2015: MyIntent to learn


My first company, Applingua Ltd, is now over four years old. When I quit my previous job and started my first company I looked at it as a training programme. I told my friends and family that I couldn’t afford to study for a masters and instead would start and run my own business for a year. I hoped that I would learn by doing all the legal, accounting, finance and management myself; and by researching and overcoming all the stumbling blocks that many first time business owners are confronted with.

It’s impossible to quantify how much I learned in that first year. Not just the hard facts, but also the emotional roller coaster of getting clients, invoicing, setting pricing. Non payers and managing subcontractors. It wasn’t overly difficult, but it did take a lot of brain power and that was tiring.

As the years have gone by, running the business has become almost second nature. The process has stayed more or less the same and I’ve found myself having to read up on certain topics much less than I once had to. In some respects, my need to learn at work has diminished.

In November I found myself at a Startup Mixer in San Francisco, where one guy, Chris Pan, took to the stage to tell the room about his project, MyIntent. He described the MyIntent bracelet as ‘wearable technology’ and gave what the British might call a ‘sugary-sweet, love-peace-and-harmony’ speech about what is essentially a wearable imprinted metal drain pipe washer. I rolled my eyes, tutted and wondered if I could exit the auditorium without being seen. For all intents and purposes I was not willing to learn what he had to say.

Later in the evening I came across the MyIntent stall and scratched my head as to why anyone in their right mind would be impressed by this low-grade metal ring. Through sheer curiosity and the much more open-mindedness of my friend, Xenia Menzies, we approached the stall where one of their reps asked us out straight, “What’s your word?”. I looked at her perplexed, what on Earth was she asking me? “What’s your word?,” she repeated, “You know, what one word defines or describes your purpose in life? Why are you here? What is your intent?”.

I would have thought this was a question that required weeks of introverted thought and consideration, but in that single moment only one thing kept coming to the front of my mind, something I had consistently told friends over the years, “all I ever want to do is learn”.

“Sorry?”, the rep replied.

“To learn! Learn. Learn, is my word”.

For two months now I have worn this little metal washer with pride. On more than one occasion, when I’ve felt like avoiding going out of my comfort zone, or felt too lazy to read an article, I’ve noticed this little imprinted word shining back at me, reminding me to learn. Its neurolinguistic properties remind me of Mauricio Estrella’s Medium story about how changing his password, changed his life. It may sound kitsch, but the power of one word, repeated over and over again is immense.

This simple, throw-away washer has had a big impact on my enthusiasm for 2015 and the possibilities of what I can achieve not only in my private, but also my in professional life and Applingua’s own success. I’ve decided that it’s time to learn at work again full time. To grow my business and to take it to new levels. In some ways to reinvent it and to learn from the process, whether it succeeds or fails. MyIntent is to learn this year, and that’s what makes 2015 so exciting. I was wrong, Chris Pan, and you were most definitely right.

So, what’s your word?

I would love to hear your thoughts…
  1. Mina says:

    My word – choices

    As I reflect on my life and in this period of my life, everything is about choices. My time is valuable and I only want exceptional things / people in my life.


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