Guest post by Ryan Garey
Fact: Being an entrepreneur is dangerous… so are we.
When you walk down the hall of colorful conference rooms at Gangplank Chandler, you will see a number of contrastingly simple black signs with white text declaring sometimes irreverent, but always accurate, statements. My favorite is the absurdly true fact:
“There is no spoon. There is only danger.”
This sentiment was on spectacular display on August 30th as Gangplankers, Anchors, leaders, and the community gathered in an open forum to discuss, well, Gangplank itself. More specifically:
What does it mean to be an Anchor? a community member? a community leader?
What are the roles, responsibilities, and potential benefits?
How do we choose ‘who’ gets ‘what’ title? And with that decision, how do we govern who gets what resources?
In other words: how do we balance a ‘justifiable exclusivity’ that’s required with any kind of resource constraint, while staying inclusive and welcoming to the community?
F’kn tough questions.
Definitely not the type of questions you would find being asked in a typical ‘company wide’ meeting. Can you imagine a CEO having an open forum like this with their entire company?! No way! Far too dangerous.
In stark contrast to the rush hour community of commuters clogging the streets outside, as they simultaneously flee their cubicles, cofficles, and water-cooler conversations, was our experimental community of entrepreneurs. Sharing experiences, ideas, and thoughts on what we have so far and how we can continue to improve after 6 years in and growing like crazy.
Perhaps it was the luxury of perspective, seeing my fair share of large corporate ‘organizational growing pains’ and now being a full-time entrepreneur, that made the subtleties of our meeting stand out. But I couldn’t help but draw a connection between Gangplank itself, that meeting, and “There is no spoon, there is only danger.”
And that’s when it hit me: What makes this place so different (read: Successful, Sustainable, Scalable) is that if entrepreneurialism is inherently dangerous, shouldn’t a collaborative work environment for entrepreneurs be dangerous, itself?
I’m talking from the top down and bottom up faith in the community to regulate and govern itself, with as little intervention as possible… kind of danger. Most would say that is irrational but most people are wrong, too.
After observing this place at work for a year now, I can emphatically say it works!
This is what I took away from the meeting – a much clearer appreciation for the people in this room and the contrarian ideals that make us work. When times get tough, no one is coming to save you. If you want something to be made it is up to you, and the logistics of reality are brutal.
But… at the same time, despite the aura of self-responsibility, the level of selflessness, collaboration, and commitment to others is pervasive in these walls where Social Capital becomes tangible.
It is inspiring, to say the least. It has to be experienced to be understood.
Are we perfect? Nah.
It is unavoidable that in our pursuits and conquests, mistakes will be made, feelings will get hurt, people will fail us, and we will fail them. But what makes us a successful force to reckon with, together AND alone, is that we’re the kind of pirates who look for solutions instead of making excuses.
We’re self-correcting, agile, and productive.
We do the things others won’t.
We talk about the things others won’t.
We optimize the things others hide.
We get the results others can’t.
We strive for ourselves because we ‘want’ to, not because we ‘have’ to.
Our community works because we are self-motivated, self-reflective, and talented enough to make this work.
Will there be pains and discrepancies along the way?
There always will be.
I don’t believe there is a single person who walks in the doors of any Gangplank that doesn’t know that’s the job we all signed up for when we chose to be entrepreneurs.
So Cheers to you who fight the good fight.
Cheers to you who need no prodding or direction to figure out how and what you can do to contribute to the group.
Cheers to you who learn when you fail, instead of blaming the group.
Cheers to you who instinctually make the most of what you’ve got, for the building of your businesses, your lives, and your community.
Cheers to you F ‘S’ Up! in your own unique way!