Meet the Cohere Coworking Members: Chrysta Bairre

The Cohere coworking blog continues this week with a series written by Coherians ABOUT Coherians. We talk about their pastimes, specialties, why they joined a coworking space, their favorite places in Fort Collins and what keeps them attached to Cohere.

Chrysta Bairre

Career Coach • Speaker • Author

www.liveandlovework.com

Chrysta came to Fort Collins from the Denver area in 2003 rather than relocating to the East Coast with the company she was working for (Good call). “For me, coming to Fort Collins was a clean slate that felt really good,” she recently told me.

“I had worked at a staffing agency in Denver and I had the inside scoop on a lot of companies that were hiring there. It made me think that I didn’t want to work for them.”

(That makes me think of some bullets I could have dodged.…)

One of the catalysts for Chrysta’s business was her work/life balance blog which started drawing a lot of attention five or six years ago.

“I was finding that more and more people were coming to me for advice and really valued my counsel, and I was happy to give it. And I had people tell me ‘You should do this for a living.” I think the first time someone said that to me, I was like, ‘Do what? I don’t understand.’ I really didn’t see how that would work or what it would look like.”

By and by, that idea took shape, Chrysta received her career coaching certification and a company was born. She helps people get un-stuck in their careers, increase their influence, earn more and, for business owners, get more clients.

Although Chrysta has a personal office below our shared workspace, she spends a lot of time among us coworkers. She’s kind of a mover and shaker, always planning workshops and events including her women’s networking and leadership Meetup She Leads.

What’s something you find especially rewarding about your work?

What I find most rewarding about my work is when someone that I’ve been working with, or someone that’s just come to a workshop or speech I’ve given, is able to achieve one of their goals because of something that we’ve worked on together.

Looking at examples of people in my life and how I’ve helped them achieve more in their lives has always been a source of great reward for me.

What’s a quirky talent of yours?

I can plug my nose with my upper lip—built in nose plug! I thought everyone could do this and I brought it up to a group of my friends and realized that there was no one in the room other than me that could.

What’s your favorite walkable neighborhood restaurant or shop?

I for sure love to go to Avo’s (Avogadro’s Number) for Tempeh Tuesday because their tempeh burgers are the best, and Ace Hardware is a lot of fun. There’s all this kind of weird stuff in there that’s kind of cool.

… I mean there’s helpful stuff too. (It’s a hardware store.)

What makes Cohere unique?

What I love most about Cohere is the community that’s been built around the members. I love that in the living room there’s this nature painting that has a UFO in it. I feel that that painting is representative of what kind of community Cohere is and of its members.

For the most part, I think we’re all a little bit oddballs. We’re pretty mainstream, but we all have our little quirks and we come together in our quirks and we create this beautiful quirkiness. And that’s what I love about Cohere—it’s that element of uniqueness and comfort with just being whoever you are.

Yeah, that was the weirdest picnic I’ve ever been to.

I also feel like Angel’s a visionary in many ways and I like how she’s always doing something to improve the community and the space. There’s little improvements happening all the time. … She’s always finding ways to create a space that’s more comfortable, that’s better, more progressive.

What makes a good Coherian?

I think it goes back to that quirkiness. Most of us are creative in some form or another, so creativity, but also a willingness to show up authentically, even if that means being a little bit weird. Not being weird on purpose, you know, but…

John: Like Fort Collins weird as opposed to Boulder weird.

Chrysta: Yeah, right? But I also think people that care about the community, who want to be part of it and engage with people and make connections.

You want to spend time with people that are quirky and fun but also genuine and heartfelt. I feel like that’s something that I think every member I know here has in spades.

What’s your favorite pastime?

I have so many … I’m actually am a huge nerd, so in general being nerdy about anything that I’m really into, whether it’s a certain musician or band, science fiction, horror movies. I like to be around my nerdy peeps, and I like to go places where I can find my nerdy peeps.

I have a coloring book collection that I’ve been working on since my teens and I haven’t counted in a while but I probably have more than sixty. Other people are invited to color in my coloring books to—I just have one rule that they sign and date it.

Chrysta was ahead of the curve on that one.

Interested in trying out Cohere? Snag a free day pass and visit us!

