That’s the definition of coworking to me: “Honey, you are not alone.”
You see I was very alone at a young age, trying to run a failing nonprofit in our nation’s capital. Early in my career, the Executive Director of the organization I worked for left the organization and it became clear that it was in trouble. Funds had been mismanaged, the mission was too large and we were trying to be everything to everybody. Our Board of Directors looked at me, a 25-year old female, who had grown up in a small town in Eastern North Carolina and said, “Will you take this on?” Not exactly knowing what I was getting into, I replied fervently, “Yes, you can count on me.”
I then embarked on the hardest two years of my life. I was an English Major, but I needed to learn everything I could about finance, budgets, payroll and balancing books. I learned how to recruit, interview, hire, train and manage men much older than me, because I worked in a predominately male-oriented field. I took a stab at fundraising in a city where everyone is seeking something and “getting an in” is nearly impossible. With the help of dedicated volunteers, we successfully rebranded the organization, complete with a new focus and mission.
I did all of this by begging for information for anyone that would spend a few minutes with me. I interviewed successful executives; I took classes and spent hours researching the most basic nonprofit business concepts. I toiled over every decision that I had to make and feared letting down the Board of Directors and volunteers who believed so much in this organization. I knew some people doubted my abilities as a female (yes that was directly called out) and as a young person. I lost sleep and hair, became very thin and pale and my personal relationships suffered. You see, I loved my work but it was hard and I felt so alone. I lacked true mentors and companions in the field who could offer advice and help me problem solve.
When I learned about COTERIE, the first thing that came to mind was “wow, I bet my life could have been very different if that support system existed when I was running that DC nonprofit.” I can’t imagine what it might have felt like to have a tribe of compassionate women and men willing to network, hear my stories and assist with my issues. To be around other young people who were struggling to learn and grow just as much as I was seemed like a dream.
You see I’m not scared of hard work and a challenge. I am scared of taking those on without support. At COTERIE, you’ll gain both and then some. People have been where you are and they are ready to lend a hand, share a laugh, grab a glass of wine, or work through some stress during a rooftop yoga session. You’ll find a community of like-minded people, who will inspire you to be greater, dig deeper and find success you hadn’t imagined. Let us walk your walk with you. I’ll be first in line.
- Blair Overman, Director of Operations