After a near-fatal accident, how this tech entrepreneur changed her life

June 16, 2015, 4:40 PM UTC

Martha Lane Fox is a household name in the United Kingdom for co-founding, Europe’s largest travel and leisure website, in 1998. The site’s IPO in 2000 and sale in 2005 were tremendously well timed to the dot-com bubble and bust.

More recently, she was named the UK government’s digital inclusion champion, responsible for upping Britain’s computer literacy. She’s now chair of Go On UK, a non-profit organization aimed at helping UK residents reach their digital potential.

But Fox is also distinguished for an accomplishment unrelated to her technological or business prowess. She recovered from a car crash in Morocco in 2004 that left her with 28 broken bones. She also suffered a stroke. She was in the hospital for two full years and has endured 28 surgeries since then.

At the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit in London on Tuesday, Fox, who now walks with a cane, talked about how the experience changed her. “I hope that I had always had ambitions for myself to do some good stuff after having had immense luck with,” she said. “I don’t think I suddenly thought, ‘Oh, I want to spend my life doing what is perceived as good stuff.’ It wasn’t quite like that.”

That said, Fox did impart one major lesson: “I would urge everyone to always think yes before they think no. I really try to do that.”

Last year Fox was asked to give the Richard Dimbleby Lecture, which is delivered on television by an influential business or political leader every year in honor of the BBC broadcaster. When she received the invitation, “every single bone in my body was going, ‘No, it’s a bad idea. You don’t have any help, it’s on television, it’ll be a lot of work.’ And then I said yes and it just kind of happened,” she said. “My brain is always worrying about my own personal physical state and it’s boring and frustrating and tiring, [but that] doesn’t really help anybody.”

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