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

 

Free Coworking Week in Fort Collins August 28-September 1

EVENT: Back to School, Back to (Co)Work // Free Week of Coworking!

As students go back to school, schedules shift, and summer break comes to an end, The Fort Collins Coworking Alliance invites you to go back to (co)work!

The shift from summer to fall often ignites an eagerness for increased productivity and building new connections. Coworking provides an ideal opportunity to get more motivated, connected, and productive by offering a professional environment away from the distractions and comfort of home to help you get more work done.

When:

From August 28 through September 1, the Fort Collins Coworking Alliance is hosting a free week of coworking for you to try out different coworking options in Fort Collins and find the best place for you to kick start your productivity.

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday will be dedicated to free coworking days at the different coworking spaces, each space open to free coworking on a different day based on its location. On Thursday and Friday, receive 25% off the first month of any membership at all participating coworking spaces when you sign up for your preferred coworking space.

Schedule of Events: (space addresses found here)

Monday // Downtown // Free day of coworking at The Articulate and FVC Mesh, 9AM-5PM

Tuesday // Downtown // Free day of coworking at Cohere**, Digital Workshop Center, 9AM-5PM

Wednesday // Campus-Midtown-South // Free day of coworking at Music District, Front Range Business Center and Office Evolution, 9AM-5PM

Thursday & Friday // All Coworking Spaces // Free day of coworking at your preferred space, 9AM-5PM.

Sign up to join any co-working location on Thursday or Friday and get 25% off the first month of any membership!

Don’t miss this opportunity to try coworking or finally take the plunge into a membership to find the right fit for you. Time to get back to (co)work!

RSVP on the Facebook event page.

If you have any questions, comment below or email info@focoworks.com

**Cohere has very few memberships available so get here early!

Community Cultivators: Cohere Coworking

I want to take a moment to recognize the FIVE Cohere members who make Cohere run smoothly. Adding several cultivators has really taken our community to the next level. While I still do much of the broader organization for Cohere (see also: Amazon Prime Orders), having this capable crew on tap has made all the difference in my sanity and has distributed responsibility across many people rather than everything landing squarely on my plate.

Alaina Massa: Team Tidy

For those of you who are really paying attention to details, my Cohere Bandwidth staff person is Tim Massa. These two are married and having both on the team is infinitely better than just having only one. Alaina recently took over the big task of keeping Cohere’s space in tip-top shape. She comes under the cover of darkness each week and when we arrive the next morning, everything is sparkling. If you are in need of some clean, contact Choice City Cleaning.

Carrie Lamanna: Copy Editing Magic

Carrie is a writer/editor/professor by trade and I’ve recently had her start copy editing all of my coworking consulting resources. I *know* I’m an average writer and having Carrie as my secret weapon helps me deliver more consistent content that makes more sense. She did NOT edit this post so don’t blame her for my flaws.

Andy Brown: Tours & More

Andy is an expert in e-media analytics and pretty much the nicest human ever. He cares for the basic maintenance around Cohere: finding rare light bulbs for old fixtures, minding the recycling and alerting me when supplies get low. He also does the bulk of our tours and orientations for prospective and new members. Book a date with Andy here. 

Jenny Benton-Fischer: Tours, Sarcasm and Therapy for Angel

Jenny and I have been running into each other for something like 15 years and she’s been a remote member of Cohere for YEARS. Her recent move back to graphic design freelance finally freed her up to be here in person. I knew she was “The One” when we both said a swear in her interview. Book a tour with Jenny.

Kim Kimball: Rocket Ships, Math and Jokes

Kim wanted a way to spend more time in the coworking area vs. his neat little office downstairs so he came on board to help out too. Kim works remotely for the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena under the guise of IT but usually just does hard math a lot. He’s also super good at scrubbing the kitchen sink (which, honestly, is why I had my eye on him to Cultivate anyway). He’ll be giving tours and delighting the members with his quick wit and Roomba jokes.

I do sincerely hope you’ll come visit us and meet our amazing team of Cohere Cultivators. They are equipped to help you meet other coworking members, find a fork or recommend a lunch spot in Downtown Fort Collins.

Honorable Mention: Harvey Wallbanger

Named by member Julie Sutter, Harvey is the unsung hero of Cohere. Between the tree seed pods, the cottonwood fluff and spilled coffee grounds, Harvey fires up at midnight each night and keeps our floor spotless. He also often gets trapped or stuck and we have to rescue him. It’s a labor of love though.

