About Me

Hi, I’m Alex.

I build communities, started one of the longest running coworking communities in the world, write a crapload of words every day, tweet a little too much, coach people to be the best version of themselves possible, can't stop learning new things, and do my very best not to take myself too seriously.

I have one goal: to fill the world with truly excellent collaborators so we can all work together, better.

Because let's be honest...most of us aren't very good at it.

Search The Site

Alex Hillman

what’s next at Indy Hall? let’s find out.

For the last 15 months, I’ve been sharing various parts of the most crucial communications that I’ve sent to the Indy Hall community as we organized around and prepared for the biggest move of our 10 year history.  Below is the latest, which I sent today, 1 month into our new space.  The future is bright, my friends. I can’t wait to see what comes next, because I know we’re gonna do it together. <3

Happy Monday, gang. And welcome home. 🙂

Over the last few weeks, folks have been asking…. “okay Alex, we moved. Now what?”

I have finally caught my breath enough to start communicating a useful answer. And as a first step, THIS WEEK I’m hosting a series of discussions (in person and online) to help us begin charting our course forward together.

In these sessions I want to hear from YOU about the things we want to see happen in our community, and in our space. We’ll be taking notes so we can share between the sessions, and with anyone who is unable to attend.

Both sessions will be broadcast on Crowdcast so you can participate remotely, and because now that we’re not planning an epic move we can put some of that energy into stuff that more efforts to brings our remote community together in new ways.

Let me say that again:

Remote coworkers, I reeeeeeeally want you to be a part of this conversation.

These two conversations aren’t meant to be “definitive” – they’re the beginning of a conversation, which I’ll explain a bit more about in this email.

Both sessions will take place (in person) in the gallery.

Oh, and you don’t need to come to both sessions! The structure will be the same in each, we’re just setting up two times to be able to include more people.

Now, for a little bit more detail about what this is all about.

We moved. Now what?

Right now, here’s a glimpse at some of the things on our more tactical todo list:

  • This week we will finally move Mike Jackson’s mural – and could use a hand doing so!
  • Beginning to curate art on the walls – we have so much art, in so many more styles, from SO many members that we can find homes for them to be enjoyed.
  • There’s still some unpacking to do, and finding homes for things. But we’re in the home stretch!
  • We purged a LOT in the move, but a few things snuck into boxes that we can toss out.
  • Power cables and trip-covers still need to be installed.
  • A little bit of baseboard trim still needs to be installed.
  • A few more loose wires need to be tidied up in the phone & conf rooms.
  • The phone rooms need to finish being built out (better work surfaces & lighting).
  • Plants get homes – and a gameplan for caretaking!
  • Figure out what furniture/storage we still need to keep things organized and tidy, without inviting more clutter.
  • A revamp of our public website to better represent who we are, what we do, and all of y’all.
  • …etc

All in all – the remaining effort is to finish tidying and help put things into place to KEEP things tidy and organized.

MORE LIKE THIS PLEASE!

I’ll be honest – I’m STOKED for this initial list to be completed. I’m stoked for us to feel like the move is “completed.” I also know that “completed” is relative because Indy Hall is always in motion, always evolving, always improving.

That’s part of what has always made this place special.

But what excites me the most is having the freedom to plan for the long term, instead of just reacting to the short term.

  • What do we want to be doing 1–2 years from now?
  • What about 5 years from now? What about 10?

Once we start to answer THOSE questions, we can start thinking about how this community and our space can evolve to support that over the coming years.

Today, I want to give you an idea where my head is and has been.

A month ago – to the day! – we began the process of moving from 22 N 3rd Street to our new home here in Suite 360 on Market Street. We had help in all of the places we needed it. We were ahead of schedule at every turn.

And most importantly, we were able to be set up the following Monday for a productive work day. That was the goal, and we nailed it. I can honestly say that I’ve never seen a move as large and complex as this one go so smoothly.

Amazing job, gang. Amazing.

