All posts by Tony

Revisiting Transparency

The scene: a Friday night happy hour at New Work City. We have happy hours every Friday, but this one was particularly special, because we were sending off one of our most steadfast and supportive members who had recently decided to move on.

A group of familiar faces gathered for the occasion. Each of them, in their own way, had themselves already moved on, but on this night they came together for their friend.

We toasted to the end of an era. We talked about what we’d be doing next. We laughed.

Then we went our separate ways.

That night, which took place a few weeks ago, marked a major shift for me in how I approach New Work City and its community.

Up to that point, I was operating with an all-in-one strategy that for years I’d wanted so badly to work. It was a strategy that envisioned the coworking space as the place where people do their work in the daytime, but then also gather socially in the evenings for movie nights and card games. It was a strategy that envisioned my circle of closest friends and the circle of NWC’s most active members as being one and the same.

I’d seen it done successfully in other coworking spaces, at least as far as I could tell. More importantly, it was what I’d wanted: a place where my friends were my coworkers and the line between the two was nonexistent.

The strategy worked for a while. At its peak, it was something really special. We were playing volleyball together; we had a weekly late night “therapy” session at my favorite local pub; we were collaborating on projects.

But it didn’t last. It started with one of the big teams in our space moving out (for the best reason possible—they were so successful that they outgrew us), removing from our daily routine a couple of people who were cornerstones of our cadre. Shortly thereafter, one after another started dropping off. By the time we got to this special happy hour, there was no denying that the circle was no more.

What happened? Certainly, each person had their own story and their own reasons. New York City is a place of transition. Few New Yorkers I know are people who are exactly where they want to be and seek to stay put for a long time. People come to New York to get to somewhere else.

Our location feeds into that sense of transience. The fact that New Work City is on Broadway & Canal Street makes it convenient to just about everyone, but it’s not exactly a neighborhood people want to hang out in.  While our neighborhood has for a long time been home to a vibrant community of independent workers, those workers trade in knockoff bags and watches. Most NWC members live far from the space and from each other in every direction. Gathering, then, is always somewhat of a stretch for everyone.

There were a lot of factors at play, but ultimately, it fell on me. I placed myself at the center of the group, then disappeared for weeks at a time. One might assume my falling for a wonderful woman who lives in another part of the country had something to do with it, but I’ve done this in the past when there wasn’t a long-distance relationship to focus on as the reason. Eventually, one way or another, I find a way to detach. The reality is that I could have taken everyone along for that journey and I didn’t. For long stretches, I just fell off. That’s on me.

That wouldn’t have been as big of an issue if I’d architected something that didn’t depend on me so much, but from the very start I had set an expectation that I’d be around to keep things rolling. When I wasn’t there, things didn’t feel quite the same.

Seeing what had happened for what it was, I toasted that night knowing I had to go a different way from now on. I had no desire to repeat this cycle again. I certainly had no desire to disappoint people I cared about. Rebuilding was going to require taking what I’d experienced, learning from it, and adjusting.

The following Monday, I came into work and started to rebuild.

I quickly realized I had narrowed so much of my focus to the relatively small group of friends I was cultivating. Zooming out, I was able to better see the entire community of 150+ people who were all in their own ways finding each other and forming their own bonds and sub-communities. I had no direct involvement in this happening; I didn’t even know a lot of these people. But here they were, under my nose, befriending each other and conducting business together and going out to lunch with each other. Letting go of the smaller group let me see the bigger group for the wonderful ecosystem that it is.

I shifted my focus to facilitating connections between members without getting too directly involved myself. I still play an active role, but as more of a coach than a player. I meet with members and the people who have stepped up to play larger roles at NWC with the intention of figuring out how to best empower them to use the thing we’ve built to their best benefit, without making me a linchpin any moreso than necessary.

It’s only been a short time, but already I am finding myself much more comfortable in this role. I find I’m less afraid that the work I do now will end up overloading me later. I feel like the work I’m doing is helping build something more sustainable.

One example: this past Friday, we held the first of what will be a monthly series of Welcome Aboard Member Meetings (WAMMs). Sarah, our Space Captain, did a tremendous job recruiting for it, so we ended up having two separate meetings totaling 26 coworkers, some who’d joined as recently as that day and others who’d been members for years. We learned more about each other, why we joined, what we’re working on, what we need help with, and even our favorite snack. We took it as an opportunity to educate people as to how they could use the tools NWC provides to achieve what they’re going for.

