Audio production by James Ede, Be Heard

Prefer listening on iTunes, Stitcher or Spotify? Just click below.

For most of us, fear can be paralyzing. The moment we experience fear, it stops us dead in our tracks – we are unable to move forward, desperately clinging to what we perceive to be our comfort zone.

But not Dr. Sue Black. Every time she faced fear, it mobilised her to push beyond it and get to the other side as quickly as she could. It seems that she knew perfectly well that everything that she ever wanted was on the other side.

Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear. - John Addair

Today, Dr. Sue Black is a technology evangelist and digital skills expert. She was awarded an OBE for “services to technology” in the 2016 Queen’s New Year’s Honours list. She is a UK government advisor, thought leader, Honorary Professor of Computer Science at UCL, social entrepreneur, writer, and public speaker.

In our interview, Sue recalls the times when her life was far from what it is today. She shares her incredible journey – from leaving school at 16, raising her three small children by her mid-20s in a women’s refuge in London to becoming a culture (r)evolutionist extraordinaire that she is today.

When I asked her what she learned from how she’d overcome her early difficulties and what her advice to people who struggle to bring about change today, she said: “Trust your instinct. Surround yourself with people who support you. And just go for it!”

Speaking of fear, Sue also said:

We are brought up to be terrified of failure. And that’s just not good for us.

If we are ever to be able to confidently challenge the status quo, shape culture and bring about change, we need to understand that failure is our friend. It shows us what doesn’t work and brings us a step closer to finding out what does work.

When I asked Sue to tell me what companies she admires for their culture, this is what she replied:

A company with a perfect culture doesn’t exist yet. Not until we have equality.

Episode highlights

  • Sue’s personal journey and what she learned on the way
  • Creating a movement during Saving Bletchley Park Campaign
  • What #techmums is and the story of how it originated
  • How social media helps us today to connect people and change culture

Listen to the interview in the player below, or on iTunes. If you like what you hear, please leave a review and it may be featured on a future episode.

Learn more about Dr Sue Black

Dr Sue Black left home and school at 16, married at 20 and had 3 children by the age of 23. Pursuing her dream of a college education, she earned her degree in computing while a single parent. She set up the UK’s first online network for women in tech BCSWomen and led the campaign to save Bletchley Park. Sue now has 4 children and has recently become a grandmother.
Her current social enterprise #techmums is changing lives. #techmums teaches mums tech skills and builds their confidence encouraging them into education, entrepreneurship, and employment.
Sue’s first book Saving Bletchley Park details the social media campaign she led to saving Bletchley Park from 2008-2011. It has been an Amazon UK bestseller.

Want more tips on evolving culture?
Subscribe to my newsletter, the CultureLab Insider, and get the new blog posts, podcast episodes
and other free resources delivered to your inbox every Tuesday.