May 29, 2020

069 Kimberly Han: Developing Communities, Facilitating Interactions, and Building Relationships

My guest, Kimberly Han, has coached 50+ international chapter leaders to run their local communities and grew a movement from 8 people to 3000+ people. She is well-known as an effective and powerful community builder. We discuss the best strategies...


My guest, Kimberly Han, has coached 50+ international chapter leaders to run their local communities and grew a movement from 8 people to 3000+ people. She is well-known as an effective and powerful community builder. We discuss the best strategies for creating communities from scratch, how to make those communities thrive, and how to maintain and develop genuine human relationships.


  • My Friend Helped Me Break Out Of My Comfort Zone
  • How Can I Cultivate Meaningful Friendships?
  • Using Your Curiosity To Delight Others In A Group
  • How Can I Be Intentional When Building Relationships?
  • How Can I Be Intentional When Building Relationships?
  • Finding The Right People To Start Your Community
  • Creating A Community With a Team of Builders
  • Cultivating Connections Within Your Community
  • How To Use Walking Meditation To Get People Comfortable With Human Connections
  • Using Creative Experiments To Facilitate Group Connections


She is currently consulting in community building and business development, while working at an executive leadership development company to help leaders become more aware of their own behavior patterns.

She managed ~50 global chapter leaders at an international nonprofit (Consciousness Hacking), coaching and onboarding them in 1:1 and group settings (in-person at the Leadership Summit and virtually) around running local communities. From 2017-2019 she also led operations, sales, marketing, partnerships, events, and community at Consciousness Hacking.

She has spoken at conferences such as the Sharing Summit at Lehigh University, coached entrepreneurship to teens at Stanford, and led community building workshops for community builders and at HAAS Berkeley School of Business. She has run hundreds of events (including sales events, cultural salons, crypto or insurance-related conferences), and have trained community builders to grow multiple communities around the world.



I Was Shy at First, Then My Friend Helped Me Break Out Of My Comfort Zone

I went on this program called semester at sea, and I was still really shy at the time. And in Turkey I was asking my friend collecte Chi. and we were traveling together and she was always so good with people and meeting strangers and talking to them.

And I remember we were sitting at a bar in Turkey, a few had. I was like, how do you do it? Collide? Like, how do you just talk to strangers like that? And she says, you just gotta do it. And then she's like, see that person over there? You're going to go say hello and ask them how they're doing. And I remember feeling so scared because I wasn't good with strangers at all at the time, unless they were coming to my tango class or like they had.

First place. And I went over and talked to that person. We had a conversation, all, all of us together. And I think that with like I've had, my little tip was along the way and there were so many of them for so many different instances. I think those were kind of my start.

So you had basically your friends who egg you on, you have a provocateur, you had, you had a catalyst, your friend, against the edge of your comfort zone.

How Can I Cultivate Meaningful Friendships?

I tend to gravitate towards other givers. So when somebody comes over, I want to offer them tea and I want to offer them things or experiences or connections. And then I see if there are people who want to offer back, and those are generally the people that I gravitate towards, but not everyone will try to gravitate towards giver.

That's just my personal, preference. And. And then in time I start to host things and invite them to things, and I prefer homes because with homes you have unlimited time. You don't have to get kicked out of a restaurant or an event, or like you have to run off to go home to do some. Like if I invite them to my home for a potluck, sometimes 30 minute conversations have extended to two hours or 16 hours like this.

This literally happened before. and so inviting people to my home to have conversations, it feels like there's a luxury of time to get to know them. I've had probably dozens of people sleep over at my house for hundreds of nights in the last five years that I've lived in San Francisco. And also when I was traveling abroad because the conversations got too good and it got too late.

And so having a home situation is really great. other things that have gotten me really close with friends or like friend retreats, we go off for a few days with people that I wanted to get to know better. And yeah. Suddenly when we spend that much time together, we are literally just with each other all the time.

and for some of the friend retreats, something that I love about the group that I. I spent a lot of time with is we'll have a piece of paper, like just a regular piece of paper, and we'll write our names on it and we'll write down all the ways that we love, love to be shown to us. So it might be love languages.

I mean, we started to get really familiar with our own love language and the love languages of those around us, even if they're not our preferred language. And we try to learn how to speak each other's languages. So for me. Acts of service, but for, I have some friends who, it's words of affirmation and I really need to struggle and say, I want to get better at showing you love, and I don't know how to say, so please bear with me.

