The indie coworking space operator’s guide to GCUC


GCUC Chicago is right around the corner and the lineup is absolutely bonkers. 

Not only will participants have the opportunity to connect with some of the biggest movers and shakers in the industry, we’ll also get to hang out in person with smaller operators doing transformational work at the local and regional level. 

So buckle up and prepare to connect like crazy.

And … I want to get ahead of something that always happens: smaller operators can feel displaced by some of the discussions by and between national and international brands. There will be talk of billion dollar valuations, dozens of spaces, big teams, big spaces and big revenue.

For an owner-operator or small team it can feel overwhelming.

I know this because I’ve been going to GCUCs, including GCUC UK and GCUC Canada, since 2015. I’ve seen indie operators’ eyes glaze over and I’ve heard your concerns.

I’ve also watched indie operators go from thinking about a space to launching a space to becoming a thriving hub in their town as a result of some of the connections made and lessons learned at GCUC.

So here are my best tips for indie operators to make the most of GCUC and come home inspired, empowered, plugged in and ready to rock.

Buckle up

Some of the biggest names in the industry will be presenting, hobnobbing and sharing their stories, lessons learned and insights.

Buckle up for big conversations, big ideas, a full schedule and a few fast-moving few days. Take notes, pace yourself and fully soak up the GCUC experience. Liz and Stormy always bring it, so prepare to keep up!

Embrace the evolution of coworking

Coworking has been on a wild ride for the last 10-15 years. It has transformed from a DIY movement into a global industry. Covid supercharged things by proving the remote model, sending people into loneliness and isolation spirals and reminding us that we need each other to survive.

Even those micro-connections that happen throughout a day make us who we are.

So, yes, coworking has evolved. Embrace it! Go with it! Find the place within it that you can share your superpower, serve your community and work within your zone of genius.

Look for the similarities

If you focus on the differences between you and other operators, you’ll miss out on so much. Focus on the similarities and align where you can. This is where the good stuff is.

Contribute to conversations

Your perspective is valuable. Share your thoughts, your tips, your insights, your ideas. The big brands have much to learn from indie coworking space operators (and vice versa).

Take advantage of access to industry leaders

This GCUC is top to bottom packed with industry leaders. There are people coming who I’ve wanted to connect in person with for years.

Don’t overlook the amazing opportunity to learn from and talk with leaders doing amazing things in the industry and their local (and beyond) communities. And be sure to tell them what you’re working on too. 

Make some friends

These are your people! Make some friends, reach out to people you haven’t met yet, grab a coffee with someone new, introduce yourself. You just might make a connection that will help elevate your business and/or last a lifetime.

Get informed about tools and strategies

You’ll hear about tools and strategies that will help you level up and possibly transform how you work. Listen, learn, ask questions, be curious. If something doesn’t resonate with you, cool. But make sure you know all that is available to you.

Have fun

Don’t take yourself too seriously. Coworking is full of fun, cool people, and you can find a bunch of them at GCUC. Bring a good sense of humor and know that you may have an occasional eye roll. You won’t agree with everyone. And that’s part of the fun!

Hang out with me

I’m on a mission to connect with everyone in coworking, and I am all in on indies. So come find me, tell me what you’re up to and what you could use help with. I’m happy to point you in the right direction. (I’m beyond excited to spend real-life time with friends from The Lab who I’ve been collaborating with for years! Come hang with us.)

Talk with sponsors and service providers

Years ago a space operator told me she had no idea what most conference sponsors do, and that she was slightly intimidated to ask.

Embrace the moment and ask. They would be delighted to tell you, and you just might find that service or software that solves a pressing issue for you and your space.

Go ahead and walk on up to the sponsors. The ones I know and work with are all super nice and easy to talk with. Plus, coworking is such a close-knit community that the sponsors and service providers are the same people you’ll be eating next to and mingling with. So just think of them as part of the larger coworking community.

Ask questions

If you have a question, it’s likely that a bunch of other people have the same question. Ask away! It’s a great way to learn and further your understanding of, well, everything.

Be open to big ideas

Maybe you want to scale. Maybe you want to stay small. Maybe you’re already on your way to dominating your region. Maybe you’re brand new to coworking. Wherever you are in your coworking journey, be open to breakthrough ideas and big thinking. I mean, if we’re going to transform the world, we have to go big, right? 

Can’t wait to see you in Chicago!

I attend and teach at GCUC year after year because it lights me up and catapults my industry awareness, brand and business forward. Make sure you’re already subscribed to my emails to get my GCUC follow-up, with takeaways, favorite quotes, insights, lessons learned and a-ha’s.


Photo: GCUC

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