A monthly meeting like that is something that I can work on and be present for that doesn’t foster lots dependence upon me but instead can act as a clearinghouse for empowering and emboldening people to connect with each other without the constant need for a middleman.

It’s only been one meeting, but it’s left me hopeful for the potential in this new direction.

As for me, I realized that I can go further to change my own story. I wonder: What would it look like for me to be unafraid of taking on too much and shutting down when I get overwhelmed? Being open and transparent with people got me so far when I practiced it naturally. When New Work City was just getting started, my fastidious inclusion of everyone in every step of the process of getting it off the ground gave people an opportunity to buy in and feel like they were a part of it.

The less I shared as time went on, the less opportunities people had to connect to me and to it. This invited greater dependence on me as the provider who’s holding all of the cards.

Shutting down and closing people out can be an effective defense against being overwhelmed with input, but the collateral damage is too great. At this point, I think there are far greater risks in not sharing than there are in sharing. Why not flip things over and see what happens?

As for cultivating friendships, I can now start to focus on what that looks like outside the context of my coworking community. I can and do still have friends who are members, of course, but what does it look like for me to think of my network of friends as something distinct and separate from my business? This is something I now make myself free to explore.

Posting something like this is scary to me. I feel vulnerable exposing myself.

I don’t have all the answers. I’m just someone trying to figure it all out. That can be insanely hard for a leader to say, but it’s the reality whether you face it or not.

I’m working to face it.

There are still so many people whose lives would be so much better if they had better ways to connect with each other. There are still so many people suffering who don’t have to be. There’s still a lot of work to do.

If sharing more of my vulnerable, imperfect self helps me be a better vehicle for helping those people, then it’s time to open up and let it flow.

If I’ve let you down, I’m sorry. I want to do my part to support you and invite you to support me, imperfections and all, out of love for ourselves and each other.

Thanks for reading this. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to connect with you.

 

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The problem with coworking (and an idea for how to solve it)

Coworking has served to unite millions of people around the world who share a common interest. Over seven years ago, when I was living with my parents, working from home and losing my mind, I was able to discover Jelly in NYC and a global movement with a simple Google search. Once I saw the word, I knew that whatever coworking was, it was what I needed.

Zoom way, way forward to present day, and coworking is now quickly seeping into the collective consciousness. As an ardent champion of coworking since I first discovered it, I see this as a tremendously good thing.

That growth was made possible by a simple fact: the guy who invented modern day coworking freely offered it to be taken and shared and copied and remixed by anyone anywhere. While that simple act ignited massive rallying by people all around the world, it came with one critical tradeoff: no one person or entity can control the direction or perception of the word now that it’s out in the world for anyone to use.

As a result, the meaning behind the notion of coworking has undergone an extremely long game of telephone, wherein a little bit of the original signal is lost every time it gets passed along from one to another.

Along its journey from obscurity to household name, coworking found a powerful delivery vehicle in a business model that relies on renting space and then charging people to share that space.

Over time, the deep, meaningful, purposeful power behind the word got overwhelmed by the business model. Coworking, to many people, has been reduced to simply another way of renting workspace.

Those of us who have experienced what is possible with coworking, however, know that it speaks to something far deeper and more important. Experiencing it illuminated to me the direction that work as we know it is going: away from traditional employment and even from independent models toward something that mixes the best of both.

Coworking gives us a peek way ahead, to a world in which people are empowered but not isolated. In some ways, it’s way ahead of its time.

But so long as coworking remains outside of anyone’s control, we can’t use it by itself without some additional help.

I’ve seen this in a number of stories I’ve heard and experienced myself when coworking spaces in the same city try to get together to support each other. They struggle to find ways to collaborate, because ultimately their businesses rely upon them renting space, and there’s little room for their ultimate interests to align.

If coworking spaces such as those could be united under a more specifically articulated, higher purpose, we may have an opportunity to go further.

Idea: Articulate a higher purpose people can rally around.

