Lightbulb Moments

Lightbulb Moments


I stumbled across a document today, written over four years ago, and titled “Thoughts on Failure”. Written in February 2008,  it was about Make Your Mark with a Tenner, which as friends may know has been under lock and key for some time, pending the upcoming announcements from the trustees of Enterprise UK. 

To cut a VERY long story short, having come up with the idea for Tenner (where thousands of school pupils are handed ten pounds and have one month to “make money and make a difference”), I partnered with Enterprise UK to make it happen.  Without the support of many amazing people (including Tom Savage, Scott Cain, Shaa Wasmund, Andrew Reynolds, NESTA, Michael and Xochi Birch, The Big Lottery Fund, Peter Jones, Luc Benyon, Martha Jennings, Richard Strudwick and countless other BIS and Enterprise UK team members and trustees), it grew to engage over sixty thousand participants.  

Following the end of Enterprise UK,  a formal procedure must be followed to find parties wishing to ‘take on’ the scheme.  All being well, that procedure will begin again shortly.

Here is my note from 2008.  It rings a bell, for various reasons;

On his journey to inventing the light bulb, Thomas Edison said “I’ve not failed.  I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

One good thing about giving 10,000 school pupils a Tenner was to allow them to experience a range of things that ‘didn’t work’. Very often, the schemes which made the most money came from a second or third attempt.  I reckon we need to give more people the chance to experience things not going according to plan.  Yes, it can be disappointing – it can also be exhilarating!  There’s a big difference between ‘things’ not working out and ‘you’ not working out – I think it helps for people to experience the difference. 

Some people are terrified of being judged entirely on the basis of their most recent activity.  That’s bad enough if you have a track record.  It’s a nightmare if you’re starting out because, with that mindset, your first venture will determine what those watching think of you.  So what’s the solution?  Well, one idea is to beat them to it, and create a reputation for yourself which goes beyond any one venture, whether that’s through your kindness, your bright ideas, your helpful suggestions, or anything else you can think of. I have seen people achieve this and it’s amazing to watch!  Against that backdrop, people see one ‘business’ as just one of a series of adventures that someone embarks upon – pretty refreshing!  

Marie Curie reckoned that nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.  The way you can break down misunderstanding in business is through conversation with people who have been where you want to go.  So the number one way to reduce fear is to create connections between people.

More than anything I’ve ever worked on, I hope that Tenner can find the partners it needs to succeed and become a worldwide phenomenon.  Forgive the ambition – I would like it to be the next Comic Relief.

As one of life’s optimists, I’m confident that the best days for this simple idea are ahead.  If you’re reading this, and have a lightbulb moment, I’d love to hear from you.

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