With a blue sky, next to the water and with different tents and food stalls, OuiShare Fest had a real festival vibe going on when I entered the area on Wednesday afternoon. The event about the sharing economy took place last week in Paris. It was a mix of workshops, presentations and unconference sessions, which made it interactive, informative and insightful. Sometimes it was an entire session that gave me a new perspective, other times it was just a few words that had me thinking for hours. Here’s what stuck with me most.
Extended Networks Are Incredibly Powerful
One of the first sessions I attended may have been the biggest eye-opener for me. Mirjam Notten and Paola Tubaro hosted the session ‘Happy people are connected people’ and gave us an exercise. We all got a card on which we had to fill out our name and who we would like to meet, or what we were looking for. We would partner up with another random attendee, our ‘buddy’, and then we would work the room looking for people who could help our buddy. First of all, I thought this exercise was exciting because I wouldn’t easily walk up to people and ask for help for myself, but for someone else, I’d be happy to do so! But the real eye-opener was the result after only 5 minutes. The buddy of the person I started talking to was looking for people and businesses with a social impact in Barcelona. Only a week before, I had participated at I Am Tomorrow, an event in Barcelona that empowers women in tech and business! Obviously, I was happy to connect this person with the organizer.
Then I told him what my buddy was looking for: leads and contacts for her design agency, where she focuses on working with waste – recycling and ways to have less waste in the first place. The guy I talked to had a connection with a company that tested new ideas of recycling at music festivals, to scale them up for cities if the tests were successful!
It was so encouraging to see how easy it is to help people, even with things I have no expertise in, simply because I have a network. Everyone has a network, so everyone is able to help someone else. Another lesson from this session is: you have to articulate what you’re looking for. Without this exercise, I would have never known that the girl next to me looking for leads on waste recycling, or that the other guy was looking for social impact opportunities in Barcelona. I believe it could make a great exercise within a coworking space as well.
Photo: OuiShare Fest
What do I want more of?
Something that got me thinking a lot was a phrase mentioned by Ralph Weickel from the Corporation for Positive Change. He claimed that instead of wondering ‘What you want to get away from,’ you should ask yourself ‘What do I want more of?’
I think this can be very relevant for everyone, including coworking space managers. Do you want to attract people by showing them how draining and exhausting the 9-5 cubicle with competing colleagues can be, or do you want to attract them by giving them a vision of freedom, independence, community, and collaboration?
The first option may make people unhappy with their current situation, but it doesn’t show them a new path to take, while the visionary option shows exactly that: alternative ways to live life. This positive take on the world is a lot more motivating, encouraging and inspiring and in my opinion a great way to introduce coworking to people.
Collaboration over competition
Another theme that came up multiple times throughout the event was collaboration vs. competition. If you’re reading this blog, there’s a good chance you already have positive associations with ‘collaborations’, but perhaps you still have unconscious limits to it. Sure, you’re open to collaborating with companies that complement you. A coworking space with the gym next door, a social media marketer with a graphic designer… but what’s your take on collaborating with someone you would otherwise see as a competitor? Usually, their success means your loss, but what if you could find a way in which their success becomes your success?
Closely related to this are the city and country passes for coworking spaces we’ll soon introduce at Cowork7x24. Being a digital nomad, I will never get a 6-month membership in one place, and there are many others like me. But when I’m at Coworking Bansko for 3 weeks and when I’m ready to go, the people there tell me I should definitely check out SOHO in Sofia, there’s a big chance I will. If I have one pass that allows me to do so, the decision on my next destination will be made even faster! So think of ways that turn your competition into your partners.
What I really love about the OuiShare community, is that everyone wants each other to succeed and wants to actively help each other. You even see it in my main afterthoughts. So in the spirit of OuiShare, I’m asking you to take a minute and think how these ideas relate to you and your business. What can you do to help someone else succeed? Let’s all root for each other.