“Maximizing Synergy and Backward Revenue Streams”

The Cohere Coworking Community is a verbal group. We enjoy a good conversation about words. Let’s discuss one.

Synergy might be the most overused word right now behind the recently revived “D*****bag.”  I get annoyed with the word synergy because people use it for everything.  “I’m going to synergize my workout by adding weights.”  “Let’s get some synergy going at lunch today.”  “That D-bag totally ruined the synergy we talked about.”  None of these phrases makes any sense.

What is synergy?

Screw the dictionary.com and wikipedia definitions and let’s get back to an example that we can relate to.  The best use of synergy is when the ghostbusters cross the streams of their proton packs to destroy Gozer.  Initially, the ghostbusters thought that crossing streams would be detrimental.  Similarly, many business people shy away from joining networking groups where other people in their same profession are members.  This is lame and a totally unrealistic and unproductive way to approach business.  Don’t avoid crossing streams with people in the same field as you.  Who knows, if you cross streams with similar people, you’ll be able to destroy a demon from a parallel universe.  Don’t discount the magic that can happen through co-opetition.

The intersection of ideas and passion between like minded people is where the true synergy happens.  Synergy: working with others to achieve more together than you could alone.

Please give some critical thought to the word synergy and let’s clean it up a bit so that it can get its meaning back.

3 Coworking Benefits for the Entire Family

Guest post from a member’s husband. Cohere Coworking Community has far reaching benefits beyond what individual members gain from the experience of coworking.

Since my wife has started coworking at Cohere it has unexpectedly improved my life in a few ways, and it has nothing to do with additional income.  It has increased the quality of our life here at home, making me a huge fan.  Not that we want to get rid of her, but we are thrilled that she is coworking!  Here’s why:

1. Quality one-on-one time with the kids

I work all day and have few quality moments with my boys during the week.   I get home during the chaos of dinner and bedtime routines.  On coworking nights, my boys and I set up the living room like a movie theater, turn off all of the lights and wrap up with blankets and popcorn.  We watch fun movies and eat candy that my wife probably wouldn’t let them eat during the day.  We call this “Boy’s Party” and it’s the highlight of our week.

2. Decreases guilt/increases balance for personal activities

I am an avid fly fisherman and the river is my sanctuary.  Being able to get out with my flyrod is really important and recharges me.  With my wife having a dedicated night for coworking, I’ve been able to have a dedicated fishing night.  It’s a great balance and we don’t feel guilty for having our own personal interests.

3. Moments of peace and quiet

On the nights that my wife coworks, after the kids are in bed, the house is silent.  There’s nobody to talk to, there’s nothing to think about.  It’s a treasured moment of true peace and silence, which is much needed after a long day at work.  It’s quite relaxing and restful – everyone should have a few moments to themselves to decompress.

You’d think that with our busy life and day’s full of activities that my wife leaving for night coworking once a week would be taxing, but it’s not.  It actually helps us balance some important aspects of all of our lives.

Moms: Try out a Free Day Pass for night coworking every Wednesday night between 4pm-10pm. BYOWine/Beer if you need it!

Coworking: Solution for Moms to Grow Small Businesses

Enjoy this guest post from member Kristin Mastre on how Cohere Coworking Community gave her much needed balance between being a stay at home mom and a small business owner.

Having my cake and eating it too.

Member Kristin coworks every Wednesday night while her husband hangs out with the kids.

The other day, my kids and I were attending a birthday party for one of my older son’s preschool friends.  As the kids were running around jumping in bounce houses and sliding down slides, another mom and I had a chance to chat.

“Congrats on all of the progress you’ve made with work!  You deserve it.  You’ve worked really hard.  There are quite a few moms around town who are envious that you have it all.  You have a balance of staying at home, but still working in a career both at the same time.  A lot of people wish they could do the same.”

It was an incredibly flattering compliment, and it wouldn’t have gotten it without the help from my membership at Cohere, where I can live that double life while night coworking.  I do have a great balance with home and work.   I get to take my boys to everything they want to do – karate classes, attend school field trips and park days;  I also plan meetings, collaborate and grow my business and passion.

