Toolbox LA Member Spotlight: Alexa Almazan-Barajas

Toolbox LA Member Spotlight: Alexa Almazan-Barajas

Malcolm Forbes defines diversity in business as “the art of thinking independently together”. From audio engineers to computer programmers to marketers, the members who make up Toolbox LA are as diverse when it comes to their careers as they are impressive. The member we will be highlighting this week adds yet another profession to that list, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

This week’s spotlight goes out to the Director of Development and Donor Engagement at Minds Matter of Los Angeles: Alexa Almazan-Barajas, MPA, CFRE. Through her work and contributions at Minds Matter of Los Angeles, the organization has been able to help low-income students in Los Angeles and the surrounding area get accepted into a wide variety of prestigious colleges and universities around the country--Columbia University, Harvard University and Occidental College, just to name a few.

From test preparation to tutoring to building critical leadership skills, Minds Matter helps their students not only get accepted into universities but also teaches them how to expertly navigate the often-murky waters of higher education as well.

Here at Toolbox LA, we’re dedicated to empowering the people that make up the communities within the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles at large, and Alexa embodies this virtue to the nth degree. We’re happy to have her at our space.

A Little About Alexa:

What's your name?

Alexa Almazan-Barajas

Which is more your vibe?

Calm & centered

Growing up, what did you think you wanted to be?

I wanted to be a lawyer.

What makes the fire in your belly burn / what motivates you?

Being of service to others.

What's your favorite get sh*t done quote?

“In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.” - Albert Einstein

What brings you to Toolbox LA?

Growing my company.

Your company/startup/project's name?

Minds Matter of Los Angeles

What problem are you solving?

Helping low-income high school students get to and through college.

What's your website?

Community is important to me?



Want to join the community? Visit us at to book a tour today, or just come stop by and say hi at our Chatsworth location.

11:11 A Creative Collective and Toolbox LA Partnership

Introducing our new Artist In Residence program

At Toolbox LA, we believe that creativity plays an important role in developing next-generation products, platforms, and companies.

The evolution of our Artist In Residence program is reflective of the community we are building here at Toolbox LA. The art installations from previous Artist Residencies that were developed here are now cornerstones of the essence of what we are creating.

We are so excited to announce our new partnership with 11:11 A Creative Collective, whose mission is to provide a collaborative and educational multidisciplinary environment for artists and the public. The partnership will be through our Artist In Residency program until the end of the year.

11:11 ACC will bring art into our coworking space by commissioning site-specific art installations in two phases. The first phase will be a mural on the outside of the building that will represent the creative vibe that exists within these walls. The second phase will require full immersion by local artists who will become members of our community and will beautify the space from within.

Want to learn more about this program or recommend an artist? Visit their website at

Join us Monday, October 1st, 2018 for the Grand Opening of Toolbox LA and to kick off a week-long celebration of National Manufacturing Day in Los Angeles. Click here to RSVP.


About 11:11 ACC

Mission: To provide a collaborative and educational multidisciplinary environment for artists and the public. We support collaboration between artists and their community and facilitate the creation of art in areas where there is little to no access to the arts.

Vision: To inspire and affirm the importance of a developed, cohesive and accessible artistic community and to assure readily available and affordable resources for aspiring and emerging artists. We aim to accomplish this purpose by supporting and promoting funding for artists and art.

About Toolbox LA

Toolbox LA offers a shared, community-driven workspace for location-independent workers. We empower creators and technology-enabled startups with resources to collaborate and build their businesses. Our innovation hub includes coworking, shared desk space, dedicated desks, private offices, event space, a makerspace, hardware accelerator Make In LA, and biotech lab for startups Lab Launch.

Toolbox LA Member Spotlight: Dakota Shane

Toolbox LA Member Spotlights: Dakota Shane

A community is only as strong as the individuals who make it up. At Toolbox LA, we're cultivating a community of scrappy, ambitious individuals from all walks of life: entrepreneurs, remote workers, freelancers and more.

Over the course of the next two months, we're going to be shining a bright spotlight on the hustlers who make up our fast-growing coworking space. This week’s spotlight goes out to a member who you can usually find typing away at odd hours or scanning the Micro Market for his next snack: Dakota Shane, Columnist & Co-founder of Arctiphi.

