MAYBE YOU’VE FELT THE AIR around your workspace’s proverbial (or literal) watercooler thickening lately. If that’s the case, it’s not hard to imagine an obvious culprit: the midterm elections.

It should go without saying, but this tension comes to shore off of one of the most politically divisive years in recent American history. Now, it’s spilling over, into cubicles, break rooms, and workplaces. We’re growing edgy. So many of our conversations seem subtly imbued with anxiety about the future of America. An Associated Press-NORC/MTV poll in late September found that half of all Americans aged 15 to 34 feel anxious about the elections, up from 36 percent in July.

Like so many Americans, Ximena Hartsock, the president and co-founder of Phone2Action, a digital advocacy company, watched the pivotal confirmation hearing for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on a Thursday morning with her team at work, with people who didn’t unilaterally agree on what it meant for America. It represented a sea change in an already turbulent time. More than 20 million watched live on TV as Stanford University professor Christine Blasey Ford accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her 36 years ago, and Kavanaugh fiercely deny it.

We saw employees who were agitated, with tears in their eyes,” she recalls. Her experience wasn’t a unique one. All over the country, people of all political stripes had their moral orientation, their experiences, their biases, and their psychology stress-tested that day. And not knowing how to address that, regardless of your views on the matter, could only make everyone’s lives worse.

As Hartsock witnessed firsthand, “anxiety happens most when we don’t have compassion for other people’s views or views are held in secret.” The Kavanaugh episode brought into sharp relief for her—and so many Americans—the reality that people with different identities and different lived experiences process news quite differently. And the intensity is only ratcheting up.

“We live in very different times today than even 10 years ago,” says Hartstock, whose company has space at WeWork Metropolitan Square in Washington, D.C. “And ‘looking the other way’ may not be advisable.”

THE NICETIES OF NOT TALKING POLITICS AT WORK, and co-workers skirting the topic, could contribute to the pressure-cooker incubation of these tensions. On the one hand, not knowing someone’s political views could be a sweet, ignorance-is-bliss relief.

Except—get this—it could genuinely make things worse.

“It appears that people may both be more fiercely fired up, politically, and simultaneously more afraid of sharing their perspectives, especially when they are unsure of the views of their peers,” says Danica Harris, a psychology professor at Texas Women’s University. “This is surely leading to greater anxiety and distress at work, which can impact one’s ability to focus.”

“Some of what people are hearing on the news is triggering,” explains Harris, “and for those with a history of trauma, this information may legitimately impact their functioning.”

Anxiety, stress, and isolation lodge themselves in our bodies. They’re part of the fight-or-flight response, which draws blood, glucose, and oxygen from our immune system and other critical body functions. And for all the money we spend on yoga, or eye creams, or meditation apps, simply walking into work—the place you go to earn the money to spend on the stress salves of our lives—and not saying anything at all?

That could double the damage.

“If you’re stuck in a chronic state of stress response, it’s going to shave years off your life,” says Michael Lee Stallard, a Greenwich, Ct.-based consultant and leadership trainer, and author of Connection Culture. “A lot of people are in pain now.”

As such, gone are the days when HR reps advised managers to discourage political discussions at work. It just isn’t a viable option anymore. But if that’s truly the case: What actually is?

Your oxygen mask goes on first

The person easiest to control, naturally, is yourself. Step one is the most obvious and, also, the one that bears repeating the most: self-care.

Start with sleep —  the foundation of (or culprit affecting) mental health. All the tips you already know will help: electronic devices off well before bedtime, charged outside the bedroom, and so on. Nourish yourself with enough water and healthy food, which often become neglected in times of stress. “When we are depleted, lacking sleep, or highly distressed, our ability to process triggering or emotionally intense content is impaired,” Harris says.

On that note, time to go full-Marie Kondo on your media diet. “Tune out the loudmouths,” Stallard says. “Don’t watch television or listen to radio where the people are shrill and everything is a crisis and the other side is out to get you. It’s better to read.” For example: Make a list of people on social media who consistently trigger your stress, whether you disagree or agree with them. Be it sadness, rage, or panic, if they have an easy way into your mind—and even if this goes against your principles—consider blocking them. The logic’s pretty clear cut here: You can’t have principles without being of sound mind. No point in engaging these people anyway, if your reaction to them is so pavlovian.

