Designing the new world of work.

solo city goes live


Sept. 10, District Hall in the Innovation District, Boston — The Solo Project convenes 120 soloists, civic leaders, and national experts on the changing world of work

The town hall gathering was stage 2 of the Solo City research initiative — a collaboration of The Solo Project and the Knight Foundation to kickstart a national conversation about the consequences of the emerging solo movement, and the opportunity for cities to reignite local growth by positioning themselves as premiere destinations for indie professionals and creatives. What can cities do to attract and support soloists? Which prompts the question, What do soloists need done?

Who came: Boston’s top independent professionals and creatives, including teams gathered by table hosts such as Workbar, Fort Point Arts Community, Mind & Hand Associates, the state’s Office of Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Technology, Future Boston Alliance, and Commonwealth Kitchen. There were filmmakers and photographers, new product developers and branders, attorneys and accountants, talent wranglers and chefs — and a voice actor.

What’s next: Solo City stage 3, coming in November/December — a first-of-its-kind report on the fastest growing segment of the workforce, and insights on how cities can be first-movers in positioning themselves to attract the talent that is redesigning the world of work. The report will be co-published by The Solo Project and the Knight Foundation, and distributed to urban leaders in government, leading corporations, universities, and foundations.

And then: Solo City, on the road. Discussions are under way with several cities and sponsors about Solo convenings and content generation in locations in the U.S. and in Europe.



my next gig:

Founder, Mavens & Moguls

The founder of pioneering networked marketing firm Mavens & Moguls — and advisor to Zipcar, Richard Branson, Coca-Cola, and the New York Times — on the power of “finding problems,” and other secrets to biz-dev for indie professionals.

who do you know:

Author, Never Eat Alone; Entrepreneur

A deep dive into Networks 3.0, with a leading critic of networking-as-usual. Forget quantity; think quality. Especially the transformative potential of the “coaching” moment, and the power of the question, “Who helps you do your very best work?”

my os:

Founder, Testive; Lecturer, MIT

What tools and organizational systems — and strategies for managing yourself — keep a solo life humming? One madly intentional solo maven tells all, from designing a portfolio of work to carrying the right things, only the right things, in your backpack.

the solo city

All together now!

As we design and build thrilling solo lives, how can our cities — and its businesses, institutions, and leaders — help us? (An open forum matching what cities can do to what soloists need done. Envisioning the world-class Solo City.)


The Solo City 2015 schedule of events and program. Download your copy.

solo city PHOTOBOOTH

sessions @ the solo project


The road to Solo City started here, with stage 1 of the three-stage Solo Project/Knight Foundation collaboration: a series in-depth expert interviews and a program of roundtables — called Sessions @ The Solo Project — all exploring the changing world of work. We wish to express special thanks to all the organizations who so generously hosted these Sessions:


A Big Solo Life | WorkBar | Cambridge, June 19
A good job used to be easy to define. (For one thing, it tended to last. A long time.) But what now, in a world of 53 million people doing at least part of their work independently? How do soloists work? For whom? From where? And with what kinds of colleagues and collaborators? What does the “designed” life look like?

The Project Economy | T3 Advisors | Seaport District, Boston, July 1
As organizations depend more and more on indie professionals and creatives — on soloists — to get ambitious things done, how do they attract them, collaborate with them, manage them? How is the talent game played in the new world of work, and what does the new game mean for management practices, physical infrastructure, brand expression, and business model innovation?

Prepping Independents | Pearson | Back Bay, Boston, July 15
What does it take to prepare people to thrive in an economy that increasingly requires them to work independently and create their own jobs and financial security? What are the essential skills and qualities that people need to survive in the new world of work? How do we find new, effective ways to educate, train, and support people as we all adapt? A city’s success may depend on it.

Innovation District No. 1 | District Hall | Seaport District, Boston, July 31
Brookings defines innovation districts as “the ultimate mash up of entrepreneurs and educational institutions, start-ups and schools, mixed-use development and medical innovations, bike-sharing and bankable investments — all connected by transit, powered by clean energy, wired for digital technology, and fueled by caffeine.” What role do independent professionals and creatives — soloists — play in these shiny new urban neighborhoods?

Places, Spaces, Networks | wework | Leather District, Boston, August 3
For indie professionals, it wasn’t so long ago that “my office” was code for “the coffee shop.” Then came coworking spaces, hacker- and makerspaces, culinary and fashion shared spaces and fracilities. What have we learned about the workplaces that soloists and small teams need? What’s the difference between a group of people working in the same space, and a community of people working? How does a city encourage a rich, sustainable ecosystem of placemakers/placemaking ?


Our founding partner for Solo City 2015 is the Knight Foundation in Miami, Florida. Many people know of the Knight Foundation through their work driving and supporting journalism and media innovation. In addition to an aggressive program fostering the arts on a local level, the foundation also promotes civic innovation that enables communities to succeed in a rapidly changing world. Which makes them the ideal partner for The Solo Project, and our Solo City initiative in particular.


Solo city on twitter




the venue

Our host for Solo City was the dazzling District Hall, the anchor of Boston's Innovation District.





What attendees shared on social media


The Solo Project
road show

Seattle, February 2014   The Solo Project explores what might be the most highly evolved and collaborative network of coworking spaces in the country. (Check out the Space Traveler Program. Earn a mug.) A lesson in culture shifts, specialization, and the economic vitality of truly mixed-use neighborhoods. Site visits: Office Nomads, Collaborative Spaces

Minneapolis, May 2014   The Solo Project opens the SeeChange design event, and spends the week hanging in one of the most creative communities in the country. Meetings and meals with a select crew of Twin Cities soloists reinforced that the movement is global and very, very local. Site visits: CoCo Coworking, Wit+Delight, Werner Design Werks, SeeChange Conference

Atlanta, June 2014   What we found: Long regarded as a Fortune 500 HQ town (Coca-Cola, Home Depot, Delta, UPS), the city is building out entrepreneurial infrastructure everywhere you look, and thinking about indie pros and creatives as an increasingly critical talent pool. Coca Cola has created a coworking space open to the public to give its employees access to the start-up and solo energy. Site visits: Roam, Plywood People, Startup Atlanta, and So Worth Loving.