We’re excited to be “syndicating” a blog post from Robin Terrell’s amazing blog on the future of work (with a particular emphasis on the location-independent variety): The Global Mobile Worker. This post in particular was meaningful to us because it’s about the meaning of community, and in particular the community Robin found (and helped create! – Thanks, Robin!) at Locus. Along with creating this blog and being a member of Locus, Robin is a Berkeley-educated lawyer, a writer (her book, Two Broke Chicas—a travelogue about her adventures traveling around Central & South America, Mexico, and Cuba with her partner–is available on Amazon), a technology / startup junkie, a proud Amazon employee.
We’re excited to be able to share her blog post here…
When I first arrived in town I used Meetup to find people who shared common interest. That led me straight to Locus Coworking space. Once in the door, I quickly connected with both the startup community and the writing community, common members of co-working spaces. It has been almost three years now and although I never signed up to co-work at Locus, I realized that I spent time in one of the two spaces at least once a week.
When my new job took me away from Prague for months, my homecoming included reconnecting with my friends at Locus. I write every Saturday with a dedicated group, committed to various forms of media that involve the written word. We have bloggers, and novelists, and game script writers, and PhD students writing a thesis. We come from different countries, different generations, different genders. Our bond is a long-term fascination with words on a page.
It was through Locus that I joined my E-publishing Mastermind group that has single-handedly taken me from talking smack to preparing to upload my first ebook, Two Broke Chicas, a Travel Series, December 26th, just in time for people to use their Christmas gift cards and make their New Year’s Resolution to travel more. Mentor members, like successful sci-fi writer, Bill King, have made my dreams come true.
While plopped on a big fluffy couch to wait for the group to start, I realized how important Locus was to my social life, and sense of being, in Prague. What my virtual membership gave me access to, besides one day a month and access to my e-Publishing Mastermind group, was a community. A place I could belong with people who shared my passion for a flexible work life.
Community = Thrive
Just like we need a Tribe, we need a community. Research found that people who belong to a co-working space report levels of thriving that approach an average of 6 on a 7-point scale. This is at least a point higher than the average for employees who do their jobs in regular offices. Read more: Why People Thrive in Coworking Spaces
Grind, is a growing network of coworking spaces in New York and Chicago. Community manager, Anthony Marinos, shared, “When it comes to cultivating our community at Grind, we’re all about the human element. We consider ourselves as much a hospitality company as we do a workspace provider. Our staff knows all of our members by name and profession, and we’re constantly facilitating introductions between Grindists.”
Research in Forbes magazine showed that entrepreneurs with larger and more diverse networks grow their businesses bigger.Co-working spaces can be a place for women, known for being great communicators and collaborators, who don’t excel at building power networks can find a safe space to start. (Women tend to build deep and narrow networks while men wide and shallow ones.) I’ve added several women to my network from Locus, and started an informal dinner group to encourage young professional women to support each other, over a glass of wine.
Building Intentional Communities
Some experts believe that co-working space should be built more like intentional communities. Example, Brooklyn’s Friends Work Here. Founded by NYC-based Swiss-born designer and entrepreneur Tina Roth-Eisenberg, who’s also behind the international lecture series CreativeMornings (which happens monthly in Prague, but mostly in Czech) and Tattly. The space came as a response to Roth-Eisenberg’s negative experiences in “soulless” coworking places that are more focused on making money than cultivating inspiration among its members.
A Wealth of Human Resources
Locus is how I found my brief dog-sitting gig. I enjoyed several days of pretending to own a dog, forced to take several walks every day, which did wonders for my mental health. I’ve enjoyed people passing through town and people here for the duration, like my friend Sarah who first came when it was Czechslovakia, and still communist. She is at heart a historian, writes historical fiction, and loves talking about the history of this country she calls home, as a well-informed outsider.
It was hysterical and inspiring to sit in on Texas Holdem’ Poker night, where people from around the world turned into ruthless gamblers who might gut you for a pair of Ace. It was motivational to listen to Regina and Mike talk about becoming Courageously Free, and through that relationship I was interviewed for their podcast – which should be out just in time for my book launch.
There were people at Locus doing, looking for, thinking about the exact same things as I was. We all wanted to marry our fascination with social media and our passion for words. I could pick the brains of people who, like me, were inspired by Prague, determined to make their literary dreams come true. We figured out all kinds of ways to make money with words. My critique and Saturday writing buddy, Beth Green, will fix your words for a fee. Which still leaves her time to search for an agent for her first novel, represent on Booklust and @bethverde, and be a Wanderlust columnist at thedisplacednation.com.
