For WeWork Cofounders, Leadership Starts With a Passion for Life

May 31, 2017

Adam Neumann enjoys telling the stories behind his failed entrepreneurial startups. His first venture was in ladies’ shoes. Then baby clothes. But he says he didn’t hit on success until he met Rebekah Paltrow, his wife. As the story goes, she inspired him to follow his passion and by 2010 they started WeWork together.

WeWork leases shared office space for startups, entrepreneurs, freelancers, and small businesses. The New York-based company is now global, operating in 44 cities across 15 countries. The privately-held company is valued at $16 billion.

Speaking with Fortune’s Susie Gharib, Adam, CEO of WeWork, confesses, “I truly only started understanding what it is to run a business after I met Rebekah. I genuinely thought it was about making money. But Rebekah met me and said, ‘I’m sorry you’re confused. It’s about bringing meaning and intention to the world. It’s about doing what you love.’ She said, ‘I promise you the rest will follow. Money will follow. And everything will work itself out.’ ”

Rebekah’s emphasis on the importance of passion and purpose resonates with the bulk of WeWork’s customers and employees—millennials. “What we’re seeing with the We generation is everybody wants to live a meaningful life, being more happy and fulfilled,” says Rebekah, who serves as WeWork’s Chief Brand Officer.

Adam says most of the leaders at WeWork are under 30-years-old and many of them are managing the company’s office space around the world. He says he mentors this new generation of leaders by setting an example. “Mainly, every time I make a mistake, admitting it in front of a large group of people,” Adam explains. “Showing that there’s always room to grow.”

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