YES! We Can: Redefine our Purpose, our “Why”

We Can


The last post highlighted the grieving process and the setting of routine to nudge ourselves back to life. We acknowledged our own sense of loss of our purpose This, too, is temporary if we commit to the steps to refocus and redefine our “Why?”

This may have taken an entirely new direction for you. Are you juggling the role of teacher, referee, nurse, chef, cleaning crew AND employee right now? Are you negotiating new boundaries under new conditions with your spouse/significant other?

No wonder you’re exhausted! Who has any time to consider “why”?!

And, you are not alone.

If there is any chance at all of viewing this as an opportunity to carve out even a couple of 20-minute chunks each day to think in 4 areas: Passion; Talents; Strengths; Legacy.

Passion – Talents – Strengths – Legacy

These concepts are certainly not new but perhaps the process is a variation of what you’ve read previously. To use a set of tools we’ve found effective, check out Michelle McQuaid’s post on VIA Strengths.

During this particular season under COVID-19, we suggest starting with what sparks your passion. Although it may be tough to keep a positive outlook right now, reflect on what gives you joy and what work you would do without consideration of any pay: WHAT WOULD YOU HAPPILY DO FOR FREE. What has you really jump out of bed in the morning or work late into the night?

Talents – the “what” area. What are your top 5 talents: Analytical, Persuasive, Visionary, Communicator, Efficient, Competitive, Learner, Strategic, Deliberate, Action-oriented. So much of our work with our clients includes an initial step of Goal Setting and Establishing Expectations. You can find our overall process here.

Strengths – how do you express these talents? Through humor, humility, perseverance, bravery, honesty, teamwork, gratitude, hope, curiosity. There are certainly more ways to express your talents, these are just a few.

Legacy. For many, thinking about the legacy portion of this work can actually be the “aha moment”. What do you wish to leave behind and be remembered as having accomplished? Another way to ask the question: “What would you say to your younger self as being an important lesson of your life so far?”

You may actually start with the end in mind – think of your legacy and then how your talents, strengths and passion deliver on it.

We are currently running an endurance challenge. I think we’re truly up to it. Nietzsche once said, ‘He who has a why can endure any how.’

YES! We Can: Acknowledge the Loss and Grieve

We Can

We are initiating a series of posts to share observations of our current conditions under COVID-19. This is meant simply as a set of “here is what we see”. There are no “should” elements here but “why not try” suggestions. We’d love to hear your ideas, as collective wisdom may give even one person an “aha” moment of pivot.

In this spirit, we offer YES! We Can.

This first post is a bit of a nudge to everyone’s internal monologue. You may be grappling with lack of ambition, minor aches and pains that came out of nowhere or just a general funk.  This may also show up as overeating, a lack focus or Happy Hours that start a little earlier each day.

These are expressions of loss and grief.

In our experience, we’ve felt a loss of our purpose. We’ve felt others’ panic and so much has gone on hold as a result. We know we are not alone. In our case, we are creating outlets that are engaging and demand more of our focus, brain power and attention rather than mere distraction. These posts are one of those outlets.

Once we were able to acknowledge that the loss of purpose has us feeling rudderless, we’ve been then able to acknowledge that staying in our pajamas until 11 am is an expression of grief. Our personal solution is to begin setting new routines.

The routines we are planting now relate to self-care and compassion. We’ve explored what that may mean to each of us. The thoughts are free or low cost for those of us reeling with new budget realities. Here is a sampling of ideas during our shelter-in-place:

  • Set the alarm and get yourself up (and out of your pajamas)
  • Rearrange the time you work out (or set up a time to create a new habit)
  • Make a call or video chat with 1 friend today for social reasons, not business
  • Log off any tech during mealtime – and set a mealtime, especially for lunch and talk with your family/roommate or create virtual mealtime with loved ones
  • Listen to music every day and dance, play or sing along
  • Watch/listen to the news no more than twice each day
  • Set up one goal – just one – that can be achieved by the end of the day

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list but a prompt that may get you thinking of many more of your own, personal methods to step back into a routine of your choosing.

We were planted in this new territory suddenly. Taking one step, even just one new step each week, can mark a path to the new normal we’ll need to embrace beyond our present condition.

In our upcoming posts, we’ll share more thoughts on Managing Change, Finding your new “Why”, Embracing Chaos, Daydreaming, and the Opportunity in Anger, just to name a few.

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Our new normal, to my community

Yes, this is our new normal. And yet, to my community, now is an extraordinary time to pause and think of some creative solutions.

Think of ways to strengthen your community while acknowledging our new reality with sensitivity. These are anxious times and promoting “free coworking” can be tone deaf promotion during this time of social distancing and self-quarantine.

