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Interview with Dr. Simon Stertzer, chairman at Biocardia Inc & the Doctor who performed first coronary balloon angioplasty in the United States

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Simon Stertzer interview

Dr. Simon Stertzer was the first to perform coronary angioplasty in the United States on March 1, 1978 at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. Currently, he is the chairman at Biocardia Inc, the company which has developed one of the easiest, safest, and most effective device to implant cells, hormones or other biologically active substances into the heart muscle without resorting to open chest operations. We recently Interviewed Dr. Simon Stertzer to know more about his journey as a medical practitioner & an entrepreneur.

Thanks for taking the time to talk to us today. The world knows of you primarily due to your academic and medical achievements and particularly the fact that you performed the first coronary balloon angioplasty in the United States. But you’ve also been an entrepreneur who’s founded or helped grow multiple biotech companies over the years. Can you talk about your experience as a medical practitioner & an entrepreneur? 

I started out in the 1960s clearly to become an expert in the newly developing area of cardiac diagnosis and treatment. At that time, it was unprecedented for a physician to become involved in the entrepreneurial side of medicine. By the early 1980s, a cultural shift had occurred, allowing practitioners to develop their ideas into business, and not being limited to practice activities. The motivation for all of my entrepreneurial activity has been the advancement of the practice of medicine, not the profit incentive. But if one is successful in achieving a significant breakthrough, it often results in entreprenuerial success.

What are some of the biggest mistakes doctors make when starting a biotech business? 

1) Building a company around a product that offers only marginal differentiation, meaning that the advance is only minimal… it is not a breakthrough technology. 2) Poor patent position. 3) Giving away too much of the company early, thus losing control, or conversely, trying to hold on to too much equity, thus not building a strong, invested team.

What are some of the biotech startups that you are most excited about?

There are many, but most recently Corindus Vascular is a company that uses robotics to perform procedures remotely. This will allow cardiovascular intervention to be brought to small communities, which heretofore have depended on patient transports to larger cities for tertiary medical care. This technology will save critical time, and money while improving the quality of care available in small communities.

There are a number of companies that have developed and sold artificial valves which can be placed in patients without open heart surgery.

 Do you consider yourself a doctor first or an entrepreneur first? Why?

I consider myself a physician-scientist who has never had a particular interest in business. Even now, business opportunities are consequence of my interest in medical research and are not at all my self-image.

You are currently serving as the Chairman of the board of Biocardia. It’s really hard to understand exactly what Biocardia does based on the information presented online. Can you give us the elevator pitch for the company? 

BioCardia is a biotech company which has developed the easiest, safest, and most effective device to implant cells, hormones or other biologically active substances into the heart muscle without resorting to open chest operations. The stem cells, hormones and other agents are under intense investigation, to ascertain if their use will eventually improve or reverse serious heart dysfunction. Many more clinical trials are still needed to define the role of this approach, but it is the wave of the future.

Biocardia is now in a Phase 3 trial.  As far as we know, it is fairly uncommon for a drug to go to a third trial. Is this good or bad for Biocardia? And what does it mean?

Phase 3 trials are performed after safety and other preliminary aspects of a new drug or treatment have been assessed by the developer, and the Food and Drug Administration. Phase three is designed to determine if the proposed therapy or drug is superior to existing treatment. It is a good thing for BioCardia to be involved in a Phase 3 Trial because it is closer to clinical availability. Regrettably, extensive trials like these are required, but test the ability of small companies to survive, if they have no other significant product sales.

You are now at a stage of your carreer where you are near retired and Emeritus at the University. Yet you are still the Board Chair of a publicly traded company. What is the relationship between age and success in entrepreneurship? 

Naturally, people who are in their sixties and seventies have more experience and can profit from their mistakes. They also have more access to capital, especially if they have been successful in earlier carreers. Nonetheless, the Facebook, Google and Amazon pioneers were hardly old people. They prove that a better idea, device or technology can revolutionize your success and can be independent of your age. This encourages everyone interested in this type of undertaking to look to the quality and originality of their product, and not to their age or lack of experience.

Are any of your children interested in following in your footsteps? 

No, not at all. They are pursuing their own, independent career interests. 

Our readers are young entrepreneurs all over the world interested in starting a new business or learning how to grow their startups. What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs all over the world? 

Before starting a business, you need to become an expert in your area of interest. Although there are success stories of people who dropped out of school and became financial successes, they still learned enough, and undoubtedly educated themselves outside of the traditional academic environment.

Let’s end thinking about the future. In your opinion, what are the top three most exciting trends that will redefine how medical care is delivered to patients, say, by 2030? 

