Steve Blank in a crisis – an opportunity for a more meaningful life


Shelters set up during the Covid-19 pandemic, my cafes with current and former students (entrepreneurs, as well as employees at the start of their careers) have become virtual. Before the pandemic, these cafes generally concerned the startup to join or how to find a suitable product / market. Although last month, even thanks to Zoom, I could feel that they were grappling with a much more serious problem. The common theme of these calls was that many of them found this crisis to be an existential awakening. "My work seems pretty empty of all that matters. I think about what happens when I can go back to work. I am no longer sure that my current career path is what I want to do. How can I understand it? "

Here's what I told them.


In crisis – an opportunity to reflect
If you are still in school or at the start of your career, you thought you would get a degree in a strong economy and there were many opportunities ahead. This world is gone and may not return for a year or more. The world's economies are in free fall. While unemployment in the United States exceeds 15%, the lights go out in businesses and we will not see them again for a long time. Some industries will never be the same again. Internships and summer jobs can also disappear.

But each crisis brings an opportunity. In this case, to reassess his life and ask: How can I use my time when the world recovers?

What I have suggested is that the economic disruption caused by the virus and the ensuing recession is one of those rare occasions to consider a change, which could make your own more meaningful life, allowing you to make an impact and earn more than just wages from your work. Maybe instead of working for the latest social media or e-commerce company or in retail or travel or hospitality, you might want to make people healthier, more long and more productive.

I pointed out that if you are out of school or early in your career, you have an advantage – you have the most flexibility to reassess your trajectory. You could consider alternative vocations – medical research or join a startup in therapeutics, diagnostics, medical devices or digital health (mobile health, health informatics, portable devices, telemedicine and personalized medicine). Or become an EMT, doctor or nurse. Or consider the impact of distance learning in the pandemic. How can you make it better and more effective? In what ways could you help strengthen organizations that help the less able and less fortunate?

Here are the steps to get started:
Use the customer discovery methodology to search for new careers.

  1. Start by reading and researching the main publications in the area you want to know more about. Sources of news on digital health and life sciences are different from software / hardware blogs such as Hacker News, TechCrunch, etc.

If you are interested in learning more about a career in life sciences, start reading:

If you're thinking about educational technology, start by reading EdSurge

And if you're thinking about getting involved in social entrepreneurship, read The Stanford Social Innovation Review as well as the sections on social entrepreneurship from publications like Entrepreneur, Inc., Fast Company and Forbes.

  1. Get out of the building (virtually) and talk to people in the professions that interest you. in the field may be available to chat.) Learn more about the job, if he enjoys it and how you can get started in this career.
  2. Get out of the building physically. If possible, volunteer for some front-line activities. Think of internships in the new areas you explore.
  3. If you're thinking of starting a business, check out VCs. They are different depending on the type of startup you are creating. Unlike the 20e century when most of the hardware, software and life sciences funded by VC, today therapeutics, diagnostics and medical devices, are funded by venture capital firms that specialize only in these areas. Digital health crosses borders and can be founded by all types of businesses. Know who they are.

Some of the Life Science VC blogs and podcasts:

For edtech, the VC firm is Reach Capital

  1. Rotate your education inexpensively into a new field. Online education could be a viable alternative to expensive university debt. Coursera, EdX and ClassCentral have hundreds of online courses in medicine, health and related fields. Accredited universities also offer online programs (see here.) If you are in school, take courses outside of your existing specialization (example here.)

My advice in all these conversations? Carpe Diem – enter the day.

Now is the time to ask: Is my work relevant? Am I living the life I really wanted? Does the pandemic change the weighting of what is important?

Make your life extraordinary.

Lessons learned

  • Your career will only last 14,000 days
  • If you're still in school, reconsider your major or where you thought it would take you
  • If you're at the start of your career, it's time to think about what it would take to make a pivot
  • In the end, the measure of your life will not be money or time. It’s the impact that you are making in the service of God, your family, your community and your country. Ultimately, our report will be whether we have left the world a better place.

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