About Me

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Paris, France
My friends think I'm a jet-setting international playboy...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Are you a mentor?

I was at a conference up in Park City recently and during a panel discussion, the topic of mentoring came up. First of all, I had no business being in this meeting. This meeting was for leaders of state and industry and I felt very inferior. However, mentoring is a topic of passion for me and I couldn't resist asking a question.

"How are the members of the panel currently participating in mentoring efforts?" There I had said my peace.

But then, for the next hour the panel and audience dove into my question and many thanked me for asking it afterwards.

Are you an active mentor? Have you reached a level of status and success that could aid someone not as far along as you?

One of the guests of the conference was a very high level executive in a Fortune 500 company.  I have met this gentleman once before and when I introduced myself he actually remembered me!  He asked if I was still looking for a job in his company and asked if he could help.  I emailing him my resume and he forwarded it onto the VP of Marketing.  I'm not sure if anything will come of this, but the guy changed my life.  I learned that the little things matter.  I learned that nobody is too important to help or insignificant to be helped. Take an extra minute here or there to impart your wisdom or share your connections with someone who is struggling as you once were. Thank you Mark.  

Friday, August 20, 2010

5th grader gives book to President

One of the first customers of 11-year-old Marrae Kimball of Norway, ME, happens to be President Barak Obama.  Marrae just finished 5th grade where she wrote a book called "Guaranteed Success for Grade School: 50 Easy Things You Can Do Today!”  While Senator Olympia Snowe was visiting Norway, Marrae presented Sen. Snowe with an autographed copy and asked her to deliver a copy to President Obama as well - and she agreed!  You can read the rest of the story here.  

How many of you have ever given something to the President, let alone published a book.  Marrae is the daughter of a friend of mine, Melissa Eshleman, who I met as a Mormon Missionary serving in Maine.  Melissa is also quite accomplished and started a publishing company called Find Your Way Publishing.  Her goal is to produce inspiring works and she is consistently hitting it out of the park with clients like Marrae.  

Monday, August 2, 2010

Bellota a Roble: from Acorn to Oak

A friend of mine, Adam Wride, developed a soft spot for Argentines after serving an LDS Mission to Argentina.  Adam and I met in college where, as a poor college student trying to support a wife and a baby, he started dreaming of supporting a whole nation.  Five years later he is making a small dent in his big dream.

He created a non-profit organization called Bellota a Roble, which is Spanish for "Acorn to Oak" providing a fitting allusion to the work with which they are engaged. One of their first big accomplishments was setting up  a housing system for LDS students.  The first two residents happen to be med school students at the University of Cordoba.  The residence provides like-minded students with subsidized housing, and an environment of high values and standards.  Their dream is to expand from a single apartment for just men, to large dormitories for men and women, to full service educational facilities similar to SVU where many more underprivileged, Argentine, LDS men and women will have a better chance to succeed both academically, temporally, and spiritually.

Bellota a Roble needs donations and people to help spread the word.  I felt inspired by their cause and donated $25 and I'm trying to spread the word.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Looking for a Job?

Gavin Christensen, Principle at VSpring and Director of Kickstart Seedfund, spoke on career development at a recent luncheon I attended.  His thoughts on personalizing the "Innovators Dilemma" were the most remarkable.

One of the basic ideas of the Innovators Dillema by Clayton Christensen is that the management principles that grow a company to a certain point, may not be the ones needed to take it to the next level, and, in fact, may be injurious in the future.  The same can be said about career development.  The skills used to get a first job might not be the skills necessary to get a first big promotion, or next job.