With a little help from cold brew coffee, Dakota works around the clock to meet all his writing deadlines and to make the lives of his clients and readers a little bit easier, and we’re excited to have him as a member here at Toolbox LA.

A Little About Dakota:

What's your vibe?

Adrenaline Junkie

Growing up, what did you think you wanted to be?

Growing up, I always wanted to be an author. Initially, I thought it would be fiction though.

What makes the fire in your belly burn / what motivates you?

Helping entrepreneurs, small business owners in particular, meet their goals. Additionally, competition. I want to be the Lebron James of my industry and am determined to get there.

What brings you to Toolbox LA?

Taking my company to the next level and finding community within the southern California tech scene as I recently moved down here from the Bay Area...I also got tired of wrestling people for outlets at Starbucks.

What's your favorite get sh*t done quote?

My all-time favorite quote for motivation is actually my screensaver on my phone haha. It's "Don't be afraid to give up the good to go for the great." - John D. Rockefeller. Makes me feel a little better about leaving the startup world for entrepreneurship.

Your company/startup/project's name?


What problem are you solving?

We’re an agency specializing in social media marketing and ghostwriting. Many entrepreneurs have terrific products or services but lack the storytelling ability (or simply the time) to properly market and generate awareness for themselves. That’s where we come in.

What's your website?

Community is important to me. Yes or No.


What else should the Toolbox LA community know about you?

I write an internationally-circulated column for Inc. Magazine, am a Top Writer on Medium, have spoken at marketing conferences across North America as well as industry-leading podcasts, and am currently writing my first business book. I also love beer, think long walks on the beach are overrated and am a self-proclaimed Lebron James fanboy.


Want to join the community? Visit us at to book a tour today, or just come stop by and say hi at our Chatsworth location.

Toolbox LA Member Spotlights: Kevin Meyer

Kevin Meyer

Toolbox LA Member Spotlights: Kevin Meyer

A community is only as strong as the individuals who make it up. At Toolbox LA, we're cultivating a community of scrappy, ambitious individuals from all walks of life: entrepreneurs, remote workers, freelancers and more.

Over the course of the next two months, we're going to be shining a bright spotlight on the hustlers who make up our fast-growing coworking space. To start us off, we have one of our original Toolbox LA members--a guy whose tireless work ethic is matched only by his willingness to help other members with all their questions on marketing, design and much more: Kevin Meyer, CEO of Modern Alchemy.

Whether it's 10am on a Tuesday or midnight on a Sunday, Kevin's energy and passion for his craft is truly inspiring, and we're happy to have him as a community member here at Toolbox LA.

A Little About Kevin:

What's your name?

Kevin Meyer

Which is more your vibe?

Adrenaline Junkie

What brings you to Toolbox LA?

Growing my company.

Your company/startup/project's name?

Modern Alchemy.

What problem are you solving?

We're a creative agency that helps startups define their brand and stand out.

What's your website?

Community is important to me, yes or no?


What else should the Toolbox LA community know about you?

We're developing various other internal projects and are excited to share them with the Toolbox community for testing, feedback, and support. We're happy to be here and looking forward to growing alongside the community.


Want to join the community? Visit us at to book a tour today, or just come stop by and say hi at our Chatsworth location.

The Fallacy of Hustle

The Fallacy of Hustle

No matter if you’re an employee, an intern, or a founder, when it comes to startup life, long hours are a part of your reality. Yet, today, overwork isn’t just accepted, it’s becoming increasingly glorified and normalized by pop culture. Across today’s entrepreneurial community, specifically, an obsession with “hustle” is running rampant.


One of the primary drivers of this trend is the growing popularity of entrepreneurship as a whole. Being an entrepreneur has always required grit and long hours in exchange for a large potential payout when all is said and done. Now, with over 500,000 new businesses being launched every single month in the United States alone, everyone seems to be an entrepreneur. Couple this the fact that some tech founders have become celebrities (like Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk and more), and it’s little wonder why so many people think working 80 hours per week is a bulletproof strategy to wealth and success.

