You can say “Good Morning” to a fellow coworker each day and spend time together in the kitchen waiting for the microwave to warm up your egg and bacon biscuit sandwich; yet you may never really know how awesome they truly are.
Over the next few months, we’re going to dig a bit deeper into the lives of our Suite Spotte members in Forest Park and La Grange. It’s going be fun learning about and sharing their amazing talents and little known factoids.
Fatenah in Arabic garb
In honor of International Women’s Day, we bring you a recent conversation we had with Suite Spotter Fatenah Issa, who we are blessed to work with here in Forest Park.
Let’s start with your background. Tell us: Who is Fatenah Issa?
I’m the daughter of immigrants. My family is originally from Baghdad, Iraq. So basically I grew up between two cultures that tended to be more out of sync. I wouldn’t trade these experiences for anything.
My father came to the US on a student VISA in 1957, went back to Baghdad and married my mom in 1969, then brought her to the States. They were here the rest of their lives. Their names are commemorated on the American Immigrant Wall of Honor.
I follow a vegan lifestyle. I’ve been vegan for 9 years and vegetarian 13 years prior to that. This is incredibly important to me from all avenues: health, animal rights, environmental issues, as well as just trying to save the planet!
What about your work life? Tell us about the professional you.
I am an instructional designer, which is a fancy way of saying “educational architect.” I currently work for Orbis Education, an OPM (outsourced program management) firm that specializes in partnering with universities across the country to help develop health sciences programming.
What’s your favorite thing about your work?
There are two actually:
I love to learn and I love to share! I’m constantly investigating new research and best practices to bring the best student experiences to online higher ed courses.
I thrive on discussion. So having members of my team available to “talk shop” and brainstorm is key for me.
In costume for the Newberry performance — Ouled Nail garb
Pick three words that best describe you.
Curious, humble, caring
When you unplug from your instructional design work, what do you do?
There are several things I love to do to help with the work-life balance.
I study Middle Eastern dance at Pineapple Dance Studio right here in Forest Park. We learn a variety of dance styles and get the opportunity to perform.
The last major performance was at the Newberry Library, where we performed choreographies similar to what would have been performed at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Here’s the blurb from their site.
Threatened by a fearful Dalek, a gold metal monster
I’m also an avid Doctor Who fan! I’ve been a fan since I was 8 years old. Not only do I enjoy watching but I help run conventions. One where I’ve helped run for close to 15 years in the registration department is Gallifrey One, a Doctor Who convention that has now been running for 30 years! The link is to the staff list, where I’m named under the registration team.
I’m an Ambassador for the Sugar Beet Food Co-op in Oak Park. During the warmer months I volunteer my time to help run the Sugar Beet table at the Oak Park Farmer’s Market. I also help promote various events there via social media.
Flotsam, Jetsam, and Duncan — the overlords
Lastly, I’m just a very happy cat mom. Three furry overlords run my home (I just pay the mortgage…they run the place really 🙂 ).
What’s your favorite thing about being a member at Suite Spotte?
The atmosphere that Sue has created in the space is just incredible. It’s a lovely alternative to working from home (which by the way is less than a 10 minute drive for me).
Also, the other members are super friendly. Even though we stem from different industries there are challenges we all face, which helps when I need to brainstorm.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
My gut reaction to this question is that the day honors our voice, our contributions to the world, as well as reemphasizing the dire need for equality. The work continues to ensure gender equality. We’ve come so far. At the same time there’s still work to be done.
Thank you Fatenah for sharing your amazing life with all of us. You are smart, talented, delightful, and have the best laugh ever!! Stay tuned next month when we delve into the life of another Suite Spotter. Happy International Women’s Day! #BalanceforBetter
Suite Spotte was fortunate to have local high school interns work at Suite Spotte this summer. Lyons Township High School intern, Joanna, shares her experience at Suite Spotte. Thanks Joanna! We miss you already!
Suite Spotter Mike Bash shares interviewing tips with Summer Interns.
When I first heard about Suite Spotte, I had no idea what coworking was, and had little experience with business in general. Over the course of my few weeks at Suite Spotte, I learned so much about entrepreneurship, coworking environments, and business itself.
