In this episode, Mike Gardon chats with Dave Fano. David Fano is a serial entrepreneur, former WeWork executive, and ex-architect who has made it his mission to help people navigate their careers with confidence. His latest venture, Teal, helps people optimize their job search by providing the level of tooling and infrastructure that companies have but for the individual professional. In just over a year, Teal has grown to a community of over 40,000 users committed to advancing their careers.
IN THIS EPISODE, YOU’LL LEARN:
- Dave’s background
- How Dave started buying and selling comic books as a kid and how that fueled his love for entrepreneurship
- Dave’s journey to getting involved and working for WeWork
- Dave and Mike’s thoughts on career hedging and portfolio strategy
- How Dave’s latest venture, Teal, was started
- How Dave transitioned from WeWork to Teal
- Teal is the ultimate project management system for building your career
- Important things to keep in mind if you are considering a career pivot
HELP US OUT!
Help us reach new listeners by leaving us a rating and review on Apple Podcasts! It takes less than 30 seconds and really helps our show grow, which allows us to bring on even better guests for you all! Thank you – we really appreciate it.
BOOKS AND RESOURCES:
- WeCrashed - documentary mentioned
- Nonlinear Podcast
- Save 15% on Quotebook using the code PODCAST
- Connect with Dave on Teal’s website, Twitter and LinkedIn.
- Follow Teal on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and TikTok.
Disclaimer: The transcript that follows has been generated using artificial intelligence. We strive to be as accurate as possible, but minor errors and slightly off timestamps may be present due to platform differences.
Michael Gardon (00:00):
Hi everyone. And welcome to another episode of CareerCloud Radio. I'm Michael Gardon. It's my mission to help people navigate their work lives, to lead more fulfilling, prosperous, and balanced lives. To do that, I try to have conversations with inspirational leaders and tease out the lessons and tactics from their journeys that you can apply to yours. Today's guest is the amazing Dave Fano. You can catch Dave on Twitter @DavidFano. Dave is a serial entrepreneur and former WeWork chief growth officer. Yes, WeWork, the subject of the Netflix series “We Crashed.” Dave is also an ex architect and has successfully pivoted his career into the world of software and technology. Today. Dave has made his mission to help people navigate their careers with confidence. His latest venture teal helps people optimize their job search by providing the level of tooling and infrastructure that companies have.
Michael Gardon (00:49):
But for the individual professional, his vision is to have an HR department in your pocket. I like to call it project management system for building your career. In this episode, we track Dave's work journey from sweeping floors at his father's construction company, through the rocket ship rise and fall of WeWork. Dave learned the value of hard work from his father who immigrated to the us from Cuba. As a boy, he translated that work ethic into several startups and executive career. And now in his latest venture teal, which is right up our alley at CareerCloud. I hope you enjoy this episode with Dave Fano.
Speaker 2 (01:23):
Everyone, before we get started, I wanted to do a quick reminder that spring is here and with it celebration season, that's kicking off. We've got mother's day father's day and the start of wedding season all upon us. If you're looking for a unique gift for that special sun run or new couple, that won't be forgotten. Check out my little side hustle, quote, book quote book helps you capture the tiny, hilarious moments that make up a lifetime. My wife and I started scribbling down our funny sayings in a notebook decades ago and over COVID my three kids. And I built that tradition into a product that we're now sharing the world. I talk about using side hustles as a way to find your creativity. If you aren't finding it in your current job or as a way to diversify your income students. I believe in that wholehearted. I also believe in learning by duke. So I use quote book as a way to teach my PI about entrepreneurship. And now they're hooked. If you need a great gift quote book, is it, and I'd appreciate your support. You can get a 15% off discount with a promo code podcast. When you check out our site, visit www.quotebookjournal.com today, my kids will be the ones packing and shipping your orders all with love and gratitude. Thanks much,
Michael Gardon (02:33):
Dave, welcome to the podcast. How are you today? Hey Mike, I'm great. Thanks so much for having me really excited to dig in with you. You and I got hooked up because I came across teal and I said, well, this just sort of makes sense. It's it's like, uh, you know, a project management suite for job seekers. So I'm really excited to kind of let you jam on, on what you're doing there and get into the nitty gritty and let our audience know all about that. But I kind of wanna start from the beginning if I might with kind of your career trajectory. I understand that you are the son of Cuban immigrants. Is that correct?