Another reason for the perpetuation of overwork is the fact we’re always connected to the online world. Now that most of us have the Gmail app installed on our smartphones, you can no longer avoid that angry email from a customer sent to you at midnight. You can no longer avoid that Slack message sent to you by your co-founder, or that negative Yelp review. While these tools are helpful in a lot of ways, they’re harmful in the sense that they never allow for anyone to truly be away from their work.

The intention behind the working hard is certainly good, but the interpretation is where things have gotten sticky. As a result, it’s becoming more clear than ever before that the concept of hustle has been taken overboard and is causing more harm than good in a lot of ways. Here are just a few of them.

Consequences of Overworking

#1. Negative Impact on Your Health

Research has linked longer working hours with depression, heart disease, and more. For instance, a study conducted in London amongst 10,000 white-collar workers found those who averaged notching 3 or more hours above a standard workday experienced a 60% higher risk of heart-related diseases relative to those who didn’t.

#2. Longer Hours Doesn’t Necessarily Correlate to Higher Output

Anyone who has ever pulled an all-nighter knows we certainly aren’t the sharpest, most alert version of ourselves the day after. By consistently being exhausted when you show up to work, you’re increasing the chances of making a mistake, whether big or small. In the business world, perception is reality, and even a couple misspelled words in an email might cause an investor or a client to question your attention to detail.

Don’t waste tomorrow by doing half-ass work late into the night. If you find yourself strapped for time at midnight, go to sleep and get up an hour earlier than usual. This way, you won’t be shooting yourself in the foot twice.

#3. Not Ideal For Good Habit Setting

Practicing regular, healthy habits is a critical piece to success in any field, but it’s especially important for founders. As the key decision maker at your organization, it’s in the best interest of your company that you’re always at your optimal state so you can function at a high level.

According to Aubrey Marcus (CEO of the innovative nutrition and lifestyle company, Onnit), CEOs and upper-level executives burn nearly as many calories during the day as professional athletes do. Because of this, people in positions of authority at organizations should to be in the best condition physically, emotionally and mentally day in, day out. By working extremely late and pounding Red Bulls, you’re setting yourself up for irregularity, inconsistency and poor habits by not having a routine set in place.

Additionally, according to a 2015 study by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, people who work long hours are more likely to participate in binge drinking. Lastly, those who work late are more than likely doing so on their computers. Research has found that overexposure to artificial light can negatively impact your REM (or “deep sleep”). You can remedy this by trying out the f.lux app, which dims your laptop brightness to a healthy level depending on the time of day.

What We Can Do About It

#1. Have Non-negotiable Me-time

Having non-negotiable me-time, where you take time to focus on self-care as opposed to work, is paramount to preserving a healthy work-life balance and overall wellbeing. Take up a hobby that will get you out of your comfort zone. Go to a meetup where you don’t know any of the attendees. Take your dog or significant other to the beach for a day.

As a startup founder, it’s easy to slip into the trap of throwing your entire identity into your business. To combat this, don’t just be “MacKenzie the Startup Founder”, but also be “MacKenzie the Rock Climber”, or  “MacKenzie the Photographer”. This will allow you to emotionally and physically detach yourself from your work, enabling you to recharge your batteries.

#2. Practice Mindfulness & Meditation

There’s a reason why mindfulness and meditation are spreading like wildfire: they both work. One of the most beneficial parts of mindfulness and meditation is allowing you to let go of the things you have zero control over. To get started, try downloading an app like Headspace, or search for local meditation groups.

#3. Set Mental Boundaries

One of the easiest ways to detach yourself from work is to set mental boundaries which separate your work life from your home life. For instance, if you use your laptop all day in the office, consider only using your tablet or smartphone for browsing the web when you get home. If you have a home office, consider having a strict policy of not working in any other room of the house. What this will do is create psychological triggers in your brain that will make you associate one area with leisure and relaxation and one with work.

You can also use a tool like AppDetox which enables you to set boundaries for app usage within your own smartphone, allowing you to take regular digital detoxes.

#4. Take a damn vacation!

