Doctors told Daniel Gabbay that he was lucky to be alive. Biking home one morning, the WeWork Soho member was hit by a garbage truck and dragged for 20 feet, causing such extensive injuries that he almost died.

Gabbay was determined to live his life as normally as possible, which included moving into WeLive. He says he was inspired by the people around him, and he hopes that he does the same.

“I am thankful that I’m alive, but none of this is worth it if it’s just for my internal struggle,” he says. “It has to somehow help somebody else. I think—and hope—that I can somehow figure out how to make that happen.”

Gabbay—who’s heading a startup called Early Bird—talked with Creator about his long journey to recover from his injuries and rediscover himself.

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So tell us a little bit about yourself and your business.

I recently co-founded Early Bird, a food tech startup where we are reinventing the weekday breakfast experience with delicious, healthy, gourmet breakfasts delivered to your desk on demand. Aside from the quality of our breakfasts, what sets us apart is the hassle-free nature of ordering and receiving your meal. With just a few taps in our app, we’re on our way to your desk. All for just $6.95: tax, delivery, and tip included.

Food has been a large part of my life since I was very young. I started cooking when I was 7 years old, and since then I have always used it to keep myself grounded. While I was in the first couple months of recovery here at We Live, cooking was the only passion in my life that I could still physically do. This is why I forced myself to prepare pretty much every meal I had for those few months.

I never planned to work in food or any food-related business, although many friends urged me to consider it. I always thought it would be smarter or safer to stay away from a career in that field, even though I got so much pleasure from it. When my co-founder originally approached me and said “breakfast is broken,” I became inspired to work on the concept of fixing it. A couple intense meetings later we became completely invested in this idea, and have worked each day to improve every aspect of it, including delivery logistics, ingredients, preparation methods, packaging, plating, and, most of all, taste to enhance the experience of our customers. After months of late nights in the kitchen developing recipes and waking up around 6 AM to do taste tests most of the week, I have never been more sleep deprived or excited with my work.

I started my first business at the very end of 2013. After a year, I knew I was going to get my own office. I looked at a few places, including the Soho WeWork. I saw a little office that would have worked perfectly for me, and I decided to pull the trigger later that day. I loved it so much because all the trivial decisions I had to make on a daily or weekly basis didn’t exist anymore. So everything really came together for me.

You recently underwent a life-altering accident that you’ve spent months recovering from. What did you take away from the experience?

Before the accident, I was already really thankful for my life. Extremely thankful. At least once every month or two, I would cry from happiness about how lucky I was for what I had, the opportunities I had. Even though I didn’t have a super-easy life, I really feel like I got to do a lot of the things I didn’t think I’d be able to pull off. I’ve known for a long time that I am an extremely lucky person.

When the accident happened, it was actually really difficult to figure things out. Because it’s like, I’m already so thankful for life. I almost died here. The lesson isn’t being thankful for what you have. The real lesson was: life is like a gift, and it could easily disappear. So you have to take advantage of all your time, doing things you care about, spending time with people you care about, really going after the things you enjoy or want to experience, and even taking time for yourself.

The accident made me look at things even more closely. I realized that I wasted so much time that I could have used so much better. I could have used that time to learn more, do more, even though I’m thankful that I did a lot.

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There were different moments in my life where I was really happy with the things I was involved in. Last year, my major focus was on work, although I was lucky enough to travel around Southeast Asia towards the beginning of the year. Still, I don’t feel completely fulfilled unless I am able to do all the things I care about throughout the year.

So when I started college, I came across an organization that set up visitation for Holocaust survivors. When I was young, I wanted to fill every hour of free time I had with something, so I jumped at the opportunity. The woman I met was 83, and I was 19. She was blunt, intelligent, strong, and 100 percent there mentally. Soon after we met, it wasn’t volunteering anymore because we had become close friends and continued to hang out just about every weekend for a decade. She became a strong fixture in my life and gave me unbelievably good advice. She passed away in 2014, and after that, I was pretty lost, because there was never a time in my adult life that I was doing the things I did without her around.

So that was 2014, and in 2015, I knew I wasn’t going to do the same type of thing because I imagined it would just feel wrong. Although I volunteered at a soup kitchen once and enjoyed it, I knew I could find something where I could be more useful. I had a few ideas, but I still spent the majority of the year focusing on work until the accident happened.

