Clubhouse convos

Clubhouse & Career Up Now…Innovating a new innovation…and so can you!

5 Clubhouse hacks for the Jewish nonprofit world

I woke up one morning before Passover to a notification that one of my favorite Clubhouse rooms was live; it’s a daily room for Jewish communal professionals. As communal professionals, we can connect, check-in with each other, deepen our relationships and practice, and share in Jewish learning and wisdom.

For those of you that are unfamiliar, Clubhouse is an exclusive audio-voice chat app for iPhone and soon for Android that enables individuals to connect in a way never seen before. Clubhouse is already changing the way Jews and non-Jews experience Jewish by the tens of thousands, soon by the hundreds of thousands, when the platform is fully open to the public by the millions.

That morning, the weekly Jewish communal professionals group’s focus question was: Which of the four children [from the Passover Haggadah] would you be and why?

The first child that came to me was the naughty child, or the child of chutzpah, both because my screen name on Clubhouse is @Chutzpah, but also because I’ve been innovating on the technological capabilities of Clubhouse — already.

As an early adopter and creator of technologies in the Jewish communal professional world (See my articles about growth hacking, artificial intelligence, machine learning, organizational leanness, and more), I push that which currently exists asking the questions. How might we do more: interactively, dynamically and leanly?

In the past three months, with hundreds of Clubhouse “hours” under my belt, I moderated dozens of Jewish learning and culture rooms. I meaningfully engaged thousands of unaffiliated and non-normative Jews. I’m blown away by the possibilities and capabilities. A significant accomplishment that still blows my mind is leading a weekly Jewish mysticism room that lasts between 2 and 8 hours weekly alongside rabbis and Jewish educators with whom I would otherwise never be able to collaborate. Oy, and the attendance, hundreds over just a few hours, and many repeat listeners.

There are benefits (as mentioned earlier), points for improvement, and innovative ways to push the envelope with all good things. I’ll focus on the latter and how I’m pushing the current capabilities of Clubhouse to advance the lives of Jews around the world.

Clubhouse Drawbacks

1)    It’s like a panel; there are moderators, speakers, and audience members. Audience members can be called up to the stage to ask questions and engage with each other. Nonetheless, it’s still primarily frontal, and all voices aren’t able to be heard.

2)    There’s no internal chat feature. To “chat,” one must use technologies that aren’t included in the app itself: Instagram, Twitter, and the like.

3)    There is no means to multi-channel streams across different platforms with greater access: Zoom, Facebook Live, etc.

4)    There is limited accessibility for individuals with disabilities. For individuals who are hearing impaired, deaf, visually impaired, or blind, other than using transcription technologies, or the iPhone screen reader, navigating this audio-based platform is a significant challenge.

5)    There are limited invitation capabilities.

6)    It’s limited to those with invitations and only found on iPhones.

To name a few…

We’re Already Innovating, and So Can You!

I’m the executive director of Career Up Now. We are a community of emerging professionals (college students and recent graduates) and industry leaders who gather to advance each other’s professional, personal, and soulful lives through Judaism’s timeless wisdom. Pre-pandemic, we were especially known for our non-frontal Jewish text-based gatherings engaging primarily Jews with little to no Jewish background or communal connections.

So with the pandemic, Clubhouse has been the almost perfect medium to advance our mission.

Here’s how we are innovating and addressing current Clubhouse limitations.

1)    Frontrality: We are the first Jewish organization to create and implement a “hack” around the limited panel-like Clubhouse experience. During our gatherings, although Clubhouse does not yet have the capabilities, we open smaller breakout rooms.

 How do we do this? We pre-program our rooms with the calendar tool, which gives us a long-form link. We then program that long-form link on our website’s homepage with the room’s topic. Individuals can simply click to access their room, which allows us to switch the format from frontal to an “open space” modality.

2)    Lack of an internal chat feature: There is a recent and little-known “hack” for the lack of a chat feature. It’s CHchat that enables users to type in their room name to

a)  Have a meaningful, thoughtful share in the conversation.

b)  Connect, share links, tips, and insights.

c)  Ask meaningful questions without being on stage (especially helpful for those with disabilities or those wishing anonymity, or with “stage fright”)

3)    No inherent multi-streaming capabilities: There is a little-known hack to address this by combining a few simple technologies to ensure your rooms can stream on Facebook Live, Zoom and other platforms to increase accessibility. Setting it up runs about $800 in equipment and requires some tech-savviness (and some legal consent/disclaimers).

4)     Accessibility to those with disabilities: Besides each of the items mentioned above, which enable more accessibility to individuals with disabilities, Career Up Now has instituted the Clubhouse etiquette of saying one’s name and background when speaking and closing by saying one’s name, and “I’m finished talking.” It looks like this: “I’m Dr. Bradley Caro Cook, with the blue background, giving you the thumbs up, and I’m finished talking.” (I’m giving a thumbs up in my profile picture with a bright blue background so that I’m easy to spot in any sized audience).

5)    Invite Only: While Clubhouse is invitation-only and limited to iPhone, for now, there is a “hack” for those without invitations.

a)    Ensure that your cell phone number is in the contact directory of someone who already has the app (if you are unsure, message me, and I’ll add you to mine).

b)    Download the app and reserve your username (you can only change your name one time, so pick carefully).

c)    Someone who already has your cell phone number in their contacts who is on the app can let you in.

In summary, as a nascent technology, while it has its drawbacks, there are simple hacks to ensure enhanced access for all. In order for your organization to embrace innovation and remain relevant in an increasingly saturated space, it’s vital to ensure accessibility and push the app’s capabilities early on for more meaningful experiences and to stay with the times …. oh they are a-changing.

I’m Dr. Bradley Caro Cook, with the Blue Background, giving you a Thumbs Up!

Career Up Now’s Women of Wisdom leadership gatherings on Clubhouse were made possible through the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation’s Grassroots Events program and the Jewish Women’s Fund of Greater Atlanta. 

Bradley Caro Cook, Ed.D. is a Clubhouse evangelist who is actively helping nonprofits create and integrate a Clubhouse strategy to amplify their engagement and ensure relevance. He is the founding Executive Director of Career Up Now, best-selling co-author of Choosing Judaism: 36 (Conversion) Stories, host of 4 popular podcasts, and is a frequent contributor to eJewishPhilanthropy

He is @chutzpah on Clubhouse and can be reached via text at 917-767-2479.