Meet the Cohere Coworking Members: Felix Wong

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.

Felix Wong

Mechanical Engineering Consultant

http://felixwong.com

photo by Adam Tow

Felix lost his neck in Missouri.

A dozen or so people a year get Shemer’s Neck, a condition unique to ultra-distance cycling. It involves the complete failure of all the postural muscles of the neck, making it impossible to keep your head upright. Especially on a bike.

The timing wasn’t the greatest. He was riding his bike from Oregon to Virginia in the second annual Trans Am Bike Race and rode the last thousand miles or so that way.

“That was problematic because I couldn’t see the road, I couldn’t turn my head around,” he recalls. “Eventually I had to raise my aero bars from horizontal to vertical just so I could be resting my hands on top of the aero bars like a cruiser bike. And that way I was able to sit up enough that I could make out the road in front of me enough to continue on, but that introduced a whole host of other problems.”

He rode the last 24 hours straight with his right hand on top of the aero bars and his left hand propping up his head. “That was about the only way I could see the road safely.”

Citing concerns about personal safety, he took a cab five miles to his hotel after riding his bike 4,200 miles. The journey took him just under 24 days.

Shermer's Neck

Felix with Shermer’s Neck

So what’s this guy’s back story, anyway?

Felix, a California native, studied Mechanical Engineering at Stanford, lived in Silicon Valley for 12 years and moved to Fort Collins in 2005. Like Becca, he had set up a spreadsheet of different prospective cities to move to and settled on Fort Collins.

“I had actually been researching close to three dozen places in the U.S. and a few places in Canada over a period of four years. And when I decided to pull the trigger and move somewhere else from Silicon Valley then I went to visit all of them and ultimately picked fort Collins.”

Felix does mechanical design for sheet and machine metal products as well as finite element analysis, which is a numerical method to optimize parts for either strength or weight and to predict failure.

What’s something you’ve been involved with from conceptualization to fruition that you thought was really cool?

“I designed, for an amusement park in California,* one of the first automatic ticketing machines. So basically, like an ATM machine for tickets. This was about 15 or 16 years ago and that was actually kind of a new thing back then….

“That’s something I designed from scratch for a startup company in California that I don’t think is around anymore.”

* Six Flags

How did you stumble across Cohere?

Felix learned about Cohere from a former coworking member and joined last August. Coffee shops weren’t working out for him due to noise and bandwidth.

“This was before I went off to Spain and I had a number of deadlines that I had to meet before going there and I wanted to be as efficient and productive as possible with a minimal amount of distractions.” Cat, refrigerator, workout equipment.

What’s an unusual talent that you have?

“I am extremely talented in sleeping. I can sleep in any position or almost any situation, for example, … during races such as the Trans Am Bike Race or the Tour Divide I’ve slept in basically the weeds or behind guard rails or under picnic tables. It’s never been a problem.”

This fascinates me. I’ve had insomnia for as long as I can remember and a drippy faucet, a radiator or simple brain chemistry can keep me awake for hours.

“My greatest passion of my life has been ultra-distance cycling. I think a couple things I’m the proudest of is one, being one of the original eight finishers of a bike race called the Tour Divide which is considered the granddaddy of all ultra-distance self-supported bicycle races in the world. It’s a race that goes from Banff in Alberta Canada all the way down to the Mexico border with New Mexico. The year I did 2008 was the inaugural year … it was documented by a movie called Ride the Divide.”

Eight of seventeen people who began that race finished, Felix in sixth.

Felix also has a lifetime goal of running a marathon in every state. He has 17 to go.

So my self-esteem just took a slight dip.

Shermer's Neck Felix Wong Trans Am Bike Race

Felix with Shermer’s Neck

What is your favorite walkable restaurant?

“I really like Tasty Harmony even though I’m a certified omnivore and all of their food is either vegetarian or vegan but I really like how all of their food locally sourced, organic, it’s healthy and it’s really tasty also.”

Second to the people, Felix says his favorite thing about Cohere is the location.

“I like that it’s down in Old Town … plus it is walkable to a lot of different restaurants in town. I also have other meetings nearby. For example, every Tuesday morning including this morning I have a French meetup where I get together with people having conversations in French. Or Monday evenings I have a Spanish conversation meetup which actually some Coherians come to.”

Felix is also studying Mandarin and can order food in Portuguese.

What kind of music are you in to?

“I’ve been really into music from this Spanish artist named Pablo Alborán. I found him on Spotify and just went into a big Spanish music phase after being in Spain for six weeks late last year.”

