If you could work from anywhere, where would you go?

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If you could work from anywhere, where would you go?

Stay at home? Go outside? Coworking? Work and travel? Coffee shop or restaurant? The library? 

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Whether you decide to stay at home in your pjs or get outside for a meeting, it can definitely be nice to get out of the office to get some work done. Last week, Peter and I spent the afternoon at 5 Stones Coffee Co and got more done on our project in three hours than we did the entire week before! It can be really hard to focus with the many interruptions that happen throughout the day: phone calls, emails, kids and other things that just come up. Sometimes, all it takes is a new location and a fresh perspective to crush your goal!

Kate_mythinkspaceAs a team, we’ve been taking a few hours each week to work from somewhere new and see how it affects our productivity and happiness at work. Follow us on instagram for more great photos @thinkspace.seattle and share your own! #mythinkspace

IMG_1335I know, I sure am! With this 88 degree weather, it is impossible for me to stay inside so I am extra thankful that I got to spend yesterday afternoon out at the park. You may be wondering, “how do you get work done in the park?” Luckily, I had plenty of work that could be done offline, but I was also able to set up my phone as a hotspot and be totally connected to email and my colleagues. Different jobs, will of course, have different limitations but try going somewhere new. I think the results will surprise you.  Now, we want to know where you get your best work done;

where is your “think space”?

Personally, I love traveling, so any time I get the opportunity to work on the go, I take it! Check out #mythinkspace favorite from last year here and share your own!

Xx Allie

Success Unshared Is Failure

Iconic Conference 2016“Success unshared is failure” was one of the ending statements given by Robert Herjavec,  CEO of the Herjavec Group and an investor on Shark Tank, as the Iconic Conference was coming to a close yesterday. After a day filled with raw and genuine lessons given by some of the most remarkable entrepreneurs, I couldn’t stop thinking that it might as well have been the leading thought of the event.

Bring Your Vision To Work Day

Nonetheless, Iconic Conference’s catchphrase “innovate, inspire, ignite” was setting the tone just as well. As was promised in the opening remarks, all of us are ready to go back to work tomorrow morning and deliver the newly-found value (or attempt to, at the very least. As Kevin O’Leary said today, “What matters most is the skill to execute. There’s nothing worse than vision all day long.”) Regardless of the stage that your company might be at, or whether you are a founder or an employee – even regardless of the industry you’re in – your perspective was bound to change within the eight “iconic” hours.

What did I found out? Now, for me, this part is always tricky. I can go around and try to find the quotes that I think would be the most interesting to me if I was a leader of a company. I don’t. I’m not a founder, a C-level executive, I do not manage people.

Robert Herjavec: “You’re never prepared enough for a role that has a chance of greatness.”

Katie and Kamila at Iconic

But I do run a business. Even as an employee, I do run the business. I take a part of the company into my hands and become responsible for its sustainability at worst; growth, development, and innovation at best. At Iconic, I had a chance to take away lessons on leadership from some of the greatest minds in entrepreneurship. I found a two-fold value: for one, I scribbled down thoughts and advice that I can implement personally in my work and my approach to it. Two: I had an opportunity to look at entrepreneurship through the eyes of founders and CEOs. It might be surprising to those who have always “founded” or “executed”, but experiencing an inspiration to set the shoes of an employee aside for a moment, and look at the business through the eyes of a leader, sheds a new light at your own role in the life of the company. It’s an understatement to say that the promise of “innovate, inspire, ignite” was delivered at Iconic. But as Danae Ringelmann, co-founder of IndieGoGo said today, “Innovation is not the point. It’s the mean, not the goal. Ignite, inspire, innovate are only tools.” – now where you take them, and how you use them, is on you.

If you had a chance to attend, I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on the experience. Bonus question: what’s your opinion on the value of opening the doors of “C-level insights” to your employees?

thinkspace Offers First Coworking Helipad Service Between Seattle and Redmond

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thinkspace Redmond Rooftop Helipad

We are excited to announce that we have a helipad at both of our Seattle and Redmond coworking locations! We recognize that commuting between Seattle and Redmond has been a challenge ever since the toll was put in place between Seattle and the Eastside. Depending on the time of day it can take an hour or more commuting on the 520 Bridge. With this new service, the approximate 15 mile commute can be reduced to approximately eight minutes. We wanted to be able to provide our thinkspace members with a service that allows entrepreneurs to focus on growing their startups instead of spending time stuck in traffic as they go from investor meetings with Madrona Venture Group, Voyager Capital, or Maveron.