1) stem cells 2) the ability to affect the composition and behavior of DNA 3) The use of Artificial Intelligence in the diagnosis and treatment of many medical conditions.

 

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Interview

An Interview with Michael Eisenga – Former Mayor of Columbus and Entrepreneur

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Michael Eisenga - Mike Eisenga

Michael Eisenga is a commercial real estate investor, entrepreneur, and proud father of three boys. His wide range of skills includes commercial real estate investing, property management, assisting living facility operation, leadership, strategic planning, public policy, and community outreach.

We recently interviewed him to know more about his life including his entrepreneurial journey.

Michael, Thank you so much for talking with us. Tell me about your best and worst days at work.

My best days at work are when I arrive, and essentially, everything is running smoothly. And when I’m checking into things and following up on things, everything just seems to go like clockwork.

My days that aren’t so great at work are the days when big decisions have to be made. And sometimes they’re big and important decisions, and there’s not a lot of time to make those decisions. I never like to be in a position where I feel like I have to be rushed to make a decision, but unfortunately, things like that happen. Or if there’s some type of other crisis

What are the projects that you most enjoy working on?

What I like is to be able to focus on is the big picture and vision of the businesses and how we’re going to continue to expand, improve ourselves as far as the services and the cares that we’re offering, how we can make the facilities we have better. Then also, looking at opportunities to maybe expand and grow the business as well.

When it comes to your business, what was your biggest ‘a-ha’ moment?

I think that moment for me was when I transitioned from being a small business owner, where I was essentially doing all of the jobs to being able to delegate. I realized that I had delegation skills to bring other people on board to do the day-to-day operations with me overseeing them, which allowed me to focus on, as I said earlier, the overall vision of the business and growth opportunities, and things like that.

What has been the most important part of your professional journey?

I would say the most important part of my professional journey was my decision to become self-employed. When I initially started my mortgage banking company, that’s when I first became self-employed. And I had worked for others up until that point. I was concerned—I had never been in that position before. I was in my 20s at the time, and I thought, “Boy! Am I going to have the drive and ambition to wake up in the morning and go to work because it’s me?” Before, I’ve always had to make sure I show up to work because I had a boss. And if I didn’t show up to work, I’d be in trouble, and I could eventually lose my job.

I felt confident about the industry and the business that I was opening, and I knew it would be successful because I understood it. But when you’re taking that leap from being an employee to being a self-employed person—and I hadn’t taken the leap yet at that point to be an employer—I wondered how that would work out and if I’d be successful in that kind of a role, which I was.

What risks is your company facing?

The biggest risk right now with assisted living is really where you are located and doing good market studies gearing toward the private pay residents. Because if you miss the mark on that, you may be forced to take a lot of the public pay residents. And while we certainly want to see that everybody has a nice place to stay, the public pay managed care companies that administer those programs are continuing to cut rates. In fact, I’m dealing with one of the providers right now who’s trying to cut our rates again, too.

Eventually, we will probably have to just phase-out of the entire public pay scenario because there’s just such a difference between what they’re willing to pay for a resident compared to what our private pay people are paying. It can’t be justified. It’s not feasible to take off that kind of a loss on your units. That is probably a risk.

I think there’s always some risk with regulations. As time goes on, it gets to be more and more costly to meet those regulations. I’m always concerned about being in a business that’s heavily regulated by the government because you always hope that the government is going to keep regulations that are feasible and rational. But you never know.

That’s essentially what brought down the mortgage industry. When I first got into it in the mortgage industry, there probably weren’t enough regulations, and there were abuses that took place. And as a result, however, the pendulum swung from one extreme to the other, whereby it made it to the point that the business is not profitable anymore. A few big people out there are doing a lot of volume, and they have the connections. But what they really did was they knocked the small operators and the medium-sized operators to a large degree out. And even the large operators are not making a lot of money; they’re taking on a lot of risk for the business they’re writing, and there’s not a lot of margins. It’s become a commodity business, and commodity businesses are never very profitable.

What would you do with unlimited resources?

I would probably try to do what I’m doing right now but just on a larger scale with expansions. Looking at larger properties, I may even look at getting into some additional industries that I may have some interest in that could piggyback on what I’ve already been doing. But I guess right now; it’s not something that I’ve thought a lot about because no matter who you are, you don’t have unlimited resources. So that would probably be a direction I’d go.

When was the last time you totally lost yourself in doing something?