Dave Fano (03:11):
Michael Gardon (03:13):
Dave Fano (03:14):
Yeah. Uh, my dad is, I think my mom's like a, an adopted immigrant, uh, given how much she's like sort of, uh, assimilated the Cuban culture, but yeah, my dad is
Michael Gardon (03:23):
Excellent. There's so much talk in the us about immigration and all of those kinds of things. So I I'm really curious how his story of coming to this country and kind of growing up with somebody who came from the outside in and built a business. How that affected you early on
Dave Fano (03:39):
His transition was, was a tricky one. He came when he was about 11 years old and both my grandparents came and they left Cuba, not in a comfortable way in the sense of like what they were leaving. And they, they were, you know, upper middle class in Cuba when they arrived in Miami. My dad had to change like the souls in his shoes with cardboard because they would, uh, from him walking to school. So it was a very different life. You know, I don't wanna make like any generalizations that this comes from from being an immigrant, but just like the work, the idea that nothing came for granted and you really needed to work for everything and this, you know, it's very different than I think like a lot of the discussion now around like loving your job and being a career, being fulfilling. It was just kind of like, look, if I need to pick up a broom, that's what I do.
Dave Fano (04:23):
If I like, like this idea of like liking my work, like the job of my job is to give me a paycheck and on the weekends and after work, I will find the things that are fun. And so not that I necessarily agree with that, but it was, I would say there was value in sort of seeing his relationship with work and just hard work and this kind of understanding that things can be taken away. And nothing's for granted, you don't take anything for granted and just gotta work hard for this future and that, you know, if you work hard, things do start to work out. So yeah, it was interesting to see that be his, his way of working. And also my grandparents, you know, they came also from, you know, and it's a very different kind of immigration to leave a place in a time of difficulty when things were being taken away and there was the revolution and all those kinds of things. So, you know, they came at it with a very, through a very particular lens.
Michael Gardon (05:14):
And did you work from a very young age then helping out in the business and kind of have some of those values instilled in you from a very young age?
Dave Fano (05:23):
Yeah. And my dad chose to be an entrepreneur as well. You know, I, I don't, those things aren't necessarily coupled, but in his case he barely finished high school. Then he like started community college for a teen CBI and then dropped out and was just working and was working very early on in his life, whether it was delivering newspapers or who knows what. So he eventually did start his own construction company. I think after his first job, I think he had one job, like as an engineering drafts person and then quickly it became like a foreman and then started his own construction company. And yeah, so that led to me being on the job sites very early in my life. So that would be, you know, I'd be sweeping job sites going with him on the weekends to the job sites. I'd go to work with him on a very regular basis.
Dave Fano (06:12):
I started working early in my life. I, yeah, I probably started working at like age 13. I think my first job, you know, I was lucky. I was like through a family friend, but I was, I used to fill boats at a marina, fill boats with gas at a marina in Miami. I think the one before that I was like flipping hamburgers at like the concession stand at a local park. But yeah. Or like working in the yard for an allowance work was very much like just something you did in our family as early as possible.
Michael Gardon (06:40):
Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. That's kind of what I figured I hear from, uh, from your mouth. Was education a big focus as well for your parents, for, for you? Cause you ended up getting into architecture, correct?
Dave Fano (06:55):
It really wasn't. We weren't the kind of family that were like asked for our report cards. My dad was very open about like his distaste for education when he was growing up, not like in an overt, like education's bad, just how much he did not enjoy it. You know, he wanted to be out playing and doing things and making things and having fun. So like studiousness was just not important to him. So it wasn't something that he kind of like pushed on us again. It's not like he's like a verse to it. It just to him, it wasn't a value. So it wasn't really a thing for us. You know, we weren't like punished if we had bad grades, you know, I just didn't think about grades very much in our, in our house. And later in life, I kind of started to figure out the things that mattered to me.
Dave Fano (07:39):
So through high school, I didn't really make great grades other than in art. Like I really loved art class and I was kind of a creative kid and I leaned into that. It was never in pursuit of the grades. I just enjoyed it. And then once I got into undergrad and graduate school, then again, it was never about like getting the good grades, but it really was about like excelling and building my craft that I started to take a lot of those things more serious on my own, but even like applying to colleges, all that stuff, I kind of did it on my own.
Michael Gardon (08:10):
Okay. So that creative part and that building part, I I'm assuming sort of led you down the architectural path.
Dave Fano (08:18):
Yeah. The way that shook out is I didn't wanna be an architect. Uh, I wanted to be a comic book artist, actually. I love drawing. I had done some like stuff painting. I had been starting to sell paintings and I really liked that part of creativity. And I liked kind of the intersection of commerce and creativity, but architecture just wasn't that interesting for me. I had done that with my dad, but I had to sort of sit down, well, actually I had to sit down with my guidance counselor in high school and I explained to her what I wanted to do. I had seen these like really cool drawings of cars. And I told her I wanted to be one of those people. I wanna like design cars. Like I, I have to find a real job. That's not an artist. She told me that was called mechanical engineering.