After nearly seven and half years of running thinkspace, I have been asking entrepreneurs what is the most challenging thing about running a startup? The answer that I typically get is 1) funding and finding access to capital. 2) is hiring talent and finding a cofounder. We feel that with this service, startup founders will be able to invite VC’s to meetings and possible candidates that are looking to leave their jobs at Amazon, Google, Facebook and Microsoft to join their startups. Attracting talent to join a startup is an incredible challenge. With a service like this, startups can now compete with the big tech companies in the Seattle area.

With recent announcements of Uber partnering with Blade to be able to helicopter rides to Coachella, we have been actively working on our own partnerships to extend the service to the Seattle area. We estimate that the service will cost approximately $62.50 one way or $125 round trip. Similar to how a vanpool works, discounts will be available for groups of four people. As Benjamin Franklin would say, “time is money”, this service definitely puts a premium on time. Please contact us if you’re interested in find out more about how to book this service.

Popsicle Stick Time Management

I recently read the book Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull (President of Pixar).  The book’s tagline is to overcome the unseen forces that stand in the way of true inspiration.  Chapter by chapter, Catmull unlocks creative leadership ideas by effective (and vulnerable) story telling.  He shares his own journey in detail – through the lens of job transitions as well as different projects (like various Pixar movies).  The book reads more like a page-turning biographical novel, with the added bonus that it has golden content on leadership.  David Slocum, writer for Forbes magazine, says “it’s one of the half-dozen best books that have been written about creative business and creative leadership. Ever” (source).

One key takeaway that I had from the book was on time management.  I’m a organized+creative+visual person, so I loved this idea that was sparked by a producer on the Pixar team.  The idea was simple: popsicle sticks stuck to a wall of Velcro.  Each stick represented a person-week (which equals the amount of work one animator could accomplish in a week’s time).  The sticks, in various amounts, would get placed next to a particular project (in Pixar’s case, a character from the movie The Incredibles).  The popsicle system gave the team a visual representation of their resources.  Here’s how Catmull described it working: “A bunch of sticks would be lined up next to a particular character for easy reference.  A glance at the wall would tell you: If you use that many popsicle sticks on Elastigirl, you’ll have less time to spend on Jack-Jack.  And so on.” When a manager would approach the team and say “This needs to be done today” the team would reference the Velcro wall and explain that they would then need another “stick” or ask where they’d like to take a stick from.  Catmull called it “a great example of the positive creative impact of limits.”

pixarI was so drawn to this example of time management and resources, that I made my own popsicle stick Velcro wall (see picture).  For my own work purposes, each colored Velcro line equals a key goal in my job (e.g. project management, 1:1’s with direct reports, etc).  And the popsicle sticks equal 1 hour of work.  So by glancing at my mini-wall, I can see where my week’s resources are being placed, and if I need to adjust in any way.  An added bonus is that the color-coded key goals correspond to the different category colors represented on my Outlook calendar (yes, I’m a bit of a nerd).

What time management tools do you use?  I’ll look forward to connecting with you in the comments section.

Perks & Benefits Partner Spotlight | inDinero

Partner Spotlight is a weekly series introducing a company which provides unique offers for thinkspace members via our Perks and Benefits program. Every Monday, we shed light on their mission, showcase their passion for startups and small entrepreneurs, and present the value of their service.

We would love to find out whom you would like to see as a partner in our Perks and Benefits program. Please comment and let us know!


indinero

Tell me about inDinero’s an it’s mission.

Darren Carter, Senior Finance Consultant: inDinero helps entrepreneurs build bigger and better businesses. We didn’t just want to build accounting software: we wanted to completely change the way that business owners think about their operations, and taking care of all of their back-office affairs is our way of doing that.

Today, inDinero supports hundreds of businesses across the United States, and we’re on a mission to support them as they grow.

What is the value that you provide for entrepreneurs and startups that can’t be found anywhere else?

We’re the only solution that combines powerful accounting software with live support from our financial consultants. We don’t hand off a product to you, for you to figure out how to use it or hire someone to do so. Our team helps hundreds of businesses in the United States who grow and scale while still remaining lean.

What is the best part of your work as inDinero team?