What makes a good Coherian?

“Someone who brings in pastries every now and then. (laughs)

“Someone who brings in a positive vibe, a positive energy and just makes the workplace more pleasant.”

Read Felix’s blog about Shermer’s Neck here.

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

Or drop in for the free coworking day during Fort Collins Startup Week.

Meet the Cohere Coworking Members: Gina Hooten

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.

Gina Hooten

Financial Analysis & Cost Accounting Manager
• University of Utah

Gina has been remote working since 2010, when she first moved to Fort Collins. She mentioned to a friend at one point that working from home was driving her mad (an experience I’m guessing at least two-thirds of Coherians have had), and her friend mentioned coworking spaces. And guess who was super close to home and, coincidentally, awesome? You guessed it: Galvanize.

Just kidding, it was Cohere.

Gina, who does cost accounting for Utah State University, lived with her family in Logan, UT, Colombia, MO and Manhattan, KS prior to moving here. I occasionally glimpse at some project she’s working on in Excel and feel completely illiterate despite having an MBA.

In response to the question, “What’s your favorite place you have ever lived?” Gina basically told me: (D) All of the above.

“Fort Collins has the best beer, Logan had the best skiing, Missouri had the best pizza, Manhattan had the best football.”

I like this because, (a) It’s fashionable to disparage my home state, Kansas, but it gets old. I’m glad when people who live in great places like Fort Collins or Moab look back on life in Kansas and say, “That was great, too!” (b) Not that many people claim to have been equally happy living in several places so different from one another. Gina’s response reflects something I already know, which is that she’s a very positive person.

What makes Cohere unique?

“I think this place is unique because it’s funky and it’s full of entrepreneurs and creative types. So I’m an accountant, right? I come in here and I’m surrounded by people doing weird things. In my life I work with spreadsheets and most of the people in here are not. It has kind of a hippy vibe to me, just very earthy, and that’s one of the things I like about it the most. It’s very genuine and relaxed.”

Favorite hobbies:

Knitting, cross country and downhill skiing, hiking and reading (especially science fiction). Patricia Briggs, Gina’s favorite author, is her self-professed guilty pleasure.

Do you have any pet peeves?

“I have trouble listening to people eat. It bothers me a lot (laughs). Other than that, I’m pretty reasonable, I think.”

What’s your favorite walkable restaurant?

Pickle Barrel. It’s like the happiest place on the planet. I love it – It’s fantastic. And then Scrumpy’s is also very good. They’re fantastic. Their BLTC is the best, with guacamole instead of mayo, that’s where it’s at.”

What makes a good Coherian?

“I would say someone who likes to laugh, because I think that’s what we like to do here. It really makes this place so wonderful, that we crack each other up. That’s one of the reasons I like Cohere, is to laugh during the workday. Because otherwise there’s no point.”

Favorite books:

“Right now, Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson books are probably my favorite. She writes one book a year and I re-read all the ones before it before I read the new one. Picking up and reading a new book is sometimes like meeting new people, and sometimes it’s hard to do that. So I just keep reading books that I’ve read over and over again.”

Favorite movie:

Big Lebowski. “That’s our Christmas movie and we watch it every year.”

In case you, like me, just realized you’re about 15 years overdue for Lebowski fix, you may have to dig out the VCR because it’s not on Netflix. Don’t get it mixed up with the fax machine sitting in your parents’ basement.

Go-to work music: Xavier Rudd

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

John Garvey is a Coherian, business journalist and marketing copywriter. Browse his portfolio here. Do it.

 

Meet the Cohere Coworking Members: Drew MacPherson

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.

Drew MacPherson

Research Manager

So coworkers, I finally figured out who’s behind all the weird new internet domains like .social, .today, .restaurant, .llc and even .rip (for Rest in Peace). It’s Drew.

Drew works for Donuts Inc, which manages the world’s largest portfolio of top level domains (TLDs).  Urban Dictionary helpfully defines TLDs as “the part of the url that comes after the final period and before the slash.” That’s pretty important to a lot of organizations and people managing their digital identities. For coworking, there isn’t a “.cowork” yet, but if you have about $225,000 burning a hole in your pocket, now you know who to talk to.

The most outlandish and funny domain that Drew ever encountered at work (TLD) was bong.rip. I know you’re disappointed you didn’t think of it first, but something else will come around.

