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How To Be A Healthy Coffee Addict

Coffee; Health, MattLambert.me

At the age of 12 (maybe it was earlier, but who knows) when I took that first drink, I was hooked. Not in a addicted kind of way. It was a more,, “I enjoy this.” I enjoyed everything about the coffee drinking experience. I enjoyed the coffee shop, the community, and the beverage. This was over 20 years ago and coffee was not as popular as it is now.

With coffee’s popularity on a consistent rise globally, it is attracting more attention for other reasons. The debate rages about the health affects of coffee. Is it good or bad? Maybe it’s the wrong question. Maybe we should be asking how to drink coffee rather than if we should. Or why is it good or bad?

Here are my suggestions for coffee consumption while maintaining your health. These are changes, I have been implementing over the last year. Some are more of a struggle than I realized, however, all have made positive impacts on my health over time.

Buy local, fresh coffee.

Start here and your coffee consumption habits will begin to improve themselves. Local, specialty roasters make it their mission to produce a cup of coffee that highlights the natural flavors of the coffee being served making it easier to follow some of the steps below.

Start your day with water.

Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate.

Coffee wakes up the brain. Water wakes up the whole body. Your body naturally becomes dehydrated over the night. Consuming water first gets the system back to where it needs to be. Increases blood flow, Awakens the whole system in a way that the first cup of coffee will only help.

This was actually one of the hardest changes for me.

Drink your first cup around 9 or 10.

Because the chemical cortisol is being released into the brain and creating its own stimulus, coffee when consumed too  early can overstimulate the brain creating stress. Cortisol generally levels out after a few hours of being awake, and when these levels are lower, coffee can help smooth out your mood without the jitters.

I can do this sometimes, but I also do not have a regular pattern for getting up. With two younger kids, my day starts at 5:30 some days and 7:30 on others.

Skip the sugar.

Can we just agree the sugar is bad for our bodies. It’s fattening. It creates an increased sense of hunger. People use way too much of it in their coffee. If you’re coffee needs that much sugar, see my first point and buy something that is a little more expensive, but will be better for your health.

Minimize the milk.

Some people say get rid of the milk. I suggest minimizing. Why? I love milk! Milk in coffee can help balance it out, reduce effects of caffeine, and sweeten the cup again reducing the need for added sugars. Milk can also be fattening so be mindful when consuming it. Try to drink coffee black.

Drink plenty of water after.

Rehydrate your body. Keep the system functioning smoothly. Many times being properly hydrated will help the sustained energy levels and blood flow that the brain needs to be alert. Replenish the body after your morning cup has dehydrated you a bit.

Designing an Employee-Centric Experience

I remember starting a new job when I was fresh out of college. I worked for an insurance firm. The application process was long and interviews even longer. However, by the end of the process, I felt as I had achieved something simply by being hired. Training lasted six months. Then I was released to my desk. But wait. Where is my desk?

The walk from the training area, which was a direct route into a bright open room, became a maze of hallways and crowded sections of tall cubicles. Openness was transformed into a dark, closed space. The design of each area stood in stark contrast, and left two different feelings on the employees who would spend eight hours a day in an already high stress work environment.

Companies talk about the importance of human centric design when it comes to products, but are they asking the same questions about human centric design for employees?

I look back and think about that job. Overall, the company was good. It had excellent benefits and bonus structures. I had two direct supervisors that I enjoyed, one of which transformed my thinking of leaders and the employees that work under their charge. However, the impact of the poor design of workspace and processes negatively affected my thinking. I believe this does not have to be the case, and using the design process in how personnel are hired and the creating spaces can greatly improve the mental effects felt by employees.

Here are 4 areas intentional, human-centric design can help companies and their employees:

Hiring

Hiring processes range from simplistic one form and interview hires to multi-page, levels of interviews, offers before a candidate is accepted. Throw in a probation period or lengthy onboarding process, and the steps become quite confusing.

Research shows that employees begin to make their first impressions about a company during the interview process. These impressions can last even after a job is accepted as an employee evaluates products and services of the companies or internal procedures.

While companies form products, services, and procedures around the general operation of the organization, more thought should go to the employees that are to champion these. This begins with the application and interview process to hire. Designing a well communicated, streamlined process demonstrates transparency, buy in, and a better user experience for the new candidate. It impacts the long term view of the organization.

