In a recent presentation given at thinkspace, the CEO and founder of thinkspace, Peter Chee, spoke on the importance of mentors and role models. He confessed that when he first started out, he had a 50 page business plan which he was pretty jazzed about, but “didn’t grab ahold of the models of mentors early enough.” Peter’s lesson learned (as well as advice to all entrepreneurs) is to get those people in place, and get them in place sooner rather than later.
Listening to Peter talk about role models and mentors got me thinking about the importance of our surroundings. I think most would agree that who you surround yourself with matters – in life, in relationships, and especially as an entrepreneur striving for motivation, significance, and effectiveness.
The importance of surroundings is at the core of what makes thinkspace more than just office space, but a community. Just yesterday, I gave a tour to some guys that are launching a new product and are looking for somewhere to work (other than a coffee shop). As we chatted in the kitchen of the coworking floor, these two guys expressed to me how they are eager to find a place where they can be surrounded (there’s that word again!) and inspired by other entrepreneurs. And not surprisingly, the questions that they asked me about thinkspace had nothing to do with price points, but more to do with what kind of community thinkspace is.
Q: “What kinds of people will I run into at thinkspace?”
A: “Thinkspace represents a wide variety of different people and companies – tech startups, CPA and lawyer firms, videographers, SEO gurus, sales, marketing firms, counselors, and there’s even a pastor on the second floor.”
Q: “What are the benefits of being at thinkspace, in the coworking community?”
A: “I can best explain that in a story…I was talking with a coworker the other day, and he mentioned to me that he knew coworking at thinkspace would be a good fit for him because of the flexible plan and the quality space. But he was surprised by the community that it’s provided him with – which is a huge value-add to him, as well as his company. At thinkspace, you’ll be surrounded and inspired by innovators and entrepreneurs. You could work at home, or in a coffee shop, and try to conjure up inspiration on your own. Or you can hang out in coworking for a few moments, and hear about the amazing things that the entrepreneurs in this community are up to, and share in their energy and motivation.”
Peter Chee spoke about the need for mentors and role models. And whenever I walk through coworking, I see these roles being established. One thing that I’ve come to expect whenever I’m at thinkspace: the opportunity to learn something new. And I love that. I don’t care that I’m no where near the smartest person in the room. At the end of Peter’s presentation, he shared something similar about what drives him: “I’m constantly learning, so I’m just absorbing. If you’re the smartest person in the room, than you’re probably in the wrong room. I’m always surrounded by people that are smarter than me.”
So who do you surround yourself with?
And are you in need of a mentor or role model? Thinkspace has recently launched the CXO program, which offers office hours with experts in their field. Want to know more? Find more information here.
This week, I got hit with a high fever for three days, so have moved my Week 7 book to Week 8. However, I did manage to still read an entire book…but not exactly a novel.
This week I read a children’s book to my nephews, Cooper (age 4) and Jack (age 2): Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney. The book is one of their favorites, and the first time Cooper had it read to him, a certain someone was a bit too dramatic in their storytelling made him cry (lesson learned).
Here’s why I love (and recommend) this book:
1) The book rhymes (but not in an annoying way).
2) The book teaches a valuable lesson (be patient with your parents).
3) It’s a perfect “quick read” before they go to bed (translation: this book can be read in 5 minutes, so if your nephews are asking you for one more book after the five you’ve just read them, you can say “Okay, we’ll read Llama Llama Red Pajama, but THEN you’re going to bed. Deal?” You get what I mean.).
For week 6 of my yearlong reading project, I sped through The New Digital Age by Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen. If you are anything like me (and intimidated by the sheer volume and language of such a book), stop right there. Just reading the introduction hooked me in to want to know more about what Silicon Valley’s great leaders, Schmidt and Cohen, had to say.
Can you imagine a world where everyone is connected? We are already familiar with being connected in our current society, but Schmidt and Cohen paint a picture of an entirely connected world: “The next moments in our technological evolution promise to turn a host of popular science-fiction concepts into science facts: driverless cars, thought-controlled robotic motion, artificial intelligence (AI) and fully integrated augmented reality, which promises a visual overlay of digital information onto our physical environment.”
This is exciting because who wouldn’t want to live the technologically advanced life of Tom Cruise in Minority Report?
But among the excitement, there are also some concerns regarding the reprocussions of global connectivity. Schmidt and Cohen offer solutions as they observe the challenges that arise within our future’s connectivity. And while much of the book’s content is technology, the book is geared towards humans: “This is not a book about gadgets, smart-phone apps or artificial intelligence, though each of these subjects will be discussed. This is a book about technology, but even more it’s a book about humans, and how humans interact with, implement, adapt to and exploit technologies in their environment, now and in the future, throughout the world.”
Should you read this book? Yup. Two thumbs up.
The thinkspace community first opened its doors 5 years ago today, on May 1st of 2008.
Since then, thinkspace has been – and continues to be – home to many startups and established businesses.
Upon starting thinkspace, Peter Chee understood that if he took a conventional path, he could expect conventional results. But from the very beginning, thinkspace has been anything but conventional.
Shortly after thinkspace opened, the recession hit. Peter was left with a decision to make: would he keep his rates competitive, and in doing so head out on a race to the bottom? Peter recalls making that decision, “The race to the bottom is about cutting corners, and how far I can stretch this thing or person…” That wasn’t the way Peter set out to do business, nor was it the way he wanted to respond to the recession. Instead, he was inspired by Seth Godin: “Consumers are not loyal to cheap commodities, they crave the unique, the remarkable, the human.”
In the moment while other competitors were trying to stay afloat by cutting costs and offering discounts, Peter asked “How can we make thinkspace remarkable?” and responded not by cutting costs, but focusing on creating value within the thinkspace community.
Thinkspace was born during an against-the-odds era. But thinkspace not only survived the recession, but has thrived due to the vision of value and relationships. From the beginning, Peter stated, “I want to focus on making connections with people, because that’s where the value is…if you can actually connect with people, they will be more likely to do business with you.”
Thinkspace’s 5th birthday isn’t about celebrating Peter, but about celebrating the members that we are grateful to be in community with – each and every one of you makes this place remarkable. Without you, thinkspace would be an empty building and an empty community. So, here’s to you!
To say “thank you,” each team member at thinkspace has brought in their favorite goodie and treat. Please stop by the front desk today to say hi and indulge in some edible-gratitude.