Step away from a tense situation, if needed. Then, Harris advises, use all five senses to ground yourself in the moment. For example, using the “full body scan” method many mindfulness meditation courses employ—during which you take a moment to breathe deeply, and simply take an inventory of all the sights, smells, sounds, and kinetic feelings you’re experiencing — could be a good exercise to get practiced in.

There are so many important topics being discussed right now, and it is hard to turn away,” she acknowledges. “Ultimately, though, you need you most. When you’re watching or reading more, especially when you are already flooded, this will not serve you, or anyone else. Give yourself permission to breathe and take a break.”

Checking on, and checking in

Next, reach out to your coworkers. Empathy is contagious. Exposing your own anxieties, even absent any specific political outcome, could prove therapeutic. If a colleague seems withdrawn or you realize you haven’t talked in a while, invite them for a walk, a coffee, or lunch. “If people seem to be isolating themselves in the workplace, that’s a bad sign,” Stallard says. “Reach out to them because they’re in pain. If somebody cares, it gives them a life raft of hope.”

This shouldn’t surprise anyone, but in-person conversation—off Slack, off text, right in front of you—is a genuinely healthy use of your mind. Literally.

“It engages the frontal lobes of the brain and it quiets the amygdala and limbic system. It engages the part of their brain where they’re more likely to make good decisions,” he says.

As Hartsock recalls of the Kavanaugh confirmation battle, “we managed to create a safe environment where employees felt camaraderie and comfort by sticking to our core value [of] ‘take care of each other.’” For touchy subjects, make the extra effort to speak in real life, rather than using Slack or Facebook. “People are more tolerant and composed when speaking to a colleague or coworker face to face,” Hartsock says. “In general, employers don’t give employees enough credit. Most people are mature in the workplace and handle these conversations with respect and tolerance.”

Also helpful? Having a confidante. Make speaking with them a regular practice. “A daily debrief is healthy for our mental and emotional health,” Stallard says, citing research on the power of empathy. “When you empathetically listen to the other person and hear what they’re grateful for and can attune to their positive emotion, it enhances their positive emotion. When you attune to their negative emotion, it diminishes their pain.”

Even if you don’t share someone’s political views, look for a point of commonality where you can hear their perspective. “Just seeing people’s emotion is validating, even if the only words that are exchanged are, ‘I see you,’ ” Harris says. “Once people feel validated, the tension is likely to subside, and you will have created an office culture of safety, where people feel encouraged to share and connect.”

Sense and sensitivity  

During the Kavanaugh hearings, women’s #MeToo stories poured in via all forms of media—Facebook, newspapers, TV, even elevator screens. People were, en masse, sharing decades-old traumatic experiences with colleagues, friends, and close family members, often for the first time.

It’s a powerful reminder that the current political climate takes a larger toll on marginalized groups, whether women, assault survivors, people of color, or members of the LGBTQ+ community.

“Marginalized groups are experiencing greater amounts of fear,” Harris says. “The safety of the workplace will be greatly impacted by how political conversations are conducted. Are people allowed to share their own stories? Do people have the space to be heard? Are people’s experiences believed?”

Reaching out to colleagues who may be in one of these groups can create an opening for connection, empathy, and a deeper relationship. It can be as simple as asking how they’re finding room for self-care or saying you’d like to support one another.

“Focus on the individuals in the room rather than the politicians in these conversations. It’s easier to have empathy when faced with someone’s lived experience, rather than their disdain for a politician,” Harris says.

In that sense, as fraught as this time may be, it also represents an opportunity to build stronger working teams and better mental health for everyone. It’s key to remember that you can do this even if you disagree with people’s ideas, and you can do so without addressing those ideas, too. That’s not some centrist caterwauling so much as the simple fact that expressing compassion isn’t at all a political act.

It’s nothing more (and nothing less) than the kind we all benefit from: a personal one.

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