Meet Simona Barbieri: Founder of Hub Dot


Could you tell us a bit about your background and how it inspired Hub Dot?

I’m originally from the south of Italy and I grew up in this incredible Italian environment where everyone I was surrounded by had different stories and backgrounds. When I started living in London I was looking for a similar type of community and tribe, but I couldn’t find it.

I used to work for an investment bank in the city then after raising my family I started jazz singing. Over the years I found myself not enjoying networking with the communities around me. It seemed people were being labelled by their job titles and were pushed into telling predefined stories about themselves. It was this frustration of please don’t ask me again “what do I do or where do I work?”, I wanted to remove those labels.

Hub Dot is now an incredible community of people, but how and why did Hub Dot begin?

Eight years ago, a group of friends in London started gathering together, which grew and grew, and it became this very big global movement. Hub Dot started with a very simple desire and idea, which at the same time was a frustration (ideas often come from a frustration!). Fundamentally the idea was to change the rules of how you can connect with other people. So we just said let’s strip the labels and titles, and let’s create a community where the 21 year old intern can chat to the 62 year old entrepreneur who’s starting a new company. The Jazz Singer can meet the Tech Founder. This idea of cutting through the job titles and connecting on a human level. It doesn’t matter what your background is or how successful you are; you are your story and we value you as a human being. Many people were relating to this idea and saying “How wonderful, I don’t want to be defined by my job”. We are so much more than our jobs.

Fast forward eight years and we now define Hub Dot as a launch pad for thinkers, storytellers and entrepreneurs. It’s a space where you can come and be empowered to connect through your story. We help you make meaningful connections through what you share with us, according to your mindset.

It’s something you’ve got to come and experience to really understand, because Hub Dot didn’t start as a company. I always joke that I'm the most accidental entrepreneur and founder because I had a wonderful life raising my three kids while doing some freelance work and singing. But I had this idea that started resonating with so many people, and with London being such a diverse city, we grew quickly and I had to catch up. Hub Dot already had a vision on its own.

You say Hub Dot already had a vision, so what would you say is the overall goal for it?

We want each individual to be the best version of themselves and celebrate all that they are. Hub Dot is a space to break down barriers so people can meet with others who are from different walks of life, but they can learn so much from each other.

There are three things that we do at Hub Dot. The first is that we host events. Prior to Covid-19 we hosted events all over the world, New York was our 25th city that we launched pre-Covid, after South Africa, Latvia, Antigua and more.

Due to Covid-19, all our physical events pivoted to being online and digital throughout 2020. In both the physical and digital events, you have the space to tell your stories as well as hearing from other individuals. Whether you have an idea and are looking for a mentor, or you’re there to be inspired, or looking for some work, we’ll be able to help you. At our events, there’s a sense of wanting to give before taking, which is something I didn’t like about traditional networking setups. You never know a person’s story, so you should never judge based on what they look like. “How can I help, and what can I do?” is a mentality we encourage.

The second thing are our online courses which teach you how to shape your story. Believe it or not, you don’t need to be an experienced speaker to have a story or be a storyteller. We know everyone has an incredible story that is waiting to be unlocked. Over five weeks we teach you how you can craft your story, how to find your voice and what is your main message and focus. We also offer opportunities for you to share that story so that you can connect with someone in our community that can help you.

The third thing is we help organisations, banks, schools, governments and brands that want to have a strong engagement and build a community. We work with them, with our unique approach and our own network. We ensure that our methodology for human connection remains authentic, meaningful and transformative for businesses and individuals alike.

t sounds like you faced a few challenges due to Covid-19. How have you found the last year, overall?

It’s been very extraordinary to navigate but we’ve had to manage a lot of changes over the years. We said let’s do the one thing that we’ve always done which is ask our community what they need from us. After the first few weeks of shock and taking time out to process, we decided to host an event over Zoom to see what would happen and what the response would be. The first one we ran was in April 2020, and we had an incredible turnout. We were worried the magic of our physical events would get lost and not translate into the digital events but we saw people relax quickly. After having localised events all over the world, suddenly we could be one group online and all be together. Everyone can call in and experience Hub Dot. All of a sudden there are endless possibilities and we’re very excited about what we can do next.

When life goes back to ‘normal’ or we create our new normal, we can imagine having both physical and digital spaces. It will be an interesting new scenario for us.

Hub Dot uses a colour-coded system – could you explain it and talk us through the origin of it?

When we started Hub Dot, I wanted a way to strip all labels and give everyone permission to change their mindset. The five coloured dots are different ways to express how you feel each day, which can of course change.

Red - I am established and I have knowledge to share.

Yellow - The lightbulb moment: I have an idea and wondered if anyone can help me.

Green - The most popular dot: I’m here to be inspired.

Blue - I’m here to make new connections.

Purple - I want to tell you about my story, this is usually a project or story the person is very passionate about.

We hope sharing stories and learning about other people can encourage conversations and in turn become transformational for individuals. The dots make everyone feel brave and empowered to speak.

Hub Dot is founded on inspiration and motivation. What inspires and motivates you?

I am hugely inspired by the unexpected resilience and ability of reinvention that human beings have. I’m amazed and fascinated every time I come across new people, eager to learn more about them. Talking without filters can show your inner strength, you just need to find it.

What piece of advice would you give to someone who is looking to set up their own company or start their own personal project?

My advice from what I’ve learned over the years, is don’t underestimate the power that a passion project or an idea can have over you. What I mean by that is I had no idea that nurturing the little idea I had eight years ago could lead to what it is now.

What I would say to my younger self is be very present and mindful and also be aware that things can become successful. That little idea could become so much bigger and monumental compared to what you are thinking it is. Think “What would I do if…”.

Another thing I would say is stick to your vision and don't allow anyone around you, include those who you love, distract you. When you really are centred and it’s something you’re really passionate about, no one else should take that from you. It’s your vision. I find meditation, yoga, breath work and mindfulness are tools that can help you be really strong and sure of yourself. I’ve got my own routine and rituals that I practice every day when I wake up and go to bed. If you don’t have a strong sense of self then life will throw you curveballs and you will have to learn to deal with the situations.

What would be your top tip to help encourage others to live more sustainably and mindfully?

My kids are 11, 15 and 17 years old, and it’s really interesting speaking with them about how to live more sustainably. It’s incredible how they are teaching us, they are so aware. As a family and for me personally, we don’t buy a lot but when I do I always look for brands based on their sustainability ethos. I think some people can find it too big a subject to dive into, but we can all play a part. I like to break it down, focus on my own little life and see what we can do as a family.

For me, I need to resonate and connect with a brand’s story to want to purchase from them. I want to know about their ethos and products, but also how diverse and inclusive are they and how they treat their employees. Think twice, slow the process down and reduce how much we buy. The mindfulness feeds into this as you are making conscious choices by questioning things.

It’s always fun to end with a quickfire round...

  • Favourite TV series right now? I don't watch TV series sorry!
  • Last thing you cooked? Italian cannellini bean soup.
  • Favourite Instagram account to follow? @thekarenarthur
  • Best book recommendation? The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer
  • Perfect way to spend your weekend? Home, jazz, family, food and podcasts
  • Best restaurant you’ve eaten at? Bagno Ida, Ischia
  • Country you’d love to visit? Jamaica

Learn more about Hub Dot here.

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