The happy people business

GCUC Chicago coworking conference

One of my favorite quotes from last week’s GCUC Chicago was from Mark Gilbreath, the skipper over at LiquidSpace:

“There’s never been a more extraordinary time to be in the happy people business.”

It’s so true, on several levels.

On the surface, this is a great time to be in coworking. The sea change away from companies taking on commercial real estate agreements to moving into coworking and flex environments—as their employees demand more flexibility and autonomy—is historic.

But commercial real estate is not my area of expertise.

My superpower is in the deeper aspect of Mark’s insight.

You’re not in the real estate business.

You’re in the happy people business.

If you’re competing on square footage, you’ll get left behind by bigger brands.

If you’re competing on fabulous space design, you’ll be out-fabuloused by someone with deeper pockets, a better building or a better designer.

If you’re competing on price, you’re in a race to the bottom.

Coworking is about to explode, with projections that there will be five times as many spaces as there are now by 2030.

So, what are you competing on? What’s your unfair advantage?

It’s your people.

Your unfair advantage is your brand community, the experience you provide with and alongside them, and the stories coming out of your space.

It’s the happiness you bring to the days, lives and work of your members.

This is the thing that’s not easily replicated; the thing that can’t be bought; the thing that has to be built one person, one connection, one moment at a time.

This is what coworking and the future of work is about.

And you are so nicely positioned.

But don’t get lost in the weeds of slicing and selling real estate.

Stay focused on your people.

Because, as Mark pointed out, this is a truly extraordinary time to do the work we do.

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