And I, for one, feel relieved. Well, kind of. I spent basically ALL of the last 18 months communicating about a specific goal in mind: the move. We had a hard deadline, one that was out of even my control. Y’all probably got sick of hearing about the move, the move, the move. 🙂

The good news about that shared goal is that we rose to the occasion! Yes, we still have some unpacking to finish, and some projects to complete, but we moved.

Ironically, since the move, I’ve been more overwhelmed than I was before it. Weird, huh?

You’ve probably seen it on my face if you’ve seen me in person. I’ll spare you the gory details (unless you want to know you can ask me in person or on Slack and I’m happy to share) but for me the last month has been full of unexpected time-sucks.

These time sucks – and if I’m being totally honest, a bit of burnout – have made it hard for me and the team to do some very important things like communicating with y’all about post-move plans, and what comes next.

As we slide across the finish line of moving and unpacking, it’s so so so important that we re-open those communication channels to 100%.

That begins today.

 

We made it. We’re here. Let’s not forget WHY we’re here.

This excerpt from a post I wrote last summer is ringing especially true for me right now:

PRIORITY #1 STAYS THE SAME: THE COMMUNITY

Indy Hall has gotten physically bigger by adding more square footage over the years. But sometimes, it’s hard to remember that our community created this place, not the other way around. This place – the walls and the pillars, the desks, chairs, power, and internet – are relative commodities.

What’s irreplaceable is the relationships that form between people in this community. The support and inspiration we give each other. The generosity and excitement that comes from doing something we never knew was possible. The trust we all place in each other to help make each day just a little bit better than the last one.

So long as we keep our priorities and our values in view, I’m 100% confident that we only stand to become the best version of Indy Hall we’ve seen yet.

It’s super easy to get stuck in the tactical details (and don’t get me wrong, those details DO matter). But we know better.

One of the things I’ve noticed throughout this move – and felt very personally – is that when everything is new and different, it’s the tactical details that are also the most visible and potentially create the most painful problems.

In my experience, these problems are solvable. This fact is doubly true in this community, because we’re such an incredible collection of problem solvers.

We’re starting from a better baseline

One of the things that I never really grasped until the last few weeks is how crappy our old building really was.

Like, objectively, crappy. But we made it work.

As a community, we put SO much work into just making our old space workable.

  • Sometimes it was inventing makeshift solution to solve a problem.
  • Sometimes it was a collective effort to do a task.
  • Sometimes it was a creative veneer to help cover up unsightly imperfections in the building itself.

In all cases, it was extra work just to achieve a baseline. That’s 100% true.

The silver lining was that it turns out, solving problems together almost always brought us closer together, almost in spite of the pain.

That’s always been our edge: not how nice our stuff is, but how nice we are.

Our new space is different. But we aren’t.

There’s no splitting hairs – our new spot is different. I don’t need to list the ways. Anywhere that wasn’t 22 N 3rd was going to be different.

There are probably differences that you really, really love.

There are probably differences that you’re unsure about, especially if it’s something that hasn’t been done (or started) yet or something we just haven’t figured out yet.

Now, remember what I wrote last year:

…it’s hard to remember that our community created this place, not the other way around. This place – the walls and the pillars, the desks, chairs, power, and internet – are relative commodities.

Fast forward to today.

Almost every aspect of our new space was drawn from the community focused on designing the space to solve problems. Is it perfect? Of course not, but like I said before, it’s a better baseline.

The one thing that most certainly didn’t change when we moved a month ago is who we are – a group of people who give a damn about each other, about the things we share, and about doing whatever we do today better than we were doing it yesterday.

This is the most important time – ever – to remember that fact.

The true definition of JFDI

When I got the letters JFDI tattoo’d on my arm, it pre-dated being any kind of Indy Hall mantra or motto…let alone a sticker 😉 It was more of a reminder to myself than anything else. But a reminder of what?

JFDI isn’t “Just Fucking Do Everything” or “Just Fucking Do Anything”.

