Great Escape Podcast episode 32 - A Little Escape on serendipity


And a little bit of light relief today.

Yesterday something really strange happened. I was walking down the corridor in the office building where I have my office and I could hear my voice coming out of one of the other offices, and I stuck my head in and there were the group of people. I know they work in the next office down the corridor and said "Hello". And they said "We're listening to your podcast." And then followed a conversation about how much they were enjoying it, and how they thought it was going but it seemed very very strange to me that randomly a group of people who physically, quite close, would be listening to something that I had recorded a few weeks ago just as I was walking down the corridor. And it got me thinking about the whole concept of serendipity, Of things that happen when you're not really expecting them to. So coincidence is just things that happen at the same time. Turning up at a place and bumping into an old friend that you didn't know was going. Actually I have a really good example of that. I was standing on a tube train in London one day, crowded in, and the doors opened and there on the platform, standing in front of me was my old math teacher from school from years and years and years and years ago. What are the chances of two people who once, one worked at and one went to a school in West Yorkshire, now standing two feet apart on a tube train in London decades later? It's a coincidence. I could have been at the next door, he could have been at the next door, the next train. So many things could have been just a fraction different and we would never have bumped into each other. So that's coincidence. Serendipity is when something like that coincidence then turns into an opportunity that you can do something with. And an awful lot of really, really good business ideas have happened because of a coincidence which the people involved then turned into a serendipitous moment, they made something of it. A good example of that is the whole ice hotel thing where a festival that had been designed around ice sculpture was actually having a bit of a disaster because it was getting too warm, and so the sculptures themselves or the smaller sculptures were beginning to melt. There was a larger sculpture that particular day, a huge igloo structure, which because it was bigger, made of bigger chunks of ice, wasn't suffering the same melting problem. And a group of tourists asked if they could sleep in the igloo that night. So the guys involved thought "Okay", made it happen and from that a multimillion dollar business has been built out of a coincidence that turned into serendipity that turned into the exploitation of the ideas and the concepts that came out of that. And its been really interesting through my own life, through my own entrepreneurial career, the number of times where a chance conversation, a chance coincidence, even one invention that I have patented, I was sitting in a conference in a completely different industry, nothing to do with this particular industry. And a guy put a slide up and it just got me thinking down a train of thought that I was then able to turn into a product in a completely different context. So my thoughts for today to you is whenever you see something happen, a coincidence, a apparently random thing, keep your eyes open and your mind open to see what is the thing that I can learn from this, or where is the opportunity in this, or what could I do with this, or if I connect this with this, if I talk to that person and that person, can we build something out of this? The concept of serendipity is an amazingly powerful one when it comes to spotting entrepreneurial opportunities. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of the Great Escape Podcast. You can find other episodes at all the usual places, on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify, or at the website And it you'd like to contact me to talk about any element of this episode or others I've covered, please go to, and you can find all the ways of getting hold of me there. And if you're stuck in a situation and you can't find the way out please go there, send me a message, and let's see how we can work together to get you unstuck and moving forward with your life again. Please do share this podcast with your friends and family, other people you think might appreciate it, and comment on episodes or send me a message, I'd love to keep the conversation going.

- [Man] Can we do that again?

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