Every Day is a Holiday

December 19th, 2014 by Meaghen

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Why Funny Follow-Up is Effective

December 11th, 2014 by Meaghen

Guest post by Rachman Blake, member at NextSpace San Francisco.

May 2014, a Thursday night—technically, Friday morning.

I’m at NextSpace Potrero Hill, still awake after my 4th all-nighter.  I’m at NS so much I’ve become friends with the late night cleaning staff.

I’ve spent hours crafting e-mail invitations to the FunnyBizz Conference on humorous content creation.  Everyone we talk to loves the idea of the conference. We have to get the word out, but with no advertising budget whatsoever we have to rely on good ol’ fashioned hype and word of mouth to spread the news for us. That means finding people who are interested in what we do, which means using Meetup.com to mine for like-minded meetup group organizers, and then ask them to share our conference with their group free of charge—a foolproof strategy.

I go downstairs to take refuge in Yumbin Snack Bin. As I shamelessly load up on late night/morning carbs I begin reading a draft of my e-mail to one of the largest tech meet-up groups in the Bay Area. This e-mail is make or break: if he shares it with his group we’ll hit 20% or more of our target registrations.

Dear Mitchell,

…. blah blah…Would you like to share this conference with your group

Respectfully Yours,

Rachman Blake

No wonder the meetup group organizers have been unresponsive.  I sound like a corporate stiff. No personality, no flavor = no response.

So I turn to Google. What’s the best way to e-mail a complete stranger and ask for a favor? Scott Britton’s e-mail templates suggest making it personal—not “So I see you and your wife Rachel just had your first child, congrats!” when “Hey, I noticed you were mentioned by GigaOm recently, congrats!” comes off as personal without being creepy or feigned—and I seem to accomplish all of the above in my e-mail. It is concise and personal; but alas, no response from Mitchell.

Finding something about the person like an article or a book and mentioning it is a great way to score points.  Lucky me—his  LinkedIn link is broken. I’m not finding any articles he’s written. I’ve got nothing. The combination of sleep deprivation and Pirates Booty popcorn drives me to go a little bit further. When I get back to my desk, I add a touch of humor. One key component to any stand-up comedy act is self-deprecation, which is a form of vulnerability. So I make myself vulnerable, and wouldn’t you know it—this time he responds.

Hi Mitchell,

I tried visiting your LinkedIn profile to find something to comment on in an attempt to make a connection, but the link from your meet up profile is broken. Derp.

So instead, I’ll comment on your meetup picture…with a polo shirt and a large stick, you look like you’re about to lead a revolt in Napa.

His response:

Hi Rock Man (ok that wasn’t funny),*not the first time someone has made a terrible pun with my name, but all is forgiven*

Nice to “e-meet” you (can’t stand it when people write that).

He agrees to share this with his group!  This brings me to my first tip for integrating humor into e-mail.

1. Timing: Use humor when appropriate

Always follow best practices for cold e-mailing. Make it personal. Keep it short. Ask one question, and keep it simple. Then use humor. In my case, I took a gentle swipe at his shirt.  I got a response but I did my research first. I had a feeling Martin wouldn’t mind based on his pictures and selection of meet-up groups. Not everyone will find a stranger asking for favors and using tongue-in-cheek humor amusing, which will leave you where you started—without a response. For your sake, I hope that you never have to deal with people who can’t laugh at a joke, even a bad one, but don’t go overboard; if it crosses the line of good taste, keep it to yourself.

2. Persistence: Funny follow-up is effective

I’ve been emailing with Susan, another Meetup contact, about the conference for several weeks when poof–she disappears and I can’t get a hold of her. The conference is just a week away. Every day sans response means less people attending.

I send her a “follow-up” e-mail.

Nothing.

A day later, I follow up again.

Nothing.

4 days left—there’s still time, but not much.

Like my 11th hour attempt to sway Mitchell, a combination of caffeine and lack of sleep drive me to try something unconventional (thanks to Earle Richards for this idea):

Huzzah! She responds:

So sorry! I’ll send this out today

Aristotle’s definition of humor is “something unexpected, the truth of which is recognized.”

