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Behind the Scenes with GCUC’s Creator, Liz Elam: Meditation, Meaning and Making a Difference

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Liz Elam is the wizard behind the magic of GCUC. Having entered the world of coworking in 2010 after founding Link Coworking in Austin, she has served as a fearless, quirky, open-hearted leader of the movement ever since. We chatted about what keeps her motivated after five years in coworking, what advice she’d give herself of 10 years ago, and what new things we can expect at GCUC 2015.

Amy: You’ve been in coworking for a long time now, Liz. What keeps you motivated and passionate when it comes to coworking? What keeps you in the game?

Liz: Coworking is about so much more that just a place to work. We get to take care of people. We greet them, we listen to them and we provide a beautiful space for them to get done what they need to get done. It’s lovely in today’s busy, hectic world to provide a respite from the noise and help people be productive so they have more time to do what they really love. Making a difference in people’s lives, one coworker at a time, inspires me and keeps me going.

Beautiful. What have been your top three favorite, most beautiful moments of GCUCs past?

Finding out that people found love at GCUC, finding out that multiple business partnerships were formed at GCUC, and finding out that people were inspired to open a space after GCUC!

What do you worry about when it comes to coworking? How do you work to alleviate these fears?

I’m old enough to have lived through a couple of dips in the economy. I worry about people over-committing and getting pummeled in a downturn. I think the best thing I can do to help the industry is continue to provide events, education and information so that we can all make sure we’re planning for the future as best you can plan for the unknown.

Here’s a doozy: If you were able to talk to Liz Elam of 10 years ago, what would you say to her? What advice would you give her?

Oooh, good question. I would tell her that worry accomplishes nothing and that it’s all going to be okay. I’d tell her: Follow your dreams and your heart, and you will be led in the right direction.

What’s the hardest thing you’re working on right now to improve or accept in your own life?

Meditation. I know it’s what most successful and happy people do daily but it’s hard! I have a monkey brain, always going from one thing to the next. When I need it the most is when I stop making it a priority. It’s a practice that you have to commit to and do daily. Especially during GCUC planning!

Ok, be honest: What is your ideal workspace?

It’s a beautiful, light, bright, modern, clean space. The color palette is light blues, periwinkle, yellow and white. It is filled with happy people working on a myriad of projects. It’s open, but with thoughtful and fun breakout space. It’s got glass garage doors that open to a wrap-around porch with chairs facing the ocean where we can all see, hear and feel the ocean.

What can people expect to be new and different at this year’s GCUC in Berkeley?

In the surveys, we learned people wanted a lot more unconference time and less “talking at us” time. So, we have unconference time every day this year. We also figured out that leaving the workshops to the last day was a fail (people had burning questions that weren’t getting answered). We moved the workshops to day one and rebranded them as Camp GCUC. We are also providing a lot of the meals and helping curate meals that we’re not providing. GCUC is unique in that we’re open to changing it up every year based on feedback. We like unique venues and we like to challenge ourselves so we can provide meaningful engagement and real world deliverables that can be implemented the day you get back home.

Amy Segreti is a writer and editor who focuses on community, culture and helping independents do the work that makes them come alive. Her offerings include expression coaching, high-level editing, holistic productivity maps, and other things that foster greater connectedness with ourselves and the world. Find her at her website, Live All of You.

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