“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” -Ben Franklin
I just returned from Washington and Lee University’s Entrepreneurship Summit. Jeff Shay, the Johnson Professor of Entrepreneurship and Leadership at W&L, spearheaded the Summit just two years ago. The event’s MVP was rolled out last year and the experience was terrific. But this year, the size and caliber of the Summit’s audience seemed to double in size and quality. Market: validated. Next year, I suppose it’s time to scale.
I was once again honored to be asked to speak at this year’s event. My first presentation was about bootstrapping new ventures. I’ll share my top three tips in an upcoming post. For the second talk, I pitched DigiDoctor (although I was just asking for feedback and advice).
As an audience member listening to other ‘treps talk (who are more experienced and wiser than me), I noticed a few recommendations that were repeated over and over again: 1) take action 2) it’s all about the team and 3) success takes time.
A big “Thank You” to those responsible for putting the event together, offering advice and working their asses off to make a dent in the world.
Last year, I attended Washington and Lee University’s Entrepreneurship Summit. In fact, Professor Shay – the Summit’s founder and a close friend and mentor of mine – was kind enough to ask me to speak on a panel and pitch my company to some distinguished alumni. The experience was fantastic for many reasons, but I’m dedicating this post to explore one tiny story and quote that an alumnus who I met at the Summit told me when we caught back up in Louisville a few weeks after the event.
I’ll never forget the exchange I had with this alumnus – I’ll call him John. We met in a little coffee shop off of Main Street in Louisville. As these meetings typically go, we exchanged details about our ventures. We tried our “elevator pitches” out on each other, shared the progress we were able to make, our grand vision and our unmet needs.
John gave me some solid feedback and went on to connect me with a couple folks and businesses that generated even more value. He pointed me to a few online resources too. You rarely find someone so giving of their time and attention during and even after your meeting. John is one of those rare folks.
But what had the most “sticking power” of our 45-minute-long talk was John’s unique story and the quote that he wove into it. John is a serial entrepreneur. In other words, he’s launched many ventures – some kicked ass and others kicked his ass. At the time of our meeting, I think John was about a year into his current venture, which manufactured and sold a high-tech product in the healthcare space. Companies that sell novel products like John’s must navigate the R&D, quality assurance and patent processes – and that’s well before the long sales cycles take root. As you can imagine, they require a lot of capital to go from idea to revenue (not to mention profitability). Most companies like John’s wade deep in money pumped into them by outside investors, whether they’re angels, VC’s, PE firms (less common) or friends and family members. John’s company had no such investors. He said over and over again that he was, “all in.” What John had done was rolled his money from past successes into his current venture. John was “putting his money where his mouth was.”
At the time of our chat, John was on the brink of closing a substantial deal – one that could give him some breathing room in terms of being able to pay the bills and propel his company’s growth. But there was no guarantee that it would go through. And that’s right around when John said what I’ve found myself thinking about and repeating on occasion. John knew he was all in and that his back was against the wall. John looked at me and said, “They can’t eat me.” It was difficult to know exactly who John was referring to by “they” and I figured it best not to pry. But the specifics didn’t really matter to me. In its own way, the quote was brilliantly ambiguous. I took it to mean that he realized if the deal didn’t go through, then what’s the worst that could happen? He was pouring his heart, mind and money into the venture – giving it everything he’s got. To him, giving it everything he has is something that he could explain to himself or to someone that he owed money to in the short-term while having to change his lifestyle, find investors, or land another deal to ultimately make ends meet.
John is a genuine entrepreneur. He checks all of the boxes: completely invested in his venture, confident in his ability to ultimately succeed, resilient and flexible in those instances when times get tough yet selfless and transparent when working with others (like me).
For nearly all start-ups, times will get tough. Things will get tight. The light at the end of the tunnel that you saw might turn out to be the headlights on an 18-wheeler poised to crush your dreams.
But how bad it can it really get?
What is the worst that can happen?
If you believe in yourself, if you are flexible, creative and keep at it, you’ll find that things will find a way of working out. Don’t worry about the “they’s” out there. After all, they can’t eat you.
Something to keep in mind when things at first seem insurmountable. Keep at it.
And a related quote to think about…
“The emerging picture from such studies is that ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert—in anything,” writes the neurologist Daniel Levitin.
Dr. Benjamin Carson is a neurosurgeon and the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He operates on an estimated 300 children per year. In 2008, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest award that a civilian can receive.
This past Thursday (February 7th, 2013), Dr. Carson spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast. President Obama and Vice President Biden were both in attendance while Dr. Carson weighed in on Healthcare Reform, our national debt and government aid.
Dr. Carson’s style is refreshing. He never identifies a problem without proposing a solution. His knack for weaving in personal stories while making a point makes for a fun and relatable talk.
One of my favorite quotes is, “They are breathing the same air I am.” I say this small but powerful phrase to myself quite often. I find myself saying it before I get in front of an audience or before I meet someone who really inspires or impresses me. I also say it when I see or meet someone who is impoverished, sad or needs help.
Why do I say it? To me, this little phrase helps me put things in perspective. It is a reminder that we are all human and almost identical at our core at both a physiological and an emotional level. We all have basic needs (food, water, air, love). We all have worries, goals and plans. We are all self-conscious, have regrets and are aware of our faults and failures. We all need a purpose and to feel a sense of belonging to someone or something.
When I say this phrase, I feel less intimidated, more empathetic and more aware. It helps me stay grounded and at peace with what I am doing and who I am talking to, helping or learning from.
It’s a simple but powerful phrase. I’m really happy to share it with you.