JFDI is “Just Fucking Do It” – where “It” is the thing that you know is right, and even if it’s hard or uncomfortable you do it anyway.

The first 30 days of JFDI feel different from the first 2 years of JFDI which feel different from the first 4 years of JFDI.

JFDI isn’t a singular action. It’s a different way of considering what’s in front of you.

When I JFDI, I’m trying to be thoughtful about how my time is spent because I’m in this for the long haul. JFDI is my strong personal reminder: Be patient. Stay humble. Play the long game.

At Indy Hall, JFDI happens best when we do it together.

In that context, the little things that on the to-do list above seem a lot less overwhelming. So as we start planning out the next few months, I want to put some work into the bigger picture of “what comes next” and in order to do that…I need to hear from you.

We did something similar last summer and it was HUGELY productive, helping me to understand a wide set of perspectives and make sharper decisions that led us to our new home.

You even read my recaps of those discussions from last summer – I already have and plan to read them again.

Let’s kick off these discussions on Thursday

If a lunchtime session is easier to fit into your schedule or if you’re already at Indy Hall during the day, please join us in the gallery space from 12:00pm-1pm on Thursday Sept 22nd.

If after-hours is easier, we’ll have a second session on the same day from 5:30–6:30.

Even if you don’t have anything specific that you want to say or talk about, I’d encourage you to try to attend one of the sessions either in person or online via Crowdcast.

My door is always open.

I also know that for the last month, me looking tired or stressed out hasn’t made me the most approachable.

But honest to goodness, this community means the world to me. You don’t need to wait for a special event to come talk to me, or Adam or Sam or Sean.

I will always, always, always make time to listen. The worst case scenario if you ask is that I might ask for a little time to clear my head so I can give you my full attention.

Finally, I know that taking ANY time out of your day is asking a lot, so your willingness to attend and participate does mean so much to me.

-Alex

What JFDI really means

Spotted this perfect quote from Indy Hall alumnus and longtime badass, Kelani Nichole.

“Just fucking do it.

Find a sustainable means to get your ideas out into the world.

Skirt the institution until you can infiltrate.

Don’t imitate, there’s no point. Competition is useless, collaboration is everything.

Be humble, learn from mentors and get used to the fact right now that you will not be compensated for your time in the short-term…the art world is a long-term labor of love.”

Whatever your work of art is – big or small, personal or professional, creative or technical – this is how to get it done.

Nearing the end of construction…

If you’ve ever been a part of a construction or renovation project, you know that there’s an “arc” of how things appear to be going.

  • Right after demolition, once everything has been stripped away and cleaned up, you start to see the real potential of what’s to come
  • Then you get into the actual build out work…where for a good long while there’s just enough “structure” to show you where things are headed, but not quite enough detail for it to look complete. During this period things seem to perpetually look messy and terrible.
  • Then, as you get into the last 10-15% of finish work, it starts to feel real again.

That arc is an emotional rollercoaster for the uninitiated. It takes some patience and confidence to see the things that are off and fix them while letting other things come together over time.

Indy Hall crossed into that final part of the arc this past week.

2 weeks ago I walked the space with our electrician and realized that the lighting pattern that had been proposed just didn’t make a lick of sense. Luckily, I had pushed the engineers to design the power system itself to be flexible, and over the course of a few hours we adjusted the placement of our lighting fixtures. If we hadn’t caught that at the last minute and just let things go, it would’ve looked awful.

The new version we came up with in those last few hours is SO much better than anything we could’ve come up with in a CAD drawing. Being in the space, walking the floor, feeling the natural light and how the fixtures would look and feel in physical space made the world of a difference.

This past week, the flooring went down. The kitchen cabinets and appliances were placed. Doors were hung and glass was installed. And less than 30 minutes before over 100 people gathered in the new space for our first Town Hall inside it together, a dozen pieces of art were hung and the first splashes of color were painted on the walls by our members.