Space

One of the biggest drawbacks in the personal story above was the space design. I spent six months in a space that created high interaction and activity with enough boundaries to keep people focused. The reality of the long term workspace was much different. It decreased collaboration and communication among teams especially between supervisor and team member. The high cubicle walls darkened the space and created a maze effect.

In companies that require high employee to employee engagement, workspaces must be designed to fit the needs of the employee as well as the company. Design of the workspace creates a positive mental and emotional feel that motivates the employee to be present going beyond the general goal of efficiency. One way to utilize design of the workspace, is involving the employees in the layout, decoration, and creation of the space itself.

Education

Employee education and growth are two major ways to keep employees engaged and retained with the company. However, many times employee development plans fail even when couched as “personal” plans. Why?

Writing for Forbes’, Joe Folkman suggests that these development plans are not driven by the employee, but another program created broadly. The problem: “the one size fits all” ends up helping few and fails at the intended purpose. Design thinking forces us to look back at the employee, and create something geared to the needs of the “user” rather than the company.

Organizational Structure

The structure of a business can play a large part in the employee’s experience. A major shift is taking place even among established companies from a hierarchical approach to a flatter organizational structure. A major reason for this is creating a more agile structure to address constantly changing patterns in tech and how is business is conducted.

Realigning an organization to improve communication and address changes at a faster rate will improve the company’s ability to be proactive and react when necessary to morphing trends. A flat organization also improves employee experience by removing layers of a process and empowering the employee to form creative solutions that receive more direct and clear feedback. The experience is enhanced, and employees feel more able to achieve creating a more motivating work environment.

To be fair, design thinking will not address all issues that human resources or a company will face. Not every employee will be satisfied in their new roles. However, adapting a more employee centric approach to running a business helps to identify a more proper fit for new hires.

5 Takeaways From Day 1 of #SparkMe

#SparkMe Day one

Spark.me day one has come to a close, and I cannot help but feel as though I left a family gathering. One of those where there is a greeting, a time to catch up and say hello to everyone. A bit of chaos because the crazy uncle just burst through the door. (Thank you, Jon Burkhart!) And then a time of storytelling and intimacy that takes you deep into the evening and leaving full.

An experience just occurred. An experience that rivals previous years as the best, and by the numbers, was the best. The room was packed from beginning to end. The energy filled the room and ebbed and flowed at times throughout the day. creating a symphony that, if all gos well, will crescendo and be brought a close in style tomorrow. But we will see…

For now, here are 5 takeaways from day one. I cannot say these were the most interesting points made or most radical, that honor goes to a recognized cyborg, but more on that later.

SparkMe Day 1. Budva, Montenegro

1. Become a person. – Mark Schaefer

Mark Schaefer delivered on the topic of personal branding and the art of becoming known. Over and over again, he pushed the crowd to think about what they were doing and was it viable as a business // brand, or were they pursuing a hobby. He quipped at one moment, “A passion without a plan is just a hobby.”

However, at the center of the talk, which really set the stage for others, was his point of “Become a person”. In the brand and message that we seek to create, how we operate, and the interactions we create, people should feel and know that hey are communicating with a person. A person that cares not only about the product they hope to sell, but a person that seeks a real connection with the customer.

Spark.me 2018 conference. Day 1. Budva. Hotel Mediteran. Montenegro. Fotograf Sergej Zabijako, +382 68 129392, Portfolio: www.photosergey.me Portal Crna Gora for Me: https://www.cg4.me https://www.facebook.com/Sergej.Zabijako, Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sergej_zabijako_photographer YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/PromoMontenegro Channel VR360: http://www.Montenegro360.video #Montenegro #Spark #SparkMe #Sparkdotme #Spark2018 #CrnaGora #photoSergejZabijako #PromoMontenegro #Черногория © photography Sergej Zabijako, © Promo-Montenegro, 2018

2. Have good questions and use your imagination to answer them. – Jon Burkhart 

This was the second year, Jon has been a speaker at Spark.me, but when he comes it is so much more than a gig. He seems to approach everything as an opportunity to connect and begin asking questions. He does it with an overwhelming amount of energy. His self proclaimed “child-like” is like that of the uncle every kid loves. The one who will get on the floor and piss of every other adult in the room just for laughs.