If the aspirations of a coworking space can extend beyond simply getting enough members to pay the rent, new opportunities for collaboration come into play. Neighboring coworking spaces have a better chance of working together, while each individual space also has an opportunity to re-cast its relationship with current and future members in the context of their shared efforts toward this common purpose.

It’s what most of us are already in the business of doing—we just need to call it out in a way that invites others to participate.

I didn’t dedicate myself to New Work City because I thought it was a fab way to make profits trading space for cash.  I’d venture a guess that most coworking space owners would agree.

We got into this business because we want to help people. We want to help ourselves, and future generations. We see a way of working that is made better when we gather and organize together.

What would it look like if we articulated, in a specific way, why we’re doing what we’re doing and started speaking and acting with that in mind?

Potential higher purposes, just off the top of my head:

  • Making your town a more welcoming place for independent creatives
  • Improving your city’s economy through increased commerce between citizens
  • Growing the number of people who are successfully working for themselves
  • Reducing economic inequality by providing low-cost access to education and resources
  • Making it just as easy to work for yourself as it used to be to work for someone else
  • Helping 1,000 people in the region make their first $100 working for themselves by the end of 2014
  • Building a support infrastructure for the emergent interdependent workforce

I’m keen on developing my own take on these higher ambitions. I want to see coworking spaces around the world working towards a shared mission in a way that’s more explicit and exciting.

How can we go about better fostering this greater sense of purpose?

 

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Coworking Community NYC Meetup Update

I just sent this message out to the members of the Coworking Community NYC Meetup. Enjoy!


Hi there! If you’re receiving this, you’re one of the 1,854 members of the Coworking Community NYC Meetup. Whether you’ve been a member since 2007 or you just joined today or somewhere in between, we’re grateful to have you as a part of this group.

By joining this group, you’ve identified yourself as someone who is interested in this growing-like-wildfire-but-still-very-new notion of coworking. That means you have something in common with at least 1,853 other people in the NYC area. The reality is, there are a lot more of us out there too.

Coworking is important, because it gives us a way to help each other with things we might otherwise struggle with on our own. Since the beginning of the year, we’ve been conducting experiments into developing new ways for us to use the coworking model to enable us to connect and be inspired. Already, 13 organizers have hosted 21 gatherings in 10 venues around the city. Check out my rundown in this blog post: http://happymonster.co/?p=366

What kinds of coworking gatherings would you want to join for

While a lot of our gatherings have functioned as fun one-off field trips, some of the more sustainable gatherings are the ones that focus on one particular commonality. Whether it’s game designers and developers meeting after hours, or people working on side projects, or people who like working in museums, there’s always one common thread. I think we can take that a lot further. We could be gathering in tons of other permutations of interest, timing and geography. To that end, I’d love it if you could hit REPLY with your answer to these questions: What are you needing? What kinds of gatherings would you like to participate in? What kinds of gatherings might you want to help organize? Reply to this email and let us know!

My hope is that by fostering gatherings of people with something specific in common, we can develop a robust set of sub-communities that form strong bonds. This paves the way to more good things down the line. In the meantime, here’s what’s currently on the calendar:

Upcoming Gatherings

  • Take your online business to the next level
    Monday, June 30 at 1:00pm at Vineapple // Hosted by Patty // Free
    Have you just started your online business, have you been at it for a few years or are you somewhere in between? Patty wants to meet up with you and talk business as a group of online (solo) entrepreneurs. We’ll share our experiences and best tips and tricks and support each other to take things to the next level. Details & join the wait list: http://meetu.ps/2pyh68
  • NY Tech Meetup Simulcast
    Tuesday, July 1 at 6:30pm at New Work City // Hosted by Veronica // $10
    See people show off some neat new things they’ve built while meeting new people over some beers. This group just crossed 40,000 members! Details & RSVP: http://meetu.ps/2qzr9T
  • MoCoWo: Coworking on a Train to Beacon NY & Dia Beacon Museum
    Wednesday, July 9, departing from Grand Central at 9:30am // Hosted by Nate & Jen // Free, but there are train tickets and other costs.
    The second of our summer MoCoWo (mobile coworking) events is going to be a trip up north to relieve some of the summer heat. This time, we’re headed to Beacon NY (unofficial slogan; “Mmmmm. Beacon.”) which is located about an hour and a half outside of the city. Details & RSVP: http://meetu.ps/2qcbWd
  • Side Project Jam Session
    Monday, July 14 at 6:30pm at New Work City // Hosted by Tony // Free to NWC members, $10 to public
    You have a job to do. But then there’s also that other thing. That thing you can’t help but think about when you’re not supposed to. You doodle it into the margins of your notepad when you’re supposed to be paying attention in a meeting. You read about it on your lunch break. You stay up late, working when everyone else is sleeping. It’s your side project. Maybe one day it will be your main squeeze. If only you could squeeze out some time to focus just on that, amidst the endless daily distractions… Enter the after-hours side project jam session. Details & RSVP: http://meetu.ps/2qpMcv