How has being a part of WeWork and WeLive helped inspire you?

I’ll start with WeWork: Being in a WeWork simplified my work life and let me focus on the things that are important, as opposed to other trivial things—like what days I would have to take out the garbage or the recyclables. I didn’t have to do those things or waste time making decisions that weren’t important. I liked how in one building, you could have so many people who do so many different things. It adds to your creativity because even if somebody is in a field completely different from yours, you can still learn something from them.

By the end, I was definitely in the office later than anybody, but sometimes I would pass by someone and see how focused they looked, as if nothing could ruin their concentration, and I would be inspired by that. It would make me want to work harder. I’d love to attempt to add some of the good characteristics that people around me had in their work life to my own work life.

Before the accident, I got accepted to WeLive as part of the first beta group of approximately 80 people—about 50 were employees and about 30 were members. Then the accident happened on November 8, 2015, and when I was supposed to move in, which was January 9, I was still in rehab. So I paid for my month as planned, and I moved in the moment I got out of rehab on February 6.

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I was too stubborn to go to Long Island to live with my family because I knew it would get me too used to having someone take care of me, and I wouldn’t be back at work soon enough. I was very lucky because even though I got accepted before the accident, I was moving into a building that was completely wheelchair accessible, with people around if I really needed something. I’m usually extremely social, but after the accident happened, the main things I identified with in my life were no longer there or at least temporarily gone.

The first four days were especially difficult because I was in excruciating pain. The pharmacy didn’t have my pain medication in stock, and the walker I ordered hadn’t arrived yet. Standing after being in a bed for three months, I felt as if I’d never walked in my life. When I got here, I had to come to terms with a lot of difficult things I didn’t have to face in rehab or in the hospital, like the real damages to my body, the difficulties of my everyday life without any assistance, and how there was a possibility that I would never get to do or be the things I was earlier in my life.

My second day in WeLive a nurse came to examine me. I was showing the nurse how I walked with crutches, and when I pivoted to the side to show her the bathroom, I fell and partially broke the fall with my arm. She said she had to call an ambulance, and I told her that I didn’t have time for that! I told her: “Do whatever you want, but don’t call the ambulance. I’m fine. I wouldn’t be able to move my legs like this if I had just broken my pelvis again, would I?” She said, “No, you wouldn’t. You would be screaming in pain.”

So after that, I only used a wheelchair until my walker came in the mail. Being in a wheelchair all the time taught me how hard it really is for someone. It took all my confidence away and made me feel like I wasn’t a person. It made me sad, but not for myself. I knew at some point I was going to walk again, but I felt terrible to know how hard it would be for someone else who isn’t fortunate enough to be able to have that in their future.

When you are in a wheelchair, people don’t look at you the same. They pity you. You feel as if all your good or even bad qualities are overlooked or canceled out because you have to use an assistive device. I don’t enjoy getting preferential treatment in any way for being in a bad accident, especially because it was nobody’s fault except for the intoxicated person that hit me.

I remember in the first few weeks, I tried to force myself to go to the office a few times each week. My office is the furthest from the elevator in the Soho WeWork, and it would take like half my energy to get there using the walker. People who knew me would say, “What are you doing here? You shouldn’t be at work right now!” But I knew it was what I needed to help me get back to myself mentally. It wasn’t because I needed to work or thought it was even a good idea. It was because I knew I needed to push myself as hard as I could physically and mentally, so I could get where I needed to be in both respects.

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For the 40 or 50 days out of rehab living here, my pain level reached its highest point ever, and I had already suffered for three months in a hospital bed before that. So for the first time in my life ever, I honestly thought dying didn’t seem like the worst option. One of my legs was a donor leg for the skin graft for the other leg, so whenever I would try to stand, I would have ripping pain in one leg and then weight-bearing pain in the other.

These days, I spend the whole morning and most of the afternoon every day lifting weights and doing leg exercises here at WeLive. Being in this environment is very important to me because I’m lucky enough to be surrounded with a lot of good people. You wouldn’t believe how many people reached out to me and offered some kind of help while I was here. Throughout my life, I always tried to be independent. So even though initially I wasn’t trying to be social here, it was very easy to make friends as I felt more and more like myself. It feels great that the support is there.