I get into the swing and the flow of things, usually during a business day, especially if I have a time crunch, where I’m trying to get something put together for a meeting or forwarded on to a third party to take a look at. I can’t think of anything specifically. But that does happen, and then all of a sudden, you realize that the day is almost over, and you might be at work a little longer that day just finishing it up.

What do you do when you’re not at work?

When I’m not at work, I have three boys, and I spend my time with them. I share placement with my ex-wife, so if I don’t have them all the time, I spend time with friends and family, dine out, do some traveling here and there. I’m kind of a movie buff. I like to watch movies. I like to play cards; I like to swim. That’s what’s keeping me busy outside of work. I enjoy going to events. I’ve hosted fundraisers; I go to fundraising events and things like that.

How do you feel you make a difference in the world?

In the past, when the mortgage company was open, I made a difference in a lot of people’s lives. I mean, we did mortgages that lowered people’s payments and gave them extra money every month. And sometimes we saved them tremendous amounts of money every month. I mean, that was gratifying. We were able to get people in homes that maybe wouldn’t qualify someplace else.

In the assisted living industry, we make a big difference. We provide housing at an affordable price to people who need assistance. But yet, in many cases, they’re still very capable. But it’s a lot cheaper than going to a nursing home, and it’s a lot cheaper than having somebody at your house 24 hours a day. We provide services on top of that. We provide meals; we provide activities; we provide care. So we’re providing a nice place for our residents, but we’re also providing peace of mind for our residents’ families. So that’s a good feeling.

Then, of course, I look at the people that I employ. I’m providing them with opportunities and employment, and a paycheck. So I think that makes a difference to a lot of people.

You can learn more about Michael here and here.

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Interview

An Interview with Joey Klein, Founder and CEO of Inner Matrix Systems

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Joey Klein Inner Matrix Systems interview

Joey Klein is the founder and CEO of Inner Matrix Systems, a personal mastery training system for high achievers. He is the author of “The Inner Matrix: Leveraging the Art & Science of Personal Mastery to Create Real Life Results.” He has been interviewed by Self Magazine, INC.com, Yahoo Finance and NBC. Klein has coached leaders from some of the world’s top companies, including IBM, Coca Cola and the World Health Organization.

We recently got the opportunity to interview Joey.

Joey, Thank you for talking with us. For someone who helps others achieve their personal best, every single day must be a satisfying day. However, tell me about your best days at work.

The best days at work are when I get to execute my art — personal development and transformational work — and make a difference in people’s lives, whether working one-on-one with people or with an audience. I like doing what I can to be able to see lives change. Those are definitely my best days.

Your clients come from different backgrounds and are generally high achievers. In your view, who are high achievers? Also, What does your training system focus on?

Our clients are high achievers, looking to get an edge inside what they do. A high achiever is anyone looking to do what they do in the best way they can, whether that’s an entrepreneur running a large organization, or a mom or dad wanting to master parenting in a particular way, and everything in between, from pro athletes to artists.

Our training system focuses on developing what drives our choices, decisions, and actions, which are our internal mechanisms, our emotional intelligence, and our thought strategies, etc. We train people to manage their inner game to perform at the level they want to achieve.

Helping others achieve their goals must be a great reward in itself. However, what was your biggest “aha” moment?

My biggest “aha” moment was when, after years of training people, I realized I couldn’t train people the same way I was trained. When I studied with my mentors, it was extremely intense. They were very direct and, what I would call, extreme high intensity. That level of intensity trained a resilience and capacity that supported me to create extraordinary outcomes for myself. When I started training people at the request of my mentors, I brought that same high level of intensity and expectations to the space. And when people opted out of training with me, I was dumbfounded. I didn’t understand why they didn’t show up for the training that would lead to the outcome they had named for themselves.

That type of training does not scale well. My mentors were training only a few people at a time at that level of intensity. It never occurred to me that there were so few of us because we were the only ones willing to show up for that type of training. I was trying to take the same intense regimen that worked in a small group of people willing to be up to it and have it work for hundreds of people at a time. And when you’re trying to build a company in that space — when you have a 10% retention reality — that’s not great. It doesn’t work out. What I realized is, although many of us are driven to be high achievers who want a better life, not everyone has the desire to be trained in an intense way.  I learned to meet people where they are at and to give them the next step based on wherever they are in their own development. It was a game-changer.

This new way of training is much more enjoyable for me. I realized that few people are ready and willing for the type of training I had. But if you meet people where they are and nudge them along the way, they often learn how to drive at that all-out intensity.

What has been the most important part of your journey?

The most important part of my journey has been learning the difference between developing a high-capacity heart — in other words, cultivating my love of training people by developing their capacities — and the idea that this would easily translate to professional success.

