In the era of information and where a lot of the biggest brands in the world are fighting for our attention, I would inspire a movement focused on helping each of us to have more presence and connection with the present moment. Disconnect to connect with ourselves and with the moment and people around us. I don’t know exactly what would be the best way to achieve this, but bringing the habit of mindfulness in order to train our brains to be more connected with the present moment I think it would be a great way to start with. In my case, even though I do it less than I would like to, it has worked wonders. I think it has a great impact on the person practicing it and also it impacts positively to the people around them. If everyone established this as a daily habit, I think it would have an enormous positive impact globally.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Eduardo Gaya Sanchez.
Edu is passionate about water sports and traveling. He founded his first start-up 8 years ago and has worked in large corporations in the technology sector such as Samsung and Google before beginning this incredible entrepreneurial adventure called Barner. He has lived in countries such as China, Singapore, Ireland, the Netherlands and England and is now back in Barcelona applying all those personal and professional learning in his new project.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
My entrepreneurial spirit was first tapped in 2008 — my mum had just opened a local shop in my Barcelona neighborhood, selling a variety of things. In efforts to set our business apart, I proposed the idea of launching the store on e-commerce, which I took the full reins in running. It was my first taste of helping run a brand. A year later I moved to Asia where I worked for different start-ups and corporations including Samsung and Google, which then lead me to Dublin where I continued to work with Google. After spending 2 and a half years there, personal reasons took me back to Barcelona. My time spent in tech and at Google made me realize the industry needed a brand that focused on empowering the digital generation, with innovations intended to make life easier… and Barner was born.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
I guess there are many interesting stories and learning’s to share, especially when you’re the founder if a start-up business — as my partner and I have played many roles and have worn many hats, with a number of teachable moments.
I recall one scenario at the beginning that taught us a truly valuable lesson. When we went to visit the manufacturing factories for the first time, we headed to China, a destination neither of us were familiar with. After not even 24 hours being in Shanghai, our point person came to our hotel room the next morning and asked us for both of our passports — saying he needed them to purchase our train tickets to travel to the factory outside the city.
Of course, only having known him for a few hours, and being in a foreign city by ourselves we were kind of reluctant to give something so valuable to him. It was kind of weird. To avoid an awkward discussion we offered to join him, but he insisted that we stay, not rush ourselves, eat breakfast and he’d be back shortly to accompany us. After much back and forth we agreed to let him go, despite our nerves. Of course, he returned, and our fears never ended up being a real concern. This taught us something extremely valuable in business — trust.
Simon Sinek says that it is much better, in order to build a sustainable and healthy business, to have people with high trust and mid performance than having people with really high performance and low trust.
In the end, we trusted our point of contact, gave him both of our passports, we didn’t have to rush, we enjoyed a really nice breakfast in the hotel and now today, this person is an integral part of our business — leading our Quality Control at the factories we work with and our broker for new potential factories.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I think there are 3 main things that make Barner stand out. The first being we are a company with a clear mission and we are completely dedicated to. Our mission is to empower the lives of the digital generations with functional, creative and beautifully designed products.
Currently, our main offering is cool and comfortably designed blue light glasses (with our sights set on expansion). We paid attention to every detail to make frames that everyone will feel proud of wearing. Funnily enough, when we first launched so many people in our network asked when we’d launch sunglasses and the answer was, we wouldn’t. Speaking back to our mission, all of the products we put out would be to empower the digital generation and sunglasses don’t achieve this.
The second being, our values. We have 4 really strong values that we share internally and externally. They’re what bond us with our community, and they dictate our goals and how we navigate our day to day.
And lastly, we are a purpose driven company. We have answered the UN’s call to action through its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In particular, there are four key goals we focus on. We take pride in our efforts to be carbon neutral and take action to be as such (we have already planted more than 16,000 trees to date). We have also donated prescription glasses to those in need, which will not only help improve their daily lives but create opportunities for folks to work again, and earn an income to contribute and reinvigorate their community’s economy.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Indeed!! We are always working on new exciting projects and we think this is what makes us thrive. Currently we’re working on an exciting new accessory (unrelated to eyewear) that we suspect will further empower the digital generation. We cannot disclose what is going to be yet but we’re hoping to launch this in February or March.
