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Who’s speaking at the People at Work Summit?

6 minute read
by Alex Hillman

Howdy, friends!

In case you missed it on my podcast and newsletter and tweets and Instagram…next week (April 21-22) my team and I (wave hi to Adam and Sam!) are hosting an online conference that we’ve dubbed the People at Work Summit.

With just over a week until showtime, I wanted to share a much-requested summary of our speakers and their topics! Read on to see who they are and what we have in store…

Who’s speaking?

What am I going to learn?

I find it fascinating how we almost instinctively turn to other owners & operators instead of our own members when we have questions. And don’t get me wrong – I loooooove learning from this community and I love sharing what I’ve learned.

But every time I’m stuck, I turn to our members. They have the best insights. Knowing what’s really going on in their heads informs our best decisions.

We’re only going to continue to succeed as long as we are the companies and communities who really understand how and why people work together, what challenges the modern workers face (and how they’re overcome), and what they are learning about how to succeed as members of our coworking spaces.

So in a coworking conference first, we’ve stacked our speaker list HIGH with coworking space members who have incredibly valuable lessons, including:

  • Vanessa Gennarelli – “How I got comfortable talking about money”
  • Kati Sipp – The impact the on-demand economy has on the way that workers fight for benefits.
  • Lydia Martin – Virtual Coworking is great (except when it’s not)
  • Max Minkoff – “About the dishes in the sink..”
  • Parker Whitney – “How my company culture was informed by working in a coworking space”
  • Bernie Mitchell – “I’m NOT an entrepreneur and that’s okay”
  • Pilar Orti – Change is hard (and how to help others embrace it)
  • Madeline Boyer – Coworkers in the Mist: How to be an ethnographer in your coworking space

Beyond members, the second most valuable resource I’ve found to learn from are people in similar, adjacent industries. Coworking might seem “new” and “different” but so many of our challenges are easiest understood and overcome by seeing how people outside of coworking deal.

So….you can look forward to speakers and topics including:

  • Rich Negrin, Former Deputy Mayor of Philadelphia – What can local government learn from a coworking space?
  • Greg Maughan, Philly Improv Theater – “How to stop worrying about your competition”
  • Mike Quackenbush, Chikara Pro Wrestling – The impact of rituals on being a professional
  • Chris Thompson, Former VP of Electronic Arts, Development Director Green School bali – The Power of Imperfection
  • Dr Timaree Schmit, Sex Researcher and Educator – How is polyamory like coworking? How to build open trust and communication into a relationship.

Plus, a few special guests from this group. Specifically, some of our research-oriented friends, including Steve King sharing some research related to Happiness and Coworking, and Julian Waters Lynch sharing some of his findings about the “lifecycles” that coworkers are likely to go through and how we can build our communities and businesses to better support more of the lifecycle (a.k.a. less members leaving!).

Our goal was to organize a collection of talks that are going to open your mind, stimulate your thinking and creativity, and spark LOTS of conversation.

We’ve been working closely with all of our speakers to keep their talks tight and actionable, too. Every talk we’ve previewed has been incredibly good – so we’re REALLY excited to share these lessons with all of you. 🙂

Wait…why an online conference?

First and foremost, accessibility. If people want to benefit from an event like this, we wanted to lower the boundaries for getting involved.

Jon Markwell (a semi-regular on this group, from The Skiff in UK) nailed this with his recent post about traveling for work:

“Alex realised that there are lots of people who can’t travel to the many coworking conferences around the world. And those same people are the ones who would benefit the most if they could attend.”

I also wanted to see what would happen if we started connecting more across borders, like happens in the Coworking Google Group.

So for 24 hours (and days before/after the Summit itself), we’re going to experiment with turning a little corner of the internet into a shared space for our communities.

With accessibility in mind, we are also making scholarships available for people in parts of the world where $99 is a financial challenge – every 10 people who register unlocks another scholarship and we’ve given out several already!

Sounds awesome, but how the heck does an online conference actually work? What about time zones, Alex?

Fair question. To my knowledge, an event like this (for any topic or industry) hasn’t ever been attempted. So we’re charting some new territory.

Here’s a step-by-step of what to expect, but here are the most important bits: 

  • You need a laptop computer (sorry, the streaming doesn’t work on phones!) with a strong internet connection for the streaming video talks.

  • You CAN just sit back and take notes on all of the talks. But like a real conference, there’s even more value in connecting with the other people in attendance. The Summit chat room is already a great place to meet people, riff on the talk topics, ask more questions, swap stories, etc. and it’s only getting better with every new person who joins

The most challenging part, of course, is answering “when does this start in my time zone?” 

Check out the page above and notice Step 2. The easiest way to think of this might be to imagine six overlapping “mini conferences” – with a new one kicking off every 4 hours across the 24 hour period.

Every Summit Block will have it’s own kick off, speakers, hallways time, and happy hour. And then we’ll roll right into the next block.

For a single $99 ticket, you can join for as many blocks as you want (and can stay awake for).

People at Work Summit – The people side of Coworking, Collaboration, and the Future of Work 2016-04-13 12-28-30

Group ticket discounts are available by request (just email us, [email protected])!

And if you get your ticket before 12pm Eastern THIS Friday (April 15th) you can participate in our weekly pre-conference chat at 3pm on Friday. This week’s chat topic is how coworking spaces communicate the value of what we do and provide, so it’s gonna be a doozie!

Whew! That was a lot to cover but I hope it paints a clear picture of what we’re working to create. I really really want this to be a valuable addition to the community. I hope you’ll join us!

Have any questions? Hit me up!

And I hope to “see” you at the Summit next week 🙂

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Hey, thanks for reading!

Alex Hillman I am always thinking about the intersection of people, relationships, trust and business. I founded Indy Hall in 2006, making us one of oldest fully independent coworking communities in the world. This site is packed with the lessons and examples I’ve learned along the way. You can find me on Twitter, too! 🐦 Say hi.