Leave it to everyone’s favorite junk food lover to stand out from the clutter in a busy person’s inbox.  Like my correspondence with Mitchell, I followed-up in the traditional way—GIF-less and on point—before escalating to humor. You may not always need to use it but it’s a nice ace in the hole.

 

Another important member of the meet-up community I had trouble contacting was Michael.

Michael is a venture capitalist who runs a newsletter with several thousand subscribers. I e-mail him the first time with a professional subject heading, and the second time decide to go with “You’re a badass”—decidedly unprofessional, but almost guaranteed to elicit a response.

Michael must get a lot of emails from people who think he’s a badass, because he doesn’t respond. This means it’s time to up the creativity another notch

I borrow a leaf from Salesloft’s book (check out their awesome blog *here*) and use this beauty as a subject heading.

Subject: Chased by a hippo

Are you too busy to respond because you’re being chased by a hippo?

hippo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perhaps the hippo is courteous enough to give him the time to reply, or maybe he just needed to see something funny in order to respond:

Send me information. Happy to share!

He shared it with his group!

E-mail falls into a grey area of communication. It doesn’t have strict guidelines like an academic paper, so it can be informal—not a typo laden e-mail to your college buddy, but by no means does it have to be Ph.D thesis-level either. The average professional sends over 112 e-mails per day, 560 per week, 2240 per month 25,000+ per year. Some of your e-mails will go unanswered. You need to stand out. Funny follow-up is one weapon in your arsenal that, if used properly will get you noticed in someone’s inbox.

You have a chance to influence someone, to bring a smile to a client’s face, to disarm your boss—to be human, just for the sake of being human. If we’re going to spend hours e-mailing, why not make a real connection while we’re at it? One of the best ways to do that is with humor.

 

Rachman Blake is a member of NextSpace San Francisco and the co-founder of AppHeroes a tech recruiting company that connects startups with mobile app developers through live events that use humor. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

 

GCUC earlybird tickets are here!!!

December 9th, 2014 by Erin

The Global Coworking Unconference Conference (GCUC) is headed back to our Coworking roots—where it all began—California! Time to practice your surfing skills, layer your clothing and fall in love with West Coast rap. GCUC is going to Berkeley! Just across the bay from San Francisco we’ll be hosting the biggest gathering of Coworking peeps in the US! Get ready for Camp GCUC, a new conference/unconference format, and the opportunity to tour over 25 coworking spaces.  California here we come!

Buy your tickets here: http://gcuc-usa.ticketleap.com/

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Ask the Experts: How to Create your Dream Job

December 3rd, 2014 by Meaghen

Thinking of changing career paths and striking out in a new direction? It’s a scary thought but one that brings so much excitement with it. If you’re reevaluating your current life plan and need a little kick in the pants, here are three pieces of solid advice from Shirley Huang, Director of Development & Business Affairs at a media production company and beloved Cafe member at NextSpace Los Angeles.

 1. You are your own advocate. Don’t hide your background. Instead, share your knowledge and be willing to learn about the industry from the ground up.

About two years ago, I decided to transition from private law practice into the entertainment industry to pursue my passion for helping creative projects go forward.  Having started my legal career as a paralegal, I didn’t have much of an ego about starting my entertainment career as an intern and freelance production assistant. I didn’t hide my legal background or qualifications either, if anything, people seemed to want to help me because of my story and because I was willing to learn about the industry from the ground up.

2. Strive to make authentic connections with like-minded people, and realize that careers and career trajectories are not one-size-fits-all.

Setting aside financial security in order to freelance in the Biz has been difficult at times, but I’m happy to report that I’m now handling business and legal affairs and some TV development for a media production company.  One of the managing directors offered me the job.  I met him while I was freelancing (he was a producer on some of the projects I worked on), and we developed a rapport because he also has a legal background but a passion for creative development. Last year, he told me he was partnering with two other production companies and wanted me on the team as a salaried employee once the company got funding. In the summer of 2014, he followed up with me, recruited me, and now I have a job that combines legal and creative development. This kind of hybrid position would not have been possible if I’d gone the “normal” route of working five years in a law firm and taking an in-house counsel / production attorney position with an entertainment company.

