Please or Register to create posts and topics.

Adam Neumann & WeWork: managing PR when the whole world think you're a scammer

Neumann's first interview since the whole WeWork chaos.

Adam Neumann had a TERRIBLE reputation and a lot of damage-control to make.

In good part, he did great.
His self control is truly impressive.

Charlie from Charisma on Command said it's a masterpiece of influence.

And there is some truth in that.

Yet, I don't think it's the whole story.
You just need to look at the comments beneath the video.

Everyone still seems to think poorly of Adam -or worst than they thought of him before-.
The consensus seems to be that he's a smooth talking scammer and manipulator.

And Adam gave plenty of ammunition for people to feel that way.

Look for example at this scene:

Interviewer: do you think that Softbank will ever make its money back?
Adam: I'm so... (stops himself, takes a deep breath) you were getting me excited

That sub-communicates that he was in full "fake, PR mode".

He wasn't there to converse and share his truth.
He was there to present a front -to manipulate-.

Not good.

A better approach:

Own The Darker Truth, Push Back Against Manipulative Virtue Signaling Frames

The interviewer was being a manipulative virtue signaler himself.

Think of the implied frames of the question below:

  • The venture capitalist SHOULD make its money back
  • If the venture capitalist doesn't make its money back, it's bad (implied: you screwed them over)
  • The venture capitalist is a poor, naive entity that has lost, and that's not good

That was a great chance to hit back and come out of it stronger and more convincing.

For example:

Interviewer: do you think that Softbank will ever make its money back?
Adam: I think it's very possible.
And yet, I think that's a poor question to be honest. It's a question that implies that all VCs should be guaranteed to make money. Do you think that professional venture capitalists should be guaranteed to make a return on every single bet they take (frames VC as also self-interested entities, rather than an entity that has been screwed over as the question implies)?
Because that's not how the system works, Andrew. Not for WeWork, nor for any other company and investment. Not a single one of them. And you know that as an expert of capitalism. Venture capital investing carries risk.
And the same applies to everything else in life. If you ruin this interview, which you are not doing, you might not be given the opportunity for the next (power move).
That's how society works: seek opportunities, seek to make the most out of them, and if it doesn't work out, fix it or move on.

Higher Power, Lower Fake Warmth

I think Adam was TOO high in warmth and "sweetness".

And that can come across as manipulative.

Less fake warmth, some more power.

Fewer Validating Statements That Confirm The Disempowering Frames

I'd have used less validating statements of the interviewer's disempowering frames.

If the interviewer implies you were taking drugs and throwing away other people's money on parting, you should NOT validate that.

So less of this:

I totally understand that

That sounds so bad

That would be bad

Because they come across as very sweet-talking, manipulative PR.

And more frame-challenging and imposing:

That's not really what happened at all

Frankly, it's a very skewed representation of reality

Bel, Roberto and Power Duck have reacted to this post.
BelRobertoPower Duck
Check the forum guidelines for effective communication.
(Book a call) for personalized & private feedback

By watching the interview, it seems to me one of the main problems here (or rather "tell-tale signs") is the constant smirk on his face, bordering between duper's delight and disgust, which leads me to the conclusion that he is faking empathy and emotional closeness that he does not have for one bit.

No one who had one bit of real empathy would try to fake closeness to employees who lost everything by saying that "you still have loved ones", like he does in a very slimy way at the end of the video.

And also when he constantly repeats: "I'm not the same", "I've learned", "I've changed": these statements to me show he is just trying to dupe listeners into believing he has changed. Someone who really had changed would not act this way.

Lucio Buffalmano and Roberto have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoRoberto

Yes, good one, his constant slight smirk also contributes to making it feel like he's a slimy faker.


Matthew Whitewood and Roberto have reacted to this post.
Matthew WhitewoodRoberto
Check the forum guidelines for effective communication.
(Book a call) for personalized & private feedback
Scroll to Top