Drew moved here in late 2016, three months prior to his son’s birth. He seems like he has his crap together a lot more than I ever remember feeling when my son was barely one year old.

“We came from Seattle, which I will take sunny and frigid cold over the winter weather there which, literally the forecast now is high of 43, low of 37, rain. Every day.”

Drew lived in Seoul, S. Korea for two years teaching English. Since that time, he’s lived in all the hipster places: a couple years in Austin, a fairly long stint in Seattle, and now Fort Collins.

What’s your favorite walkable restaurant?

“I’m definitely partial to Choice City, despite the insane waits some days. Their sandwiches are just super-delicious and I’ve definitely indulged in a sandwich and a pint on a Friday for lunch when I know I don’t have a lot of work to do.”

What’s makes Cohere special to you?

“Certainly the people are a big part of it. I’ve enjoyed meeting everyone that I have here and had some great funny conversations, some serious conversations.

“I do love the building itself. I mean, this building has soul and a bit of character and I know so many other spaces have kind of an office feel. So it’s really a cozy and comfortable place to come.”

Have you ever eaten a Puffin?

“I have not gotten to experience eating puffin – I consider this to be something missing from my life.”

Favorite pastime

“Honestly just walking. I’ve had a dog for ten years and made a commitment to walking it morning and evening. I’d probably, if I didn’t have to work, spend so much of my day walking. It’s simple but it’s wonderful.”

Favorite song

Sunday Morning Coming Down” (the Johnny Cash version)

Honorable mentions:

“These Days,” by Nicco is one of my favorites, my wife and I. She kind of introduced me to it and we had it as our procession song at the wedding. “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” is another favorite, as is “My Proud Mountains” by Townes Van Zandt.

Long live Townes Van Zandt!

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

My home is Colorado
With their proud mountains tall
Where the rivers like gypsies
Down her black canyons fall
I’m a long, long way from Denver
With a long way to go
So lend an ear to my singing
‘Cause I’ll be back no more

  • Townes Van Zandt

John Garvey is a Cohere member, business journalist and marketing copywriter. You can see his work on his crappy beta website here. Stay posted for John’s GoFundMe campaign to raise $250,000 for a .garvey top level domain.

Meet Cohere Coworking Member Tavia Mirassou-Wolf

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.

Tavia Mirassou-Wolf

Communications and Development Manager

Sustainable Schools International

Tavia was most recently in her home state last September to run the Oregon Coast Rainshadow 50K. Coincidentally, her wedding reception was the following day.

Typical.

While that was Tavia’s first ultramarathon, she’s done several triathlons and other endurance races.

“It’s definitely one of my biggest pastimes. I spend a lot of time exercising.”

Tavia’s trademark hair has been purple, pink and (currently) magenta in the past year.

“I’ve always liked to have a brighter color, because you only live once. You might as well have some fun.”

Tavia has a Master’s in Public Health with a focus on global health and health disparities. She has more nonprofit experience than you can shake a stick at. That includes working as a health educator and support group coordinator for individuals with HIV/AIDS, English as a second language and reading tutor for low-income kids, nonprofit development aid focused on education for foster children, and an internship in Uganda evaluating a mental health facilitator program.

“I’ve been working in nonprofits basically ever since I can remember.”

Tavia currently works for Sustainable Schools International (SSI), which focuses on sustainable education for rural economic development in Cambodia.

Summarize what you do with SSI

“I do communications and development so I do all the communications for Sustainable Schools International including social media, monthly newsletters, communicating with donors—anything that has to do with communications, I do it. And then I’m also the manager of development, which is basically fundraising. So I organize and implement all our fundraising appeals and then come up with strategies to gain more funding through grants and foundations and expanding our donor base—things like that.”

What’s your favorite walkable restaurant?

Jax happy hour is the best. Happy hour’s awesome because you can get shrimp for five dollars and their drinks are really good, and so are their truffle fried potatoes!”

What makes Cohere unique?

Tavia began coworking at Cohere one day a week, alternating between our digs and another coworking space. With regard to the other place, “I didn’t feel like there was a huge sense of community. … Their business model was more on education and classes for digital media and then private offices. So they had a coworking space but I don’t really feel like there was a sense of community.

“I feel like here it’s mostly based around community and co-working and I feel like people here share their lives a lot and it’s not just working, which is really cool.”

What makes a good Coherian?

“I think a good Coherian is someone who’s willing to be open and share and help each other and also someone who can receive help.”

What’s a weird talent or something else unusual about you that not a lot of people know?