I really feel fortunate to have gotten the opportunity to work in a space like Suite Spotte, not only because of the rapidly growing coworking market, but because of the diversity of the people here.
I did get the chance to sit down and talk with a few Suite Spotters, and it was so interesting to see the similarities and differences between people. I really got a sense of the people who come here and why they come here. I found it super interesting and motivating to see so many different people in so many different businesses and fields working in such a collaborative environment.
The main project that I worked on here at Suite Spotte was developing ideas for an online membership site and researching coworking management software. If I’m being honest, some of the work could be tedious at times, but other parts were extremely exciting, and overall I found the experience very valuable.
It allowed me to take steps out of my comfort zone, discover how I can leverage certain aspects of my personality into strengths, and see how well I work on a single project both in a group and individually. The skills that I learned while working at Suite Spotte are skills that I can apply to high school, college, and beyond, and I’m very thankful for that.
Suite Spotte is a really special place. It fosters creativity, productivity and learning, as well as an amazing sense of community and collaboration. I’m so grateful to have been a part of it!
As we get ready to kick off RUSH WEEK at Suite Spotte, fellow coworker Mike Bash of Silcon-Valley-based start up, Eversight, shares his decision to become a Suite Spotte member with Morgan Searles of Patch.com. Check out what Mike has to say here.
Thanks Mike and Morgan for helping to spread the word!
Free Rush Week Coworking Trial Sept. 21-25 at Suite Spotte, in partnership with the La Grange Business Association.
A guest post by Amber Dewey Schultz
I first heard about Suite Spotte at a winter holiday party for my children’s school.
All of us parents were attempting to mingle as only parents of very young children do – in between wiping noses, changing diapers, and rescuing our children who had climbed too high and couldn’t find their way back down.
While chatting with one mother, my ears perked up when she mentioned something about working with her team.
A team? Wow. I had just begun my social media marketing business earlier that year, and only in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d have a team.
I had to know more about her and her success. We chatted as we could, as the children spun and zipped around us. The more she talked, the more I wanted to be a part of this community of entrepreneurs and small business owners in the Western Chicago Suburbs that she seemed to be a part of.
And that’s when I first heard the words “Suite Spotte”.
She told me that her friend Sue had opened a coworking space in La Grange, and entrepreneurs go there to work and collaborate. The new idea of working from a coworking space instead of my home office held so many possibilities for me. I had to learn more immediately.
Not to waste any time, I filled out a “Book a Tour” form on the Suite Spotte website the next day, making what I think was one of the best decisions so far for my business.
Since then, I’ve become a regular at Suite Spotte, taking advantage of every bit of the collaboration and community that I can. All that I’ve learned and experienced could hardly be included in a single post, but I will break the biggest benefits up into three main categories…
When I arranged for my first Day Pass, I was expecting everyone to be heads-down working, typing furiously or sitting in with a phone glued to their ear, in their own little world.
It couldn’t be further from the truth. While there are moments where the only sounds in Suite Spotte are the click-click-clicks that indicate that deadlines loom, usually there is a quiet buzz of conversation happening somewhere in the space. People sharing ideas or asking advice. One member telling another that she referred a client his way. A laugh over a miscommunication. (Did she say eyeliner or highlighter?) Without the hierarchy and drama of a typical one-business space, it is office culture at its best.
2. Ideas and Inspiration
Suite Spotte is never short of well-timed ideas and advice. If ever I have a question, no matter how basic it might be, other members are willing to give me not only an answer, but more ideas to expand upon my original idea, resources, or even a helping hand. I often leave Suite Spotte at the end of the day with my head swimming not only with thoughts of work I need to do, but also inspiration to make my business even better.
And because all of the members have different backgrounds and experience, I’ve been able to expand my vision and see a problem from angles that I never expected. I’ve found this to be especially true during the Entrepreneurial Masterminds, which are members-only lunches every Wednesday where one of the attendees is put in the “hot seat” and can either share something happening within their business, ask for advice, or show off a tool that has brought them success. Every week, even if I’m not in the “hot seat”, the ideas push me to take my business further and think further. Which inevitably leads to…
Working out of Suite Spotte has certainly set my business in the right direction. It has offered not just a space to work and focus, but the inspiration (and occasionally referrals!) necessary to grow. With this growth, I have even put together a small virtual team with whom I collaborate, checking that dream off my list.
