Our July Spotlight is shining on the amazing Katherine Baker, co-founder of Congress London and Founder of Intrinsic Energy, an EdTech platform which takes you on an interactive live virtual learning journey, focusing on topics that cover Communication Skills, Personal Development, Business Growth and Management/Leadership.
Tell us about your business and what motivated you to move forward with Intrinsic Energy?
By April 2020, the world had turned upside down. For many people this was an extreme time of uncertainty, fear about the future, and a feeling of a complete loss of control. I was no exception. With most of my work cancelled and my wedding postponed until 2021, I found myself in a position of either wasting away to sheer boredom or actually following the advice of my own training and throwing myself into a new adventure by starting my own company. Through this, Intrinsic Energy was born.
Intrinsic Energy is an EdTech platform which is able to manage individual learning journeys with interactive, live virtual learning (LVL). Through these engaging 90 minute sessions, participants are able to talk directly to the facilitator and apply the key learnings to their own case studies. With small groups, this type of LVL bridges the gap between traditional in-person training and pre-recorded online training. Topics cover Communication Skills, Personal Development, Business Growth and Management/Leadership.
How did you get Intrinsic Energy off the ground?
The dream of Intrinsic Energy is to enable anyone who is willing to put in the effort to accomplish their professional goals and to live the lives they want. But the challenge was creating an EdTech platform that tracked individual learning journeys, helped motivate people to continue towards their goals and made LVL more affordable. A platform like this does not exist and would need to be built from scratch. To be able to do this we needed funding.
Intrinsic Energy was awarded one of the Innovate UK, the UK’s Innovation Agency, Covid-19 response grants to create and launch this EdTech platform. Through the support of Innovate UK, I can now design and create the required technology while also offering subsidized membership fees for people who have been negatively affected by Covid-19 and find themselves unemployed.
What challenges/ opportunities has lockdown/ Coronavirus created for you and your business?
As a LVL trainer for 8 years, I have always known the power behind LVL but it had a stigma of not being as good as in-person training. Companies believed if the trainer was not in front of participants then then participants would not pay attention, the training would not be very interactive and therefore would not be as good. People believed LVL was a cheaper substitute to in-person training.
Lockdown has forced people to work from home which has forced companies to reevaluate how their employees work and how they can best support their employees. People are now more adept with using technology and more comfortable connecting virtually. While LVL always worked, as participants continue to embrace this form of communication, the training just gets better.
I now believe the power of LVL has surpassed that of in-person training. I am able to get more people to participate at the same time through white boards and polls while still allowing participants to work on their unique challenges with individualised feedback.
LVL is the future of lifelong learning. It is not only cost effective and time efficient, but better in many ways to having a traditional in-person trainer. Lockdown has assisted in proving this point.
What is the most valuable book you have read?
Anyone who has heard me talk will have heard this before. “Mindset” by Carol Dweck is a must read for anyone who does not want to fear failure anymore.
I used to believe I always had to be perfect and any mistake marked me as less successful. This fear of failing leads to a fear of feedback, of trying new things, of putting yourself out-there, and huge anxiety. Carol Dweck explains that we have two different ways to view the world: with a fixed or growth mindset. While your mindset can fluctuate between the two, for most of my life I had more of the fixed mindset. I believed every failure was a negative assessment of who I was as a person. The growth mindset believes you are on a journey and of course things will go wrong but as long as you don’t give up and continue to learn then you are getting closer to your goals.
With this growth mindset, you never fail as any setback means you just have not succeeded yet. It has taken a lot of hard-work to retrain my old way of thinking and I still don’t have a growth mindset all the time but I do now accept when I mess up, forgive myself, learn from my mistakes, take more risks and live a more productive existence.
What is the best advice you've ever received?
When I was about 26, I heard a highly successful man at the British Chamber of Commerce in Singapore give a speech at one of their events. I spoke with him after his talk and he asked if he could give me some advice. With a little apprehension, I agreed. He said I needed to stop worrying about being fired. If I was scared of losing my job, then I was wasting energy worrying rather than taking risks and I would therefore not reach my full potential. If I did get fired, I would find another job but I could not get back the time wasted worrying about being fired and possibly under-performing as a result. He concluded by saying don’t try to be like anyone else, embrace what makes you different including your weaknesses. This advice was not easy to hear at the time and I still struggle with some of it but over the past decade, I find I am getting better at following his advice.
As a founder and active member of Congress, what does Congress mean to you?
Founding Congress and being a part of its journey has been life changing. There is a sisterhood at Congress I never expected to grow to be so strong, caring, supportive and loving. I have found the biggest reward in helping others through my talks or just chit chat at the networking events.
Congress has enabled me to find myself and my career purpose. From learning how to run a business, manage a board, and support individual growth, I know I want to and can help people achieve their own career goals. This knowledge gave me the courage to launch Intrinsic Energy and I will forever be grateful to my fellow founders and Congress members.
Considering the unprecedented times we're going through, has this changed your view of what success will look like and what would your personal success be by the end of 2020?
Yes, success is not just about getting promotions, pay raises and bigger jobs quickly. Success is about living a balanced and healthy life. have said this before but I am not sure I ever believed it until now. I now strive to forgive myself and be content with where I am on my journey. I accept the difficult times and celebrating even the little wins and successes. I am trying to appreciate more the people who stand by me every day and have reached out to many new friends.
When lockdown happened, I lost most of my income and had to cancel my wedding. I thought it was these things that made me happy but I now realise it is actually how I decide to live each day and the people in my life that make me happy. Lockdown forced me to revaluate what was important and invigorated me to make some positive changes. Personal success at the end of 2020 would be being healthy and happy, running my own company with passion and energy and enjoying the journey!