All posts by Andy Soell

How to Blow Up Your Life: An Introduction

In the Spring of 2013—just short of two and a half years ago—January and I made a decision to make a pretty major change in our lives. All of the reasons that went into this decision are kind of complex and hard to explain fully, but we knew that for us this change was something important to us and something worth working hard to achieve. In the months and years since, we’ve been working tirelessly to make this particular dream a reality and today I’m pretty excited to share our plans with our friends and family.

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2014 Retrospective

Every year, I keep a running playlist of the music that I hear that resonates with me, and then in December I pare it down to a playlist to represent the year. Well, December turned into January, which gave way to spring and now summer. So now, in what I believe may be the last compilation to come out of the year, I present you with the Team Soell 2014 Retrospective. I hope you enjoy it.

A Fail Wail Tale

One of the things I love most about being a part of the larger coworking community is the spirit of sharing between people who are still trying to figure it all out.

The first year — or three — can be a roller coaster of victories and defeats, but there are literally hundreds of people out there more than willing to share the things they have found to work for them. During the first year of building our community I was fortunate enough to get endless amounts of amazing advice from veteran coworking space operators around the world and it made all the difference between continuing on and throwing in the towel.

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Turning a coworking space into a coworking community

I have a special place in my heart for coworking space operators who have done it all wrong. It’s a story that I’ve heard over and over since we opened our own space two years ago: “People just aren’t coming back. They stop in for a day and tell us how great it is, but then we never see them again.” They go on to describe how awkward it is, because when people do stop in, it’s just two people—which makes it hard to give people that feeling that coworking has. “How do we get people to sign up? How do we get them to form a community?”

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2013 Retrospective

It’s the time of year when one stops to reflect on what’s happened the previous twelve months, and I’m no exception. For me, this always starts with the music that’s served as my soundtrack for the year. I had to pare down from thirty or so tracks, and what I was left with was a bunch of music that I really, really love—but that doesn’t seem to fit together all that well. Nevertheless, I’ve compiled them together here for your consideration.

So long 2013.

Lost & Found

The moment when you realize you’ve been robbed? It’s exactly how they show it in the movies. You stand in one place, looking dumbly around the room in the direction of where your most valuable items ought to be. This is where I found myself Sunday morning, as I came downstairs to make breakfast for my daughter.

I actually made it all the way through the living room, through the dining room, and into the kitchen before I realized anything was wrong. My first clue was the back door. It was wide open. My dog Gus, always at my side, bounded out the open door like it was the most normal thing in the world, but that was the moment that began one of the most abnormal weeks of my life.

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On Opening a Coworking Space

Notes from a coworking founder to his younger self

Last September, I took the first steps towards opening a new coworking space in Columbus, Ohio. I went into it pretty blind and made a lot of assumptions along the way. If I could go back in time and sit down with my younger self before he started down this road, this is what I would want him to know.

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Moving On

For those of you who haven’t already heard, Google Reader has been discontinued. If you haven’t heard of Google Reader, you can read a quick writeup I did from 2009. In short. Google Reader is an aggregator that keeps tabs on all the news sites, blogs, and web sites that I read regularly, and presents a concise list of new updates that appear on those sites. When I wrote that article in 2009, I had already been using it for years and years, so you can imagine how sad it is to lose something that’s become such a big part of how I use the Internet.

I don’t dispute Google’s right to shut down a project like Google Reader — especially in light of the fact that it’s a free service that I haven’t paid a penny for. But the loss of Google Reader has absolutely taught me a valuable lesson: Things worth having are worth paying for.

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Lucy: Month Twenty Four

Dear Lucy,

Last night was the first time you tried to run away from home. You were very upset with your mama and I because it was almost bed time, and we wouldn’t let you use your finger paints. You gave out a short little anguished cry — but only the length of a second or two. Then you marched with clear purpose to the front door and tried to push it open. I asked you where you were going and you replied with a succint-but-emphatic “out!” So I unlocked the door for you.

You made it about one step onto the porch when you turned back and said, very quietly to yourself, “But it’s cold,” and then “Papa, sweatshirt!” So I helped you put on your sweatshirt.

Once that second arm was through the final sleeve, your resolve returned and you strode back to the door. As your tiny hand pressed against it to start out on your own, I heard you mutter “Might get wet… better button up.” I helped you get the zipper on your sweatshirt pulled up so that, in the event your journeys took you to wetter climates, your Yo Gabba Gabba Foofa shirt would stay dry.

You returned to the front door one more time, noticably slower than the first two times, and turned to me to ask “Boots?” I pointed out that you already had sneakers on. You contemplated this for a good ten or fifteen seconds, looked at me, cocked your head slightly to the side and said “Color? Crayons?” That seemed like a reasonable compromise, so I helped you out of your sneakers and sweatshirt and took you to your drawing table.

I can’t believe how big you’ve gotten, especially compared to the last time I wrote one of these letters. A lot has happened in nine months. Nine months ago you were just beginning to master walking, now you’ve got a pretty good handle on running. “Hurry hurry hurry! Quick quick quick!” That’s what you yell as you’re running down the aisles of the grocery story with us at full-tilt.

As funny and energetic and outgoing as you can be, I still get really happy to see little bits and pieces of your introvert papa shining through in you. Every now and then you just get a little overwhelmed with it all. A few weeks ago, we were shopping and you had clearly had enough of us. You got up off of the bench that you and your mama were sharing, walked the ten feet to another bench, and just sat by yourself with your head hung down. Every now and then a stranger would come and sit by you, trying to make small talk, and you would high tail it back to your mama. But as soon as that bench was empty again, you went right back for it.

I really can’t believe how much fun you are these days. You’re just a little sponge, soaking up all the little things we do and things we say only to spring them back on us after a few days of thinking about them in that tiny little head of yours. Several times a day, one of us will catch you contemplating a drawing you’re working on saying something very adult like “Let’s see here,” or you’ll greet one of our friends who has come to visit by saying “Oh hi, I missed you!” It’s very sweet. And I know that someday you will learn to actually read, but I’m just enjoying the pretend “reading” you’re doing now. 

If there’s one thing you really need to work on, little girl, it’s your negotiating skills. I’m not sure what your strategy is by asking me for “colate” (chocolate). “One colate, please? One?” You’ll insist. “One colate? Two?? Two colate please, thank you?” Sadly, though, this form of negotiation has proved effective more than once. So well done on that count.

Little Lu, I’m excited to see what this next year holds for you. I’m sure your vocabulary is going to continue to explode, you’ll continue to push your boundaries and our buttons, and I have every reason to believe there will be at least one more attempt to run away from home. Your mama and I will be there when it happens, ready to help you on with your sweatshirt and make sure you’ve got some string cheese in your pocket, and maybe try to convince you to just stay the night instead. You know, so you can get a fresh start in the morning. 

Or maybe just draw instead.