What advice would you give to other leaders to help their team to thrive?
Never lose your passion and always try to move your team out of their comfort zones. There is an amazing world out of the comfort zone 😉
What advice would you give to other leaders about the best way to manage a large team?
Define your mission and values, and always hire people that are aligned with those values. Once someone from the team mentioned that for him it wasn’t about selling glasses or screws, but instead it was his alignment to our mission and what we were doing in parallel to selling Blue light glasses (everything related to becoming a purpose driven company). If peoples’ purposes are aligned with the company’s, you will have a highly motivated team and organization.
Besides hiring, what we think is essential for managing a large team is to put a direction on the daily actions and have the whole team paddling in the same direction. To do this we are using an amazing methodology called OKRs where the quarterly objectives are not coming top down but instead is each area who is defining their own objectives for the upcoming quarter.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Totally agree. If you want to go fast go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
Being honest, we are super thankful to every single person on the team, as every single one of them made their contribution in order to bring the organization where it is right now. Of course the level of value that some of them brought is different from other ones, but we think that we are where we are right now thanks to every single one of them.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
We were born thanks to crowdfunding campaigns like Kickstarter and Indiegogo and because of this we will be eternally grateful to the “crowd” for their support. It’s truly something we felt in our souls, and that is what Barner is — a “brand with soul.” We believe every action we do as a business should, in some form, give back to society. Why? Because if every single company did that, we would live in a much better world.
This is largely why we’ve committed to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) — with actionable steps including planting a tree for every single e-commerce order we receive. You can peek at our impact here: https://tree-nation.com/profile/impact/barner. We also donate prescription glasses to people in need, to (as mentioned above) have a larger impact on their careers and society’s.
What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.) →
1. First you need to be able to lead yourself before leading others. If you don’t take care of yourself how are you going to take care of others?
2. Leadership does not mean to give orders and ask people to do things. Leadership means to be at the service of others in order to get the best out of every single one of your colleagues and make them shine.
3. Be fully present when having one to one meetings with the people of your team. If you are fully present when having your one to ones, empowering conversations will come up. Conversations are the best leadership tool. The quality of conversations will define the quality of your relationships.
4. Intellectual stimulation: It is really important to encourage your teammates to face new challenges and keep developing themselves (both in a personal and professional way). Actually I totally believe that there is no professional development without personal development.
5. Think about the objectives and KPIs but most importantly think about people. Always try to empathize with your teammates and try to identify how they are doing emotionally.
I think it is better to always go at 85% — 90% of your resources in order to give space to add a gear in times when it is needed, than always going at 100% — 110%. Going always at 100% could burnout yourself and also your colleagues and this is indeed not good for the organization.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂 →
In the era of information and where a lot of the biggest brands in the world are fighting for our attention, I would inspire a movement focused on helping each of us to have more presence and connection with the present moment. Disconnect to connect with ourselves and with the moment and people around us. I don’t know exactly what would be the best way to achieve this, but bringing the habit of mindfulness in order to train our brains to be more connected with the present moment I think it would be a great way to start with.
In my case, even though I do it less than I would like to, it has worked wonders. I think it has a great impact on the person practicing it and also it impacts positively to the people around them. If everyone established this as a daily habit, I think it would have an enormous positive impact globally.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life? →
“If you live each day as it was your last, someday you’ll certainly be right”
I think the keynote speech that Steve Jobs gave in Stanford in 2005 was very inspiring for many people. For me, one of the most inspiring parts was when he said this.
Our lives are the sum of every single one of our days. So, if we pay attention to take the most out of every single day, we will take the most out of our full life.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them →
Wooh! That is a big one. I follow a lot of inspiring people and people who are doing great things out there. Of course having lunch with Richard Branson or Tony Robbins would be an amazing experience. With Richard Branson, I love his vision and the thought that goes into whatever he’s created, the passion to live a life to its fullest and now the philanthropic focus on having a great impact on the world and leave it better than how it was found. Tony Robbins has a great power to lift vibrations and encourage them to pursue a better life. Another person that really inspires me and that maybe not that popular is Vishen Lakhiani, I love the vision he has on changing education through Mindvalley.