Here’s a great interview with Graham Weston who’s made a very special place in San Antonio, Geekdom, possible.
I’m a Geekdom Community Member. Here’s My Take After Being Here for Four Months….
I moved into Geekdom right before Thanksgving in 2011.
Having had a proper office, with a staff of four team members for many, many years, once the lease ran out, I decided to re-tool what I was doing, how I operated my business, and what I wanted from my life.
Having been self-employed for almost 30 years, I have been blessed to experience some great years and some not so really great years. It’s the later that made me better at what I do, kept me on my toes, made me think ahead, and taught me that even when things are rockin’, you can’t rest on your laurels.
After living in San Antonio for going on a quarter of a century, I’ve been a Public Relations advisor to several first generation, San Antonio-based companies like Datapoint, DataRace, IntelogicTrace, and DocuCon. As the transition from the mini-computer to the micro-computer took place, I shifted my efforts to working with OEMs in Israel that brought about the beginnings of VoIP (Voice Over IP), WiFi, the tablet computer, enterprise software, and security.
In 2008, I started seeing reductions in budgets, more clients going in-house, and some just taking a haitus from PR until things settled down. I decided to work from the back house of our home, where I already had an office set up, sell all the fancy furniture I bought for the office, and re-start.
I spent 15 months working from home, and due to tons of travel demands, the idea of an “office” became less and less important – except for one thing: I really missed being with others to work and collaborate with.
Then Came Geekdom
Graham Weston with his cohort and positive disruptor, Nick Longo established Geekdom with the idea of bringing together the community in a collaborative workspace. While the word “collaborative” may be overused, part of the deal there is that you have to give back at least one hour per week to another company or team member. It’s not forced upon; the atmosphere lends itself toward sharing and yes, collaborating.
A Secret Dream Came True
When we first moved to San Antonio twenty five years ago, one of my dreams was to work, and have an office downtown. There was something funky and special about downtown, but it just did not work out for me. We had small children, I travelled alot and I need a space to be closer to home.
Originally, my first office was out at Stone Oak because we planned to build a house in the area.
It never happend.
We stayed in Alamo Heights and I then moved over to 3737 Broadway, next to the Witte Museum, which was my home for almost 17 years before everything went to shit. I let the lease run out, restart (or as we say now, “pivot.”) and focused on what I was going to do next.
When Geekdom came along, it was downtown, in a swanky building, known as the Weston Centre, but still with the small town charm and feel of what makes San Antonio special.
I had been following Nick on the social web for several years, and I knew Graham as our paths crossed at various events in town.
I remember the first time I walked off the elevator to get a tour, I said to myself: I belong here. The place was just getting going and I discovered that some of my buddies like Wes Wilson, Vid Luther and James Brehm were also moving in. Even though it had been about 18 months since I was in a “real” office, I was ready to make the move.
And move I did. Pronto.
James Brehm and I ran parellel paths going to similar tradeshows, conferences and events over the last 15 years, but never hung out or could compare notes as to what we were up to. Maybe (and I say maybe) I would call James, or James would call me and we’d have lunch at Central Market, trade stories, shake hands and see one another either on an airplane or for lunch 12 months later.
Now, we are 50 feet away.
We hang out, compare notes, and share ideas and yes, collaborate.
Back in December, when he was on CNBC as a commentator, we got in his truck, ran over to the KLRN studios and I had a chance to watch him being interviewed by Maria Bartiromo on his take for 2012 trends in the wireless space.
The Currency of Collaboration
That’s the fun and sponaneous stuff that happens at Geekdom. We’re not exchanging money in the traditional sense. We are exchanging brain matter, energy and insights with each other. And that’s happening with others on the floor.
Going to Geekdom everyday is a joy. I do my work. I am surrounded my really smart and really nice people. And yes, I am having fun.
My neighbor to my left, Frederick Mendler (AKA Suizo), plays guitar, and his co-workers in his office jam out to great music. I can hear the music through walls. That’s just fine with me, because since I play drums, I bang on the walls and we have next-door-neighbor, through the wall jam sessions. To the right of me is a team of graphic designers and web site builders known as Roughneck Graphics.
Yes, are supposed to be working and all, but this is in many ways work to me. It simulates my brain, makes me more creative, and a better resource to my clients.
In a normal office, or shared office environment, this would be shunned upon, but not at Geekdom.
I’ve had visitors come see me where they positively comment on the noise level.
Roaming the halls, you hear conversations where “fuck yes!” (translation – someone just got inspired) is the norm, and “you know…what if….” is part of the linguafranca.
It’s the part that you hear others finishing each other’s sentences, respectfully disagreeing, and challenging someone to raise the bar ever so slightly that makes Geekdom an intellectual source of energy and combustion.
Not Just For Geeks
Sure we have geeks, and of course, we have the other half of the facility with the TechStars Cloud group in house. But we also have people like me (I do tech PR), IP attorneys, industry analysts, video producers and a big time story teller, former San Antonio Express News Editor, Bob Rivard, and his wife Monika Maekle who recently left BusinessWire.
With Spring here, I am making it a part of my daily routine to go walking every afternoon for 30 to 45 minutes on the San Antonio Riverwalk. Just take the elevator down downstairs, walk down the pathway, pass the waterfalls and you’re on the River.
I spend my time walking, discovering downtown, taking pictures and posting them on Instagram and watch for comments from friends worldwide.
Geekdom has been equal part inspiration, part mental therapy and a chance to start anew.
It’s appropriate that with Spring in full swing, not only are the flowers on the Riverwalk blossoming, but so are some really cool and disruptive businesses.
Come see what’s growing and disrupting when you visit San Antonio.