David Fano is the Chief Growth Officer at WeWork and a former founding partner and managing director of Case, a building information and technology firm that was acquired by WeWork in 2015. At brunchwork, he talked about managing hyper-growth.
Q: What factors are important in managing hyper-growth?
A: It’s important to establish a North Star. For WeWork, it has always been about creating a world where people work to make a life, not just a living. Though we have become more empirical in defining this North Star, it allows us to know where we are going.
Then it comes down to having good teams that can maintain this clear direction. Rapidly growing companies can’t prescribe everyone’s job responsibilities because things are constantly changing, so it’s important to build strong, autonomous teams and give them the right systems and infrastructure to move quickly.
Given your hyper-growth, what does it take to succeed as an employee at WeWork?
We need people who are willing to do anything. As a company, we are figuring things out as we go and this means that we’re not slow and methodical about planning every step along the way. Everyone needs to step up.
At the same time, we need people who can come into this hyper-growth environment and be honest about their strengths and weaknesses. You can either try to fill your gaps or double down on what you’re good at and find partners who can augment your weaknesses.
What is some of your favorite career advice?
Don’t take things personally. It’s hard to do sometimes, but it’s important in business. When you decouple the personal from the professional, critical feedback no longer feels like a judgment on your character and you have the space to unpack it.
Taking things personally also makes it difficult for people to feel comfortable interacting with you. Your colleagues won’t be as willing to engage with you and give important feedback if they’re worried about how you’ll receive it.
How do you see the future of work evolving?
The way we seek fulfillment is changing. People are less willing to do work for the sake of work and instead want to make a meaningful contribution. The line between work and hobby will get more blurred and it will result in people being happier.
This interview was conducted by David Nebinski and condensed by Katherine Emley.