I was having a chat with a client recently, and we discussed some observations of the local Singaporean "F&B Community."
During Covid, they've been helping one another out by sharing leftover food for the day, giving discounts to any recurring customers of each other's places, or simply checking in. If needing a hand, they cross-promote talent and business. It's a real heart-warming thing to witness.
Now, a lot of what they do here isn't because they're part of an exclusive paid network or anything. They seem to genuinely want to see each other succeed, even if their business may be "competing" with one another for foot traffic. Without any fees or anything, they are free to simply reciprocate favors with one another.
This is similar to the essence of family or ethnic clans. In Singapore, there's a well known street called Ann Siang. The Kwong Wai Siew Li Si She Shut clan association presided over this area. Between the 1950s and 1970s, scores of Chinese immigrants residing in nearby Chinatown would stroll up the hill to these associations to socialise over mahjong and opera performances.
The associations had membership fees but, over time, it was not enough to cover operations of physical property as membership numbers declined other time. However, one thing these clans did well was help new immigrants feel "at home" when they arrived.
Contrast this with a "community" that focuses too much on the money side. Let's have a look at crypto communities.
In the crypto space, the "community" has unfortunately devolved into a culture filled with a lot of backstabbing, name-calling, and fraudulent behavior due to most seeking power, money, and fame. When crypto-mania hit back in 2017, resulting in overnight millionaires, the sentiment moved from "economic freedom for the world" to digital gold, "when moon?", and lambos. Such shift in culture led to a toxic environment, which delayed a lot of the progress and good intentions many in the early days made.
This is not to say that there are not projects that maintain a positive echo-chamber, but this too presents a different type of problem.
No matter how you look at it, there's always a tension in business between doing something for money, or doing something for the thrill of genuinely helping somebody else. If you don't think enough of money, you might have to give up the "home" of your community (e.g. clan associations). If you think too much about money, the culture becomes transactional and toxic (e.g. crypto communities). Where's your community positioned?
Do you think the money can influence the culture of a community? How so? Share your thoughts below.