What did I learn from leading a tribe?

My nose is running. My sun-tan is already fading. I’m even shivering a little.

It’s not mid-winter but spring in England and British Summer Time has just kicked-in. So why the duldroms? Well, I’ve just got back from 3 months of fun and fulfilment in Bali piloting a new Tribewanted project focusing on coworking. I’ve learnt post-Tribe fatigue is inevitable. Luckily I’m already back in the game.

I had time to reflect in the moment between this Tribe ending and The Startup Tribe at The Escape School commencing . I wanted to share with you what I learnt and how it has prepared me for my next 3 month Tribal adventure.

1. Check-ins are the superglue.

At least 4 times a week we would meet at Hubud and ask 2 questions to everyone:

  1. What are you getting done today?
  2. How can we help?

The simplicity and regularity of these sessions helped us take small steps forward daily and accelerate towards our goals.


2. Location. Location. Location.

I knew from my research that Bali, and Ubud especially, would be a good destination for co-working and startup inspiration, but my expectations were smashed.

Bali’s spiritual, creative, natural culture is powerfully seductive — you can’t help but be wrapped up in its glow. This layered onto a canvas of volcanos, ocean, reefs and the bright green quilt of paddy fields and its popularity is unsurprising.

My daily commute cycling through Ubud monkey forest in the early heat, hopping round cafes for meetups, into galleries for inspiration, hiking through paddy fields, disappearing into bamboo paradises and the endless swimming opportunities meant that you couldn’t not feel energised. The challenge is fitting everything in — life was full in Ubud (I didn’t even make it to ‘ecstatic dance’).


3. Sunshine (& thunderstorms) are caffeine for the soul.

The island climate at this time of year is dramatic — one minute intense heat, the next a monsoon. At night cracks of thunder would crack into the core of your being. I found the drama of the weather an energizer. Bugs aside, there’s nothing like a tropical rainstorm to awaken your senses and reflect on what you’re doing. You can’t detach your work from the natural environment in somewhere like Bali and that’s a very good thing.

4. Give and you shall grow (pay it forward without expectation).

We did a lot of skill sharing. I can’t think of an occassion when this didn’t build stronger relationships and increase impact. We planned to split our time 50% our projects, 25% each others projects, 25% exploring Bali. With this mindset I saw a lot of people supporting each other with no questions asked about ‘how much time’ or ‘will I get it back.’


5. Tools rule.

Whatsapp is our water-cooler (we’ll get to ‘Slack’ at some-point). We gather around it to share our meetup plans, pictures, jokes and rapid feedback.

Strikingly is our ideas accelerator — the difference between people talking about their ideas before they visualised them was always obvious.

I watched Loretta, a consumate international development professional unleash her inner entrepreneurial creativity once she got a handle on a couple of tools and the permission to go wild with them — now, she’s an ideas machine.

6. My weakness is your strength. Baby.

Tommy, a young travel blogger, taught himself how to build a following and engagement on Instagram and then shared his lessons with us. In under a week he had become known as the Instagram expert.

Philippa, a teacher and novelist, shared her creative writing tips and in return was motivated by the Tribe to churn out her novel.

Bob, a corporate HR guy turned ethical recruitment missionpreneur, shared his hiring tips and gained feedback on how to keep it lean.

It was awesome to witness such supportive, and enthusiastic skill sharing.


Our Chief Experience Officer, Gusti Badra

7. Random acts of storytelling are exactly what you were looking for.

Every Thursday we invite a guest to share their story with us. These included:

Vlatko: How (and why) I spent 6 years filming the Croatian coastline.

Kadek: Why I started Yoga Barn and the Bali Spirit Festival.

Eiji: What I learnt making ‘The Happy Movie’.

These might seem like irrelevant interruptions in our busy schedules, but often we found these fresh perspectives and inspiring stories would reinforce or shift our thinking around what we were doing.


8. Feedback in the tribe is rapid (and crucial).

Lisa: ‘So I’ve spent all night thinking about changing the name and brand to ‘your news assistant’. What do you think?’

Tribe: ‘But we love ‘Newspresso — your shot of daily news.’

Lisa: ‘Really?’

Tribe: ‘Yes!’

Lisa: ‘Ok, Newspresso it is!’

9. Not everyday is perfect. Even in Bali.

I’ve been to enough islands to know that paradise is a state of mind and not a perfect place. Bali is a handmade society, still struggling with corruption, traffic, pollution, rampant tourism, poverty, climate change and more. It looks perfect on the surface — this is what makes it a great holiday destination.

But when you’ve come to explore your future career or kickstart your business idea, there are days when the wifi is too slow, the bugs bite too much and, yes, when its just ‘too hot.’

This is when your Tribe matter the most — they pick you up, remind you why this decision was a good one and that you’re not on your own (even if most people ‘back home’ think you’re in paradise).


10. Mindsets shift through community.

This is something that Rob from The Escape School (my new Tribe) said to me. It resonates perfectly. For all of us in the ‘behaviour change’ game we know that the key to making a positive and sustainable impact on someone is by connecting them meaningfully with others who share their outlook, intention and values.

If we can build a community — a Tribe — around things that matter to people, then minds and behaviour will shift. It’s a huge lesson and one that is becoming clearer by the day.


The Bali experience has set me up nicely for returning to The Escape School and The Startup Tribe this week. This over-arching lesson about ‘mindsets shifting through community’ is clearly something that Escape has tapped into.

This is not another job board.

This is not another startup accelerator.

This is a community with purpose. A Tribe of people who feel strongly about something at the centre of their lives: How can I make the most out of my career? How can I be part of something that isn’t just a way for me to get through life but actually adds something back? It’s this kind of thing that leaves a positive dent, and changes stuff for the better.

These are big, complex questions to face up to and to answer, but they’re also deceptively simple – do you want to work and live in a way that reflects you and your passions or do you want to do it on someone else’s terms?

We’re fortunate enough to be part of a generation, and with Escape – a community – that allows us to explore this question in depth.

I’m so excited for our Startup Tribe. Together, our minds can really shift. Together, our ideas can really accelerate.

Together, we will do work we love.


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Ben Keene is the founder of Tribewanted and our very new Startup Tribe leader. We’re thrilled to have him as part of the Escape team.

This post was originally posted on Medium.

Doing something different with your life and starting a business is hard… but you don’t have to do it alone. If you need help with your Escape and if you are ready to re-take control over your life, join our Tribe.

“My own startup journey has shown me that there is no ‘secret recipe’ for starting a business that will work. However there are a hell of a lot of things you can do to give yourself the best chance whilst minimising your risk as much as is possible. If I can do it, you can do it.”

– Rob Symington, Escape the City co-founder.

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