Bronwen Sciortino on How To Bounce Back Stronger in Business
Bronwen Sciortino is CEO & Founder of sheIQ Life
Can you start by telling us a bit about your journey as an entrepreneur, focusing particularly on your experiences with setbacks and challenges? How has this shaped your understanding and mastery of resilience in business?
I 'accidentally' became an entrepreneur. I worked in the corporate world in high level jobs for almost two decades and I pushed myself way too hard for way too long before I eventually broke. As I was rebuilding my life and putting myself back together, I discovered that I was terrified of writing anything personal down. I started journaling as a way to move through this fear and that journaling morphed into my first book - 'Keep It Super Simple'. As that book went out into the world, people loved it and wanted other ways to work with me so I found myself creating workshops, leadership programs, corporate health and wellness programs, executive and leadership mentoring and coaching programs and keynote speeches that would eventually be delivered around the world. Not everything I created worked and there were many stop/start moments with lots of projects. Now, I work with the flow and take notice of the patterns in what people are asking for and discussing with me so that I can create products and services that are topical and provide solutions for the current concerns of people in the world.
In the world of entrepreneurship, failure is often seen as a stepping stone rather than a dead-end. How do you perceive failure, and can you share an instance where a failure led to an unexpected growth or success in your business?
Nowadays, I hardly ever use the words 'success' or 'failure'. Instead, I take an exploratory and adventurous approach to things. I constantly stick my toe in the water and give new ideas a shot to see where they lead. I prefer to be really curious about my life and move towards the things that catch my attention to see whether there's anything for me to learn there. Living like this allows me to drop the stress and pressure out of moving forwards and instead allows me to create small, simple steps that mean my life is always moving in positive and productive ways.
What strategies have you employed to cultivate a culture of resilience within your organization? How have these strategies made your team more adaptable and innovative, especially during trying times?
For me, it's all about connection to self. When you're consciously engaged with what you're doing you know that you're consciously making the decisions about where to next. I'm also regularly checking in with my thoughts to make sure that I maintain a kind and loving voice to myself so that I don't have to rely on anyone else to be my cheerleader. Doing these things drops the stress and the pressure out of everyday life and that means you don't need to have as high a level of resilience to start with. Then, when trying times come along (as they always do), you've got more fuel in the energy tank and you're not starting from a drained place when trying to sort through the challenge you're facing.
You've spoken about bouncing back from failure, but I'm curious to know if there is a methodology you follow to analyze what went wrong and how to correct it. Could you describe your process for assessing and learning from mistakes?
There are no mistakes. There are situations that provide you with information that creates wisdom and knowledge that you can use to move forwards. I believe that we spend far too much time categorising things as either 'good' or 'bad'. Every situation gives you knowledge that you can use moving forward. Life is much simpler when we simply take the information and use it in a way that works for us as we grow and develop through life.
Many entrepreneurs fear failure to the point that it paralyzes them. How do you balance taking calculated risks with the fear of failure? What advice would you offer to other entrepreneurs who struggle with this?
I know who I AM and I know what's important to me and I use that knowledge to assess every opportunity that comes across my desk. There will always be people who want you to do something for them, buy something from them or create something for them. When you know who you are and what's important to you, you can quickly and easily see whether what's in front of you matches what will work for you. I'm also always looking for the win-win situation because if both parties aren't getting what they need from a relationship or transaction then there's an imbalance that will most likely create conflict that is challenging to overcome.
Sometimes, resilience requires knowing when to pivot or even walk away from an idea. How do you recognize the difference between a challenge that requires persistence and a situation that necessitates a change in direction?
If it's important to me and there is a values match then I will persist with an idea. If one of those two key components is missing then that's a sure sign for me that it is best to walk away. Sometimes that's not easy, but I've found that walking away always provides me with greater insight, greater wisdom and greater opportunities.
The global economic landscape is always changing, and recent years have seen some extraordinary disruptions. How have you adapted your business to overcome unexpected global challenges? What were the key factors in your successful navigation of these waters?
Change is the only constant in life that we can truly rely on. There will always be change so it's imperative that our systems and processes are set up to be flexible and to allow us to grown and develop as we need to. In the last few years I found that I got much stronger with creating and holding my boundaries. I said 'No' a lot more than I ever have before and I ferociously defended my time to make sure I could do the things I needed to for me to be OK so I had way more energy in the tank to help others.
Resilience in the face of failure is often linked to personal growth as well. How have your business experiences shaped you personally? Can you share a moment where your professional resilience translated into a personal transformation?
I think that it is my personal experiences that have shaped my business rather than the other way around. It took me collapsing spectacularly to give myself the time and space to understand the impact of stress, burnout and exhaustion and to deliberately and consciously create a life that supports me in taking my work into the world and teaching others how to create lives that work for them. The greatest example of my resilience translating into a personal transformation was piecing myself back together after my life shattered then creating a global business that supports me whilst helping others heal their lives at the same time.