Marcy Koltun-Crilley (aka Marcy from Maui) and webmaster Bob O’Connor are partners in one of the most successful online communities to date—and when they use the term “community,” they’re not kidding. A few weeks before our telephone interview was to take place, I happened to spend a week in Maui. I’d forgotten to mention this to Marcy (who lives there). But while there, I wrote a post on my own blog titled “Gazing at Asia,” that started like this: “I’m sitting at an outdoor café overlooking a Maui oceanfront as I type these words. It occurs to me that I am more or less halfway to Asia.” A few minutes later I got an e-mail from Marcy saying, “Hey! You’re on Maui??!!” Marcy, as it turns out, subscribes to my blog. Small world? Yes, say Marcy and Bob, and getting smaller—and friendlier—by the day. — J.D.M.

What is Powerful Intentions and how did it start?

Bob: I first met Marcy online when we were both part of John Fogg’s online community, John had started that in 2000 from a simple mailing list and a series of conference calls.

Marcy: I’d also been in different social networking communities since I first started doing network marketing back in 1997. I’d become quite successful in network marketing for two specific reasons. First, I did it all by creating relationships on the Internet using social networking sites. And second, I’d learned about the Law of Attraction and become completely fascinated with it, and I very consciously put that into practice.

When I would teach people to do network marketing, I wouldn’t really spend any time teaching them how to do network marketing: I would teach them Law of Attraction. After a while, there were more and more people asking me to create some way to leverage that teaching so it could reach more people. In 2004, when we had the idea of starting our own online community, I knew that would have to be the focus of it.

What is the purpose of this community?

Marcy: It is an online community of people from all walks of life who believe in the Law of Attraction. We’re like a MySpace based on the Law of Attraction.

Bob: You can have any powerful intention you want. For example, your interest might be scuba diving. You can set up your own scuba-diving forum; we have all sorts of communities within communities. And because we’re a big community and are rated fairly high on Google, people will find your scuba diving site.

There are communities out there where you can be anonymous, but we like to focus on having people be real. We encourage you to use your real name, be real, show who you are.

In some online social networking forums there are strict prohibitions against pitching business opportunities. How does that work here?

Bob: Each person has her own space and own page where she can put up whatever her interests are. On your personal page, you can put anything you want. On the forums, we discourage people from promoting their businesses. We don’t want to see the forums used for promotion.

The idea is that we want it to be a place where people can connect with each other as people, and make that connection the basis of building the community.

How do you find that works? Do people pretty much honor that, or do you need to enforce it?

Marcy: When I first started doing network marketing and got online, I was so turned off by all the spam ads. Bad enough to have spam in your e-mail, but going to these communities and forums where people were just pitching, pitching, pitching … it was such a turnoff to me. They may have been really nice people, they didn’t know what they were doing. It’s simply not attractive.

I knew that that was not what I wanted to do. So I quickly learned how to meet people and make friends over the Internet, and I’ve brought that sense to our community.

We do have rules. We do not allow people to advertise, but we do allow sig files [a sig file is the signature line, usually with a link, placed as a footer at the bottom of an e-mail or post—Ed.], to point people to your site or wherever you want to point them.

I do a lot of the moderating on the site myself. And here’s what I find amazing: we have over 100,000 people and we’re growing by over 300 a day—yet for the size of our network, it’s amazing how little moderating I actually have to do.

That’s a lot of members! How did you get from there to here?

Marcy: We did a press release or two, but we never did any advertising. People just started trickling in. People told other people.

One thing that helped was that I was very easy to find over the Internet. Most people know me online as “Marcy from Maui.” I would write about being in Maui and put up pictures of me swimming with dolphins, and somehow, Google liked that. I suppose, because it was real content.

Bottom line, we had an intended result, and we clearly set our intentions on it. We talked about Powerful Intentions spreading like wildfire, attracting unlimited numbers of the right people, who collectively co-create the most abundant, brilliant actions, manifestations and ideas that have ever been experienced on this planet. We set people up to be successful. We still talk about this as a team every week.

You asked what is our purpose: the intended result at Powerful Intentions is to be the luckiest place in the world. And that result keeps coming. About a year into it, in February 2005, we all went on a cruise. On the cruise, we sat down to dinner; there was one seat open at the table. A woman came over, sat down in the seat and said, “Hi, I’m Rhonda Byrne, and I’m supposed to be here.”

There you go.

