change in psychology. In other words, a technique of ecstacy is a method for producing a mystical experience. And as Wheal references in the book, having a mystical experience is closely correlated with emotional well-being.

So to produce a transformational experience, the experience designer must incorporate a ritual that leverages a technique of ecstacy. I am no professional in the realm of sacred sex, entheogens, respiration, or pain induction. But I am a professional in the realm of music; music, dancing, and singing are my essential tools for electrifying audiences and breaking down social categories.

If you’d like to explore how to design and facilitate music and dance rituals, I have written about it in my newsletter. And will continue to write about it until the end of time.

My suggestion to facilitators is to train in a technique of ecstacy and then apply it in your experience.


This article was about levelling up your experiences. Making them cathartic, ecstatic, and transformational. It’s about time we as experience designers leverage the ancient techniques of ecstacy and elevate global consciousness.

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How I Built A Global Human Connection Movement.

This is the story of a different type of community. It’s a long, arduous, and emotional one.

Read this if you are passionate about In-Real-Life community building and bringing humans together in healthy ways. This is written for facilitators of human connection.

In this article, I chronicle my process for building and launching an online learning community in three months, scaling the community to 50 members and igniting a global value-based movement.

VYVE is a global human connection movement about empowering more humans to access the benefits of the elixir of life that is Community. Apply to join here.

In 2017, I started throwing sober parties and gained my craft in facilitation. In 2020, I started building conscious communities. It was in October 2020 that I woke up to the power of community building.

Building a community will scale my impact, raise my sense of purpose, and create passive recurring income.

October 2020

Amidst the pandemic, my co-founders and I were scrambling. Our event model was being torn to shreds by the new restrictions in Vancouver, Canada. We had planned a bunch of dis-dance events with the goal of creating an outdoor health phenomenon called vyving.

We were crazy. Winter was coming. The pandemic was raging. Regardless, we dived in. Thanks to my biz partner’s courage, we believed we could make it happen. We believed we could popularize an intense biohacking practice based on the health benefits of human connection.

We were not wrong. But outdoor events became illegal. This led us to pivot.

After our final event, a secret mission on Halloween, we were back to the drawing board. When would we launch our vyving classes? When would events become legal again? What would we do in the meantime?

It was around this time that my self-doubt started to increase. One of my business partners decided to leave two weeks earlier. There was a lot of uncertainty in the air. Momentum was stalling.

November 2021

Toper, my other business partner, and I spent the month of November in reflection and learning mode. We spent the month finalizing some key documentation about our movement and community. Toper was transitioning to a new job, so we had a lot of time to read, write, and synthesize our philosophies.

During this time, the bedrock of the VYVE manifesto was constructed. But also, the bedrock of the VYVE community. In November, we determined who our niche was and identified dozens of people who we wanted to enroll in our movement. This is before we saw VYVE as a community business. We still saw VYVE as a class-based model like CrossFit.

We used the template from Belong by Radha Agrawal to identify the core values of our community, the purpose, and the brand. In one epic brainstorm, Toper and I came up with the 5 V’s of VYVE. You can find them in the manifesto.

I totally geeked out and learnt all that I could about community-building. I read countless books and started to follow famous community builders. I joined Discords, discovered Circle, and started to play around with Slack. I read the Art Of Community and started writing an internal document called Community Infrastructure.

I wrote about my lessons publicly in an article titled: I am building the most advanced community ever. It’s not a cult.

All my lessons I applied in a community I had started spontaneously for my friends in August of 2020. The Slack group had continued until it was shut down in December. This group was not intended to be the product. But it served as a learning ground for the launch of the VYVE movement.

Key Lesson #1. Launch before you launch.

I had launched a community on Slack and used it as a testing ground for different apps and engagement strategies. This group, called the League of Revyvers, was where my introduction template, core channels, and central activities were invented. I learnt the hard lesson that community-building is a long-term game. Especially if you’re migrating your community off of the main platforms.

Also, the community has to be reallllyy good for people to stick around. Meaning, the signal-to-noise ratio must be verrryyy high.

Key Lesson #2. Maximize the signal-to-noise ratio.

December 2020

In December, I ramped up my community-building efforts while my business partner started his new job. This is where I dug my heels in and wrote the first iteration of the VYVE manifesto. It came across as quite judgemental toward people with materialistic values.

I sent it to my most critical-thinking friends and received tons of feedback on the core philosophy and values. Before the critique, I was demonizing materialism and wealth. I soon realized I did not want to exclude people who like nice stuff. So I re-edited it. Largely thanks to Ashton Addison.

Thanks to Christopher Ravadilla, who had recently read Dancing in the Streets, the manifesto incorporated the history of community and ritual. Positive psychology was also emphasized in the manifesto, based on my revelations from reading Lost Connections, given to me by a good friend Brad Lancaster, a master community philosopher.