Dave Fano (08:58):
She was wrong. It's called industrial design. But I did go home and have a conversation with my dad and said, Hey, my counselor said, I should be a mechanical engineer. And he said, that's not what that's called, but I don't know what that's called, but you would suck at that. And so, so then I just sort of arrived at my, on my own, be like, okay, well I'll go to the local school. Cause I hadn't even thought about applying to colleges and all the deadlines I've passed. You know, I had a very smart focused and like diligent girlfriend at the time. And so she was some inspiration and she was gonna go study engineering. And I was like, okay, I'll I guess I could do architecture. It's like something I could do. And FIU has it, which is like the local school. So I enrolled in architecture and it was kinda like, you know, create as a real job. And so, yeah, and that was kind of like my more formal sort of jump into architecture as a practice.
Michael Gardon (09:47):
Okay. My eight year old son back over here, he wants to be a comic book artist as well. He's always drawn and making paintings and stuff. It's really cool to watch him just kind of keep going after it. So
Dave Fano (09:59):
It's such a cool space. I mean, and you know, now look, I'm, I'm really a firm believer that anyone can be anything, you know, obviously with the right support and the right infrastructure to be able to do that. So not everyone who wants to be anything can be anything, you know, some people are sort of systematically or systemically disadvantaged. So I won't acknowledge that, but I do think like the world of where it is today, you know, you can be a creator on YouTube TikTok, like making digital comic books. Self-publishing it's just so cool. Like what's possible.
Michael Gardon (10:28):
Yeah, for sure. So to get back to the story, architecture didn't really wanna be an architect, but it was, it was the path, but it's somewhere along the line here, you got bit by your father's entrepreneurship bug and, and you eventually had a startup, uh, acquired by WeWork. Is that correct?
Dave Fano (10:45):
Yeah. You know, ever since like a young age, going back to the comic book theme, I was buying and selling comic books. Okay. So I like, I would buy them for the art, but then I was really excited by the idea of like them going up in value. I eventually started to buy like multiple copies of the ones that I thought would go up in value. So I had a little bit of like a business bug to myself. One, I started painting. I would then like sell paintings. I would do like large scale paintings and I would do like custom paintings and, you know, for thousands of dollars, cause I'd make like big 10 by 10 paintings to like fill space in people's houses in Miami. I remember like cutting down my dad's like tropical flowers and selling them on the side of the road.
Dave Fano (11:21):
So I liked making money so that I could do whatever I wanted, whether that was to go buy technology or buy other comic books. And so something about the, the agency that came with having money and engaging in the process of making money, which I liked. And so all through, actually even through college, I started to do like freelance work. I started a web development agency with a friend cause I took like an early dream Weaver class and learned how to like cut up HTML. And then in grad school I started to do freelance, 3d modeling and 3d rendering. And even with like hire friends to help me with that. So I always was kind of trying different things, starting more like entrepreneurial sort of freelance things. And so yeah, that kind of carried on.
Michael Gardon (12:07):
Got it. Did you have any process for going through all these ideas and figuring out what worked and what didn't? I, I I'm asking that question because I get a lot of questions from our audience about, you know, sort of, how do I start to figure out and dabble in a side hustle, let's say I have a full time job. Right. And there's a bunch of like the world is our oyster, right? There's so many different things that we possibly could do. And people are kind of looking for structure or systems that to go do it. Or were you just sort of like, man, I'm just gonna follow my curiosity and just grind through everything as fast as I could.
Dave Fano (12:41):
It was more the latter I've always for better or worse taken. I haven't thought about these as like these like definitive long-term decisions. It was much more iterative. And that's one of the things I see with people in their career is they kind of want to pick the one right answer and I'd say more so than ever. The world's like moving too fast and changing. So like whatever you Pick's gonna change. And so, but for me, that's just kind of like the way I naturally operate less. So from a deliberate perspective, but more that I just get bored. So like the next thing's gonna come, it was always, I'd say like, in retrospect, if I found myself where like when I woke up, if the days that I was excited were less than the days that I was not, I was like, okay, it's time to start looking for the next thing.
Michael Gardon (13:32):
Got it. So somewhere along the line here in your journey, you get hitched up to this sort of rocket ship, which was called WeWork. Can you give the audience a little bit of background on how you came to, to WeWork and your path there?
Dave Fano (13:48):
Yeah. Yeah. So I'll go a little further back. So, uh, when I graduated grad grad school, I worked at an architecture firm, a really cool architecture firm that I'd say did a great job of living in the intersection of technology and the built environment they're called shop architects and was super inspired by them. Got to be there, got to do some really cool things. But while I was there besides getting to build out like my sort of technology repertoire, I met two really important people in my life who ended up to go be my co-founders fed Rico Negro and Steve Sanderson. And we actually started to come up with ideas for a web startup that had nothing to do with this consultancy because we were actually working on Google's first ground up building at that architecture firm. I started to learn about search and I sort of read the history of Google.
