S2 - Episode 1 ~ Community Looking After It's Own ~ Tribe


In this episode of the Social Lights Podcast, podcast host and Social Mediology founder Kate vanderVoort chats with Ryan Elson, who tells us about how his multiple endeavours - Tribe, EmployMeet, and the Guardian App - and how these came about.


Sometimes, we as a society create systems that obviously don’t work, yet we continue to do them anyway because that’s how it’s always been done. Ryan has always had an eye for broken systems, and so he does his best to go in and improve them.

Improving the way things are done is exactly what he is doing with his multiple undertakings: Tribe—a social inclusion program, EmployMeet—an alternative to traditional employment services, and Guardian app—a simple messaging app that prevents abusive exchanges of texts. He is even running for council!


“One of the first questions I always ask is, ‘Who can you control?’—and everyone goes, ‘Me.’ And that’s the truth. There’s nothing else. There’s no one else. No one’s responsible for your behavior. No one’s responsible for the way you’re feeling.” (5:30)

Ryan has dealt with his fair share of challenges as both a child and an adult. From losing his parents at an early age to separating with his wife and later losing his child to cancer, he truly resonates with the saying, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” While bad things happen to everybody, not everyone chooses to do something with that. Ryan has learned to look at the situations he’s been through and found multiple ways to make positive change.

Tribe is all about social inclusion, providing connections to individuals who feel lonely and isolated. They have regular events—from monthly Tribe gatherings over food and drinks, family gatherings at the beach, coffee dates, Tribe trivia, and even regular visits to the home for the elderly. There are very few rules in this social inclusion program, and one of these rules is that you must talk to people you don’t know.

With EmployMeet, Ryan provides opportunities for jobseekers and employers to meet in a more comfortable setting. There are no interviews and no resumes here—It’s all about you. Ryan is currently working on EmployMeet.com—a website that differs from other employment websites. “Think of it like a dating app for employment,” Ryan explains. Instead of job advertisements, employers can basically act as headhunters, searching through a database of jobseekers that fit the parameters they have set. Employers are also able to see videos of the jobseekers, giving them an opportunity to hear them speak and see how they present themselves.

The Guardian app was inspired by bad breakups and how quickly things can get out of control when emotions are high. Texting can be particularly difficult and easily misconstrued, and Ryan believes that no one should have to be on the receiving end of an abusive exchange of texts. Guardian app is a good option for two people who are going through a difficult time, but who still need to contact each other. This messaging app that blocks roughly 500 abusive words and phrases. If one party tries to send a message of that nature, the sender will receive a message stating “This message has not been delivered and has been deemed inappropriate.” The receiver, on the other hand, will never have to read such message. This simple messaging service forces people to have a civilized, drama-free exchange of messages.


“Employment is not just people earning money—because that’s what everybody thinks it is. Employment is purpose.” (12:50)

For Ryan, running for council is another way to make positive change. To him, having purpose in your life is the most fantastic thing. He feels for young people, who are struggling to find their purpose. Employment for the young ones means going through the job network, and being judged by their resume—which doesn’t tell you who these people really are. All of this, however, can be changed with leadership. Ryan wants to see how to make his community all that it can be. Ryan shares, “You can’t just sit in the grandstand and throw rocks at the players. You’ve got to get in the game and have a go yourself and see what it’s really like.”


We have to be careful that we don’t lose our humanity through our technology. (29:44)

Ryan loves technology—in fact, he half-jokingly shares that his phone is his office. The problem with technology, however, is that though there are always ways that we can connect—we don’t connect anymore. “We have inadvertently made the internet and technology our lives.”

We are people and we are social beings. If we don’t come out from behind our technology and engage with each other, and actually form relationships like we’ve been doing for thousands of years, then you are going to be lacking.” We have to remember that technology is not everything—it’s a tool.

Episode Links

You can find Ryan Elson and more about Tribe, EmployMeet, and Guardian at:

Keep listening to the upcoming episodes of podcasts by joining in Social Lights Podcast produced by Social Mediology.

You can connect with us on Facebook at @SocialLightsPodcast and find future episodes at socialmediology.com.au/sociallights.

Thanks for your time and stay inspired,

Kate vanderVoort

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