It was in December that I clarified the future of VYVE. This happened organically. As I learnt more and more about the exciting community-building space, I realized there was no reason VYVE could not be a global collective and identity. Plus, in 2019, I had returned from an international party research expedition and had met hundreds of international facilitators, such as Adam Wilder — who I regard as my greatest ally.

I had the network to make this happen! Given that our vyving class was not going to be possible until COVID was over, I made the decision to make the community the product, not the practice of vyving. This is after I learnt about the relationship between the people attending and the event experience.

Who shows up at your event dictates the quality of your event.

After deciding to start a global community for facilitators of human connection, I followed my instinct to reach out to people like that.

I remember a call with Adam where I pitched the idea to him. This is after I had drafted the first proposal of the community published on December 14. He was not too receptive. He gave me a lot of feedback. I implemented it and sent it back. Multiple times.

Get down a written proposal. Send it to people that its intended to serve.

The proposal that I had written was essential for communicating the value proposition of VYVE. It was my key collateral that I sent to my network. It is embarrassing to look back on it now.

Throughout December, this is what I did: I sent the proposal out to my community-builder/human connection friends and solicited feedback. I iterated the community proposal again, again, and again.

Over Christmas, I spent the days reflecting and cold-plunging. More importantly, I read Healthy at 100. And this reinforced the VYVE philosophy ten times. Excerpts from the book are now included in the manifesto, and I have considered sending all new members of VYVE the book. My greatest takeaway is encapsulated by this snippet.

In Okinawa, Hunza, Vilcabamba, and Abhkasia, there is a deep sense of human connection and social integrity. People continually help one another and believe in one another — John Robbins, Heatlhy at 100 (pg. 284)

With a renewed confidence in the VYVE philosophy and my purpose in life — to bring back the depth of community characterizing centenarian villages — I asked myself. What now?

— A founding member launch.

January 2021

I had learnt about the founding member launch from a friend and mentor, Jan Keck, founder of Ask Deep Questions. He was in the middle of launching his own membership community for facilitators. He told me about Stu Mclaren, and I read the guide on tribehub.com.

After a wonderful NYE parade in the rain co-hosted with the supportive @Charlotte.rhythms, I started to plan my founding member launch.

Before this, I finalized a new proposal/invitation (likely the 20th version) and published the VYVE Community Code. All my community infrastructure had to be set up before I started recruiting members.

My community infrastructure included the following:

  1. An onboarding procedure.
  2. A community platform — core channels and apps for the slack community.
  3. A code of conduct.
  4. An application form.
  5. An acceptance form.

I built the full customer experience and had my friends go through it. Thank you Pierre for the wonderful feedback.

The customer experience began with the letter of nomination. From there, readers clicked on the application form. They received an email from me which rationalized their application and conveyed exclusivity. Then, they received an acceptance form. The acceptance form contained expectations, standards of participation, and terms and conditions.

Afterward, they received an email from me with the onboarding protocol. Back then, it was wayyyy too complicated. So it has been massively simplified since January.

Emphasis: The application form was an extremely important touchpoint. It went through five rounds of feedback. I designed the form such that it showed off the value of the community to the applicant. Why did I implement applications?

INTERLUDE —

In December, I finished reading Priya Parker’s book called The Art of Gathering. In it, she introduces the idea of Inclusive Exclusivity.

Inclusive exclusivity is the act of excluding people who do not align with the purpose of your gathering for the sake of including those who do.

In other words, for your niche to feel fully included and authentic, you have to exclude people who would dilute that feeling. I often don’t feel like I can dance at fancy nightclubs. It’s because the people there are not my tribe. And they’re drunk, I’m sober. When the people there are not your tribe, it’s not easy to express yourself authentically.

Based on this, I decided early on that I wanted my community to be inclusively exclusive. This meant that I had them go through multiple application forms to get in. And then an onboarding procedure.

I even had them read the manifesto before applying.

BACK TO WHAT I WAS SAYING —

The acceptance form was just as important as the application form. When members were accepted, they were offered a position within VYVE. The acceptance form was conveyed as an offer and agreement. To accept their offer, applicants had to acknowledge the community code, the 5 Vs of VYVE, and the shared responsibilities of being in VYVE.

Recruitment

My network likely expanded 3X in January. After finalizing all the community infrastructure, I started identifying people in my network who I would want in VYVE. I had already a massive network from travelling the world.

My outreach approach was collaborative. I asked for feedback. I asked if they wanted to be involved in building the VYVE Alliance. I sent them the proposal letter and requested a meeting with them. What I found to be effective was meeting with them first, before even inviting them to be a part of VYVE.

Humans love other humans. Show off your human nature before pitching them.

A lot of the lead identification had already been done. For years I had been creating a network database containing people with my beliefs and passions. So, all I had to do was look at my excel sheet and reach out to them. Network management comes in handy.