Dave Fano (14:32):
This was in 2007. And so I wanted to create this like search engine for finding service providers and then
Dave Fano (15:14):
And that's what we were really good at. And that's what we had helped. A lot of people implement at this firm AR this architecture firm shop. So we had a network. People were hiring us for that. I was teaching at Columbia at the time. So I had like curriculum on how to teach people. So that's how we started. And that company was called case. So we had case and who by you, which was this like search engine and case started to do well. And we started to pick up other clients, ultimately fed left. Steve left actually was in the opposite order. Steve left and fed left. And we were running both companies for a while. That was really difficult. You know, one was growing well, we knew how to do it. The other, we were kind of like struggling along, trying to figure out how to get consumers, to use this web app.
Dave Fano (15:50):
We were building it really cool. And we were learning a lot about how to build product. And ultimately we acquired that web startup with case and that software development team became part of case. We paid back our investors and that opened up a whole new slew of services, which was software development services because we had built those skills. And so then around that time, when we started to get super focused on like growing case, but it's important because they come together, cuz I was coding at night on who, by you at this little thing called WeWork after dark, where they would open the lounge in the first WeWork at night to anybody in the community that wanted to come work there. And so I would go code with, uh, I don't know, 10, 15 different people at the first WeWork, 1 54 grand at night. And this was in like 2010 and there I met Kyle O'Keeffe, Jesse Middleton and Matt Shampine and they were like very early well, Kyle O'Keeffe was employee number one at WeWork.
Dave Fano (16:46):
He was Miguel Kelley's brother. And then Jesse and Matt were helping build the startup ecosystem for WeWork. And so I got to know them really closely. And most days I'd be coding on WeWork, on who, by you at night. But then one day I was working on case stuff and Kyle who was the first employee came along and said, Hey, what's that you're doing? And I was like building a 3d model of a building and like setting up some drawings and he says, Hey look, we're gonna be building a lot of buildings and we're we wanna do things new ways. My, my brother Miguel's an architect. We don't wanna just do it the old way we wanna do it smart. And they had like two buildings at the time and I was like, okay, that's cool. I like, I like what you're doing. That makes sense.
Dave Fano (17:24):
But Hey, can I try to sell you this who by you thing? So I just kept trying to go to the web start. Cause that's the thing I thought was gonna like take us to the promise land. And so like that didn't go anywhere. But eventually I'd say like a year later, once they had like 8, 9, 10 buildings, they said, Hey, can you, as case come in and help us, like better. Our process help us with our standards, our, you know, our ways of growing. And so that was the first contract we got with WeWork and we consulted with them for about three years. And we were like a, I ended up being like an executive on retainer. I was helping run that department. I was doing org design. We had built a ton of software. That's where, you know, that team came together and we built software to help them manage the real estate pipeline.
Dave Fano (18:07):
You know, everyone in the whole real estate development team was using this software that we had created for them, which we were kind of productizing for anyone that was doing more program management or like rolling out lots of real estate. We had Estee Lauder was using it for a bunch of their retail. We were about to roll it out with Google, for their data centers. So we were doing some really cool stuff. And then they approached us if we'd want to join full time. And the offer was, Hey, come sort of manage the intersection of physical and digital. Like let's turn these buildings into iPhones. Let's make like the team that's designing the conference room, booking software, actually work with the team. That's designing the conference room. And for us, that's kind of what we started case to do was to really make the built environment more intelligent and make it more like a product. And so that offer was just kind of like too compelling for us. The financial part was okay, it wasn't gonna be like retirement money, but we loved the idea of being able to further expand Case's mission and what we were really passionate about. And so, yeah, so then that's when we sort of joined full time. So that was a very long version, but they were all kind of like interconnected.
Michael Gardon (19:10):
Yeah. It was uh, really interesting. I mean that, there's a couple things that stick out to me. One is the idea that you don't know which idea is really gonna take off, right? Like you thought the search engine, that was the one that was gonna be, and it ended up being case what you knew, what was in your circle of competence, what you guys could execute on, which is super interesting to me. I think like, as I talk about trying to help people systematize working on something on the side, like that sticks out to me and the idea that you in the early days kind of stayed with case basically to fund your work, having this idea of like you had, you had two kind of options going and you realize, okay, we needed to sort of consult and get cash flow in so we can, you know, we could spend it over here on growth. That was kind of like another thing that just stood out to me in that whole story,
Dave Fano (20:03):
I'm reevaluating my thoughts and kind of like position on what I'd call like career hedging, cuz everyone's done it. Right. Bill gates did it, Steve's jobs. Did it like, you know, they all had jobs while they were doing this other thing. And so I'm kind of like on the fence because I also then really believe in like the Marcus Buckingham line of thinking, which is like, just play to your strengths, right? Like stop hedging, just play to your strengths, double down on the things that are your strengths. And, and I think both of those things actually were of benefit. Like the hedging was helpful sort of, but ultimately when we chose to double down on like, what we were good at is when we really started to see things really take off. So like sometimes you have to scratch the itch of curiosity, but then that was a big moment for us when we said, Hey, we just go like, let's just like swallow the pill and kill this thing. Like let's pay our investors back. It didn't work out. Let's just kinda like wave the white flag and double down on this thing that's working.