“I don’t really have any interesting, pointless talents, but I do have nine toes.”

What keeps you grounded?

“One of the major things that keeps me sane is exercising. When I don’t exercise I’m a crazy person. … So that kinda keeps me sane, and then my husband Kirby keeps me sane too. He listens to me when I’m crazy and that’s helpful.”

Do you have a personal mantra?

“You know I haven’t had one for a really long time. I should get a new one, but it used to be ‘Don’t let the sun go down while you’re still angry.’ So I always thought that was a good thing to live your life by. Don’t stay angry too long because you never know what’s gonna happen.”

Favorite book?

The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho

Favorite movie?

Fight Club

Mellow.

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

John Garvey is a Cohere member, business journalist and marketing copywriter. Browse his portfolio here.

Meet the Cohere Coworking Members: Mark Nielsen

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.

Mark Nielsen

Science Education Program Officer Recovering Research Scientist

An Evergreen native, Mark recently moved back to Colorado after a stint in Corvallis, Oregon (where he got a Ph.D. in oceanography), Boston, and D.C. He came back to be near his family and to enjoy the Colorado lifestyle, which as you may have noticed, does not suck.

Mark’s science education app, EarthViewer, has been downloaded 2 ½ million times. It’s available for IOS, Android and as a web app. EarthViewer is free, it’s got a 4+ star rating in the App Store and it provides a mountain of information on the geological history of the earth. Want to know what Indonesia looked like a billion years ago? Try it out.

A Science Education Program Officer, Mark produces educational materials for science classrooms. Among other things, he designs apps and works on documentary films. With regard to documentaries, he’s basically the idea and content manager. When you’re working with scientists that sometimes means being a jargon filter. It also means fact-checking.

What’s your favorite documentary film that you’ve been involved in?

The Farthest. It’s about the grand tour of the Voyager spacecrafts. On that one, I was sort of a behind the scenes fact checker. I just think it’s an amazing film because the science in it is truly awe-inspiring and incredible when you think about it. The Voyager spacecraft is the only spacecraft that’s left the solar system, so it’s the furthest thing that humans have ever sent out there. This artifact out there will go for billions of years and eventually that will be all that’s left of humankind—a little spacecraft that was launched 40 years ago.

So telling that story was truly incredible.

Trailer: The Farthest: Voyager in Space

What’s your favorite walkable restaurant?

La Luz. I go for the burritos. I love burritos, and it’s odd that I would walk that far since there are like 40 restaurants along the way, but I do.

For coffee, I go for Mugs.

What’s a quirky talent that you have?

I can move my chin without the rest of my face. I used to be able to actually grab a pencil with it. I think that might be my only talent.

John: I can attest to this weird and highly-amusing gift. I’m sure you have other talents, Mark, but if that’s your only quirky talent than it’s good enough for me.)

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

I was actually born in Australia and traveled around the world until I was 18 months old. I don’t remember any of it, but I have a deep sense of wanderlust now.

Mark’s dad was an exploration geologist whose work took them to Africa, New Guinea, Bali and elsewhere. I felt stupid for not knowing where Bali was until I looked it up and realized it’s smaller than the park I walk my kids to. Anyway, back to Mark …

Mark: Danish was my first language. I was bilingual from the start but mostly Danish was spoken in the home.

I’m also addicted to karaoke.

What makes Cohere unique?

What makes Cohere special is the community, which is a bit cliché. I think we all say that. But a Coherian has to be a willing participant in that community. That’s what makes coming to work fun for me.

What’s your favorite thing about the physical space?

That’s tough. I’m gonna go with the overall structure. There’s not one big room. You have the main work area, you’ve got the kitchen, the living area, the small conference room, the large conference room—I’ve used all of them. I like all the different options, the variety, and I don’t have a favorite.

Let’s stay on the topic of favorites.

  • Favorite pastime: Hockey. And Mark will totally check you if provoked so if you’re gonna act like a tool make sure you’re wearing hockey pads.
  • Favorite song: “Comfortably Numb,” by Pink Floyd
  • Favorite book: Whatever I’m reading at the moment—I love to read. If I don’t like the first 50 pages I just move on to something else, but I get really into books so after the first 50 pages I have to read all night.

Currently reading: Waking Gods, by Sylvain Neuvel.

(I guess with a name like that it’s only natural to become a science fiction author.)

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

John Garvey is a Cohere member, business journalist and marketing copywriter. You can see his portfolio here

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.

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