Worried about your future? Why Joining a Co Working Site is a Good Idea

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Look at the growth of Co Working sites. What is going on?

What is going on is that we are seeing the emergence of the new face to face workplace that fits the life of the freelancer – who is at the core of the real new economy.  (All images from the 2nd global survey of co working – PDF here)

You can have a job now, be a student, be on the verge of retirement, be just layed off – here is where you can find the network you need and learn how to be a human again.

I think that the Co Working Space is the “Factory” of our time. This is the social space that the Freelancer needs to combat the separation and loneliness of the solo role. This is the social space that opens us each up to the broader network. It is also the space where we learn to be a proper human again – where how we behave matters.

Here is a map that will show you the closest one to you.

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What they offer is a real Tribe. While the income has improved – look at all the other parts of life that are better!

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They were mainly very urban. But look at how they are growing now in rural areas.

The Queen St Commons was started in 2005 – we were one of the first 5 in the world in a city of less than 35,000. We were an oddity but now are more of the new norm as rural co work grows. As more of us leave the city, the Rural Co Working spot becomes more important. Rural sites also have to have an economic model that fits – much more a co-op than a top down space rental.

Lots to learn from each other as new micro models emerge. So lots of good reasons for Co Working spaces to get connected now to each other.

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The next big move I think will be connecting all the co working sites into a global network. So a member of a site in a rural village can get to London or New York or Mumbai! And then think of the power of the connections?

My new book You Don’t Need a Job - explores more of the value of co working for anyone who wants to put a toe into the real new economy.

Our June Newsletter

Link here for more

My dream for the QSC – To add a Maker Space

Like Assent Works in Winnipeg

Co Working Manifesto

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Our May Newsletter

Commons_Stock_May_2012- All the News of the Commons

Why I am backing Inspired Farmers – #localresiliency #localfood

I am backing the Inspired Farmers Project - they will start the first demo for Urban Farming in Charlottetown next week.

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The project is lead by Karen Murchison of the Queen St Commons and her partners at the Murphy Community Centre (Where most of the “Farm” will be) The City of Charlottetown, Cycle PEI, Holland College and the Food bank and Soup Kitchen in Charlottetown

It’s a tiny project but has huge potential to make PEI more sustainable. If you want to make a difference that please help. Your help can be a few dollars or a donation of stuff.

You can donate $ here:

Or you can  help with stuff like this:

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Here is how I see this project and why I am backing them and why if you care for the future of PEI, you might help too.

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It starts often like this – with a community using a barren public space to grow food as a demo. The idea is to inspire us to think differently about the urban landscape. No longer only grass, concrete and isolated trees. When we see this in downtown Charlottetown, we can imagine how different our street could be.

This is not simply a new esthetic either. In World War II 40% of the food eaten was grown by people at home – most in cities.

At the heart of this is the food and the health crisis. By making urban farming – which uses very small spaces and high intensity – important we all learn how to grow our own food. This Saturday there is a workshop on this. We meet our neigbours in a new way. We are more active and we have better nutrition.

We start to escape the trap of being dependent on Factory Food.  The Food Bank becomes a hub of a network of people who help each other grow food and cook food.  Growing food and making meals return as skills that most of us have lost.

This is big – isn’t it? And you only have to make a small step to help.

We start this weekend!

Why PEI Entrepreneurs are so successful

PEI punches way above its weight – Why?

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Few places in Canada could be further away from the main markets of North America. Few places have less resources than PEI.  But I found last week, as I travelled with StartUp Canada around PEI, that our entrepreneurs are doing very well.

Many have operations, such as Marks Work Warehouse and Island Abby Foods, that are amongst the best in class. Many have businesses, such as BioVectra and DME, that have found a niche that makes them unrivaled in the continent. Many are astonishingly novel like Thinking Big and Screenscape.

Why should small businesses in a small place be so competitive?

It’s in the Island DNA

PEI is too small and too far away to attract large mature businesses from away. So business on PEI is naturally always small and owner operated. And because PEI itself is small, PEI business has always had to find a place in the larger markets off Island.  It’s been like this for 200 years.

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As Duncan Shaw told me about his family, “Few people ever had a job. We come from a long line of pioneers, farmers, fishers and small business owners.”

Potatoes were run to the Caribbean in exchange for the official cargo of molasses and the unofficial cargo of rum. Fish was run to Boston. Lumber to the UK. Fox fur and lobster to Upper Canada.

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So like their forefathers, Lorraine MacAulay had to start her Mosquito repellent business by breaking into the large national stores. Peter Toombs had to sell his brewing equipment all over the world. They had to begin by being very clever and persistent.

So how did they get so smart?

It’s not school – It’s Family and Mentors

We think that having great schools are key to developing smart people. But most of the entrepreneurs I met last week told me that they did not fit into school culture. Some never finished school. Others had to force themselves to finish. Dico Reijers took 7 years to do his BA.

All told me that culture of entrepreneurship was set at home. All told me that they grew up in a family where running your own business was the normal. The dinner table was their classroom.

Some entrepreneurs went to business school. But for most, the best business lessons were taught by mentors. They learned the old fashioned way, like an apprentice, from advice given by a person who lived their life. Entrepreneurs helping Entrepreneurs.

I asked all of them about whether school needed to be changed. None of them dismissed school. They acknowledged that not everyone should be or even could be an entrepreneur. But they hoped that the school system would see that it could help by identifying the characteristics of kids, like Matt below, who were destined to be entrepreneurs. Then the entrepreneurs could help.

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For entrepreneurship on PEI is a personal and individual thing.  All the older PEI entrepreneurs I spoke to want to reach out and offer more of their time as mentors to the young up and coming new class of rebels. What they want is a better way to connect.

If PEI stays true to its business DNA – we will do well

Large bureaucratic structures are dying. Youth unemployment in Canada and the US is over 20% and in Europe is close to 50%. Many middle aged workers are being made redundant. Pensions that many have relied are being diminished. For societies that have more embraced the job and the bureaucracy, the transition will be very hard.

But here on PEI, I see now that we could adjust quite well. The modern PEI entrepreneur is already competing in the new networked global marketplace. They are hiring. They are growing. They are doing what Island business people have always done.

All they need to do now that is different is to work together.

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If the PEI entrepreneurs get together and work with each other to boost the local ecosystem.

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If those in government do the same. Then this little Island could do very well.

This insight is the great gift that the visit of StartUp Canada brought. They held up the mirror to who we really are. Now we must not waste this gift. Time to act .

It’s up to us now.

PS Next week I will start a 2 week series on what I have learned from our wonderful entrepreneurs