And they'll write down like, I want you to say that you appreciate me in XYZ ways. And so then it becomes a little easier for us to learn each other's languages. And for me, I'm like, I really appreciate it. If you gave me a muscle, I saw it while I'm doing dishes, or vice versa. You know, some, something like that.

and so just playing together and learning each other's love languages, being able to go deep and also being able to have fun and just full bellied laughter. Those have been some ways that I've cultivated the friendships that I currently have.

Using Your Curiosity To Delight Others In A Group

what if when we meet somebody new, we can say, how can I bring delight to this person's life? Every time we meet somebody new, how can I bring delight? Then suddenly I'm digging like. There's curiosity involved. I think that, I think a lot of people get turned off by meeting others who are not curious, but just want to speak. I think when your question is, how can I bring delight to this person? Then you say, well, what do I ask them to, to know what it is that they need? So then I start to ask them questions like, Oh, what's something that lights you up? Oh, what are some of the highlights and lowlights that you've had in the last year, if it's the beginning of the year?

Or did you learn anything that excited you recently or, How are you spending your time differently these days than before COBIT? And so like all of these questions start to populate, as little strings to pull on for me to figure out what it is that they need to like for. But to be quite honest, I'm not like coming in with an agenda of trying to delight.

I think it would be really good exercise for a week or two weeks or a month or whatever that is, but it's not a way that I am. All the time. I'm not always trying to like, how can I help this person? How can I help that person? It just kind of comes up naturally as progressive, right? Cause already you're either naturally gifted or hone your skill to get to the unconscious competence. Right. So it's very intuitive versus if you're a beginner of doing anything, it's very mechanical.

I want to add one more thing, which is, I used to carry a bag of intense questions around everywhere and this Manila envelope, I cut them all out.

I hosted a one salon on like, what's. What's a question that you think is an amazing question? I had everybody, like 50 people write their questions on the board and then I type them all up and printed them all out and then just had them all, all with me. And then I would use them cause I didn't know what questions to ask like I same examples as earlier. what is something new that you would like to learn in the next five years or yeah. Or like, what is something that you hope to say to your mom but haven't, what is something that you wanted to say but have been too scared to say. And I also, I think we also did like did 36 questions from New York times.

I also have to do that. We also did some, some events on 36 questions that one has, like we only have space for 30 people and like a hundred something people showed up. It was crazy because people wanted connection and we didn't know what we were doing. But, but I did like, I didn't know how to ask questions very well before the curiosity was there, but I didn't have the words to formulate it.

So now I've actually bought a bunch of NOLA. I'm going to show you like I have them right. I only have two decks here, just questions. And when you have these questions with you, like these are from

what's your word? and then these are parents are human. my friends, Candice and Joseph built these, and they're these bilingual questions that you can even ask your parents.

So here there's like English, and then there's Chinese.

So I just, for a while, like probably two or three years, I carried questions with me everywhere I went. And then sooner I somehow, I think I lost that bag of questions. but after that I don't really need all the questions and they've given me the framework, being able to ask things that I'm curious about for training wheels for a couple of years.

How Can I Be Intentional When Building Relationships?

I think it's just really being intentional that when you meet somebody, like let's say at a conference, or let's say at a zoom event.

You can private message them and say, Hey, I really liked what you said over there. My email address is this. I'd love to connect this week. And to set that up for smaller connections, or like, I'm in a 15 commitments of conscious leadership course, and in fact, I'm in two of them and I'd probably spend 10 hours a week doing this kind of stuff.

Here, here's a little shout out. It's looking old and I have multiple copies. but I wrote in the channel. I said, Hey, does anybody want to practice today? Some of the things that we've learned, and we did one practice and it went so well that we're like, great. Do you want to do it recurring on Mondays at the same time?

I think it's the recurring things kind of like that, you know, church doesn't happen just a one time thing. And I think it's the recurring instances of being able to do it over and over again. That makes me feel really connected. So yeah. I don't feel super lonely during this time. I do lack touch.

I do miss like human touch and contact. but I do feel that I am connected because of these recurring deepening commitments that I do have with people.

Finding The Right People To Start Your Community

if you want to build a culture, if you want to build a community, you need to start with the right people first. Getting started in a living room with eight people. Just like one salon started in a living room with eight people. Like what if, like what does it look like to get the first four people or the first eight people who are the right people?

And if they have such an amazing experience, they can bring in their friends. And so I really urge them to start small. with the right people, and then they'll bring their friends.