My writing group has sustained me, in ways both creatively and emotionally, over noodles and pivo at the Vietnamese restaurant down the street from Locus. We’ve discussed our lives and our loves, U.S. and European politics and the meaning of feminism.
We’ve shared critique groups and book
launches, like Sonya’s soiree for Under a Caged Sky, held at Locus Slezka, where we toasted with glasses of wine under the skylight, with Prague as the backdrop.
Once I’d had that moment of realization, that my co-working space was my community, I started to look around for other ways to participate. Engaged in the social media connection and found easy, fun ways to stay involved. I am looking forward to the Christmas Party catered by Ethnocatering, a social enterprise of migrant women that serves authentic food from Georgia, Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Armenian. You can’t find this deliciousness in restaurants. I know, I said it, that bad M word. Well, I must own it because here in Prague, I’m a migrant. A tax paying, law abiding expat seeking shelter and new beginnings.
I know I’m not alone in this revelation and would love you to share your experience of finding community in co-working spaces. Tell us your story in the comment section here at the Global Mobile Worker Project.
Fonseca is one of Locus’s most inspiring freelance success stories. He moved to Prague 3 years ago from Valladolid, Spain (one of the few members to join Locus before he arrived), intent on becoming a successful location-independent marketing consultant for the Spanish market, without being quite sure how he could pull it off from Prague. He started a marketing consultancy and just couldn’t figure out a way to get it going. A couple months before the Spanish national elections, almost on a whim and struggling to figure out how to move forward, he and a Spanish colleague decided to write a book about how the non-Marxist political parties should learn from the marketing strategies of the Communist party. They finished the entire book within a month. Not long after, they had offers from multiple Spanish publishers and were soon launching a book promotion. El método podemos: Marketing marxista para partidos no marxistas became an overnight success in Spanish political circles (luckily the publication coincided with national elections supporting their case), giving Fonseca and his co-author immediate recognition.
Finding success in following his passions, Fonseca turned with two colleagues to vlogging, started their own politics YouTube channel, Visualpolitik (update as of 22 Mar 2018, the Spanish-language channel has more than 565,000 subscribers, and has spun off an English-language versionthat’s about to hit the 380,000 subscriber mark)! From not being sure he could continue his freelance life in Prague to publishing a book to becoming a successful vlogger, Fonseca provides an inspiring example that–at least sometimes–following your passions can be the secret to success.
Why write a book on political marketing?
Fonseca decided to write a book on political marketing because he saw a need in the market for this type of information. He has a passion for the subject and experience from working with the People’s Party of Spain that qualified him to write on it. He wanted to explain the big picture behind successful marketing campaigns. A lot of Marxist ideas create the general philosophy that goes into political marketing. One must understand the people’s concerns and issues, then create a solution around this. Politics is not so much about the reality of a situation, but the population’s perceptions. He uses the book to detail all of this into a strategy that helps a group market themselves to the top
In your book, you write that your goal is to “sell a solution, not an ideology” can this political marketing techniques be applied to other business sectors?
Yes, there a small differences in the application of these techniques from the political sector to the business sector, but that central Marxist philosophy remains. There must be an emphasis on first completing market research to understand the issues plaguing people. Next is the construction of a solution that will appeal to the masses, remembering it is people’s perceptions that dictate their decisions. It is marketing this solution and strategy behind it that can transcend the business and political world.
What are you doing today with your YouTube channel?
Currently Fonseca is working with a few partners who have crafted a YouTube channel that posts videos on international politics and global issues. They first launched a Spanish channel in February of 2016 with the goal of providing further background and a greater context on international politics. The channel does not focus on the widely covered issues, but instead chooses issues they believe to be largely impactful and under covered global issues. Just this past February an English channel has been launched to reach a larger audience and help viewers better understand the background that goes into complex international relations and issues today.
How does your YoutTube Channel help you fulfill your passion for storytelling?
Fonseca has a passion for sharing ideas by means of storytelling. The YouTube videos he creates bring all of his strengths and interests together to form a cohesive story. He uses his political knowledge and background along with his illustration and graphic design skills together to create a story or video that educates the audience on current issues around the world.
Do you have any upcoming plans for expansion?
The focus today is on fostering the new English channel and working to expand that to more viewers. In the future Fonseca would like to try to expand the YoutTube channel potentially into new markets, more languages, and other topics. They are considering the idea of an apparel line based on the channel’s content. Fonseca also mentioned the possibility to choosing a completely new topic or perspective to share via podcast or other media. The future seems to hold many possibilities to expand reach.
What brings you to Prague?