3. Let your passion and inquisitiveness show, and realize that collaboration is at the heart of entrepreneurship.

There’s a saying in the entertainment industry, and I suspect it applies to most entrepreneurial settings: The reason they call it “breaking in” is because no person gets in the same way.  You should be talented, smart, and collaborative — potential partners and clients will overlook the first two if they believe they’d enjoy working with you.

Leaving law firm life may seem daunting, but my life and career are richer now because I have the freedom and flexibility to develop personally and professionally in a way that feels authentic to me.  I’m finding immense satisfaction taking my hard-learned lawyering skills in fact development and narrative crafting (and contract drafting) and employing those skills in the service of meaningful and engaging productions capable of reaching a broad audience.

image1Shirley Huang is an attorney in Los Angeles and handles business and legal affairs for entertainment companies. She’s also had experience as a TV show producer, artist, and editor. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

Three Techniques for “Introverting” the Coworking Space

December 1st, 2014 by Charity

Visit NextSpace Union Square and you will probably spot a guy typing furiously with his head down and headphones on, hunched in a corner of the café space. You might also meet a chatty woman in the kitchen who will know your first pet’s name (and probably entire life story) by the time you cream-and-sugar your coffee.

That’s the nature of our space (and all NextSpace’s): our members are diverse, and we love ‘em for it. Though it can be argued that coworking typically comes easier for extroverts, we like to think that there’s no preference for either introvert or extrovert here. As we see it, a NextSpace member is a part of our community, and as long as they respect and contribute to the whole, we welcome embrace all working styles.

Charity Yoro standing in the NextSpace Union Square Cafe

Myself, Charity Yoro, standing in the NextSpace Union Square Cafe

However, as a self proclaimed introvert, I think there needs to be a focused shift in the coworking industry towards being more inclusive of the introverted. According to the latest research, one third to one half of us are introverts. That means there are at least four introverts sitting in our café right now, and around 50 in our overall membership. There are coworking spaces developed specifically for introverts but I think all coworking spaces can make some strategic changes and adapt to accommodate this need. Here are three techniques that we have found to be effective at NextSpace:

1. Stop, collaborate, and listen. Yes, we know collaboration spurs creativity and innovation. But it also needs to develop naturally—and what is natural for one person (an extrovert, for example), may not come as naturally for another, say introvert. We can’t force the NextSpace Effect [1]. We have to let it happen. For some members this may mean attending every member lunch, Next Talk, and happy hour. And for others it might happen quietly, within the safe confines of their inbox when they respond to a community list email. Either way it’s important for our members not to feel bad about not participating in the traditional sense of the word, and to feel okay about saying no to our planned events sometimes. (“Sometimes” being the operative word. We hope to see you at least once!)

2. Make privacy a priority. As Jason Feifer of Fast Company puts it, work is “a vacillation between collaboration and solitary exploration. One isn’t useful without the other.” Our space at Union Square is designed with this in a mind: finding that perfect balance of socialization and solitude for each of our members. For introverts, this means an emphasis on the latter–and that’s totally fine with us. Find that quiet, cozy nook and get sh*t done. Then come grab a beer with us on Friday at 3:58pm.

3.  Read and research. For introverts looking for ways to maintain their personal boundaries within a shared working space, there are plenty of resources that provide helpful tips, and informative videos like David Kelley’s TED Talk on creative confidence and Susan Cain’s video on the power of introverts. As a community manager I make it part of my job to stay informed on the latest trends and techniques to keep my community welcoming and productive for all types of workers.

Don’t get us wrong: we love our loud, left-brained creatives just as much as our quiet, contemplative counterparts. Its what keeps our NextSpace community balanced and what makes us unique. As one introvert puts it: “Everyone should have equal access to productive silence and serendipitous chaos.” We agree. Productive and serendipitous: isn’t that just another way of describing the NextSpace Effect?

- Charity Yoro, Community Builder, NextSpace Coworking Union Square


[1] Members finding ways to connect, catalyze, and create new ideas.

Happy Thanksgiving from Team NextSpace!

November 26th, 2014 by iris

Dear NextSpace Members,

It is with much gratitude that we wish you the warmest of Thanksgiving holidays.