If your business can’t run without you for a week, then you’ve built it wrong. Plain and simple. If you don’t have talented members of your team who you can trust to keep the business afloat while you’re gone, it’s about time to start looking for new hires.

It’s no secret that maintaining a healthy work-life balance is tough for entrepreneurs and members of the startup community. Despite the fact that long hours, every now and then, are inevitable, hustling yourself to death is never the right answer.

Thanks for reading.

The Founder’s Guide to Marketing Automation

If you’re in the process of launching a business, chances are you’ve experienced just how tedious marketing can become. As an entrepreneur, freelancer or business professional, you’ve got a million other things to worry about: sales, product market fit, client calls, walking your dog, you name it.

Partly as a way to cope with how time-consuming marketing often is, automation has become a hot topic across the landscape in recent years. Yet, despite the popularity of marketing automation, knowing where and how to start is often unclear. Additionally, according to Hubspot, most entrepreneurs and marketers are unhappy with their automation systems, so it’s apparent all the kinks haven’t been ironed out yet.

That being said, the dissatisfaction many entrepreneurs are experiencing can be traced back to this common misconception about marketing automation: by applying it, you’ll never have to worry about marketing again.

While we aren’t too far from AI-powered marketing assistants, believing automation can be applied to all stages of your marketing funnel is far from the truth. The top of the marketing funnel (consisting of brainstorming campaigns, creating content and overall strategy) isn’t anywhere close to being automated, so whipping out the whiteboard is something you’ll need to do for years to come. For now, only the middle of the marketing funnel (responding to direct messages, sending thank-you emails to newsletter subscribers, etc.) is capable of being automated.

Once this idea sinks in, the fun of automation can begin. The primary aspects of your marketing which you can automate are social media marketing, email marketing, and landing pages. Here’s how to get started with all three.

Automating Your Social Media Marketing

It’s hard to think of a more time-consuming task than social media. While most entrepreneurs know how essential social is to keeping their community up-to-date with their brand, very few of them want to spend their precious time responding to Tweets from angry customers. To help ease the load, here are some areas of social media you can automate, plus how to do it.

Publishing Content

Publishing is the main part of social media that you can (and should) be automating. By using tools like Hootsuite, Buffer or Agorapulse, you’ll be able to “set it and forget it”, saving yourself loads of time throughout the content creation process. You can also use a tool like Tweetdeck to pre-schedule Tweets.

Another fantastic pre-scheduling app is MeetEdgar. The thing that makes MeetEdgar unique is it automatically recycles and publishes past content you’ve created across different categories (blog posts, YouTube videos, Tweets, etc.) so you don’t have to manually comb through your content graveyard to find something to repost.

Repurposing Your Content Across Multiple Platforms

Another time-sucking task within social media is republishing pieces of content across multiple social media platforms. That’s where applications like IFTTT or Zapier come in handy. With these tools, you’ll be able to set up a number of “triggers” that’ll spare you from copying and pasting content from one platform to the next.

Whether you’re looking to automatically send Tweets out every time you publish a new blog post, republish your Instagram posts to Twitter or anything else, chances are high you’ll find what you’re looking for in IFTTT.

Pro Tip: IFTTT even has a whole collections page dedicated to “applets” (their fancy word for triggers) designed specifically for social media.

Things to Avoid

Before you get too excited and automate every last part of your social media, it’s important to be cognizant of some common rookie mistakes that could make you appear tacky and inauthentic if used improperly.

#1.) Automated Direct Messages

Most of us have been a victim of these canned responses on Twitter, LinkedIn and beyond. These messages are typically sent immediately after you follow someone, and they almost always contain an unsolicited pitch asking you to download an ebook, subscribe to them on YouTube or whatever else the person wants from you. While these messages may seem harmless, keep in mind they could easily make your brand come off as needy, self-serving or both.

Just because someone made eye contact with you doesn’t mean they want you to ask them on a date. Similarly, just because someone followed you on social media doesn’t mean you two are best friends and future business partners. In short, when it comes to automation, use discretion.

#2.) Buying Fake Followers

Steer clear of tools that automatically add followers to your social media profiles. In addition to looking shady, the possible repercussions make it far from worth the risk. Anyone could use a tool like Social Blade to discover you bought followers, causing people to lose trust in your brand.