Recruiting new members at New Work City

Back at our home base, we’re recruiting creative independents who are looking for a place to work and people to work with. If you’re interested, reply to this email and tell me your story. I’d love to help you go over your options.

Who are we?

I’m Tony Bacigalupo. I’m the one writing this to you. I’m one of the folks behind both this Meetup group and New Work City. Here at the Coworking Community NYC Meetup, fellow organizers Clarice Meadows, Nate Heasley, Jen Oleniczak, Patty Golsteijn, Nate Cooper, and Jim Hopkinson are all leading their own efforts at organizing gatherings. At New Work City, I work with Sarah Feliciano, our Space Captain extraordinaire, Leo Newball, Lara Schenck, and Patrick Domingo, our amazing Space Agents, Peter Chislett, my business partner and the guy who makes it all stick together, and Veronica Ludwig, who is developing new programming with us. We’re all people who, like you, are forgoing a traditional path in favor of one that’s in alignment with who we are and who we want to be.

If you’re interested, you can follow me on Twitter, or connect with New Work City on Twitter or Facebook.

Looking for some fun further reading? Our good friends at New Worker Magazine just launched their second issue, which is jam packed with great reads written by members of coworking communities all around the world.

Thanks for being a part of this group. We’re in this together.

Cheers,

Tony Bacigalupo & the crews of CCNYC & NWC

 


Photo by Lee Semel.

 

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Coworking on a train to a museum (AKA my crazy coworking experiment at six months)

Towards the end of 2013, I found myself wracking my mind thinking about a major question that’s been bouncing around the coworking world for some time: how do we stop coworking from losing its identity to the workspace industry with which it is so deeply associated?

Coworking’s been continuing to grow into an established industry, with no signs of slowing down, but as it grows it seems to continue to lose its identity to its primary delivery vehicle: the office space rental business model.

This is important to me, because I (and many others) see in coworking so much more potential to help people than simply to allow it to become a slightly different way to cut up and rent office space.

For some reason, on January 1, 2014, I saw something I could do next from the moment I woke up. I told Amy I had an idea for what we could do now to make real progress in advancing the conversation. We immediately got to brainstorming and, shortly thereafter, I published a post entitled “27 ideas for hosting a coworking gathering that’s more than just people sitting around on laptops,” and followed up a few days later with “Crazy idea: 14 days, 14 different coworking experiences. Who wants to help organize?” – which led to the kicking off of an experiment in which I found people to lead coworking gatherings in the most diverse circumstances possible.

The objective? Develop a way to show people that coworking is about the act of gathering with people of similar interests, and that it’s NOT just about working at desks. And, further, to answer the obvious questions people have about whether one can truly get work done in sometimes very unusual circumstances.

Six months later, 13 organizers have hosted 21 events in 10 venues around the city, with more coming up. 242 people have RSVP’ed to meet up and work in places like a bed-stuy cafe that serves excellent kimchi, a wine bar with an insane sherry happy hour, the Q train, a high-rise Fort Greene apartment,  a fancy apartment in South Slope, the Met Museum, the Queens Museum, a super cute cafe in the East Village, and New Work City itself at less-than-normal days and times.

To help prove that work gets done at these gatherings, we developed To-DONE lists and challenged attendees to beat high scores from previous gatherings. The results?

People get a lot done when they gather with intention. Regardless of where they do it.

To-DONE Lists

The To-DONE list provided hard empirical evidence that people could be wildly productive in the most unexpected of circumstances.

We got work done. We got inspired. We had fun. And we formed healthy bonds discovering fun new places.

What’s next?