We all share so many things now. I can’t use my jump rope yet, so I gave it to another WeLive member to borrow. Different people who live here are starting to teach classes of pilates, yoga, and ballroom dancing in the flex studio. It’s hilarious and random that another WeLive neighbor is also well-versed in the world of ballroom dancing, and both of them are friends now. So you have people with similar interests and different skills all over the place. It’s almost better for people who don’t know about similar subjects or have similar skills because they get exposed to all these different things while living here.

What are your favorite workout tracks?

I wouldn’t say there’s specific music from a certain artist that really speaks to me. In order to pump me up, I always look for any type of emotion in music that I can feed off of. I didn’t learn until last year how to take negative things or emotions and turn them around to create motivation. So now anything emotional I can hook into gives me energy.

For me, I don’t think anybody puts more emotion in their music than Nina Simone. I use a handful of her songs to pump me up.  Almost every morning, I listen to “Do What You Gotta Do.” I also listen to “I Get Along Without You Very Well (Except Sometimes).” It’s a sad song, but it still keeps me focused. Major Lazer always gets me going. You can’t go wrong there!

The timing here is interesting because for about two years of my life, I only listened to Prince. His music really spoke to me a lot, entertained me, and I loved pretty much everything he did. His music was pretty much the soundtrack for the early part of my twenties. So after that couple years of really heavy Prince listening, when I wasn’t single anymore, I knew I had take a little break from his music because it was time for the soundtrack to change. I have to admit: there’s no artist who’s passed away in my lifetime that’s made me more upset than that.

The day it happened, I found out in the kitchen at WeLive. I refused to believe it so I exhibited no emotion. Then the next day, I watched a tribute video, and at the end of the video, they played the intro of “Let’s Go Crazy,” and I started hysterically crying. It made me think of all the awesome moments of my life when that music was there and all the pleasure I got from it. So I know everybody had different favorites that they lost—Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston. But for me there was nobody like Prince.

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Is there anything else we should know about you?

The whole thing with this accident—when a lot of people hear the story, they say it is inspiring. I don’t find just surviving inspiring because it’s just surviving.

I am finally strong enough to stand and cook for a couple hours now if I want! It’s pretty fantastic. I don’t think any goals of any kind are achieved without some type of suffering. I’ve prepared myself for that, so I can’t be upset about it.

I went to a bris a couple weeks ago and threw my crutches in the corner of the room, then started walking around. A friend there who is a doctor at Bellevue, and would visit me regularly while I was at the hospital, saw me. He was there right after the accident and saw how bad it was. When he saw me walking around without crutches, he almost started crying in disbelief. There have been a few instances like that during my recovery where I see someone who visited me while I was still in a hospital bed. I realize they are overwhelmed with emotion because of my progress, and I really appreciate that. But I won’t celebrate until the day I can run again.

So I’m keeping everything inside until I reach my goals.

People say, “I can’t believe you can walk.” And I say, “Thank you, but I know I still have a long way to go.” So there’s no celebration for me now, but I know I’m getting there, and I just need to keep pushing.

Photos: Katelyn Perry

WeWork’s 2019 Global Impact Report reveals how WeWork helps individuals and businesses thrive, energizes neighborhoods, and accelerates economic growth in 75 cities around the world. Here are some of our community’s stories.

Essence, the global media agency, was on a tear last year, growing its workforce 40 percent to more than 1,600 employees. With an agency that large, you might expect typically high turnover—but the company, which counts Google, T-Mobile, Target, and NBC Universal among its clients, managed an employee-retention rate of 80 percent in 2018 amid the rapid changes, says Katie Farber, Essence‘s vice president for talent acquisition for North America.

“That number speaks volumes to what is working here,” Farber said. “People want to work in a tech-friendly environment; we use a lot of digital tools that allow for flexibility. Candidates look for a strong commitment to diversity; we’ve pledged to achieve complete gender parity in the C-suite by 2025. And we launched a development program to foster the careers of men, women, and gender-nonbinary employees, and instituted mandatory training on unconscious bias.”

Essence’s accomplishment is especially formidable given the current employment statistics: Unemployment rates in the U.S. dropped to 50-year lows last year, and more people are quitting jobs than being laid off. This means it’s a job seeker’s market, and the onus is on the employer to compete and make sure those people stick around.