I know it’s tempting, especially after a long day in the office working on every other aspect of your business besides social media. That being said, it’s better to have 100 engaged, real followers than 10,000 bots that could damage your reputation if you got exposed.

Automating Your Email Marketing

Let’s make this clear: email marketing is far from dead. In fact, it’s one of the safest ways to cultivate and sustain a community of loyal users over a long period of time. With social media platforms like Vine and Meerkat rising and dying right before our eyes, it’s best to never build your house on rented land when it comes to marketing. In order to start building a house of your own, you’ll need an email list.

Some amazing tools to help take the tedium out of email marketing are Mailchimp, Autopilot, and Constant Contact. These platforms help you seamlessly create email templates, send out emails to distinct segments of your list, and much more.

When it comes to automating your email marketing, arguably the most useful feature these platforms can provide you with is segmentation. Simply put, segmentation allows you to automatically send distinct emails to members of your audience in different stages of your marketing funnel. For instance, anyone who signs up for your next promotion via email would receive a “thank you” message while anyone who didn’t sign up for it would receive a follow-up email covering the promotion in further detail, and more.

There are endless tricks you can do with your email marketing. Start by watching a YouTube tutorial or two (or ten) covering the email marketing platform you choose to utilize.

Automating Your Landing Pages

A solid landing page could mean the difference between you converting 0.2% of your leads into paying customers or 20%. Lucky for all of us, it’s a whole lot easier to create landing pages today than it was in years past. Prior to tools like Instapage hitting the marketplace, designers and developers would usually need to create a unique landing page from scratch for their marketing campaigns.

Now, with apps like Leadpages, you can easily create proven, high-converting pages to promote your next product launch, webinar, blog post or anything else you’re looking to get more eyeballs on.

On your homepage, you can also automate the email capturing process by integrating your website with a product like List Builder from Sumo, which creates pop-up pages to make sure you don’t miss out on engaged visitors.

It’s true that marketing can get extremely time consuming. While there will always be a lot of legwork involved, there definitely are ways to optimize your time and automate the mindless portions of the process. Start by automating these 3 facets of your marketing. Once you do, you’ll already be 10 steps ahead of your competitors.

The Future of Work: Coworking

We live in an exciting time, to say the least. With self-driving cars beginning to rove the streets of American cities, supercomputers outperforming top contestants on Jeopardy and drones delivering goods right to our doorstep, it’s become crystal clear technology is moving faster than ever before and re-sculpting the world around us — and the way we work is no exception.

How we work, where we work, and even why we work is changing by the day, and it’s up to us to adapt or risk falling behind. The gig economy is in full swing. Freelance work is projected to make up 43% of the US workforce by 2020. According to CareerBuilder, from 2016 to 2017 alone, the US saw a 47% increase in the number of entrepreneurs who claimed they would be hiring freelancers during the calendar year.

Remote work is also becoming more common than ever. Employers are becoming open to the idea of remote work, with 43% of American workers doing at least some of their work remotely in 2016, according to a Gallup poll.

Undoubtedly, a lot is changing in terms of the idea of work, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down.

The Future of Work

So what exactly will the future of work entail? Well, to start, the future of work will include a lot more coworking spaces, home offices, and work-from-home days. The future of work will welcome and encourage more programs like Remote Year, where patrons travel the world as a collective while working from cafes and hotel rooms. The future of work will see a rise in the number of digital nomads, entrepreneurs, and freelancers.

Most importantly though, the future of work will be driven by what makes us, as workers, the happiest. Maybe it’s working from home in your Ninja Turtles pajama pants. Perhaps it’s being surrounded by other like-minded entrepreneurs in a coworking space, or maybe even being your own boss as a self-employed graphic designer.

No matter who you are, as long as you’re open to adapting and are able to embrace change, the future of work is for you.

What’s Causing This?

A number of factors are helping to shift the way we work. Here are a few of them:

The Rise of the Freelance Economy

As mentioned, the freelance economy is growing. There are many reasons for this. One is companies have been forced to become more agile and lean within the ever-changing marketplace we live in, making it less than optimal to hire full-time employees. Another reason is the rise of startups and entrepreneurship at large. With more companies being launched than in previous decades, work needs to get done fast and oftentimes on a budget.