And faithful to the approach, Jon encourages his audience to ask questions. Question everything, and do not stop at the first answer. Think imaginatively to find the solution. Ask the craziest questions of all regarding topics that will likely end up in the FBI knocking on your door, and create solutions. Create content from such a framework that brings an audience together in laughter, or creates a new audience that is unexpected. No matter the purpose, ask good questions to spur creativity in your work.

3. Stereotypes will be broken when influencers speak out against them. – Xenia Tchoumi

Xenia is an influencer leveraging her past as a first runner up in Miss Switzerland and education to build a campaign empire. While she spoke of her achievements and how she was able to scale her work, she highlighted the important roles that influencers have as voices for equality.

She spoke about breaking stereotypes across industries and creating equal work environments. What surprised me most, was where she leveled responsibility. For Xenia, the responsibility lies with influencers and marketers across industries that have built their platforms. When someone succeeds and creates a voice of influence, it should be used to silence the stereotypes holding others back. In this way, true communities that care for one another are created, supportive, and begin to flourish.

Spark.me 2018 conference. Day 1. Budva. Hotel Mediteran. Montenegro. Fotograf Sergej Zabijako, +382 68 129392, Portfolio: www.photosergey.me Portal Crna Gora for Me: https://www.cg4.me https://www.facebook.com/Sergej.Zabijako, Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sergej_zabijako_photographer YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/PromoMontenegro Channel VR360: http://www.Montenegro360.video #Montenegro #Spark #SparkMe #Sparkdotme #Spark2018 #CrnaGora #photoSergejZabijako #PromoMontenegro #Черногория © photography Sergej Zabijako, © Promo-Montenegro, 2018

4. We should not only have empathy with our customers, but with our employees.  – Kerry O’Shea Gorgone

We are always taught about the importance of taking care of the customer, meet their needs, and go the extra mile for them. “The customer is always right,” has been the mantra for longer than I can remember.

However, what happens when the care for the customer exceeds the care for the employee? Or a work environment that focuses criticism of the employee goes beyond truly understanding the needs of the employee for growth and development. I remember working for a lady who taught me quite a bit about trusting the employee, caring for them, and seeing them grow so the business grows. Demonstrating care and understanding for our employees and teams will have a positive impact on the business as a whole.

Spark.me 2018 conference. Day 1. Budva. Hotel Mediteran. Montenegro. Fotograf Sergej Zabijako, +382 68 129392, Portfolio: www.photosergey.me Portal Crna Gora for Me: https://www.cg4.me https://www.facebook.com/Sergej.Zabijako, Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sergej_zabijako_photographer YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/PromoMontenegro Channel VR360: http://www.Montenegro360.video #Montenegro #Spark #SparkMe #Sparkdotme #Spark2018 #CrnaGora #photoSergejZabijako #PromoMontenegro #Черногория © photography Sergej Zabijako, © Promo-Montenegro, 2018

5. Once something finishes, take what you learned and accept this new stage in life. – Mike Massimino

One of my favorite quotes from the whole conference will be this one. Thee importance of accepting the time something ends and something new begins. The whole point of these transitions and changes is to apply what we learned previously and continue to grow. Every experience we face, even when it comes to an unexpected end, is a time to learn and explore.

In another memorable moment, Mike spoke about the value of passion, following your dreams, and perseverance. He was honest in his assessment that all we can do is try. We cannot always control the outcomes, but we can try. This may be the most important thing we ever do. Just make the attempt.

#SparkMe 2018 exceed all expectations which is getting more difficult to do. I told one of the organizers, Natasha, that to imagine such diversity in speakers, it is hard to fathom the cohesiveness which it achieved on this first day.

Looking forward to Day 2.

All photos are Sergej Zabojako, https://www.cg4.me/index.php/me/foto-galereja/event/106003431699157444447@6561106624492577377

 

 

A Marketer, An Astronaut, And A Cyborg Walk Into A Bar: Preparing for Spark.Me 2018

preparing for a conference

Tomorrow begins Spark.me, a conference dedicated to curating one of the best businesses and internet conferences in Southeast Europe. And final preparations are being done to make the most of this unique opportunity to connect with leaders from wide ranging fields. I feel like this year will be one of the more diverse set of speakers. Marketing kingpins, an astronaut, and cyborgs. CYBORGS!!!