I get to have my cake and eat it too.

Being a work-at-home-mom is isolating and frustrating, often times feeling like you’re talking to yourself (or the walls).   When I was at my lowest point in motherhood, I joined a moms group and became an active member, essentially saving my sanity.  When becoming an entrepreneur, it seemed like a natural step to join Cohere to network with other Fort Collins professionals.

Fortunately, Cohere had the perfect membership for me where I could still keep my flexible work-at-home lifestyle and cowork with other local freelancers at the same time.  It’s great!  One night a week I leave the boys at home with their dad so they can have “boys party”, watching movies and eating popcorn.  They enjoy sharing their special bonding time together.  I get to pack up and head off to Cohere where I get an incredible amount of work done while forming business relationships that are taking my career to the next level.

Without my membership at Cohere, my business growth would take a lot longer, not having those vital professional connections.  Also, my kids would be missing out on some important one-on-one time with their dad.  We really do have the perfect balance that way and it wasn’t difficult to obtain, thanks to night coworking at Cohere!

Try out a free night of coworking any Wednesday on us!

5 Ways Coworking Could Save Your Small Business

A lot of people are talking about coworking. But does it really make that much of a difference?

Starting a business isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. Most entrepreneurs are so interested in keeping the bills paid, they forget how vital things like fresh air and conversation can be to their business’ success.

If you’re debating whether or not to give coworking a try, here are some compelling reasons to experience work outside the home office:

1. Motivation

Joining a coworking community is like getting a double shot of motivation right in the ticker. It might surprise you to know that there are people that will find your ideas/talents/products impressive and constantly encourage you to reach for more. They are called coworkers, and they are waiting to assure you that there is a reason to keep going.

2. Networking

Aside from those special souls that were born for cold calling, have you ever met someone that really enjoys networking events? There’s all that awkward glancing between face and name tag, painful small talk about the catered food, and the inevitable fumbling for the business card.

When you’re a coworker, networking ceases to be a traumatizing monthly event and instead becomes a natural part of your daily conversation. Each day, you’ll be sitting next to someone new, with a whole set of talents, ambitions, and business contacts waiting to be discovered.

3. Bartering

Money tight? Working in a community of small business owners and freelancers means that everyone can relate to clients who ignore invoices and struggling bank accounts. But instead of breaking down, coworkers barter. Chances are, within 20 feet of your laptop you’ll find someone that’s willing to trade you graphic design work for some help with marketing, or new head shots in exchange for a snappy press release.

4. Outsourcing

(No, not like that terrible show that replaced Parks and Rec). If you’ve got more work than you know what to do with, there’s no need to give up sleep or force your family into indentured servitude. As a coworker, you have a built in pool of talented, motivated people all around you that will probably be interested in picking up your slack for pay or barter. Not only will your clients think you’ve developed super human powers because of how fast things will get done, you’ll gain major karma points in the freelancing community.

5. Creativity

Traditional businesspeople swear by “location, location, location.” For coworkers, the mantra is “ideas, ideas, ideas.” Writer’s block, brain farts, and design paralysis are no match for a community of creatively endowed people. If a problem project has you stymied, try shouting it out to the built in focus group seated all around you (check to make sure they don’t have their headphones in first).  You might be surprised at how quickly you’ll have more ideas than than ever.

Wanna give coworking a try? Claim your free day pass to Cohere Community and prepare to be wowed!

Flickr Image Credits: KHawkins04 | ShashiBellamkonda

Employees choose community over cubicles

Courtesy TBD… for full story

Talk IS cheap

Talking is easy and basically free.  I’ve heard the phrase “talk is cheap” a lot lately. Most often, people are referring to the idea that it’s easy to talk about something but entirely different (read: more difficult) to actually DO something.  I’d like to make the argument that talk is a cheap solution, especially when this basic tool nets your company an extra $15 million in productivity gains!

