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In 7 Hours With, we explore the routines of leading professionals in their space to learn the when, why, where and how they work. In each diary, we will look at what they’re doing at seven different check-ins throughout their day.
Cate Luzio is the founder and CEO of Luminary, a collaboration hub and work space for women to connect, develop and network. They’re reimagining the co-working space with over 15,000 square feet in NoMad and opening their third floor and rooftop in summer 2019.
Before I was an entrepreneur, founding and launching Luminary, I was on an international work schedule. I worked and traveled around the world for the last 18 years as a banker, so I’m used to getting up very early. I still work what they call “bankers hours.” I’m up by 5 or 5:30, and the first thing that I do when I wake up is read the news (WSJ, Bloomberg) and listen to CNBC. It’s part of who I am, understanding what’s relevant in the global landscape and I want to stay close to what’s going on in the world.
Next, I’ll tackle my inbox and have my one cup of coffee for the day. This is important to me. I’ve got to get through my email before I get to work — so much is done virtually vs. in person, and I answer almost every inquiry that comes to me directly. We’re building a community, so if people really want to talk to the Founder, they should have an opportunity to do that. Plus, I don’t like when people don’t reply to me, so I try to extend the same courtesy to other people. I try to answer every inquiry that comes through personally.
I walk to work from my apartment in Hudson Yards and it’s about a 1.5-mile commute. I clear my head and get myself psyched up to start the day. I usually get into Luminary around 7:30 AM, right before we open at 8 AM. When I get into the office, I settle into my spot sitting in our kitchen area and drink my daily breakfast, which is tomato juice. I got into the habit of drinking tomato juice when I traveled constantly as a banker. I hated airline food, but needed to eat something. So I started drinking tomato juice, and that’s just become my standard breakfast during the week.
I love sitting in our kitchen area because I can see everyone as they come in for the day, check in with our Members, get feedback, and start a conversation with anyone that I might not recognize (visitors, guests, day passer’s). I can learn why they’re here and what they hope to gain from our community.
My mornings are often blocked off to meet with members, talk to prospective corporate clients, or meet with potential brand partners. We have great partnerships with brands like Unilever, MMLaFleur, LIVELY, and we’re always looking to expand our brand relationships. Members really are my priority. I love taking time to meet with them and learning more about how they’re using the space, why they are here and spark personal conversations. Around this time, I’ll have my once-weekly staff meeting. I learned from my corporate life that meetings for the sole purpose of meeting are not great. So instead of having a short staff meeting every day, I bring my staff together at this one time to go through everything from Member experience to programming, events and scheduling, to our digital presence and our various priorities. I also have one-on-one meetings weekly, but this is the time we go over macro-level things and get together as a group to discuss.
I try to eat lunch around this time, if I can. I’m often at Luminary during the day, so I’ll grab a salad from our fridge — we offer various healthy salads and snacks as well as Jars by Dani. Other times I’ll order delivery or try to walk outside because there are so many great spots around here to choose from.
I’m trying to do a lot more on the thought leadership side — looking at what our members are asking for in terms of community — so that’s what I’m working on a lot of this afternoon. Specifically, I’m working on our speaker series, which we have twice a month. I’m responsible for bringing in speakers and work with our Head of Program Development, Surabhi Lal, so I spend a lot of time cultivating relationships. One example of that is a great initiative we’re kicking off with WE.NYC in July, which will be a really wonderful opportunity to provide content and information on building your own business for our members and the WE.NYC community. We will also launch our podcast “Come Sit At Our Table” on Thursday so making sure that is just right with our Head of Digital, Vicky Garcia.
While I’m doing more on the thought leadership side, I also try to delegate efficiently to my team. I’m doing the bigger picture stuff, and I’ve got to be able to message priorities to my team. That’s been something I’ve learned throughout my whole career. I had such big teams when I worked in finance (thousands of people), that I really got used to delegating and using my own time wisely. As a founder, it’s obviously very different because you really want to control all aspects of things, but you need to focus on delegating and empowering your team. I need to think strategically as we continue to grow and everything is easier when you’re surrounded by a great team like mine. You are only as good as your team.
We’re opening our rooftop this summer, which is another huge amenity for members. I head into a meeting for that around 4 PM. It will be a workspace during the day for members, and then at night, it will flip to a members only lounge and private event space with a bar. I love that we’re doing this rooftop because life can’t just be work, work, work all the time. We love to infuse fun moments for our community.
I also have a meeting this afternoon about a new initiative I’m starting called “The Whisper Network.” It’s a small dinner every few weeks with members to help women start talking about taboo topics and connect with people outside of their direct network. I’m focused on bringing together women from all levels and all backgrounds, really providing career insights, advice on economic opportunities and advocating for women’s empowerment.
Because we have so many events and programs, I don’t leave until 8:30 or 9 PM. Tonight, we have our weekly happy hour for members that I always try and stay for. We always have free wine on tap, but also have a weekly designated night where members can socialize and get together on a larger scale. We normally bring in a member’s business to highlight or create an activation or experience of some sort. If I don’t have an event and can leave early, I love to go home and spend time with my boyfriend who has been my rock through all of this!
When I go home, I’m still answering those emails, trying to get to the magical inbox zero — it really never ends. My day never ended when I was in banking, either. The difference now is that it’s really all on me. At night I mainly just try to decompress a bit, because the next day it starts all over again. The emotional rollercoaster of being an entrepreneur is hard, but it’s so worth it.