Michael Gardon (20:56):
Yeah. I, I think about it in terms of in, in like investing terms. So when there's high uncertainty, you need to have like sort of multiple bats, you need to have like options, right. And then as you learn, and as you acquire more certainty about one thing, betting heavier on the trend, doubling down and going all in on something like that makes sense to me as a strategy kind of taking a portfolio approach and trying to as quickly as possible eliminate or find the, the winner. That's how I'm trying to run my business. So that's just, I'm kind of thinking around the same things, as you just mentioned around the hedging, like, am I hedging or is this like a real actual, you know, sort of portfolio strategy? So that's really interesting to, you know, sort of double click on maybe another time we were kind of had this very public rocket ship ride roller coaster, if you will. What was that like on the inside?
Dave Fano (21:50):
Oh boy. Um,
Dave Fano (22:27):
So what was called the development team, which was design and construction and then what they called the digital team at the time, which was all of the software engineering that was happening. And that included like conference room booking the mobile app and then things like billing. And
Dave Fano (23:12):
And then I had the same real estate remit. Then I think like six months later I then had what we called, like the real estate team, which was like leasing. So then I had like real estate design construction, and then the software to make that all hum. And then like a year later I made the strong case that, so we got the supply issues fixed, like for the longest time the company was selling more than, than they had of supply. So we had a, we were high on demand, short on supply occupancy was really high, but we got the supply issues fixed. And so occupancy started to drop cuz we were producing more inventory than our sales team could sell. And the company had always taken a kind of a light approach to sales in the sense that like the market, the product was selling itself.
Dave Fano (23:59):
But then we hit a scale where that, and we were entering new markets and going so fast that it couldn't kind of sell itself and we were going faster than natural demand, you know, could occur. So I kind of went to Adam and said, look, I think we need to go into the enterprise. Yeah, I that's was my last customer at case we were starting to go towards what we called the owners versus the architects and the contractors. And we said, I know the owners enterprise is where it's at. Like let's go after corporate real estate and we can now sell bigger blocks of real estate. We can sell longer term commitments. We can sell further out in advance. I know this, but it's gonna require a lot of kind of customization and you're gonna need like architects in the sales process, cuz we're gonna have to do custom floor plans.
Dave Fano (24:44):
And so let me oversee both of these things. Like I think I can do it. I think I can make this happen. I mean he kind of like fought me for a little bit and eventually he sort of took a chance on letting me do that. And the big thing that I think ultimately led that to be successful is that we hired head of sales at the time who was really an expert like sales practitioner and sales manager. I could not have done it without him having joined and I didn't recruit him my predecessor in the role recruited him. And then I was able to jump in and build a really great partnership with him. His name's Nick Warwick and he's incredible. Um, and so with him, like my understanding of enough of the sales process from my case days, and then my fairly deep understanding of real estate and the commercial real estate process and then the supply side, we were able to, to really blow it out on the growth side. So then my role that's when my role became chief growth officer and I was responsible for all things supply and demand globally for about two years. Okay. And then that, that organization ended up being before I left almost 4,000 people.
Michael Gardon (25:49):
Okay. And then did you leave to start teal? Like I wanna give you enough time to talk about teal, but I'm, I'm really interested in the, the transition there and the insight around that
Dave Fano (26:01):
Leaving was a tricky decision. Right? A lot of us at WeWork were, were compensated in equity, especially because I came in via acquisition equity was a big part of the deal. And as an executive in the company, I was heavily compensated in equity. And so equity motivates you to stay. But I had been thinking for a little while that just like the company was bigger than really what I wanted to do. Yeah. I don't think I'm gonna take a company public, you know, executive, especially at that level where I was kind of like a team player and like, and that's not even the right way to describe it. Like what was happening with the company was we were starting to decentralize. And so there was just things that I was kind of philosophically opposed to that it's not, that they're necessarily wrong. This is completely opinion based.
Dave Fano (26:47):
And, but I just thought for like what we were doing in the infrastructure I had built up was kind of this like centralized organization because I really believe in like functional reporting is the way that people's careers can grow. And when you start to decentralize and you have like a lot of functional complexity. And so I had been like the centralized function guy and we were moving towards a world of like very decentralized business in the sense that like Europe had its own head of growth and south America had its own head of growth and they did not like report into each other, which is fine. Like there's lots of businesses that scale that way. I had beliefs for why I didn't think that was right. Especially in an account based sales model, but whatever that's debatable. And so I was just finding myself, like not having fun, like earlier to what I said is if the days I wake up are like less, I'm less looking forward to work than the days that I am.