I followed up ruthlessly. I recruited a bunch of high-profile movement builders such as Peter Sharp and Nicole Gibson. What I soon realized is that I recruited them. They did not organically choose to be in VYVE.

This was my greatest downfall in creating VYVE 1.0. People who didn’t want to be there, or who could not benefit from being involved in VYVE had been recruited into the community. More on this later.

By the end of January, I had 27 members of VYVE. They had all gone through the acceptance form. And they were all signed up for the opening ceremony.

How I designed the opening ceremony and the first month

I wanted the opening ceremony to show off the awesomeness within VYVE. So I drafted a presentation with one slide for each founding member. During the ceremony, I personally introduced each member with their slide and they followed a structured introduction to the group. Then they led a short activity to their favourite song for the entire group.

The intros went overtime because some people did not stop talking. So the second half of the opening ceremony, which focussed on public commitment to the mission and values of VYVE, was rushed. In this section, I explained the mission of VYVE and every member signed the slide digitally. There were numerous slides. This was the mission slide.

After the opening ceremony, VYVE kicked off with a weekly event. There were four types of events: learning discussions, human connection labs, peer support circles, and ask an expert Q&As.

In retrospect, there were way too many events.

February 2021

With all my infrastructure in place, February was about getting as many members as possible to events. And collecting as much feedback as possible. Every week, there was a different event, at the same consistent time. This maximized attendance.

I spoke to members regularly. I scheduled an optional community infrastructure meeting. I setup committees. I solicited feedback. I prodded people. I sent voice messages.

It was very difficult to keep engagement high. In all this, I learnt that people are overwhelmed easily. So, I reduced the number of channels on Slack to the bare minimum. I set the expectation that events are the most important form of community participation.

It didn’t work. People did not show up at events.

Then, I had a really important call with Jan Keck.

If it’s not on their to do list, they won’t show up. — Jan Keck

This is when I realized that my events were not helping people make a livelihood. VYVE events were fun, but nonessential.

Near the end of February, I collected 20 feedback responses that reinforced this realization. One of the questions was about a fair price for the month of membership. Some of my best friends told me they had not received any value. Zero dollars. It really hurt. I took it personally.

But it helped me come back to consciousness.

March 2021

In March, I came to the uncomfortable realization.

I had convinced people to join who really did not want to be there, and who really could not benefit from being there. This was a difficult realization. Because people didn’t want to be there, it destroyed the sense of engagement in the community. I actually discovered that I had to restart.

Screen people for dedication, not expertise or followers.

After reviewing the feedback responses, I realized the importance of committedness. Community members will not experience any benefit from your product if they are not committed to trying it out. I had numerous community members who just didn’t have the commitment. They wouldn’t participate because they had no reason to.

If you have successfully targeted a niche, they will be naturally committed to trying your product.

I had invited people who were not my niche. They were not in a place to benefit from participating in my community.

So here came the great revival. I realized I needed to relaunch. I needed to remove the community members who didn’t care at all. I needed to build a program that actually got members to commit. So, I built the Try-VYVE program — a four-session program intended to showcase the benefits of peer accountability, learning, and support — the three pillars of VYVE value proposition.

In March, I took off the throttle on the actual community and refocussed on program development and outreach. A few community members were integral in building Try-VYVE. Melanie got me to simplify and crystallize the offering. Emily got me to use more inclusive language and practice more transparency.

New community infrastructure was built. The most important document was the welcome letter — this included a roadmap, a checklist, and some welcoming words. Every participant would receive it, and it would be their program guide.

To relaunch, I used Hunter.io to send out personalized ‘prelaunch invitations’ to my newsletter list and all the previous applicants to VYVE. I sent about 3000 personal emails. I made the recipient feel like the prelaunch was not public… and it wasn’t.

I designed new Typeforms for accepting and evaluating applicants. Both of which blatantly laid out the necessary commitments. I even turned on the ‘force to click all’ function.

I hired a virtual assistant to direct message people on Instagram, post on Facebook groups, and collect email addresses. This was likely one of the best investments of my life. It led to around 5 booked meetings with facilitators every week. These meetings went very well. I showed off my human nature before officially nominating them to join VYVE.

My goal was to onboard 50 members for the first cohort. From my pool of existing and new applicants, I got 57. In this process, I had numerous existing revyvers leave. It forced me to learn an important principle.

When people who are not your niche leave, it’s a positive signal.

Ever since learning this, I have made it very clear. VYVE is intended for facilitators of human connection who are building purpose-driven communities. It’s not for Instagram influencers who like selling things to their audience. It’s not for filmmakers. It’s not for actors.

