Where to find inspiration when you want to grow your online community

Where to find inspiration when you want to grow your online community
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James Quarles is CEO of Strava, a fitness tracking app with 41 million users and a million athletes joining each month.

To round out Quartz members-only four-part video series on how to start and grow a community-based business, Quarles curated a syllabus of further reading, watching, listening, and activities for those days when you’re seeking inspiration.


  • Andreessen Horowitz’s a16z: “Best way to stay current on emerging investment/tech trends.”
  • The Information’s 411: “View into what’s going on behind the scenes in Silicon Valley.”
  • Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin: “Great character stories. Baldwin is one of the world’s best interviewers; great example of how to build rapport and connection.”


“I’m approaching this from a standpoint of classics that inspired me and I would like to show my kids.”

  • Table for Five (1983): “Jon Voight as a divorced dad who reconnects with his kids, teaches his youngest son Truman Paul that ‘Can’t means won’t.'”
  • Stand by Me (1986): “Remember watching when I was very young and loving the sense of adventure and independence of those kids.”
  • American Flyers (1985): “Cycling film about two brothers in a race in Colorado. Profiles the level of competition and support for one another through a serious health condition.”


  • Nova: “As a family we watch a lot of Nova on PBS. Well-researched and fascinating to talk about afterward.”
  • The Up Series: “Videos that check in on the same group of 14 English students every seven years, running for 56 years. Keeps getting more and more interesting to see people overcome their environments, seek happiness and process setbacks and grief.”


  • The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, by T.E. Lawrence (1926): “My mother gave me a first edition copy when I was in university. Such a great story about how a regular person could rise to unite/create a cause for people in the most unexpected of circumstances. Even if some of it is embellished.”
  • Crossing to Safety, by Wallace Stegner (1987): “A book about friendship and grace, learning to appreciate life and accept the friends who inhabit it.”
  • Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett (2016): “Chronicles two families intertwined by loss and connected to each other in unexpected ways.”
  • Universal Principles of Design, by William Lidwell (2003): “Was recommended by a former colleague as I changed jobs. It is one of those books that I keep very handy to have a very basic understanding of how great products/services/systems work.”
  • The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership, by Dethmer, Chapman, and Klemp (2015): “One of the very few business books that I am using with my coach to frame how I grow as a leader.”


  • Take long (10-12 mile) runs on weekends with my two sons leading on their bikes: great way to clear my mind and reflect on things I experienced that week.
  • I love to swim, particularly in an outdoor pool. When I am in a good rhythm or flow it can be meditative. It’s also how I recover from jet lag and overseas travel.
  • Actively participate in our Workout of the Week, where about 30 [Strava] employees meet at noon on Wednesdays to do interval training workouts running together. Wonderful break in the work week and ritual to integrate a workout into the work week.

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