The Advent of Precision Medicine

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By Gary Sojka

The advent of precision medicine is the direct result of the ability to sequence the human genome and identify significant alterations is specific genes. We are beginning to see physicians look at some of their patients as unique individuals rather than members of a class—for example, “all white males over the age of 60 with a total cholesterol level over 250,” or “women of reproductive age who have relatives who have exhibited breast cancer.” Because such precision is now possible, it is reasonable to believe that an increasing number of maladies will succumb to procedures designed precisely for the afflicted individual. It should also be possible to provide some patients with the peace of mind that comes from knowing that they have a very low probability of exhibiting the symptoms or passing on the causative agent of a given disease condition.

Imagine the boon to society, and to individuals, if psychometrics could develop analytical methods akin to DNA sequencing. For decades investigators have been developing various “instruments” to “probe” cognitive ability and innate neural processes that result in the complex property know as personality. Even though such sweeping achievements may be far in the future, it may now be possible to be reasonably sanguine about the abilities of investigators to measure more precisely certain tendencies or mind sets that that can have profound impact on an individual likelihood to be successful at a given set of tasks or adjust successfully to a specific environment or set of career options.

Psychometrics has certainly evolved as a field to the extent that virtually everyone who has progressed through an educational system, joined a particular company, entered the military or sought career counseling has been the subject of a psychometric test or battery of testing instruments. The widely-used Myers/Briggs test has been in service for over 60 years and it has purported be able to “map” individuals to a specific place on a quadrant of broadly-described personality types. Even though it suffers from low test-to-test consistency and appears to have only limited predictive capacity, it has been the “gold standard” for such testing for decades.

More recently, investigators and research teams have been developing instruments designed to identify and evaluate more restricted and clearly defined aspects of an individual’s personality. One area under intense investigation, not surprisingly, is the entrepreneurial mind set. There have been scientific studies and commercial endeavors aimed at measuring an individual’s tendencies toward entrepreneurial activities, his/her abilities to deal with the rigors of such a career style and even to attempt to predict the likelihood that a given subject will have success as an entrepreneur or an “intrepreneur.”

The instruments being developed to measure inclinations toward entrepreneurism are of two general types. One utilizes the concept that it is possible to develop common-language descriptors that are often associated with successful entrepreneurs and then test an individual to determine whether or not that person expresses such traits. There are several problems inherent in such testing methods. In the first place, there is no widespread agreement on which common-language traits such as grit, self-confidence, risk-tolerance and resilience uniquely describe those that find success as entrepreneurs. In fact, it is generally accepted that there are different types of successful entrepreneurs that are best described by common-language terms that do not apply to others who have found success as entrepreneurs. Additionally, it is very difficult to design instruments based on common-language traits that are not “transparent” or easily “gamed” by the test taker. In many of those testing methods, a person who wishes to be viewed as an entrepreneur can select answers that he or she can rightly assume will lead to the result wished for by the test taker. Instruction on such tests to “answer honestly” have little effect on an individual bent on achieving a personally beneficial outcome.

The other major approach to measuring entrepreneurial mind-set or entrepreneurial tendencies is based on comparing the answers given by the test subject with those provided by a “standard” group of proven entrepreneurs. In such tests, a control group of non-entrepreneurial types is also usually included in an effort to see which questions differentiate entrepreneurs from the control group. The evaluation of the subject is then based on those questions that best separate the standard from the controls.

This approach to evaluation of a subject’s abilities, tendencies or mind-set have the advantage that if the questions used are sufficiently open-ended or provide a variety of plausible answers, it can be almost impossible for a subject to “game” the test by supplying answers that he/she feels will provide the wished-for result.

One group, Entremetric, even includes a neurocognitive component based on an implicit assumption test to determine whether the subject’s reactions better match the standard group of entrepreneurs or the control group of non-entrepreneurs.

Given the intense activity in this field it is reasonable to predict that in the not-too-distant future there may be instruments and probes that may do for psychometrics what DNA sequencing has done for internal medicine. Such an advance would be a boon to those seeking a career, or evaluating others with regard to educational opportunities or the receipt of financial support.

