One month and one lesson: Valencia and the psychology behind business decisions

I’m on a year-long adventure around the world with Remote Year: 12 cities, 12 months, 53 people. Read the last post here  


It’s the land of sun, tapas and siesta, and it’s my happy place. Spending a month along the coast in the small city of Valencia was quite a treat – if I weren’t on a travel schedule, I’m not sure I’d have left.

Valencia's on the east coast of Spain about three hours south of Barcelona. It's the third-largest city in the country, though significantly smaller than Madrid and Barcelona. It’s also the birthplace of paella – the real paella, as any Valencian will be sure to stress to you. Paella Valenciana is traditionally made with chicken, rabbit and beans - not seafood.

With intricate architecture, narrow streets dotted with apartment balconies and a vibrant street art scene, it’s easy for creative vibes to fill your work day. I spent the month working out of Wayco’s co-working space, which has established itself as a well-known gathering space for expats and locals.

Valencia has a burgeoning tech and startup scene, but it's still relatively nascent compared to the businesses and resources of Barcelona and Madrid. There’s a large expat community in Valencia, which supports the startup scene, as well. One of the most successful and well-known startups here is Flywire, which also has offices in Boston and around the world. 

This month’s lesson fittingly comes from a world-traveler-turned-local-Valencian, Psychologist Jodie Rogers, and it’s a simple one: 

Controlling your mind to gain professional success

Your immediate situation, surroundings and feelings impact how your brain perceives the world around you. If you’ve ever suffered from hunger, you may feel legitimized to know a study demonstrated the intense power hunger can have on your mind: Judges hearing applications for parole from prison were two-thirds more likely to grant it at the beginning of the day or after a meal break. If their case was heard when the judge had an empty stomach, prisoners were far less likely to be granted parole. 

Why do you think the best business deals are formed over lunch? Satisfying your body’s physical needs and establishing a positive emotional state makes it much easier to accomplish hard work or reach a decision.

Now, you can take this knowledge and exercise your brain to recognize your surroundings, your mood, your energy and so on and be more pragmatic about a project you’re about to embark on or a pitch you need to win. Being aware and nullifying the effects of your surroundings will help you toward a positive outcome. 

But – you can also use this knowledge to set yourself up for success at work. Need to sell your team on a new idea? Set a meeting for early in the day – and bring bagels. Have a particularly challenging work week ahead? Don’t throw away your exercise and meal times. Want a raise? Set up a lunch meeting.


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