Alex Hillman speaking at the first session of CUASIA 17
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CUAsia-February 2017-Chiang Mai, Thailand-Alex Hillman & Adam Teterus: Community!

The aim was to start CUAsia 2017 with a bang, and they did just that by having two pioneers from the coworking field; Alex Hillman and Adam Teterus, as their guest speaker for the first session. They operate a space called Indy Hall in Philadelphia; in addition to being the founder of Indy Hall, Alex also runs a podcast called ‘Coworking Weekly,’ where he loves to focus on topics that revolve around coworking, cooperation, and people.

They decided to frame the day with some exciting interactive exercises, which allowed the people at the conference a chance to get to know each other. “You will get weighed down by the operational aspects of a coworking space, such as lease and design, it can be fun like building a human dollhouse, but you have to think about the dolls,” summarized Adam.  He went on to emphasize the importance of being familiar with one’s own ‘coworking fingerprint’ or business fingerprint.

The first exercise involved members forming pairs and gathering information on each other regarding the kind of people who are currently occupying or will occupy their coworking space. The motive behind the exercise was to ask the participants to share information, practice active listening,  advocate in regards to the person they spoke to, and get a sense of the people who lived in the community.

For the second exercise, Adam proposed a slight change to the concept; instead of focusing on career or industry, he asked the participants to focus on the persona and identity of the initial members of their respective coworking spaces. It was his funky way of emphasizing how important it is for one to continue to think about the people in the community, among all the distractions. He offered a tool that would help participants remember some of the early members of the community, First 10; it is an audio book for community building. Alex stated, “Community is the sum of the relationships and connections between the people.” The exercise involved writing down ten names of people you are connected to through the community or hope to be connected to in the future. The list serves as a reminder regarding who the space was created for originally. He then suggested to revisit the list every year, add new names and think about what they can do together as opposed to individual achievements, think about how they could contribute to each others success in ways they could not succeed individually.

During the Q&A session, Adam and Alex were questioned about their thoughts and ideas on Indy Hall Arts. Coworking space is often viewed as one dimensional, however outside of their day to day job activities; some members have creative ways to express themselves such as painting, pottery, 3D illustration, etc. Adam recalled moments in ‘Take what you need,’ a program held in Indy Hall where members took what he wrote and used it as an inspiration to make and sell pieces of artwork.  He summarizes,”Tapping the artistic side of a community is a cheat code. Allowing someone to put artwork on a wall in your community space is like telling that person that they have ownership of that place, and guess what’s great for advertisement – deep trust; they will talk about that wall because their stuff is on it. If you looked at it from a professional point of view, these people would have never had a chance to talk to each other.”Thus providing members with the opportunity to form personal bonds, followed by unlikely professional relationships, as a result of meeting over a creative endeavor.

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