Storytelling: Your Secret Business Weapon

For countless marketers, copywriters, and agencies, storytelling is a powerful business tool. It connects businesses to customers, builds brand (personal and business), and boosts sales. It’s a pretty darn persuasive thing.

The best part is, you don’t have to be a storyteller, creative, or writer to craft and tell your business story. If you have a business, you have a story to tell.

At SOCO, we’re focused on helping every member’s business succeed. That includes helping them explain what they do and why. In October’s Slack Session, a diverse group of business owners joined us to talk about their story and how they’re using it in their business.

Stories Inspire and Motivate

We kick off most Slack Sessions with a warm up poll, but we broke the rules this month and asked a warm up question instead. We wanted to know what stories (of any kind) have really stuck with our members.

With inspiration like this, it’s no wonder our members are successful.

Beginnings, Middles, and (Really Cool) Ends

Most storiesin real life and in novelshave beginnings, middles and ends. Since everything big starts small, we asked our members what kind of humble beginnings they’ve experienced in their own journeys.

The middle of everyone’s story is what they’re living and working on now; it’s the ground between how they started and where they’re headed. Speaking of where they’re headed, SOCO members have some seriously cool end goals in mind:

Talk about stories worth telling and sharing!

It’s Not Easy Though (We Need Each Other)

While every one of our members has an awesome story, finding and refining those stories isn’t always easy.

Some of us work in complex spaces or in industries that are traditionally seen as “boring.” Good stories also involve vulnerability, and it’s not easy to open up. As we’ve seen from other Slack Sessions, running a business is damn hard and none of us get it right all the time.

Lastly, as Bill pointed out, it’s easy to forget that it’s not about us. At least, not totally. The most persuasive stories of all position our customers (not ourselves!) as heroes.

One of the things we love about SOCO, though, is it gives us a chance to constantly tell our stories. As we work alongside other members who are wrestling with their business, we have the chance to refine and grow our own.

Don’t miss the next Slack chat!  

Already a member? Join the #Slack_Sessions channel in Slack for details on the next hangout. They’re typically the second Friday of every month at 2pm.

Not yet a member? Schedule a SOCO tour todayit’s free and you’re guaranteed to meet a few of our rockstars. Once you sign up, membership at SOCO gives you full access to conversations like these and the people who participate.

Let’s tell a great story, together.

SOCO Knowledge Bomb: Productivity

We’re better when we work together.

That’s one of the reasons SOCO exists. It’s also the reason Slack Sessions exist. Slack Sessions are monthly chats hosted in SOCO’s Slack community. They’re focused on helping members work better, think bigger, and live life on their terms. From productivity to creativity, these sessions are a way for members to tap the collective brain power of the SOCO Community. They’re facilitated, real-time and relevant. They exist because this community believes we all do better work when we work together. And we’re sharing insights with you because one of SOCO’s core values is growing and learning together.

SOCO kicked off Slack Sessions earlier this year and, for the very first session, members gathered together for an online chat about productivity.

Why productivity?

Because there’s only one of you! Not to mention some of the world’s most successful people have mastered their workflow and days so much that it feels like they have clones. That means real productivity is totally possible. The tough thing is, you can find a million click-baity links on the topic of productivity but tried-and-true applications are scarce. What actually works? How do creators and business owners get stuff done? How do our members apply an internet’s worth of advice to their real-life work days?

Our community is full of folks who have hammered out these questions – and incredible work – for years. So for insights deeper than clickbait, we turned to them. Check out four takeaways (just a fraction of the conversation!) below.

1. Tools are pretty darn helpful

It’s no surprise that this tech-savvy crew has the low-down on the best productivity tools. A few apps you might recognize:

And then some tools that might surprise you:

We’re not kidding about that last one. Check out Jordan’s response to see how that tool has saved her hours.

