Great advice for healthcare entrepreneurs – via Elizabeth Holmes

It was a privilege to see Elizabeth Holmes, CEO of Theranos, being interviewed this week, at the Cleveland Clinic Medical Innovations Summit.  

It was an enchanting 40 minutes of Q&A,  the interviewer was Toby Cosgrove CEO of Cleveland Clinic. It was particularly fascinating as Ms Holmes has been battling intense media criticism of her company in the last 2 weeks.  She gave a robust defense of her company but that is not what I want to share.

The one question and subsequent answer that stood out for me and also electrified the capacious room was this one.

What message would you have for an entrepreneur interested in the field of health care?

I would first understand what you really want to do, what your absolute passion is and why you want to do it

There are a lot of people who make the statement “I want to start a company”

But if you start a company you really have to know why, especially if it is one you want to win with in the long term, because it is really hard.

And in our experience, having done this for 12 years it takes a long time.

So that mission, and it’s a mission that can’t be about you, and it can’t be about any of the great things that can happen along the way, In our experience it has to be about who you are serving and why.

It has to be really really personal.

And when you find that, then you are ready to be able to deal with everything you have to deal with, when you try to change things.

That passion and that absolute obsession with doing something that you would do over and over and over again, even if you got fired, or even if people didn’t pay you, is the answer to being able to build something great.

Elizabeth Holmes October 26th 2015 – Cleveland

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