On my travels ...

Some Philosophical Thoughts about Snakes and Ladders


In December 2013 Patrick and I left our VP roles at global events and communications agency, MCI, and opened our start-up marketing agency SoolNua. The switch was a bit like corporate snakes and ladders. You spend 20 years painstakingly climbing the corporate ladder only to land on square 99 where there’s a massive snake and suddenly, swoosh, you’re back to square 1. It wasn’t a random throw of the dice, however, that caused us to land on square 99 where the snake was. We actually chose to land there, motivated by the strong conviction that we had one more career adventure in us, one more chance to start afresh.

IMG_4198Knowing our organizational and administrative limitations and recognizing the need to have access to new generational thinking, we hired Aoife McCrum. Aoife is a beautiful young girl, younger than many of our children, with a university degree in marketing and advertising and a razor-sharp, creative mind that thinks digital. More importantly she has a heart that’s bursting out of her petite frame and an instinctive, preternatural understanding of the primacy of people and relationship. She’s a perfect fit for us and we’re extremely grateful to have her on board.

We certainly raised eyebrows over the past few months as we ran our business activities virtually, meeting in coffee houses and hotel meeting rooms, two enthusiastic but decrepit aspirational hipsters fumbling and stuttering on their new MacBooks accompanied by the pixie-like Aoife who would quickly wave her magic wand over our technological failures and make our all our digital challenges go away.

SoolNuaThe nomadic lifestyle, however, has now come to an end. We’ve found a new home in the Digital Cube at IADT, Dun Laoghaire.  It’s an incubator unit designed specifically for digital start-ups like us located on the campus of the Institute of Art, Design and Technology – this gives us ready access to the latest thinking and trends and, importantly, to a ready stream of interns. This week we attended Showcase, an exhibition of projects undertaken as part of their undergraduate degree course by students who have just completed the 3 and 4 year degree programme there. Projects ranged from apps for the elderly to gizmos that make your guitar sound better. Aoife and I were hugely impressed by the range and depth of the projects and Pat by the facial hair that has become de rigeur now for the average early 20s student male.

So we’re back at square 1 having willingly taken the slippery serpentine slope from the dizzy heights of square 99. But it feels good being here. There’s a pep in our steps and an extra beat in our hearts. We know a lot about ladders now and we also know a lot about snakes.

And, more than ever, we know its not all about the destination, it’s all about the journey.



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