Member Insights on Coworking: The power of coffee, conversation, and a comfy couch

This is the inaugural member spotlight feature with Kelly Kerr, Liam Scanlan, and Shamus Johnson. More to come. Read. Share. Recommend. THANKS!

Impact Hub Coworking spaces are by their very nature diverse. On any given day in the central coworking area of the Impact Hub in Bellevue the members working in the “hot seats” will be from completely different areas of expertise. What they all share in common is their desire to be a successful entrepreneur.

With heads down and ear buds in, it’s understood, “I am working, please don’t disturb my train of thought.”

Then there are those moments that occur in the community kitchen as two or more members figuratively collide while getting a cup of coffee or grabbing an apple.

And, those delightful moments for eavesdropping when the host (in this case me) witnesses the random and organic conversation that occurs when people flop themselves on the comfy couch near the front door.

Tired of sitting upright at a proper desk in a perfectly good chair, ready to get a cup of fresh coffee or make up a cup of tea, maybe even get a donut if there are leftovers in the kitchen?

Such was the scene when I walked in to do my weekly Wednesday afternoon hosting shift.

There on the couch sat three popular members. If we were a high school, they’d be seniors. On a mission to spotlight each and every member of our community, I seized the moment and asked each of them for five minutes of their time — knowing full well we might be chatting longer (if they chose it.)

Coworking spaces put a disparate group of business types together in ways that can be transformative. I am always curious as to when and why people join, why they stay, and what they gain from and give back to the coworking community experience.

When I arrived this particular Wednesday, I found (pictured left to right) Kelly Kerr, Liam Scanlan, and Shamus Johnson “on the couch.”

I enthusiastically “pounced” on then and begged for a few minutes of their time. They agreed and so began my journey to showcase the members of Impact Hub Bellevue for the people they are, and not just the work they do.

“I take all the pain out of bringing a small company on to the internet. It’s what people tell me that I do.”

Meet Liam Scanlan
Business Owner, Author, SEO Specialist, Web Development Specialist.

The first time Liam joined the Hub Community was July 2015. And then time commitments with new clients made it hard for him to be the active member and host he wanted to be.

Liam is most definitely Irish and his accent and storytelling abilities could cause you to lose a half hour of time and not even realize it — but you will return to work refreshed, feeling uplifted, and possibly wiser about SEO and internet search. As the guy who creates and manages websites for business owners who’d rather be doing their craft, he also understands the ins and outs of “white hat” Search Engine Optimization which means he’s a good guy to have as a resource.

Plus, naturally generous and talkative, he loves to connect people with people who need “that guy” or “that gal” to get something done.

He joined the Impact Hub with the best of intentions, became a host, got busy with clients, so he stepped away; and after a few months of not being a member he realized that he needed to rejoin — and so he did.

What brought Liam back? “I needed to be with people. It was not so much about the networking. But I did attract a much needed member to another networking group I am part of.” (Here is one of the by-products of all those organic dialogues we have with each other.It might be giving someone a referral or finding the missing person we ourselves need.)

For Liam, the greatest benefit of being a Hub Member is the human interaction. “Here you can flesh out ideas, and meet people you might not otherwise meet.”

Liam realized he needed to get out. The Impact Hub Bellevue offered him “all the best parts of socialization and not so much the negatives of routine and daily interactions.”

Coworking is in Liam’s view, “Empowerment through personal and business community. The connections with people made can last a lifetime.”

We’re always getting something out of every conversation we ever have! And then, he strongly recommended I read a poem called: The Cookie Thief by Valerie Cox. He explained, “It is a story of misperception and generosity. We’re all cookie thieves, we just don’t know it.”

“Why do I stay with Impact Hub through thick and thin…I want a lot of people at my funeral….(lol)”

Founder of Momo Town: a very small company and the Barking Giraffe: A language entertainment company.

Meet Shamus Johnson
Host, Retired Professor of English, Entrepreneur, Community-Builder, Co-host of the Coffee Collider

Shamus Johnson has been devoted to building community at the Impact Hub Bellevue since its inception, as he also builds his own product idea for teaching English language to non-native speakers.

He also well-known for bringing interesting treats for the community kitchen. He can be found on the couch often, coming and going most days of the week.

He echoes the sentiments of Liam on the values of coworking and making a point of being around and engaging with other members. Liam and Shamus are both fine examples of community builders — who are also the best of friends.

As the co-host of the weekly Coffee Collider Shamus has a goal: to see that start-up founders get the resources and solutions they need for their business challenges. Coffee Collider has been a staple at Impact Hub Bellevue from the early beginnings.

On being a HUB member as well as a host, Shamus declares it, “Perfect for people like me in my position with a startup. Perfect environment.”

“Given my previous role as a teacher of 35 years who retired and launched a startup in 2014, coworking is ideal.”

“I first joined Impact Hub Seattle but when Bellevue opened, I started coming here, given that I live on the Eastside.” (Shamus still enjoys both Seattle and Bellevue locations)

What advice does Shamus’s give for making the most of a coworking membership?

• Start a conversation and it may change your life.
• The more people you know the more likely helpful things will happen.
• There is something to be learned from every conversation and exchange.
• At the Impact Hub, person to person is where it happens.

“As a co-working member, I am in pursuit of connection with companionable silence.”

Meet Kelly Kerr
Singer, Vocal Coach, Musician, Composer, Siren.

Kelly Kerr joined Impact Hub Seattle initially in January 2013 and later transferred her membership home to Bellevue — although she glides back and forth as needed while she builds her business.
She joined a coworking space to be surrounded by fellow do-gooders doing the same.

Initially, she chose Impact HUB Seattle for there was a concentration of members with a focus on social justice/enterprise.

Then Impact Hub Bellevue opened. Practically speaking, Bellevue was an opportunity to commute less.

Happily, while at Impact Hub Seattle she met team member J. Michael Cavitt, who joined her team bringing his business, and finance operations acumen to her startup idea: an online vocal training program to boost one’s presence and confidence in every possible scenario. Given that fear of public speaking is said to be a #1 fear, if you can sing and understand how to project with an authentic voice that is yours — wouldn’t you be unstoppable!?

What all does Kelly appreciate about coworking and Impact Hub Bellevue? “As a co-working member, I am in pursuit of connection with companionable silence.”

“I also appreciate the age range in Bellevue. Sometimes in Seattle, full of 30 somethings as it seems, I watched from a distance. In Bellevue, I feel like I can jump in and I am with more of my peers.”

At the end of the day, “I was seeking deep connections and tired of being around strangers in a local coffee house. I came to make friends and build (an extended) family and I got Michael who is my COO for my budding startup.”

Stay tuned for updates on the fine work all three of these members are doing!

What is a favorite line often said by prospective members?

“I’m not a member (yet!) I’m just looking.”

We get that and sometimes we sense that it is only a matter of time before you become a member.

Impact Hub Bellevue is one of over 80 Impact Hub communities and each community has its personality given where it is located and its members. One thing is common though and that is those drawn to coworking spaces are colorful people as well as motivated entrepreneurs.

And thanks for reading, recommending, and sharing.

Warmly, Deborah Drake, Member/Host, and Self-Proclaimed Managing Editor, Impact HUB Bellevue Blog

Follow our blog to get to know more members and understand why coworking is as wonderful as “sliced bread” and “voice recognition software.”