Important to success, culture is still one of those overused words when it comes to organizations. That is until someone has something insightful to say about how culture can actually be developed and will work in a way that helps a company scale.
WeWork Co-founder Miguel McKelvey has been able to take this company from two founders to thousands of staff and create a unique vibe that resonates across the 150 locations that serve a diverse range of freelance and organization community members.
During Startup Grind Europe, McKelvey took the stage and discussed his views on culture, creativity and humanity among other topics, with our own Derek Andersen.
The discussion kicked off with a discussion about WeWork’s Creator Awards, which are taking place in London as one of many stops during Startup Grind Europe. McKelvey noted that $20 million will be handed out over the course of the year at nine events.
To Miguel, it’s not about money and it wasn’t about the money the company received during the startup stages, which topped $130 million in funding. What matters to those who work for the company is the authentic vibe they feel and the upbeat environment in which they get to work.
McKelvey and his co-founder knew what they did and didn’t want their culture to be about. He related a story to Derek about a time when he was in Portland, Oregon. Miguel walked by the basement offices of a company. Everything about that office shouted gray and depressing. As he peered through the window, he could see the grayness in the staff and the lack of enthusiasm for their work environment.
WeWork’s culture is the antithesis of that and provides insights as to why the company has so many enthusiastic fans. Culture is not about brighter paint colors (although it doesn’t hurt) or bold furniture. It’s also reflective of the mood that founders choose to give off to their team. That mood, or vibe, comes directly from the founders in terms of their perspective, outlook, and values.
Whether you choose to write it on the wall or just talk and act it out, Miguel expressed his belief that culture is important to building a company even if you are just a solopreneur working by yourself in one room. Obviously, he stated, it becomes even more important when you’ve got thousands on the team to direct and inspire.
In circling back to the Creator Awards, Miguel wants this award to be about the celebration and awareness of all the cool things that are going on. It’s those cool things and the cooler people behind them that generate the energy to fuel a company’s growth and that keeps the enthusiasm at an all-time high.
While this authentic vibe has delivered one of the most attractive places to work, Miguel stated that there are still challenges on this journey and evolution to becoming even better as a company and as individual leaders. He explained that it is a fine line between creating a collaborative environment that feeds the energy and a surrounding that is conducive to everyone’s personal preferences. It’s something that Miguel is still learning and happy to keep working toward.
To learn more about WeWork’s culture and how Miguel sees it in an ever-changing, morphing organization designed to help leadership become better while staying in touch with humanity, check out the video here.