Sunday, March 15, 2015

Elizabeth Holmes

Todd Tankersley Brown Bird Design

Forbes currently profiles Elizabeth Holmes as being the youngest self-made female billionaire. She is 31 years old who dropped out of Stanford University at age 19 to pursue her entrepreneurial dreams with the money her family saved for her college education. She created the company Theranos, a software/medical company that is in the business of blood testing. She is now mingling with high power government officials, corporate executives, and other intellectual minds.

Her objective is to “redefine the paradigm of diagnosis away from one in which people have to present with a symptom in order to get access to information about their bodies.” Holmes believes that blood tests in the future should be initiated by patients as a preventative and regular action, so no one will be saying “if only I had known sooner.” The current method of blood testing is that from the 1940’s, with little having been fundamentally evolved. Holmes argues that blood testing can be drastically improved by speed, convenience, and cost. She has found the solution and is currently working to popularizing it within the United States, starting with bringing testing labs to your local Walgreens. Her blood tests can detect countless medical conditions based off of a small sample of blood drawn from ones finger.

Holmes has extremely high standards for herself and for her company. “We believe that to realize our vision we must operate at the highest levels of excellence.” This is in reference to Theranos seeking F.D.A. approval for various lab tests despite approval not being required. However, this extends into Holmes’ personal life. She taught herself Mandarin Chinese as a sophomore in high school and convinced the admissions office at Stanford University to allow her to take summer courses despite her being a high school student. She also started a business while in high school to distribute C++ software to Asian universities. Thus, Holmes is a divergent thinker to say the least. 

She also carries heavy conviction towards this dream. She did not drop out of Stanford to become another Steve Jobs or Zuckerberg. It merely was because she was missing too much class from meeting with venture capitalists. She was determined from the very conception of her idea. This is why she does not believe in back up plans. She claims that if you have a back-up plan, “you’ve admitted that you’re not going to succeed.” However, her company still embraces small-scale failures in order to continue evolving and achieving high levels of excellence, as discussed above. This is a practical approach often evident in creative and life changing pursuits. According to Kevin Dunbar in Wired Magazine, it is common for scientists to ignore failures. However, in order to truly tap into and unleash creativity, one must be read to accept and adapt to failure, or as Wired Magazine refers to it: “editing.”

Holmes and one of her directors believe in the importance of scaling. Much like other creatives, scaling and constantly being flexible is important to creativity, especially as miniaturization becomes more technologically pursued. Theranos focuses on “disrupting” itself in another effort to remain ahead of the curve, especially in such a competitive field like technology and medicine.

Growing up, Elizabeth was never creatively stifled. She had diagrams and plans for the construction of a time machine when she was seven. Her parents have always encouraged creative and entrepreneurial behavior, as it runs in her family. Despite genetic creativity not being heavily supported, creativity still can be influenced by the home life and childhood. Her parents consistently reminded her that she can achieve anything through dedication. According to in the Atlantic, “genius appears to have a strong genetic component.” Holmes states in the New Yorker that she grew up with stories about greatness and what happens to the people who decide not to spend their lives on something purposeful and the impact it has on their character and quality of life. Therefore, the importance of doing what one is passionate about while addressing a need, key components to creativity, were instilled in Holmes at an early age thanks to her family life.

Elizabeth Holmes is bringing a life changing company to the world. With her highly creative mind, it is sure that she will continue to succeed.

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