But more than anything, it was having those 100+ members and friends in the space together that made it truly feel real. That’s when I knew for sure that we’d done it right.

Over a year ago, I asked our community “What is the future of Indy Hall?” and reminded everyone that WE get to decide.

And we have decided. The future looks bright – literally and figuratively.

Chris Morrell “snapped” these Photosynth 360 degree interactive panoramas below. You can see that there’s still some work being done, but for the first time we really get a sense of what we’re working with to make this place feel like home.

If you want to see visit Indy Hall one more time at 22 North 3rd Street, this month is your last chance.

Because on Monday, August 22nd, Indy Hall’s new home will be buzzing with life. We’ll see you there.

This post is part of the thread: Future of Indy Hall – an ongoing story on this site. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.

Proximity & behavior in coworking spaces

As a rule I try not to link to FastCo and instead to the original research that they synthesize.

But this article and the research it’s based on are very relevant to my readers interested in community & shared spaces.

The design of the research seems to be about ‘toxic people’ but it’s really about how behavior is contagious, the impact behavior has on people within a certain radius.

In the context of coworking, it’s less about people being fired or quitting but instead ending memberships prematurely, or simply disengaging from the community and (which is a net loss for both the community and them).

The study doesn’t talk about how this works in the other direction I’ve personally seen this effect cut both ways – “bad behavior” left unchecked sets a bad example (sort of a social variation of broken window theory) but supportive, generative behavior is also contagious.

“Policing” culture doesn’t work – but leadership by example matters a LOT. Too many band-aid solutions make the problem worse in the long run, not better.

My approach has always been to do as much as we can to mitigate and reduce “bad” behavior (a mix of design principals and communication that lend to self selection) while encouraging the good.

I’ll be reading this research a few more times to see what I can draw from it and will share more specific ideas as they come together, but would be curious if others have examples of what they’ve done to curb “bad apples” and encourage contagious good?

The OFFICIAL Indy Hall #newhome calendar!

Even though we’ve been working on this move for over a year, and even though construction has been going on for a couple of months, it didn’t really feel real until we put together this calendar to help us keep track of the next few weeks.

moving calendar Click to zoom in!

It’s up on the wall near the front door in the gallery, and we’ll be keeping it updated as well as online updates. But the big one for today is to save some dates!

Save these dates now!

→ First Town Hall in the new space Thursday August 4th

THIS IS NEXT WEEK

Thursday August 4th, 6-7:30pm at the new space. We’ll have food and drinks! (please RSVP), you can get a first peek at the new space, and we’ll open a conversation about the possibilities and goals ahead.

This Town Hall (like all Town Halls) is open to members and friends, just RSVP so we have a headcount to plan for!

This event WILL be livestreamed and recorded for people who can’t physically attend – including a virtual tour of the new space – but we’ll also be talking about things on the horizon that have nothing to do with the new space.

So RSVP to tune in or attend in person, and please spread the word 🙂


→ Moving Parade – Friday August 19

Yup, that’s right a parade. Imagine music, food, and festivities as we stroll down the street carrying boxes and desks. Anybody know a marching band that could lead us?

tumblr_mijde9nL2j1rw5tixo1_500.gif

More on this at Town Hall 🙂


→ First day working in the new space! – Monday, August 22nd.

Feeling “moved in” is going to take longer than a weekend, have the most important parts set up:

Desks, chairs, power, internet. Coffee. And most importantly, each other!

This is a Monday to look forward to.

Mondays.jpg


One more thing…

As we prep for next week’s Town Hall (please don’t forget to RSVP!) we’re also putting together the answers to two important questions that I’ve been asked and haven’t had perfect answers for.

1 – “How do I get mail delivered to the new space? Where/how am I supposed to change my address?”

2 – “How will I get into the building? Will we need keys and how will that work? What about visitors?”

Be on the look out for answers to BOTH of these questions in the coming days…

Silence is the silent killer

As always – my “door” is always open for conversations and problem solving. If anything is on your mind, please don’t hesitate to come talk to me or Adam or Sam or Sean or even each other.