Career development has been on my mind recently as I look forward to my last year of higher education and graduation with an MBA.  This summer I landed an incredible internship, which is already opening up doors for incredible career opportunities.  I would sum up job searching for beginners in 3 points:
  1. Market yourself within a niche:  be it an industry, a talent, or even a contact.  I chose the biotech industry, have marketed myself as relentlessly resourceful, and name drop like crazy.
  2. Look for that first break.  Mine came with a little unpaid internship with a start-up pharmaceutical company.  I honestly didn't do anything monumental, but I talk about it like crazy and it was just enough to get my foot in the door of this industry and qualify for bigger opportunities.
  3. At the end of the day it's all about personality.  I recently helped hire someone for my company.  She wasn't the most qualified, but she was more likable and so she got the job.  I think likability is job specific so interview with the type of people who are more likely to like you.  
These tips aren't universal or proven and should change after you get further into a career, but the nice thing about free advice is that it's abundant.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Disruptive vs. Destructive Technology

Yesterday I had lunch with the CEO of a medical device start-up in Salt Lake City. He is playing in markets totaling over $30 billion, and if things go well, when he sells off to Abbott or Boston Scientific it will be the largest acquisition in Utah history (current record: Omniture to Adobe for $1.8 billion).

He introduced a concept based on Clayton Christensen's Innovator's Dilemma concept of disruptive technology shown roughly below:

For those not familiar with the concept, let me use computer processors and the figure above to illustrate (I apologize for the quality, I did it quickly in Paint).  Firms start entering in market 1 and VCs start investing capital.  The market hits it's apex around the time that other firms start entering in market 2 (disruptive technology) at which point less firms enter and less capital is invested in market 1 as the market becomes obsolete and the process repeats itself.  An important aspect is that the market starts over - zeros itself - during each disruptive cycle.

However, much of medical technology is different:
Let's look at cancer drugs for example.  The dependent variable here is the recurrence rate of cancer.  Entrant 1 produces a drug that has a recurrence rate of 80%.  Entrant 2 comes in with a better drug with a rate of 75% and so on and so forth.  But what happens when an entrant produces a drug that has recurrence rates of 4-2%?

At this point we have basically cured cancer and there are no more incentives to create new drugs.  The last entrant basically delivered a technology which destroyed the market.  Of course, entrants can always come in with cheaper drugs, but part of the problem is that VCs become uninterested in marginal improvements and aren't willing to finance expensive development processes (represented by the upward sloping line).  As capital markets dry up, fewer and fewer firms enter (represented by the downward sloping line).

One of the problems with the VC community is the way that VCs are compensated for their work - management fees.  As funds get used up, management fees decrease because they are based on percentages so VCs start raising new funds.  This means they pressure companies towards quicker exits.  To produce a quicker exit, firms cut corners and develop less effective technology.  The VC model shows many hash-marks on the percent reoccurance continuum because firms only have enough time and money to make incremental improvements compared to previous drugs.

Take away:  Because medical technology markets can be destroyed, firms can't hedge their risk by leveraging their technological capabilities into disruptive markets.  Instead of producing incremental benefits, firms should try invest in being the firm that destroys the market for all other firms; otherwise they will be destroyed and will have to find a new line of work.

By the way, according to my CEO friend, Clayton Christensen has already agreed to this.

Friday, April 23, 2010

TEDx is coming to the University of Utah

It's official. The thought leaders of the world are congregating in Utah of all places.


Here's a thought: If Utah can get TED and the Olympics, what else would want to come to the Mormon Capital of the World?

Friday, April 16, 2010

free electric car anyone?

What an incredible summary of someone who is putting his money where his mouth is and actually building a zero emissions infrastructure instead of just talking about it.

If you're crunched for time you can skip the 8 min introduction, watch from 8-45 min and skip the last 50 min of Q&A.  Here's Shai Agassi's bio.

"it was the best day of my life"

...but I think I missed it.

How do you miss the best day of your life, you might ask?

Recently some incredible people have entered my life.  I won't name names because you know who you are, but these individuals have done incredible things for me and opened up doors and opportunities that, until recently, I've only dreamed about.  The kicker is that I didn't even know about it - I wasn't even present and now I'm reaping the benefits.  More on this in a few months.  