Meet the Cohere Coworking Members: Dave Berndt, MD

This week we’re continuing with a new series on this Cohere coworking blog. It’s written by Coherians ABOUT Coherians. We talk about their pastimes, expertise, why they joined a coworking space, their favorite places in Fort Collins and what keeps them attached to Cohere.

dave berndt

Dave Berndt

Physician and Healthcare Consultant

Dave, who we only recently discovered is an M.D., came to Fort Collins from Bozeman 2 ½ years ago. Before joining Cohere, he was a Staff Physician at CSU. Of historical note (this will sound more dramatic than it actually is) he cured my Schistosomiasis after I was exposed to it in Malawi. So I’m not saying you should go romping around barefoot in Africa, but if you do, he’s the one to talk to.

Context is a funny thing. I worked with Dave for a couple months before the recognition set in because I had never seen him outside of a healthcare facility. Nobody at Cohere knew he was a physician until last month, which made me wonder what other secrets he’s holding on to. I sat down with him yesterday to find out.

What brought you to Fort Collins?

Super long Montana winters, and feeling that it was a little too remote from civilization.

What do you do, anyway?

My job comes under the category of Utilization Review. That essentially means assessing either proposed or already completed medical care, along the whole spectrum of medicine, for what’s called medical necessity. That’s basically asking: Is that care supported by adequate scientific evidence and is it cost-effective?

There’s a lot of fraud, waste and abuse that occurs out in the healthcare world that contributes to the crazy high prices, of which my position is specifically meant to prevent. That’s the short and dirty of it.

What makes Cohere unique?

First, I love it here. It’s certainly unique to me because I’ve never been in a remote working position. I came here primarily for social reasons to not work alone in the corner. And I love the diversity of different types of coworkers that I meet. I learn things about all different fields. People are relaxed, super friendly, good senses of humor and can take work lightly. But if there needs to be a solid productivity period, there’s no problem achieving that either.

What’s your favorite walkable restaurant or cafe?

I’m going to risk being a rogue here and say I like Harbinger and Mugs equally for coffee. Then for a healthy lunch, there’s Revolution (Market) for salads. For non-salad lunch, Damn Good Tacos. They’re really amazing.

Those are the biggies.

What makes a good Coherian?

I think someone who’s fun, relatively relaxed and who can not take life too seriously but also be a responsible worker.

What’s something we don’t know about you?

I can crack my nose super loud.

Crack! Clacrack-clack! (Dave demo’d this for me and he wasn’t lying. It’s weird.)

What’s your favorite pastime?

I’m a sporty kind of guy so I really like trail running, I play a lot of tennis, and I’m a fly fisherman as well. I love fly fishing.

(John: I am admittedly jealous when I think of going on a fly fishing trip right now.)

Dave: You can get completely engrossed in your surroundings – bugs are hatching, fish meeting… It’s neat.

Interested in trying out Cohere? Snag a free day pass and visit us!

Meet the Cohere Coworking Members: Becca Verna

We’ve started a new series on this Cohere coworking blog. It’s written by Coherians ABOUT Coherians. We talk about their expertise, why they joined a coworking space, their favorite places in Fort Collins and what keeps them attached to Cohere.

Becca Verna

Graphic Designer and Content Writer

B.V. Style Shop

www.beccaverna.com

John: If you’re a remote worker or freelancer like me, you’ve thought at some point about throwing a dart at a map and uprooting yourself. Admit it. It sounds fun, but if you actually do it, I hope you end up in a town like Fort Collins. Becca didn’t get here by dumb luck.

Becca: “Coming here was strictly an elective move on my husband’s and my part,” Becca recently told me. “We had put together an extensive spreadsheet – which I’ve found out I’m not the only Coherian to have – with a whole analysis of prospective places to live. Fort Collins was on that spreadsheet and after a visit here we decided to make the move.”

Becca was lured here from Phoenix in late 2014 by many of the things we all love about the town: thoughtful and neighborly people, tons of sunshine, and an amazing social and recreational culture. Becca, who is known for being super collaborative and positive, worked from home for the better part of two years after the move. (We seriously don’t know how!) Teaching dance helped her fill that social gap. (The dance community here, while not quite on the “Bikes, Beer and Bluegrass” pedestal, is pretty on point.)