2. The secret to using tools well? Having an overall approach.

Turns out, our members’ biggest secret to productivity isn’t what tool they use but how and why they use it. Some of the top approaches included:

  • Making lists, on paper or in a digital format
  • The rule of 3: identifying the three things that need to happen in a day
  • Following model work weeks
  • Creating and managing deadlines


3. You’ll get more done if you’re proactive about distractions

Members know they lose a lot of time to the internet, meetings, Twitter and phone notifications. But they’re not the kind of crew that sits back and does nothing about that:


4. It’s fact: some tasks are boring.

So it’s important to self-motivate. You could do that with a healthy dose of structure and deadlines, plus a sprinkling of consistency.

Or you could do it by building a sense of accomplishment.

Or if neither of those help, members shared that they’re particularly motivated by visualizing the end result and keeping the overarching “why” in mind.

This is good stuff. Don’t miss out on insights.

Want to get the whole scoop? That requires you to actually be in our #slack_sessions as a member. Sound like a community you want to be a part of? We’d love to chat with you, too. Check out memberships here.

Already a member? Awesome. Join the #Slack_Sessions channel today so you can stay up to date on the next chat!

Goal Setting Focus Plan

Goal Setting Focus Plan

I have historically not been a strong advocate for Goal Setting. I mean I’ve set goals and worked towards them, but the official “setting of goals” thing… You know writing them down and all that. It always seemed like the goals I was hearing other people set were just pulled out of thin air. For example; Generate $100,000 of income this calendar year, or lose 30lbs by this time next year. They always just sounded hollow and not very thought out to me. My thinking was why not just live life better and do what you say you’re going to do… right?

I am at least humble enough to admit when I am wrong…

About three years ago I met Mark Divine a Navy SEAL and founder of SEALFIT, among his many other accolades. Knowing him and utilzing him as a mentor he has changed my life in so many ways, but the one that has affected me the most is the way he sets goals. In his book The Way of the Seal: Think Like an Elite Warrior to Lead and Succeed he outlines a system called P.R.O.P. that helps you develop a clear course of action to work toward and accomplish your goal(s). P.R.O.P. stands for (Priorities, Realities, Options, and Path). The details go like this:

  • Priorities: First of all a good goal is something that is of high-value to you personally. Make a list of a half dozen really important things in your life and then pick the top three.
  • Realities: Be honest and clear with yourself about your current situation in life and how much influence it will have on your goals. How does your current situation help or hamper your ability to achieve those goals.
  • Options: After you’ve reviewed your prioritized goals and thought through your personal situation as it relates to them, write out three things you can do to achive each of your goals. It’s ok to combine things from other goals as well here.
  • Path: Now that you have a few choices for a course of action, which one fits you the best right now? This becomes your path for developing a real plan to accomplish your chosen goal(s).

One of the big secrets is to literally write this stuff down. Make it public if you dare, do whatever helps drive you to complete your tasks that push you to the finish line on achieving your goals.

I have put together a worksheet, that you can download, based on an older model that Mark Divine sent me that I have tweaked over the years to suit how I work. I am sharing it with you now in hopes that it will help you focus in on your own set of personal goals and find lasting success.

Goal Setting Focus Plan

Good luck!

If you like the concept behind this post on goal setting, join us March 22nd for our Create Your Life Series as we explore the Warrior Mindset to learn to lead and succeed in life and in your business.

2016 Year in Review Part 2: A Growing Movement

2016 Year in Review Part 2: A Growing Movement

In Part 1 of our Year in Review, we focused on our community and shared some of our members’ proudest moments in 2016. In Part 2, we take a moment to reflect on SOCO, the entity, and give ourselves a little pat on the back for what we’ve been able to accomplish.

Member Growth

This thing started with 5 people and a pretty simple challenge: to build something that would create a sense of place for Soda City’s creative economy, a place that we hoped would help keep some of our friends in town that thought they couldn’t be the best version of themselves here. Three years later, the SOCO community is now home to more than 70 of our city’s most creative, entrepreneurial and inspiring people. In less than one year, we’ve doubled the size of this community. They represent all different kinds of creators: Graphic designers, web developers, content strategists, digital project managers, journalists, remote workers, indie authors, independent contractors, software developers, social media gurus, entrepreneurs, hustlers.