As a result of increased demand for freelance work, there are also platforms like Upwork and Fiverr which have taken off and enabled many to make a full-time income with their skills as well as streamlined the entire process of finding, hiring and paying freelancers, making it easier than ever before to make money as a freelance worker.

A Remote-Friendly World

In 2016, 43% of American workers did at least some of their work remotely, up from 39% in 2012. During the same time frame, the number of full-time remote workers also rose from 15% to 20%.

It’s evident that companies are becoming more receptive to remote work. One reason is the advent of technology to facilitate working from home. Today, it’s often quicker to send a Slack message than it is to get up from your desk and walk across the office, so remote work is beginning to make more sense than ever. Research is also showing that remote work is making employees feel happier, more appreciated, and productive.

The Proliferation of Coworking Spaces

Whether you’re a remote worker or a solopreneur, working from home definitely isn’t for everyone, especially if you have kids or pets to worry about. Coffee shops aren’t always ideal either, as anyone who’s ever had to fight for an electrical outlet can agree on.

Because of this and all the factors listed in this article, it’s no wonder why coworking spaces are seeing an average annual growth rate of 23%, with projections expected to rise to 3.8 million coworkers and 26,000 spaces by 2020. 

Benefits of Coworking Spaces

Considering signing up for a membership at a coworking space? There are a lot of benefits to becoming a member at one. Here are just a few of those benefits:

Collaborating and networking with other entrepreneurs.

One of the biggest perks of joining a coworking space is the proximity to countless movers and shakers across various industries. This can make coworking spaces a “referral heaven” for your business if you take the time to build relationships with the people around you. Additionally, productivity is contagious, and being surrounded by so many other ambitious individuals is like having a gym partner to keep you accountable.

Being smart about your budget.

Whether you’re a startup founder with investors watching your burn rate like its Game 7 of the World Series or a solopreneur squeezing the value out of every penny, being smart about where you spend your money as a business is crucial to success. For many, it just doesn’t make much sense to blow $4,000 per month on a rundown office space. A coworking space provides members with an affordable, always-on option to come and go on their own schedule.

A physical space just works.

There are many upsides to having a physical office space versus a home office or virtual office. One is it provides you with a professional environment to bring clients in for meetings, brainstorming sessions and more. Another is a lesser known fact: many universities won’t accept internships from companies with home offices or virtual offices. Thus, if you have a home office but are in need of additional help from quality interns, you may not be eligible to get that top talent.

Working on your own schedule.

Most coworking spaces are open 24/7. Whether you’re a weekend warrior startup founder still working a 9–5 job to pay the bills, a freelancer who works evenings, or just someone who enjoys sleeping in, a coworking space will be able to accommodate your schedule.

The future of work is one that’s both exciting and a little scary. Nonetheless, by becoming aware of the changes happening right now and the changes coming in the future, you’ll be better equipped to effectively navigate the landscape like a pro.

About Toolbox LA

We’re developing a rich community of startup founders, freelancers, and entrepreneurs within the largest innovation hub in southern California. By connecting our members with all the resources they need, from mentorship to 3D printers to cold brew coffee, we bring the best amenities to some of the best and brightest founders LA has to offer. Book a tour to learn more today.

Why I Cowork In Los Angeles

 Why I Cowork in Los Angeles

Guest blog post by James Green

I work a lot! It seems that if I’m not eating, sleeping, or doing homework with my kids, I’m working. I don’t say that as though it’s some badge of honor. The truth is most adults spend more time at work with people they aren’t related to than they do with the people they love most. It’s not a bad thing, just a fact of life. But if we’re going to spend the majority of our time at an office away from our loved ones, we should love what we do and where we do it.

Since I quit my job as CMO of, I have been working at various places all over Los Angeles. Some days I go back to my old offices and borrow a desk for the day, other days I go to the office of one of the investors for my new business, but most days I go to a space specifically designated for coworking. There are a handful of reasons I prefer working in a coworking space over working from home or going to a traditional office.

