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Penny Power Ponders innovation forced by adversity

Thank you for joining me again with my ‘Ponder’ and, this week, together we can think about all those moments we were challenged, those moments of adversity and how life turns out depending on how we reacted to it.

None of us have sailed through life without some serious moments of pain that caused us to develop our inner self. I imagine, like me, you are quite grateful for those times, even if the memory of those moments can still hurt in some cases.

I remember each year, at this time, the moment my sister rang to say her daughter had died. That was certainly not a moment to be grateful for, however, I am eternally grateful to Vicki, my amazing niece, for the gift of my gratitude for every day that I am allowed to age. Never, since that moment have I taken for granted a birthday, the survival of an illness, and my health.

Adversity can certainly make us grateful for many things. In this ponder, I am going to focus on the fact that so many of us innovate better in business when we are forced to, for this reason I am grateful for all the challenges I have faced in business.

I talk to many in keynotes about the ‘process of elimination’ and how life can be a journey of trying things and then knowing when they are no longer right for us and the courage we need in business to “Fail early, fail often, but always fail forward”, a famous quote by John C Maxwell.


Finding the right business model in today’s market is a vital aspect of success. Getting stuck on doing things the way we have always done it can have a detrimental impact on our progress and sometimes we can be working in a business that we no longer love to serve. We all change, markets change, technology and marketing changes and so do we. Sometimes it takes adversity to force that change of business model.

Let me tell you my story of this and hopefully this will inspire or prompt a way to join up something from your past and find your greater joy.

Having built Ecademy in 1998, the first social network in the world, we were anti-risk and wanted to find a steady business model. In 2018, Thomas and I created a business that was not innovative, many people were doing it, and our success was due to our ability to leverage our brand, use our personal wisdom and empathy and recruit great people. We started Masterminds. We loved them as they were offline and, having spent a huge amount of our working life online, we thrived in this environment, and it gave us a far better work life balance than we had ever had. We loved the closeness with our clients.

In March 2020, this came crashing down. Covid struck and the 36 clients we had, across 3 Masterminds, could no longer meet up. Reluctantly, we all went online, with the promise that we would not charge for the period we were online, and all the offline Masterminds would continue as soon as we could. This meant one of our 12-month Masterminds actually lasted 22 months as we were only 2 months into delivering when we were forced online.

In August 2020 we could see that we had a vulnerable business and we had to rethink for our long term. Hannah, our daughter and my Coach, came to us and said, “Mum and Dad, you have to return to building community online”. Having done this for 14 years from 1998 to 2012 with Ecademy and remembering the pain of the market moving from social networking to social media and broadcast, we shuddered. However, she was so right, the blend we always loved of online and offline was where our expertise lay, and finally the world was ready for deep connections and love again.

In October 2020 we launched BIP100, bringing all our dots together and, through our experience of missing the intimacy when Ecademy grew so large, we decided to limit our Community of Business Owners to 100, enabling us to meet them and serve them online as well. Finding the right business model for us had moved us forward. We failed forward!

Without the adversity of the Covid economy, we would never have innovated in this way.

As I close off, perhaps you can think about your business and how you are innovating and whether you need to rethink your business model, your delivery, marketing, sales or clients.

Being stuck is never good, failing is painful, but there are always solutions that leverage your true calling, and seeing adversity as a positive thing can certainly help you to find your creativity.


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