After writing his book and beginning to do freelancing work Fonseca decided he wanted a new adventure and wanted to move abroad. He spent a lot of time researching places and looking into what would fit his wants and needs best. This included practical things like taxes, and living costs, along with lifestyle categories like livelihood of the city. At the end of the research Prague came out on top as most favorable overall. Three years ago Fonseca moved here and has not looked back.
Favorite part of the city?
Naplavka is Fonseca’s favorite part of the city, especially during the spring and summer because it’s so lively. He likes that there is a quaint farmers market right on the river always with fresh air and nice outdoor scenery to take in.
Why did you choose to join a coworking space, and specifically Locus?
Fonseca wanted to join a coworking space as soon as he came to Prague to help him find his own community within the city. Locus ended up being the choice because “Locus answered their phone.” Fonseca explained that he really appreciates a business who will answer and get back to you promptly. He was able to speak with Will and immediately felt like it would be the right space. Will has continued to positively influence Fonseca as a mentor of sorts.
What have you gotten out of your membership at Locus Workspace?
Locus has reached and exceeded Fonseca’s expectations for finding a community in Prague. He has used the membership to make some professional connections and network with people to help advance his career. However, more important than that to Fonseca has been the personal connections he has made. Fonseca considers many of the Locus members his friends. He even said that his life in Prague is very much connect to Locus and its members.
Interesting fact about you that we wouldn’t otherwise know?
Fonseca prays every morning despite being an atheist. He explained that being from Spain and growing up Catholic and having the religion in his heritage it is something that will always have a shaping impact on his life even though he does not practice the religion. Now Catholic prayers offer a way from him to keep time during morning workouts.
Below is a list of some of the business accelerators and incubators in the Czech Republic and in nearby countries (or else ones that actively target Czech startups). This is a work in progress, so please help me keep the list current and accurate by sending me feedback or leaving comments!
The terms accelerator and incubator are sometimes used interchangeably and sometimes used differently from how I would use them, so take these classifications with a bit of skepticism. This overlap in usage and similarity in experience has me grouping the two together for this blog post.
For me here are the basic similarities and differences:
Both accelerators and incubators provide shared work space and mentorship to startup businesses for a limited period of time (usually 3-6 months) to help startup businesses success. Both also tend to do this on a competitive basis, providing the space and support for free to the selected winners who are deemed to have the most potential.
Incubators tend to be non-profit entities set up by regional governments, academic institutions, or other non-profit organizations with a mission to help support the startup environment. They generally have some kind of institutional support that allows them to provide the free work space and the mentorship. As such, incubators are not as firmly tied to either the limited time period or the competitive nature of acceptance. Some of them have relatively open acceptance based on university affiliation or some other general requirements, and many will not put strict limits on how long a startup can stay. Although they do not as a rule provide capital to the startups, some do, though usually without strings attached or any ownership stake in the company being incubated. Though acceptance may be in batches on a calendar schedule, it is often on a rolling basis as well.
Accelerators, on the other hand, tend to be for-profit entities. They provide free work space and mentorship AND INVESTMENT in exchange for a percentage of ownership in the company. For accelerators, the competitive nature of entry and the limited time period are essential features of the program. They are gambling on getting that next great startup that will compensate for the loss on most companies they accelerate. The investments tend to be small (5-25,000 USD) as does the percentage of ownereship (5-10%). Acceptance for accelerators tends to be on a set schedule, where all of the companies being accelerated will start and finish together, as would a class of students in the same cohort. Often accelerators will have stages with benchmarks, where additional help and funding will be possible as long as these benchmarks are met.
But again, this is my usage based on what I take to be the norms. I may not have it exactly right, and certainly many of the players in these industries mix the concepts as they see fit.
The list is organized geographically relative to Prague, since that’s where Locus Workspace and our members are located.
Below are a few crowdfunding portals on the Czech market. I’d like to keep the list current and have some details about each, so let me know if you know of any others or have any comments about the ones in the list. Specifically it would be nice to know their pros and cons and whether they have any particular industry focus.
Hithit (Czech, Slovak, English; as of 3 Oct 2015 seems to be the largest and best known)
Thought I’d recommend a websites for fundraising since I guess people following this blog are interested in it. I’ve used it (but as a donor rather than to raise my own money) and it seems great. The site is Kickstarter (http://www.kickstarter.com; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kickstarter). It’s only for raising money for creative endeavors. A friend of mine used it to raise money for their theater group (to come to Prague and put on their show for Fringe Festival next month). They were only trying to raise $1000 and just sent the invite to friends and ended up getting almost twice that. I have to say part of the reason I donated was because it was so transparent and easy. Anyway, I’ll use it myself next time I’m trying to raise some money.