5 Ways to Reduce Stress as an Entrepreneur

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By Erin Jablonski

“Keep calm and carry on.” This simple but effective phrase originally debuted in 1939 as a motivational poster produced by the British government to raise public morale during the advent of WWII. The poster has since exploded in popularity over the last several years, as people have found comfort in the quintessentially British advice, and have applied its affirming message to numerous aspects of life.

One specific area in which the phrase is applicable is entrepreneurship. Founding and running a business can be an incredibly chaotic endeavor—new ventures involve confronting risk, and no matter what level of success you achieve, unforeseen obstacles are a daily struggle.

Despite these challenges, it’s imperative that you retain your composure; not only does losing your cool on a consistent basis negatively impact your performance, but it can also wreak havoc on one’s physical and mental health.

Here are five ways successful entrepreneurs practice stress management that will help you navigate life’s challenges with greater ease:

  1. They Keep Realistic Expectations

A lot of business leaders are causing themselves undue stress based on the unachievable standards to which they hold themselves. No one is perfect, and worshipping at the cult of perfection will leave you consistently disappointed. In fact, instead of being feared, failure should be viewed as a learning opportunity from which you mature as an entrepreneur and discover areas in which you can improve. Changing your mindset and letting go of your fear of failure can release a heavy burden.

  1. They Appreciate What They Have

As the saying goes, “Stop and smell the roses.” Taking time to appreciate what you have is a good way to reevaluate your priorities and put your current situation in perspective. It’s also scientifically proven to improve your mood. According to research conducted by the University of California, Berkeley, people who work daily to cultivate an attitude of gratitude reduce the stress hormone cortisol by 23%, which results in improved mood, energy, and physical well-being.

  1. They Use Their Support System

No person is an island. As entrepreneurs, we’re proud of our independence and individuality. However, in terms of stress, it helps to remember that everyone is in the same boat. Talking to your peers about your stress can be a therapeutic method for handling the negative effects of stress. Also, your support network can provide you with tips for managing your stress, as well as give a much-needed morale boost.

  1. They Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle

Exercise is an essential component of a healthy work/life balance, as it provides a release for all that pent-up work-related anxiety. Not only does physical activity result in a positive physical impact on your body (lower blood pressure, healthier heart, stronger immune system, etc.), but it also benefits your mental strength. Exercise increases the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. The resulting rush causes long-term optimism and self-confidence. Exercise also helps clear your head, as participating in a singular non-work related activity also allows you to re-focus. Finally, it gets your creative juices flowing. A 2012 study by the Montreal Heart Institute showed aerobic exercise increased cognitive function. Get out there and move!

  1. They Rely on Routine

One major cause of stress is the number of decisions we have to make in a day. Relying on simple, consistent routines like having the same meal for lunch, conducting your calls at a specific time, or even simplifying your wardrobe can help save your sanity for the bigger decisions that really matter. For example, President Obama mentioned his stress-coping mechanisms in an interview with Vanity Fair:

“You need to remove from your life the day-to-day problems that absorb most people for meaningful parts of their day… I [try] to pare down decisions. You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia.”

What are your favorite ways to reduce stress? Leave us your suggestions in the comments section. And always remember: it’s easy to stay positive when everything’s going your way; it’s how you respond to stress events that sets you apart from the crowd.

Top 6 Entrepreneur Movies (And What We Can Learn from Them)

 

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By Evan Cartwright

Based on the positive response we received from our last pop culture-themed blog post, we thought we’d take a page out of Hollywood’s book and create a sequel. And what better way to continue the entertainment theme than with movies!

Here are our top 6 favorite entrepreneur films (and what we can learn from them):

  1. The Pursuit of Happyness

Buoyed by a heartwarming and inspiring performance by the always-brilliant Will Smith, the triumphant story of Chris Gardner shows that education or impressive credentials aren’t a guarantee of success, but rather an unrelenting passion and refusal to let life’s obstacles keep you from success. Also, developing your people skills should be a top priority for any entrepreneur, as they can open doors that you might never have previously known or considered.

