Coworking Values Podcast
Coworking Values Podcast

Episode 12 · 3 years ago

Movement VS industry Ashley Proctor


Listen in as we chat with Ashley the Brene Brown of Coworking!

Ashley delves into how when you run a genuine coworking space you're making entrepreneurship accessible and breaking down barriers. You're building bridges between industries. You're inspiring and powering your members and sharing best practices all while helping people expand their networks.

Ashley also stresses that it’s about bringing people together and dismantling loneliness and building a strong community. If you do it right, you’re accelerating economic development, protecting Freelancer rights, increasing productivity and the capacity of your member organisations.

In turn that ensures the sustainability of social enterprises and small businesses.

Together we can model diversity and inclusiveness. Collectively, we're shaping the future of work. A coworking space is a lot more than desks, coffee and Wi-Fi and she’s here to tell us why.

Welcome to co working valleys, the podcast of the European coworking assembly. Each week we deep dive into one of the values of accessibility, community, openness, collaboration and sustainability. Hello, Ladies and Gentlemen, and welcome to another coworking values podcast. I was going to say and a special episode, but of course, if you've podcasted me before, you know they're all special. But we have the we have the Brenny Brown of co working, Ashley, with us today. So actually, what are you? What are you known for and what would you like to be known for? Oh my goodness, I am probably known for launching one of the first co working spaces in Canada, two thousand and three. What I would like to be known for is my work on Juc, Canada's the executive producer and Co hit the co working health insurance plan and through creative blueprint, my consulting agency. I think. I think you're known for Duc you Canada. So we were just, let's not pretend, folks. We were just chatting about loads and stuff before we came online and it was another one of those podcast where it's like we should be recording this. So so let's let's dive straight back in. So we started off with the movement versus the industry, which I've seen popping around online and it was great to hear it's directly from you. So can you say a little bit about that, because that is a theme I'd like to be pounding the drums on going forward. Absolutely, I feel like this conversation there's been coming up a lot at industry events and gatherings and it's something that I really made the focus of my speech in the House of Commons last year in Canada. So recently we've heard a lot of talk in the news and publicly about the coworking industry and some see this is a real benefit to the coworking movement because we're getting attention, advertising, dollars press, but I think it's actually distracting from the purpose of why the coworking movement was born and the difference, to me, between the movement in the industry. So we understand cow working to be an action as well as a model and we're not renting deaths and providing members with Wi fi and coffee. That is why we got into coworking in the first place. It's not about those space itself. Co working is really about what happens when we work together. So I'm more interested in a space that's built intentionally, that's created and managed to encourage community engagement and to accelerate serendipity, that have staff that are dedicated to serving their members, sure, but also animating and cultivating the community itself, and I think the movement really values collaboration over competition. There are a few things a genuine coworking space does, and it's important to me to remind people that that's why we do what we do. In a genuine coworking space you're making entrepreneurship accessible and breaking down barriers, and you're building bridges between industries. You're inspiring and empowering...

...your members and sharing best practices and helping people expand their networks. In a genuine corking space you're also bringing to people together and dismantling loneliness and building and strengthening community. You are accelerating economic development and protecting freelancer rates and increasing productivity and the capacity of your member organizations and, in turn, that ensure sustainability of social enterprises and small businesses. You can model diversity and inclusivity and collectively we're shaping the future of work and that is a lot more than dusks and coffee and Wi fi. Absolutely. I about five years ago I had to stop getting angry with people who I beat a conference or an event or something. CAN PEOPLE GO? I Wud A coworking space and they ran a they run an office space in the financial district of London and called it coworking and I was I was wasting a lot of energy getting upset with people, you know, saying they were playing rock and roll when they were really playing, you know, Ai Music or something, and I found it and I always felt a little bit petulant saying you're not doing it properly. And you know, how's your if you if you ever had that Tantrum? How's your tantrum involved around that kind of conversation nowadays? Absolutely, I mean I've definitely felt that in the past, but I feel like as the movement has evolved in gotting stronger, we're meeting people around the world they feel the same way. I'm realizing that a lot of energy is being wasted in that direction. I think that coworking is the term itself, is actually being diluted, which is kind of okay. I think over time, in the sense that instead of working, we're going to be coworking in the future and I think it'll just replace the word work. But I think that we still need to really elevate the values of the movement. And this is sort of my reaction to this and it came out of a conversation that I actually had with some of the other greats in the working movement, Alex Hillman, Tony Much Philipo, years ago, I think we were in Barcelona maybe, or listen, I'm not sure, and we were talking about keeping the core values in the conversation and really all of these issues in the movement we were seeing. And the only thing that we can really actively do to ensure the strength of this movement down the road is to keep talking about why it is we started all this in the first place and reminding people the traveling willbree's of the coworking movement. Actually, both of those people have said I think you might be a Lisbon. I said it is just everyone was going like, you know, I don't know, I'm going to give truth. Instruction they gave was like, you know, company X is just doing this and I've just Haden quite and they're like bitch in a wine and a most moaning and and they both said, if you don't talk about it now, I'm no, you know, and and stop giving energy to, you know, whining about what you haven't gotten what they've got, because those people who go there aren't your customers. And...