WeWork reached out to other HR professionals, recruiters, and hiring managers for advice on how companies can strengthen hiring and retention. Here are four key takeaways:

Culture + values > salary

To retain talent, employers have traditionally had to ensure employees feel fairly compensated, personally valued, and that they understand their career path and know they’re making a contribution, says Elizabeth Zea, cofounder and managing partner of JUEL, an executive search and talent consultancy, and a member at New York’s WeWork 54 W. 40th St.

But recently, she says, another requirement has taken precedent—even ahead of salary. “The new dimension is, ‘Do I believe in the ethics and the values of the company I work for?’” she says. “Companies that are thoughtful about all five dimensions are more likely to keep talent.”

A 2017 Glassdoor analysis found that across all income levels, culture and values (not pay) were the top predictors of workplace satisfaction, and research from LinkedIn found that negotiating salary ranked about the same as dealing with email (ninth and 10th place, respectively) on a list of top challenges faced by U.S. employees.

Physical space speaks volumes

It’s clear when you walk into an office how a company thinks. Is collaboration valued? Are face-to-face interactions encouraged over marathon Slack conversations?

“When I first went to Google, I was totally blown away,” says Zea. “The physical space was a manifestation of a new way of working: opportunities to randomly bump into colleagues, wildly different conference room settings, open space versus private.”

Inspiring work spaces aren’t only for huge tech companies. “Coworking spaces are everywhere, and offer a ready-made culture for smaller or startup businesses that need a little head start,” says Wendy Read, the managing director for HR Revolution in London.

Coworking spaces can also give larger companies a recruiting edge: WeWork’s Global Impact Report found that 78 percent of enterprise members say WeWork helped them attract and retain talent.

“WeWork has enabled us to hire great talent that we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to,” says  Leslie Kurkjian Crowe, chief people officer of TripActions, a business-travel management company that operates in five WeWork locations across the U.S., U.K., and the Netherlands. “Instead of being siloed in our Palo Alto headquarters, we now recruit the very best talent in cities all over the globe.”  

Tight hiring practices win

“One of the challenges bigger companies have is adapting to the speed [at which] talent gets hired,” said Allison Hemming, CEO of the New York-based digital talent agency The Hired Guns. Slower-moving companies that take a “waterfall”-type approach can end up in bidding wars for new hires.

To tighten the cycle, Hemming suggests taking an “agile” approach, borrowed from engineering teams. To start, companies should refine job postings, homing in on what they want the employee to accomplish in the next 18 months. Then, instead of bringing in one candidate a week for five weeks, front-load first-round phone interviews, and then move finalists into a meeting with the hiring manager—possibly all within a week.

“People notice when the second person they interview with would be the person they report to,” says Hemming, noting that it shows the candidate you’re eager to commit. “They take the opportunity a lot more seriously.”

Employment branding is key

Of course, you could be doing all of these things, but if job candidates don’t know it, they’ll be harder to attract. Read suggests that companies review their online presence—Glassdoor, Yelp, the company website—to make sure they compare favorably with the competition.

Aram Lulla, the Chicago-based general manager for executive recruiting firm Lucas Group’s HR practice, says employment branding has become the norm. Companies must be consistent about how their brand comes across in job posts and responses to candidates; first interactions, interviews, and follow-ups; and on-boarding and professional development.

“Every touchpoint is part of the employee experience,” Lulla says. “And that is very impactful to identify talent and retain that talent.”

Companies that are most successful at this do it authentically, says Read. “They make themselves the tribe that people want to join. You don’t have to be huge do this; small and startup businesses need to use their own ecosystems to gain reputation, be part of networks, and spread the word.”

Illustration by Laure-Anne Carré / The We Company

WeWork’s 2019 Global Impact Report reveals how WeWork helps individuals and businesses thrive, energizes neighborhoods, and accelerates economic growth in 75 cities around the world. Here are some of our community’s stories.

WeWork’s presence in 100 cities across 27 countries can provide an air of familiarity for jet-setting entrepreneurs. But business realities in so many markets are less consistent than the aroma of fresh-brewed coffee. History, culture, technology, and economics shape the climate in which startups operate—and can make certain cities appealing for certain businesses (and maybe not so much for others).

