Week 16 – It’s All About the Connections
I have been very blessed to have made many connections throughout my life. While some people like to make connections that will only help them advance their careers, I believe that all people I meet are important. No person is unimportant. You never know how a person could help you or you could help them. This connecting process has not come easy to me. While many reading this blog may think that I’m a fairly outgoing person so I am overstating my issue, that really is not the case. Some people connect with ease, of which I am envious. For me, it is a struggle to get that first discussion going. I would rather be getting a root canal than starting that first discussion with a person. It’s not that I don’t enjoy meeting people. On the contrary, unlike the person who networks to meet as many people as possible, I network to really get to know people so while the number of people I meet is not through the roof, I truly like to learn about the people I meet. With age, I have become better at it (likely because I don’t worry about things as much), but there is still room for improvement.
The connections that I have made were really on display this week, in small and more impactful ways. We started the week by re-connecting with an old friend Jean, who I worked with at Deaconess Hospital in the lab over 25 years ago. Jean had moved on to become the Director of Ultrasound at Tuft’s Medical Center. As you have read, we are evaluating our NuSpun Vascular Graft in a preclinical study. Ultrasound is used to evaluate blood going through the device. While we were able to learn the basics, we really needed an expert in this process. I reached out to Jean and she stepped right up, taking time at the end of her day to work with our group. Her willingness to connect and teach will make this study even better. We then had a productive meeting with one of the major vascular graft companies about our technology. While my initial contact with Keith at Getinge was a cold connection, I realized that we shared a connection to the Chair of Surgery at BI Deaconess Medical Center. Sharing this contact gave us a center point of discussion, which for me, made our discussion really flow (don’t forget, these discussions for me are not easy). We then met with an investment banking group about working with them to help us raise capital. I met Ben many years ago since we live in the same town and met through sporting events for our kids. Like most of us who have kids and meet other parents, you really have no idea what they do for a job. Ben reached out to us at an event (likely 10-12 years ago) that we were presenting at and only then did we learn what Ben did for a living (besides being a dad). Fast-forward to this week, we are about to begin working with Ben and his team to raise capital. Through our connection to Jack, our representative at WB Mason, we were able to bring the team into Fenway Park. It was a great way to bring everyone together outside of work, have some fun and reset ourselves for the upcoming busy weeks ahead. Lastly, through our former intern Andy, we were able to set up a meeting with DEKA, whose founder Dean Kamen has invented many different technologies from the Segway to the home dialysis unit. We are looking forward to the conversation we will have next week. This is a small sample of how your connections can really play a role in your life.
I have also tried to return the favor in any way possible, from connecting people that need help looking for a job or referring a person to help perform an important task to serving as the contact to a person looking for information. I consistently tell our interns that these connections are so important. Some of the “connections” are right in front of them like family and friends (or their friend's friends), some may be a complete stranger that they meet for the first time and some may come from an existing contact that they have made. With the advancement of technology, these connections become more and more important. Years ago, you could show up with your resume at a company and speak with someone in human resources (those of you my age and older will remember this time). Not anymore. Resumes are scanned and if you don’t have the keywords in there, you don’t get past the screening stage. Having connections can help you get past the "valley of resume death."
I hope that everyone understands that you are important in this connecting world. You may be saying I don’t have anything to offer and I would say you need to look again. You would be surprised what you can bring to the table and it may not even be in your field or related to what you do. You don’t have to be a CEO, the President or a millionaire to bring something of value to the table. I have been fortunate to have met some great people who have helped me in some way and hope that I can continue to pay it forward.
Have a great weekend!