Becca, a freelancer, can do practically all things creative: web and logo design, branding, graphic design, content writing and curriculum design. Here’s more about her:

What brought you to Cohere?

Last February, I saw a Startup Week panel Angel was on called “How Coworking Can Save You from Destitution.” I’d already been thinking about going to a coworking space, so I went to that talk. I tried the free coworking day at all the different spaces, which was part of the free Startup Week offering. When I visited Cohere I just felt more at ease being here. It just seemed like a good fit.

Any surprises?

I think there’s a new surprise every day, just in getting to know the people here. I’ve enjoyed that process of learning new things about people, meeting new people as they join, meeting members that have been here that I just haven’t overlapped with, but when I do, it’s like meeting a new person again. It just feels like there’s a new good surprise every day.

What’s your favorite walkable restaurant/haunt?

Hmm. It’s gonna have to be Revolution Market, just because it’s my go-to for a quick sandwich or salad and they serve quality food at good prices. I also love that I can walk there—although I did just discover the Lost Cajun, which is fabulous.

What makes a good Coherian?

I think what makes a good Coherian is someone who doesn’t take themselves too seriously. You need to be open to spontaneous, random conversations and also creative collaborations with other members. If you only get in there to keep your head down and work and not get to know anybody in the community, then you’re missing out on so much of what being a Coherian is.

Interested in trying out Cohere? Snag a free day pass and visit us!

The Secret to Being Productive in Your Coworking Space

We’ve all been there. Stuck at the home office, wallowing alone, no friends, and an anxious eye on that package’s tracking number so you might glimpse a human being at your door.

Now we’ve all been here. At a coworking space. The lovely, people-filled, coffee-fueled respite from our home offices. We’ve found our tribe, a little slice of normal and we couldn’t be happier. Only we’re not getting as much done as we’d like to.

EEK! It’s the not-so-often-admitted-but-totally-true part of every coworking community. Sometimes, it’s just hard to focus when you’re surrounded by interesting people (not actually) working on interesting things. Or maybe your mom brought in warm banana bread for everyone and that seems REALLY important right now.

We’re happy to announce that we’ve solved this problem at Cohere and we want to share our ridiculously simple, free to everyone method for crushing our goals. TOGETHER. This is a coworking space after all. The most brilliant part of our devious plan is that you, A MEMBER, can implement this with your coworkers. You don’t even have to tell your community manager. I mean, you can. You won’t get in trouble or anything.

THE COWORK SPRINT: Your best friend for group productivity.

This method is simple. The work sprint isn’t a new idea. Product developers have used them for years to focus intently on one feature to make it ready for review at the end of the work session. We’ve tweaked the idea and made it sufficiently generic so it works for any type of job you might be doing in your coworking space.

  1. 1. Print this sheet. In fact, print 20 and leave them in an obvious spot in your coworking areas.
  2. 2. Read the instructions on the right side of the page. It’s pretty straightforward.
  3. 3. Ask your coworkers if they’d like to write down something they want to accomplish in the next 30/60 minutes. Pass around the sheet and everyone writes their name and goal on the sheet.
  4. 4. Set a timer for 30 or 60 minutes. Work really hard without interruption until the timer goes off.
  5. 5. Go around and see how everyone did on their goals. Hand out high-fives with wild abandon!

Repeat as often as necessary. We find that daily cowork sprints at 10:00 am and 2:00 pm are super effective at keeping everyone heads down while still allowing plenty of unstructured time for creation, socializing, banana bread and coffee refills.

We love to hear stories of other coworking spaces using the Cowork Sprint work sheet. Snap a picture and tweet us at @coherellc

 

Area man discovers freelancing not what he expected

Matt brushing his teeth–usually he does this at home, not at Cohere.

When I started “freelancing,” I had a lot of expectations as to what my life would be like setting my own schedule, picking my own projects, etc.  My life would be ultra-flexible and I would be spending my time doing something I loved, coding.  I wouldn’t have anyone to answer to but myself, and that would be the ideal work environment.

