We are in a platform economy where those who own the platforms — Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Google — reap massive financial rewards. I have likened it to crowd-milking, as opposed to the overused crowd-sourcing which is often nothing more than free labour. As a blogger for these 14 years, my insights, models, and ideas have been used not just by myself and for my clients but by people in many organizations across the globe. For example, I have had participants from every major consultancy on my PKM workshops — IBM, McKinsey, EY, PwC, Boston, Deloitte — but only once. It seems they learned enough through one participant. I must be a great teacher.

I know that there is interest in my work, based on years of feedback. But still, the challenge is finding a business model that works. My free services are always in high demand. Getting paid work is another story.

This year I started the coffee club as a way to focus on people who were willing to take a very small leap across the financial chasm. Since January I have offered a private community space to anyone willing to pay $5 per month. Of the tens of thousands of people who read my work, I now have about 30 paid members of the Perpetual Beta Coffee Club (trademark nonexistent). As it grows — which is my hope — I will focus more of my energy there. So far we have a discussion forum and I host live web video chats monthly. These are recorded and available for 30 days. We try to ensure that what is discussed inside the coffee club stays there. I want to keep it as a trusted space. If the club grows, I intend to grow the services and offer a more robust community technology platform.

We are now six months in and there are people from the Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, UK, & USA. It’s a pretty eclectic group and while the main focus is workplace learning, we talk about whatever interests our members. The surveillance economy, and how to deal with it, was a recent topic.

I will keep on supporting our club and may some day turn it into my main professional focus. It’s much more fun to work with people who appreciate what you do and are willing to show it, not just use your work.

Subscribe for a full year for $(CA)60 — and get 13 months membership