Something you’re pumped about? Come tell us so we can make sure to include you as much as possible!

Something you’re worried about? Come share with us so we can think about how to make it better together.

Because that’s the thing that makes Indy Hall tick. This community has always been making things better and doing it together. I don’t have ANY illusions that we’re perfect, so the thing I’m 100% committed to is working together to improve.

Ya dig?

And thank you. For your precious attention, for your thoughtful and talented contributions, and for your spirit of optimism that whatever we do together would be better than doing it alone.

Thats’ what we’re all about. <3

-Alex

Standard Operating Procedures for Coworking

I don’t have a problem with rules, I have a problem with creating an environment that creates rule-following machines.

Don’t get me wrong, the world needs rule-followers too. There are companies that want and need cog-like employees.

The problem is that I see a LOT of coworking spaces where staff and members alike are more worried about following the rules than looking after each other. When the goal is creativity and collaboration – things that coworking spaces often promise – documenting the “rules” and standard operating procedures needs to work a little bit differently.

So about 5 years ago, I started this by trying to write down the fundamentals about how I make decisions, so that our community could better understand why things work. The result has been live on our public website for quite a while, broken down into a sort of “plinko board” of actions that we always strive for, and actions we try to avoid. It’s sort of like a hybrid of a SOP and a living breathing action-oriented version of our community values, documented:

We always:

…help unlikely groups of likeminded people form relationships. …focus on people and their interactions, and the formation of relationships. …help people tell the stories of the experiences they have in Philadelphia. …trust people to do the right thing. …guide people to being good citizens of Indy Hall and of Philadelphia. …support people in their goals of building businesses to last, in Philadelphia and for Philadelphia.

We never:

…do anything against our community’s interest. …focus on desks or square footage. …create something only because we think we’re supposed to. …accept the status quo. …accept a “no” at face value. …compromise our core values. …prioritize a transaction before a relationship.

Every day, we:

…keep people at the center of every action, interaction, and decision. …welcome new community members, and make it clear that Indy Hall is theirs, not just ours. …always look for a way to say yes. …teach others in our immediate and neighboring communities how we operate.

I literally use these guidelines for decision making 100x a day, and it’s awesome to watch my team and even members use and reference this when figuring out how to make things work.

…but it’s kind of a mouthful.

It’s not always easy to remember every bit or communicate it quickly, and for some people, it’s more overwhelming than helpful in the moment. So we came up with a simpler, shorthand version that we put on our welcome one-pagers, and include as a major part of our tour.

Success in our community comes most often by remembering to do three things:

  1. Look after yourself
  2. Look after each other
  3. Look after this place

In all cases, we’re SUPER careful in our language choice to make it clear, before providing SOP documentation, that anything documented is meant to help, but not constrain. Any “rule” is open to being adjusted, adapted, or rewritten to help us better achieve our goals working together.

What’s worked for you?

I’m curious if you’ve found ways to balance between SOP and handbook-style documentation, while still allowing/encouraging people to “color outside of the lines” and trusting people to do what’s right? Share your examples in the comments!

Indy Hall finally has an OFFICIAL move-in date

Friday
August
19th

It feels like I’ve been waiting a lonnnnnnnnng time to finally be able to say a specific move date.

August 19th is almost exactly 1 month from today. Yes, that’s soon…but it’s also ample time for us to accomplish a lot.

Another important date is Thursday, August 4th. That’s when we’re hosting the first Town Hall meeting in the new space (also to be livestreamed online). Please let us know that you’re coming and RSVP on Facebook!

Please MARK YOUR CALENDARS for BOTH of those dates right now!

  • Thursday August 4th – Town Hall at the #newhome! (RSVP)
  • Friday August 19th – Moving weekend begins!

Please take note that for the move, we’ll be closed for normal work on Friday, August 19th and when we re-open on Monday August 22nd, we’ll be in our new home at 399 Market Street.