  1. Citizen Kane

Often regarded as the greatest film in cinematic history, Orson Welles’ “Citizen Kane” is renowned not only for its groundbreaking storytelling and visual effects, but also the tragic trajectory of its protagonist. Charles Foster Kane, loosely based on newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, demonstrates revolutionary business tactics in his quest for wealth and prestige—he’s a master of PR and self-promotion whose boundless ambition allows him to ascend from an impoverished upbringing to become a powerful tycoon. However, his acerbic, uncompromising personality ultimately alienates everyone close to him and he ends up alone at the end of his life. Kane’s arc reminds us that while starting a business is a noble goal, it pays to have one’s priorities in order and remember what’s truly important.

  1. Office Space

Besides generating a newfound appreciation for Red Swingline staplers and cathartic printing smashing sessions, Mike Judge’s cult workplace comedy perfectly highlights the drudgery and quiet desperation of modern cubicle dwellers. From the petty bureaucracy, to the clichéd business jargon, to the monotony of day-to-day work, Office Space does a fantastic job of satirizing white collar work and reminds us that life is too short to not go out and pursue your business dreams.

  1. Ghostbusters

With the reboot coming out next month, it feels appropriate to mention everyone’s favorite paranormal investigators. Egon, Ray, Venkman and Winston (and the ladies of the new movie) are the perfect example of an innovative startup—they identify a previous untapped market, and leverage their collective knowledge and experience to fulfill a niche need. Also, the Ghostbusters show the value of having memorable and effective branding—their logo and theme song are instantly recognizable.

  1. The Wolf of Wall Street

The importance of ethics is front and center in Martin Scorcese’s raunchy romp through the world of finance. The larger-than-life Jordon Belfort, as played by Leonardo DiCaprio, exhibits the perfect combination of confidence and creative sales tactics—his aggressive pitching style and ability to exploit his client’s vulnerabilities helps him develop his own successful financial firm. His also develops a unique, tight-knit business culture and inspires a near-fanatical loyalty in his employees.

However, his excessive, hedonistic lifestyle and willingness to cut corners ultimately ensures his downfall. Belfort’s story teaches us that profitability should never be pursued at the expense of customers.

  1. Moneyball

You don’t have to be a sports fan to enjoy Brad Pitt’s statistics-inspired rags-to-riches journey as the general manager of the Oakland A’s. As the underdog team with the lowest salary available for its players, Billy Beane (Pitt) facing the losing prospect of having his star players being constantly being poached for better opportunities. His unique solution is to analyze statistical data and pick players based on their stats alone to fill in gaps needed on his team. Similar to Beane, entrepreneurs should seek to take an innovative approach to an existing business model and seek to improve it.

What did you think of our pop culture choices? Did we miss any of your favorite movies? Leave us a comment about what films you think best show the entrepreneurial spirit!

Top 6 Best Entrepreneur TV Shows (And What We Can Learn from Them)

 

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By Evan Cartwright

When someone asks you to think of the best entrepreneur-focused TV shows, programs like “Shark Tank” or “The Apprentice” immediately come to mind, based on their specific business-minded premises. However, entrepreneurial traits can be found in the unlikeliest of places, especially in programs that exist completely outside of a business setting.

Here are our top 6 favorite entrepreneur shows in pop culture (and what we can learn from them):

  1. MacGyver

Everyone’s favorite on-the-fly inventor, Agnus MacGyver’s adaptability and ingenuity in intense situations demonstrates the need for entrepreneurs to be creative and use whatever resources at their disposal to solve their problems.

  1. Parks and Recreation

Running a government department is similar to managing a business—both have to maintain a budget, deal with competition, handle the irascible public, etc. As the optimistic Leslie Knope and the rest of the Pawnee, Indiana team shows us, there are multiple ways to approach situations, but it always pays to have a positive attitude and a tight-knit support group that you can trust. Plus, Tom Haverford perfectly embodies the entrepreneurial spirit—he’s ambitious and a wellspring of creativity. While not all of his business propositions are successful, Haverford never lets temporary setbacks keep him down, and he’s always looking to the future.

  1. Game of Thrones

Although this show is known more for its political machinations, bloody violence and graphic sexuality, Game of Thrones also offers an insightful look at management strategies. Comparing the ruling styles of the various houses and the differing levels of loyalty they inspire in their subjects demonstrate what to and what not to do in a team setting.