I ask myself why have they been so generous?  What has motivated them?  The only answer that I can come up with is service-based leadership.  Sheer humble, behind-the-scenes altruism and caring.  This post isn't about me - and perhaps it should be retitled because others really deserve all of the credit, but I'm tributing Bon Jovi so I feel OK about it - it's really about them.  All of those individuals who go around quietly making the world a better place.  It is a rare and precious virtue and one that I have much to be grateful for.

Friday, April 9, 2010

the big apple

"In New York,
Concrete jungle where dreams are made of,
Theres nothing you can’t do,
Now you’re in New York,
These streets will make you feel brand new,
The lights will inspire you,
Lets hear it for New York, New York, New York"

Jay Z hit the nail on the head, although after spending a week in NYC I admit that I didn't fall in love. In fact, I would say that I have a love/hate relationship with that city.  For example, who leaves 3 hours early to travel 19 miles to the airport and still misses a flight? 

I'll hand it to the folks who live there.  They have a ton of energy and were actually really nice, but it was a different type of energy than San Francisco.  I wasn't inspired to thrive there, just to do my tourist thing and get out.  

I would still recommend that everyone needs to visit New York.  It is definitely a marvel to behold. 

Friday, March 26, 2010


Yesterday I met with Dr. Lorris Betz, M.D.,PH.D.  Dr. Betz currently wears 3 hats: Executive Dean of the University of Utah Medical School, CEO of University Healthcare, and Senior Vice President for all Health Sciences at the University of Utah.  He is an extremely impressive individual who regularly turns people away because he doesn't have time.  Luckily I work with him and can get an audience. This particular time I had an idea for which I was requesting support and he was kind enough to lend me a few moments.  I left completely influenced.

Some individuals are blessed with more gift and talent than others and accomplish incredible things in life. Meeting with these individuals has proven to be invaluable for me.

My uncle is also one of these individuals and happens to own a Ferrari.  Last time I was with him he offered to let me take it for a spin this summer.  He said, "Everyone should have the opportunity to take a Ferrari for a spin" and I didn't disagree.  There is something about these experiences that expand the mind and shape the character.  Likewise, everyone should have the opportunity to meet with a Lorris Betz:  it helps us to think big.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

"this business called Marketing"

In The E Myth, Michael E. Gerber poses the question, "Are you beginning to get a sense of the complexity of this business called Marketing?" (pg. 139) 

A friend works with the start-up Xandem, an innovative wireless technology for locating people, without the person carrying an electronic device. They are in negotiations with a huge brand management company that is taking marketing to the next level.  To help understand customers better they build mock stores to evaluate customer shopping habits. They track everything from eye movement to the time customers view products.  They use data to figure out preference to placement, colors, presentation, etc.  

Here are examples of marketing based on data from The E Myth:
1.     Blue suits outsell brown suits. (pg. 76.)
2.     In a television commercial, the sale is made or lost in 3 or 4 seconds. (pg. 135)
3.     In a print add, 75 percent of the buying decisions are made on the headline alone. (pg. 135)
4.     In a sales presentation, the sale is made or lost in 3 minutes. (pg. 135)

Gerber reminds us that business is all about finding perceived needs of customers and fulfilling them.  Xandem is helping a customer base that realizes marketing is as much a science as an art.

The point:  Think deeply about your customers’ perceived needs.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Internet search "mormon"

A friend recently completed a website to promote the Mormon Faith. Many of you know that I am a Mormon. The web site is entitled "Why We Believe" and is used to host peoples' testimonies. I invite you to read my post Here about why I believe in God.

The reason for the website is really quite interesting. Briefly, the Mormon Church (known formally as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) places a huge emphasis on missionary work - essentially recruiting new members. We have a world-wide force of over 50,000 missionaries. Most are 19-year-old boys who pay their own way. The problem is that after all of their hard work to spread their message, people go to the internet and type in "mormon" for the source of all truth. Unfortunately, our church has many bitter enemies who have been using the internet for years to slander our religion. Until recently your internet search would turn up some ridiculous information and you would be scared off of Mormonism forever. But because of the work of people like my friend, internet searches are now turning out much more positive and reliable information.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The first stop on the Bus

It's time to make the first stop.  I assembled a small team and we started a Life Science Club at the University of Utah.  We're using Michigan's Ross School of Business as our model.  They have done an incredible job of establishing a club that really adds value.

