Walking the Plank

Gangplank’s guest-blogging series illustrates the array of personalities and experiences embodied by our community. All invited participants – past brownbag speakers, anchors, new members, City of Chandler employees and others – share their Gangplank stories. Interested guest posters should send a draft to our Director of Operations.

By Geoff Snyder, Leadership blogger and Gangplank regular

About a month ago, a friend and I were catching up… my friend discovers that I have recently moved to the Phoenix, Arizona area. He sends me in the direction of a collaborative community called “Gang Plank.” Upon further review, I happened to notice that the areas of focus seem to pertain to many of my likings: collaborative exchange, conceptual innovation, music, and many other areas in which harness the creative mindset.

So I slated some time for their #hacknight, which is every Wednesday night from 6pm to 9pm. (It’s a great way to work on your side projects after hours.) I walked in and noticed that to the right were a slew of Macs…most vacant, as for most of the attention was directed towards the Street Fighter II game in the back of the room. There must have been 25+ people checking out what was going on. “Hadouken!” At this point I had no idea what to do but can sense that I’m at the right place.

I introvertently placed myself in the corner, giving myself time to soak in everything that was going on. There were a few guys sitting on a couch talking about what they do for a living – an accountant, an urban developer, and an independent architect. Gangplank is a great place for professionals (of all walks of life – not just developers) to network and join in on conversations regarding their interests.

Earlier in the day, @daver expresses the importance to “kick @ChuckReynolds in the keister” for him. This is not something I do when I first meet somebody but have been known to do during my second encounter…so, look out Chuck!
It was getting close to 8:30pm and my battery on the laptop was ready die. Apparently, Chuck had returned from stepping out for a few. I packed up my laptop bag and walked over to introduce myself. We exchanged a brief overview of what we do and he proceeded to answer my question, “So, what is it that we do here… at Gangplank?”

Based on my first visit to Gangplank, I decided to commit to spend more time there. So I returned the next Wednesday. This time I got there much earlier than during my first visit and found out I was in time for “Brownbag”. Not having a full understanding of what was going on, I was intrigued as to what it was. This day was a open panel discussion held between the “anchors.” “Browbags” are an open lunch presentations where Gangplank invites leaders in the local community to share the success they’ve enjoyed, and challenges they’ve faced in their careers. In this particular case, the Gangplank anchor companies themselves were presenting.

Gangplank refers to anchors as “companies that base their operations out of Gangplank, with permanent desk space for multiple employees. Each anchor is involved in Gangplank planning meetings, as well as contributes to the community through donations, services, etc.”

During and after the panel discussion, I spent a few minutes getting familiar with each of the members and their organizations – quite a nice blend of marketing, strategy, designers, developers, and small business mentors. I got a good sense as to why these guys were up there talking – about what they love, their drive and passion clearly showed.

After the discussion, I had the opportunity to speak with Tim from Brand Adoption. We had a great conversation about social media growth, the important of trust within communities, and product value. Heck, I even recall some laughs about how we thought we know what we wanted to do before college. (Gosh…if I only knew then what I know now!)

After Tim and I finished up our conversation, I returned to my little work area and anxiously awaited for Hacknight Street Hockey game starting at 7pm. After some help from Chuck Reynolds of Rynoweb and Andrew Ryno with some PHP related issues, I changed into some workout clothes and headed across the street to the parking garage to play some street hockey.

The previous week, I had received a tweet about Hacknight Street Hockey – something I was definitely was interested in. Sadly, I didn’t manage to make my way to the game. However the following week I was in it to win it. I tightened up the laces and got ready to unleash the Hockeytown that runs in my blood! Had so much fun doing it, and will be back again with a vengeance for sure.
Great group of guys. Had the opportunity to meet Chris Conrey, who is responsible for organizing the game. So… thank you, Chris. After about an hour or so of having my butt handed to me, we wrapped the game up and headed back Gangplank HQ.

After the friendly game of street hockey, there was a tattoo session scheduled at 9pm. Mike Benner stepped up to the plate and had the guys from Tabu Tattoo  ink up his back with Gangplank’s tagline, “Be Dangerous.” The session was great and I’m looking forward to seeing the finished/healed work.

While all this was going on, I was asked if I minded that my “personal geek space” was to be invaded. This was when I had the pleasure meeting April Holle of Made Better Studio. After a candid introduction, we sat back and watched the tattoo session and discussed what brought us to Gangplank. By then, it was getting late and time for me to get home. I had a 45 minute drive, so I wrapped things up and took off.

General Consensus:
Gangplank is great collaborative workspace and offers one roof for technologists – from designers to developers, market strategy consultants, students and tutors, entrepreneurs and mentors, and musicians. It’s directly described as:
“a group of connected individuals and small businesses creating an economy of innovation and creativity in the Valley. We envision a new economic engine comprised of collaboration and community, where industries come together to transform our culture.”

The place has a great vibe and company of people who know that when great minds with great ideas get together at once place, great things happen. I’m looking forward to moving in the right direction with the “pirates” at Gangplank.

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