My Coworking Moonshot (and the stars look very different today)

(Image Credit Raymond Carrillo Flickr)

So What Is A Moonshot Bernie?

A few weeks ago, my mate Cat Johnson (the other best coworking content advisor in the world) asked me what my Coworking Moonshot was.

The trouble with Cat asking me a question is I need to think about the answer, saying ‘to help people’ would not have cut it.

I know this as we used to podcast together on the Write Club Podcast on Coalescent Network (formerly Ouishare Radio) with Trevor.

Listen to this episode to check in with One Million Words, where we speak about 750, and of course, Cat has some pearls of wordy wisdom to share.

Cat shared her Moonshot in this post on her website and in this video with Jared Brick from Brick House Media.

So Where Is Your Moonshot Bernie?

I do have a Moonshot, but I’m going to set it up with a few places and events where I’ve looked for it since I got into coworking.

I’ve been working in, on and around coworking spaces since 2010.

At the very early days of Innovation Warehouse 2010, The Studio 2018, @Work Hubs 2013, Mainyard Studios 2013 I was in there taking part, learning and watching.

In all of these places, I saw first hand the euphoria, joy, agony and confusion that comes with running a coworking space, indeed any business.

These photos below are the first few of us who got to work in the Innovation Warehouse, the next year, we ran Tedx Smithfield in that room, and I discovered the Sharing Economy.

Coworking, the next big thing?

From 2011 I took part in a Meet Up for freelancers called KindredHQ, the format was we met in a new coworking space for a few hours every weekday.

KindredHQ drew to a close in 2015, but it will always have a place in my heart, is where I got deadly serious about coworking and freelancing.

It is where I stopped being a pretentious wan-a-be entrepreneur and put on my big person pants about being a freelancer.

Back 2011 in seemed like there was a new coworking space opening every 11 seconds in London.

Silicon Drinkabout was about to blow up the and doomed sharing economy goldrush was picking up where social media goldrush had let go.

With KindredHQ, I saw a lot of the early days of coworking in London, the promise of the community for people seeking connection with their work.
Back in these days, ‘Consultant’ was still code for ‘unemployed’ and ‘Freelancer’ meant you were ‘underpaid’.

Somewhere around 2010, I was sitting in Alfred Place with Tom Ball; he’d recently sold his company ‘Conagc’ and asked him what he was going to do now.

He said, ‘We’re going to look for the next big thing.’ And that turned out to be coworking; Tom was a firm supporter of KindredHQ as was Matt Perkins from FreeAgent.

This video below is from the crowdfunding campaign of 2014, listen to the way people talk about networks, community, coworking and the future of work.

Listening to the community

In 2014 I first went to the Coworking Europe Conference in Lisbon and was hooked (see the video below on how that turned out) I plugged in and have never stopped listening.

In 2017 I became an active participant of the European Coworking Assembly team got deeply involved in the Inclusion, Diversity and Accessibility project and things like European Freelancers Week.

I’ve developed a personal frustration with people ‘jumping on the coworking bandwagon’.

At one conference in 2015 on I had an argument with someone from London about calling their space ‘something coworking’ and were offering ‘affordable office space’ to freelancers and small businesses.

They were offering affordable office space, compared with what you’d pay next door in the Salesforce Tower but it was just that, office space, not coworking.

Well, not my version of coworking.

And if you’d asked me in 2015 what my version of coworking was you’d get a real Polly Anna type fuzzy answer, I did not know what it was or how it worked, I set about paying deeper attention.

Since then, I’ve been on a regular call with both coworking and marketing peers every week, I’m always listening to what people are working on, where they are going and where their challenges are.

Listening to the community

I’m part of the Content Marketing Academy, which runs on weekly and monthly sessions about content marketing and building a business.

This keeps me in shape with marketing and communications, it is also the place to get peer to peer coaching and accountability on how to run my own freelance business.

And every week I’m talking with my peers either in the London Coworking Assembly or on our weekly call for the European Coworking Assembly crew for our projects, events and community around Europe.

One of the places I listen most intently is when I’m podcasting with people on Coalescent Network┬áthe show that would be most relevant to people reading this post is the Coworking Values Podcast.

My conclusion is that the coworking you see in the media is not the same as what happens in real life, and sadly people seem to think that is ok.

Look on Instagram to see who is paying for adverts vs who has real people doing real things in their workspace.

Coworking Movement vs Coworking Industry

A few weeks ago I podcasted with Ashley and we deep-dived on the Coworking Movement vs Coworking Industry – you can listen here.

To be blunt this is the closest I’d got to direct answer about why we turn a blind eye to so many things in coworking, particularly at conferences.

What do I mean by that?

Over the last couple of years, I’ve deliberately asked prominent people about where they see the divides, what they think is wrong with the way ‘coworking’ (in all of its ways) is developing and shaping society.
Too many people have given me lame-ass answers about, ‘that is just the way it is’ or dodged the question altogether, it’s like they think all their business will dry up if they stand up for what they believe in.
The other thing I deliberately don’t do is mention WeWork, you can lose a whole day with people bitching about WeWork.
My heart did stop when my beloved Meet-Up ‘allowed’ themselves to get brought by WeWork.
See what I mean?
One of my main points was the number of people who thought that it was ok for a European based workspace who is part of our conference to market themselves like this.
Of course, I’ve picked this one on purpose. It’s not like their whole Instagram is full of culturally inappropriate photos and quotes, it must occur to someone in the company how this makes other people feel?
Or is it just me?

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