In an article on Axios entitled “Co-working Spaces Aren’t Going Anywhere” by Sareen Habeshian, there is a statement that in 2008 there were 160 coworking centers globally. I had one of them.
Back in 2006, after having more than a difficult time finding a place to hold networking meetings, I looked around and saw that men had been meeting for centuries in private clubs. Women’s clubs were around, but not for the purpose of conducting business. So, I came up with an idea for what I called “a men’s club for women, without the cigars”, and presented it to a focus group of working women. Their response was overwhelmingly positive and it gave me the nudge I needed to pursue this crazy idea. In September of 2007, I opened The Professional Women’s Center in Montclair, NJ: a place for professional women to meet, network, attend courses and events, exercise, get a massage, meditate… and work. It was a coworking center before I had ever heard the term! Interestingly, months later, I met the founders of a similar center in New York, and it was fascinating how we came up with a similar idea at roughly the same time, seemingly out of the blue. Women were signing up at a good rate in both locations, eager to have a place of their own.
Enter 2008. The Center, it seemed, was a concept before its time. It was also a case of bad timing, as it opened just as the country went into a financial dive, with gas prices rising, job stability dropping and discretionary spending coming to a standstill. I managed to keep it afloat for another year, but with no investors available, I had to let it go and move on. It was heartbreaking.
How does one recover from that kind of a loss? With time, a great network who lifts you up, and learning to go back to the drawing board. When things don’t seem to be working out, when doors are closing and paths are blocked, instead of giving up, look at what got you to the starting line in the first place. What skills, imagination, persistence, passion or desire gave you the push to start the journey? And where could you go from here?
There are many times I have come up with ideas way before they become commercially successful – by someone else. And there have been MANY times I wonder why I can’t be the one reaping the benefits?!
And then, when I can get some altitude on the topic, I can see my role: I am the explorer, the adventurer, the way-shower. THAT is what I am good at. I am the one that can show what is possible, to provide the shoulders on which others can stand. I can bring the inspiration and encouragement, because I have been on that journey before them. It is a gift and a privilege.
Life is full of interesting twists and turns and seemingly unanswerable questions. But the more time you can spend on knowing you are you, what drives you, and what gifts you have to give to the world, the richer the experience. Maybe you’re the trailblazer. Maybe you’re the one that takes what others have started and make it even better. Maybe you are the one to admire the journey and encourage others on their path. All roles are needed – and may you find yours.