It turned out that while there are many benefits to freelancing, for me, the flexibility and lack of direct accountability were not so high on the list.
Working from home, I could pace for hours before starting a project.  Most of my days and nights consisted of over-planning, procrastinating, and then a 10-12 hour block of anxious, frenzied coding, and I was exhausted.  My work life had lost its boundaries.

I would pick up projects that required me to work on-site from time to time.  While working in an office, there was an expectation that I would spend my paid hours coding, so I would dive right in.  I would take things in smaller chunks.  The solutions to small problems would seem to roll right out of my fingers.  I wasted far less time by writing, adjusting, redirecting, tightening, than I would trying to pull everything together in my head and then drop it into code as one solid system.  So that seemed to be a solution.  Stop over-planning and getting excited, and just sit down and code.

A little social pressure helped reduce my coding anxiety, helped me be more efficient, and helped me to do something that I really loved to do, write nice code.  Coworking, working in a social setting, provided just enough social pressure.  So my expectations of coworking were simple: Social pressure would keep me efficient.

People coworking (not at Cohere but this is kind of what his screen looks like)

While coworking has done wonders to keep me efficient and reduce my coding anxiety, I’m starting to realize that “social pressure” is really one of the very smallest benefits of working in a more “social” environment.  I’m starting to realize that my work exists within an ecosystem of other projects, built by other people like me, and networking is an essential part of the freelancer’s life.

It’s becoming increasingly important as more people are becoming freelancers.
The best projects I’ve worked on, I’ve found word of mouth.  I’m getting more interested in sharing my ideas, in blogging, in building my projects open-source and contributing to other open-source projects.  I’m starting to think of my work as less of a “job” and more as a part of an ecosystem that will sustain me as I contribute to it.
I’m also starting to realize that “making money”, while it’s a necessary and much appreciated part of “what I do”, it’s no longer the end goal.  It’s just one of the outcomes of how I spend my time.  Taking a step back, I could say that capitalism is a useful tool for getting parts of the economy and people in general moving and productive, but it’s not always the best tool.  If you look at the thriving open source community, some of it is funded and paid, a lot of it is built and shared without the money changing hands directly.
Maybe these ideas will spread to other areas of the economy.
Maybe they have in ways I don’t know about.  This web of inter-connectedness can support our endeavors to ends that used to require rigid hierarchical managed workplaces.  If we can get rid of some of this bulky scaffolding and work together more organically, that would be great.
**Matt was the very first founding member of Cohere. He has since married, had two kids and is currently working remotely while traveling the United States with them in an Airstream.

The Surprising Way Cohere Coworking Helped My Family

When it comes to coworking, you never know where or how inspiration will hit–unless you’ve activated your community using Cotivation.

Cotivation is a five-week program for members of a coworking community. Participants meet on a weekly basis to set goals and revisit previous commitments, so every participant has a chance to make progress with the help of fellow coworkers. Weekly meetings ensure everyone has a sense of accountability as well as ongoing guidance from helpful peers. Challenges are routinely identified, tackled, then re-examined, so participants can feel a sense of not just progress in their work but in their development as better professionals and more well-rounded people.”

2013-04-04-0095-Cohere

Cohere has had 6 cycles of Cotivation over the past 2 years. We decided to take a hiatus from it last summer due to travel and member Gina REALLY wanted Cotivation to keep going so she implemented it with her family!

Gina and I sat down over matchy-matchy mandarin salads at The Rainbow and I quizzed her about why she would take a “work” tool to her family.

Why did you join Cohere’s Cotivation group? I needed a kick in the @ss. I have these year long projects with huge deadlines and I have to keep moving forward on them no matter what. I wanted to have accountability to other people.

Why did you take Cotivation home? We were ending a family book club cycle and I suggested Cotivation as a way to work on our goals. We’ve been doing it for almost a year together. We do a weekly google hangout.

What benefits has your family seen as a result? HUGE RESULTS. My mom had retired and fell into a rut. Cotivation inspired her to re-certify as a teacher and begin subbing again. She also started exercising. My dad started exercising for the FIRST time in his life. He uses a Total Gym. ***at this point the conversation devolved into me telling Gina all about Chuck Norris Facts***

Gina loves that her parents are getting healthier and she loves that she’s now flossing on a regular basis. She also got to know her sister-in-law better which has been awesome.