...absolutely there's places that we have our coworking assembly in London and some of the places that come to people that come to breakfast. I remember them when they first open in like two thousand and eleven, and they're there. I mean, I'm obviously they've been to a lot of things, but they're totally fine. They have their own identity and people go there and they all those places I'm thinking of go there because of the man or woman that runs them and the commitment those people have made to making it work. So it's like going to your favorite restaurant because you know Giovarni or Derek is going to make your pastor or sausage role exactly as you like it, rather than going to, you know, an airport brand kind of thing. We're human, absolutely. So what is so? The other thing I want to ask about, which is a bit grinding me, is is how these industry and the movements meet at, particularly, you know, the events we know like juicy and coworking Europe and not so much co work in Spain. But you know, there's still that thing there and I think what what do you say? Is We could learn a lot of each other, because I did learn a lot of the real estate you people when I was at Ju see in London. But you know, how can we act in that moment? Because so it was a tension there that people talk about. Yeah, I mean so, I think there are a few different things and first of all, I do agree that it's important to meet people who are different than you in your coworking space as well. This is true in the space as well as the conferences, as well as these collectives that were building. I really believe that diversity is our strength, and so the more perspectives we have, the more valuable that information is going to be, even if it's just to attend to meet someone to understand. This is a definitely not the experience I want my members to have, to go on a tour of a space that's not the same as yours and find all the things that are not working for you and to understand more clearly why your space is actually working for your members. There's a lot you can learn from the space or person you don't get along with or just like. So I think that's really important. But I think a lot of it is you get what you put into these gatherings and events. So I attend the conference almost every month around gathering or co working and somewhere in the world, and the theme that really I pull out of it is that if I show up and really give of myself, I will get so much more in return, and if I show up and be negative and criticize, I really leave with nothing of value. So I think a lot of the experience is about what you bring to the table and if you bring an open mind and a willingness to collaborate rather than compete and to learn from others, even if you know you're going to disagree, you're going to be stronger and your business and your community will thrive because of it. That is is that that is really hard to do. Is it's essential to do, but it is really hard to do because when I when I get tired on a second day...

...of a conference and slip into auto pilot. I'll go, oh my God, look who are they're doing and it's just not it's not the way to be, and if you ever catch me doing that people, you can pull me up on it. What is so, what do you do? You run, as everyone knows. You Run juicee Canada. And how do you keep the integrity of that around? Like, you know, running, running, a any event is a has to be like commercially sustainable and what we talked about here. Yeah, so juc Canada, it's it is one of the excuse me, one of the branches of the Global Co working on conference. The Canadian addition is produced by me, so I do have some creative control. What I really find most important is to make it accessible and to try it and, as I was saying before, keep the attendees and the speakers diverse, and the sponsors as well. I want partners who are going to help support the movement and support the conference and who are really thinking about the best interest of our attendees. Those are the people that I want to work with and the people that we receive sponsorship from. I think it's also an opportunity an event like this, I mean a very pretty village position, to get to stand on a stage and to also gather some of these incredible minds in a city once a year to talk about things with a really passionate group of change maker. So we use every opportunity, like our sponsorships, for example, to engage these folks in a more meaningful way. So instead of simply renting a booth space, they have the opportunity to help with a paid internship to help with skills development and training opportunities for Ducy Canada. They can donate the sponsor tickets to a juicy Canada scholarship program so that we can invite some folks who wouldn't be able to attend financially because of the cost of the ticket price or travel potentially. Canada's quite a large country to get across and there are other ways that we ask people to dive a bit deeper and I think the general theme around Juicy Canada, which has in the past been referred to as the Ku Bay all conference, you know you, is really it's about a deeper dive and we do spend a little bit more time deeping, diving deeper into these conversations, but that really allows people to pull out a bit more information to share, to be a bit more vulnerable and we're all acknowledging that there's no better way to learn that on the shoulders of giants. And so when we show up in an arrangement like this, we are open and we're willing to receive information but also to give for the people who are coming behind does. So it's definitely a co working community. Favorite Jews. Again, it is now the year and we're going to be in Toronto...