We’ll still have work to do to make the space feel like home, of course, but the goal is to time everything so that the transition itself is functionally as seamless as possible.

Uh oh, date conflict?

If I could choose another time of year to do this, I would. I know that people have summer vacation travel plans, as well as work and personal commitments that might conflict with these dates.

If that’s you – don’t sweat it, but please do let us know ahead of time especially if you’re a full time member.

There will be plenty of opportunities to get involved in the move before and after, and if you want to be a part of making our new home awesome we can keep you posted on things that fit your schedule better.

Still haven’t seen the new spot?

You should come to Town Hall on August 4th since it’s the first time we’ll come together as a community in the new spot. But if you want to go over sooner, I’m over there every day often multiple times a day, so I’m happy to take you on a tour. Just say the word – DM me on Slack or email me directly (alex@indyhall.org)

So….what comes next?

Now that we have a date… the vague details that have been hanging out will be a lot easier to make concrete, and to put them on a timeline and in the right order.

As important as the date itself, there’s a lot we can (and should) do BEFORE the move-in date.

We’re in the process of organizing an big ass to-do, and will share that in the next day or so. More eyes on that list will help us ensure we don’t forget something important.

We’ll also be looking for input on creative projects to help the new space feel like home. There will be lots of fun to be had before, during, and after the move.

I’m even thinking about a few ways to make the Friday move itself into a fun event…more on that at Town Hall 🙂

So yes. things are going to start moving fast, but lots of decisions are still wide open and communication will be a lot more frequent! So please talk to me, Adam, Sam or Sean if you have ideas or questions.

Also, if anything seems off, weird, or wrong to you…please come talk to me ASAP. I’m definitely not perfect and I’m not ashamed to say I made a mistake, and I care more about doing right by the community than anything else.

Don’t forget to RSVP for Town Hall!

You’ll probably get sick of me mentioning it, but please please please RSVP for and spread the word about the August 4th Town Hall!

On a more personal note – I’d be a basketcase right now if I didn’t have this community amazing to back me up throughout this process. The support you’ve shown me and each other mean so, so much, and has me so excited to work together to make this new location our own.

<3 <3 and gratitude,

-Alex

This post is part of the thread: Future of Indy Hall – an ongoing story on this site. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.

6 weeks until go-time. Time for a town hall!

The biggest question of the summer around Indy Hall is…when exactly are we moving? To be perfectly honest, it’s been tough on me and the team to keep giving vague answers like “in August…”

Well, the end of August is just over 6 weeks away. And I know first hand how frustrating it feels to be this close, and have so much still seem like it’s up in the air.

The good news is that construction has been going really well, and we’re entering the home stretch. As we get ready for the move, we’re hosting our Summer Town Hall for Thursday August 4th from 6-7:30pm.

And since August 4th should be ​very​ close to the delivery date of our finished space, we can host the Town Hall in our new home itself! ​

We’re making this event open to everyone, just please RSVP on Facebook so we can plan for seating!

>> RSVP for Town Hall

Until then, two very important things:

ONE: I’m hyper aware that this move is going to be a big change for all of us. I’m as confident as ever that 399 Market is going to be an amazing upgrade to our current space in many many ways, and that this new chapter holds incredible potential to do things even better.

But if anything I’ve said (or haven’t said) is has you worried​, please talk to me.

Email me, DM me on Slack, or text me directly. I will make time. I’m here to listen!

TWO: If you haven’t been over to the new space yet, or if you haven’t since before construction began, I am MORE than happy to take you over to see it in person. Just hit me up and we’ll make it happen!

Photos coming later this week – and maybe another Facebook Live video tour if people are into it!

the keys to making a coworking space feel like home

(first in a series)

There’s this amazing video on Indy Hall’s website from our 5 year anniversary party. People are reveling and reflecting. Some of them may have had a few drinks before the camera turned on. But I love it because it’s so honest, and a beautiful snapshot of what a coworking community can mean to the people inside of it.

