Nicola Brown is a member of the first online Ben Franklin Circle,  started by Kim Crowley in 2019. After completing Franklin’s 13 virtues, they decided to continue meeting and are now discussing the new list of virtues. In February 2020, we asked Nicola what it was like to be part of an online Circle. 

In March 2019 I had the opportunity to join the first online Ben Franklin Circle. It introduced me to a community of individuals that I wouldn’t have met otherwise due to geography (I’m the only one of us in Indiana) and varying interests. Yet now that we have met, I can’t imagine not having them in my life.

I had read Ben Franklin’s autobiography, found Franklin’s [13 virtues] and had been wondering how people had used them. As a business owner, I was especially curious about how others had used them in a business setting. So,  when I found Ben Franklin Circles, I got in touch and started a correspondence with Danyel about starting a Circle. However, in my location, I found that half the people I approached found the virtues limiting while others found them too liberal and I wasn’t landing on a middle ground. So, I was excited when the online Circle became an option.

I wanted to be part of a Ben Franklin Circle because I felt like the conversations I was having weren’t as deep as I wanted them to be. Being philosophical and introspective simultaneously is a gift and a challenge and that was what I was seeking. Joining the online circle and having Kim as the host was the best thing that could have happened to me in 2019. I was able to form new relationships and hear new perspectives on thinking and being. I also learned more about myself and the way I see the world through my particular lenses and experiences.

Being part of this Circle has been beneficial on many levels. I feel like I can bring all aspects of my work and life into our circle discussions. This is different from the experience I often have where I feel that I can only show up in one particular bubble and only share one particular part of myself. There aren’t many spaces where I don’t have to lead with, “Hi I’m Nicola, I’m a business owner, and here’s what my business does”. I am often explaining what it means to work with the emotional aspects of business. I appreciate the inquiries from people in our Circle about my business but it has been good to not have that be the primary focus of our conversations.

I have also been able to introduce others to BFC through our virtual Circle. These are people I know who’ve told me that they are craving a sense of community, but in a different way, where individuals may not be like-minded, but they are willing to be introspective. When I hear that someone is looking for that in their life, I think about our Circle and about how we can incorporate them and bring them in.

One colleague is in graduate school so she hasn’t been able to continue with us, but for the time that she was able to be part of it, she was thinking “Oh My God, I never knew something like this existed! This should exist everywhere!” I second that! It feels significant. The circle evokes an emotion of community. It challenges all of us by bringing new things and new ways of thinking to the forefront and helps us collaborate to see the kind of world that we all aspire to live in.

The Circle has intersected seamlessly with my values, work, personal passions, and community engagement. Knowledge is my love language. And this gives me a good outlet for that. For each virtue or discussion, I do some research, I think about it, and I have a chance to reflect. I also think a lot about how we live in an age where (in normal circumstances), each of us is surrounded by hundreds of people each day, at school, work, community centers, or online and via social media. Yet we are often unable to engage in warm and meaningful interactions. Research (like this ) has proven that humans are wired for connection. This is something that is engrained in me.

Sometimes you connect with someone and it may not become a relationship but that connection, at that moment, was exactly what you needed. I go through my Rolodex, so to speak, and think about who I can introduce so people can then support each other as they move toward the growth that they want to manifest in their lives. Helping to create those moments is one of my passions. I am always thinking of ways that I can connect people.


Nicola Brown is the founder of kokoro, an experiential community and management company that inspires, encourages and guides the modern ambitious entrepreneur starting with peer groups & digital tracking of well-being and using research-backed tools. Nicola’s work bridges the emerging field of social health and wellbeing with the mainstream: science, business, finance, emotions. Nicola is a resident of South Bend Indiana and reveres brain science, actionable strategies, and helping others find purpose, motivation, and success in life. She leads the SoGal Foundation, Indiana Chapter and is a University of Florida and University of Georgia alum.