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Swine Flu, The Entrepreneur And The Key To Reducing Stress At Work

13/09/2016 09:15

There are thousands of companies out there with cool, innovative and helpful software, but not many have a story behind them like WeThrive. I have shared this a few times and several people have said I should share it more widely - so here goes. Bear with me, it won't go on for too long ...

Back in 2002 I co-founded the software company PH-media. We grew really quickly and in 2007 the business was sold. We went from bedroom entrepreneurs to corporate boys in a very short space of time - an incredible journey! Throughout that experience I never quite felt I got the 'people' bit right - I didn't have the experience, or often the time, to really help them be their best.

After a two-year earn-out I took a year off and attacked the bucket list - an amazing year. But at Christmas 2010 lady luck dealt me a real blow - I was admitted to hospital with swine flu (H1N1) and things got bad very fast! Within 48 hours I was intubated and on a ventilator with a swollen brain, pneumonia, septicemia, organ failure and a bit of a runny nose ;-)

Nobody really knew what to do with me, and the call went out to 'get the family in, he's probably not going to make it'. That was on New Years Eve. With a young family this was potentially catastrophic. However, thanks to some amazing care, some luck and being a fit, healthy (and some would say stubborn) man I pulled through. A month later I was home - but in a mess.

Post traumatic stress disorder is well known - normally associated with soldiers off the battlefield. Less well-known is that around three quarters of people who survive critical illnesses get post intensive care syndrome, which is very similar.

This is where it gets interesting. In a nutshell, your body and mind go into full-on survival mode, and everything becomes a potential threat that might kill you - even a slamming door, or one of the kids jumping out from behind the door. Ridiculous, eh? But that was what it was like - a bag of nerves. My modern, rational brain had been sidelined and my amygdala was firmly in charge - calling the shots and running from imaginary threats.

Enter, Piers Bishop, a calm voice in a storm. Using breathing and various techniques he helped to reduce the stress in my system - moving me from the primitive 'fight or flight' state to the normal, calmer operating mode we normally inhabit.

Over a pint in a pub in Sussex I asked Piers what else he did - his response: "I sort of do what I did with you but with big business - reducing stress and improving cognitive function, collaboration, communication and creativity".

A few weeks later I connected the dots between this, the people problems I had had, and my experience in building online software. And so we embarked on the journey to create an online service accessible by any business, anywhere in the world - and WeThrive was born.

The world was not quite ready for us then - but now we are winning new clients month in month out and our customers say lovely things about us. Personally, at the end of most days, I feel so good about what we do - every day thousands of people benefit from the insight WeThrive gives them, reducing stress and helping them have a better time at work. For them, their families and friends this is a good thing and I am sure helps them have a better life overall.

So out of an almost fatal experience has come something that I believe is wholesome and genuinely making the world a better place. Long live WeThrive employee engagement software that works!

This little YouTube video with Piers and I is worth a watch if you want to know a little more.

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