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Posts Tagged ‘Alex Hillman

Congratulations, IndyHall on your 1st Anniversary

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Alex Hillman at Indy Hall's opening party

Alex @ Indy Hall's opening

Congratulations to Alex Hillman, Geoff DiMasi, and Bart Mroz* on the 1st anniversary of Indy Hall!! (* – Yes, Bart has officially stepped down but he really stepped up in the formative days of Indy Hall)

I was fortunate to meet Alex Hillman back in September of 2006 at the 1st CreativeCamp. CC was organized by CMAccess to bring the success of the BarCamp to Philly. Kristin Motta, the co-founder of CMAccess who impressed me as an amazing brilliant confident individual, introduced Alex, an amazing brilliant confident individual with piercings, at the first CreativeCamp in Philly.

Kristin introduced Alex’s talk with the most enthusiasm and expectation of the day – saying that what he was going to talk about was awesome. Co-working. Co-working in Philly. I don’t remember what he said – it’s been too long – but you could tell this kid was passionate. Co-working seemed brilliant, simple but not easy. I do remember Lauren Galanter demonstrating her wicked creative brilliance by coming up with the perfect name on the spot that combined co-working and the spirit of Philly.

After the talk, since Alex asked for help finding the right space, I emailed Alex about following up with a guy who did commercial real estate that I had met through triathlons. That follow-up went nowhere. I lost touch, as I usually do.

Then, about a year later, in late summer of 2007, I was stunned and happy to read in the Philadelphia Inquirer about the impending grand opening of Indy Hall, the very next day. Alex Hillman had gone and done it. So many people have a big idea – how many people make it so… I had underestimated Alex. In fact, even now, I’m not sure how to estimate Alex. I logged into LinkedIn the other day and one of the suggested contacts was this Alex Hillman guy (and I only have a handful of LinkedIn contacts!)

I went to the grand opening to congratulate Alex. And to tell him, in awe and astonishment, that he pulled it off. I was surprised that he remembered who I was. Tara Hunt and Chris Messina of Citizen Space were there to support Alex, as well. I didn’t know how important they were to Indy Hall’s opening until afterwards. Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine.TV, an extrovert’s extrovert, was also there. Yet, he was a relative wallflower at the party much – it was Alex’s day, he didn’t take the spotlight, just wore his ‘Local Celebrity’ shirt.

At the 1st anniversary party, watching the IndyHall community mingle and party, I couldn’t help but think that it *might* have been possible for maybe a few of the IndyHall members to have met in random, serendipitous real world circumstances… and with the founding of IndyHall – their connecting and meeting became *inevitable*

About once-a-month I go to Indy Hall to co-work (hopefully Dana’s cupcake Thursdays!). I am intrigued by the people. As someone who is (for now) ensconced in the comfort of his day job, I find it inspiring to be able to hang out (for the day) and be in the company of creative/freelance/entrepreneurial types. Someday. Thank you to Indy Hall for letting me hang out in the club house, even though I keep myself only tangentially involved.

Written by kleeruby1

September 3, 2008 at 2:32 am

Philly FailCamp win

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“One of the best things about failure is expectations. So, for this FailCamp, no expectations.” -Alex

“Success gets between you and others. Failure is easier to relate” -Amy

“You’re like a little boat. You know where you want to go and where you are. But you’re not a big tanker. You can’t go in a straight line; sometimes you have to zig-zag, make constant adjustments.” – Love this analogy about success/failure from a FailCamp participant

I went to Philly’s first FailCamp not knowing what to expect but with an expectation that I would learn from other people’s experiences. Thanks to Alex Hillman and Amy Hoy for keeping the day going and changing the structure when it was needed.

After going around with introductions (lots of Rails developers!), Alex Hillman and Amy Hoy started FailCamp by asking everyone to (anonymously) write down a personal failure experience in one of many categories (dating, business, etc.) on the scrap of paper that they were given. I was expecting them to jump from that into 5-minute failure soapboxes, and I was pleasantly surprised to see how well the failure icebreaker worked. I listened intently as discussion evolved naturally from the initial input of each anonymous initial failure story. Tangents galore. Some stories were fantastic, some we identified with, all were true and personal. We broke for lunch on a high note. Talking about failure was a fun and interesting way to spend a nice Saturday.

After the lunch break, after a while, I felt something changed – the stories were still the same but the discussion became increasingly more abstract. For example, in a discussion about someone’s business, people would start taking the (easy) expert stance – talk in abstractions like ‘compartmentalization is important’, without relating or sharing why they were giving that knowledge as-is or why it was important.

Other people, notably Christine, noticed this change and during the break, she made a suggestion to focus on failures-in-progress not keep exhuming the dead failures from our pasts. After the break, Amy and Alex start-shutdown FailCamp and booted up HelpCamp. HelpCamp was interesting because it was like a support group – all the problems were still very much alive to each contributor and the discussion flowed.

What did I learn? Lessons about failure, even though some lessons can’t be learned third-person; they have to be learned emotionally, it helps. And a tidbit about social vs business filters – if I ask you to do something as a friend, a decision center in the brain is activated. If I pay you to do something (business), a different decision center in the brain is activated. So, when you ask someone to help you move and at the end of the move, you try to pay them (it jars and insults them, at a fundamental level). If someone asks you to lunch to discuss business but is not paying you, what is it? TNSTAAFL.

I didn’t want to do a full recap. At the very least, I thought I’d strip out details. In the spirit of failure (recaps are boring and safe) and feeling the spirit of Zen, I’ve reduced the stories (and sometimes lessons learned) into 5-7-5 haikus…

crashed big server grid
panic call sysadmin friend
true friends can save you

conned out of thousands
capped off by getting mono
survived! and thriving

nine-teen ninety-four
almost started ISP
mentor influence

PhD student
interests have evolved since start
dropping out with tact?

coworking wiki
how to monetize knowledge
free has no value?

young and ambitious
wants to grow non-profit fast
counsel reign her back

non-coder founder
how to find coders out there
who share my passion

son born with issues
challenges make you stronger
ongoing again again

should have left business
12 months ago why did not?
exit strategy!

pricing strategy
charge too much or too little
test out with adwords

have project idea
just atom of molecule
verdict: build it now. why wait!

leaving consulting
feel scared uncomfortable
natural. OK.

a perfectionist
how to start, so many things!
just get it going

new coworking space
how many will sign-up now?
escrow before lease

too many pitches
what if I turned down right one?
pick and make them great

polished presenter
preparation is stressful
flexibility?

burning out with job
wants to quit and go travel
would you regret it?

made awesome software
how to find right salesperson
network maybe start right here

Written by kleeruby1

July 30, 2008 at 3:35 pm