Hi, I’m Lisa.

I’ve always wanted to start my own business. I just didn’t know what kind of business it would be. Until I landed my role as WeWork’s second employee in February 2010.

At the end of the first year, after opening WeWork’s first two locations in NYC, the company gave out employment agreements which included an 18-month noncompete. I was the only one of 25 employees not willing to sign it. I had been honing my skills alongside Founders Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey, working tirelessly, wearing several hats, and yet I knew that ultimately I would never have final say in how things were done. 

The prospect of leaving was gut wrenching. I loved what we were creating and I could see the tremendous (and global) potential of Adam’s vision for the business from the start. He always said WeWork would become the next Google, from a valuation perspective, and leaving meant giving up the possibility of becoming a millionaire.

I thought of my dad, Henry “Hank” Skokowski. He was a prominent Urban Planner in South Florida who unexpectedly died on Valentine’s Day 2004, while touring Australia and New Zealand on a motorcycle as part of a two month soul-searching trip.  Losing him suddenly taught me that life is short and can be taken from us at any moment. Who I want to be in the world is someone who seizes opportunities and takes great risks where there can be great rewards. In my heart I knew that if I didn’t leave, I would always be left with the question of “what if”.

After weeks of thoughtful conversations with both Adam and Miguel, I mustered the courage to give my three weeks notice and I left — knowing that one day I could be very happy opening 2-3 locations of my own. Given the professional network I had been fostering in Manhattan BNI [Business Network International] for years, my intuition told me I could actually make it happen.

In January 2015, Adam reached out to me on text asking to meet. At the time, WeWork was valued at $12B.

A week later, sitting in his palatial corner office at 222 Broadway in Manhattan’s Financial District, Adam shared that he felt “something was missing”. He wanted to have me take on one of their buildings to “hire, fire, and train” … whatever I needed to do to “create a feeling of connection and community” that we had when I was with them in the beginning.

At that moment, the intuitive voice in my head screamed ‘if he thinks you can create something that is missing in his $12B company, it is time to launch your own business’.

I thanked him for the opportunity and said I would think about it [and be in touch].

I could feel the adrenaline rushing through my body as I immediately walked out onto Broadway and called the person who would become Primary’s seed investor. I said, “I am ready to start my own company”. He said, “Great. I am ready to invest.”

Six months later, I secured an operating agreement with his commitment to invest $6mm in my new business. Less than one year later, we opened the doors of Primary’s flagship location at 26 Broadway facing the famous Charging Bull Statue in Lower Manhattan. 

As they say, leap and the net will appear. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. 

– Lisa Skye

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