Dave Fano (27:37):
I start to think about what's different. That was really starting to get super drained. I was not enjoying the work, the people also working with those world class, but I just found myself in a lot of like bureaucratic debate, which needed to be ha I don't mean that in a negative way, it's a very complex business global with hundreds of millions of dollars moving. So I get it and they were really important discussions, but I just wasn't enjoying them anymore. And so I started to say like, what's next I didn't, but I almost didn't allow myself to think about what was next. I just knew that like I needed to take a minute and then kind of nature took us course. My wife got pregnant with our second daughter when we had our first daughter. I couldn't spend too much time cause I was sort of building case.
Dave Fano (28:18):
And so I was like, you know what? This is kind of a moment for me to take a pause and take the full paternity leave that WeWork offered, which was a little unprecedented for an executive to take the full 16 week policy that we had. But I just said, I'm gonna do it. You know, understanding that that was gonna be complicated for the company. Right. That they were gonna have to like have other people take my work and that what that might mean for a role when I get back. But I was already just kind of thinking like, I'm probably not gonna come back. I didn't like go into it with the definitive, like I'm leaving for sure. But I was like, you know what, that's, I need to start thinking about what that next thing is. So I'm gonna take these four months to like focus and think about what I wanna do next. And I had some ideas of things that I was excited about, but I didn't know what they would be. I intentionally went into it with an open mind.
Michael Gardon (29:01):
Got it. That was ahead of the IPO issues.
Dave Fano (29:05):
So I let them know that I was gonna take the full paternity leave in like March of 2019. And all those things happened like in September of 2019. So yeah, this was before that this was right after for anyone that's watched the, we crash TV show or any of the documentaries. Uh, this was right after like the big SoftBank deal fell through. So there was a lot attention and a lot of things kind of swirling around at the company at the time. And they were looking at like big organizational changes. And I just said, this isn't for me. And there was just like a, again, a lot of complexities around like decentralization. There was a chance where I was like, I basically found myself with no job, which is kind of what ended up happening once I told them I didn't yeah, I was gonna go opportunity to leave. They were just like, all right, well let's just go full steam ahead on the decentralization since you're not gonna be here anyway. And so that's when that time was, but yeah, it was, it was way before, you know what, I think everyone sort of associates with the company now.
Michael Gardon (29:57):
Got it. So took some time off eventually, you know, out of WeWork, talk to us about teal. What was the insight for teal and tell us what teal does.
Dave Fano (30:08):
So it was definitely, let's say like inspired by that time in my life. Well, there's a couple things that led up to it. One of the last sort of business lines that I launched while I was at WeWork was a thing called powered by we where companies really wanted to boost their culture. And, but instead of going to a WeWork, they wanted WeWork to come to them. And in that process, I got pretty deep into like organizational design culture. Like what makes companies hum. A lot of coaching that was happening with our team. We worked with this company called market force that was doing coaching and I, and I really got into it and I was like, okay, this is how people can be happy with their work. I really love the idea of people loving their work, getting to do what they love. And I love that going to the employee base.
Dave Fano (30:50):
And that's where we were at that point, right? Like the early days of WeWork were around like the entrepreneur and doing what you love. But I was like, everyone should do what they love, not just the people that wanna start companies. And so that became really exciting to me. And I started to think through like, how could I do that? And then another experience was when I was leaving WeWork, I was very frustrated by how much money it took for me to do that. Prudently the company didn't do anything to like make me scared. They were incredibly like gracious and generous in the process. But even just like all the anxieties around like my employment agreement, what does this mean for my options? My, I have this 20 page employment agreement. I've never actually read the whole thing. I hired an employment lawyer. I was super frustrated with finding one how expensive it was.
Dave Fano (31:36):
And I was like, this is me who can afford it? Like how does everyone get to do this? And if I, if I don't understand what I assigned like that could prevent me from working somewhere else. There's a lot of real complexity here. So those two things were kind of in the back of my mind. And I started to think about what I wanna do next. I, you know, I was pretty much sure I wasn't gonna go work somewhere that I wanted to start a new thing again. I wanted to get back to building technology, kind of with getting my hands dirty. So I started to explore this idea of like helping companies better their, their cultures and almost like business operations as a service, but had a couple exchanges where I was like, wait a second. This is still like helping the company. And it's moving me away from helping the individual.
Dave Fano (32:14):
So that's kind of when I realized this needs to be a direct consumer thing. And I started to think about, well, what if every consumer could have like an HR department in their pocket, a collective infrastructure that helps them make career decisions with confidence? Cuz that's what I consistently see is what I would call like regret aversion, people being worried. They're gonna make the wrong decision. And then they end up making no decision or they become super complacent. And I was like, that doesn't need to be the case. Like what if we could create this like technological confidence booster that could be in everybody's pocket to let them control their careers. I had no idea what that would look like where I'd even start. But I was calling it the Ironman suit for my career, going back to comic books. And I was like, I wanna try to build this.