It may be time next week to break up the isolation and cabin fever I expect we’ll feel. (if we aren’t there already!)

Speed virtual networking: Can you create small and brief introductory calls between members? A group of 3-5 on a 20-minute call to connect and learn more about one another. This reminds us that we are not alone.

The best thing about the new normal: What has been revealed about us, our families, our friends and the world? This allows us to step outside the anxiety and potentially create new habits and traditions.

Member storytelling via webinar: Shift conversations to how members of your community overcame previous obstacles and challenges. This reminds us all that we are resilient and strong.

The world will remember 2020 as a time when we were confronted to see things in a new way. May this shift in our perspective make way for creative solutions benefiting us all.

2020 In Focus: The Growth of Coworking and Amenity Space

In a recent article in Commercial Property Executive, journalist Jackson Chen breaks down the six predictions by JLL’s Senior Director for Office Research Scott Homa for how the coworking world will develop in 2020.

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5, 4, 3, 2, 1…. YES! We’ve Launched!

Exceptional. The team that came together to reposition our brand was simply that.

As we launch the new logo and website we have several contributors to acknowledge: Our friends at Smart Search Media who developed the site and SEO, Josh Campbell, designer extraordinaire who created our logo and visual theme, Erica Jellerson of The Eason Collective managing how we appear on social media. Our Communications professional, Lindley White, instilled our messaging with power and Maralyn Bellin has been the key to this entire transformation.

The inimitable partners of Nancy Brown, Danielle Galmore and Lori Hamilton contribute in ways that will take up too many words in this brief post. As I have said many times, “More brains are better”. My gratitude to each of you is boundless.

My list of thanks would be sorely lacking if I didn’t give an enormous shout out to my big family (go Team Spreen/Robinson/Iveson) and the support of many friends who questioned, challenged and encouraged the product you view today.

Now, we’ve got work to do!

A Funny Thing Happened on the way to Coworking (v. 3)


When developing coworking spaces in partnership with our clients, we come across the most amazing (and frequently refreshing) perspectives on how to market and operate coworking spaces.

To be sure, we love working with entrepreneurs – whether first timers or veterans. We ALWAYS learn something from each project we manage. Lifelong learning energizes us and keeps us in grounded in reality.

Still, this quick list features marketing strategies that caused us to internalize a “huh, that’s interesting”:

  • A new coworking space in the CBD of a major market with many competitors (traditional shared space and coworking alike) put no money into a marketing budget, believing a strong strategy was to have a college student stand in front of the building wearing a sandwich board, handing out flyers about the new space


  • New coworking space in another major market that relied solely on social media to drive traffic to and awareness of the space. Ownership was operating the space as a secondary business and was too busy to build a community from Meetups and outbound networking events. Expected “if we build it, they will come”


  • Established space that pivoted to featuring only non-members as speakers and panelists at lunch and learns and after-hours networking events


  • Spaces that reject all corporate users (corporate users is a growing population). Context is key but worth reconsidering


  • Constant use of shock and awe language (as in something “sucks” or equivalent) in marketing tools. Over time it becomes ineffective and narrows your target demographic options

We have worked with each of the above clients and have been successful at coaching a few into alternate directions. In our experience, clients that did not move from their marketing position above are no longer in operation.

The Power of Gratitude – 7 Reasons to be Thankful

We’ve just turned a  new year and a new decade. Two big milestones that cause use to reflect on the whole timeline – past, present, future.  As we launch into the new decade, let’s reflect on Gratitude and 7 reasons to be thankful.

Monday – start of the work week and ability to make an impact; working with colleagues that challenge you to work at a higher level; getting the kids off to school and the opportunity to learn something new; long talk with a friend (yes, could actually be on the phone rather than using that phone to text); typically when the US has a special holiday, making it a 3-day weekend.

Tuesday – “Productivity Day”, the most productive day, statistically of the work week; recycle pick up by your municipality; volunteering for your favorite cause today; spending time with a friend or loved one who needs extra care; helping your kids with their homework; being the one receiving the extra care from a friend or loved one.

Wednesday – time for a workout, whether at the gym, at home or simply outside; ability to get or stay healthy in mind, spirit AND body; weekly prayer meeting (no matter your faith); working on your hobby or side gig– your classic car, book club, knitting, woodworking, rebuilding your computer, writing that novel, building your app; recognition by others for your contributions.

But wait… there’s more!

Thursday – date night for everyone, even if it’s a night out with your friends; evening of a special performance you’ve booked weeks ago; getting the last major “to-do’s” accomplished at work so you can ease into your weekend on Friday; raising funds at an event supporting your favorite charity; Museum “Free Day” or reduced admission day; the long-sought contract got signed.

