Intrapreneurship Clinic: How can we build the personal resilience of intrapreneurs?


Intrapreneur, or not, spending 40+ hours as an employee surrounded by people who have different personalities, different ways of sharing feedback, different ideas about what it means to be professional, etc can be mentally tough, emotionally draining, and may even have you day-dreaming about working at the company across the street where everyone appears to be spending their 40+ hours smiling, laughing, and giving each other high-fives.


If you’re an intrapreneur, add to this the fact that you’re working on a project that may be meeting significant resistance from colleagues entrenched in the system and leaders who don’t really get its value, and don’t care to either.


At The League of Intrapreneurs, we’ve seen so many intrapreneurs suffer in silence. Internal corporate cultures haven’t yet given people permission to speak openly about how events at work are impacting their employees personally. Therefore support for employees has been minimal.


This is how come we've dedicated one of our Cubicle Warrior Tools to Fostering Personal Resilience. Read this free tool and you’ll learn tips and tricks used by successful social intrapreneurs on how they learn to not only survive, but thrive inside their companies.


What they've done is adopt strategies that give them the mental, emotional, and physical strength needed to handle challenging events in productive ways. They've learned to bounce back quickly. 


It’s time we bring more attention to this issue. Too many intrapreneurs are giving up their missions to drive positive change from the inside out. We are thankful to Business Fights Poverty for giving us the fantastic forum to speak openly about the challenges we face, and the strategies we can adopt in order to strengthen our personal resilience.


Here are a few questions to help get our conversation started. We look forward to learning from your experience and wisdom.

  1. What does resilience mean to you?
  2. How come resilience is so important for intrapreneurs?
  3. What is your secret to staying resilient?
  4. What resilience strategy have you learned from someone you admire?


Editor's Note:


This Intrapreneurship Clinic is the fourth in a 5-part series with the League of Intrapreneurs. In each Clinic, members of Business Fights Poverty will have the opportunity to engage with the authors of the new Cubicle Warriors Toolkit, and other invited panelists. Each time, we will focus on a different element of the Tooklit.


Visit previous Intrapreneurship Clinics - on Making the Business Case for Social Innovation (, Navigating the Politics of Your Corporate Ecosystem ( and How can we rally communities of support for game-changing innovation? (


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I'm looking forward to hearing what the other panelists have to share, and to hear how everyone else who has joined the discussion would answer these questions! 

Resilience is a very personal thing, about you & your environment.  Specifically what you do with the barriers, blocks or just mis-understandings and how you respond to them.  Importantly its also what you do when things are going really well, how you move  forward.  People tend to focus on bouncing back, for me how you learn from and deal with success is as important.

To me, resilience in general means the ability to absorb a shock or disturbance while still being able to retain essentially the same structure, function, or identity.


In the context of social intrapreneurs, resilience to me means being able to embrace the skepticism of colleagues, project failures, self-doubt and loneliness, and the other unexpected twists WHILE maintaining a positive sense of self and trust in one’s own mind.

To me personally, resilience is a feeling. It stems from having the self-belief that the path I’m headed on is the right one for me, which then turns itself into the self-confidence I need to forge ahead. 

If I look at my overall career, it has involved 1 failed business, 2 redundancies, 1 tough road as an intrapreneur, 3 other roles that just didn’t feel right, plus studies at 2 top universities, and living in 5 countries on 3 continents. 

My resilience has given me the courage to embrace change and live my life looking forward, and not backwards with regrets. 

interesting - do you connect with gifford-pinchot - he and my father started this curriculum 33 years ago in The Economist but its been on a very slow exponential of awareness

To me, resilience means dancing. Dancing implies knowing enough steps and moves so you can enter the dancefloor and be able to improvise on any given rythm that is given to you. A good swing dancer can make something beautiful in any context. Along the same idea, resilience implies knowing different tools and how to use them to move your Change Project forward. This begins by knowing which Change Project you want to drive -which dance that you want to do-, and then adapt to any situation that you will face in the workplace as your Change Project evolves.

I remember Adrian Ristow from Coca-Cola (intrapreneur behind Project Last Mile) saying to me once, 'you have to come to know that road-blocks are not always road-blocks..sometimes they're just speed-bumps'. I think resilience is tied to this...and I think it finds its root in a core belief in one's work and its purpose.  

Resilience to me, is an innate ability/choice to go through/transform (physically, mentally or emotionally) based on the data/signals you are receiving, perceiving and assimilating without being a victim/judgement. I also like the concept introduced to me lately by the visionary Taleb in his book "Anti Fragile" (a must read for any intrapreneur) about going "Beyond Resilience" which seems aligned with my definition above, i.e. strong (more inner than outer), yet flexible and allowing transformation to happen.

Ah, that's so true. I remember when of my biggest personal failures in an intrapreneurial project was when the project was far more successful than we anticipated. We had been so focused on how to prevent failure that we didn't prepare for success. And then when it came, there were problems...akin to when neighborhood boy bands make it big and then fall apart.

That's a great analogy! I had never thought of it that way, but it makes so much sense.

I love this! I had a class on Tai Chi once and was amazed at experiencing the "flow" and nce that happened the joy of being with the partner was immense! Imagine finding that "flow" and the "partner" that allows flow in corporate life! an intrapreneur's dream?

Because I work on cultivating it everyday, I've finally managed to arrive on a career path that has a straight road - and not an epic number of zigzags! 

But thanks to my zigzag experience, I now have the privilege to be involved with the League of Intrapreneurs and all of the inspiring intrapreneurs in our network. Plus I really understand where my clients - social intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs, and other forward thinking innovators - are coming from when I work with them 1-1 as their coach. 

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