The night before a conference brings final preparations and checks to make sure everything is in place, every chord has been packed, electronic devices have been charged, and depending on departure time and destination asking over and over, “Did I forget anything?”

With so much going on and such diversity, here’s a checklist to help prepare the night before coming to Spark.me or any other conference where you are sure to engage unique and respected individuals that offer a new dimension of understanding of the world around us.

  1. Logistics

This is the boring stuff. Checking flight information, confirmation numbers, and times are all important to making sure your conference experience does not get derailed before it starts. I traveled recently with someone who was on edge at every hiccup, however, many of the bumps in the road were discussed in the travel notes sent out prior to departure. Do a last minute check and read over the information you have.

Pro tip: If you are unfamiliar with your destination, check local Facebook groups, expat groups, and travel groups about the area. Ask ahead and figure out best modes of transportation for getting between cities and to the venue.

If you are coming for Spark.Me, feel free to find me on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, and ask! Or if you are visiting Montenegro for any reason. J

  1. Supplies

Make a quick check of your supplies. Nothing is worse than getting to a conference and realizing something was left behind. Especially a necessary piece of equipment. Set it all out the night before and get organized. Create a checklist and go through it. Power chords. Power supplies, Cameras. Nerf Balls to hit John Burkhart in the face?

  1. Do some homework

It should have already been done, but if not stay up late tonight and do some research on the speakers and attendees of the conference. Doing a little research will make the conference experience more beneficial in the long run. Begin interacting and connecting with speakers and attendees prior to the conference. Visit the Spark.me Facebook page to meet others before, during, and after the conference. Utilize these tools.

  1. Create a plan

Begin setting a plan for those you want to reach the most. Look over the schedule, and make notes of the speakers that you know will be interesting and fit your field the most. See if there will be any attendees that might present a good networking opportunity. Write down names and set plans to meet up. Some conferences are dedicated to making these networking opportunities happen naturally. Spark.me is one that does this well. However, it always requires a little work to reach out and set the time. Be intentional with the time that is spent at the conference. Do not let it go to the waste. Maximize your experience.

Conferences are an excellent opportunity to connect with those me may not meet in any other circumstance. You may get to speak to a marketing guru who spurs your strategy forward. Or you may talk to a cyborg that forces a change in perspective and how you experience the world around you. Making the right preparations will help open these opportunities and keep your experience on track.

What To Do In Montenegro During May

Montenegro in May

May has been called the best time to travel to Montenegro. The tourist season is not in full swing at this time. The weather has warmed, and late spring rains have all but cleared completely out of the country. The air is fresh still slightly cooled in the evenings and early mornings. The days are full of sunshine making the sea good for a swim on a warm, sun-filled day.

I tell most of my friends and family to come visit Montenegro during May for the above reasons. I also tell them to be ready to visit the lesser known areas. Of course, the Bay of Kotor is majestic especially from the top of St. John’s Fortress. The coastline is dotted with old towns that capture the imagination of a bygone time. However, most of the magic and majesty lies in the lesser known areas. My recommendation is to visit these and catch the usual spots as time allows.

Explore Lake Skadar

Skadar Lake-Montenegro

 

Lake Skadar takes the name from a northern Albanian town, however, the majority of the lake lies in Montenegrin territory. It is the largest lake in the Balkans with a diverse ecological system. The lake is becoming one of the most popular areas for exploring Montenegro. Historically, the area around the lake has contributed significantly to the culture of the country feeding its wine and cheese industries.

Lake Skadar has so much to offer the traveler the tone could easily spend a holiday there. And if you do, I would recommend my friends at Undiscovered Montenegro and their villa that rests above the town of Virpazar. Traveling around the lake visiting the village of Rijeka Crnojevica among other villages that play sanctuary to the local birds and animal life is a treat. They also provide some of the best photo opportunities in the country.

Relax on a Farm

Lipovo-Kolasin- Montenegro

 

An up and coming part of the tourism industry and important aspect for rural development is agro-toursim. Montenegro offers a vast amount of rural area and farmland to get out of the city/towns to relax. The beauty of Montenegro is the size which makes it easy to enjoy a farm stay in the North while having access to the regular tourist attractions and towns.

Visit my friends at Meanderbug to explore the possibilities of staying in the countryside of Montenegro. They can help you plan and book the perfect spot that will fit your needs and wants the most. Step outside the norm and unplug for a few days in the villages of Montenegro.