I sent the new 57 member the welcome letter and the checklist that they must complete to be eligible for revyver status. How I framed the checklist is that joining VYVE must be earned; to become a revyver, you must complete the checklist in full. If you don’t, apply again and good luck.

I subtly communicated this over and over again: you have to earn your membership to VYVE. Unlike most communities, where you can just buy your way in, VYVE requires an application and commitment. Being an active participant is much more important than paying more, in my books. This is why the pricing of VYVE will accommodate lower income levels.

During onboarding, I set up phone calls with new members Lucy the self-declared Co-op Nerd and Marco the Authentic Relating Master. I got to know my new community members and found out the stage of their community-building they were at.

Before the opening celebration, I filmed special dance videos for all the new members. In the introduction template, it featured ‘favourite song.’ I took the song and filmed myself dancing to it. Then I posted it publicly in Slack.

Design of the Opening Celebration

Compared to the first opening event, this one got way more positive feedback. I designed it to maximize interactivity. So, I created speed vulnerability sessions — every participant would go through 5 five-minute sessions where they were paired up to pay a game called “If you really knew me, you’d know…”

Before the speed sessions started, I shared the story and passion I have for VYVE. I talked about the origins of VYVE in my experiences leading hundreds of sober parties.

I even made an April fool’s joke that Facebook and VYVE were entering a strategic partnership. It got everyone laughing.

After the speed-vulnerability sessions, we ratified various codes. We digitally signed the manifesto, core beliefs of VYVE, and the program expectations. Finally, participants were assigned to breakout rooms of three to complete their ‘hive check out.’ This is a ritual a part of VYVE where peer groups regularly share their goals and gratitudes.

This is as far as I have gotten. To be continued!

5 Principles for Peer Empowerment.

We have a different style of connecting with our peers in VYVE.


I developed five principles for relating, which will transform how you connect with others.

In my community VYVE, we practice peer empowerment. Peer empowerment involves peer support, learning and accountability. In all our interactions, whether we are teaching each other something or sharing a personal crisis, we subscribe to a methodology for relating.

A principle of relating is a rule for engaging in human connection. The methods of relating I describe here come from the practices of improv, therapy, and authentic relating. They deepen our connection to ourselves and others.

Often, it does not matter what people say that makes us feel close to them. It’s the quality of their presence and authenticity; they are being fully human. For this reason, I decided to make these principles of relating a standard within my community. VYVE is not a typical networking or mastermind group. VYVE is here to empower, connect, and nourish us in ways that other entrepreneurial communities cannot.

In this article, I simplify relating into two core practices: Sharing and responding.

Sharing is when one person has the floor to share a situation or challenge they want to discuss. In VYVE sessions, they have 5 minutes to do so. Sharing is an opportunity to explore and express what’s really going on in our personal or professional lives. Sharing may be a request for help, or may not.

Responding is about communicating the emotional impact of the person’s share. Responding is done by the people who heard the share. Responding is about relating, affirming, and reflecting on what was shared. If the sharer asked for something specific, responding is about giving the sharer what they asked for.

Here are the five principles of relating within VYVE.

Give Space.

When someone is sharing, we give them space to share. In our sessions, they have up to 5 minutes to expand and explore their feelings, uninterrupted. After this, we respond to what has been shared. When we are responding, we are aware of how much space we are taking up. We practice pausing to let others in. We avoid rambling. We are not the only ones talking.

Beyond the sharing and responding dynamic, giving space is invaluable to intimate connection. Pausing and allowing others to respond to what we have said is what promotes emotional connection.

When another is sharing:

  • We give them space to share until they’re done.

When we are responding:

  • We are aware of how much space we take up.
  • We challenge ourselves to speak in concise terms.
  • We practice pausing.

Be Present.

When we are empowering our peers in a VYVE session, we are doing one thing and one thing only — fully hearing the individual who is sharing. We are noticing their emotions, body language, and choice of words. We are noticing where we feel resonance, or resistance. We are writing down suggestions or perspectives so they don’t fly away. The quality of attention that we bring to our sessions determines the quality of connection we experience.

When another is sharing:

  • We do not respond until the person sharing has indicated they are done.
  • We take notes if something valuable comes up for us.
  • We listen with our full attention.

Feel Your Body.

When we share our situation with our group, we practice being fully human. We go beyond the intellect. We don’t just explore the what, how, and why. We explore the impact it had on our emotions and mental health. We describe how we are actually feeling in all of this. Not only that, we are not afraid to feel it right then and there and be witnessed by our peers.

When we are sharing or responding:

  • We get real.
  • We practice courage by sharing our authentic feelings.
  • We give others the benefit of the doubt if their authenticity triggers us.

Validate and Relate.

After someone has shared in the circle, we validate what they’ve shared. This can occur in different forms. We can echo something they have said. We can share how our experience is similar. We can describe a shared feeling. After validating what they have said, we can share our perspective — this is about supporting them as an entrepreneur.

