Barcelona Forum

BCN’s Fab Business Culture

Sam Mednick discovers the hottest Barcelona start-ups and how local entrepreneurs are developing their leadership skills.

In 2007 Barcelona was home to the first and largest Fab Lab in Europe. Short for Fabrication Laboratory, these revolutionary new incubators are spearheading what’s been called the ‘Third Industrial Revolution’. “We’re putting a sense of digital craft into traditional making,” says one Fab Lab collaborator who’s working on creating 3D prosthetic hands.

The city now houses seven Fab Labs including the GreenFabLab, which is located in a Masia (century old house) and is home to biologists, mycologists, rocket scientists, mathematicians, engineers and has access to permaculture, beekeeping, 3D printing, laser cutting and plenty of other extremely cool projects.

However, Fab Labs are only part of what’s turning Barcelona into one of the top cities in the world for attracting business talent. As this Mediterranean seaside town focuses on fostering growth and nurturing start-ups through initiatives such as Boot Camp, Barcelona Activa and various incubators and accelerators, the entrepreneurial spirit is growing at an unprecedented rate. And as the creative momentum in the city continues to evolve and to thrive, young professionals, hipsters and start-up aficionados are looking beyond just growing their businesses, but at developing themselves. Today, a successful company has become synonymous with having a strong sense of self-awareness, being able to reflect and to exude a confidence that is hard to ignore. CEOs, CFOs, COOs and ambitious people at all levels have started answering questions that are taking them beyond their co-working spaces and deeper into their thoughts and emotions. These new leaders are exploring how and why they’re holding themselves back and how they can get to where they ultimately want to be, and they’re using trained Coaches to do it.

Coaching is a relatively new phenomenon, one that’s taken off quite quickly in North America over the past 15 years, and is slowly gaining speed in Europe, especially in cities like Barcelona where there is a growing counter culture. In a society that hasn’t traditionally stood out for its innovative essence, the past few years have put this city on the map. Poble Nou, Glories and District 21 have become home to a cluster of international as well as local minds, brainstorming and driving a new type of business mind-set, one that’s focused on creation, originality and one that is open to exploring a world of possibilities; possibilities that lie not only in the business world but in delving into oneself.

“The best advice I ever got was to get a coach,” explains former Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, when asked what’s helped to make him so successful in his career. And that’s something Barcelona’s increasingly talented community is starting to realise and tap into.

A Toronto native, Sam Mednick is the founder of Blueprint Coaching, a professional life & executive coaching company. She also co-hosts an English-speaking radio show and works as a freelance journalist for USA Today and Barcelona Metropolitan.

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