This week I’m summarising the conversation I had last week with Martha Lane Fox, who is a remarkable human being and a fascinating example of true leadership.
The word that summarised this episode for me was serendipity and I think that’s what we’re really missing right now, those moments of spontaneity. So how can we create those moments?
Martha introduced this concept describing the very early stages of her career, when her first job was really to become a cheerleader for the internet. She credits the success of her first company to a few things, and highlighted building trust and credibility about the internet with investors, users and employees. She had to build up this relationship which had never existed before.
When we discussed how she survived the original DotCom Bust, Martha walked me through the following:
1- timing was everything and got lucky. Had enough cash enough to ride out the original bust.
2- Co-founding relationship was right.
Had 2 people making the company grow fast.
Able to do more breadth and depth by dividing and conquering.
3- Learned that success is all about the people.
Empowered her young team
Helped them feel real ownership and accountability. That is the secret.
Martha describe herself as being a generalist and gets her focus comes being centred around her passions. Her earliest life passion was social justice, which is where she anticipated she would be addressing complex problems in prison systems but instead her roles in the internet and government are really united in this central theme of social justice, and being an advocate.
I’ve also been thinking a lot about her TED Talk: “The Digital World is having a midlife Crisis!” and the 3 big questions she asked:
1- Will we look back in 10 years and be proud of the solutions we’ve created?
2- Have we got the right voices in the room?
3- Are we using the tools of the modern age in the best way we can?
What would your answer be to these questions? What do you think?
Finally, here’s a few ways on how you can create opportunities for yourself:
-Being willing to ask questions
-Shift from knowing nothing about a subject and one week later being a world’s expert.
-Shift from “know it alls to learn it alls”.
-There is an importance of Hinterland (meaning the depth and breadth of knowledge). PoetryFoundation.org
-“Success” rarely feels like “success” in the moment. It feels messy and anxious or subpar. No one feels it as a permanent state.
What did you think of this week’s episode? I’d love to hear from you! Email me at [email protected] :)
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Martha Lane Fox is a British entrepreneur, philanthropist, internet activist and public servant.
In 1998 Martha co-founded Europe’s largest travel and leisure website, lastminute.com with Brent Hoberman. They took it public in 2000 and sold it in 2005 in a historically successful exit.
Martha became a crossbench peer in the UK House of Lords in March 2013 as it’s youngest female member and she was awarded a CBE (which is the highest ranking Order of the British Empire award given to recognise a positive impact made in her work.)
In March 2014 she was appointed Chancellor of the Open University and in 2017 she was appointed a member of the Joint Committee on National Security Strategy.
Martha is a member of Twitter’s Board of Directors and Non Executive Director for Chanel. She is also a non executive director of Queens Commonwealth Trust.
She founded Doteveryone in 2015 which is a charity fighting for a fairer internet and building a movement for responsible technology.