How to Build a Passionate Community of Learners – A Conversation with Leo Babauta

By Jeff Cobb.  Last Updated on August 3, 2022

Leo Babauta has been an inspiration to so many people – myself among them – so I was thrilled to have the chance to interview him while writing Leading the Learning Revolution.

While he is best known for Zen Habits, a blog that now has more than two million readers (!), Leo has also put his stamp on numerous other projects. He is the author of The Power of Less and multiple other books and creator of multiple training programs.

And that’s just scratching the surface.

Part of what prompted me to contact Leo about Leading the Learning Revolution was work he was doing at the time with Mary Jaksch of Good Life Zen in launching and building A-List Blogging Bootcamps. I was an early participant in the program as well as in the A-List Blogger Club that grew out of it. It was a great example of what I describe as PassionxPurpose, or P2, learning community in the book.

We talk about A-List Blogging in the podcast, but also about Leo’s perspective on blogging, online community, and education in general. You are going to really enjoy this one. Click below to listen or subscribe on iTunes. And don’t forget to check out the show notes.

Play the Podcast

Podcast: Play in new window | Download | iTunes

Show Notes

00:40 >> Find out about Leading the Learning Revolution and get show notes at

01:50 >> Introduction Leo Babauta, founder of Zen Habits (250K+ readers!) and author of The Power of Less

02:20 >> After building Zen Habits, Leo started Write to Done and then was convinced by Mary Jaksch of GoodLifeZen to collaborate on A-List Blogging Bootcamps.

[04:51 Yikes – a bit of static on my mic – though not Leo’s – for this question and the next]

0510 >> Leo notes that as a blogger you do often think of yourself as a teacher – but people may not necessarily do what you talk about. Moving into training and learning experiences gives you the chance to be more hands on and really help people implement what they learn from you and make change happen. –

06:44 >> Is there a particular type of learner of audience that does well in online learning communities? Leo thinks community-based learning is almost always better than, say, a book, no matter who is involved.  The people involved inspire each other and help each other out.

08:17 >> What if you don’t have a Zen Habits size audience to start with? How can you build enough of an audience. Leo argues that it can work even on a small scale – even 10 people working together and making a change together can be a big deal – and you can charge more for more hands-on experiences.

09:55 >> A blog is an amazing way to demonstrate your value, to show that you really know what you are tallying about about an build up trust. It’s not about amazing landing pages. The marketing strategy is “Get them to trust you.”

11:08 >> Is the approach to The Habit Course (formerly Sea Change) any different that it was in A-List? (See Leo’s current courses here.) Leo says he is focused on helping people go through habit changes – going through a single change all at once.  A lot of mutual accountability.

12:40 >> Are we really preparing people well to do the kind of learning they need to do throughout their lives? Leo believes we are being taught to be passive learners. It’s not some kind of conspiracy – just a legacy of the industrial age we have yet to move past.  It doesn’t jibe with today’s environment.

People today need to be self-motivated and able to seize the initiative. No one is going to tell you exactly what to learn – but school is all about being told what to learn and how to learn it. All the information we need

[Leo’s kids are upstairs being “unschooled” as we speak.]

16:22 >> Unschooling isn’t the only way to go. Even kids who go through traditional school can be guided – especially by parents – towards being self-directed learners. Don’t discourage passion!

18:05 >> It’s inspiring to see the passion that comes through in Leo’s learning communities and other entrepreneurial learning communities. Don’t see this so much in the average “boxed” training event.

19:01 >> What’s Leo’s main tip building a passionate audience? Be passionate yourself, do things that excite you, and then show people how you did it! Show the passion, show the accomplishments.

21:25 Be sure to visit out Zen Habits.

See also:

If you like the podcast, I’d be really grateful for a brief review on iTunes.

Podcast: Play in new window | Download | iTunes

The theme music for Learning Revolution is The Information Age by Anthony Fiumano, available on the Podsafe Music Network.

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