Sharing my process - dealing with a rent increase and looking for a new home

Hey gang!

Some of you who follow along on my blog and podcast know that for the last 6 months, I’ve been navigating the treacherous waters of a crazy landlord, a gnarly rent increase, and the likely need to relocate our coworking space in the near future.

Many friends and colleagues have been quick to point out that other coworking spaces are going through similar challenges or see them on the near horizon, so I’ve been going out of my way to do as much of this process in public as possible.

Today I published my latest update, which includes a bit of a peek into what you might expect when you’re interacting with people in the real estate industry, but also a look into how I’m keeping our priorities straight in spite of the challenge.

Previous posts in this series include:

It’s probably worth noting that this isn’t just an experiment in transparency - this is a large scale demonstration about how we do everything in our community.

In case it’s not clear, consensus isn’t the goal. Instead, I’ve put my focus on making sure there’s room at the table for people to be and feel heard, and for our members to be and feel like they are a part of the process. It’s ultimately my job to make many of the decisions, but instead of making them in a vacuum and then delivering the finished product to our members, I’ve invited them into the process.

Even the people who’ve responded with “I trust you - wherever we end up will be great” appreciated that they were given the opportunity to say that instead of it being assumed. That’s subtle, but powerful and crucially important to the end result of the experience we create.

As far as I’m concerned, the only way we screw this up is by changing our standard operating mode just because we’ve been dealt a crappy hand.

In addition to giving y’all a peek into how I execute transparency with our members, and the language choices that we know make a difference, you’ll also get to see how this has been affecting me personally. Because that’s something that doesn’t get talked about enough is how hard it can be to face this stuff and still keep it together.

When “staying strong” as a leader means faking that your frustration and anxiety don’t exist, literally nobody wins.

If you’re interested in how I’ve worked through that underlying personal psychology, check out Episode 14 of “The Coworking Weekly Show” (the second half, Episode 15, is dropping shortly).

Finally, I’d encourage more people here to share THEIR process. If not with this list, with your own communities. It’s tempting to spend all day in your own head trying to solve problems, and forget that you’re in a room full of professional problem solvers who have a vested interest in whatever you’re trying to make better.

And I’m pretty sure that’s what we’re all here for too - to make it better.



The #1 mistake in community building is doing it by yourself.

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Admittedly, sharing with my community has been the hardest, yet the most growth I’ve experienced in this process. Although I’ve been in public service and non-profit for most of my life, an industry that is an open book to everyone (or should be) as a community entity, I’ve had to switch gears in some respects. One part of the ‘community’ aspect of this has to respect my partner, and husband, with whom I have a business already (our marriage). I have to account for his comfort level of sharing all of this with my community because - to my husband and somewhat with me, too - they’re not financially invested to the degree we are. The other part of me has to trust that their engagement and opinion isn’t going to lead us down the rabbit hole and into some unknown (because frankly, they’re as unknown and untested as I am)

With that, I do talk to my community every day (via a closed Facebook group) In fact, I just posted my recent interview of a CPA and the fact that I pulled the trigger on submitting LLC paperwork for Engage Cowork (breathing has returned to normal). I share being scooped by new coworks in our community (yes, I’m a bit sad that I’m not the first one, but oh well… we’ll get there). I listen to them describe their 20 different visions of what the cowork looks like, where it should be, and what it should have in it (thankfully no votes for slides or bowling alleys, but a tree hammock was suggested).

However in the end, my asking for help has gleaned many resources that wouldn’t have been realized unless I asked. I can’t promise them anything but my 100%, keep them in the loop, and when I ask for their suggestions, that I don’t poo-poo anything because they’re all right, in some way.

Thanks for sharing, Alex.