Isn’t it amazing how powerful the arrangement of a few words can be on our thoughts?
I have a few other little “life hacks” like this one that I can’t wait to share with you in future posts.
The Shark’s Phrase
But before I sign off, I want to share another phrase with you that I came across recently. This phrase is used by Barbara Corcoran. You might know her as one of the sharks on ABC’s popular show Shark Tank – one of my favorites. Barbara shares one of her favorite phrases – “I have a right to be here” - in the video below. Take a peek at her video (below) to listen to how and why she uses it. It’s become one of my favorite quotes recently.
What are some of your favorite phrases? When do you use them and what effect do they have on you? Please comment below.
There is no doubt that healthcare is in the midst of undergoing a massive transformation. We are witnessing changes in terms of compensation models (e.g. pay for performance), corporate structures (e.g. consolidation of private practices) and healthcare coverage mechanisms (e.g. the advent of health exchanges, new rules placed on private insurance providers and changes to Medicare/Medicaid).
What might be the most significant change the healthcare industry is experiencing, however, is its adoption of healthcare technology. The tattered manila folder overflowing with paper and ink is being replaced by computers, smartphones and tablets. This change has been and will continue to be associated with growing pains, but they will be far outweighed by the long-term benefits of going digital. It will allow us to share, collaborate, learn from and predict things like never before.
For instance, just for a moment, imagine not having to fill out the same damn forms over and over again.
Or picture easily booking and managing your appointments online.
Or imagine your doctors being able to securely access your records and collaborate with one another from anywhere and at any time.
Or fancy syncing the data that you’re collecting on your mobile phone or glucose reader with your medical record so you and your doctor can track your progress over time.
We aren’t far from these fantasies becoming our reality. And it will all be made possible by healthcare technology. To assure you that this change is well underway and has the consumer interest to support it, check out this cool infographic below, which I found on Rock Health’s blog (highly recommend).
NOTE: I was actually going to just post this infographic by itself because I thought it was so neat, but I let my crazy passion for health tech get the best of me. So that’s all for now y’all. I got to get back to work… Enjoy!
Oh, and if you have any comments, questions, insights or suggestions – comment below (I read and appreciate them all).
I was inspired to publish this blog post when my really good friend, Daniel Kmetz, sent me an email. In the email was a note that Dan recently sent to our elected officials that expressed his concern over the government’s possible infringement on the rights guaranteed to us by the second amendment to the Constitution of America. I thought this note was so good that it had to be shared. When I asked Dan if I could post it here, he loved the idea. And I hope you enjoy it too. If you do, please pass it along.
So here you go, a note from my buddy Dan…
To my elected officials, As your constituent, I strongly urge you to oppose any legislation that further infringes on my 2nd amendment rights and does nothing to prevent another national tragedy like Sandy Hook. As a 23yr old medical student and responsible gun owner who believes in liberty and personal responsibility, I am appalled at the role the federal government, more specifically the executive branch, is playing in politics today.
Ben Franklin said, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” The politicking of our President and liberal skew of the media has led Americans to believe we live with too much liberty, and that the government should take some of that liberty in order to ensure our safety. Thus we see a President issue 23 executive orders to satisfy the emotional response of people, all the while making them believe that more gun control will work. We have real-time case studies in our President’s hometown and his current city, where gun rights have been stripped from law abiding citizens and the crime rate has not changed. Criminals do not seem to care whether illegally owning and using a gun is against 4 laws, 5 laws or any number of laws, because by definition criminals do not obey the law. Is our President the right person to be ordering the entire country to take the same action that failed in his own hometown in the hopes it magically works on a larger scale? He has proven his ignorance on the issue. In addition, taking guns out of the hands of law abiding, mentally stable citizens is proven to increase violent crime rates and home invasions (cite: real-time case study, England and Australia).
Do not make me a criminal. I am a student studying the amazing intricacies of the human body and especially complex brain with the promise of using that knowledge to heal my fellow man. I understand that the mentally unstable should not be allowed to own guns and I encourage you to shape your laws to prevent criminals and the mentally unstable from getting guns, but it must be done without further infringing on my 2nd Amendment rights.
I urge you to support legislation to enhance school security and improve our nation’s ailing mental health system by doing more than just throwing money we don’t have at the problem. Mental illness should not be taboo, it should be openly talked about and understood. It is a disease, same as pediatric leukemia, same as AIDS. Do we not discuss nor treat the former because it is so sad and difficult to confront? No. How about the latter for the shame brought on by its method of transmission? No. How do we create that same open, understanding environment for the mentally ill and our troubled children? I believe educating our teachers on mental illness will help them identify and properly manage troubled children. Early prevention and thus early treatment is the key here.
Please reply to me indicating your ideas for how to prevent future tragedies and your stance on gun rights. I would like to know whether or not you believe the federal government, more specifically the executive branch and our President, should be allowed to call for or bypass congress to produce legislation that infringes on certain rights our Founding Fathers found so important they guaranteed them to every American. I am very disturbed by our President’s recent actions to disgrace these rights by overstepping his powers, especially given his proven ignorance on the issue.
I love Quora. Like Wikipedia, Quora has so many brilliant people donating their time to thoughtfully respond to users’ questions – it’s amazing. Recently, I saw a question – What are the most powerful healthcare IT trends for 2013 in your opinion? – that I felt I could weigh in on. I’m no brilliant gent, but I certainly hope others will take something from my response. It will be fun to see how the year pans out (and also to – in my own little way – have a role in shaping the future of Health IT). The response is below, as well as the link to the original Quora post. Enjoy! Oh, and if you think I missed one, feel free to share in the comments section below.