  • Community and Connection

Growing up, I moved a lot and as a result, changed schools frequently. I went to 8 schools between third grade and high-school graduation, which taught me how to make friends quickly. Most people are longing for a sense of belonging and want meaningful relationships. When you cowork, you look across the room and have a sense that all of the people here are striving to make their dreams come true. Co-Entrepreneurs. Co-Dreamers. Co-Workers. Co-Friends.

  • Environment and Inspiration

Having worked out of a few coworking spaces, it’s easy to see how hard this is to create but wow, my current coworking space at Toolbox LA has this down. It’s a new coworking space, but the space has energy, emotion, and beauty. The exposed ceilings show the grit of a building that has been reborn. While some of the art is a bit weird, it has a creativity and rawness that reflects back on the people who are equally weird, creative, and beautiful.

  • Flexibility and Variability

The part of my entrepreneurial soul that drives me to create a better service for transaction coordinators also seems to breed a restlessness that makes sitting at the same desk every day challenging. Coworking makes it easy to try a new desk every day or even multiple times during the day. I can move next to the window to remind myself what the outdoors look like (I told you I work a lot) or go to a secluded area to knock out 40-50 emails in an hour. However I’m feeling, I’m not limited to an assigned desk nor am I limited to only working next to my small but growing team.

I love coworking, but if I can continue to build my business and my team (knock on wood), we’ll likely need to move into a space of our own. Hopefully, when that time comes, we will be able to take a few of things we love about coworking and build those same elements into our own space, to build our own community.

Written By

James Green is an entrepreneur with 15 years of experience in the online dating, pet, and real estate industries. In addition to being Founder and CEO of a transaction coordinator business and a startup helping home buyers and sellers find a real estate agent, he also has extensive experience in marketing and business management. Previously, James served on the Board of the Google Client Advisory Council while working as General Manager and Head of Marketing for Christian Mingle. He is a member of Toolbox LA  in Los Angeles.







The Future of Work Event Recap

L-R Kurt Braget, Mitchell Englander, Kristoff Newsom, Eric Gradman, Thom Pulliam, Mike Hexter

Producing events is one of the many exciting parts of my role as Community Director at Toolbox LA. One of my core values is innovation; I truly believe that all people and companies should be innovating on a daily basis. A progressive mindset with forward-thinking ideals creates the lens in how I formulate ideas for events, hence the topic “The Future of Work” for one of the first of many events.

When you search the hashtag #thefutureofwork on Twitter, the results that return are quite fascinating. Various people from around the globe are sparking conversations with a plethora of opinions, perspectives, and cold hard facts on how the workplace is evolving.

My intention for creating a panel discussion on the future of work was to inspire our community to see the future in a positive light and to reflect on how their projects are contributing and keeping up. I decided to bring in speakers with expertise in hardware, blockchain, coworking, and innovation as the starting point. Once the idea was born, now it was time to execute.

The first step was to create a mission statement that described the event. Then, a visual component that would embody the essence of what I was aspiring to create. I am by no means a graphic designer, but my propensity for aesthetically pleasing media was enough to find resources and means to create a flyer. I searched for an abstract concept, “connection”, on a license-free, stock image website and downloaded a graphic that represented the concept visually. Then I used the platform Canva to create the flyer and made sure it conveyed the spirit of innovation, progress, and technology. Once that was assembled I started reaching out to secure speakers. I knew this aspect would be key to a successful event.

Fortunately, I was able to source excellent speakers to present and participate in a panel discussion. I am truly grateful to the following people for their contribution to making this a success:

  • Eric Gradman, CTO of Two Bit Circus

  • Mike Hexter, Founder of HexLab MakerSpace

  • Evelin Weber, founder of Narra Life

  • Thom Pulliam, Creative Strategist for clients such as Google, Amazon and MetLife
  • Kristoffer Newsom, Research and Development, 

  • Kurt Braget, Co-Founder of White Rabbit ICOs

  • Mitchell Englander, Los Angeles City Councilmember

There were many moving parts to the event and overall it was a favorable outcome. The opening hour of networking was a bit lighter than I expected and that is an area to improve upon. However, from what I’ve heard from other event organizers, the networking part can often be sparse unless there’s some compelling feature such as an open bar or gourmet food. We provided free tacos but looking back, I realize I did not publicize enough. Something to consider for next time.