SOCO Community

They all have one thing in common. They believe in community, they are taking ownership over their futures and they love what they do every day. So, to all of our members…thank you for being a part of something bigger than any one of us. And we’re just getting started…


2016 saw the next leg vision unfold with the opening of our second location at The Bakery at BullStreet. We’re so thankful to have partnered with Hughes Development on the design/build of this historic building on the Bull Street Campus and to our friends at The Iron Yard choosing to grow with us and anchor the project with their new Columbia Campus. It’s historic, it’s beautiful, it’s got great coffee, good people, ridiculously fast internet (thanks to Spirit Communications), and it’s all part of our long-term vision to build a network of connected spaces all over our city and beyond where creators can work where they want, when they want and on their terms.

SOCO Bull Street

A Year of Great Stories

What a year. Check out some of media and coverage we were a part of this year. Huge thanks to all our supporters for following us and helping to tell this story powerfully.


We worked with some incredible organizations this year that share our vision for community and creation. Thank you all for your partnership and for doing big things with us:

For 2017, we’re setting the bar higher and have plans to do even more in collaboration, community-building, and communications. We’re looking forward to you growing with us in the new year!

2016 Year in Review Part 1: A Community of Creators

If we’ve learned anything on this journey to change the way people work, connect and create, its that a community’s core is its people. Movements, organizations, startups, and other game changing efforts are all driven by passionate people on a quest create better lives for themselves and others around them. SOCO is no different. We’re so excited to share some of our community’s wins over the past year and we hope they inspire you to think bigger.

Moultrie Ball (RumbleLab wins Ignite Ideas Competition) – Congrats to member RumbleLabs on winning the EngenuitySC Ignite Ideas Competition 2016. Don’t spend all that money in one place.

Terrance Smith (Hacker Ferret Survives 1st Year) – Huge congrats to SOCO member Terrance Smith on launching and surviving his first year as a software business with Hacker Ferret. Check out his year in review here.

Sarra Cannon (Indie Author Reaches 500,000 books sold) – Being an “indie” anything is hard work. Being an indie author is about has hard as they come. So, when SOCO member and self-published author Sarra Cannon reached her 500,000th book sold, we couldn’t resist celebrating this HUUUUGE accomplishment. Sarra has penned some incredible work for teens with The Shadow Demons Saga, the Sacrifice Me Series and the Eternal Sorrows Trilogy. Keep rocking Sarra!

Colin Griffin (Krumware Sets Sights on World Domination w/ growth) – Krumware was born when member SOCO Colin Griffin exited out of the Mariner Group, a software company that was acquired while he was an employee. In less than 2 years, Krumware has made a name for itself as a leading progressive web applications company providing software solutions that can enable real time data and content distribution for both the enterprise and the individual. A team of 1 has become a team of five and we’re super excited to see what the next 5 years holds for Colin.

Christiaan Burner (Quicket Solutions lands in SC) – Quicket Solutions is an Illinois-based startup company providing data & analytics software for law enforcement. In 2016, they decided to enter the South Carolina market and join the SOCO Nation right here in Soda City. They picked Columbia because it’s centrally located, they love the market and think it’s “an excellent city to attract/retain our team”. #truth. Welcome to the Dirty South, Quicket Solutions!

Andrew Askins, Austin Price, Bill Brower – We’re especially proud of the Kritters, who started their company while still in college. Soon after all three graduated, they transitioned KRIT away from product development to focus on being a full time digital studio. In the last year, they brought on a 4th teammate, increased their revenue FIVE times over, and moved their company headquarters to Charleston. We’re anxiously waiting to see what this talented crew comes up with next.