Thank you for being the fabulous members you are. For showing up to work and making our days brighter. Thank you for making endless pots of coffee. For thinking innovative thoughts and acting on them. For looking out for each other and collaborating. For making the NextSpace Effect™ a real thing every day. Thank you for your patience when the Internets act up. For taking pride in having NextSpace as your office and helping to keep it clean and tidy. Thanks for doing your dishes, and thanks for doing other people’s dishes when they forget! For helping to keep the space safe on nights and weekends and holidays when the staff is away. For giving tours and stepping in to answer the phones when the staff needs help. For being the reason we show up to work every day, you make NextSpace the great place that it is.

Tomorrow, while you spend time with loved ones, we wish you warmth, an abundance of laughter and a hearty helping of good food. Eat, drink, be merry and travel safely. We look forward to seeing your smiling faces again on Monday morning.

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Much love and appreciation from Team NextSpace!

Iris Kavanagh, Chief Community Officer

Chicago office space available!

November 24th, 2014 by Meaghen

Looking for a private place to work amongst a thriving, collaborative community? We got you!

Take a peek at our newly available Private Offices for teams of 2-4. NextSpace is in the heart of River North just steps at a from the CTA “Chicago” stop.

Join us Monday thru Friday (9am – 5pm) for a tour, or to chat more! Questions? Reach us at rivernorth@nextspace.us or 312-929-4356

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Private Office is equipped with:

  • Team seating for 2 – 4
  • Freedom to bring in your own furniture (on your own dime, and time)
  • 24/7 access to the ‘Space
  • Ethernet plugs for direct-connect
  • Loads of natural daylight!
  • Large window-view facing the CTA “Chicago” platform
  • Mailbox / ability to use our business address as your own
  • Bottomless coffee + tea in our shared kitchen
  • Community programming + networking opportunities
  • Access to a shared Conference Room (with 6/hrs of FREE access per month, per person)

Join us Monday thru Friday (9am – 5pm) for a tour, or to chat more! Questions? Reach us at rivernorth@nextspace.us or 312-929-4356

NextSpace River North

230 W Superior, 2F

Chicago, IL 60654

http://nextspace.us/nextspace-river-north/

Ask the Experts: Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

November 24th, 2014 by Meaghen

If you could give advice to someone just starting out what would it be? We asked the NextSpace community of entrepreneurs to divulge their nuggets of wisdom and we were flooded with emails, including this no BS response from Lucas Wilson,  founder and CEO of Revelens, and Cafe member at NextSpace Los Angeles in Culver City:

1. You will read endless reams of articles on how other people did it. It will make you feel like you’re behind, and doing it wrong. That is what worked for *them*. Everybody’s path is different. Read it all with a grain of salt, and stay your own course. Lucas Wilson

2. Do not cut costs on a startup legal firm. There are no shortage of terrible stories of entrepreneurs who start succeeding only to be crippled or impoverished by shockingly poor legal early on. Everybody is friendly and does things in a communal spirit until the money starts flowing. It doesn’t necessarily change people, but it changes how they view their efforts in relation to a business venture. If it’s uncomfortable to talk about, get comfortable with it now, or be really uncomfortable later.

3. If it’s a tech company, establish a centralized cloud-based code hub immediately. Do not let any IP reside exclusively with an individual. The IP belongs to the company, not to a person. Codify that, and enforce it. If you don’t know how, see step 2. ; )

4. Don’t be an asshole. Life is long, and there is a lot of truth to the statement, “everybody you pass on the way up, you meet on the way down.” Build a community, and they will be there to lend a hand up on your next downswing. And your next downswing will happen. It does to everyone.

5. Experience is what you get right after you need it. Don’t shy away from your screw-ups. Admit them, own them, make amends if you need to make amends, learn and move on.

6. Wear clothes to all pitches. Seriously.

Lucas  testing out the Oculus Rift in the NextSpace cafe.

Lucas testing out the Oculus Rift in the NextSpace cafe.

Lucas Wilson is the founder and CEO of Revelens, a company with a new way of connecting creators and viewers in the online video space. He’s been apart of the Hollywood technology industry for more than a decade as a passionate and effective advocate for the fusion of advanced technology and creativity. Connecting people, building teams, and constructing businesses for revenue built on leading-edge technology is what he does and is passionate about. When he’s not working he’s playing music and hiking with his wife and kids. Check him out on LinkedIn.

