Generation Hustle on Serviced Offices
Or as disgraced WeWork founder Adam Neumann likely never called them, co-working spaces.
A concept far too old hat and concrete, which he quickly morphed into something altogether more ethereal.
By way of example, here's a couple of his quotes from the Generation Hustle tv series of 2021;
"we're as much just a co-working space as Amazon is just a bookstore"
"[we are] an extremely strong business model, financially and not just spiritually"
"we want to put an office on Mars".
That middle one doubled up the sniggering interviewer. No matter, they all added up to being handed four billion dollars by the world's largest tech investor (the head of Softbank) and a scarcely believable pre-IPO valuation of, ahem, just the $47 billion.
It's a fascinating 45 minutes for anyone interested in startup growth.
As employee ~75, Teddy, wearily explains, 'there's a thin line between cult and culture'.
Indeed. Here's one teaser sentence from the show's broadcasters;
"Is Adam Neumann a brilliant salesman or a greedy false prophet so charismatic that he convinced an entire generation to follow him to the promised land?"
As was remarked more than once by those involved during this documentary, a CEO's success leans heavily on storytelling ability. In this case, we perhaps had a master.
Take part of his origin story.
Like a stand-up comic delivering a well-honed bread 'n butter routine, the sequence splicing up separate examples of the same tale was delicious.
Let's extract the prose.
My short story is born in Israel, came to the U.S.
I was living with my sister downtown.
And we would go up and down in the elevator.
And I would notice that no-one said 'hello'.
My sister said,
"It's not that Americans are not full of heart.
They really are, but... it's not considered polite.
You go up the elevator, you keep your mouth shut."
And I said,
"Well, why don't we do a test?
For the next month we will introduce ourselves to everybody."
And the goal was to find an apartment on every floor where we can have a cup of coffee.
She got 12 floors.
I got three floors.
She was also a supermodel at the time.
And within a month, the whole energy of the building changed.
Suddenly everybody wanted to be a part of it.
126 words. Roughly 45 seconds of oratory. Including subtle pauses and space for audience laughter.
Whatever its veracity, it's certainly juicy.
You have to admit it sets out the purpose behind his endeavour beautifully.
The 'why' he does what he does.
So vital to any underlying pitch. Also crucial, to get across first. In true Simon Sinek Golden Circle style.
How have you fine-tuned yours?
As you might expect, savage media follows someone who collapsed a company once valued so highly. Especially when combined with such swingeing job losses and alleged managerial, cultural and ethical shortcomings alongside personal trousering of a billion dollars cash from the wreckage.
Yet there are a few reveals in this show from which we can build. In the right way.
Given the episode's title of Cult of WeWork, it's hardly surprising that one spotlight is reserved for the 'mysticism' of kabbalah. From this guiding hand of the founder's wife, the principle "vessel for desire" appears to have been pushed to employees.
The sense here apparently being, as explained by employee No.2, 'always more, always better, always expand'.
I was immediately reminded of the classic counter, “growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell”.
Could it be chance to re-capture such sentiments for one more positive? More collaborative? More sustainable?
A remix might just easily re-frame where a prospect desires to go, and which vessel you can provide for said transportation.
Lastly we come to the graphics.
Here's a selection for Sales consideration. Starting with the producers' highlight of the vesselling just noted.
The styling of the talking heads was consistent throughout. As was text. Slap bang centre. Here's another sample. Their company euphemism for 'throw a party'.
And a third, where one journalist closing in on 'the truth' listed the five points of the classic cycle of chaos that duly spiralled ever larger.
With honourable mention for the barchart. This one showed how profit projections at first so huge for 2016, were quietly lowered 78%, from $65m to $14m.
Liking the use of cropped bars for subsequent years.
Finally, what you sense may be a whiteboard scribbling where the nascent business aimed to score. A traditional eco-system orbit chart.
Pick the bones out of that, hey.