Dave Fano (33:00):
And I called Jesse Middleton, who I met like 10 years earlier trying to build who by you at WeWork, after dark WeWork together at WeWork eventually. And I, and he's now a venture capitalist at flybridge and I said, Hey, let's I wanna do this thing. Like I wanna put an HR department in everybody's pocket. I want them to not have to go to HR, but be able to ask, Hey, what happens if I take paternity leave? Hey what's how long can I go? Hey, what's the law in my state? You know, what's in my employment agreement, did I sign a non-compete? I was like, this is all technological. I don't need a lawyer for this. And every consumer should be able to have this in their pocket. And the technology's more than capable of doing it now. And that was the beginning of it. I said, I wanna create this.
Dave Fano (33:42):
I was like, we have an app for our finances. We have an app for our health. We have an app that tells us what to eat. We have an app to track everything. But when it comes to our career, I'd say one of the things that underpins it all and like makes it all possible. We don't have anything. We've abdicated that all over the company. That's all a B2B tech stack. And I was like, this is a a, when not an, if I want to build something big, I want to build something that's like hard to achieve and I wanna build something that helps a lot of people. And so that was the beginning of it.
Michael Gardon (34:11):
That's great. So, I mean it's flipping kind of the power dynamic and putting more power into the pockets of the individuals. It seems again, that's why we're talking. I was like, this seems like a no brainer. It's fantastic. Where is the service today? Are you accomplishing all of that? Or like where did you have to start? What is the, if somebody goes at teal right now, like what are they gonna get?
Dave Fano (34:32):
Yeah. So the grand vision is a bit of a boil, the ocean problem, cuz it's really hard. And so we needed to start to chunk it up. And so I started to think about a couple things, you know, what's the product we could build. But then I also thought about distribution, like the first time with who, by you, our first attempt at a consumer product, I got the product to work really great. And the product was pretty awesome. I'm still incredibly proud of the product we built, but I couldn't get anyone to use it. Cause I didn't really know about like consumer distribution. So with this one, I said, okay, this career category is complicated, but this also doesn't exist. Like if you ask anyone, Hey, do you have an app on your phone to manage your career? 999 out of a thousand are gonna say nothing.
Dave Fano (35:15):
And then that one person is gonna say like I do it in notion. You know, it's not even a tool, it's like a process. So like when is there a moment in people's lives that they stop and try to think about their career and like actually take some actions on it. And I said, that's when they job search, when people job search is when they pause and like they update their resume, they start to get clear on what they want and then, then they kind of stop again. And it's unfortunate that it's just like very reactive process. They land the new job. Everything's great. They're humming along. And then like one day something happens and they start searching again. So I said, okay, that I think tackles the distribution problem, right? People are Googling how to find this job, how to write a resume. So that's when I can get them.
Dave Fano (35:57):
And I said that's and that's when they pause. And it happens on a regular interval. I mean more so now than ever it's happening, you know, every 18 months. So I said, okay, that's the moment we're gonna try to affect. Now what's the tooling that we could build to help people cuz the idea was not to do it with coaching and services. I really wanna make this successful. And the idea is kind of balancing things out and leveling the playing field with the amount of technology that the enterprise has for the employee. So we focused on the job search. And so that's what we've been at for, I'd say the last two and a half years. And what we're really focused on right now is an all in one suite of tools to run a highly effective job search cuz to run a great job search.
Dave Fano (36:37):
There's a lot of work that you need to do. You really need to, you need to customize every resume. You need to follow up. You need to treat it like a sales process. Right? And for a lot of people that's super overwhelming. They don't have the time that ends up resulting in like a fairly reactive thing where it's like, okay, well I'll just go to this company that reached out to me and to put people in the driver's seat of that process, we need to give them the tooling to be able to control it. So that's really what it is. Now we're continuing to build that out is like a full CRM to manage all the opportunities. We're building a really robust resume builder that makes it very easy for you to tailor your resume, which you know, for a lot of people that's like really annoying.
Dave Fano (37:15):
They feel like they have to tailor their resume. But it's really not about that. If you flip it about presenting your best self, because we all just wanna, what ends up happening with resumes is people say, look at all the things I am good at, but companies aren't gonna do the work of like picking out the things that they want, like a shopping list. So you really need to put your best foot forward and get really good at doing that. So we're looking at all these things that save people time, put them control of the process and you know, giving them like compensation data. So they know how to negotiate, giving them the tools. So they keep track of everything and really empowering them to take control of this process. That really feels unempowering
Michael Gardon (37:48):
Makes a lot of sense. I love it. I love the direction. I mean, I haven't dug in there personally to like try everything out mainly cuz I got my own, I got my own career, but I've got my team in there doing some things and, and kind of kicking the tires and they've had really good feedback so far. I mean, I, again, I think it's, it's fantastic. The more process we can give people to continuously think about their career to your point. I mean the, the happier people are gonna get be down the road because they're gonna realize and make updates and they're gonna learn a lot faster than just thinking about it every 18 months or so. So I think you even just on that level, you're doing a, a great service date, man. This has been awesome. Is there anything I didn't ask you that I should have asked you?