Relax…

November 17th, 2014 by Meaghen

Our Berkeley location knows what you need to face your challenges head on.

RELAX

Do veterans make good entrepreneurs? I think so…

November 10th, 2014 by Meaghen

Written by Jeremy Neuner, NextSpace CEO

They’re not self-starters and only know how to follow orders.  They’re too regimented and by-the-book. They’re not innovative and can’t think out of the box.  These are just a few of the stereotypes that I’ve heard about why veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces don’t make good entrepreneurs.

As a veteran and an entrepreneur—I was a search-and-rescue helicopter pilot in the U.S. Navy and started NextSpace from scratch six years ago—I’ve dealt with most of those stereotypes.  But the discipline, teamwork, and sense of mission accomplishment that veterans learn in the military are the same traits we admire in entrepreneurs, freelancers, and other members of the Naked Economy who are hustling to make a living and make a life on their own terms.

At NextSpace, we’re lucky enough to have dozens of veterans as part of our coworking community.  I recently spent some time talking with a few of them and learning how serving our country in the Armed Forces has uniquely prepared them for entrepreneurship and for success in the new economy.

Mary Flynn is a freelance writer and video producer and is a member at NextSpace Santa Cruz.   Mary was a public affairs specialist in the Army National Guard and served a yearlong tour in Iraq in 2004 and another yearlong tour in Guantanamo Bay in 2008.  “Those were both election years, making it an interesting time to be in public affairs,” she says with a smile.  That high-stakes environment was perfect training for her current gig.  “When you’re a freelancer, you don’t have a boss or a company structure keeping you on track.  The army taught me to be disciplined and deadline-driven.  That mindset is essential for freelancers and entrepreneurs.”

Mary Flynn, shooting video at a school in northern Iraq in 2004

Mary Flynn, shooting video at a school in northern Iraq in 2004

Kenji Gjovig, a member at NextSpace Potrero Hill, found that the focus on mission accomplishment lead to a sense of confidence in his ability to do big things.  Kenji just left a job at Walmart to start High Tide Consulting, a boutique e-commerce firm.  Kenji also served as an engineer on a nuclear-powered submarine in the U.S. Navy.  “The Navy gave me a lot of training, but when I finally arrived on the submarine, I was expected to do my job without a lot of hand-holding.  On my second day, I had to start the nuclear reactor by myself.  That was nerve-wracking and a little scary, but those kinds of experiences gave me a ton of confidence in my ability to just figure things out and get things done.”  Confidence in himself and his ability to make things happen were critical to Kenji launching High Tide.

Kenji Gjovig, Founder & CEO, High Tide Consulting

Kenji Gjovig, Founder & CEO, High Tide Consulting

Part of getting things done is the ability to work with a wide variety people.  Peter LaFond served in the U.S. Army and spent his time attached to a Special Operations group.  Peter says, “In the Army, you serve alongside an incredibly diverse mixture of people from different backgrounds, different geographies, and different points of view.  You have to learn how to overcome those differences and pull together as a team to get the job done.”  Peter now runs his own business and hosts a WordPress developers MeetUp at NextSpace San Jose.  “Whether it’s working with teammates with different skills or clients with competing agendas, learning to work with people on a common goal was an important part of my experience in the Army that directly applies to my business.”

Mary, Kenji, and Peter are outstanding examples of why military veterans are 45% more likely to be freelancers, entrepreneurs, or self-employed than their non-veteran counterparts.  According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, veterans are responsible for one out of ten small businesses in the United States, employing over six million workers and generating nearly $1.5 trillion in annual revenue.  They not only defy some unfortunate stereotypes about veterans in business, they embody the very traits that we admire most in entrepreneurs. On behalf of everyone at NextSpace, I want to thank our veterans not only for their service and their sacrifices, but also for what they contribute to making our economies and our communities strong.

 

- Jeremy Neuner, Founder & CEO, NextSpace Coworking

 

CORRECTION: A previous version of this post mistakenly described Peter La Fond as serving in the Special Forces when in fact, he served with a Special Operations group. My apologies for the error.