 

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.

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?

From Coffee Shops to Coworking in Old Town Fort Collins


Beth abandoned coffee shops and joined Cohere as a Wayfarer where she writes and writes, smiling all the while.

**enjoy this post by member Beth Buczynski from our archives**

Then…

Before I became a freelancer, I used to fantasize about what it would be like to be the master of my own professional domain. No unreasonable boss limiting my creativity, never being forced to support something I didn’t believe in, and no need to leave the house to work- ever.

When I finally made the leap to full time freelancing, I realized that while working right across the hall from my bed was oh-so-convenient, it didn’t always encourage me to be productive (or professional).

The Pain…

So I set out in search of alternative work environments, and like so many freelancers, soon found myself adrift in the coffee shop circuit in Old Town Fort Collins. Constantly searching for a dependable wireless connection, I bounced from one coffee shop to the next, feeling lost and frustrated, and hoping that my purchase of a bagel and bottomless coffee would be enough to buy me some uninterrupted time when I could finally get some work done.

Between tiny tables, screaming children, and constantly smelling like I’d used my own clothes to clean out the espresso machine, I managed to squeeze out just enough work to get by, but noticed myself becoming desperate for stimulating conversation throughout the day…and an internet connection that wouldn’t unexplainably kick me off right when I hit ‘submit’ on a really important assignment.

The week I was forced to leave three different coffee shops after unsuccessful attempts to coax my computer and their router to be friends, I knew I had hit rock bottom, and decided it was time to find a better solution to my office-less-ness. That something turned out to be coworking.

Now…

After a little more than a month at Cohere (update: Beth has been a member for over a year now), I’m happy to report that the urges to hurl my laptop out the window have completely subsided now that I have access to a rock solid internet connection, ample electrical outlets, and an amazing selection of desk space that allows me to spread out and get comfortable before a day of work.

Unlike a coffee shop, we encourage you to talk with your neighbors.

When I get up in the morning, I know that instead of fighting soccer moms, business lunches, and college kids for room to work, I have a specific place to come every day where the only other people within earshot are those also interested in being productive (and occasionally ignoring work altogether to laugh, debate the proper punctuation of a bulleted list, and devour a cupcake).

The members that make up Cohere have become a source of inspiration, motivation, innovation, and levity in my life, not only making me a better writer, but also a better, more connected member of the community at large.

If you’re tired of dragging your laptop from one tattered coffee shop couch to another, I encourage you to give coworking a try. You might come for the internet and the cushy chair, but you’ll stay for the conversation, collaboration, and support.

 

 

Prospective Intern Cheat Sheet

Cohere’s hiring process for interns can be a bit unconventional. I’ve asked the most recent 2 applicants to attend our first annual chili cook-off as their introduction to the community. No interview questions allowed, no khaki slacks required. In fact, if you hand me a resume, I’ll show you the door. I sure hope you’re reading this.

You might be nervous to come to a social event for your first “interview.” That’s normal and I guarantee that your parents and career counselors are probably googling “Cohere Fort Collins” with confusion. They’re probably scratching their heads wondering how to prepare you for such an innovative interview process. Okay, they probably aren’t using the word innovative.

Here are FOUR tidbits of advice to help you at a social event-interview:

  1. You’ve already received an email from me so you know what to bring. Bringing anything more than that will just weigh you down. Especially when we pit you against one another in a foot race to take down the company flag on the roof.
  2. Ditch the business cards. We’re far enough in to this relationship that I’ve googled you, checked your Facebook pages (before you changed your privacy settings) and seen if you’re on twitter. I know how to find you. I don’t need your tiny paper bio.
  3. Treat this social event like any social event you’ve attended in your life. We’re not so much about leveraging business contacts as we are getting to know each other. Leave your credentials behind and talk about your hobbies instead.
  4. If you’re hired, you’ll have many bosses. Any member can become your boss at any moment. There’s no use in sucking up to one person and ignoring the rest. It won’t get you anywhere.

Stay tuned for more crib notes on how to land this internship. If you’ve just come across this and WANT to be a Cohere intern, let me know why.

Image credit: maveric2003

Our blog is pretty awesome.
What are you looking for?

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Stay in touch with news and events from the Cohere community with a monthly subscription to our newsletter.

The only spam we like is fried. We assume you feel the same.