Dave Fano (38:36):
No, I feel like we covered the bulk of the stuff. I'm trying to think. Um,
Michael Gardon (38:40):
Dave Fano (38:42):
Go ahead. We didn't touch on anything around like pivoting, like oh yeah. Okay. You know, like I got, I've got a master's degree in architecture do architecture anymore. So like if that's of interest to your audience, just like the idea of pivoting, I'm happy to talk about that.
Michael Gardon (38:56):
I've done my pivoting as well. I've had held a few different careers, so I, I have my own frame of reference and thought process around that. But why don't you just give us, you know, like what are the top two or three things that you think are super important for people to, to think about if therere or understand if they're thinking about a career pivot? Yeah.
Dave Fano (39:15):
I think when you're pivoting, what I've seen with folks pivoting and honestly like when I sort of decided I didn't want to do what I was doing anymore, I think just kind of first, we're really good at understanding what we don't want to do anymore. So when I was in architecture, it was pretty easy for me to rattle off the top of my heads, the things I did not like about it, but the problem with that is that's not gonna really help me figure out what I want to do. So I think the faster a person is able to sort of transition that towards like instead of what I'm running away from of what I'm running towards. And that's where for me, like I really was excited about technology. Anytime I could get my hands on new technology, I would do it, new 3d modeling software, new coding, software, new, just like I loved innovation.
Dave Fano (39:58):
I loved creating and the big takeaway for me, cause there's a lot of like emotional sum costs, especially in something like architecture. Every time I talk to anybody, they'd be like, Hey, when are you gonna get your license? When are you gonna get your license? It's what you're supposed to do. And it's almost like you've abandoned this thing. You've put in all this time. Why didn't you do that? And at a certain point, just being okay with, I'm not gonna get my license. I have no interest in getting my license. I learned a ton. I would recommend that as an educational process for anybody. I don't think it's a rad occupation, but look for some people, it might be it wasn't for me. I learned a lot. I, I built a ton of skills, but now I sort of crystallized that I was interested in building and not buildings and technology and being in the technology space just allowed me to iterate and make stuff at a faster pace that worked better for me.
Dave Fano (40:50):
And so once I sort of said, oh, I'm actually, this is gonna present opportunity for me. This is gonna enable me to do a lot of things. Sure. Like some physical structure that I designed is never gonna be on the cover of a magazine, but I don't care. Like that's just like not ultimately what I want to achieve. And so once I was able to get kind of crisp on those things, I was then able to iterate on a new cycle of things. And, and I think about those past skills as like career assets, but that doesn't necessarily need to shape what I do, but I know to dip, you know, right now I'm like video editing content for YouTube because I learned how to do that in architecture school. I'm thankful for that, but I don't need to go, go draw floor plans.
Michael Gardon (41:29):
Yeah. But the takeaways kind of trying to shift more focus from what you're running away from to doing the work of getting clear on what does light you up. It's a process and it's hard and, and it's something that takes time. And so I think like, you know, what I, what I tell people is like, even just journaling on this stuff, right? Yeah. Like, like daily or weekly or whatever, but like creating, setting aside some time to really think about your career, like your career is your biggest asset, right? Your ability to earn a, earn a buck over a lifetime is like your biggest asset. Like it's, it actually pays to invest in that invest time in, in trying to, to get that. All right. So that's kind of my message. And I, I, it feels like you're at kind of on the same page there
Dave Fano (42:13):
A hundred percent. I completely agree. Yeah. And like finding those things that charge you up yeah. And finding a way to do more of that.
Michael Gardon (42:20):
Well, excellent stuff, Dave really appreciate you being here, tell our audience where they can learn more about you. What we're gonna link to everything in the show notes. We'll have, uh, plenty of stuff on teal on there, but you personally, or anything else that you're involved in that you'd like to share, let us know about.
Dave Fano (42:36):
Yeah. So if you wanna check out teal it's at teal hq.com and then if you wanna follow along with me, I'm probably the most active on Twitter. That's at David Fano and then fairly active on LinkedIn as well. So in slash David, Fano find me on either of those. I answer DMS, feel free to post on any of my pages and you know, engage with me there.
Michael Gardon (42:56):
Excellent. We'll make sure we link to all that stuff and send all this out. I really appreciate you being here. Really enjoyed this conversation. Thanks so much.
Dave Fano (43:03):
Cool. Thanks for having me, Mike. I really appreciate it.
Michael Gardon (43:06):
All right, man. Take care.
CareerCloud Radio is a production of careercloud.com. Please review this episode on iTunes. We really appreciate it a lot. And thank you for listening.