Drive Mountains to coast

It is said that one can spend the day in the mountains hiking and enjoying the rugged nature of Montenegro then head to the sea for a late lunch or dinner on a similarly rugged coastline. I would agree, and do so from firsthand experience. Such an experience allows one to take in this small Adriatic country from a different perspective. The smaller roads that wind North and South; East to West across the countryside expose some of the best scenes from the country that would never be experienced without such exploration. For a taste of what a drive across the country offers watch the video below.

Rest on the Sea

Kotor-Montenegro

While I recommend visiting Kotor, Budva, and Porto (especially if you want a little luxury), my suggestion would be to visit these towns, explore their history, and enjoy. However, stay outside of them. Look for the smaller villages along the coast which offer accommodations. Or if you are a digital nomad visit my friends at Playworking. Mix work and play at Montenegro’s first coliving space on the coast for a retreat while not completely neglecting your work.

Whether you decide to bring your work along or leave it at home, take a few days to rest along the coast of Montenegro. If doing so, consider coming to Spark.me for a bit of inspiration for your work while you recharge. The Spark.me conference is hosted just outside of Budva, Montenegro the beautiful resort of Mediteran.

I would recommend the boutique hotel experience of Casa del Mare along the coast. To escape even more outside of the towns, you can check out some of the offerings from my friends at Meanderbug, here.

Hike among the villages

Peaks of the Balkans

For the more adventurous traveler consider exploring the “wild beauty” of Montenegro by taking a tour through the mountains from village to village. A lot of work has been done to restore old paths and trails that once extended across the country. Now guided tours are offered to help navigate the terrain. One highly recommended tour is the Peak of the Balkans which actually goes into Kosovo and Albania. You can find more information here.

Wherever you decide to spend your holiday in Montenegro, May is the perfect time to explore the country. Being a smaller country, a variety of experiences are possible. From the mountains to the sea, Montenegro offers adventure, rest, a slower pace, and whatever else you can dream up. Visit Montenegro in May.

 

Why I Want To Attend Spark.Me 2018

Spark.me 2018; matt lambert

Spark.me 2018 is quickly approaching and will hit the coast of Montenegro before we know it, May 25-27. Spark is an annual conference dedicated to bringing world class, speakers, professionals, and leaders from around the globe to Budva, Montenegro for the region’s best marketing and innovation conference. As a little insight, Mark Schaeffer and Kerry O’Shea Gorgone have already been named as speakers for this year.

2018 will be my 4th year attending the conference. Many of my friends have already harassed me for starting to plug the conference and asking them to visit Montenegro in May. They all ask, “Why?” Why Spark.Me again? So I have compiled a list of reasons of why I will go to Spark.Me 2018.

Take part in the workshops

WORKSHOPS! WORKSHOPS! WORKSHOPS!

This year will be the first Spark.Me to host a day of workshops. The day prior to the conference will be set aside to learn firsthand from a variety of industry professionals who have been dedicated to your craft. While the list has not been released yet, It seems like a no brainer that the workshops will be informative, practical, and transformative for your career. One workshop may make you even change your career.

Receive and bring value

One of the best reasons to attend a conference, especially when it is dedicated to your field of work or interest, is the value that can be received or given. Many people enjoy going to conferences because it is a good experience, however, they do not understand the immense value  that can come from interacting with top tier marketing strategists. For a startup, it could be meeting investors that provide valuable insight into the growth of your business.

Create a new community

I have met people at previous Spark conferences that seemed to spur a new community gathered around a similar interest. When ideas and innovators come together, magic happens creating new buzz and excitement around shared interests. When new communities are formed, new ideas begin to spread and take root. This has been true in my experience, and I look forward to seeing it happen again.

Increase your network

Every year, this is one of my favorite reasons to attend Spark.Me. I can always look back and remember the amount of inspiring people that I was fortunate to meet. From sharing coffee together in the mornings to cruising the Motor Bay together after the conference, my network grows every year. Follow the bloggers and their journeys connecting whenever I visit their cities. I try to keep up with the speakers who occasionally make it back to the region. Each year new connections are made. New partnerships are formed. The web of relationships grows further.