Globally, WeWork is a powerful economic multiplier—by a minimum of 1.2 in international megacities like Sao Paulo and Seoul, and 2.3 in major U.S. cities like Seattle, according to the company’s first Global Impact Report. So we talked to four entrepreneurs and WeWork members from those cities about what it was like founding their companies there. These members—Hana Lee, CEO of vegan-skincare brand Melixir in Seoul; Mateus Teixeira, CEO of cryptocurrency gateway Warp Exchange in Sao Paulo; Jude Dai, founder of Immersive Square; and Zachary Rozga, CEO of the Consumer Engagement Company, both in Seattle—recognize the power of WeWork in letting them focus on their businesses. Here they share their best tips, lessons, and strategies for launching a business, no matter what city you’re in.

Play to your city’s strength

South Korea is to beauty products what Italy has long been to luxury fashion—so for Hana Lee, who worked for another Korean beauty startup for four years before launching Melixir, the decision to found her vegan-skincare line in Seoul was a no-brainer. “It’s really fast to make cosmetics in Korea,” says Lee, who was able to launch her first product in about six months, versus the typical two or three years. “I can be four times faster than manufacturing in the States, and I can react on trend very quickly.”

As new companies companies like Melixer and established businesses are recognizing how being in Seoul can help their business, they’re boosting the city’s economy. According to the Global Impact Report, the WeWork economy injected $1.2 billion into the local economy last year alone.

Warp Exchange’s Teixeira also thinks that founding his company in the Brazilian financial capital of São Paulo gives him an advantage. “We are at the very center of everything that’s happening,” he says. “Despite being a crypto gateway, we always have contact with the stock-exchange market, the finance market,” which Teixeira says has proved essential as he scales his business. The trends are on his side: He points out that there are twice as many people are invested in Bitcoin than in the national stock market.

Rozga found that Seattle’s greatest strength might be its large pool of coding talent—and coders’ eagerness to get involved in startups. “I’ve been able to get incredible engineers to help me build our technology product in their nights and weekends,” he says, which might not have happened had he launched elsewhere.

But also take advantage of its weaknesses

“Banking is in the middle of a revolution here,” says Teixeira. “New legislation that is coming to banks is changing how the market behaves. Currently we have an all-out war for the customer”—in particular, the tens of millions of “unbanked” Brazilians who are putting their money into checking accounts for the first time while searching for the lowest fees. Cryptocurrency, according to Teixeira, is a “solution for many of the problems” facing the Brazilian consumer in this changing environment. “You can be your own bank if you have your own cryptocurrencies.”

Go all in on your startup community

Jude Dai’s experience starting Immersive Square—which creates pop-ups and corporate events around augmented reality and other digitally-enhanced experiences—was completely dependent on her own deep involvement in Seattle’s startup ecosystem. She learned about immersive storytelling at a conference, “and that kind of put into my head that this was something I would like to do.”

Before long, she was networking with others in the industry at Meetup events and leaving her day job to work fulltime on her self-funded startup. “I’m glad I didn’t do the halfway—doing a daytime job and moonlighting a little bit—because I never would’ve been able to immerse myself sufficiently in the startup world,” she says.

Not only did Dai benefit from being at the epicenter of immersive experiences, but being a WeWork member helped her grow her business without eating into her budget. The Global Impact Report assessed a global savings of $24,000 for a member company over basing one’s company in traditional real estate.

Both Teixeira and Rozga enjoyed many benefits of being part of the WeWork Labs community. WeWork gave them the visibility that helped them scale up, Teixeira says—and he met a fellow member who became an investor and a housemate. For Rozga, Labs helped him expand his network beyond Seattle to L.A. and New York, where his media product is a more natural fit.

Or embrace your loner status

“Frankly, if I were to do it all over again, I would most likely not start this company in Seattle,” says Rozga of The Consumer Engagement Company. That may come as a surprise, given the city’s status as the home of Amazon, Microsoft, and countless startups. But for Rozga, that’s sort of the problem: His company, which creates an advertising product, has nothing to do with the core interests of that city’s tech community.

“If you don’t have the words “artificial intelligence,” “machine learning,” “augmented reality”—if that’s not your core competency as a business, [investors in Seattle] just ignore [you],” Rozga says. “They just don’t care if it’s not something that’s going to be sold to Microsoft or Amazon.”

