Archive for February, 2015

Trust Is Overrated

February 27th, 2015


In New England we don’t trust anyone. Collaboration is an unnatural act. No wonder we’re economically stagnant. I’ve been thinking a lot about trust. All we hear and read about is how trust is the missing ingredient for all that ails the world. If I had a dollar for every trust fall I’ve taken at leadership development workshops over the years! If only we just trusted each other more. I’m not buying it. I wonder how many things we don’t try together because we only collaborate with people we trust. Is it possible we set the standard so high for a trusted relationship that it prevents collaboration?  What if trust is overrated?

I know the trust police will be all over me for writing this. Bring it. I understand the importance of establishing and maintaining trust for the really big, risk laden, decisions we make like choosing a life partner or quitting a cushy corporate job and taking out a second mortgage to launch a startup with a partner. But those aren’t the choices we make every day. What we do every day is make choices about who we collaborate with to get stuff done. Applying the same hurdle of trust to both major and everyday interaction choices is getting in the way of collaborative innovation and getting better faster.

Read more

Has Personalized Medicine Finally Arrived?

February 24th, 2015

personalized medicineDid you see the recent news that the FDA has approved the first direct-to-consumer genetic test in the U.S.? Can you say game-changer? Talk about personalized medicine, what’s more personal than our own genetic blueprint? In a health care era defined by patients taking more personal responsibility for their own health and well being, including the costs, it’s about time that we enabled consumers directly with access to their own health care data and the tools to interpret and act on it. Access to our own genetic data gives new meaning to the buzzword, patient-centered care.

On 2/19/2015 the FDA approved a single direct-to-consumer genetic test from 23andMe for Bloom Syndrome, a rare, terrible, and untreatable recessive gene disease that causes a predisposition to develop cancer. The average lifespan for those diagnosed with this rare disease is 27 years. Bloom Syndrome hits close to home for me because 1 in a 100 Ashkenazi Jews (of European descent) are carriers and 1 in 50,000 will actually have this devastating disorder. The FDA picked a clear and compelling case as a precedent for direct-to-consumer genetic tests.

Is ignorance bliss? Do we want to know this information? If we learn we carry a genetic disease, what do we do with the knowledge? How does it affect our plans for having children? Do we tell our children? These are incredibly difficult and personal choices. I was moved to tears by the scene in Still Alice where, after Academy Award winner Julianne Moore learns that she has a rare form of familial Alzheimer’s disease, she informs her children. Not a dry eye in the house. Each of Alice’s three children has a choice on whether to be tested and the youngest daughter, Lydia, decides she doesn’t want to know. I still have the chills. Read more

Start More Stuff

February 12th, 2015

images-211Institutional America has knocked the start out of us. We need to get back to being great at starting things in our country. Calling all entrepreneurs. This means you. Yes, you. In talking with some of the most entrepreneurial people on the planet I am surprised by how many don’t think of themselves as entrepreneurs. When did that happen? Our economic history is all about starting stuff but we have gotten away from our entrepreneurial heritage. We need a national entrepreneurship movement. Maybe if we started by enabling more people to be entrepreneurial we would have more entrepreneurs.

When did we reserve the entrepreneur moniker solely for technology ventures started by iconic college dropouts like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg? I know we all love a good company origin story but by elevating these stories to mythical proportions aren’t we placing entrepreneurship out of reach for the rest of us mere mortals. Read more