Four Ways to Attract People to your Organization

Like many other people in the world, addiction has affected many people I know and love. So lately I’ve been earnestly attending Al Anon meetings and working the steps. Al Anon is for friends and family of people with the disease of addiction.


One of the interesting traditions of Al-anon (and AA for that matter) is called Tradition 11. The first sentence of that Tradition goes like this:



There’s more to this Tradition of course, but today I’m just focusing on this one simple concept of attraction vs promotion.


The crazy part about Al Anon and AA’s “attraction growth strategy” written over 70 years ago is that it works. There are millions of members in AA and Alanon, all across the globe.


Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus (founders of The Minimalist) also preach attraction vs promotion. They work hard to help over 20 million people live meaningful lives with less through their website, books, podcast, and documentary. I consider myself an aspiring minimalist, so I’m attracted to and support The Minimalists. They’re growing simply because they’re sharing their passion and adding value to people lives.


Brains on Fire practices attraction vs promotion daily. Our hope is to help organizations “add value” by supporting their community of advocates. And to do well, by doing good in the world. We shy away from promoting ourselves. But we’re not the least bit shy about sharing our values and beliefs.


Start-ups (without tons of money or resources) also get attraction vs promotion. I lost my umbrella the other day and when I was looking for another one, I stumbled on this company called Westerly Goods. I reached out with a question and the founder quick got back to me with an email that attracted me even more to his brand. It was so full of energy and it was clear he loved his work (and like me, a good rainstorm). I’ll definitely buy an umbrella from him.



So how do you become an attraction vs promotion brand?


1. Become “attractive” by truly understanding and living your values.

You can’t draw people towards you if people don’t understand what you value and stand for. Period.


2. Attraction brands have mantras they repeat often.

Organizations that repeat mantras are often organizations that attract others to them. These mantras aren’t taglines, but meaningful sayings that help them navigate the world. This quote says it well: “The words we use become the house we live in.”


At Brains on Fire, we have a slack channel of BOF-isms. Things we say often like: “Love is a circular transaction. It’s not about the product conversation, it’s about the passion conversation. We don’t know what we don’t know. We all want to see ourselves in story bigger than our own lives.” I could go on and on. In one of our meetings recently, I printed out some our BOF-ims and passed them out randomly to our team. I asked that they share how the phrase they were given had helped them in the last few weeks. It was awesome to hear how people use our sayings to navigate the world we live in.


Josh and Ryan of the Minimalist always say this phrase at the end of their podcast: “Love people. Use things.”


AA and Al Anon are famous for their sayings like “Let go and live. One day at a time. And first things first.” Al Anon calls these saying “tools” and I love that idea.


3. Attraction brands cherish their community.

They celebrate and lift-up the people who love them. They respond when their advocates reach out to them. They send love letters. They keep love letters and put them on a wall. Their organizations are rich with stories from their community.



4. And last, but not least, they focus on adding value to the lives of the people they serve.

They don’t spend time thinking about promotion. They focus on one thing: adding value.



So, is your organization practicing “attraction?”

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