For one, more of everything. For example, two organizers, Nate and Jen, are now conspiring to mash up their respective gatherings to host a work-on-a-train-to-a-museum experience.

In the meantime, I am looking at how we can advance these efforts towards something more mature and sustainable. Three of the people who I collaborated with to develop events are now co-organizers of the Coworking Community NYC Meetup group, so they can schedule their own coworking gatherings now. We’re developing processes to help make it easier for current and future organizers to run great gatherings.

Ultimately, I’d love to shift what it means to be a member of a coworking community (starting with New Work City) away from one the emphasizes the space as the primary value and towards one that emphasizes the value people can generate by engaging in the act of gathering with intention.

The big challenge with that, I think, is that it’s not something that people know they and (and know they want to pay for). Space is tangible. It’s something we value. What I’m talking about is, I think, going to take some more work to prove out as a viable business model for a coworking space to successfully shift its direction.

By developing a network of sustainable, ongoing coworking gatherings around the city, we’re creating space to see how we might go about making progress in that direction.

If you’re in NYC and want to get involved, join our Meetup or consider a membership at New Work City (membership starts at $35/mo). If you’re outside of NYC, stay tuned here. I’ll have more to share soon.

Oh, and if you’re up for it, on July 9, join us as we go coworking on a train to a museum. We’ll also be visiting our friends at Beahive, a coworking space in Beacon, while we’re there.

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Kicking off an experiment today

Today, I’ll be joining my new friend Jen in organizing a gathering that merges coworking with a museum tour. The Met Museum, it turns out, has really really great wifi… and a lot of brilliant, inspiring art.

It will take about half a business day, from 1:00pm to 5:30pm. It’s currently at capacity, with 15 spots filled by friends, NWC members, and newcomers, with about a dozen people on a wait list.

Later this week and next, this experiment will be followed up by one at a wine bar, one involving a pot-luck brunch, one at a friend’s house, one at a cafe & kimchi restaurant, and more, all of which are at or near capacity now.

The point of all this? Twofold: to give more people a way to become part of a coworking community, and to wrest coworking from its perceived marriage to office space rental as its only delivery vehicle.

My hope is that people have a lot of fun, get a lot of work done, make some new friends, and, most importantly, want to get together to do it again soon. Good things should happen from there onward.

If you’re in NYC and want to dive into a deep talk about this topic, my friend Drew and I are hosting a talk at New Work City this Thursday to promote his new book, the Fifth Age of Work. Join us!

(Also, it should go without saying, but if you want to hear about future experiments, join my Meetup group. If you’re interested in organizing or hosting an experimental gathering, email me at tony at nwc.co!)

Crazy idea: 14 days, 14 different coworking experiences. Who wants to help organize?

You could be appreciating art and then channeling your inspiration into your work in a museum café. You could be meeting with a few people who are committed to focusing hard on the tasks they need to get done, for short bursts of time, so you all get a ton of work done in a compressed period. You could be touring a new neighborhood, sampling the best of the cafés and restaurants, while stopping to work along the way. So what’s stopping you?

I think we can take this coworking idea so much further. It’s awesome to have coworking spaces to count on as reliable, consistent workspaces. Hell, the free coffee can sometimes be worth the price of admission alone. But we are in an unprecedented age of mobility. For so many of us, so much of our work can be done from just about anywhere. We should celebrate that! We should explore that! We should mess with that!

I think we could be taking this coworking thing a lot further. I think we could be having wonderfully diverse experiences that ultimately make us more productive, while having fun and meeting like-minded people all at the same time.

I’m going to push in that direction and see what happens. I’m super curious to see what would happen if we conducted an experiment where we tried coworking in the most wildly diverse ways we could think of… no one experience being too big of a production or obligation, just people getting together to work in a way that has a creative twist.

Most of the gatherings could follow a basic format:

  • 2-4 hours
    (Long enough to get something accomplished, but short enough to not take up one’s entire day. Most could get by without having to plug in their laptops.)
  • 5-10 people
    (Enough people to constitute a critical mass, but few enough that everyone could get to know each other without taking a huge amount of time to get around the table. Also, keeping gatherings to this size makes it easier to use a cafe or other public space with limited seating.)
  • A particular theme or focus
    (No gathering should simply be about working on laptops in the same place. There should be a twist that makes that gathering unique and special. This could be very simple. And there’s no shortage of ideas!)
  • Between January 27 and February 9
    (Ambitious? Hell yes. But doable. The ball is already rolling on a few gatherings, including one at a museum and one involving drinking sherry while working.)