When we are relating to the sharer, we prefer the word and over the word but. We build off each other within VYVE instead of killing ideas. Creativity and curiosity are not fueled by disagreeability and criticism. We never begin sentences with: “I disagree.” It just isn’t constructive. We add to the discussion or deepen the discussion with a discerning question.

When we are responding:

  • We share personal experiences and feelings relevant to what was shared.
  • We practice curiosity.
  • We are constructive.

Ask and Receive

When we share, we make it clear what we’re looking for: emotional support, entrepreneurial perspectives, feedback, or ideas. Whatever the sharer asks for guides our responses. When someone shares, they may not be looking for advice. They may want to be witnessed in their situation and its difficulty. They may want to know that they are not alone. Until the sharer asks for advice or wisdom, peers are there to relate, witness, and facilitate exploration.

When someone does request support, we share our own experience or we ask questions: “Have you tried X? It worked for me in Y situation.”

When we are sharing:

  • We ask for what we want.

When we are responding:

  • We share our personal experiences.
  • We do not use SHOULD statements.
  • We relate as humans AND as entrepreneurs.

And for virtual settings! Show and Tell.

It’s easier to understand someone when they show us visually what they mean. This is why screen-sharing is encouraged in VYVE sessions. If there is something you want to show the group, do it. When you combine visuals with verbals, you increase your clarity.

When we are sharing:

  • We may use screen-sharing to show the group.

The five principles of peer empowerment are to be practiced in our weekly VYVE session. I am looking forward to relating to you on a human level 💕

— Jacques W. Martiquet

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How to Bring Humans Together in a Pandemic.


I thought it was impossible. Here are my hard-learned adaptations.

In this article, you will learn principles for bringing people together regardless of the context. Near the end, you will learn some hacks for COVID human connection.

My name is Jacques. Before the pandemic, I travelled the world with a giant speaker. I started singalongs, group hugs, dance parties, and huddles among strangers. Sometimes on planes.

In the last three years, I discovered my life purpose: to advance public health by normalizing new forms of socialization, particularly ecstatic celebration.

I feel an electricity through my veins when I bring people together. If you want to feel this too, read on. I will show you how.


On the news, they called me a self-proclaimed party expert. Although I go by The Party Scientist internationally, the principles of bringing people together through parties apply to most gatherings.

The importance of greeting. Having an opening ceremony. Priming your guests. Role-modeling vulnerability. Introducing people to one another. Creating space for people to be seen. To name a few.

“We, as young people, need to learn how to socialize differently” This is my favourite quote from the segment. It explains why I am stoked to write this article. How we currently socialize is way too unstructured. We bring people together passively and expect magic to happen. Typically it doesn’t.

It doesn’t happen because hosts are too chill. Priya Parker talks about this in her book. Chill hosts don’t want to intrude. They are afraid of bothering people. So what do they do? They let the gathering evolve organically. They wait for magic to happen instead of making it happen.

And then they call themselves spiritual: “I don’t apply force, I surrender to the flow of my gathering.” Really, their kicking themselves in the shin. If the thousands of rituals I’ve facilitated for others has taught me anything, it’s that epic experiences require active curation.

I am going to show you how to make magic happen. Not to wait for it. But how to actively curate magic in your gatherings. If you would prefer to be a passive host, then stop right here. These principles are not going to work for you.

Ready to learn how to be a VYVACIOUS host, as I like to call it?

Vyvacious (adj):// active in unleashing energy and vulnerability in the human interactions at a gathering.

Principles of Bringing People Together

How do chill hosts and vyvacious hosts differ? For all these principles, I will contrast the two styles of bringing people together.

GREET THEM

Chill hosts say a minimal hello or do not notice when someone arrives.

Vyvacious hosts get everyone in the room to welcome them with applause. They introduce the newcomer to others. They embrace the newcomer!

Recommendation: Welcome people enthusiastically when they arrive. Make them feel seen and loved.

PRIME THEM

Chill hosts name a time and place for people to show up.

Vyvacious hosts describe the purpose of the gathering, encourage their attendees to set an intention, outline what they need to bring, and build anticipation for the gathering.

Here is an example of a script I wrote for one of my gatherings.

ATTN: Covid 1 Year Anniversary Troops!!

This is one of your Chief Commanders here. You have been selected for this secret mission of spreading joy through the streets of Vancouver on this monumental day that entered us into unprecedented times.

Your mission is to elevate the mental health of all of those we encounter. Below is some vital information to make this mission a success:

Recommendation: Prepare and build excitement for your gathering. Spend some time creating a video or letter for your guests to watch before they show up.

ROLE MODEL VULNERABILITY

Chill hosts are straight-faced and formal.