While many of our members had major wins for their companies, we know that winning isn’t just about work. Some of our members shared wins that were both professional and personal.

Gaile Brown

The one thing I’m proud of this year is my commitment to being a Roadie for the AIDS/LifeCycle event, which consists of bringing awareness to HIV/AIDS, fundraising and spending a week of 12 to 15 hours a day supporting the cyclists from SF to LA along the California coast.

Secondly, after finally getting a contract at BCBSSC, and being thrown into the fire for my first project, which was previously owned by two developers over a total of 4 – 5 months, I completed it within five weeks. I continually ask my client if there are any problems, and each time he responds, ‘none so far’.

Sean Alan Boyd

Sold my small company that I started 5 years ago. Coordinated a large festival. Managed the first half of a large commercial renovation project. (2nd half is in 2017). Ran my first 5k. Ran my first 10k. Lost 14 lbs.

Amy Wise

It’s a long drawn out story, but my big win came after taking a chance with a small company that went bankrupt after 1 month of me being hired. I left the cozy comfort of a corporate company to work for this small company. I was worried, anxious, and scared being out of a job so soon after leaving a corporate cushion. Then a friend offered me a job with her growing internet marketing firm. I took the leap and joined her 1 man team to give her breathing room to think about growing her company. Now, I would never look back! I love working for FGM Internet Marketing, LLC and helping to use my creative voice that has been caged for 8+ years at my previous job.

Rachel Napolitano

My WIN for 2016 was taking the leap. I began the year still at a job that was not right for me, but it was a way to pass the time and it brought home a steady paycheck. After a trip to Yellowstone, I came back to work, sat in the conference room for our weekly meeting, and within 5 minutes knew I needed to get out of there. That afternoon I left that job, and by the end of the week was at SOCO, working on my first freelance gig among a community of movers and thinkers. People joke that 2016 was awful between the election, killer clowns, and beloved celebrity deaths, but I will always look back at it as the summer I found the drive to pursue a creative career! I’m not sure why this year was the year to make it happen, but all of a sudden all paths led to writing, and it was something I just had to do.

Joseph Lemmons

My biggest win was getting hired by an agency I’ve admired since landing in Columbia. Going from an independent back to agency life has been just as big a change as stepping out on my own, but I have been rewarded with a great work family, strong support, amazing clients with awesome projects, and more stability for my family. I don’t feel like I’ve compromised myself in any way, and I can see a growth path — so as the year winds down, I am still quite confident that I made the right move.

Zoltan Borbely

No client wants to deal with an irritable cranky vendor with bags under their eyes. Exhaustion can lead to missed details, a lower quality product and an unpleasant experience for customers. Being well rested is a critical component of being able to perform at the highest level.

We’re proud that this incredibly talented bunch of people call SOCO “home” and we look forward to cheering along with them on their journeys to the top.

Tell us – what were your big wins in 2016? Share with us on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #SOCOWins2016. We want to celebrate with you, too!

Join SOCO, The Iron Yard and Project Partners for Opening Day at the Historic Bakery at Bull Street

Join SOCO, The Iron Yard and Project Partners for Opening Day at the Historic Bakery at Bull Street


Join SOCO, The Iron Yard and Project Partners for Opening Day at the Historic Bakery at BullStreet, Oct. 7, 2016

SOCO and The Iron Yard Join Spirit Communications, Hughes Development Corporation, 1×1 Design and Buchanan Construction Services in Celebrating the Launch of S.C.’s First Urban Gigabit Community

Oct. 3, 2016 (COLUMBIA, S.C.) – Opening day festivities, including a noon ribbon cutting, will be held on Oct. 7, 2016 at the Bakery at BullStreet, the latest historic building to be renovated as part of the 20-year redevelopment of the 181-acre former S.C. State Hospital campus in downtown Columbia, South Carolina. The first phase of the planned BullStreet Technology Village, the Bakery at BullStreet boasts gigabit-speed broadband internet service — powered by Spirit Communications’ world-class fiber and technology platform — for users at the SOCO co-work and event space and The Iron Yard Columbia web development school. The Bakery at BullStreet building is located at 1721 Saunders St., just across the street from Spirit Communications Park.