Source: MIT Human Dynamics Lab

Source: MIT Human Dynamics Lab via Forbes magazine

Thumbing through the August 30th issue of Forbes today was enlightening. Normally I’d be reading The Oatmeal on a Friday afternoon but inspiration struck as I leafed through what I refer to as the “millionaire’s guide to making me feel poor”.

MIT did a ‘reality mining’ study by placing sensors around subjects’ (employees of a call center) necks.  The sensors recorded who each person talked to and for how long. The results yielded some interesting patterns in human behavior and productivity.

The employees who “talked to MORE coworkers got through calls faster, felt less stressed and had the same approval rating as their peers.”

In an effort to capitalize on these results, the company made a simple shift. They allowed employees to take coffee breaks at the same time rather than staggering them throughout the day.

What happens between employees on a coffee break isn’t just office gossip. They talk about customers *gasp* and those customers’ problems, which creates a very large, very useful database of information that is not stored ANYWHERE else.

“Informally talking out problems and solutions…produced better results than following the employee handbook or obeying mangers’ e-mailed instructions.”

One simple change: allowing employees to talk to one another over the water cooler increased productivity to the tune of $15 million in one year.

You don’t need to fully understand a phenomena to implement it or benefit from it. And that’s why we cowork. Every member of the Cohere Coworking Community has come to realize that “coworking” together offers a set of benefits that are quite impossible to get at home or in the coffee shop. We increase our stores of readily available knowledge of technical tools, social networks and every day problem solving by talking, asking questions and sharing information. Together, we can solve problems more quickly and find answers more easily all day instead of waiting for a mandated coffee break.

The message from this story is simple.  Get more work done faster by leveraging social networks and talking to a wide variety of people every day.

What have you learned today?

Read full Forbe’s story.

Humanity through pants by @_achiang

Cohere member Alex Chiang circa 1996

When I left $GIANTSOULSUCKINGMEGACORP for a kinder, gentler startup, one of the perqs I was most anticipating was workingfrom my home office all the time. There are few things more enjoyable in life than a gentle breeze wafting through the mesh of a Herman Miller Aeron chair, cooling your nether regions while you write exquisite, elegant code.

I mean, let’s face it — your home is your castle, and if the king doesn’t want to wear pants, well, it’s good to be the king.  For the first few months, I reveled in the glory of the home office: a 10-second commute, bacon and coffee on demand, and I’d never miss the FedEx guy again.  But a funny thing happened on the way to the insane asylum. I found myself compulsively ordering completely useless tchotchkes from Amazon just so I could talk to the FedEx guy, who was becoming increasingly nervous about coming to my door, even after we both agreed on a pants policy.

I was discovering that extended periods of time cut off from outside human contact made Alex something something. It was about this time that my colleage, Paul Hummer, mentioned this rad group of people at his coworking space, Cohere. At first, I was mildly surprised that my beloved cow town of Fort Collins was progressive enough to support a real live coworking space. But then I remembered that everyone here drinks two quarts of jawesome juice for breakfast every morning and thought to myself, “of course Fort Collins must have a coworking space; something sweet must have happened by now and I’m missing out on it!”

I tagged along with Paul for one visit and I was hooked. Here was a self-selected group of savvy, motivated, and let’s be honest — just darn attractive people — with a diversity of talent and a shared love of lolcats. A chorus of O HAIs! greeted me and I knew that Cohere was my cure for the subterranean stircrazy blues brought by a basement office. The synergies are subtle for me; I’m a computer plumber, after all, a low level bit banger who still insists on 80-column text terminals for email. Unfortunately, computing plumbing abstractions leak from time to time. The coworkers at Cohere cover a diverse swath of backgrounds, but they all tend to be sophisticated technology mavens, and observing them cope with broken software is like being in the world’s greatest real-time useability lab. So it works. And in return, they put up with my strange obsession of the platypus.

My company’s flagship product, Ubuntu Linux, is named for a Bantu word meaning “humanity towards others”. Archbishop Desmond Tutu said of it: We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole world. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.

To me, that captures the essence of coworking and Cohere. Freelancer or not, you can’t work well all by yourself. You owe it to yourself to plug into a community, leaving it better than when you found it, and maximizing yourself both professionally and personally in the process. We’ve got a great community at Cohere. Come check it out. We’ll leave the wifi on for you.