Creating A Community With a Team of Builders

from running one salon, there were a few things that I realized were really important.

One is that it's really hard to build community without a community.

the way that I would onboard new chapter leaders was, I think there, there was somebody from Tokyo, let's, let's just use them as an example, cause Tokyo students so well.

there was another person from Tokyo who says, I want to start a Tokyo chapter. And I said, great. All you have to do is find one to three partners who will start it with you. Instead of doing it all alone because community burnout is so real.

I see.

Co-conspirator, yes,

co-creators. And finally, somebody else reached out from Tokyo and I said, great, I'll connect you two and see if you want to work together. And together they started that. Community. And I think that is one of the most important pieces because it's totally possible to run events solo, but it is so easy to get burntout

and I've experienced that on a lot of community organizers have experienced that, especially the ones who've been doing it for a long time. So just having a team, like your little mini community of community builders, so important for running a chapter that will stay, stay alive for a long time.

So once you have your little team, so that's my first step, like I make sure that they have a team. Then I also had built out like an agenda that they can look at and then. So some for consciousness hacking, I mean, for any organization, it could be any sort of agenda that you want.

Cultivating Connections Within Your Community

Community building is about human relationships. And what is so beautifully illustrated is you made it easy to connect versus. No, no standards, no rituals, no nothing to say. And then what you're going to evolve into just a bunch of people standing on the sideline having, you know, drinks and say, Hey, what are you doing?

So you allow them to easily build that, cultivate that connection with each other.

Yeah. Totally. Especially for people who are shy. Like people forget that I'm shy. They forget that I'm that girl in that bar in Turkey with my friend collect going, come on, you're going to go talk to that person. I'm going like freaking out in my chair.

Like they forget. But I've practiced a lot since, since that moment. so yeah, like as a facilitator, I always want some connection in the beginning that is facilitated. The people like are delivered a question. Like here, how are you making a difference in this world? It wasn't the question. It wasn't me.

So suddenly it's less scary and a little bit less vulnerable, even though it's a vulnerable question. So then the facilitator, you deliver that question and then everyone's answering it and it's just a little bit easier to go one layer deeper than, Hey, how are you? What do you do? Maybe three layers deeper.

How To Use Walking Meditation To Get People Comfortable With Human Connections

So for consciousness hacking, I frequently had what's called a walking meditation, which was inspired by many other like facilitators that I'd seen over the years, or an improv class, or at dance class, or at burning man. And so I would have them walk around to feel.

Their own bodies and then to connect with each other slowly with eye contact. Something that I, I had learned from a design for dance conference was to start looking at the spaces between people during walking meditation and then just start looking at the people and noticing the colors of their hair and then.

You look at just the color of the eye scan to look for the color of people's size, and that's why I contact, it's usually really hard for people who aren't used to it, and if you're just looking, if you have a job which is to look at the color of their eyes, then it's much easier for them to start. With eye contact and then for them to maybe stand in front of another person and I might give them a question or a prompt or an imagination that they can ask each other that increases in intensity level.

Using Creative Experiments To Facilitate Group Connections

I experiment with a lot and I do a lot of social experiments and sometimes I'll even say social experiment and then invite everyone and they'll come and I'm asking for feedback and they're filling out a feedback form.

So I do experiment with a lot of things. Like one salon had a ritual called salon-troductions. and I didn't make this up. but I changed a lot. Like, yeah, everybody would get into a circle. We used to, we used to start with one circle, and then we had to break them into sometimes six circles because we had, so, but we would say our names and do a movement.

And then. I answer one word answer to an intense question of the week. So we started like putting in a question of the week and, and sometimes I would try, like, instead of doing. A name and a movement. Maybe like if it was a chocolate making workshop that I was doing that day, maybe we would do a pleasure noise all together, like, Hmm.

Or young or whatever. Something silly that was. So then I would change that frequently. Ish. and then at some point I was like, wait, people aren't really connecting. Why is it that people are still really awkward? And I'm like, Oh, they need facilitation. So then I would say, well, now find somebody in the group that you would like to get to know better one or two other people.

So you could be in groups of two or three. And ask them why they chose the answer that they chose to be intense question. Well then I would start adding those in and things that didn't work. Like I would. Try dropping them out. And like I tried dropping out once, like salons reductions one time, and an avid salon like salon goer was like, why did you drop that out?

I love that. And so we put it back in. So like I experimented for sure.


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