Amber: Hi I’m Amber Ambrose and this is The BusinessMakers Show on HighDrive.TV and today my guest is Trevor Hightower of Workflourish and he is a Chief Flourishing Officer. Did I say that right Trevor?
Trevor: You said that right. Like I said, when you start a company you can make up your own names and so.
Amber: That’s the best part.
Trevor: My mom likes that I’m a CFO, but then Chief Flourishing Officer she’s like people won’t take you seriously and it’s like but like that reminds me of my job description; my job is to help others flourish.
Amber: I like it. So what is Workflourish?
Trevor: Workflourish is a co-working space in a multi-family development where we have like-minded, like-hearted entrepreneurs who all work together in a shared space very similar to a lot of other co-working spaces that are around the city and around the country.
Amber: But different.
Trevor: But different.
Amber: In the fact that you guys are in a residential space.
Trevor: That’s right, that’s right. We’re part of a residential development that we also manage and so our big emphasis is around community. How do we one, bring together like-minded people who have shared values on the co-working side of creating companies that make a difference in the world; that make the world a better place? And they’re also companies that, should they grow and how ever big they grow – they’re thinking about how they create really healthy culture within their company.
Trevor: They’re part of an apartment space that we manage, that we bring the same philosophy of how we kind of integrate and connect together community in the apartment. So there are people who work and live here but it’s two separate markets primarily. And there are people who come to work here because they want to be part of the environment and there are people who come to live here because they want to be around the environment, but both kind of have this emphasis on how we create community and how we over deliver on our customer service.
Amber: Sure. So you’re almost bridging the gap between two worlds but keeping them separate of course if people want to do that, but with the same mentality of just sounds like very socially minded.
Trevor: Yeah, my general experience in living in multi-family apartments, we moved from L.A. to Houston in 2010 and it was – what a lot of people have a similar experience with – it was one day to see all of Houston in about 8 hours and we saw about 10 different places and we had no real recollection of the first place versus the last place. And they’re all beautiful, wonderful apartments but our general experience wasn’t a wow at any of them, in particular once we started to live there.
Amber: The honeymoon’s over.
Trevor: Right; and we didn’t have the community involvement that we were seeking and so one of the things that we really focus on is just to solve that problem for a resident looking to live here. The answer to that question on the front end, if the thing that everyone is looking for is where is the place where I can move to if I’m coming out of town that my life is going to be better? That’s such a stressful decision to know where you’re going to live. Answer that with you have really good community, we’re going to have a hotel level kind of customer service where we know everyone’s name, we know everyone’s birthday, we surprise people with gifts on their anniversary or their birthday. And then we’re doing a consistent job of trying to connect our community and create opportunities for relationships to occur. So we take that mentality both to our living space and our co-working space.
Amber: Sure, and that makes sense. And I would imagine from just a purely business standpoint being able to utilize some of the common areas in an apartment complex – for instance right now we’re set up in a nice common room that’s got a kitchen and a sink and a refrigerator – because obviously all the residents are not going to be just gathered down here all the time, so why not be able to utilize it in a way that makes sense financially? And also for people like me who work from home that want to get out of the house every now and then it will give you a place away from home where you can concentrate on work. It seems like that would also be just a really nice business plan.
Trevor: You hit the nail on the head. There’s inherent challenges and opportunities in how you rightly blend that operation and so as a startup we are very much in that stage of I say we’re going to try 100 things and 95 of them are going to fail, but the 5 that work we think are going to be pretty unique and pretty valuable in the operation of a multi-family and co-working space. So like you mentioned, our members have access to a beautiful gym, they have great parking; these are things that are hard to come by in a peer co-working space.
Trevor: And so there’s so many advantages there which is why we really try to find unbelievably high quality co-workers. We have an interview process, we have an application because we want people who are going to come in and they make everyone around them better, including the residents. And we have a limited amount of space because we don’t want to over burden the overall project, so we have a set numbers of co-workers that we can allow in, but when they come in they make the environment better. So there are all sorts of neat advantages like the shared amenities and then challenges are when do we say this is the number?
Amber: Right, where’s the cutoff?
Trevor: And we are trying to learn with that because we have some great demand and we have great interviews and applications and now we’re in that process of oh no, we have to say no to some really great people and that’s challenging. And also challenging in a market that is going through some distress on the multi-family side, to turn away revenue because you have a longer-term vision like we talked about that really sees the importance of having such high quality, high values people in here that’s going to make the experience better for the residents and their co-working members.
Amber: Well because everyone is going to be working closely together so you want to make sure that hopefully everyone is considerate in the very least.
Trevor: At the least you don’t’ want someone who is going to not have good etiquette or be a nuisance in any way.
Amber: Vaping in the lobby for instance. None of that; we don’t want that.
Trevor: Yeah, that’s a good example. And then on the positive side we’d love opt have someone in here that has one of our core qualities and has a disposition of being a giver. So Adam Grant has a good book Give and Take and he talks about 3 reciprocity styles, givers, taker, matchers. Most people are matchers, kind of quid pro quo; you do this for me, I’ll do this for you. We all have people in our lives who are takers and those aren’t necessarily bad people to have on your side but they see the world kind of as it’s a dog eat dog world and if I don’t go and take it someone else will. And then you have this really neat group of people who are givers; they have a disposition to add value without really expecting anything in return. And Adam Grant in his study found out that these people are at the bottom and top of every organization so it’s interesting…
Amber: Okay that’s interesting, so maybe there’s a different style in giving that makes a big difference.
Trevor: What he found is what is sustainable giving or what is – the givers that tend to be at the top they do have this disposition but they’ve built some discipline and they can’t just be a doormat.
Amber: And some boundaries within that giving.
Trevor: And then they find ways, for instance one of the people he highlights in his book is one of the more successful venture capitalists in the Silicon Valley who has this disposition to giving but one of his ways to do it is he is a master connector and he can connect people with a quick email and in an hour of his time he can do that with 20 people so that’s his super power. But we’re generally looking for givers within the co-working community because they’re going to have access to all these great amenities and all these great benefits, but they’re going to be around these residents and we want them to kind of go out of their way and say welcome, come see what I’m working on and come be a part of this. And so that’s kind of the core quality that we’re looking for in the co-working space. And then we want people of all different types as residents.
Amber: Of course, of course. It’s a really interesting philosophy you have going on here and I am surprised I haven’t heard more about someone trying to maximize space in a residential community like you guys have with the co-working element.
Trevor: Thank you.
Amber: Thanks for talking with us today Trevor, appreciate it.
Trevor: It’s my pleasure, thank you so much.
Amber: Once again this is The BusinessMakers Show, I’m Amber Ambrose here with Trevor Hightower of Workflourish.
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