Throughout priming, greeting, and the opening ritual, vyvacious hosts laugh at themselves and express themselves. No formality here! They are vibrant and alive. They may stutter, they may dance, they may joke. They are their goofy authentic selves.

Recommendation: Exaggerate your emotional expression. Vulnerability begins with full emotional expression.

FOCUS THEIR ATTENTION

Chill hosts never bring the group together. There is never focused attention on a shared activity or person. This means there are no rituals, because rituals require shared attention and intention.

Vyvacious hosts focus the attention of the group on a single person or activity. This is what I am doing when I get everyone to line up and participate in a crowdsurf train. Everyone is working together to create an epic experience for the crowdsurfer.

Out of all the rituals, the most important ritual is…. Bazinga! The opening ceremony.

Recommendation: Design rituals for your gathering. Do a toast. Make a speech. Tell a story. Bring the group together through shared attention.

ACTIVATE PROSOCIALITY

Chill hosts don’t start a gathering. The gathering just fumbles its way forward. There’s no start gun. There’s no official welcome. It’s just BLEH.

Vyvacious hosts begin their events by activating prosociality. This is twofold. They first ground their participants. Then, they get people connecting.

There’s a diversity of methods to accomplish these objectives. Meditation, silence, and eye-gazing are a few for the first. Dancing, singing, and think-pair-sharing are a few for the second.

The bottom line is that the opening ceremony has the objective of activating prosociality (for social events) and of reminding people of the purpose of the gathering. We want people to be peaceful and joyful. This neurophysiological state enables relationships to form.

Before all my U-HAUL Missions, I give a speech at the beginning. Then I invite everyone else to share with the group what they’d like to give to strangers.

Recommendation: Form a circle at the beginning, say a few words, and then do something together as a group that puts people into a state of peace and joy.


Let’s now discuss COVID. Here are some COVID modifications for real-life gatherings, because… let’s be real, that’s what we crave.

Choose an iconic, majestic location.

For the Hike Rave, we chose the lookout above Vancouver.

Incorporate an activity that everyone can do.

Don’t make conversation the activity. People will get bored, and they won’t physical distance. Some examples of activity I have incorporate: biking, hiking, dancing, games.

Remind people about consent.

There are different levels of COVID comfort. Some people hug. Some people wear masks. Others kiss. Whenever my participants arrive, I remind people to be conscious of others safety levels. As an event organizer, I have researched the risk levels, and it’s still very low without distancing.

Host an experience, not a hangout.

Talking creates aerosols. Especially when people face one another and talk toward one another for long periods of time, the risk of transmission goes up. By designing an experience involving exploration, physical activity, and novelty, the risk goes down. Movement reduces transmission. Conversation increases it.


Are you still a chill host? Or have you become a VYVACIOUS host? I hope I have given you the tools to step into your power and start leading your participants to unity and exhilaration.

Most social gatherings are unstructured. Drizzling a little structure onto them through your leadership can amplify the benefits that your participants reap.

It may be edgy, but may we continue bringing people together in this bizarre time!

 — The Party Scientist
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I Discovered the Real Definition of Friendship.

Recently, I gave up on a few friends. Then, I realized I was mistaken.


Recently, I gave up on a few friends. Then, I realized I deluded myself.

The story of being human: Telling yourself a story and then realizing it was a false reality. This was my recent experience leaving an accountability group I had started 8 months prior.

This article will offer you dozens of perspectives on maintaining transparent, nourishing relationships. I will share a personal account of the greatest ostracization I have experienced in my life — worse than the time some influencers didn’t like me at a music festival in the Alpes.

Ready to learn about healthy, reciprocal friendships?

Two friends who will be in my life forever. Ashton and Charlotte.

March 25th.

I was meditating in a float tank. Some uncomfortable thoughts kept coming into my head. “Do my friends actually care about my mission? Would they reach out if I did not reach out to them?” This last question stung. I didn’t feel like they would. I knew they were busy. I knew they had lives. But I also knew that my relationships with them would die if I did not put the fuel on the fire.

The next thought: “What relationships should I be focusing on?” The answer immediately came to mind. Deep, reciprocal ones, where I feel empowered. And the ones that directly support my life mission.

In that float tank, I realized how often I felt ignored by my friends. I decided to leave the weekly accountability group I had started 8 months earlier. The accountability group was comprised of my “best friends.” But after all of them left my movement (or so I thought), called VYVE, I realized, that my definition of best friend differed from theirs.

March 26th.

I sent them a letter a day after one of the best meetings of my life. Hosted at the beach, in the sun. We danced, laughed, and meditated.

“Hey Gentlemen,

Yesterday, in my float tank, I was reflecting on my relationships and all the groups I am a part of. During periods of my float, I was not comfortable.

Recently, I have learnt how to dissolve my expectations on my relationships — To completely release the pressure I put on them to be a certain way. I have realized that I applied pressure on a lot of relationships, on all of you, and certainly on this group.