I know that my business wouldn’t be as successful today if I had never found this coworking space.
Now I’m no longer an outsider looking in on an exclusive club of entrepreneurs in the Western Suburbs. I am a part of this exciting and thriving community. And I couldn’t be happier.
Amber Dewey Schultz, founder of Clique Social + Design, helps service-based entrepreneurs and small business owners convey their message, connect with their fans, and drive sales through strategic social media. Known for her innovative marketing strategies, Amber has used social media to amplify online launches, design passive income streams, and grow raving audiences for local and national clients.
When not busily working and collaborating at Suite Spotte, you can find her on kid-friendly adventures around the Western Suburbs with her husband Ryan and two children, Vivienne and Milo.
When starting out, working from home sounds ideal. After all, you have plenty of space in your home office, there’s zero commute, and you can work in your yoga pants. Plus, it’s free.
But is it really? With all of the distractions that come from working from home, your choice may actually be costing you business.
See if any of these “big distractions” ring true for you:
1) Children and family
Just as you sit down to write that big proposal, the phone rings. It’s your husband at the office. He’s forgotten his lunch and was wondering if you could drop it off.
After swinging by his office and returning home, you barely have enough time to return emails before you have to take the kids to soccer practice. At 5pm, you just wonder how the day got away from you.
Working from home sometimes doesn’t feel like working (or even if it does, other people assume you’re not), so you get pulled into managing your family instead of your business.
Working in a coworking space, on the other hand, makes you feel like getting down to business. And family members who were once quick to ask for favors will now have to think twice when they know you would have to leave your “office”. All of these leads to more networking and a better business.
2) The Kitchen and all its goodies
More than 36% of Americans report that they have gained weight since working from home. And it’s no wonder when you can wander into the kitchen at any moment to grab a snack.
Trying to think of how to word an email? Grab a bagel. Just finished that big project? Make a sandwich. Avoiding making that phone call? Nibble on a cookie.
Not only does the snacking hurt your waistline, it also adds up quickly in the “wasted time” category.
While grabbing a snack at your local coworking space is nothing surprising, most spend the time talking business ideas or networking instead of just eating. A coworking space can help your snack time decrease, and change that wasted time into networking time.
3) Desire to finish household chores
Those increased breaks (read “wasted time”) don’t always include food. Some can be much sneakier but just as nefarious. And its name is “chores”.
Have you ever avoided work by doing the dishes? Have you done a little laundry between projects? How many times have you gotten distracted by a spot on the floor, only to find, an hour later, that your floor is spotless and your work isn’t any closer to being completed?
If we’re in the house, it’s hard to strictly concentrate on work when there are so many home projects calling to us.
The solution is to completely separate your home and work life. When you’re working out of a coworking space, you’re completely focused on your work. When you go home, those lingering chores then get done. With this compartmentalization, you’ll see both your work and your house-hold work improve.
4) No Access to Office Equipment
Not having access to a fax, copier or scanner might get to be a sticky situation as your business grows. And not all of us are willing to shell out the big bucks to purchase that equipment on our own. Plus, do you really want a copier taking up space in your home office?
A coworking space, however, is set up with business in mind. They have all the technological amenities that will sustain your business ready for you to use at the drop of a hat.
5) Using the television as “company”
It can get lonely working from home, and the temptation is there to turn on the television for background noise. After all, you can still concentrate on work as long as you don’t actively pay attention to the television, right?
Wrong. Research shows that people cannot multitask as well as they think they can. You may not even notice the television pulling your attention away until you send off a document with a misspelling or an email to the wrong recipient.
It’s important to work in a distraction-free area where your work doesn’t have to compete with
background noise. Your professional reputation depends on it!
Coworking spaces supply enough “company” by the other entrepreneurs and small business owners who are also members. But when it’s time to work, you can fully focus in the quiet of the space, sure that your work is getting your full attention.
When you’re working from home, the numerous distractions make it near impossible to get anything done without superhuman focus and discipline. Working out of a coworking space eliminates the top distractions and provides you with a productive place to call your own. If you haven’t tried a coworking space yet, it’s never too late to start getting productive.
Book a tour at the Suite Spotte and see what we are talking about.