...this year. So I am in the depths of programming and sponsorship and Speakers Right now and I'm really thrilled about some of the diversity and inclusion initiatives that were taking this year and also, let me, let me jump on that, because that's that's one of our favorite topics in Europe at the moment is the diversity and inclusion thing, and we there's a few of few other conferences that I love this who who? They're saying we are making sure that we have more than equal balance of men versus women, because there's enough people like me who are white, middleaged men, standing on stages man splaining things. So how you handling that? Well, I think it's the way that I always have and I want to see people on stage that reflect the community that I'm working in and I want to see people on stage that reflect the community I want to work in. And so when I see myself up on stage, that's great, but I want to see people were very different than me too, and so it's really important to me to make sure that the speakers at Ju see Nada are coming from all kinds of backgrounds, whether it be social, economic, their experience level, maybe cultural, religious. There are a lot of different ways in which we can bring something to the table and so I think it's really important, especially that we're gathering in Toronto, know, one of the, if not the most diversity in the world, with the most languages spoken. It's really important for this event to look the way our community actually looks, in our members, like in our attendees. But and then I think having the attendees taken into consideration from day one in terms of affordability of the event. So maybe not adding a couple of features, or maybe we won't have champagne, but we will have more people from across Canada that can participate because of the scholarship program that we've set up. This is the fourtier. Now we've run the scholarship program in Canada and that just provides opportunities for people to participate who wouldn't be able to otherwise, and some of the most incredible people we've met in the movement have been introduced to us through that scholarship program. So I'm committed to expanding it and the sponsors that are getting on board for that are really some of my most favorite people because they really get it. Their intention is to do the same as what we're trying to do, which is to make it accessible to people and to bring them to the event, and that really thrills me dies great. How do you? Can you say a bit about how you seek speakers and attendees, because what I'm so looking for us to you explain the the difference between an announcement and an invitation, because I think because people, and I certainly you know I've done this on events over the last under G is is saying we do we're looking for speakers and people aren't really sure how to do it. But then you have you know, how do you find the speakers and invitees... want to come? There beyond just like ten of people they can buy a ticket will come. So for the speakers, I've never done an announcement and I generally generally don't program from people who ask to speak position is really some other motivation. So what I'm looking for is the narrative of the event and the theme and then trying to find speakers to support that who come from all different backgrounds, not necessarily coworking. So some of my favorite talks in all of the juicy series, like there's been twenty six of them around the world now, I believe in the last seven years, some of my favorite all time talks from Juc have been people who are not talking at all about coworking, but someone like Casper talking about gathering and church and talking about there was a talk about coworking replace co working and cross fit replacing church but meeting some of the same needs in the community, and there was a really interesting talk ones just about sort of human interaction and what we get from being around each other and being able to apply these things to the co working model is really amazing and I'd like providing a broader base of information for people to pull what they need out of it and then that way it's really applicable to people coming from the artist sector, for example, providing creative space. Someone coming from a more traditional office or executives. We can also take some of those gems that can implement them for their community. So I'm trying to make that we did. We did a stunt like that. So in a pastor I used to run this breakfast networking group that was very small business e and one day a friend came along who used to work for a big company and he's left the big company to be a consultant and he was just experimenting with these art workshops and he came to the breakfast and where's he know. We talked about you know, business, you things. He got us all drawing and it it set the tone for the for the rest of that group, because everyone was some people hadn't drawn for since they're at school and we all learned so much and then ended up becoming like an art club we did in co working spaces like five years later, and all from that scribbling breakfast meeting. And everyone thought was a bit weird when he showed up to do that and that I let him do it instead of, you know, talking through tax and VAT and assurance and all the other business development things. Well, that's exactly it. And I feel it's so. There's a perfect example of that from Duc what did we do Vancouver in two thousand and seventeen? We invited one of the incredible the three and twelve main team members, Vanessa Richards, up on stage and she was a director of community engagement at the time and was invited to speak about that, and so I think people were expecting a... and when she came to the stage, she got everybody up and, as she does and another part of her life, let everyone in song like a choir. And had I put on the agenda we're going to stand up and sing together at thirty, I think most people probably would have shown up, but everyone that was there really got into it. It was a very powerful moment for a lot of people. I mean I think there's a podcasting came out of that moment. Even there was really a really incredible experience, but something they just shake it up a bit and that moment where we were all singing together and we could hear our voices united, echoing through this space that used to be such a negative space and turned positive because of the work we're doing, really resonated with everyone. I think showed them the meaning of the work and the power of a collective voice. That's something that you can get creative with. And so every year at you see Kunt of know, we have some surprises. Last year we did a retreat in vamp which was really shaking it up. People showed up for sort of a conference and for some of the sessions we sent them hiking or swimming or meditating and doing yoga in the woods, in the mountains, in the deeply spiritual and healing place and recognized bondage. This books as well. To be so it is a really out of the box experience and hopefully the people that attended got exactly what we intended for them, which was a fresh perspective and feeling rejuvenated to be able to go back and do the work that they do in a more meaningful and sustainable way. That does sound great. There's there's any so many times you can sit in a hotel and be talked out from a stage in your life and being, you know, having having an experience is way more important than getting through the content. I want to round up with like just as a shout out, like why do you think people open a coworking space? I I think there are a lot of reasons. I mean I'm constantly consulting with people through creative blueprint, so I hear a lot of different reasons for people to open a space. I think the most common is still meeting a need for themselves. They're finding a gap and looking for a solution for themselves and friends or peers and stepping up to the plate, which is how I started and how many people in the early movement started just looking for a solution. But I think there's also another way of people who see it as a real estate play or see it as the next big thing and just want to get in while coworking is hot. Yeah, a little bit of mixed feelings about that. There's so I've been around this for about eight years from, you know, thinking about it and all the spaces that started from I have a need or my make selling need and I need to try and solve that are the ones that of like really gone the distance and because I think they like to think that they have that that cool reason for getting together at the...