The purpose:  Connect high potential students with Life Science Industry professionals, academics, advocates, ideas, innovations, entrepreneurs, investors, and governments.

The benefits:

  • Up and coming talent is a major component to creating a superior industry
  • Establish a base of man power for bigger events like conferences
  • Expand our network and establish a presence to promote growth and change
If you would like to be part of the wave of change, please join our group and find a meaningful way you can contribute time, energy, network, ideas, or leadership.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Bus

The bus is changing direction. I have finally found a focus - turning Utah into one of the preeminent hubs of the Life Sciences industry. To do this I am going to voraciously study about how others have done it while at the same time building the biggest Who's Who in Utah Life Sciences network. This network will include entrepreneurs, investors, start-up people, academics, researchers, industry folk, government officials, advocates, and legal experts.

Lucky for me, there are a lot of people trying to do this and so I'm really not changing the direction of my bus as much as jumping on someone else's.

If you know anyone who can fit in this network I would love to meet them and do an informational interview with them.

So now the purpose of this blog is to log the process of building something big. The vision hasn't changed, we're still thinking big, just in a more precise way.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Only in America!

This 5 min 11 sec clip deviates from my traditional material; however, after watching I think you will agree that it has everything to do with the theme of "thinking big."


Sunday, February 14, 2010

the power of $5

Here's a 6 min 11 sec clip from Tina Seelig, a professor of entrepreneurship at Stanford. She had students get into groups and then gave each group $5 and 2 hours to bring back as much money as possible. Watch the clip here:


What would you do?

My first thought was to play bigger or better - buy something with the $5 and then go door-to-door asking for something bigger or better. I've only played it once and I went from a one cent paper clip to a $10 soccer ball in 20 min. Replicating that with $5 and 2 hours would yield $30,000. Of course, this probably couldn't be replicated because of decreasing rates of return, but you can get the idea.

Think Big

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Doug Haycock brought up a really good question in a comment on my first blog post - What are my blog goals?

Goal #1 - Provide content that expands minds and inspires others to think Big

Goal #2 - There exists a void between meaningless 140 character tweets, and wordy blogs that nobody has time to read. My goal is to fill that void

Goal #3 - Blog as often or as little as I can fulfill goal #1

Think Big
Last night I had a man date with a very good friend. He developed a bit of software that uploads documents directly onto a commercial printer. He was getting ready to sell it when a colleague of his helped open his mind. This colleague happened to have significant connections with Adobe and told him that he could get Adobe to purchase the code for $5 million.

Good decision or bad decision? Perhaps the better question: Why would Adobe pay $5 million for a piece of code? Because they already have a working relationship with the 35,000 commercial printers in America, and many more internationally. Adobe could make a very quick 4x ROI within the first year, and then plenty more on top of that.

Good decision. Think Big my friends.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

in the thick of thin things

Having avoided blogging for years, I have finally been inspired to create a blog by an elixir of a really boring finance class, a girl sitting next to me who just started her blog about marketing (www.janicekopaunik.com), and a series of recent networking experienses that have inspired me to get more connected to the world...more on those later. Here is the vision of my recently created adventure:

Inspire others to think big and break the bondage of mediocrity through example

Here's the irony - the name of my blog suggests the complete opposite, and I'm writing this blog instead of paying attention in class, thus limiting my potential to think big. Lastly, many probably consider blogging to be mediocre by nature.

Aside from a rough start, I'm going to try to stick to my vision.

Just in case this blog sucks, here's a joke that will make you laugh.

Q: What's the difference between roast beef and pea soup?
A: Anyone can roast beef