Tonight I am speaking at Google Campus in London about the experience of building a business that I loved and then seeing it die. The event run by Google is called “StartUp Funerals”
I am proud to have been asked to do this as the learning achieved when you go through this type of experience helps to propel you onwards and with greater knowledge of yourself and business. Passing on this knowledge adds purpose to the experience.
The first observation I made when asked is why does Google refer to the experience as #failure. I guess it is obvious to take that path of thought when a business ceases. However, is it really failure? The definition of failure if “lack of success”. I cannot define what I went though as lack of success. I am so enormously proud of what we achieved and the people we impacted.
My story is about Ecademy. A business I created in 1998 from a dream of connecting business people online as friends. A business that, thanks to the hard work of so many, impacted over 1 million business people during its 14 years of trading. A business that trailblazed the concept of social networking, 4 years before LinkedIn and 6 years before Facebook. We were in 52 countries, had 5000 offline meet-ups a year, brought the concept of community blogging and running groups to the world and most of all, believed so strongly in the culture of “Friendship First’, that the legacy lives on far beyond the point at which I stopped owning it; the members continue to believe in this, now distributed throughout Twitter, LinkedIN and Facebook.
The way we define our experiences from the past creators belief systems and can hold us back or spur us forward. So here is the truth… until this year, 2018, I felt like a failure. My self worth was in the toilet and I believed I had failed. The result of this is that for the 6 years that I was grieving Ecademy meant I made some really bad errors of judgement. When you are in scarcity not only financially but also in your self esteem and self worth, you jump on anyone or anything that makes you feel validated.
The fist error was starting a new business in this mindset. I took on the wrong investors, became submissive, exhausted myself, worked for free, and went from bad day to bad day. 6 years later, I hit the metaphorical brick wall. Clinical exhaustion diagnosed, and a period of rest and self discovery
When we start a business, when we close a business, when we start working with a client, when we stop working with a client. These things demand respect and closure and time to grieve. The grief can be relative to the level of loss, but we do need to rest, reflect, learn and repair.
So tonight, at the Google Campus event, I hope to help the tech startups learn as much as I can from my experience. I am open, I am not ashamed and my mission is to give just one person the emotional sty Reg this and self awareness to help them through the inevitable ups and downs. A Strong Mind, creates a Strong Business.. it starts and ends with you, not just with why.
These are some of the tweets received after my talk, I love the way they captured some of my quotes.