This learning process was difficult. But my hero dose did it for me. It taught me how to surrender to the evolution of my relationships and peer groups.

This process has led me to a difficult realization: I am way too overloaded with personal growth groups. I need to take a step back and chill, take off the throttle on my relationships.

With the prelaunch of VYVE attracting more people than I anticipated, I have made the hard decision to leave this group, to prioritize the three new groups I have with the new VYVE cohort.

I will always be including you in the experiences I create. I love all of you. I know you will understand my decision. I also know that this group will get stronger and stronger, regardless of who’s in it.”

I soon learnt that I had divorced my wife over text. Not a good move. It was shocking to all of them. Uncalled for. This was my first mistake. I did not honour the group. Nor did I explain fully why I left.

In the wake of this message, two of them reached out to better understand why I left. The largest factor was that I had started three other accountability groups related to my community, VYVE. I needed to spend more time nourishing them. The other factor was more complicated.

Do you pay attention to actions or words?

Throughout 2021, I observed a pattern in my relationships with the men in the accountability group. They’d often not return my calls. They would ignore my texts. They would never reach out. I wondered if it was me.

I took the actions to mean more than the words. Even though I had reached out to them earlier to check in with our relationship, I knew the actions spoke louder. They would forget to invest in me if I took the gas off. That was an accurate conclusion, but it didn’t mean anything about the depth or longevity of the friendship.

The story I was telling myself was that they didn’t care about their relationship with me. I was wrong. They did. They were just stressed and dealing with their own stuff. After a long call with one of my earliest friends, I got the message.

Friendships transcend regularity of contact.

My friend Brad explained it well. He showed me that the depth of a friendship does not depend on the frequency of contact. Friendships evolve in form, but not in-depth. I was feeling excluded because I felt that my friends didn’t want to see me. I realized that the lack of reaching out or reciprocal contact had nothing to say about the depth or caring of the relationship.

They were still there for me.

Brad told me that there were many alternative explanations for why my friends were neglecting me. Here are some he mentioned.

They want to hang out with me casually, but I always invite them to events and parties that they’re not really into.

I always reach out to them about my project, instead of our friendship.

They are not in any position to host events and invite me to them.

They often get swamped by their communication channels, because they are busy people.

My biggest takeaway from the phone call — sometimes, people really do care. They just don’t show it. They will only show it when you really need them. They are there for you, but the relationships themselves are low-touch. Whether a relationship is high-touch or low-touch is the form. The depth is experienced in the moment.

When I am in the moment with my friends like Brad, I feel like I am their best friend. That’s what matters more than whether or not they reach out.

The quality of the shared moment defines a friendship. Not what happens outside of that, such as text communication or invitations.

I was placing too much of an emphasis on the technical details of the friendships. I was keeping score in other words. Keeping score is when you pay attention to whether your actions are reciprocated. It goes hand in hand with giving with an expectation of return. Keeping score is not fun. Often, the availability bias results in skewed judgements about the score. We miss what really matters in a ‘friendship score’: the quality of company.

Keeping score goes against one of my core beliefs. Company is valuable. I would pay for the company of my best friends. And so anytime they show up for me is an added bonus. I do not need them to reach out to me or invite me to something.

Keeping score is a cognitive process. It occurs in the head. Thinking about relationships and how imperfect they are will lead to disaster. Instead, I opt to think as little as possible about my friendships. I would rather evaluate the quality of the shared company, in the moment. Again, here it is again.

It’s not what you think about them. It’s how you feel in the moment with them.

What I aspire to do, is evaluate all my relationships based on the quality and depth of the company the last time I was present with them. I do not want to make global assumptions about a relationship because they didn’t return a call or text. Or they decided to leave my community.

I have learnt to measure the friendship score based on how often my friends call me out on my biases and tunnel vision, and how I feel when I am in their presence.

Bazinga.


Was my story wrong? Yes. Was I defining friendship in a flawed way? Yes. Was my feeling of exclusion based on reality? Probably not.

Unfortunately, the story is more complicated. In the week after my departure from the group, the above answers were questioned. I found out my sense of exclusion was based in reality and it did objectively redefine my friendships.

A week after leaving the accountability, I had my best friend reach out to me to borrow my speaker. He was hosting a retreat. My thought: “Hmmmmm. A retreat. Where? With who? Am I invited?” I intentionally held off. There must be a good reason why I was not invited. Maybe it was with a new group. Maybe it was not my vibe.

Then. I learnt that all my best friends had been invited. Every. Single. One. Ouch. You think a best friend would communicate why you were left out, hey? No. Instead, he asked me to use my sound system. And so I did.

Because I love empowering people to host dance parties. Anytime. Anywhere.