Marcy: We started talking. Rhonda said she was going to make what at the time was going to be a TV show about the Law of Attraction. And I said, “Great! Because we have a whole social networking community that’s based on Law of Attraction!”

We became good friends, and of course, The Secret went on to become a huge success. We’re the people who host The Secret forum for them, and Rhonda has since become a very close friend.

How does something like that happen? We continually set the intention of meeting those kinds of people. It’s the Law of Attraction. Things like that just keep happening and happening and happening. All we can do is laugh.

The Secret
must have generated a lot of traffic for your community.

Marcy: Interestingly, in the beginning it was the other way around: we started bringing Rhonda traffic. And in the end, yes, she brought us tons of traffic!

Bob: We started the initial buzz for The Secret after that cruise. When we first met Rhonda, she hadn’t filmed anything yet; in fact, it was another four months before she started filming. Then they came out with the trailer, and we kept putting it out on the Internet and in the forums.

What does “the luckiest place in the world” mean?

Marcy: I liked the word lucky. It summed the whole thing up nicely, and it wasn’t too new-agey or airy-fairy. To me, the Law of Attraction is all about vibration and how you feel. We told people, “If you come here, you’re going to be lucky.” And that feeling sets the tone for the entire community. If you come to a place that is filled with energy, it’s like going to a party where there are already a lot of people who are abundant and having a lot of fun.

It’s a vibe.

Right. It’s attractive, and as people report all their successes, the energy just builds on itself. It’s set up for people to be lucky, and they are.

We’ve had people who ended up on television because of inquiries that came from their Powerful Intentions blogs. More luck brings more luck, brings more luck. That’s Law of Attraction.

Where do you see this going in the years ahead?

Marcy: It’s really expanding now that more and more people are becoming aware of the Law of Attraction. As the technology changes, I see it changing the face of how people do all sorts of things. I think it’s going to change the face of marketing, change politics, change everything.

Bob: The biggest shift I see is what’s happening with YouTube, in other words, user-generated content. People in our community are putting up YouTube clips on our site, and I think there will be more and more content coming directly from users, which really amplifies the power in people’s hands. We call it “word of mouth” now, but online video is hugely amplifying that.

Marcy: This also makes it easier and easier for people who are looking to attract relationships, business partners or just friendships to find each other on the Internet. We’re not really a dating site per se—but in a broader way, we are.

We have a little thing we call “connections.” I type in whatever I love to do, let’s say, “dolphins.” When I click on CONNECTIONS, all the people who are interested in dolphins show up with their pictures. Right away, we’ve got something to talk about. And the connections you can make with people of like vibration are amazing. You can meet people all around the world with surprising ease and simplicity.

There’s so much clutter of information out there, what is it about what you’re doing that allows so many people to find what they’re looking for through your community?

Marcy: For one thing, everybody who comes to our site either believes in the Law of Attraction or wants to. So you’re starting out with a group of people who are already attracted to each other because of a shared value or premise.

After that, it becomes easy. And because people are always posting fresh content, Google and the other search engines love that. Our people don’t really market; they talk about what they care about. When you’re focusing your energy into what you believe and putting it out there, the right people are going to find you, no matter what.

Bob: That’s one reason we haven’t done the advertising. Sure, we want hits—but we don’t just want a lot of hits. We just haven’t played that part of the game. We want a lot of the right hits, that is, people who are attracted to be here.

Marcy: We do a lot of natural filtering. For example, the process you go through when you join is not the simplest process. You have to read what it is you’re joining, put in your information and go through several steps. We added in some humor, because that’s who we want to attract: we want it to be fun, too. And we figure, the people who are truly interested in this will be with us. We don’t drive traffic, we attract traffic.

Bob: And the rest of them can go to!

I understand you offer both free and paid memberships?

Bob: Yes. With a paid membership, you get to put up your own forums, have a blog, that kind of thing. But anyone can post on the forums, whether you’re paid or free; and you don’t even have to be a member to read the post.

Marcy: Most of the social networking sites feature ads. When I first started going online, I would get so lost in that clutter. Half the time, I’d click on something and suddenly I’d be somewhere completely different. I’d go, “Hey, where am I?! I was just over here talking to this guy, and now I’m somewhere else.”

And sometimes those ads could be really intrusive. I’d be in the middle of reading someone sharing about a difficult or heartfelt experience, and suddenly I’m looking at this humorous or obnoxious ad. It felt weird.

