Cultivating Useful Connections


This is the first in a series entitled “Nomadic Encounters” – stories of cool projects seeded, germinated, and cultivated through encounters at Office Nomads.

When you get asked to a networking event, do you think “Cool! Free wine, cheese, and interesting new people!” or “Oh no! Cheesy people whining and trying to sell me things!”? That’s the dilemma Office Nomads faced – we know our members love to connect and create useful projects, but should we call it networking? “Networking” short-changes the real connections that happen within our community, and so instead we’d like to introduce you the first of many stories of “Nomadic Encounters.”

One project happening now is a member-driven idea called The Numad Program (it is an evolution of the Nomad-in-Residence Program if you remember that one). We selected one individual who was embarking on a professional transition, gave them a discounted resident membership, and most importantly collected a team of members who were interested in volunteering their time to help the “Numad” gain traction in their transition during a three-month period.

Our first Numad is Mandy Egle, a grammar and pronunciation coach for non-native English speakers. While Mandy is an expert possessing magical knowledge that unlocks the secret of saying “my car” differently from “mike are” – one that works fantastically whether your brain was wired listening to conversations in Bangladesh, Senegal, or Buenos Aires – she lacked the technical and business skills to upgrade her website,, into the best tool for learning.

“I’m forging ahead but I don’t know what I’m doing,” said Mandy. With the help of other Nomads like intellectual property attorney Mike Morita, designer and engineer Trevor Smith, financial analyst Javier Soto, game developer Pat Kemp, and myself, Mandy is creating a project plan to achieve her dream, a site “that learners can really interact with and learn from in a profound way.” One that includes gamification so learning is more engaging for students.

“As a teacher, I have a list of students’ excuses for why they aren’t advancing,” Mandy told us. From this she has been able to develop a number of tools and podcasts to help them practice more effectively when she can’t be there.

And while has been around since 2007, and now gets 70,000 visits per month, she wants to make that system more useful and available to students that live nowhere near Seattle. “We called it Project Morocco, because our vision was to enable Mustafa in Marrakesh to be able to speak as well as Cho in Seattle.”

What’s the goal? To double the usefulness of her site, to better help students around the world develop American English fluency so they can tap higher paying jobs, and to be virtually available 24/7/365 so she and her family can spend more time sailing their 37-foot cat-sloop named Rosie around the Salish Sea and Pacific Ocean.

Over the next few months, Mandy will meet with her team and develop a plan to make her transition happen. And I’ll be writing about it here; so stay in touch!

Kevin Owyang is a member of Office Nomads and Digital Strategist for Game-Changers. When not developing new strategies to amplify social entrepreneurs across new media, he can be found making independent films or hanging with his dog on Capitol Hill.


Biznik Special

Since our inception, Office Nomads has found a fantastic partner in Biznik, the small business networking hub that was founded in Seattle by our good friends Lara and Dan. Their slogan “going it alone, together,” could double as a slogan for Office Nomads. Biznik brings independent small-shop business people together to learn, share, and network for the collective strength of the small business community. Office Nomads is a big, big fan of our friends at Biznik.

With that in mind, we’re excited to announce a new special for our Biznik friends – get 50% off your first month of Part-Time membership at Office Nomads! That’s right – if you’re a Biznik member, you get yourself a sweet deal on your first month as a member of Office Nomads. Just show us your Biznik profile and we’ll be happy to extend the special to ya.

Sound good? Get in touch with us and let us know. Better yet, swing on by the office (M-F between 8:30 and 6) and we can tell you all about it in person.

4 Reasons to Join your Local Chamber of Commerce

Office Nomads is a member of our Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce.  And we are proud of it.  Particularly proud today, as the CHCC was featured in the Capitol Hill Times!

Why join your local chamber of commerce?  Let me give you a couple of reasons:

  1. It gets you engaged on a local level. As a member of the CHCC, we get regular communication digests from the Chamber about interesting events, important happenings in our neighborhood, as well as updates on what the Chamber is doing to represent us as Capitol Hill businesses.  It’s a great resource, it’s well put-together, and it is a constant reminder of the world that is right outside our door.
  2. They advocate for businesses. It may seem obvious, but one of the central roles of a Chamber of Commerce is to support the local businesses around them and ensure greater support from local government and individuals.
  3. Increased visibility of your business. Being a member of the CHCC has provided us with a certain amount of visibility that we could never get on our own. The Chamber offers marketing and publicity for its members that is simple and speaks directly to our audience: our neighborhood.
  4. Networking! I know, I know. There are a million outlets for networking these days. But the cool part about networking with your Chamber of Commerce is getting to connect and chat with businesses that are right around the corner. Some of them you know, and some of them you never would have heard of otherwise – the Chamber is a dynamic catchment system of businesses and organizations of all sizes and types that are all interested in supporting one another. It’s a no-brainer for us.

Got any other reasons you’d like to share?  Leave us a comment and let us know what you think!