Seeing our clients succeed is the most valuable and rewarding experience – helping other businesses run smoother and grow quicker is deeply embedded in our mission and core values.  The goals our clients set for themselves and their companies become our goals, and hardly anything makes us happier than seeing them move mountains and stir up the business landscape. It’s truly rewarding to be a part of that process.

3 qualities that make entrepreneurs/startups successful?
  • Work ethic. If you’re not prepared to work preposterously hard, don’t be surprised if success always seems unattainable.
  • Know your strengths and weaknesses. Don’t try to do everything yourself, even if you’re smart enough. Hire talent or outsource to services that free up your time and energy to focus on the things that you’re really, really (really) good at.
  • Learn from your (and others) failures. Every entrepreneur and startup makes mistakes. The key is being able to learn more and faster from your failures (and the failures of those around you) than anyone else.

To learn how your company can benefit from working with inDinero, or more information about the special offer for thinkspace members – contact us!

 

GeekWire StartUp Day: “Entrepreneurship is where passion and creativity meet science and value”

With Bellevue’s continuous efforts to support startups and entrepreneurs, Eastside set an optimistic scene to the annual GeekWire StartUp Day. Peter, Katie and I heard honest lessons from Seattle’s leading entrepreneurs, and we are excited to bring them back to thinkspace.

Liz Pearce: “Build a family that will sit in the cold bath water with you.”

CEO of LiquidPlanner set the tone for an aspect that was shining through every presentation of the day. It was made crystal-clear by each of the entrepreneurs on stage that day: who you hire, and how you build your team, are the most important decisions you will make. Errors in operations and strategy can be fixed; you can bootstrap and emerge from failures; and you always have 101 opportunities to turn to when your back is against the wall.

Only if you have the right team on board.

Nick Huzar, CEO and co-founder of OfferUp, explained that “the only thing you should obsess about is finding ‘Just The Right People’” and he put an emphasis on searching for “Swiss Army Knives” of skills and knowledge to infect them with your will, passion, and motivation. Even venture capitalists and angel investors confirm: “People invest in other people. It’s a bet on the team that is starting in front of you, believing in their ability to execute” says Greg Gottesman, VC and co-founder of Pioneer Square Labs. “For early stage pitches, you’re betting on the person, almost irrelevant of what they’re pitching”.

Heather Redman: “We will rock over the next decade.”

GeekWire StartUp Day made it obvious that the future of Seattle’s entrepreneurs will be exciting. “I’m very ambitious about Seattle” said Heather Redman, angel investor and VP of Business Operations for Indix. “If you look around the metrics that surround Seattle, we have more engineers than anybody else. We have a huge dominance in cloud, good footprint in health tech, virtual reality, and many other areas. If you look at the 20 top most admired brands in the world, 5 of them are headquartered in Seattle. That’s a lot of entrepreneurial DNA”.

With the events and inspiration of that day still buzzing in me, I’m infected with optimism about the future of Seattle’s tech scene and filled with gratitude for being a part of the startup community. Where will you and your startup be when Seattle takes over the tech industry?

Startups: Stop Comparing Your “Behind the Scenes” to Someone Else’s “Highlight Reel”

liz-pearce-geekwire-startup-day-2016For the last five months I have been struggling with my own insecurity and asking other entrepreneurs if they ever get caught up with comparing their company with their competition. Then, last Friday, I attended Geekwire Startup Day and heard Liz Pearce, CEO of Liquid Planner, talk about FOMO (the fear of missing out). “Comparison is the root of all unhappiness,” she said. “Instead, look at your business, your market, what a successful outcome looks like for your business and your investors”. While I feel like I’m alone, it turns out I’m not alone by having these kinds of thoughts.

Stop Comparing Your “Behind the Scenes” to Someone Else’s Highlight Reel

exhausted-man-300x200Everyday, the media writes up story after story about entrepreneurs who are being touted as the World’s Best Boss, Fastest Growing Company, CEO of the Year, Entrepreneur of the Year, the next startup unicorn, etc. Then there’s social media and Facebook which just pounds us with all the curated and carefully constructed posts of everyone’s perfect life. Our media keeps portraying all of this as success. The true reality is everyone has rough patches. You only hear about it when you’re having one of those bottom 5% types of conversations with true friends, where you are completely vulnerable, and aren’t being judged.