We decided that instead, we would support our site by having a paid membership, and those people could put ads on their intro pages.

I don’t know any other social networking site that’s doing it that way. It seems to be working for us; it’s been successful so far.

How do network marketers participate in your community and interface that with their business. Or do they?

Marcy: Oh, definitely. In fact, this is something I’m very proud of: we have network marketers who really know how to network market. They don’t just jump on, present their product and jump off. They’re doing the same thing that we’re doing: they’re using the Law of Attraction.

Here’s what happens. You go on a forum and ask a question: “My husband had an affair, what do I do?” or, “Send me some energy, my dog is sick.” Whatever it is, when you have people being genuinely supportive with their postings, you click on their names to see who they are, and that click will bring you to their pages. You’re already connected. And if you see on their page something about a product or a book or something that interests you, you’ll look at it.

And this is far more effective than posting ads.

Marcy: When people try to post ads or see what they can get away with, we find that other people just aren’t interested. They’re way more interested in the people who truly seem to care, people that they connect with.

On the main Powerful Intentions forum, we don’t allow advertising. But if an individual member starts a forum, they can allow whatever they want; they make up their own rules. When you start a forum talking about liquid nutritionals, or whatever your product is, and lots of people jump in, you’re setting up the best thing you could, as far as Google and search engines go.

Why is that?

Marcy: Because you’re getting fresh content every single day, which is what the search engines look for. And that fresh content is talking about the subjects people are searching for. Not by putting up an ad, but because real people are actually talking about it. This winds up attracting a lot of traffic to your forum.

And the people who actually set out to advertise aggressively don’t do that well.

Marcy: No, it’s a turnoff—especially in our community. Major turnoff.

It sounds like there’s a fair amount of self-policing that goes on.

Marcy: It’s pretty funny sometimes. Someone will put up an ad, and before a moderator even gets there, other members jump in, take the person aside and gently explain how things work here. That’s the whole point of the site: to support each other, not to do any tearing down. And it’s amazing how people just get this. It fascinates and thrills me.

You said you see the new media and awareness of the Law of Attraction changing everything, such as politics. How so?

Marcy: I see politics being practiced today in the United States with a lot of negativity, with people going after each other: defend and counter-attack. I see that shifting towards a model that focuses on what we want, rather than on what we don’t want. People are going to vote for people because they are inspired, not because they’re afraid.

Bob: And the same with the mainstream media. Soldiers in Iraq can blog and send videos over YouTube, and that helps keep the world more honest, rather than being spun by all the media pundits. I think the new media will democratize the world.

Marcy: Someone from Turkey recently posted and said that The Secret was the best-selling book in Turkey right now. I was floored. And we’re getting people joining us from countries all over the world, from countries that I never would have suspected would be so keenly interested in the Law of Attraction.

When you start meeting people over the Internet who you thought were one way, and finding out as you get to know them that they are a lot more like you than you had realized, I think that’s pretty world-changing.

The Internet has already forced companies to start being more honest, because consumers are far better informed. So you see the same thing happening in the political and media spheres.

Marcy: Maui, where I live, is a small island. Living on an island is pretty amazing. If you go out and buy a car, everyone knows about it. If you’re doing a good job or a bad job, everyone’s going to know. So people have to get along; they have to be honest. And I think the Internet is making the world like a small island.

You want to hear something uncanny? I talked to Seth Godin yesterday, and he said the exact same thing, almost word for word.

Marcy: Wow! Seth Godin?! I’m honored!

Throughout the history of network marketing, there’s been such high incidence of high-impact prospecting, people treading over hordes of people in their rush to make their business work. Will this kind of model shift the way network marketing is practiced, in a broad way?

Marcy: Oh, absolutely. That’s the only reason I was ever successful in network marketing: I never did it locally, I did it only over the Internet. I was actually recruited in, originally, by someone chasing me around—and I ran away from them forever. I couldn’t stand it. And I couldn’t stand making the phone calls where you were supposed to talk people into it. It just felt terrible to me. I knew it wasn’t right.

This new model will absolutely change it. And people are getting it. When you’re true to yourself, when you’re just going out there and having fun, then you’re being genuinely attractive, and you’re going to attract the right people to you. You don’t even have to worry about knowing the technology or about keeping up with it as it changes. Be true to yourself; that’s the one thing you always have. That’s never going to change.