Community In the Know

The First (of Many) Community AMAs

Here at Common, we like to know what’s working and what isn’t working for our members. We do this through regular requests for feedback, weekly meetings with our House Leaders, and by being available to the community. Last month we wanted to try something new.

On Slack, our digital community app, members get to know the entire Common community across the country. So we scheduled a one hour “Ask Me Anything” in our #stoop channel and invited all the members to get answers to all their questions about Common or life from our CEO and founder, Brad.

Our members had a flurry of questions and even a few proposals for us. One of which was to turn this AMA into a blog post. Thanks, John!

It started off with a simple question:

Gene: Brad, your March madness picks?
Brad: I think Oregon could go all the way at this point.
Gene: Amen. Oregon Alum here.

…and quickly escalated to hard-hitting inquiries about Common’s current direction and fantastic insight about our members’ experiences living in community.

Here’s a selection of some of our favorites from the AMA:

1. Coliving Studios, One Bedroom Apartments, and Studio Apartments

A hot topic amongst members was Common’s long term vision, particularly in regards to our largest home, Common Baltic in the Boerum Hill/Park Slope area.

Sarah: Hey Brad. I’d be interested to hear about your vision for the future of Common, and the role that the members play in building a community. Common Baltic seems like a shift in the business model – still having homes, but also having options for people to access communal spaces, rather than actively coliving.

Brad: From where I sit, Common Baltic is still the exception, not the new rule. 90% of the stuff we have in the pipeline for 2017 / 2018 is coliving like you see at Common Minna, Common Pacific, Common Havemeyer, not the hybrid layouts like Baltic. Yet we wanted to be able to experiment with other products. For instance, what if someone wants to live in community, but they have a dog or want their own kitchen? Does living in community necessarily mean you share a kitchen?

During Brad's AMA, members wanted to know about how Common Baltic fits into the greater plan.

A studio apartment at Common Baltic in Brooklyn.


Community at Common Baltic is coming together really well thus far and we have some wonderful members. The reason we are favoring coliving like our first few homes is because it’s actually much easier financially for us.

2. The Ideal Common Home

The next question came from two of our house leaders, Cole and Bryan, who have been Common members since the beginning.

Cole: As an imagination experiment, do you ever think about what a Common home would look like if you got to design it from the ground up rather than having to work with an in-progress or existing development?

Bryan: I second this. What would the perfect ground-up Common home look like, as far as layout/size?

Members from both coasts participated in the AMA. Pictured here: The kitchen at Common Valencia in San Francisco.

The kitchen at Common Valencia in San Francisco.


Brad: We do have some really exciting ground-up projects in the works. We believe communities can be viewed on multiple levels. A home is a community yet is also broken down into smaller communities of 15-25 people. This is the number of people that can connect and feel comfortable around one another. We call this the pajama rule, as this is the size of community where people still feel comfortable hanging out in their pajamas.

3. Expansion: Where to?

Like Bryan and Cole, Mike has been a member since the beginning of Common. He joined in the Fall of 2015 when our Crown Heights homes opened and later transferred to our Williamsburg home when it opened last spring. 

Mike: How come you chose to expand to other cities instead of putting even more resources into NYC?

Brad: I think the value proposition of being able to move between cities seamlessly is a big one at scale. Not yet, but when we’re ~50 homes across ~5 cities, it’s real for many people. We also find some really amazing homes opportunistically in cities that are on our list and have to jump at the opportunity even if it’s a bit early. Common Minna and Common Valencia are examples.

Our first AMA involved the entire Common community.

New Years Eve fun at Common Pacific in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.


Farid, a member who came to Common from Amsterdam, also asked about expansion outside the US.

Farid: Any plans (even if in 5 years) to try Common in Europe?

Brad: I’d love to expand to Europe! London was General Assembly‘s second location, and I spent quite a bit of time there in ~2012. No immediate plans, it is a lot of work to go overseas, but I also think it’s inevitable if we continue to succeed.

Bryan: I volunteer to be the first Paris house leader.
Maria: If I go back to Paris one day, I volunteer too!
Ben: Yo, dibs on Amsterdam or Dublin! (Sorry Farid)
Farid: Sounds fine to me, Ben. 🙂

4. How to Help

Expanding and growing our community is fundamental to Common. One member, Jason, wanted to know how he and his suitemates can help.

Jason: What can members do to help expand and grow common?

Brad: First, give us straight up feedback. Tell us what’s working and what isn’t. When something changes, let us know! Share stories, photos, or anything you think would be helpful. And tell your friends  – friend referrals are our best source of new members.

At the end of the day, relationships are important to us at Common. The dialogue between the Common team and our members is constant. We take an interest in one another. This can be seen in our final pick.

5. Productivity and The Youngest Common Member

John: Any advice for how to keep yourself productive? I imagine you have a long list of things you want to do.

Brad: Haha I have stuff that works for me but everyone is different. For one, I maintain a “problem list” and use it more than my task list. I like to focus on my key problems, not just a list of tasks I happened to remember. Tackle the hard, big things first.

Also get up at the same time every day. Started doing it last year when Julian (my son) was born. Life changing.

The Common community takes an interest in one another. During the AMA members inquired about Julian, Brad's son, and the "youngest Common member."

Mike: How’s fatherhood? Has that been asked yet?

Brad: Fatherhood is awesome! Julian is six months this coming week, and he’s super fun.

Getting to know our members is one of the most rewarding parts of working at Common. When the team can’t attend events, Slack keeps us connected to the community. This AMA was a fantastic and expedited way to have a meaningful conversation with members across the entire Common community and we can’t wait to do it again.

To learn more about our community and our homes, apply here. We hope to see you on Slack soon.

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