A small number of people actively hunt down the people, places and problems that will most challenge them. Through some curious intellectual alchemy, an even smaller number then transform those challenges into something delightful, curious and comprehensible for all the rest of us.
Fionnuala is one of them.
Having already founded a number of successful startups, she now runs Wevolve, a coaching app powered by AI that helps people work better together. Fionnuala also writes a blog, Robots-and-Me - which she describes as "couples’ therapy for the age of automation... where only one of the partners has bothered to turn up" - and is behind a new enterprise, The Guild of Troupers, best thought of as "a seriously playful band of uncompromisingly creative talent".
HOW IN PRACTICE DO yOU SPEND YOUR TIME?
I help people get the most out of each other's differences. If that works, everything else falls into place. So I spend most working hours listening, asking questions, making the odd suggestion, getting to know people, throwing them together, thinking how to get the best out of them and for them, that kind of people-problem-solving. Plus telling bad jokes - no better way to bring a team together (albeit against me).
Why do you do what you do?
Because I'm fed up of idiotic pretending. Political crisis, climate change, inequality, automation...does anyone seriously think we can solve those challenges with spreadsheets, management-speak and the gig economy? Humans are great at two things: creativity and collaboration. So why not play to those human strengths? Gets better results, and it's a million times more fun.
What's the one thing that your work has taught you that you wish everyone knew?
Be honest about your crazy - whatever stops you from doing your best work. Nobody's perfect, everyone wants to be understood and valued and find an easier path through life.
So be open about the help you need, the things you don't want to do, the conditions under which stress gets to you. If the person you tell is worth it, s/he will appreciate you more for your honesty and help you do your best. If they're not worth it, better you find out straightaway and go elsewhere!
What advice has most influenced or assisted you recently?
Thomas Jefferson wrote to his daughter "We are none of us perfect, no, not one, and if we loved only those who were without fault, this world would be a desert for our love." It isn't. We shouldn't.
How could The Hot Breakfast community help or support you or your organisation?
I'm always looking for interesting people - to work with, to be inspired by, to have serious fun with and help however I can. The more and the more honestly and openly we get together, the better.
What's your breakfast of choice?
My breakfast of choice: cold pheasant and champagne. My breakfast of reality: burned porridge, minus the raisins I forgot to buy. Again.