I had never really considered that MODA would grow the way we have. We literally started out as just me and a classroom of students. Those students became my partners, and out of sheer love for what we were doing, helped to build MODA Modeling School into a place where people wanted to go to become virtual fashion models. I was no longer logging in as me being Jujudoll, I was logging in as Jujudoll, and my partners were actually my friends from all over the world. My first instinct was not so much to manage them, as to act as guidance, adhering to our basic mission while allowing them to create, be creative and grow in any way they wanted to. They all learned to teach, and they increased their own knowledge in areas that I could not keep up with. This both benefited our students and strengthened our team at the same time. There were some very basic management tools being implemented during this early time.
Many people would say that selecting your team carefully is most important, if you possibly can. I don’t think that team selection gets any better than actually having trained each and every member. The greatest benefit to training our own team is that we are always on the same page. We can share and implement new ideas, amend old ones and move forward creatively without varying from our singular mission.
Aside from team selection, a virtual team leader sees communication as a priority. There is never a time when typing, or even voice can take the place of reading linguistics. We rely on tone and gestures when we share an actual space with our team but when we don’t, we have to be willing to ask questions, be available to guide and to laugh when things don’t go as planned. We have to work a lot harder to communicate who we are and what we hope for in our team. Notice I said “hope for” and not “expect.” We can expect all kinds of things but we will get what we propagate from our team.
I think we can all agree on this next item, which is motivation. In Second Life, most people do what they do because they love to do it. Motivation money is just not there. I’m not really sure how I was able to motivate my team, to be honest. I only know that when one person started to burn out, I noticed that I had forgotten to praise, or had been out of communication during a project. Honestly, money is not our greatest motivator anyway. Positive reinforcement is. Everyone loves praise. Sometimes it comes from our students, who suddenly understand a concept that took them weeks to figure out, and because they had a mentor to stand by them patiently, they were grateful. Sometimes it’s because we were able to work with a disability that no onThere was a turning point a couple yee else could deal with. MODA leaders are caring and flexible that way and any time they can help, they will do so. there is no greater reward for that than “thank you.”
We were at least a couple years into this project when I realized I no longer really knew who I was working with. MODA had grown from the original partnership to over 30 people. I knew who they were but had not taken the time to find out what they were actually doing for us. I would come to meetings, help with shows, model if needed, contribute to graphic design or even post blogs, but I realized I was only doing work, and lots of it. So was everyone else, but somehow, they all had time to play and explore other virtual communities. The partners and I met with each team member, regardless of their role, and asked questions, solicited candid feedback and made them understand just how important they are to us. That was the most important thing we could have done because once I knew who I had on my team again, I was able to better appreciate everyone for who they are, not just what they do.
The dedication that MODA had and still has for keeping our mission, for helping others, for being great, not just good role models, and for continuing to build our team is due to the efforts of us all, not just Jujudoll. We have grown but not changed, and the management tools implemented in the beginning, by me, are being implemented still to this day by my active partners and the leaders who have taken over our daily roles.