I love training people and supporting them to develop themselves to create what they choose for themselves. However, this on its own does not create a business. Early on, as I developed my training system, I started studying business and realized I needed to develop a high level of capacity and aptitude for it if I really wanted to change lives and do what I love doing at scale. To have a large impact and influence the lives of thousands of people, there needs to be a structure in place.

The skillset and the aptitude necessary to build out business structures, team cultures, and operational systems that can deliver a product or a service at scale is the thing that makes impact possible. Taking on an intensive study of business, entrepreneurship, sales, marketing, and all of the logistics that make a business run, work, and grow is what makes the impact that we have today possible. Without that, we could still have an impact, but it wouldn’t be as big as what we’re after. And while there’s nothing wrong with an intimate impact, you’re only influencing the lives of 50 or 100 people as opposed to thousands or millions.

The training industry has seen a surge in so-called ‘experts’. But not everyone provides quality training. In that context, what risks is your company facing?

There’s a great documentary out on Netflix right now called the Social Dilemma, which talks about how people don’t know what real information is anymore. Often, it’s “fake news,” so to speak. The internet gives us more access to each other than we’ve ever had before. But, because anybody can engage these platforms or put information out on them, the public is having a harder and harder time distinguishing between a quality product or service as opposed to a non-quality product or service.

When it comes to the arena that we play in, which is training emotional intelligence and thought strategy techniques, we are in the space of optimizing human performance from an internal reality. There are so many people inside the coaching or “training industry” who present well but simply do not know what they’re doing. They may have taken a weekend course to learn skills to train or coach someone, but they have never actually executed with real people or have real outcomes to leverage. Competing with this — making the distinction of how we’re qualified and why we’re different from this inundation of people simply hanging their shingle out and calling themselves personal development experts — is one of the biggest challenges that we constantly work with. We always invite our clients to engage “healthy skepticism” when engaging our training or any others. Engage the training and really lean in, and if you are able to see outcomes that you’ve named for yourself begin to happen, then continue.  

We’re not the only great training company out there; there are others. But there are many out there who are not only going to miss the mark but are probably going to cause negative effects as opposed to positive ones. The unique part about IMS is that we’re a proven training system that is not reliant on a one-off experience or individual but a process designed to create self-reliance.

What would you do with unlimited resources?

There are two things I would do. Number one, I would look to market at scale. Many companies that win out don’t win because they have the best product or service out there. They win out because they’re in front of everybody regularly, and they have the resources to do that. There are lots of fast food companies that aren’t in existence today because they make quality food; they exist because they’re in front of everybody. Their marketing is really present. So, letting everybody know that we’re simply available would be a game-changer.

The second thing, because I don’t only want to make money — although that needs to be what every business does — I would put those resources towards education and support to anyone willing to engage. I think everybody deserves to have access to education and developmental support if they’re willing to engage it. Many people in the world would love to have access to education and training to develop themselves to live a better life, but they simply don’t have access to it.

When was the last time you totally lost yourself in doing something?

I think this is the way I strive to live every day. If I’m at work and we’re in a strategy session, I lose myself in it. I don’t know what time it is. Thirty minutes could go by, or three hours could go by. I regularly have to have somebody let me know it’s time to go on to the next thing because I’m fully engaged with whatever I’m doing. If I’m surfing in the ocean, nothing else exists. Because nothing else can exist. I love to do activities where it demands that I am not anywhere else because I find that’s where I find the greatest fulfillment. I think we tend to find the greatest fulfillment when we are fully present with what we’re doing.

Most of the discomfort and suffering that we experience is often related to being somewhere else. We are not present with life as it’s happening right in front of us. We’re usually focused on the past or focused on the future. Either on something that we don’t want to happen or avoiding something that has happened and wishing that we had something that isn’t there anymore. I think I strive to live that way where I lose myself in whatever I’m doing at the time.

Apart from training individuals and groups realize their true potential, what else do you love?

My favorite thing is being in nature. That can be skiing in the winter, mountain biking in the summer, and hiking in the woods. Anything active going on in nature, I’m all in. And making time to be with my girlfriend is also on top of the list. She loves going to nice restaurants, or even Netflix at home is always great.

How do you feel you make a difference in the world?

The biggest way I make a difference is by giving people access to naming the life they want to live as opposed to the life they feel is available for them. Giving people access to the belief and the ability to name the life they want, but then following that up with how to bridge the gap from where they are in life to where they want to go. That, in my mind, is the transformational journey.