The panel discussion was superb; it was a hot debate with differing opinions, something you definitely want to happen. When the speakers all have the same opinions and simply agree with one another, it’s not as exciting to watch. They were respectful, thoughtful, and spoke from experience. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. Considering this was my first time moderating a panel, I have to say it was a top-notch experience and set the bar high for our next event.

Thank you to all who attended and participated. We are continuing the conversation on Twitter with #thefutureofwork and will be hosting a series of events around the topic here at Toolbox LA. Stay up to date with what’s happening by checking our event list on the website and following our Facebook Events Feed.

Blog Post By:

Raychel Espiritu


Artist-in-Residence Interview: Anna Karakalou

Artist’s Name

Anna Karakalou

What is your job title?

Artist in Residence

Where can we find your work?


Where did you grow up?

Between Chicago and Athens, Greece

What did you think you wanted to be when you were in HS?

An artist or a writer

What did you study in college and what was your first job?

I have a BA in Fine Arts and English Lit, and I have an MA in Media Arts. My first job was a Radio Presenter in Cyprus.

How did you get connected to Toolbox LA and why were you interested in enhancing the space?

Through my friend and neighbor Luther Gerlach. When he showed me the space my mind exploded with ideas; it was all just a big, beautifully enticing blank canvas.

When did you discover you had an artistic talent?

My parents gave me a pencil when I was 2. I started drawing little tiny creatures like Richard Scary (not at 2, but soon thereafter). We moved back and forth between Athens and the US quite a bit when I was young, so drawing was the one thing that could always keep me company.

What piece of work are you most proud of? 

I've worked on a lot of cool projects as a scenic artist, but none of them were "my own". Recently I put on a solo show of work I've done in the past two years since losing my father, who was a world-class stained glass artist. I wanted to put together a book for the show that could show the work and be a tribute to my dad. It ended up being a 56-page coloring book of all of the art, done in the style of my dad's stained glass; with millions of tiny pieces that don't make sense until you pull the color together as a whole. It has, quite unexpectedly, been a very fulfilling project, which has inspired more projects in that vein (and is even a watercolor calendar put out in Portland by Print & Grain). My father always wanted me to make children's books, I feel like I'm meeting him halfway.

What will you conquer next in your artistic journey? What do you want to learn or try or accomplish?

I am all about trying to make the most beautiful piece I can make. I am interested in creating worlds where projection and soundscapes interact with my painting in a way that feels new and nostalgic at the same time. I have put up shows that are like this on a short-term basis, but I would love to create a permanent, sculptural surface, where analog and digital art meet, possibly in a way that invites the viewer to participate or adapt the images for themselves, either through an app or with a connected tablet.

Sneak Peek: Anna is currently working on this awesome project at ToolBox LA

When you aren’t  working on your art, how do you spend your time?

I travel a lot. I take a lot of classes. I go to Artist's Residencies to meet other like-minded people and to discover new facets of my own creativity. I also go to a lot of stand up comedy shows. I spend the rest of the time doting on my favorite people, my niece and nephew, Maya (1) and Yiannaki (4).

Best place(s) you've ever traveled to?

Nothing compares to Greece, but everyone has its own magic. I think the most unique experience I've had was going to Zanzibar on my own (my husband doesn't crave travel the way I do so I always wind up in these weird places by myself and realize too late, hey, this probably isn't super safe). I also really love the forests of Finland. Two completely opposite landscapes.

How would your mother describe your personality?

My mom was a model/make up artist and I always felt like she wasn't really into having such a tomboy for a daughter when I was little. Right now I would be embarrassed to write all the gushy things she says about me. She mostly says that I'm generous and sensitive with a heart of gold and that's all I'm willing to say...

What's your favorite get sh*t done quote?

It used to be "I'll sleep when I'm dead" but now I'm a sleep addict after all those years I denied myself so I just say "I'm Tetrising" when I'm getting things done.