What do you do when you have done it all? Meet Anne K Scott; imagination technologist, traveller, engineer, mentor. Adventurer, Commitment-phobe or a bit of both?
Anne is a West Londoner who lives near Portobello Road, but her quick intelligence, eye for detail and, it turns out, her Irish genes make her a chameleonic personality capable of infiltrating any social setting. She carries the medals and the war wounds of a life spent searching for those elusive goals that we all set ourselves: emotional fulfilment, a meaningful career, self-improvement, a sense of achievement.
I recently overheard a friend describing a colleague as swan-like; serene and elegant on the surface, legs paddling furiously underneath. Could this be Anne? We met at the first start-up accelerator Lab run by Henry Chuks, both wrote a blog piece, and I note that Anne is bullish about the prospects for one pitcher, Suzanne Noble, of Frugl, who she quickly identifies as a strong and energetic personality with a will to succeed. And she was right, Frugl is Tech City News’ download of the week. Check it out.
Let’s begin at the beginning. Anne is not your typical Irish lassie; tall, blonde, Nordic features (her father was 6ft 5”), but then again, she spins a cracking yarn, and her tales of growing up on the shore of Tramore Bay, Co. Waterford are full of the exploits of a clutch of siblings and a childhood of a bygone time.
A bright student, perhaps easily distracted, Anne could have taken a number of paths, but chose to enrol on a short software development course at the local Tech College, after her father suggested that if she couldn’t decide which career to pursue, she may as well choose the one course that paid a wage!
A father’s wisdom paid off as Anne graduated top of the class and was immediately snapped up, along with 6 other girls who also took the course, by Measurex, an American technology company now subsumed into Honeywell. Here she was a technician responsible for coding process control programs, painstaking work that involved punched cards, paper tape and radioactive scanners. I ask, why did the women get the Tech jobs, wasn’t there resentment amongst the male members of her class? She shrugs, “the women got jobs easily”. Perhaps, like her, they were all early adopters, playing table tennis during lunch breaks in the midst of the lumbering scanners, greeting the dawn of a new era with an amused implacability. Anne K Scott: the accidental pioneer?
But not, of course, for long. The lure of University and student life tugged and despite an artistic inclination she plumped for a computer science degree. She tells a story from her college days of struggling to comprehend a metaphor her teachers used about tiny men using semaphore to make computers work? Practical, questioning, a realist. These were perhaps the qualities inherent in Anne that those around her saw, even while she struggled to appreciate them herself.
In the 1980s Ireland was a magnet for technology companies offering tax breaks to American corporates in exchange for bringing in new jobs. In an industry finding its feet and with companies falling by the wayside Anne’s early career in Ireland was a hotch-potch of ‘interesting’ experiences, from the jet set lifestyle of the Irish Airport Authorities to fiddling with new fangled hand held revenue collection devices, and ultimately redundancy which precipitated a move to the UK.
Next, Brown & Root,Vickers, the engineering firm involved in the Great Man Made River Project in Libya and the construction of Piper Alpha and subsequently Piper Bravo in the North Sea. Document storage and control was a major concern on big construction projects and Anne worked on early PC based imaging systems. In Chester-Le-Street, Co. Durham WORM disks were used to store ‘poll tax’ forms and Anne’s claim to fame – the integration of the UK’s first jukebox style storage affair for this quaint technology now usurped by data storage virtualisation technologies such as RAID. Then another redundancy; the bitter taste of disappointment yet again? Well, Anne doesn’t do disappointment, so instead she spent 2 years backpacking around the world starting in Thailand, meandering through Nepal, India, Malaysia and finally Australia where as well as taking an acting course, she pitched up in Melbourne and became the first, and probably the last, backpacker to land a job as a consultant at big firm Deloitte.
When I ask Anne what has motivated her to accomplish so much, and how she came to be such an early adopter (imagine Thailand in the late 80’s, Alex Garland and Leo Di Caprio would have been in nappies), her response is telling, “never career”, and she begins to open up about the voyage of discovery that has helped her to understand the twin aspects of herself, and what makes her such a valuable commodity to the Tech industry. The vision to see how a project is going to be delivered. The pragmatism to make it happen.
Let’s skip the 8 months sailing in Mexico, the many successful project management roles, the first ever paperless office at Credit Suisse back in 1995, and the occasional hamster wheel moment, and get psychological. In a technical, practical way, of course. Let’s talk about soul goals, deconstruct entrepreneurialism, find out what’s real, and learn to live what you love.
Anne’s career took a turn for the metaphysical when she encountered Wealth Dynamics, an entrepreneurial model developed by Roger Hamilton, author, educator and social entrepreneur. Wealth Dynamics, based on the work of Carl Jung and Isabel Briggs Myers, identifies 8 different kinds of entrepreneur. Amongst others, there are the Accumulators, like Warren Buffet, Stars, such as Tiger Woods or Oprah Winfrey, Mechanics, like Jeff Bezos, and Creators or ideas people, like Gates and Jobs. Anne discovered she was on the introvert/extrovert cusp; a cross between Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and the late great Steve Jobs if you will.
All have their strengths and weaknesses: introvert / extrovert, intellectual / practical, doer / thinker, and by understanding what and who we are dealing with, we can plan accordingly, and manage ours and other’s expectations.
But Anne being Anne she has gone deeper, deeper into the psychology of success, squaring up to the kind of social conundrums that many of us might wish to avoid: what do you love? How do you partner your weaknesses and play to your strengths? How can we create and master our destinies?
A chance encounter with social evangelist Darren Eden, at the Academy of Greatness, and his mentor intuitive master William Whitecloud, and author of The Magician’s Way and founder of Secrets Of Natural Success has led Anne to the exploration of intuitive living. Intuition is the language of the heart and the heart is not so much interested in success as truth. Success is redefined, feeling good is no longer her standard of measurement. Living intuitively is not about feeling good, it is about being true to yourself and that is not always the easy road. The temptation to throw it all away and hide under the duvet can be over-powering at times. It can be a struggle to confront one’s failures, tough to realise that the world does not work in the way that you thought it should.
Ok, I can’t help it, I’m feeling slightly dizzy. I have to ask: can all this speculation, this constant questioning and re-orientation really be healthy? Might Anne, so experienced, well-travelled, have gone a bit native? Not at all, she counters, and asks “what would you do if money were no object?” Would you do what you are doing, is this really what you wanted when you began your life’s journey?
Yes and no. A part of me wants the emotional security that comes from knowing what the day will bring, keeping my weaknesses at bay, and shutting out unnecessary thoughts and feelings. But real fulfilment comes, to paraphrase Robert Frost, from knowing about and understanding the road not taken, the one less travelled by. This is what will make all the difference.
Magic happens, Anne concludes, when we can surrender our need to know and stand outside the doors of our perception. In innocence – for innocence, she argues, read in-no-sense. The other part of me (the better part?) wants to keep sitting and drinking coffee and to discuss reality, perception, dropping structures, and emotional progress. Anne would make an ideal companion.
Anne K Scott is the creator of FREE productivity iPhone app FindYourMojo and is available for consultancy sessions including Visioning for Start-Ups, Innovation Delivery, Business Workshops and Personal Coaching. Details can be found on her excellent blog, “Crossing Frontiers”, http://crossingfrontiers.wordpress.com/