A Philosophy of Entrepreneurship: Do Something That Matters
Updated: Sep 15, 2020
It was many decades ago, but I still remember reading the book that my high school chemistry teacher loaned me. I was working in the school chemistry lab as a student aide, so had a lot of time with my teacher, and shared with him one day that I was thinking of becoming a scientist. He rifled through his bookshelf and found a tattered old paper-bound book that had articles from scientists about why they chose to enter science and how they chose their projects. I spent the next few days reading every one of those articles and, in many ways, it changed my life.
My recollection of the specifics is a bit hazy, but I recall one article being about a graduate Biology student complaining to his advisor that his work with salamanders did not feel meaningful nor was it personally fulfilling. The student was researching why 50% of newborn salamanders had spots and 50% did not. The wise old advisor calmly explained that the student was not fulfilled by his work because, frankly, for most of us it was not actually important. His advice was that if you find meaning and personal fulfillment in your work – then you need to be very selective about the problems you chose to tackle. Whether you solve the problem is secondary. A person can find meaning in life by doing meaningful things. Discovering the causative factors for salamander spots may be of interest to a select few – but for most it is not meaningful.
Throughout my life, when it came time to choose a path forward, that simple story would reappear in my memory, and remind me to be very selective about the projects I pursue and choose projects that have meaning.
The result of that thinking has been that I have always gone after big, complex, challenging problems. Knowing how to solve it was never an issue … I never did. If the solution were immediately obvious it would not have been a big challenging problem! Instead, I forged ahead, perhaps naively and occasionally foolishly at times, but always with the intention that I would listen, watch, and learn as much as I could from those accomplished in whatever field it was, and then try and distill that down to something more manageable that I could understand and ultimately start to work on myself.
My success varied as it does for all of us. But the meaning was always there. With each of my entrepreneurial endeavors, I always knew that I was doing something that mattered. That focus on meaning continues with my work on Continual Care Solutions.
Continual Care Solutions has not been shy about facing down a big problem – and we are staring down one of the biggest: the cost of healthcare and the well-being of those at-risk and vulnerable. A problem of this size is a big lift for anyone, and especially for a small company – but it is important, it matters, and it isn’t going to fix itself. So, in the spirit of doing meaningful things, we are going to tackle this important problem!
Addressing the complex and intertwined relationship between medical care and related social challenges (what are known as the “social determinants of health”) is complex, but by building relationships and partnerships with smart, passionate, entrepreneurial, and highly motivated people – we are making progress. At the same time, we, and they, are finding meaning in what we do and that is motivating us to do want to more.
We all face a time in life when things start to slow down, and we reflect on how we spent our time and whether we made good use of our years of toil and effort. Did we try and do something meaningful or did we spent our years counting salamander spots in exchange for a paycheck? As an entrepreneur tackling important and meaningful problems you will never have to wonder. You will know.
If you or anyone you know would ever like to have someone to talk to about your entrepreneurial ambitions or interests, please reach out. The Continual Care Solutions team is made up of a whole team of like-minded innovators and we would enjoy meeting you.