His solution: He took advantage of the city’s great coding talent while seeking investors elsewhere.

Dai, who is also in Seattle, hasn’t locked down any local investors either, but she sees potential in starting an impact-oriented product that’s outside the typical portfolio that appeals to hungry FANG (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google) acquisition teams.

“The vision I have in mind is not necessarily building to fit their roadmap,” she explains. “I’m looking for investors who invest in people who can work together with other entrepreneurs to build a sustainable business ecosystem. The world can use some diversity in it’s ‘portfolio.’”

Illustration by Laure-Anne Carré / The We Company

“Don’t just start a business for the money—do it for your heart,” said Cory Nieves, the founder and CEO of cookie delivery company Mr. Cory’s Cookies, crossing his legs and adjusting his glasses. Nieves founded Mr. Cory’s Cookies at age 6—and now, eight years later, the ninth grader’s business is booming.

On April 25, Nieves spoke at WeWork 500 7th Ave in New York during an event for Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day (TODASTWD). Eva Chen, the author of two children’s books (and the director of fashion partnerships at Instagram), and Lola Glass, professionally known as Lola the Illustrator, a 10-year-old blossoming muralist and member of the outdoor street art gallery Bushwick Collective, joined Nieves for a fun-filled afternoon of face-painting, storytelling, and superhero capes.

Nieves, Glass, and Chen talked to the audience about how to foster an entrepreneurial spirit in children—no matter their age. 

Let them explore. After Chen wrapped up her animated reading of bestselling children’s book Juno Valentine and the Magical Shoes, she opened the floor for questions. When a girl with a butterfly-painted face asked if Chen always wanted to be an author, Chen said, “This book is about trying to do different things and figuring out what you love. And once you find it,” she adds, “practice, practice, practice!”

While some children, like Glass and Nieves, show their superpower at an early age, others benefit from exploration. Parents’ job: Keep an open mind and allow them to try out different activities until they find their passion.

Put them in the driver’s seat. While you might assume that Nieves’s superpower is making delicious cookies, he’ll tell you it’s really his ability to talk to and become friends with anyone. His mother, Lisa Howard (also known as the “Cookie Mom”), is happy to let Nieves take the spotlight.

Howard and Nieves work together on the company’s day-to-day operations, but Howard knows when to let her son’s superpowers shine. For example, when Nieves caught wind that there would be a child at the TODASTWD event with an egg allergy, he was determined to bring cookies the child could safely eat. Howard wasn’t so sure about tinkering with recipes for one kid—but she agreed, and the two of them worked with their staff (aka “the cookie helpers”) to formulate an egg-free cookie.

Know when to lend a helping hand. Glass splashed color onto the canvas during her live illustration, periodically consulting with her mother on her progress. It was her mother who helped jump-start Glass’s career as a street artist when she was just 6 years old. Glass had been given a new spray marker when her mother took her to the Bushwick Collective for the first time—you can see where this is going.

“I started drawing on the walls, right on top of a wonderful Beau Stanton piece, just as Joe Ficalora, the curator of the Bushwick collective, walked by,” Glass remembered. Ficalora was furious—until Glass’s mom rushed over to talk to him. “After speaking with my mom, Joe asked if I wanted to join the Bushwick Collective.”

Let them be social. The guests emphasized that putting yourself out there is important for any entrepreneur, artist, or author. Glass’s advice for other artists: “If you’re shy, don’t be,” she said. “The process can be pretty scary, but you make the world better when you do art, whether it’s on a piece of paper or on a huge wall.”

Nieves admitted to having some jitters before a recent appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. To get past it, while on stage, he pretended everyone in the audience was a cat. ”I had nothing to be nervous about because I was talking to cats,” he said matter-of-factly.

To get the word out about her book, Chen says she mentioned it to anyone who would listen, in person and on social media.

Believe in them. The hardest part about being a young entrepreneur, according to Nieves, is that adults don’t take you seriously. “But kids are getting into the business world and are actually hiring adults,” he pointed out.

Howard acknowledged that between homework, laundry, and making dinner, it’s easy to get distracted. “If you aren’t mindful, you may not recognize that your child has a gift,” Howard said to the crowd of parents. “If you don’t support your kid, how will anyone else support them?”

