25 years of empowering people to thrive at work

Mind Tools CEO John Yates reflects on the last 25 years and shares what’s next for Mind Tools on its journey to empowering people to thrive at work.

Written by John Yates
Published 14 February 2022
25 years of empowering people to thrive at work

Mind Tools is 25 years old!

Members of our team are younger than the company they work for – which I suppose isn’t uncommon across many industries, but it is quite rare in the online learning and tech space. Way back in 1996/7 I was on a kind of belated gap year, travelling the world with a backpack and on a shoestring – and while there were internet cafes here and there, the internet really was in its infancy. All my communication back home was via fixed phone lines and the post. The iPhone was 11 years off into the future. Tim Berners-Lee had only created the World Wide Web six years before, and now-ubiquitous companies like Google, Wikipedia and Facebook were mere glints in their founders’ imaginations.

So where did Mind Tools fit into all of this?

At the time Mind Tools’ founder James Manktelow had experienced a need for everyday support in developing his own leadership, management, and personal effectiveness at work, and he identified a gap that could be filled by articles delivered to people via this incredible innovation. His writing is among the very early examples of what we now know as blogs.

I recently had the privilege to talk to James and co-founder Rachel Thompson about their very early days launching the company and to reflect on how far Mind Tools has come. From waking up to 20 subscribers the day after launching Mind Tools, to having had over 18 million learners use our resources is quite an achievement. One that would not have been possible without James and Rachel’s pioneering, explorative efforts to create a business that is still thriving 25 years later.

We’re with our learners every step of the way…

We’ve got a lot to celebrate from the last 25 years. We’ve moved a long way from just articles, and in addition to a raft of video, audio, and interactive content, we are now able to integrate with learners’ work tools like Teams, so that those everyday work challenges that James wrestled with can be supported where people are working.

We’ve also expanded our reach into the US to support a thriving group of customers across the States. We launched our Denver, Colorado-based US team last year – which is now up to eight people. 
However, most of all we are proud to have worked with hundreds of organizations over the last 25 years, giving business owners the tools, they need to make sure their staff are happy, inspired, and stimulated.

It was heartening to hear from James and Rachel that they can see that we’ve been able to continue bringing their vision to life through the work we do at Mind Tools.  In my very first conversation with one of our senior Mind Tools editors, it was explained that Mind Tools writers imagine themselves as coaches, sitting quietly by the side of our learners, ready to provide support and guidance whenever it is needed.  It is our vision that we will continue to use a combination of the latest technologies and point-of-need content to help employees improve their performance at work, to set and achieve personal and professional goals, and to support their career and life ambitions.

Here’s to the next 25…

I’m privileged to have been Mind Tools’ CEO for approaching two years, most of which have been remote working. As a digital-first business we haven’t missed a step, and our culture continues to be welcoming and vibrant. Although we’ve seen a lot of change over recent years as an organization, we thrive by staying connected with our employees, customers, and communities.

It’s been equally inspiring to see the Learning and Organisation Development industry as a whole step up to support employee learning and wellbeing needs, with remoteness from our managers and colleagues placing a very particular emphasis on people-focused skills. The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital, applied workplace learning and our research is continuously showing us how crucial the impact of L&D in the workplace is.

One thing I am certain on for the next 25 years of Mind Tools is the positive impact we will continue to have on people’s lives and careers. Our purpose has always been to empower people to thrive at work.  I am proud that we have been able to do this through our ongoing research and commitment to developing content in line with the way that people learn today.

Finally, I would like to take a moment to thank everyone who has been a part of this fantastic journey so far. I’m excited for you to join us on our next chapter: Happy Birthday Mind Tools!

John Yates, CEO, Emerald Works

Find out more about Mind Tools' 25th Anniversary here.

About the author

John Yates

John Yates

CEO, Emerald Works

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