Friday – week accomplished TGIF!; lunch with a friend (vs at your desk); mentoring a colleague or being mentored by a colleague; Pizza & beer night; kid’s Field Trip day; going out to a comedy club; heading out of town for a long weekend; feet up, on the couch, doing NOTHING tonight.

Saturday – major personal errand day; cooking your favorite meal; going out to a movie, play or concert; getting outdoors and off the grid; remembering that fantastic baseball game you caught over the Summer; celebrating a birthday or anniversary today; cheering for your favorite college team; catching your kid’s game or performance.

Sunday – Fellowship day – over football, food, friends, faith (could also be Saturday, depending on your faith); storytelling with your family or friends of all the great memories that made you laugh so hard, you cried; celebrating the passing of seasons; reflecting on all that life brought this week and enthusiasm for what’s to come.

This is our quick list. What makes you Grateful?

A Funny Thing Happened – on the way to Coworking v.2

Well, we did indeed promise you truth-is-stranger-than-fiction stories of our experiences in the world of developing coworking spaces.

It’s a beautiful late-Spring day in a Midwestern town. We are traveling to meet with a prospective client who needs to reposition a 15-year old workspace to improve overall revenues and occupancy.

The town has developed from a remote and heavily rural community to a desirable bedroom community within 10 miles of a suburban hub of a larger metro area. New homes in the town now command upwards of $450K.

Based on our initial conversations, the onsite team has created a welcoming spirit and has been stable for 7 years. Currently, they generate approximately 35% of their revenue from additional services beyond space fees and technology. (for those not familiar, the average services revenue equals approximately 20% of overall business revenues) Our separate conversation with the onsite team confirms our impressions that they are competent, thoughtful and very service-oriented.

This is a productive work environment for everyone.

Location in their town is easily recognizable in a commercial/office area and is within 2 miles of trains to the metro downtown. A great option for prospective clients who need an office but only occasionally need to be downtown. Area amenities are increasing as the town develops. Specifically, a new health club and local restaurants have popped up within a quick drive of the building.

As the initial conversation outlines, the client owned the building but has sold it to the current landlord and they negotiated a very reasonable rental rate through the next 3 years. Their current occupancy is approximately 70%.

They’ve tried everything they can think of to advertise locally and maximize market awareness. Granted, their marketing materials could be updated, inclusive of their website. The owner has been very active in Chamber of Commerce networking and using local vendor/members for services to support the workspace.

The client is open to putting in some funds toward updating marketing materials tools as well as the appearance of the space, with a single exception. This exception is that updating the reception lobby and is simply non-negotiable.

As we drive into the parking lot, indeed, the lot is full of cars, the building is well maintained. Landscaping, decor, cleanliness all meet standards for a good, well-run property.

We enter the workspace lobby and determine EXACTLY why they client is having difficulty increasing revenues and occupancy. In addition to the 1950’s themed outdoorsman artwork throughout, we are greeted by a mounted equivalent of this


The client is an avid outdoorsman and this is a personal trophy that he insisted on displaying in the lobby. Talk about frightening small children and nearly all the female prospects to the space!

It took us 6 months of cajoling, reasoning, suggesting that finally convinced the client to relocate it off site on another property. The decor was updated at a reasonable cost and within 12 months (6 months post-trophy) the client achieved 87% occupancy and increased net profit by 18%.

Sometimes the client gets in their own way.

We could “bearly” contain our excitement at the outcome!

If you’d like to share a story, please reach out to us.

2016 – A Big Year for Coworking Podcasts for us (part 4)

Here is our third and final podcast about coworking space development with Brittanie Campbell-Turner of 

This episode is an interview with Wendy Spreenberg who is great resource for her expertise in workspace as a service.

We discuss in this 3 part series, the most important things that I thought would be useful to the any one who is trying to start a co-working community.

In this last part of the series, Wendy and I talk about the making sure the business model is sustainable to ensure the business owner’s success.

Find the previous episodes of this Co-Working series at and

A Funny Thing Happened on the way to Coworking (v.1)

Planting a Flag to post periodically what we encounter as interesting experiences, exchanges, topics, insights, etc. that create a little humor along the way during our journey within the Coworking sphere.

Our combined experience has taken us across Europe and North America working with start-ups and those looking to reposition properties of all types to a more collaborative model.


coworking words

If the walls could talk…

Posts may range from the fairly common (consulting client uses less than 70% of recommended best practices then blames vendor for poor outcome) to the truly bizarre (trophy grizzly bear in attack posture greeting visitors in reception).

What we can say is that, since the turn of the millennium, life in collaborative workspace has been a wild ride and we wouldn’t want it any other way.

This train is leaving the station so climb aboard!