“We are two years into a 20-year plan to transform BullStreet into an integral neighborhood in downtown Columbia, filled with vibrant, walkable streets and a mix of residential, retail, restaurant and recreational uses,” notes Robert Hughes, COO at Hughes Development Corporation, master developer of the BullStreet district. “It has been incredibly energizing to work with this team to activate one of the most unique spaces on the campus – and I have to say, the view of the baseball stadium from the back porch of the Bakery is beyond cool.”

The Bakery’s new tenants, the SOCO co-working and event space and The Iron Yard Columbia code school, are serving as the trailblazers for the planned BullStreet Technology Village.

“To truly impact the city and make it prosperous, we need a community of doers and makers, and that’s exactly what we’re building at The Iron Yard Columbia at BullStreet,” says Heather Dughaish, campus director at The Iron Yard, a tech education school with 21 campuses nationwide. “We’ve got students in the classroom as we speak, and we’re accepting applications for our next Front-End Engineering class, which starts January 2017.”

SOCO, a co-working and event space founded in the Vista in 2013, is launching its second location at the Bakery. “We love this city; we love its people and we want to be a part of writing a new story for this place we call home,” notes Greg Hilton, co-founder of SOCO. “We want to build the largest community and platform in the Southeast for creators – independent workers, freelancers and entrepreneurs. Our customers want more innovative spaces where they can access the community, connections and resources they need to do incredible work. That’s why we’re adding a second location at the Bakery at BullStreet.”

“Congratulations to SOCO and The Iron Yard for their success in growing Columbia’s innovation ecosystem,” said S.C. Department of Commerce Sec. Bobby Hitt. “The combination of a homegrown tech talent business and a creative community hub, plus gigabit access, will create the right conditions for technology enthusiasts and entrepreneurs to create and be ready for the jobs of the future in South Carolina. We launched the Office of Innovation to support these kinds of initiatives and to help start and build high-growth businesses.”

Bakery at BullStreet Opening Day, October 7

Hughes Development, SOCO and The Iron Yard Columbia at BullStreet, along with project partners Buchanan Construction Services, 1×1 Design and Spirit Communications, will celebrate the repurposing of the Bakery at BullStreet with an all-day, public gathering on Friday, Oct. 7, 2016.

The public is invited to tour the newly renovated Bakery building, see what SOCO and The Iron Yard have to offer, co-work for free for the day and more. The schedule of opening day includes the following:

  • “Lighting Up the Gigabit” Ribbon Cutting (12 p.m.) – Join project partners and community leaders at noon for a short ceremony to celebrate the second life of this historic building and the launch of the region’s most powerful fiber connection.
  • Free Co-work Day (all day, 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.) – Join SOCO and members of the creative community for a free day of co-working with up to 10 gigabit internet speeds and learn more about becoming a SOCO co-work member.
  • The Iron Yard Open House (all day, 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.) – Drop in to talk to The Iron Yard code school staff about careers in web development and other programs and opportunities from The Iron Yard.
  • Bakery at BullStreet Launch Party ( 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m) – Enjoy beer, food trucks, lawn games and camaraderie at the free launch party at the Bakery at BullStreet, located at 1721 Saunders St., Columbia, SC 29201. RSVP online

Located a few blocks away from Spirit Communications Park on the historic grounds of the BullStreet Development, the Bakery at BullStreet contains 4,200 total square feet, including 2,000 square feet of collaborative space and 1,200 square feet of educational space with two classrooms, a community space and a space for private meetings and events. With beautifully preserved architectural features, 20-foot high ceilings, exposed ducts and lots of natural light, the Bakery at BullStreet space is conducive to creative thinking.