It’s worth a watch, but there’s one part in particular where AJ (pictured above) talks about mixing up his house keys with his Indy Hall keys, a symbolic “this place feels like a second home.”

A few weeks ago, Melissa Mesku posted a story on New Worker Magazine about her own personal story about keys to two contrasting coworking spaces.

A physical key is inferior to a swipe card in nearly every technical way, but as Melissa so aptly pointed out:

“The fact that the key was a metal one on my key ring and not a plastic one in my wallet seemed to signify a deeper difference: the things in your wallet are used for transactions while the things on your key ring are far more personal.”

Melissa’s story reminded me a lot of AJ’s sentiments.

I even think back to when we signed our first lease, and how symbolic it was to get the physical keys. I literally wore them on a chain around my neck for the first week because they represented such an important milestone in our community.

All of these stories have been on my mind even more than usual as we get ready to move Indy Hall into a new home next month.

In addition to being a blank canvas to invite our community to create that cozy feel we’ve come to love, our new space is a technical upgrade in nearly every way. But among the few concerns shared by myself and our members is making sure that for what we gain in technical improvements, we keep our human, personal touch.

Including the keys.

Similar to the space with the physical key in Melissa’s story, our community-powered approach to access control has made our archaic, metal, keyring-bound keys a token of trust, not just a tool of access.

The system isn’t perfect, but its strengths far outweigh its weaknesses and most importantly, it sends a message of “I trust you” instead of simply “access is granted.”

But what changes when we move to a new space where the building has a front desk security staff, and where we issue plastic swipe cards instead of metal keys?

It’s a question I’ve been wrestling with for a few months. I’ve been talking with members and our team, and a few goals have emerged that we’re using as a “guidance system” to help us navigate the inevitable changes.

So over the next couple of emails, I want to talk a little bit about how we are approach these changes, the specific goals themselves, and how we’re going to try to accomplish them.

All of these goals are things that apply whether you’re looking at your first building, your fifth, or your fiftieth.

And as always, we’re going to start with the people.

Goal: Help the building staff feel like a part of the family

I did a recent podcast about the importance of the relationship you have with the people who operate your building.

But it’s not just landlords…including in the rare occasion that you yourself are the owner. Building aren’t self-maintaining – even in the simplest form, they take lots of people’s effort to operate smoothly.

One of the big wins that I recognized early in working with our new building’s staff is how they work together as a team.

How they work together became a clue about how we would work together.

They’re on site to do various jobs including security, maintenance, operations, and cleaning. But unlike contract services where people are in-and-out, the building staff is dedicated for our building. They have their own culture, one built around how they look after the building and the people in it.

It’s different from what we’re used to, but it also felt familiar.

Among my top priorities beyond the logistics of the move is getting to know the building staff in the same way that we’d prioritize getting to know new members.

Short term, this is as simple as stopping to say hello and chatting with them instead of simply breezing by their desk to go up to our space. The interactions are not overwrought or unnatural, I simply show up them the same curiosity that I would to any Indy Hall member. And the results have been amazing.

I’ve learned that the one staff member plays competitive pool. I’ve learned that another is a musician, a writer, a video producer and dabbles in 3d modeling.

It’s easy to skim past the past the service staff and assume you have nothing in common, but like each of us, there’s more to them than their job title.

You can’t force friendships. But you can earn trust, rather than simply be granted access.

So before a key ever changes hands – metal or plastic – we’re going out of our way to help the staff who runs our new building to know that we appreciate them looking after the home that we share.

They’re a part of our family now, and if we do a good job, we’ll be invited to be a part of theirs.


In the next post, I’m going to get back to talking about physical keys again.

I’m going to talk about why certain objects feel more important than others, and some of the things we forgot to do over the years, and some new goals that will make our new keyholder process even more useful for the entire community.

Drop your email in the box below and I’ll send you the next article when it’s live!

Back to top