What’s the best thing about Cotivation at Cohere? I love the safety of it, the non-judgmental aspect and how self motivating I found it to be. I had no fear in setting goals and giving progress updates because I don’t actually work for or with anyone in Cotivation. Just look how happy Gina is with her excellent gum health!

Gina Hooten

If you want to bring Cotivation to your coworking space, reach out to Tony and Susan! If you want to join Cohere and our next round of Cotivation, schedule a tour.

 

How To: Accrue Vacation as a Freelancer

It’s nice to be a freelancing coworker in a coworking space.  We can avoid workplace politics, cubes, a set work schedule and any number of HR forms.  One thing I miss about working a 9-5 job is accruing vacation.  Now, I never thought that I had enough vacation but at least I could look at my paycheck and see those sweet vacation hours pile up.

As we find our schedules packed with more family than clients, it’s the perfect time to set vacation goals for the year. The joy of freelancing means we don’t have to pick the same 2 weeks each year and can take frequent short trips to renew ourselves.

So the question becomes, “Why aren’t we accruing vacation?”  If anything, we’re working more hours than most 9-5ers and taking less time off because we’ve lost our work/life balance somewhere along the way.  I say, let’s start accruing vacation and USING it.  Pick how many weeks of vacation you feel you need per year and do the math.

2 weeks off = 1.54 hours of vacation accrued per 40 hours worked

4 weeks off = 3.07 hours of vacation accrued per 40 hours worked

6 weeks off = 4.61 hours of vacation accrued per 40 hours worked

You can do the same for sick leave as well depending on how much you tend to need.

Are you a freelancer who rewards yourself with vacations?  Where do you like to go and what do you do on your vacations?

Cohere Community is on Loosecubes

 

Hey guess what?! Cohere is moving some of our member and prospective member functions over to Loosecubes. Our friends started this company that helps connect coworkers and spaces all around the world. They’ve issued a coworking challenge and we’re up to the task. Earn points and get sweet prizes for participating. Read more below…

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

This summer, we’re making work fun again. Join us in kicking off the first ever Summer Coworking Challenge. From June 6th until July 4th, we’re spreading the word about coworking to the ends of the earth and allowing anyone to give it a try for free via Loosecubes.

Throughout this month-long initiative, every ‘cube may be instantly booked by members of our community at no charge. We’re also offering a series of awesome prizes to those hosts and members who cowork (or host coworkers), connect with other Loosecubers, and refer friends & spread the word.

Head on over to the official Summer Coworking Challenge page where you can see who else is gettin’ in on the action, familiarize yourself with the rules of the game and stay updated on who’s leading the pack. Every Monday we’ll post a video that features a clue or riddle than can earn you extra loot, too. So tune in!

Get involved: Tweet about it (#loosesummer), Instagram your ‘cubes (and ‘cubemates), and share your experience on Facebook – we want to see it all! The more you spread the word, the more work happiness you’ll deliver to potential coworkers everywhere.

 

Best of Cohere: Why A Coworking Space Is Important To The Local Economy

Coworking Space 

There are some who still view coworking as a a quirky niche instead of the future of work. That might be hard for those of us who love coworking to believe, but important for us to remember as we try to grow our communities.

While it’s true that coworking isn’t for everyone, and certainly doesn’t work for every industry (we still need grocery stores and plumbers), coworking can serve as both a model and a hub for creating better communities at large.

Most people can imagine what shared office space looks like. It’s harder to understand the larger economic benefits of participating in such a space until you experience it first hand.

If you’re on the fence about joining a coworking space, here are some big picture positive impacts to think about.

Coworking Keeps Stellar Talent In Town

Coworking spaces are “office buildings” for those who had the talent (and balls) to create their own job in a crappy economy. Without coworking, many in mid-sized urban areas like Fort Collins would have to commute or move their families to bigger cities with more opportunities. Coworking helps them stay in town, preserving their money, talent, and enthusiasm for use in the local economy.