The Bakery at BullStreet will welcome and support the Midlands’ tech, creative and entrepreneurial communities. The venue will host several events in the upcoming months, including meetups for Columbia Women in Tech, Columbia Enterprise Developer’s Guild and Front-End Engineering; The Iron Yard Crash Courses; and Open Houses and free “Co-work Fridays” at SOCO on the first Friday of each month.

“Spirit Communications, SOCO and the Iron Yard are already off to a great start, as we are collaborating on a number of projects in the Vista,” notes Greg Guerra, EVP of Business Development and Strategy at Spirit Communications. “Given the success of our product launch at Spirit Communications Park, the next phase of gigabit deployment at SOCO is going to be a real technology showcase for Columbia.”

Renovating the Historic Bakery

A key location for immersive patient occupational therapy at the S.C. State Hospital from 1900 until the 1950s, the original bakery was constructed next to the laundry building, adjacent to the domed Babcock building. Individuals who were able voluntarily worked at the bakery, preparing baked goods for those on campus in conjunction with the central kitchen.

“Interior renovations to the Bakery presented challenges with old brick, stained wood and peeling paint,” says Davis Buchanan, founder of Buchanan Construction Services, a Columbia-based general contracting, design/build and consulting firm for commercial construction projects in S.C., Ga. and N.C. “The walls and floors allow the rich patina of age and the former uses of the building to become part of the new story.”

Buchanan continues, “All new plumbing, electrical and HVAC systems were added for the expanded offices. Historic elements of the old building (like the fuse box) were left exposed, and industrial enamel sinks were moved from other old buildings on the campus to create the eclectic feeling of the workspace. The old wood ceilings and beams were left intact where possible, and the Bakery retains its historic exterior with its sky light retrofitted with new glass and new windows throughout.”

1×1 Design, an architectural firm in Columbia, provided architecture, interior design and planning services during the renovation of the Bakery at BullStreet. “1×1 Design was thrilled to have the chance to work with transforming the ‘old’ bakery building into a space for some of the ‘newest’ companies and technology happening in our city,” says Asheley Scott, President of 1×1 Design. “It’s turned out to be an amazing space in which to work.”

“Everyone who has been involved in revitalizing the Bakery at BullStreet is passionate about creating well-planned spaces that bring the community together,” notes Robert Hughes, whose family-owned firm is known for aiding in the revival of Greenville’s downtown district, a process that spanned decades and was made possible only through the long-term collaboration of local leaders, the business community, area stakeholders and the public. Hughes adds, “We’re honored and humbled to be a part of the process of creating an entirely new district for shopping, dining, recreation and commerce in downtown Columbia, a city that is already growing so beautifully.”

About BullStreet

Located within blocks of Columbia, S.C.’s vibrant downtown neighborhoods, BullStreet is a 181-acre, mixed-use redevelopment of the former South Carolina State Hospital campus, set for completion on a 20-year timeline with an anticipated $1.2 billion annual economic impact. Master developer Hughes Development Corporation of Greenville, S.C., is using a new urbanist, form-based code, working closely with other developers who possess deep domain expertise to create a city-within-a-city, filled with spaces that maintain the integrity of the historic district; mix commercial and residential uses; create a walkable and bicycle-friendly place; provide parks and open space; maximize economic impact and increase the City’s tax base; and connect to the Midlands community. S.C.’s first urban gigabit community, BullStreet is home to Spirit Communications Park (awarded 2016 Ballpark of the Year by BallPark Digest), the First Base Building office/retail complex, the Parker Annex office building and the new Bakery at BullStreet building in the growing BullStreet Technology Village. BullStreet contains 125,000+ square feet of commercial/office and retail space and is zoned for up to 3.3 million square feet of commercial use and 3,553 residential units. For more information, visit

Press Contact: Tracie Broom, Flock and Rally, 415.235.5718,
Chloe Rodgers, Flock and Rally, 843.230.1611,