Run Your Own Race

I remember a few years ago I was telling a friend and business coach that there are a lot of sacrifices or things that I’m willing to delay or postpone but the one thing that I will not is being present as my young children grow up. I didn’t grow up that way. I love my parents and I recognize that they made sacrifices so that my brother, sister, and I would have a better opportunities for a better life. I’m thankful for that. Yet I also know that I don’t want my children to have the dad that didn’t show up for their music concert, soccer match, or school play. Because this is my immovable rock, doesn’t mean I’m not trying my hardest to grow and scale my company. This doesn’t mean I’m just creating a life style company either. It means that I have to figure out ways to get things done without compromising what’s most important to me.

Make the Competition Irrelevant

While going through the Entrepreneurial Masters Program at MIT, I recall reading this quote from the Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim: “…focus on making the competition irrelevant by creating a leap in value for buyers and your company”. I need to get back to using all my energy to create an incredible product and let others worry about the competition. The best thing to do is create goals based on outcomes you want to achieve and not based on what your competition is doing. When you are clear about what your own definition of success is, you can’t be beaten.

I would love it if you could share other things that you’ve done to help you steer away from comparing your company to the competition.

 

There are some things you can only learn in a storm

12417650_10153711428095795_8134718167907541815_nLast Saturday, Katie and I had a chance to participate in Melody Biringer’s co-storming session, which immediately qualified as one of the most energizing and inspiring experiences. “Co-storm” is Melody’s original initiative where you lay down your project, its roadblocks, and its mission in front of another professional – who might be completely unrelated to your field – and start from there. A great round of feedback follows, and because Melody has a great way of finding just the right people to work and connect with, you find yourself in a buzzing conversation filled with ideas, advice and strategy.

When a brainstorm is not enough…

A crowd of about sixty women from various professional backgrounds gathered in downtown Seattle, and divided into small groups guided by a mentor, they stormed their initiatives. With professions in the fields of IT, marketing, business development, and everything in between, each of us had 30 minutes to storm the struggle we needed a new perspective on. Afterwards, the group discussed it from their own point of view, trying to come to constructive solutions – or at least ask the right questions. The idea might seem simple, but the results are no less than extraordinary.

Both Katie and I focused on perspectives for thinkspace in 2016, but went in with a different project to pitch into the discussion. We had a chance to talk to brilliant mentors whose fields of expertise were very closely related to the answers we were looking for, or with experience and knowledge so distant from our problem that they offered a view from a completely different, unpredicted perspective.

Finding the answers to well-asked questions

One advice that has stuck with me since Saturday was given by Mikki Kingrey, authentic sales strategist and the owner of Real Results Mentoring, who urged me to look for answers to two questions:

Who is your niche?
Who is your anti-niche?

And that should mark the clear, sharp starting point for the strategy in marketing, sales, business development, and content creation. You can iterate and pivot afterwards to expand your chosen niche, but you want your initial message to be clear. Focusing on a wide, murky group of addressees automatically dilutes your message, content, and initiative, spreading them too thin to create visible effects.

Defining your anti-niche is just as important and impactful. A message that alienates or disturbs no one, is probably weak enough to interest no one.

No calm after this storm

Without a doubt, every woman attending the co-storm had her own “ah-ha!” moment, that – if executed with the same palpable determination that was filling the air on Saturday – will be enough to push the projects we came with to their successful endings. We braved the storm, came out ahead, and will be bringing the results and conclusions to build a stronger community in 2016.

Katie Walvatne Promoted to General Manager at thinkspace

October 2015: Katie Walvatne

As CEO, I’m so happy to announce that Katie Walvatne has been promoted to General Manager.

Katie has the leadership, grit, and resilience to be successful in this role and she has done an outstanding job in many areas of the business. Specifically, Katie has been invaluable in creating partnerships, cultivating relationships, and is a natural connection creator. It’s been extremely important for me to have someone fill such a critical role that aligns with the core values of the company. We’re all excited for Katie to take on an even larger role in the company!

Katie’s new responsibilities include oversight of our Customer Experience, Community Management, Operations, and Recruiting Business Unit. I’m excited for the growth that she and her team will bring to the company and I am looking forward to supporting her in much success in the upcoming years. Please join me in congratulating Katie!

thinkspace Year in Review 2015

The only time you should look back is to see how far you’ve come. I’m grateful for this team and I’m looking forward to connecting the dots forward in 2016!

thinkspace 2015 by Slidely Slideshow