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Starling's 2023 Journey: From Humble Beginnings to a Flourishing Learning Community in 23 Weeks

A starling looking back at a claendar with the words "Starling On Learning" underneath

If you’ve read Oliver Burkeman’s book Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals, you’ll know that 4,000 weeks is, on average, the length of our lifetimes. If 4,000 weeks is really all we get, at Starling, we’ve used the last 23 weeks pretty darn well.


It’s hard to believe that it was that short of a time ago that we launched our community – back on July 11. It’s equally hard to believe the idea of Starling really only came into existence in March of this year. I had just been laid off and was enjoying sleepless nights with our second daughter – just one-month-old at the time. Rachel was working on figuring out what was next for her after leaving an executive-level position with nothing else lined up. It seemed like the perfect time to start a business!


But the truth is that we felt like we had no other choice. The workplace is broken in so many ways. Rachel and I felt like there had to be a better way to manage our relationships with work. And we had a hypothesis that there are a bunch of other folks out there who might be thinking some of the same things. And thus, Starling was born.


Here we are, five months later, marveling at all the Starling community has accomplished. From nothing to quite something in 23 weeks – it's been a whirlwind of both ups and downs, but the ups have far eclipsed the downs.


The Birth (and Growth) of the Flock

Our community, which started as a blank slate, is now a thriving flock of 110 members. We’re deeply thankful for all of our members who took a chance on us early on, when we were little more than a platform and a promise of bigger things. Each one of our members has brought something unique to the table, turning Starling into a wonderful blend of experiences, personalities, and perspectives.


The Nest (our virtual platform) has turned into a hub of activity. In five months, we’ve shared, learned, and debated across 426 comments. We even pulled the community together for an inaugural community challenge in September! That effort to tackle broken workplace meeting culture culminated in a 40-page white paper that has been downloaded dozens of times. 


We launched the community with the promise of hosting monthly events. We ended up doing a bit better than that, hosting 12 speaker events with some amazing individuals, on a variety of topics. We also piloted the idea of regular coffee chats. These informal opportunities for community connection brewed up more than just caffeine-infused beverages.


All of our 2023 events proved quite popular, and we’re excited to share our event calendar for the first three months of 2024 here!


A New Approach to Learning

Learning is at the heart of what we’re doing here at Starling. When we were developing our philosophy of learning, we knew that we had to do something different from the mainstream. We’re not interested in having our members pay beaucoup bucks to watch an hour-long video from some old and stodgy professor (though we love our academics!). Our learning needed to be social, flexible, and active. 

And that’s what we set out to create when we launched the first parts of our foundational leadership program, The Starling Way. Across our first two courses, Knowing Yourself and Thinking Differently, we released nine self-paced modules and ran a live cohort with a Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 100 (who does that?). These modules featured loads of social learning and activities that forced us to reflect deeply on ourselves and how we think.


But we also worked to create learning products that provided the flexibility our members needed in their busy lives. In November, we piloted Starling Micro Lessons. These bite-sized segments feature 5-10 minute videos on a variety of topics that folks need to be great at their jobs and enrich those around them. Already, we’ve grown the Micro Lesson library to 12 lessons from six different contributors. Witnessing the community develop learning experiences for each other has truly been one of the highlights of the year for me.


We’re just getting started with our learning products, and have a lot more planned for 2024.


More Than Just Numbers

It’s impossible to quantify everything that the Starling community has achieved in 2023. We've enjoyed countless 1-on-1 Zooms, chats, and email exchanges. We've come together to help one another in times of need...even if it's just providing a human pillow to scream into. And we've learned so much from the collective experience of the group. To be honest, it gives us hope for the future.


We’re looking forward to an equally exciting 2024!

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