The action of leaving me out spoke louder than any word. My vibe was not welcome at this event. Message received. Friendship redefined. But being excluded was not what redefined the relationship. It was the excuses.

After speaking with my best friend on the phone, he made a dozen excuses. It wasn’t my event. It was only for these people. It was not for your vibe. I am so thankful he showed me what he meant to say through his word — your vibe, Jacques, is just not appreciated here.

Go where you are celebrated. Not tolerated.

I have completely let go of this relationship. I have taken the throttle off entirely. Of course, it is still a very deep relationship. This friend and I have shared some of the best moments of my life. We had gone on the craziest adventures together.

It was not being excluded which hurt. It was what this friend’s actions said about our relationship.

CHECKPOINT. Is this story I am telling myself correct?

After speaking to my other best friends and stress-testing my story, they all told me that the situation was fucked up. So, sometimes, friendships may be deep in the moment. But, this does not mean you should not pay attention to the actions, which often speak louder than words.

My friend’s actions told me an important message — Jacques’ vibe is not welcome here.

Message received.

I do not want to be a friend whose actions don’t align with their words. I want to tell my friends exactly why I am leaving them out. I want to tell them exactly why I haven’t been able to respond to them. I want to give my friends a story to tell themselves which is accurate. I want to tell my friends that they are celebrated. That I do care for them.

Leaving the accountability group and then getting excluded from a retreat hosted by my ‘best friends’ showed me how I want to show up in my relationships. I want to be the greatest source of empowerment. I want to be there, reminding them of their power. I want to be their unbiased guide. I want to love them with critique and communication.


This has been a blessing. I have been blessed with great realizations.

I want to show up differently in my relationships.

Low-touch relationships can still be deep and nourishing.

Don’t think about friendships. Feel them.

Moving forward, I am going to keep less score for one thing. I am going to catch myself when I am thinking of relationships.

Lastly, I am going to continue to live and breathe the 10:1 Lifestyle — if you are not reaching out to your friends ten times more than they are reaching out to you, then you can be a more empowering friend.

I am personally addicted to empowering my friends.

Human Contact versus Human Connection.

They’re not equals. One is desperately needed, the other is overwhelming people’s lives.


The questions I answer in this article:

Can we apply the philosophy of essentialism to human connection?

Which forms of human connection are essential? Which are trivial?

Essentialism is the approach of focussing on the vital few instead of the trivial many. It’s about saying yes to things that are a **** yes, and saying no to the rest. It’s about identifying the factors that lead to 99% of the outcome you want — by nature of the repeated Pareto principle (the 80:20 rule).

The answer to the first question is yes. We can. And in this article, I argue that we should. We should prioritize certain forms of human interaction more than others. For our health, life satisfaction, and sense of belonging.


Look for a second at how most humans connect with one another.

1. They’re quite distracted, aren’t they? It’s absent-minded. People check their phones. People get distracted by the physical environment or their thoughts. Very little attention is put on the interaction.


2. That’s not all. There’s also a fast pace to it all; people are scheduling their connection time and have ‘agendas.’ Because of the obsession with career and work in western culture, people have put end times to their connection. They’re checking the time constantly. They’re worried they’re going to be late for the next appointment. Our obsession with doing takes us out of the moment with the people we love.


3. Finally, there’s the superficiality. This is a natural outcome of the two previous features of most human social interactions. Due to the lack of attention and time-stress, it’s difficult to fully understand, feel, and relate to what our conversation partner discloses. In other words, people are not embodying their interactions with others. They’re just in their heads.

Human connection may be rushed, absent-minded, and superficial. This decreases its impact on our well-being.

What perfectly demonstrates where socialization norms are going is an observation I’ve made repeatedly: teenagers have conversations with one another without taking out their AirPods. They’re connected to some form of stimulation 24/7.

This freaks me out.

So I have trained myself to engage in human contact instead.

Human contact is emotional, physical, and spiritual.

Emotional: both humans in the interaction notice and echo each other’s emotions, through eye contact and paraphrasing.

Physical: it involves supportive touch or affection. Hopefully, there’s a hug at the end.

Spiritual: the context of the interaction is about what matters in life and what matters to the individuals.

Human contact is deep and nourishing. Human connection is not guaranteed to be.

How do we create more moments of human contact in our lives? I have contemplated on this, and have made these adjustments to my life.

I use two phones. One has no data or apps.

I consciously look people in the eyes and feel what their feeling. I am intensely present.

I have a ten-second hug policy.

I ask questions about how people are feeling, not how they are thinking. About their well-being. About their life lessons. About what enriches them.

I surrender to the surge of physical resistance that comes up when I am frustrated, triggered, or criticized. This means I relax into the discomfort in my body.

Please. Tell me yours.


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Cheers to human contact,
 — Jacques, Chief Scientist and Writer, The Party Scientist’s Lab 🧪