Maybe it’s because of being born in Mexico City, raised in New York City, carrying an Irish passport, and living in Berlin, Copenhagen, Eindhoven, London, and San Francisco by age 34 that Adrian Avendano is obsessed with meeting and collaborating with new people. As a software engineer and self-proclaimed hacker, he set out to master the science of connecting by asking the question, “What conditions need to exist for like-minded people in a crowd or a city to find each other and create something together?” Adrian says the idea for Peoplehunt originated with his desire to extend the collaborative nature of hackerspaces to other creative communities.
Why does the world need a work revolution? (In other words: the way we’re working isn’t working. Why not?)
The huge recent global recession and the massive speed that people are embracing new technology, has created a huge new wave called the “gig economy.”
Many individuals no longer rely solely on a 9-5 job. While many others are not satisfied with the working environments currently found in big corporations.
The world of work is becoming more distributed and corporations don’t hold as much power as they used to. People are beginning to realize that having a lifestyle that allows them to work in a more independent and creative manner is entirely possible.
Because corporations are devolving to smaller work units a huge shift is being created in that people now have a better perception of what a satisfying work environment is and can be. As a consequence, these new ways of working allow people to better see, from their own unique perspective, how they can have a direct impact on the world.
How are you or your organization reinventing work in some way (big or small)?
For the last 5 years I’ve being creating startups that enable people to make real life connections at gatherings such as conferences, fairs, concerts, meet ups and so on, but who otherwise would miss out on the opportunity to get together.
A case in point: I recently came back to NYC after being 8 months in South America as part of the StartupChile accelerator. A few days after arriving in Chile I connected with one of our Peoplehunt users from Santiago. I noticed from the app that he knew a lot about live music in Santiago and that I could help him getting into StartupChile. We met up had a great experience and we were able to swap our knowledge.
His life might change completely if he gets into StartupChile and hopefully he will. Our meeting up via our Peoplehunt was able to create an opportunity that could have a real impact on someone’s life.
Why do you do what you do?
Because I want to have a huge impact on the world. I want to discover great opportunities and take advantage of them. This gives my life meaning.
Also, someone who I loved very much almost died. I was 26 when this happened. This experience helped me to get clear about my priorities and it has given me the courage to be willing to die for what I truly believe.
What kind of art (any kind) do you like and why? Any recommendations we should know about?
The art of conversation. Connecting with other people and having amazing conversations has changed my life. I am deeply obsessed about it. I think people are losing the ability to have good conversations with other people.
People spend more time staring at screens rather than having conversations with other people. And this sucks. As Warren Buffet mentioned he doesn’t have his high school or university diploma framed in his office, but he does have a Dale Carnegie diploma on how to make friends and influence people.
What is one specific thing your company does that makes your culture unique and/or different?
Peoplehunt connects people who have skills to swap and want to meet face to face.
In a nutshell we are creating a platform that empowers individuals to collaborate and connect in all sorts of imaginative ways and to ultimately live a more independent and fulfilling life. We love building amazing tech to achieve this goal. That is our culture.
What is one discipline/industry totally different from your own that has inspired you? How does it impact your work?
When I was 17 years old philosophy changed my life. I read a lot of books on the subject and it changed the way I perceived the world forever. Most of the time I deeply question what I’m doing, why I’m doing it, and how does this decision change my existence.
Philosophy has protected my sense of curiosity throughout my life. It has left me with a strong sense of the importance of retaining an intelligently naïve perspective.
What’s one tangible and concrete technique other organizations should use if they want to create a more human and/or meaningful place to work?
Have employees take one or two days a month to work on their own ideas. Ask the people who you are working with, “What would you do in those 1 or 2 days that you would like to do every day?” This technique would give you a good metric of how meaningful the work they are doing is for them.
What is one surprising thing we should know about you?
I’m a founding member of the biggest hackerspace in Ireland with 60+ members in 2010, http://091labs.com.
What is “required reading” or “required viewing” for people who want to understand what makes you tick?
Tell us about a time that you hacked a system (non-computer) and why you are proud of this?
I didn’t pay rent for over a year between 2012-2013. (Slight exaggeration; I spent 58 bucks for a night in an SF hostel for a job cleaning there in exchange for a bed.) Lived in NY, SF, Ireland and Mexico by pet sitting for a sick friend, sleeping in the office, staying with friends, family and lots of couch surfing. So I’m able to do what I love as much as possible and survive doing it.
Where in the world are you?
New York, NY, USA