A couple of weeks ago I was invited to do a guest lecture at the Business School at Exeter Uni. I was absolutely shocked and excited and nervous and overwhelmed. Preserving fruit is one thing and talking in front of a lot of 4th year business students about creativity and entrepreneurship is a an altogether different beast.
I was unsure of the kind of things they were expecting me to say, so I thought I should say the kind of things that I would have loved to listen to when I was at Uni. Stories about failure, about struggling, about real life. Stories about how life changes and you can choose between letting yourself down or face up to the challenge and go for it. Stories about why we are all wrongly told that success is the only way forward. So instead of going through sleep-inducing theories and approaches from the different schools of thought, I just told them the truth about The Tiny Marmalade.
We went through how, why and when I decided to start preserving fruit, canning it in tiny pots and selling it through the internet. And how during the last year I have been failing, succeeding, feeling stressed, over the moon, stressed, proud satisfied and all the kinds of things you feel when you put your heart and your soul into something.
I told them about why I think everybody can succeed. Why, from my point of view, self-belief is the key that can open every door you may want to open. And why I honestly believe we are our own worst enemies. From the day we are born we are supposed to be the best in everything. This makes us grow up seeing failure as a bad thing. Let me tell you something: failure is 90% of success. But only if we are strong enough to learn from it.
We played a game. I told them that every single idea, no matter how silly it could seem, can be a potential successful idea. And to prove it, I asked them to think of a product that could revolutionise the fruit peeler market. Silly, isn’t? A fruit peeler doesn´t seem like rocket science. However, as keen business students, they had a brilliant brainstorming session trying to work out what the ultimate fruit peeler would look like.
When I asked, most of them were looking visibly embarrassed. Maybe because they were thinking that their idea was rubbish, or silly, or not worth it or maybe just because the fact that we were talking about fruit peelers was not the idea they had of becoming successful business men and women.
The amazing fact is that every single idea they proposed resulted in an actual product available in the market. Every single one. We googled them and there they were. That means, at some point someone had the same idea they had but, rather than feeling uncomfortable talking about it, they trusted in themselves, exploring, developing and improving the idea and creating a product that is sold worldwide.
When I started The Tiny Marmalade a lot of people laughed. Another ridiculous idea from me. Even nowadays some people dare to say “it is just preserving some fruit and selling it online”. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
My main objective was not earning money. It was to learn, to have fun, to be free to do whatever I wanted. To do things as I think they should be done. To prove to myself I was able, not to others.
It really frustrates me when I see brilliant people with amazing ideas getting dusty cause they’re feeling scared.
So, trust in yourself. Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do something. That your ideas are silly. Or even worse, that your ideas are so brilliant and you are so clever that you are going to succeed for sure. Go for it. Do it. Don’t rely on anyone. You have nothing to lose and a lot to win.
If you think you can’t, then you probably can’t. If you think you can, then you can for sure.
WHAT YOU NEED
2 Puff Pastry Sheets
1 Pot Chocolate Spread
1/2 Pot Peanut Butter
1 Free Range Egg
1tbsp Icing Sugar
WHAT YOU DO
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Unroll the puff pastry sheets and cut in 2, so you will have 4 squares. Spread some chocolate and cover with another layer of pastry. Spread some peanut butter and add another layer. Finally, spread some more chocolate and cover with the remaining layer.
With the help of a small plate, cut a circle. Divide the cake into quarters until having 16 equal parts. as per the picture below:
Beat the egg and paint the bread. Bake for 15 minutes.
Once fluffy and brown, leave in a rack to cool down. Sprinkle some icing sugar and enjoy while warm.