Expand your vision

Last year toward the end of his talk, I hit Jon Burkhart in the face. He did not expand his vision. But in the course of a wild presentation, he demonstrated to the audience how being “ballsy” or curious, can transform your marketing by getting outside your routine or comfort zone to grab the attention of your audience. This is how a conference should challenge the attendees. If you are not walking away rethinking your process or how to make adjustments, you have been at the wrong conference.

Spark.Me is the right one.

How To Realign Your Focus For The New Year

realign your focus; new years; goals

It is the year’s end, and we are facing the next. Ads and messaging bombard us to think about New Year’s goals and resolutions which, undoubtedly, will be abandoned by mid-February, and forgotten by April.

The challenge?

FOCUS.

Focus on goals and aspirations held deep within one’s heart and mind.

Reassess and refocus on the goals you had set, but did not achieve.

This is how the New Year should begin: with a realignment of focus for this coming year. Everyone becomes distracted, waivers off course, or completely derails from their original objectives (which can be good or bad). However, for those few things that are worthy enough of our time and effort, what is needed to see them take shape?

Here are 5 ways to realign your focus for the New Year.

Reflect honestly on the past year.

Every year is a fresh start for something new to happen or a restart to complete a journey previously started. Going into a a new year provides the perfect opportunity to reflect honestly and openly on the past year. Question yourself, and allow others to ask questions. This process of honest reflection opens the space to see if a goal went unmet because it was unrealistic or resulted from a lack of passion.

Reflection helps to know if we need to  realign our focus on the goal, or completely change possibly abandon the goal altogether. It reveals our passions and aspirations getting the new year started with proper focus.

Evaluate your purpose statement.

Simon Sinek spearheads the “Know Your Why” movement that has swept the business community. Read more from him here. The new year provides the perfect place to evaluate your purpose, your “Why” and how it is being lived out in daily life, especially work.

If and when the things we are doing do not lead to this purpose and passion, then we are forced with a decision. Do I leave this position? Do I quit this project? How can I refocus? Ultimately, how does my current profession, start-up, or project fit my purpose? Creating a purpose statement and evaluating it quarterly or annually creates focus heading into the new year.

Create goals and processes that lead to your purpose.

Goals and processes are the pathways to operating in your purpose and passions. Once getting a clear focus on what these are, set goals that will serve as clear benchmarks to show progress along the way. Goals challenge and push toward that vision and purpose statement for one’s life. Goals should be clear and concise to eliminate ambiguity and uncertainty. Here is good resource for several different perspectives and types of goals.

Pro tip: Share your goals with those you trust. It is easier to take steps with others supporting and helping to clarify your goals along the way. 

The other side of achieving your purpose statement is mapping the necessary processes. Create a strategic plan for hitting milestones. Carefully, consider not only the benchmarks, but the steps and challenges you will face. Identify new skills that need to be learned, and how you will acquire them. Once your processes have been set, stick to them for 3-4 months and evaluate. Are the processes moving you toward the goals and purpose laid out? Can they be improved?

Reassess your schedule.

Schedules are necessary. Some will cry reading this, but they are. They guide a day, week, month, or the year. A schedule sets the tone for productivity and creation. It provides structure that many of us need, even when we do not like to admit it.

They can also be a hazard to achieving goals. Poorly done schedules give the sense of busyness without considering direction. At the end of working day or week, it is easy to feel a lack off accomplishment despite the long hours. This is a result of a poor schedule.

Reassess your schedule. Make sure it guides toward your purpose and the individual goals set. Be flexible only when understanding personal processes for achieving your goals. Stick to it. Be unapologetic about it.

Reassess relationships.

The new year and a realigned focus also provides the perfect opportunity to reassess relationships. Those who surround us and serve as sounding boards for ideas, projects, and pursuits may not be the best to help achieve our passions and purpose. While it may not be necessary to completely cutoff relationships, it is good to evaluate where our time is spent. Do others help us achieve our goals or distract from them? Are they positive forces in our lives giving motivation and encouragement, or do they take energy and time?

Everyone needs to evaluate the people around them. Create circles where ideas can be challenged, informed, and progressed. Consider taking on a mentor to help you stay on track, or overcome challenges.

In a few days, we will kick off a new year. It is time for a fresh start. It is a time to adjust. It is a time to realign your focus for this year.

Let us know how we can  help. Drop us an email. Tell us about your purpose, passion, and ideas that you are working toward.