Creating a paradigm shift is the way I think we create the biggest service. We offer the greatest benefit to people by showing them how to create a paradigm shift where we can look at our reality half a degree differently. That gives us the ability to see what’s necessary within ourselves and our environment and to go from where we are to where we’d like to go. Often, the answers are right in front of us; we have the information within us. It’s usually a small adjustment but a necessary one that needs to happen to change perspective, giving us access to possibility.

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Interview

An Interview with Digital Designer Kim Baschet

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An Interview with Digital Designer Kim Baschet

Kim Baschet is a French Digital Designer who has helped businesses build and strengthen their online presence. He has a particular interest in motion and has successfully conceived movement and transitions for all the products and websites he worked on to create a smooth and spirited experience for the users.

Kim, Thank you for talking with us. Please describe your journey as a Designer

I always loved illustration as a kid, so it started from there! I was drawing all the time. As a really empathetic person, I gravitated to design over time. I wanted to make things that looked great but also could serve people. I loved learning design software, as it allowed me to iterate, fail, retry, and finally produce something that I was really proud of. It gave me the freedom to explore my creativity! I studied at Gobelins in Paris and got a Master’s degree in Interaction Design.

Gobelins is a top school, so it was a really competitive process, but it was definitely worth it. It was amazing to meet, learn from, and collaborate with so many other like-minded people. After graduating, I worked for both agencies and studios in Paris before moving to San Francisco to work at Upperquad. I’ve been fortunate to collaborate with some talented people and work on some large brands such as Google, Fine Art Museums of San Francisco, DELL, Le Monde, GE, and Warner Bros. I am now an Independent designer. My next project for Google made in collaboration with Instrument will launch in April, so keep an eye out!

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear design?

Concept, Aesthetic & Usability. An important part is visual, but Design’s purpose is to be intuitive and communicate effectively.

How important is movement for you as a digital designer?

In digital design, movement is key. It guides the user from one screen to another. Motion makes an interface react with actions. These reactions can even convey as much information as words. With motion, I can create a delightful transition that accompanies the viewer from one place to another. It also can increase originality and elevate a brand’s image.

What are some of the software/ tools that are must for any modern-day designer?

Figma is a powerful tool that allows designers to team up and collaborate with development teams. I really recommend learning it. At the moment, it might be the best software for great workflow in interface design. With these remote times, it’s becoming the main tool of many tech companies and agencies worldwide. Motion tools are becoming essential as well.

Programs like After Effects or Principle can help a designer communicate their intentions so much better, whether it be for interactions or just pure aesthetics.

You take an active role in the interactive design community as a judge for Awwwards, CSS Design Awards and The Webbys. Tell us more about that experience.

It’s a great experience to be a judge in these international awards competitions alongside many talented and renowned people. More specifically, I get to vote on the Site of The Day’ and ‘Agency of the year’! It pushes me to do a deeper dive into the elements of great sites. In turn, this feeds back into my own work and inspires me. There are many cool projects out there, and it’s great to take them in every day and be an active part of the design community.

You have worked with a range of clients. With whom did you enjoy the most?

Well, I couldn’t pick one. I love all the projects I did with Google, like AI Responsibilities, Jigsaw type, and Scam Spotter because I get to create a playful style that resonates with me. I used my whole skillset on these projects, including conception, UI design, illustration, and animation.

Another project that’s worth mentioning is Le Monde’s website redesign. For this project, I worked with data from millions of users. I had to find solutions for a global audience while redesigning the site.

You have also been involved in the creation of Santa Tracker. Tell us more about Santa Tracker and the overall experience of its creation.

Santa Tracker is a website with holiday-themed games presented by Google. I worked on this project for 4 months with Upperquad. From the conception and workshops with the client to the design of the website, microgames, and final launch. I was able to collaborate with some very talented coworkers and illustrators. I started by building a whole new brand guide, so the Google team could implement the system we created across all touch-points.

An Interview with Digital Designer Kim Baschet

From there, we work-shopped with the client and conceived new ideas for Santa’s Village. A part I particularly enjoyed was leading the design and 3D for a WebGL game called Snowball, a 3D interactive winter playground. The experience was a challenge because I had to create a 3D universe consistent with the 2D style. It was a success and the project was nominated for Best Visual Design by the Webby awards.

In your view, what’s the future of Digital Design?

The future of the industry will move a lot faster because things are easier to build with these new tools. With prototyping and “zero” development tools evolving (even 3D/WebGL one), designers can create more things autonomously and move quickly to testing. It will probably create new trends that evolve quickly and push the boundaries of creativity.

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