A Personal Account of a Flawed Elastic Mind: What I Learned in 2020

man typing on his laptop

I’d be lying if I said to you that 2020 was good to me.

I’ve had challenges with the business, but, more importantly, I’ve been unsettled and on edge.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve started my day listening to world news on Radio National. I stopped doing that in 2020. I’ve become confused and somewhat disinterested in the new world of facemasks, Zoom, elbow touches and border closures.

I still face most days with an undercurrent of negativity and disillusionment.

But what of all that?

I’m not one to sit on the couch and let life pass me by.

What have I done recently to keep my enthusiasm for business and life on the up-and-up?

Well…quite a lot, actually.


My marketing chief, Maureen Barten, and I have developed consistent branding for Nenke Consulting.

My new logo consists of three separate arcs that come together to form a coherent, almost circular shape.

I believe that strategic thinking happens in curves, not straight lines. It is important to develop ‘elasticity’ of thought where you become accustomed to ambiguity and even contradiction. The pandemic year of 2020 taught us that we need new approaches to solve business and social problems rather than relying on outdated principles, techniques and rules.

It also taught us to find a method to the madness. We need to be highly adaptable and ready for the curves even when we are expecting straight lines.

Fail 1: I haven’t been elastic and flexible when it comes to Zoom (video conference). I have had to adapt, but I don’t like it. I thrive on face-to-face energy and interaction with my clients and colleagues, and I don’t mind driving or catching transport to go to meetings. I don’t see it as a waste of time, as it is often now explained to me.


Thanks to Maureen and the crew at Insiteful, I now have a wonderful new website.

I didn’t catch the initial website wave when businesses swarmed to update their online presence. However, I’ve learned that it is a great place to tell your story and let your people get to know you better. Everything I do for the business will go on there, so check it out and let me know what you think.


Writing has always been a passion of mine – both fiction and non-fiction – so why not put it to use?

It took me a while to gain confidence but blogging and producing newsletters has been fun. A big thanks to my content guy Andrew Marmont at Conqurve who edits and publishes my content, has the patience to deal with Mailchimp and remains more positive about me than I ever will be. The fact that half of the known world has also started blogging in 2020 is a moot point. They are not me, so they don’t say what I say or think what I think, which is a good thing for everyone.

Blogging has been a wonderful opportunity for me to find my voice and raise it to the world.

Fail 2: I tend to be naive on LinkedIn. When someone asks to connect with me, I think they are truly interested in connecting and being part of my community. I don’t realise that, more often than not, they just want to sell me something.


I’ve recorded quite a few videos that will be coming out soon. This has been a fun thing to do and will help those who prefer to watch and listen. Chris Wilkie from DreamCube has done a great job of making me look younger and sound more interesting than any iPhone could!

I did ask for a makeup artist but one wasn’t supplied, so it might be a tough watch for any Timothée Chalamet fans.

Coaching and Mentoring

Last year helped me realise that the value of having consistent and regular business coaching was having someone in my corner holding me accountable. I do it in a group setting so there are different perspectives – keeping the mind elastic.

Thank you to Rob Jagger and Heiner Karst, who both kick me out of my comfort zone and keep my mind elastic. Thank you also to my many mentors from whom I have learned to regularly seek advice.

Fail 3: I realised one day during the lockdown that I’d spent about 20 minutes organising plates, cups and glasses in the dishwasher. Surely, I could fit that last darn glass in somewhere? That’s when I knew the lockdown had won.

So, what have I learned from 2020 that I can put to use in 2021?

Maybe you feel the same way…

  • Don’t try to do everything yourself.
  • Ask questions and seek advice on things from mentors, coaches and others – particularly people who are different to you.
  • Pay for specialists who have the right attitude and the right skills.
  • Marketing is something better left to those who love doing it.
  • A good toastie will solve many problems.
  • Keep developing an elastic mind – learn to love ambiguity.
  • Don’t think in straight lines.
  • There is always someone worse off than you.
  • Appreciate family, friends and other contacts who, regardless of the circumstances, are supportive.

Einstein once said that a ‘measure of intelligence is the ability to change’.

I guess we all got a lot more intelligent in 2020.

Let’s keep it going in 2021.