Coworking Supports Small Business

Don’t let the mega-corps fool you: they are not job creators. They employ people only because it’s necessary for the creation and dissemination of their products and services, not because they want to revitalize a town. Small to mid-sized businesses are the lifeblood of a local economy. They live and work and shop locally, and give a crap about the personal lives of their employees.

Shocking fact: 95% of coworking desks are occupied by a small business. (Ok I made that stat up, but you get the picture — most). It might be a freelance writer who just formed her LLC or couple of buddies who decided to create their own design company. Either way, these businesses are driving down unemployment rates at a time when multi-billion dollar companies are still laying people off. Joining a coworking space means these tiny businesses will have a safe place to grow and learn from more experienced members. When’s the last time you saw Wal-Mart swapping trade secrets with the new family-owned retailer?

Coworking Creates A Network For Collaborative Consumption

The quest for bigger, better, faster has crippled our economy. People are tired of keeping up with the Jones’ and just want to keep their families fed. Collaborative consumption means reusing, growing, renting, bartering and making instead of buying. But the sharing economy demands a network of friendly, trustworthy people to make it work. Like the people who work right next to you in a coworking space.

Yes, coworking allows you to share your professional expertise and network with other successful freelancers. But you could do that at a once a month meetup. What makes coworking unique is the sharing that takes place on a personal level–be it a potluck meal or vegetable seeds or a ride to a conference in Denver.

When a community is connected and open to sharing, people save money, learn new skills, and reduce their impact on the environment. New ideas emerge, problems are solved in creative ways, and the community at large reaps all the rewards of a happy independent workforce.

What other “trickle-down” benefits have you seen in the coworking community? Share your experience in a comment!

And if you’ve got friends who are still unsure that coworking is worth the monthly investment, share your experience (and this article) with them as well!

 Image Credit: Flickr – mdanys

3 Reasons You Can’t Afford To Live Without Coworking

Coworking For Your Dreams

The first time a freelancer hears about coworking, their initial response is something to the effect of, “that sounds great but I just can’t afford it right now.”

There’s no denying that the economy sucks right now, and as independent professionals, we live without the illusion of security that our jobs will always be there. At the same time, we can’t be fired. And when life makes it necessary to increase income, it’s far easier for a freelancer to find a new client than for a traditional employee to get a raise.

But I digress.

The truth is, if you’re a mobile worker with a dream, you can’t afford to NOT be coworking. Consider this: the lightest level of membership at Cohere is $38/month. That’s 10 lattes. And I doubt the coffee shop is doing much for your professional image. Here are 3 more reasons you need to be coworking.

1. Pain-free Networking

Let’s be real: networking events are the worst. People standing stiffly against the wall, juggling a tiny plate of appetizers and a stack of business cards. Name tags. Elevator pitches. It’s not pretty, and most people get nothing from it.

Coworking allows you to network without the pain and humiliation. Your fellow coworking members are some of the most talented, successful professionals in town. And you get to sit next to them every day! Instead of 5 minutes of small talk, you’ll have real, meaningful conversations with people who can and will refer you work.

2. An Elevated Reputation

Joining a coworking space might seem like a big jump for your career. Maybe you’re just starting out, and profits are still tight. That’s fine, we’ve all been there. Even though you may starting a business out of your garage, that’s not the best place to meet potential clients. Coworking provides the professional image you can’t yet afford. A conference room with presentation equipment, quiet areas to take important phone calls, work space for brain storming sessions, etc. You’ll also get a business mailing address and someone to sign for your packages while you’re at lunch. For no extra charge! (P.O. boxes alone can cost more than $20 a month).

3. A Tribe 

Are you looking to grow your business? Want to avoid those first-time freelancer mistakes? Need constructive feedback on a project from someone other than your mother? These are the intangibles provided by your coworking tribe. For about a dollar a day, you’ll have access to some of the brightest minds in the business. People who have been there and lived to tell the tale. Professionals who can give you advice, sympathize with your failures, and rejoice in your victories. Coworkers share their knowledge freely, knowing that strong small businesses are the backbone of our larger community. We participate to help each other become better.

Where else are you gonna get that for $38?

Want to give coworking a try? Claim your obligation-free day pass to Cohere Community right now!

Image Credit: Flickr – mdanys/Hub Vilnius

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