On Serendipity

Serendipity always delights me! I guess it stems from the definition really, after all a ‘happy coincidence’ cannot but make you happy. But that moments when things line up, when you realise that a stroke of fortune is coming your way, well, I find that can light up the gloomiest day. I was thinking about this on my way to this afternoon’s meetup, a gathering of altMBA alumni in London. Living in the Isle of Man makes it harder to just drop in on these events, and I had missed the first one I knew about. But, as I’m heading to Web Summit tomorrow, this meetup just fell slap bang in the middle of my travel. In fact, it’s a pretty convenient way to break up a two-flight trip 🙂

There’s a great definition of serendipity on Wikipedia, but my favourite bit is the section of serendipity in scientific discovery:

The serendipitous can play an important role in the search for truth, but is often ignored in the scientific literature because of traditional scientific behavior and scientific thinking based on logic and predictability.

Successful researchers can observe scientific results with careful attention to analyzing a phenomenon under the most diverse and different perspectives. They can question themselves on assumptions that do not fit with empirical observations. Realizing that serendipitous events can generate important research ideas, these researchers recognize and appreciate the unexpected, encouraging their assistants to observe and discuss unexpected events.

Serendipity can be achieved in groups where a ‘critical mass’ of multidisciplinary scientists work together in an environment that fosters communication, establishing the idea that the work and the interest of a researcher can be shared with others who may find a new application for new knowledge.

I guess the takeaway here is that serendipity can be designed into a process. Removing rigour from a process leaves room for ‘luck’ and other anomalous events that can yield unexpected consequences. It’s up to us however to be open to these events and take advantage of them when they occur.

Something to look out for I guess …

Two buns in the oven

It’s been almost 4 years since my Bun in the Oven announcement that turned out to be the wonder that is Arthur, and only recently we decided to see if we could repeat the magic with some of the embryos that were frozen when he was conceived. Well, only a few weeks ago we had 2 embryos put back. We named them Luck and Chance, because after 4 attempts to have Arthur, well, we knew we needed all the luck in the world. Here they are smiling for the camera:


Anyway, today we found out that both of them are doing well and we came back home with this photo:


To our amazement and joy, both embryos have implanted and seem to be doing extremely well. One of them was a bit shy, so you can’t actually see him here, but you can clearly see the other one on the left, waving his hand.

They’re 6 weeks old and only 6mm in size, so still really, really tiny and the first trimester is fraught with risk, but we have high hopes for them and if everything goes to plan we’ll have twins sometime late in September.

I’ll keep you posted with further news!

Being Belisi: How it all started

I love reading storied about how people started their businesses. It’s great to read about the lessons they learnt, the mistakes they made (that’s the best way to learn) and how something grew from a glimmer of a concept in someone’s mind to a large self-sufficient organisation.

Today I came across a post called: Belisi – How it Started which is all about how a fashion designer (Peter Belisi), made the transition from bartending to the fashion market. I think the most poignant part is the drive that Peter had:

Struggling to support my wife and newborn baby with no savings, I wanted to start a business; to do something I enjoy and provide a better life for my family.

That pretty much sums it all, the determination that an individual has to better himself and provide a better future for his family. Some strike it lucky, others not so lucky; Peter seems to be one of the lucky ones. But this sort of luck doesn’t just fall out of the sky. My boss Garth once shared some wisdom with me. He said:

Yes, I was lucky, but I worked darn hard to become this lucky.

Luck isn’t all you need in business, perseverance, raw determination and instinctive leadership skills are also critical factors that no entrepreneur should be without.