...beginning. You know, there's like co one of the ones that I best is coworkers Bono, run by Ferdinand, Fernando, sorry, and Anna in Lisbon is was like, we need someone to go and do our work. Do you want to come with us? And you know, it was there this year. It's still rock solid and growing. So I think that's the that that that that's my secret source. Anyway. Yeah, I think a lot of it has to do with that personal attention to what it feels like to be a member and it, and also how you're selling it. Most people who started it to fill a need or not inviting you to come work at a desk or rant to space that has life. I'm caffe either asking you to be part of a community or be part of something bigger than yourself. So where can we find you and all your work and all your events and swelling and Yoga? The easiest way to get ahold of me and to see what I'm working on is through creative blueprint do't se a. That is the headquarters for all of the projects I'm working on and it links out to all the other pages that you can also find out about juice cat Anada on the main juicy page and any actually ways when to to see Canada? This year to see Canada will be held in Toronto, Canada, October twenty nine to thirty one, with tours on November one. Tickets are going to go on sale very shortly. Snag A ticket. And where where else can we find you around the world over? Next, you know, whatever month for in now, between my December the thing, I can't reveal exactly what I'm working on, but I can tell you I'm going to be in Bordeaux and then I'll be in Amsterdam. That I will be in Seattle. I'm going to be in the UK, hopefully for doc UK. I also be at juice Canada and Toronto and then hopefully see everybody in war staff for coworking Europe. Yes, come on. Okay, thank you very much for your time today. Miss proctor has been emotional as always, and I would encourage people to bang that drum and further the conversation of movement versus industry, because that's a really interesting thing and we're always up for the diversity, inclusion, accessibility. And there's one other thing there conversation to so thank you very much. Be careful out there. It is a Junko, ladies German, this podcast is booty by social be stop wasting time on social media and get back to building your business. To Take Your Free Fourteen Day test drive, with no card required. Head to coalescent networkcom forward, slash social be check the link in the show notes.

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