OCC opens new office for financial technology

Chief finally has a clubhouse in San Francisco, but don’t call it a coworking space. Its 8,600 square feet includes conference rooms, one-person Zoom rooms, and open seating, but it also has a bar, lounge seating, and — like Chief’s other clubhouses in New York, LA, and Chicago — a piano.

“To me, the piano represents ‘this is not a coworking space,'” Chief co-founder Lindsay Kaplan told me during a tour of the clubhouse ahead of Thursday’s official opening. “Here you can sit back and relax and hold meetings in a relaxed manner.”

Unlike Wing, the women-centric coworking space and club that closed this summer after six years, Kaplan and co-founder and CEO Carolyn Childers are still much more interested in building and supporting Chief’s network than his physical ones improve amenities.

For this reason, Chief’s main offering, curated ‘core’ peer groups of 10 who meet monthly with an executive coach, will continue to take place virtually.

“What we optimize the most is finding the right and perfect 10 people to be with,” Childers said. “Even in San Francisco, that could be someone out of town.”

Before Chief expanded outside of New York, the groups still met in person, but applicants who said they wanted to join for the space didn’t make it off the waiting list. The network is about the peer group, and the space is more “the container for it to happen in IRL,” Kaplan said.

The network is more modeled after the Young Presidents’ Organization, the 72-year-old network of under-45 CEOs who help each other through professional and personal challenges. YPO is all about its network and doesn’t have its own rooms, Childers said.

Kaplan and Childers also took inspiration from Carole Robin, a longtime presenter of Stanford’s popular “Touchy Feely” class, as they pondered “how to honestly create the right level of vulnerability that you need to achieve to be really to work through things,” Childers said. “The core [group] really comes to a point where you can talk to what’s really happening for you, both personally and professionally, because those two things mesh very well.

However, the clubhouse is also a place where members can host guests, hold their board meetings, and — yes — take Zoom calls. Ten percent of Chief’s 20,000 members live in the Bay Area, but when Chief was planning his next clubhouse, San Francisco was also the most requested city by non-Bay Area members. In other words, Chief members in cities like Boston and DC wanted a San Francisco clubhouse that they could visit while in town.

Still, Childers and Kaplan are trying to better emulate a Harvard alumni club, which has clubhouses with “great amenities,” Kaplan said, but most real benefits come from belonging to a vast, powerful network. But with a mission to change the face of corporate governance, the female-centric vibe might also feel more approachable — Kaplan recalled feeling a similar sense of camaraderie with other women trying on clothes in the communal dressing room at old New York’s Loehmanns department store.

“It kind of reminds me of that intimate space,” Kaplan said. “When you tried something on and walked in front of the mirror, all the women around you said, ‘Honey, that looks good.'”


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