It’s easy to let bad experiences define and defeat us. It’s harder to fight back from adversity, and to find a way to turn negatives into positives.

This was something that occurred to me as I was getting to know Kerry Neethling, the 214th person I’ve met on my quest to have lunch with 500 strangers.

Kerry and her husband had built happy, successful lives in their native South Africa, but felt it wasn’t a safe place to raise their family because of all the violence. Rather than bemoan their fate, they took action: they made the hard decision to move to Sydney. While it meant they had to leave their homeland, sell all their possessions and start from the bottom in a new country, it also gave them the chance to create an even better future.

Over the next decade or so, Kerry built a successful marketing career in Sydney. She had many positive experiences … but there were also times she found herself in very unpleasant work environments. Another thing that sometimes irked her was when she had to outsource marketing jobs to creative agencies, because she could never find a single supplier who could competently solve all her problems.

Again, Kerry, in tandem with her husband, took action, co-founding The Being Group in 2015, and consciously building the sort of company she’d wanted to work for and outsource to.

The Being Group is an agency that offers everything from strategy, branding and design to video, photography and websites. More importantly, it prioritises culture. The company actively looks to hire good people, work with good clients and have a fun workplace. For example, whenever someone has a birthday, they receive an elaborate, individualised party, filled with food, presents and fancy dress. Also, team members are asked to name their dream clients; the company then tries to land them.

This might sound like corporate spin, but it’s not. Kerry is an incredibly warm person who wants to help people and make a positive impact. She also has a superb mindset – one that focuses not on problems but solutions.