  1. Sanford and Son

While Fred and Lamont’s get-rich-quick schemes on “Sanford and Son” were motivated by less-than-honorable impulses and frequently backfired, you have to admire their entrepreneurial spirit. Just like the two junk dealers, entrepreneurs need to be able to think outside the box, anticipate market changes and always have new ideas on the back-burner.

  1. Breaking Bad

While Walter White and Jesse Pinkman’s illicit actions shouldn’t be emulated, aspiring entrepreneurs can learn a few things from teacher-turned-drug kingpin Heisenberg. As a scientist, Walt is extremely concerned with maintaining the purity of his product; his meticulousness shows that it pays to be detail-oriented, as it helps you stand apart from the competition. He also wisely invests in multiple income streams, and works to expand his business connections. Finally, Mr. White wisely seeks out legal advice prior to most major business decisions.

  1. Gilmore Girls

As a great shout-out to female entrepreneurs, Lorelai Gilmore is one of the most versatile (and talkative) examples on this list. With her can-do attitude and personable nature, Ms. Gilmore exemplifies the benefits of networking; maintaining a close relationship with every resident of Stars Hollow and always willing to lend a hand, Lorelai created a built-in market for her brand in the Stars Hollow community. She also demonstrates the value of hard work, as she’s promoted to a management position after many years spent at Independence Inn, and eventually leverages her experience into opening her own venture. Most importantly, Lorelai demonstrates the need for balance in an entrepreneur’s life, managing her busy work life while still providing loving support and guidance to her daughter.

What did you think of our pop culture choices? Did we miss any of your favorite programs? Leave us a comment about what TV shows you think best show the entrepreneurial spirit!

5 Factors to Consider When Choosing a Location for Your Business

 

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By Brandon Vogel

Besides the core team members that are involved with the start-up, one of the most important elements affecting the initial success or failure of a business is, as the saying goes, “location, location, location.” While modern entrepreneurial endeavors are less restricted by geography with the advent of technology and the expanding interconnectedness of the global market, location still remains an important factor.

When starting a new business, here are five important considerations:

  1. Create a Clear Vision

Planning ahead can make or break your business. It is imperative that you take the time to develop a systematic and realistic vision of your start-up —detail the strengths you currently possess, what your weaknesses are (missing team member with technical expertise, personal budget, location, etc.) and envision where you see your company going (expanding into new markets or developing new products, etc.). Time is a resource and it is important to spend it wisely. Using some of your time to create a vision for your company will ensure that you can avoid future mistakes, such as a poor location choice. A mistake is sometimes impossible to overcome for a small business.

  1. Go with Growth

Planting a business seed is a risky endeavor—you have to nurture your idea and provide it with constant attention and support. Before you undertake such a challenging venture, you should investigate whether the local market supports small business growth. Factors in the community such as quality of life, startup growth, etc. can have a huge impact on the financial success of a starting venture. (Coincidentally, the Entremetric headquarters is located directly between two cities listed under the top 25 cities for entrepreneurial growth and in a Keystone innovation zone).

  1. Demographics

To paraphrase another famous saying, “Go where the people are.” Regardless of where you set up shop, there should be a constituency of potential customers in your local area. Not only will this influence how you market your business, but could also affect your hiring pool if you need to bring on additional employees as your business expands.

  1. Know Your Competition

Regardless of what industry you are in, there will always be other companies trying to get a piece of the same market share. It will pay off in the long term to conduct research on their business model and determine what you can do differently or better to convince their customer base to choose your product over theirs.

  1. Assess Accessibility

Accessibility is key— your location can change your sales by as much as 30 to 40 percent. Is your location nearby a supplier and conducive to drop-offs and or pick-ups? Is there convenient parking nearby for clients? Take the time to monitor the facility at different periods of the day so you can develop a good idea of how the location functions and how your client’s interact with the location.

As with most elements of entrepreneurship, business location requires in-depth research. However, if you invest the time and make sure to dot your “i’s” and cross your “t’s,” you are sure to reap the long-term rewards.