Stas Gayshan

“In law school, Stas frequently plays the role of ‘student’, although to mixed reviews.”
~ Boston College Law Revue 2008 program

I’ve never been very good at sitting at my desk.

After graduating from BC Law, while at the bar rejoicing about the end of the bar, I got a call from my parents to join them for dinner and celebrate the occasion. After that fateful dinner, I sat alone at their kitchen table, with a cup of hot green tea in hand, thinking … what’s next?

The hot tea turned cold as I started thinking back to my experiences in political campaigns and nonprofits. A common thread pulled at my thoughts; unimportant tasks hinder organizational missions. That tea table moment was the inception of a four-year adventure–Space with a Soul.

Before law school, I focused on the “what” as the end result of any task. Going to BC Law taught me to think about the process of doing, the “how.” If we lay our cards on the table, we might be able to agree that law schools and lawyers are often criticized for an incessant focus on the process of doing. Yet, it was this particular way of thinking that helped me focus on reimagining the process of people working together.

The Israeli sociologist Yuval Noah Harari set the table for thinking about work when he explained that humans are unique in the animal kingdom because of our particular ability to work with one another in complex, changing, coordinated efforts. This unique ability to collaborate is responsible for our collective impact on the world as a species, good and bad.

So, in a digital world with planet-crossing interconnections, why do we bother working together by going to a physical office at all? Something particularly powerful happens when we work in proximity to other humans. Innovation occurs at the intersection of disciplines. Space, properly designed for interaction, enables progress and innovation. My goal was to create such a space at significant scale, built for interaction, enabling progress and innovation and reducing the operational complexities of running a small team that is too busy changing the world.

Enabling the enablers became my passion.

And so, with help from friends and classmates, I made myself Chief Escritoire Officer, and Space with a Soul was brought to life for mission-aligned organizations and friends. We opened our doors in 2011 and welcomed the first group of those who wanted to work in a place that was about more than space.

Five years ago, I was approached by my friends (and now colleagues) from the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC), to join CIC and scale this approach to the world. At CIC, we build innovation communities to empower change makers with resources and connections. I joined the company as managing director, founded CIC Boston, and started up our efforts in Miami, Warsaw, and Sydney.

These days I spend more than 20 weeks a year working from those little tables that fold from the seatback in front of you. I get to work with cities around the world and build innovation communities, drink a lot of coffee, and enjoy a lot of table talks.

The big idea is to figure out where, and how, we can stretch our innovation networks across the globe.

So… where next?

–Stas Gayshan

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