63. My Top 5 Books for Coworking Space Operators

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It’s the season of thinking about new beginnings and how to be a better you in 2018.

 I read a book over the Thanksgiving break that I could not put down and I literally wanted to send it to all of my coworking friends. So I thought I should share it on the Podcast and do an episode on top 5 lists of coworking books for coworking space owners, managers, etc. to read.

 These books did not come out in 2017, nor are the ideas in these books are not necessarily new, but taken in the context of coworking, can help you think differently about your business, use better language to talk about your business and your “why” and to consider how you might do things differently in your business in 2018.

 These books are all available on Audible as well which is a great app for buying and listening to audio books. Sometimes that’s the only reading time that I have. The trade-off is you can’t take notes and highlight sections that you want to go back to, but if it’s the only way to get through a book, I say make the trade-off.


  1. The Blue Zones of Happiness by Dan Buettner

Since it’s the holiday season, we’ll start with the warm/fuzzy book.

Dan Buettner has spent the better part of a decade studying why it is that some populations in some geographic areas live much longer than others. This research then led to a follow-up study on what makes people happy. A key theme is social networks. Dan says:

“Your social network - made up of not only the friends you spend the most time with but also your partner and the family members living with you, plays an immense role in your experience of happiness. Some evidence suggests, in fact, that this is the most important of all the rings in your Life Radius in determining how happy your life will be. You may not be able to choose your family….but you can choose your partner and your friends.”

 Dan includes “lessons” from his research in each section. He suggestions that for optimal happiness, you should arrange your schedule to include socializing for 6-7 hours each day. Now, this sounds totally unrealistic so I’m taking this one with a grain of salt. I really thought this was the one weak point in his book - how did he not think he should define “socializing” given that the average human can’t accomplish pure “fun” socializing 6-7 hours a day, I decided to interpret this as any kind of human interaction - work, kids’ soccer games, chatting with the cashier at the grocery store, etc. Now, if you work from home, this is a really tough quota to hit, unless you are on the phone all day long with people you actually enjoy working with.

 Dan also notes that “Research suggests that people find more success and greater happiness when they let their special talents or interests - a sense of purpose - lead the way in curating a social network. According to one study, joining a group that meets even once a month produces the same happiness gain as doubling your income.”

 I could go on and on about this book, which I really want you to read...but the point is that the work we are doing matters. It matters not just for the solo graphic designer or marketing consultant. It matters for all of the corporate employees being sent home or working alone in coffee shops in between meetings. Every human will be happier with better social connections and there is almost no better opportunity to facilitate those than in a place of work where people spend a good 8 hours a day.


2. The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber

Switching back to a more practical book - the next book is the E-Myth Revisited. Originally written in 1995 before “e” everything was a thing, the “e” in this title refers to entrepreneurship. The book, through compelling case studies and storytelling, demonstrates the importance of getting to a place where you can work “on” your business, not just “in” your business in order to make it sustainable from a financial and lifestyle perspective. The concepts are timeless and for most, probably warrant a re-read every so often as it’s so easy for business owners to get caught in the weeds.

 Are you interested in expanding but find yourself spending so much time on operations that you never get to the bigger picture? Are you acting as business owner and community manager and trying to figure out how to extract yourself from the member-facing role?

 Before you finish your 2018 personal and business goals, read this book.


3. Essentialism by Greg McKeown

This is my all-time favorite book, probably because it addresses my biggest struggle in life which is saying yes to too much and not saying no enough. The book hits the concept of FOMO head-on and provides compelling research on why doing less will give us more.

 He starts the book with this quote which will kick you in the stomach if this hits too close to home: “If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.” If you reach for your phone to check your email as soon as you wake up to see what the world needs you to do first today, you need this book.

The first chapter outlines the differences between a Nonessentialist and an Essentialist.

 A Nonessentialist thinks: “I have to.” “How can I fit it all in?” An Essentialist thinks: “I choose to.” “Only a few things really matter.” “ What are the trade-offs?:

 A Nonessentialist “says ‘yes’ to people without really thinking.” This one really hit home for me. How often do I say yes and figure out how to fit it in later? An Essentialist “pauses to discern what really matters” and “says ‘no’ to everything except the essential.”

 A Nonessentialist feels out of control, is unsure of whether the right things got done.

An Essentialist “feels in control,” “get the right things done,” “experiences joy in the journey.”

 I can’t think of a better book to recommend as you’re thinking about what you want to accomplish in 2019.

4. 80/20 Sales and Marketing by Perry Marshall

This is a really good, practical guide to follow Essentialism. It’s likely as a business owner, especially when it comes to driving membership, you throw a lot of spaghetti at the wall and feel like more is better when it comes to marketing tactics. This book will help you focus on identifying what works and putting your resources behind it. The 80/20 rule is based on the Pareto Principle which states that 80% of the results come from 20% of the efforts.


5. Content Chemistry by Andy Crestodina

This is the most practical on my list. It’s almost a textbook. Andy Crestodina is a content marketing expert and founder and CEO of Orbit Studios out of Chicago.

Quoting from one of the reviews on the book, it’s a …”Primer into how marketing content, web design, SEO, email and social combine to create effective marketing programs.” While paid digital advertising ranks as the most effective marketing tactic for shared workspaces in the GWA 2017 Operator Survey, paid activities should be followed closely content marketing which can take the form of blog posts, producing events, social media, etc. Email marketing can be a powerful way to convert a pipeline that you create through other marketing tactics, but how do you build a list? And how do deliver compelling content in those emails to get them opened?

 Use this book as your very approachable guidebook to content marketing.

 Speaking of content marketing and email marketing, on next week’s episode, we’re going to talk about how to set up an auto-responder campaign. If you do one thing in 2018, make sure your Google My Business page is set up correctly. If you do one other thing, you should get your list-building strategy in order and set up email auto-responders to nurture your email list and convert them to members. Next week’s episode will provide a checklist for list building opportunities for coworking spaces and walk you through how to set up an auto-responder.

Other references made on the show:

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PodcastJamie Russo