Rethinking the purpose of The Guild

The Guild has been around in one form or another for over two years now. And since creation, I’ve never taken the time to fully flush out the details around its purpose, layout, and intent. And I have to admit this is more of a confession of failure on my part than anything. But it’s better late than never, right?

About a month and a half ago, I started having some conversations with both @justindirose and @wilsonng about joining me in the quest to build The Guild into a community that brings not only answers to questions and interesting topics but an authentic place to connect with other productivity minded folks. And I have to say that getting them involved was one of the best things I’ve done for the community. I’m continually impressed with the words they smith together for the site.

At the same time, these two have really pushed me to define the mission of The Guild. It’s tough to determine what to write and how to engage people when you’re not entirely sure what the point of the community is.

So after a few weeks of going back and forth, I think we’ve nailed it down. Ready for this? :wink:

The Guild’s mission is to solve problems unique to its individual users.

I can see this come out in a number of ways, but the bulk of it is that there needed to be a category re-alignment here on the site as well as a reconsideration of what lives on the Pro side.

The easiest way to understand and see what the former looks like is to take a look at the Categories list. The main change is the addition of the #ask-for-help category. If The Guild is here to help solve problems, we need a dedicated place for it.

But on the Pro side, we’ve wanted to ensure the value is as high as possible without taking away from the free side. So we’ve decided on three main aspects of the Pro subscription:

  1. #deep-dives - Original articles that go deep into a topic. This is primarily what @justindirose and @wilsonng have been working on but I’m looking to get involved here as well.
  2. #pro-newsletters - We’re currently working on our first of these, but we’ll be introducing an exclusive weekly newsletter for only Pro members.
  3. Video courses - Currently the Working With Ideas (#ideas) and Working With OmniFocus (#omnifocus) courses are included. I’m working on a pen and paper course currently and hope to release more of these in the future.

I have to admit to being pretty excited about this change. :blush:

So let us know what you think and how we can continue to improve! :tada:


Evolution is always a good thing. Life is full of experiences. We take a step forward and move in a general direction. @justindirose and I look forward to contributing some of what we discovered during our work week or in our digital explorations. Knowledge is worthless unless we as a community can share with each other. It takes a village to raise a child is the old saying. In our case, it looks a whole digital community to elevate each other.

I’ll be honest. I have my own personal demons dealing with procrastination, goals, visions, and a whole boatload of other questions looking for a solution. The Productivity Guild is a great online resource where we can clink a digital beer together and figure out tips and tricks that can help us through our workweek. So let’s be the barfly at and go to the place where everybody knows your name… and that place is right here at the Productivity Guild.*

Together, we can figure out our own workflows and dilemmas. I look forward to the new direction we’re heading.

I’ll admit. I’m a fairly private person. I don’t share that many things and hesitate to ask for help in the real world. But I’m getting better. The Guild is a valuable resource that can become more valuable when we contribute. If you’ve found a cool article that you want to share at the digital water cooler, post it! Or if you have a question, post it!

:man_mechanic: Yeah! Let’s do it!

* a scene from the two coolest barflies on the planet - Cliff and Norm from one of my favoriteTV show when I was growing up, Cheers.

1 Like

Thanks for this - I’ve been a pro member for a while and bought both your video courses. I never actually got through the Ideas one and while I did get through the Omnifocus one, I have not really used Omnifocus to the extent possible - right now it is just a giant bucket of things to do.

Part of the problem has been the constant changes going on in my life. But I just accepted a job offer with a company in London, so I think the next 1-2 years of my life should be more settled than the last 2, where we were trying to be digital nomads (and only succeeding to a small degree).

That all to say I had been questioning whether I was getting any value out of the Guild. I enjoy reading it and supporting your work, but I provide very little input. I think some sort of mentoring would be helpful, so your #ask-for-help category will be a welcome addition. In addition I will try to consolidate my thoughts and try to add some knowledge about becoming a productive programmer.


(Con) Uhm, I’m not sure about that. I think it works for people who hang out here regularly, and of course the name should give people some hint – but it’s still too general for me. I’d be happier with “The Guild’s mission is to solve productivity problems unique to its individual users.” And even then, I’d want to add a “through” part: “through collaboration, brainstorming, sharing of experience, and expert input” or something like that. (Just throwing that out there.)

(Pro) That said, just having a mission is a good Next Step for the site. I’ve enjoyed the things I’ve seen and read, but I would occasionally say to myself “what is the focus of this site, again?” Moving to a mission that helps put some guardrails on things, even if the guardrails are six lanes apart, is a good thing.

Thanks, also, for sharing your ongoing develpment process, and the thinking behind it. That is actually a productivity coaching piece in and of itself. Added value right there.

Hope this helps. Thanks for all you and the others have done and continue to do to make us more productive!


Please read the following as friendly sharing of experience and not criticism, as it is not intended as such.

In the near term, I would tie the Pro Subscription to items like the video courses or similar types of deliverables. From casual observation, the number of folks who participate on either side of the paywall is fairly low. The deep dives could serve as a solid funnel to drive a growth in the community which would then add oomph behind the items related to the mission statement. The people looking to read a deep dive on a productivity topic who aren’t already on your site, a very unlikely to pay money to read the deep dive without first extracting value from you.

I bought a video course and did a pro subscription for a short period to thank you for what you are producing. I did not see the value on the pro discussions as although the people participating are knowledgable and enjoyable to interact with, it was a very small subset of an already small community.

I would suggest leveraging the deep dives and solve my productivity problem content pieces as a way to attract and retain the types of people you want in the community, while you build up the value of the pro side via video courses, master class sessions, pro podcasts, etc.

Regardless of where you place it in relation to the pay wall, you should consider inviting other productivty folks to come and do an AMA equivalent in the guild. That way you can cross-polinate your user bases.

Again, not a criticism as I thoroughly enjoy what you’ve done so far.


Thanks. It’s interesting to see this group evolve. It’s still early yet so it’s a great time to pioneer and take it in new directions.

@BruceInLouisville and @mike2: Huge thanks for weighing in on this. :hugs:

I’ve been really struggling with what goes in front of and behind the paywall. I would agree that more on the free side is better and put the heavy time-commitment pieces in Pro. But I also see where having #deep-dives on the free side makes sense.

I’m currently working on scripts for a video course around analog task management that I plan to put under Pro. Once that’s released, I think there may be some validity in making all video courses the one and only piece behind the paywall. But there needs to be three or more of them there to make that work.

Again, thanks for weighing in. It’s great to hear from members on what does and doesn’t work.