Read more of Alex’s musings on twitter and his blog.

Who’s in YOUR Petri Dish?

The Power of Connection

Connection means different things to different people, but in reality, it is at the core of our DNA. It’s something I knew from a science perspective, but never truly “got” at a lifestyle level until now.

I recently sat in on a presentation by Joan King, a Ph.D in Neurosciences and Psychology, who also served as the Chair of the Department of Anatomy and Cellular Biology for the Tufts University School of Medicine. Her talk was short, but left an impact. She focused on the neurology of connection, explaining the basic function of cells and how they work independently and as a unit.

She pointed out that when cells are separated in a Petri dish, they immediately start searching for other cells to connect with and form a bond. If unable to find a connection, they die.

This is why I feel Cohere is a great alternative for dis-connected workers. As a writer who works primarily from a home office, I often spent long days alone, especially while working on deadline. My in-person connection to like minds faded quickly in exchange for purely digital relationships and writing deadlines. Even though I couldn’t put my finger on it, I always felt a little something was missing.

Transition to More Fun and Enhanced Creativity

As I transitioned to showing up at a welcoming, laid back place to work, I realized just how much I missed the energy of buzzing minds and spontaneous creative collaborations. I find it extremely helpful to share and exchange ideas with others who are not directly tied to my project, but offer incredibly valuable insight on new approaches or solutions.

Its even MORE fun to blow off steam and be silly in the middle of the day for no reason other than to decompress and have a good time. My membership is a great reminder that as a human being I can give myself permission to infuse light, laughter and play into my day at a moment’s notice, but the choice is up to me.

The Cohere “Workday”

From left: Julie, Katrina and Suzanne discuss a marketing problem.

I get work done as efficiently, perhaps even more so at Cohere because there are others  working right alongside me; people focused on their passions too. My fellow Coherians also remind me that I am a human being allowed to take breaks.   I’m not just some content machine always chugging towards the next deadline.

Cohere Madam, Miss Angel, is fantastic about organizing collaborative events, and my workmates also create spontaneous opportunities to grab lunch, snacks or entice me to delve into a fun, five minute video diversion.

I want to take this opportunity to applaud the core values and culture of Cohere, as well as those I cowork with on a regular basis. I have met and connected with amazing people, people who not only inspire me in my current business, but really activate me to take my company, Buzzword, to the next level. More importantly, the like-mind connections I am creating help me craft my very own kick-ass Petri dish.

Coworking: this is your brain on creativity

I’m always amazed by the stuff that ends up on the whiteboards at Cohere.  The coworkers have particularly vivid brain dump sessions late at night or when plagued by tough decisions that need to be made.  Last week’s work filled an entire board on how to promote a headless pig keychain with client instructions to  “make sure the tagline is borderline inappropriate.”  How fun is that!?  I wasn’t able to capture that session in a photo but here are some more that will let you peek under Cohere’s hood to see what’s happening.

Left: I’m not sure what problem they were working on here but it appears to be a mashup of a merchandising problem for our resident fashionista Suzanne and Zachariah’s take on that problem using some PHP coding.  Who knows but it sure does look neat.

Right: Here we have the random happy thoughts board that took shape during Cohere’s grand opening.  Several people tucked away in the library nook to write words of encouragement or funny quips like “I want to play madlibs here.”  How cute is that!?

Left: The phone room is Paul’s favorite place to work out Python coding problems and #inappropriatecorner is host to any number of random quotes and methods of mockery to keep things light hearted.

What is the moral of this visual journey through Cohere’s collective brain?  Don’t judge our weirdness and propensity for silliness, come be a part of it.  There’s a blank board waiting for you.

The Creative Genius

At Cohere’s #frankfriday lunch and learn session today, the Cohere group of coworkers had a stimulating discussion about the creative genius. Several of us had already seen Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk on creativity which caused me to look it up and share it with you. Does the creative genius have to destroy the artist or can artists learn to engage in a conversation with the genius and become a conduit for it?

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