To get primed up for this, I’m hosting a Work Sprint and a talk about collaboration in coworking spaces next week.

Am I totally crazy? Who wants to organize a gathering? Comment below or email me at tony at nwc.co!

Interested in learning more as gatherings are posted? Join my Meetup group!

Tony

 

Unearthing a hidden movement

Coworking’s big, and it’s getting bigger by the day. As it continues its evolution from nascent concept to established industry, the original spirit of what made it special inevitably becomes more and more distant from the people who encounter it.

If all coworking ever did was birth a new industry of on-demand low cost workspace, it would already have made a huge impact on how people work and live. But there’s something far deeper happening that merits continued attention. If you’ve ever spent time in a coworking space, you know: the people who are migrating to these communities, what they’re doing, and how they’re organizing and interacting is all… well, very interesting. Coworking, the industry, is a powerful and valuable thing. Coworking, the movement, is another story altogether.

While nobody controls “coworking” and its many interpretations, one of the things that was agreed upon by the early members of the movement was that, while everyone can have their own take on what this new thing is, there are some basic elements that make it what it is. Anyone could do anything with the word, but if certain elements were weak or missing, it wouldn’t be embodying what this thing really is about. Conversely, people who use the word “coworking” to embody something that fully represents these basic elements would be on the right track to embodying what makes this thing really special.

They’re not precise. They’re not perfect. They’re open to interpretation. But they are a really really handy construct.

They’re called the Coworking Values. Here they are:

  • Community
  • Openness
  • Collaboration
  • Accessibility
  • Sustainability

If you’re organizing something around the word “coworking,” odds are you’d benefit from seeking to address each of these values in your own way.

If you don’t like them, you can of course set your own values that are specific to what you want to do. But if you ignore the values driving the trend that you want your business to be a part of, you expose yourself to missing the mark and failing to engage the people who you want to help.

You might not mind one day finding yourself managing a big boring room of people sitting at desks with their headphones on all day, but you might want something better.

Let’s talk about what something better looks like to you and to the rest of us.

The industry, right now, is overshadowing the movement that’s driving it. But maybe it doesn’t have to. Maybe the two can fuel each other.

A new effort is forming to advance the core values of the coworking movement. Get a sneak preview here.

What could happen if every member of a coworking community committed to supporting each other’s efforts?

So many great things happen in coworking spaces, just sort of by accident. I wonder so much about how those phenomena could be developed into deliberate efforts.

One example: when a member launches a new project, all the other members in the space are potential supporters and evangelists. In one recent case at New Work City, a member offered her new Skillshare class free to all members and kindly asked everyone to sign up. As a result, her class got a ton of students in it, lots of people were exposed to her teachings who otherwise wouldn’t have been, and we all felt an emotional investment in the success of her class.

Same goes for Kickstarter projects. What better way to get a project’s momentum rolling than having 150+ people ready to help? If all of the members of a given coworking community put their collective weight behind something that one of them is working on, the concentrated impact could be enormous. A simple pledge of a couple of dollars to a campaign, or a retweet, could have an awesome snowball effect. (One of my friends, Brian Papa, is garnering support from fellow members for his new wrestling game app’s campaign right now!)

This could be done in a lightly structured way. Members can nominate projects they’re working on for collective support, and those who opt in can commit to supporting each other’s efforts at the appropriate time.

Pretty simple, potentially very powerful.

