This Exec Thinks Your Workplace Should Feel Like a Community
One-on-one with the SoulCycle founder and WeWork partner on her career.
Julie Rice knows a thing or two about making big life changes. The entrepreneur, famed for co-founding SoulCycle, was a Hollywood talent manager before launching the cult fitness brand in 2006. (Rice and her partner sold the company in 2016.)
Now, we don’t know about you, but if we’d sold a very successful business after a decade, we’d kick back and take a long vacation. Not Rice. The following year, Rice became partner at the international co-working space WeWork. (It has over 320,000 members in more than 24 countries.) Her advice? “It’s the hardest thing to take a risk, but once you jump in, you have no choice. You have to make it happen.”
Rice was in Toronto earlier this fall to talk about WeMRKT, a retail space in WeWork offices selling products made by member companies (think tech accessories, office products and snacks). As part of her work with the brand, she travels to different WeWork sites for pitch nights, listening as people propose their products for WeMRKT. We caught up with Rice to talk about her new role, her career and why she believes co-working spaces are the future.
How did you end up at WeWork?
When we sold SoulCycle, I’d known [WeWork CEO] Adam Neumann and he approached me and said, “We have this incredible community and we would love for you think about what are the valuable experiences we can offer them to enrich what they’re doing.” And that’s the throughline of my work: people, brands and community. I’m a real people person and empowering and supporting other people is really interesting to me. There’s so many things entrepreneurs face everyday and having a support system like being in a WeWork building is pretty incredible.
How did SoulCycle fit in with that throughline?
When I moved back to New York, I really missed the lifestyle of L.A.—the camaraderie and community I had found in terms of exercising there. That’s where the idea for SoulCycle came. What could we do in New York to create this community and aspirational lifestyle where people could prioritize themselves? And that’s thing that stood out about SoulCycle over the years: the community we cultivated, the way we really empowered people and made them feel like their best selves.
Do you think co-working spaces open up different doors for women entrepreneurs?
Co-working spaces in general are fantastic for women. Spaces like this offer women a really easy way to be in an office, be in an environment, be among people. They offer this to everybody. We try to create different systems and mentorships where women can begin to support each other.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever gotten?
We killed ourselves to create a marketplace for SoulCycle. When competitors started coming into our space, I was making myself crazy everyday, checking websites to see who was coming up behind us, who was taking our customers. And then somebody said to me, “High road, long view. You just do you and stay in you lane and look down the road. Looking at who’s behind you does nothing” I put a sticky note on my desktop computer—and I still have one in my bag—that says, “High road, long view.” I think about it all the time, and when I get really influenced by what people around me are doing, I just remember to trust myself. If you can’t trust your own instincts, that’s when you’ll really go stray.