WeWork’s 2019 Global Impact Report reveals how WeWork helps individuals and businesses thrive, energizes neighborhoods, and accelerates economic growth in 75 cities around the world. Here are some of our community’s stories.

In 2017, Krystyn Harrison left her career in management consulting and started Prosper, an interview- and career-coaching app. As a self-described “serial entrepreneur” (she had previously started two other businesses), Harrison’s desire to start things was strong.

“I wanted to build something,” she says. But her insecurity was holding her back. “I was struggling with self-doubt. Meanwhile, I thought everyone else around me was superconfident, when the reality was that everyone was equally as nervous.” She overcame it, eventually, launching Prosper two years later and never once looking back.

Harrison runs Prosper out of Toronto’s WeWork 1 University Ave, and if she ever has another crisis of confidence, she merely has to look around at her fellow members, many of whom are also female business owners with companies in stages similar to hers. The impact extends far beyond Toronto. Globally, 39 percent of all senior roles—executives, senior managers, managers, and sole proprietors—at WeWork member companies are held by women, according to WeWork’s 2019 Global Impact Report, compared with just 24 percent worldwide outside of WeWork.

“I feel like WeWork provides a safety net—you have a support system that helps you create your dream, whatever that is,” says Mabel Luna, CFO at beverage brand Kombrewcha and founder and adviser of boutique financial-services firm A Business Collective. “There’s a lot of need for community regardless of the size [of your business], regardless of what reach you have. People want to make an impact, and I think WeWork helps especially women to do that.”

Luna, like Harrison, has a background in corporate America: She worked as both an auditor and a manager of financial operations before launching A Business Collective in 2014, with the aim of redesigning the financial culture of startups.

In her years in more traditional office settings, Luna says she found a limit on the support and growth opportunities available to women. But the playing field is changing, and those barriers largely installed by traditional gatekeepers are beginning to come down.

“I know it sounds simple, but if women are listened to about what our needs are, men will start to understand that we think a little differently, but we bring a lot to the table,” says Luna, a member at Brooklyn’s WeWork 134 N 4th St.

This is especially pertinent in fundraising, where, as of 2018, just 9.65 percent of decision-makers at venture-capital firms are women—and where female-founded startups raise just 2.2 percent of venture-capital investments. When it came time for Harrison to begin building Prosper, she was realistic about the challenges she might face.

“There were a lot of ‘nos,’ a lot of rejection,” says Harrison. “I’m sure men deal with [that] at an investor table just as much as women. But I do believe that in fundraising, women struggle with confidence around something that may not be sound.”

Harrison says that in fundraising, the gender gap even extends into something as fundamental as revenue projection: Women have a tendency to understate their numbers, whereas men will more typically overstate them. But in the end, she says, some of the most profitable companies are led by women, given these more-conservative financial estimates, among other research-backed reasons

The more women get comfortable at the investor table and in other deeply male-dominated industustries—and share their knowledge and experience with other women—the more their collective confidence will grow. That’s been the experience of Twenty Twenty Studios founder and executive producer Sarah Gerber. She found strength, solidarity, and confidence in her community of family and friends.

When Gerber founded her company, which creates storytelling for purpose-driven brands, in 2010, she admits could have benefitted from a different kind of supportive network—the professional one that Luna encountered at WeWork. But Gerber—who also serves as the CEO and co-founder of gender-equality nonprofit Zero Gap, launched in 2017—understands, in retrospect, just how influential a career support system can be in for female entrepreneurs getting their businesses off the ground.  

“That was definitely a very formative process for me,” says Gerber, now a member at WeWork 1111 Broadway in Oakland, California, of growing her own professional network, “and really build the foundation of not just my work but my work identity.”

Now nearly 10 years into her entrepreneurial journey, Gerber is able to rely on her own community of female business owners. This includes her Zero Gap co-founder, Mira Veda, who is a fellow WeWork member at the same location and to whom she was introduced by a WeWork community manager. Gerber is intent on passing along those relationships, and her mentorship, to her fellow female business leaders.

“Those relationships have been so valuable, not just for connections, but general encouragement,” says Gerber. “It’s particularly important for founders and people with smaller teams because it can be so lonely. And it doesn’t have to be.”

Illustration by Laure-Anne Carré / The We Company