 

Coffice: Skopje Coworking Space

Walking down a busy Patizanski Obredi Blvd in downtown Skopje, I was a little lost looking for Coffice, Skopje’s only primary coworking space (that I know about). After planning a recent trip, I decided to so a quick search to see what the Skopje coworking scene was like for the city. I had found a couple more on the outside of the city and focused on business incubation and accelerating rather than coworking. After sending a quick Facebook message, I knew I needed to stop into Coffice.

11760255_489266231232985_2473052370205850927_n

Coffice is located across the street from the Ramstore Mall (on the side with the Istanbul Cafe). Go across the street toward the back of the parking lot and find a whitish awning, and you have arrived. The space owner and manager, Dani, opened in June 0f 2015 creating an energizing and interactive space for freelancers and creatives. According to Dani the majority of those working there are freelancers receiving jobs from abroad, a current trend that is growing the freelancing market across the Balkans.

Entering into Coffice on the ground level, the space is created for relaxing and taking a break. The walls are white and decorated with unique, black art and games such as the “world’s most difficult Sudoku.” A couple of couches, lockers, and some basic end tables decorate the lower the space. Upstairs is where business is done. Again, the space is simply designed and layer out. Wood top tables, chairs, and bar top are all available for working. Internet speeds of 60mbps and coffee help keep the tenants working throughout the day.

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The one thing that really stood out is the interaction taking place. As I topped the stairs, I heard the sounds of keys being pressed along with the noises of people talking, laughing, and discussing their work. Coffice had an amazing energy for being a smaller coworking space. It resembled many larger spaces that I have visited with its vitality.

Coffice is a pioneer space for the city. Dani admits that this can be a difficult process, and she is in a wait and see what happens stage. Skopje coworking is relatively new and developing for the betterment of the local economy and freelancing industry, Hopefully, as Coffice grows and others take shape, coworking will impact Skopje as it has countless other cities across the world.

 

Being A Nowist: Takeaways From Dr. Max Mckeown

Nowist; Matt Lambert, Spark.me

“Strategy is about shaping the future.” One of the opening lines of Dr. MAx Mckeown and opening lines for the whole of Spark.Me. Also, one of the more profound points to understand when starting, progressing, or innovating anything. Mckeown is a strategist and “nowist”. He is a believer in forward movement, and the only way to accomplishing such is by remaining optimistic in the present using circumstances to move toward your future goals.

Innovation Defined

“Innovation is new ideas made useful.” In a day when the word “innovation is thrown around loosely, it is good to have a structured, practical approach. Innovation is not merely having an idea. Many people have ideas and do nothing. Many stop at “desire insight” where the possibility is seen. However, it remains in pile of  untouched potential never coming to fruition. True innovation will see new ideas take shape in useful ways that change how life is lived.

Experience does not equal learning

Common myth in the innovation story is that experience automatically brings learning and progression. However, this is false. Experience only brings learning. Those undergoing the experience must be engaged and draw conclusions for learning to happen. Learning cannot be assumed to happen, but must be actively pursued throughout the process. Engagement in the now brings progress toward future goals.

The future is powered by human desire ===> curiosity

Curiosity and questioning the norm is what moves the human experience forward. People begin to ask questions, challenge the status quo, dream, etc.  Curiosity into the world around us should push toward learning much like a child. In doing so, we begin to find solutions to daily challenges, or improvements to daily habits and routines. The human desire to be curious brings what we envision in the future to the now.

Avoid living on bloody awful island

A critical point of Mckeown’s presentation came when he described the different states of people as they approach the present. We can live on an island where everything is “bloody awful,” and nothing can change because present circumstances will not allow them. Some exist in a space where things are slightly better. All is not lost, but still cannot see the way forward. However, those who see the potential, and use the now to their advantage are the ones who will find success. Avoid the “bloody, awful” island.

Be a #Nowist

A “nowist” leverages the moments of today to reach the goals of the future. There is clear direction that cannot be derailed by challenges that popup along life’s journey. They keep moving forward taking advantage of unplanned opportunities. A nowise minimizes regret by doing so.

The question becomes, “Am I acting and living as a “nowist” or thinking too much about the challenges being faced?” Are we truly innovating by making our new ideas useful, or saying, “if only….” What ideas do you have, and how can they be made useful?