 

Work Sprint at Brooklyn Roasting Company

27 ideas for hosting a coworking gathering that’s more than just people sitting around on laptops

A few years ago, I participated in an experiment called the Breakout Festival, in which we organized coworking gatherings in public spaces. It was awesome. I wonder what it would be like to revisit efforts to gather in new ways? Some potential gatherings, off the top of my head:

  • … go to a museum, appreciate art, then do our own creative work in the museum cafe
  • … get up really early and get a bunch done before 9:00am
  • … go on a photo safari, then settle somewhere to edit and publish
  • … pomodoro work sprints
  • … late night coworking with a DJ
  • … coffee snob coworking. meet at a high-end coffee roaster. order coffee. discuss coffee. drink. work.
  • … wine snob coworking. meet at a high-end wine bar. order wine. discuss wine. drink. work.
  • … commit to doing something you dread. do a pomodoro. reconvene. recommit. repeat.
  • … cafe crawl of (insert neighborhood here)
  • … coworking space crawl of (insert neighborhood here)
  • … coworking + drinking (infinite possibilities)
  • … coworking + brunch (no explanation necessary)
  • … coworking + saturday morning cartoons
  • … coworking + watching football games on Sunday
  • … everybody bring your pet
  • … enjoy a podcast / TED talk / etc, talk about it, then work in a way related to that topic
  • … co-workout. coworking + yoga/cardio/soulcycle/etc
  • … coworking while you wait for your stupid laundry
  • … inbox zero sprint (using the Email Game?)
  • … coworking road trip – split the cost of a zipcar, ride out to somewhere obscure and fun, work, ride back. maybe use the car time for brainstorming.
  • … coworking at a cool company’s office. fun experiences crafted around the cool company.
  • … shared interest coworking. pick a category: a particular programming language, photography, design, marketing, anything. Each person is there to work on something relating to that interest. Before starting, each person states the thing that they’re working on and one challenge they’re hoping to solve. Everyone coworks and checks back in with each other periodically to help each other out.
  • … coached coworking: one expert offers up some advice or guidance to kick off the session, then everyone works on that while they go around helping out.
  • … coworking in an Apple store until someone kicks you out
  • … coworking on a BoltBus to Philly
  • … coworking field trip: meet in a neighborhood you might never have been to before. immerse in the local culture during a group lunch break.
  • … combinations of the above

What would you attend? What would you organize? Tony

Work Sprints: Let’s do better work in less time, and love it.

I’m running a high-energy, high awesomeness productivity sprint at Brooklyn Roasting Company on Thursday, October 3. Grab a spot here!

A funny thing happens when we start working for ourselves that I think too few of us recognize: we implicitly hire ourselves as our own bosses. We’re suddenly the CEO, the middle manager, and the worker bee all wrapped up in one little brain.

What happens next is even more curious: our inner bosses often find themselves imitating the very behaviors that we tend to despise in traditional industrial-era bosses.

We tend to, for instance, value face time as a measure of performance. If we sit in front of our keyboards for 10+ hours a day, we figure, we must be satisfying our inner bosses, right?

We know intuitively that it’s wrong, yet we struggle against it constantly. And we egg each other on, too. We can get into a competitive loop of who can lament about working more hours than whom. It’s honorable to bust your ass day and night. And that can be an awful way to live. (Many folks in the startup world struggle with this mightily.)

But we’re in charge. That means it’s up to us to define the rules. If we are intentional about the boss we’ve created for ourselves in our heads, then we can create a working relationship with ourselves that is nourishing and healthy. We can break the culture of treating work like a cross to bear.

But doing it alone is hard. It’s also no fun. So I propose we work on being better bosses for ourselves together.

There are a lot of ways to tackle this, but the most simple and obvious one to me centers around time management. (The guy who kicked off the modern coworking movement was hip to this, by the way.) If, by virtue of gathering and setting some intentions for ourselves and each other, we can get a better handle on our workdays, we can build on that.

To that end, I’m going to organize an Intentional Coworking gathering where the attendees commit to shifting their focus away from the number of hours worked and toward the quality of hours worked. Tony Schwartz, of the Energy Projectframes this mindset perfectly:

“For my first three books, I sat at my desk for up 10 hours a day. Each of the books took me at least a year to write. For my two most recent books, I wrote in three uninterrupted 90-minute sessions — beginning first thing in the morning, when my energy was highest — and took a break after each one… Writing just four and half hours a day, I completed both books in less than six months and spent my afternoons on less demanding work.”

He continues:

“More and more of us find ourselves unable to juggle overwhelming demands and maintain a seemingly unsustainable pace. Paradoxically, the best way to get more done may be to spend more time doing less.”

Let’s commit to helping each other do better work in less time. Let’s celebrate our successes and enjoy the freedoms we’ve afforded ourselves. Most importantly, let’s do great things together.


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