Penny Power has a glossy image. Widely regarded as the pioneer behind LinkedIn, she is the founder of three successful businesses, is happily married, has raised three children, enjoys holidays and travel, and has an OBE under her belt… all looks so good. The reality is that there is a lot of pain, challenges, adversity and loss of self-worth in her business and life journey.
Having been a business owner for over 2 decades, Penny labelled herself an Accidental Entrepreneur for many years. In 1998, she saw an opportunity for business people to connect online and created Ecademy, the world’s first social network for business, pre-dating LinkedIn by 4 years.
Penny had one ambition for this platform, to generate a culture of friendship in business. She connected over 650,000 members across 52 countries using the power of blogging, community, events and the culture of “friendship first”. Ultimately, they were disrupted by the force of LinkedIn and after 14 years Penny sold the business. However, the impact of Ecademy was formally recognised when Penny received an OBE for her ‘contribution to entrepreneurship in the Social Digital Economy.’
Having been involved in the IT industry since 1983, Penny witnessed many shifts during her career: From PCs being introduced into offices, then the home to more recent years of accessing the internet anytime, anywhere and importantly the shift into social media. Having led many of the technological advancements, Penny has seen the impact technology has had upon our stress, anxiety and general mental health and emotional wellbeing… and this includes herself.
“To be whole, I had to break.”
In November 2017, Penny realised she had hit a stumbling block. The constant demand and pressure had become too much. She realised she needed to press the pause button and reassess her business mind to decide if she wanted to be as ambitious as she has always been. So, Penny decided to take some time off to discover more about herself and the parts of her personality which had always seemed to make business a tough world for her.
She had been conditioned to believe being sensitive was disempowering and negative, however, Penny came to understand that you do not have to be traditionally tough to excel in the world of business. She now believes that her empathetic nature, sensitivity and emotions are her strength and she wants to share her journey of self-discovery with others who may feel similarly.
“For years it was drummed into me that being sensitive was a negative in business and I needed to be tougher. Now I know that my empathy, emotions and sensitivity to others are my strengths. I am proud to be sensitive.”
During this time, she developed her latest book ‘Business is Personal’, which highlights the importance of humanity within business. She shares her beliefs about managing our emotions and minds in a highly connected world and reflects on her own very open and honest experiences.
As a result of Penny’s personal discoveries, she feels she could have enjoyed a far more joyful business journey and sees many similarities in the lives of others. Penny now feels more whole than ever before, and in her speaking, she passionately shares her journey and the discoveries she made.
We can’t wait to hear her talk at this year’s EWIF Awards Ceremony sponsored by NatWest. To find out more about the awards and how you can get your tickets, click here.