Tag Archives: abyss of failure

People Are Weird: Xperience2015 Edition

It is hard to know whether weird people feel empowered by social media to be themselves, or if normal people are compelled toward awkwardness in their use of same, but either way, Twitter can produce odd outcomes in what outwardly seem straightforward exchanges.

Case in point: had a fella take the time to delete his depressed, cry-for-help tweet and respond to my response by telling me that responding to me wasn’t “worth his time” and then HE called ME weird. What?

Totally and completely beside the point, except I wrote him because he tweeted that he felt even more isolated in Roanoke after attending Xperience2015. Assuming that was a genuine statement, I responded like Daniel L. Crandall, with care and compassion. That didn’t work out so well.

None of that matters at all beyond the fact that I was following #xperience2015 and other related tags because I was really curious how this “Xperience” xperiment was going to work out. I want to be supportive of efforts to recruit and retain young professionals, but I’m just not sure they work. For instance, the premise of Xperience 2015 seems to have been that there are young professionals here in the Valley who need to be convinced to stay, and that an inclusive conference setting is a way to introduce them to people, ideas, and activities they didn’t already know about and which might help anchor them here in Noke. That doesn’t sound like an outrageously good time to me, and I have at least one really close friend on Twitter who thinks slitting his wrists would have been a more profitable use of his time.

Seriously, though, consider the example of Mr. Twitter. He is apparently a local young professional, and he made an effort to connect, giving up his Friday night and Saturday to do so. That is not nothing; that is a real commitment and a real attempt. What happened at this event that so badly backfired for this guy?

Were this a standard “networking” opportunity, I would first question whether this guy tends toward a wallflower personality, and second whether he knows himself well enough to know that he was not going to enjoy mingling at a cocktail party.

But I’m going to defend him and say (regardless of his personality type) the event certainly should not have been structured like that, and if it was, shame on the organizers. Folks who know how to schmooze and network don’t need a big dumb networking event to expand their network of people with whom to network. While I’m not opposed to that kind of crap generally, if the purpose of your event is to retain young people who are having a HARD TIME CONNECTING, then you have to make it easy for them and not herd ’em all into a room and just expect magical connections to start forming. If they were good at that sort of shit, they’d have already done it.

But on the other hand!: Yeah, so, on the other hand, we’re talking about a guy who tweeted his isolation and turned on the one person who responded with real empathy. So there’s that.

I’m willing to give this guy all the benefits of all the doubts – because it is my blog and I can – and say it is entirely possible he was joking about his isolation, or maybe he just got dumped by his girlfriend and so wasn’t in a great state of mind either at Xperience or on Twitter, or maybe he just thought I was trolling him. The force of my sexy baller persona is extremely intimidating; perhaps he couldn’t handle it. There are many possibilities.

To sum up, Xperience2015 may or may not have been a success/train wreck and people on Twitter are bitter/compassionate/weird/hopeful/confused.

Solid post.

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Filed under Pointless musings

It looks even sadder in the rain…Or, why start-ups shouldn’t waste capital buying office furniture

fetch2 Do you know what you are looking at in this picture? Here’s another view: fetch3And one more, just because I’m getting all fancy with pictures: fetch5 My friends, you are staring into an abyss of failure.

Well, I mean literally you are looking at a characterless brick building at the corner of First and Campbell, but it is figuratively the embodiment of an abyss of failure. In the past 36 months, this space went from being an art gallery, to vacant, to a coworking space, to the headquarters of a delivery service start-up, to vacant. That is boo-hoo sadsies.

I’ll admit I don’t know exactly what happened to any of those concerns, and maybe they were all a bunch of d-bags who deserved to fail, but I was personally bummed out when I realized the coworking place was gone, and then I was double bummed when the delivery place went under. (Not that it matters, but the delivery place was/is called Fetch, but I don’t remember what the coworking place was called. Might have been the Tear Factory, or maybe the Pit of Despair. Who knows. Oh!, and Fetch might still be in business, although obviously moved…their website looks updated and their twitter account is active.)

But let’s just take a moment to acknowledge some realities and maybe lay down a few ground rules.

First, no crying over spilled milk OR failed start-ups. That is just how this game works. Move fast, break stuff; sometimes, have your dreams crushed.

Second, we win together as an ecosystem, so NO JUDGMENTS. Let’s not let our pleasant little valley become like the cool girl’s junior high lunch table; in other words, we aren’t going to pile on and make failure worse, especially by Monday Morning Quarterbacking. Although…I mean, yes, that’s exactly what I’m about to do when I list the Rules in a second, but this is intended to be educational. Let’s all learn this lesson TOGETHER.

Okay, now some Rules. To start with, don’t open an inconvenient coworking space; if you aren’t near a walkable population center AND you have no parking, you can’t expect a start-up or telecommuter to pay to work in your space rather than in Starbucks, or their kitchen, for free. Second, if you want to be a hip coworking space, don’t plant yourself in an ugly building in a totally dead block. Third, become a 24-hour destination, which means keep the lights on. And finally, rent your furniture. Its a little more expensive long term if you get your venture off the ground, but hella cheaper if you fail in the first year.

One final bonus Rule for delivery services: you don’t need expensive downtown storefront real estate. You need a garage. But Fetch, if you read this, this Rule is actually for FUTURE delivery services, as I have a feeling your start-up grew out of the failure of the Pit of Despair, and so you probably assumed the remainder of their lease term. That’s my guess, and if true, I get it. Still, for next time, remember this phrase: efficient breach. Because you got to know when to hold ’em, and know when to fold ’em.

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Filed under Coworking, Start-up culture, Start-Up Rules