A Glimpse of the Future, and Why You Should Just Start Today

#Startuptruth: I wasn't going to post today, but I thought I'd share some thoughts.

Entrepreneurship is all about ups and downs; facing your worst doubts; and questioning yourself. The startup mentality has helped me understand our thinking in medicine; with our careers; with setbacks and triumphs in life beyond med; and how universal this all is in any journey we're on. 

I've been having a hard time lately. I couldn't work during most of my locum as my hands were so painful and pinched, it was excruciating even to hold my phone or turn a tap, let alone typing up admissions, inserting cannulas and all the other stuff that happens on the wards. I'm pretty sure everyone at work thought I was a softie who couldn't take it (which was a joke; it was busy, but there are way busier and harsher places to work as a doctor!). Luckily I called in sick for the rest of it rather than pushing on through the pain and potentially causing permanent damage. And even then, I hated doing it, because there's this huge stigma in medicine that when you call in sick, you can't just rest in bed; you mentally have to gear up to get well as soon as possible, so you can resume your work and offload the weight that everyone in your team must be feeling because you're unwell. (It was good news that another locum was found quickly.)

So that fear has been playing along for the last few weeks. What if I could never use my hands again? What if I could never play piano, because it was hurting so much when I played even simple things? What if I couldn't type- and most of our work these days involves a significant degree of typing, especially with EMRs, Excels and all being so prevalent now? What if I could never work again?

That led to a huge cry episode the other night. (You weren't expecting that, were you?) You see, I love my work in medicine. I really enjoy it and love seeing the changes in patients from just the tiniest roles we play in their lives. 

But I've longed, longed for so long to share music with the world; to play piano and other instruments and write my songs properly; to produce and touch people through my words and sounds. And even if it never takes off, just the thought of never being able to play piano for myself, ever again, is devastating, like death itself. 

The Medical Startup has been really "meta", as one journalist humorously described it (thank you, Zelwan!), because while I've been interviewing founders; writing up conferences; sharing insights into the medical life to help you on your journey; and creating things in the background; it also has been a way for me to learn about startups; to reflect upon my own startup journey; to teach myself resilience; to face my darkest fears; and to become stronger, more confident; and hopefully, leave something beautiful and helpful for you guys to be inspired by, no matter where I go in life. 

I've finally got the confidence. After three years of blogging, after nearly a lifetime of doodling song ideas; after nearly five years of teaching myself about the fashion industry; as time passes by, it's increasingly apparent that I should have done things yesterday.

Within two hours, I accomplished stuff I'd been dreaming of for years. 

I launched my music YouTube channel, "Louise Teo Music." Just one song. A piano cover of a Prodigy song. (The Prodigy and Keith Flint are inspirations. I was really cut when I heard of Keith's passing.) It already has significant views and Likes and comments (none of them forced from friends or family!). Maybe not significant to you, but huge for me. It was easy to do, it was fun, and I can’t wait to do more.

I launched my Incredible Wearable Instagram, which is a project I've had in my heart for possibly longer than The Medical Startup. It is a small step, but a huge one in my heart. My soul is free. I am no longer bogged down by "what if" and "I should have." Now, it's about being present, and what I can do in the moment. 

And I wrote yesterday's piece on fashion and sustainability, and Legacy Summit.

I am so happy, because it took me countless hours over the years to figure out that I didn't need permission from anyone in or out of medicine to write about fashion and launch my YouTube. I just needed to let myself do it!

I have so much coming up for you. An eBook on locuming. An eCourse on getting started with stuff. Podcasts for both The Medical Startup and Incredible Wearable. And lots, and lots, and lots of music practice, preparation and producing! 

It's true that we should try to focus, and cut out the unnecessary in life, in order to get things done. So I'm going to do that. By cutting out my self-doubt, which is incredibly draining, soul-sapping, and unfortunately, can affect others, even though I don't mean it. 

Thank you if you've read to here; I am going to be blogging more than Instagramming with The Medical Startup again, which is something I've missed!  I would love it if you followed Louise Teo Music and Incredible Wearable on Instagram; and The Medical Startup and Louise Teo Music on YouTube (nothing on The Medical Startup channel yet, but there will be soon!). 

And I hope this post helps you if you've been too scared or stuck to do something you've held dear to your heart, too. Please start today! You won't believe how liberating it is and how much confidence you'll gain, and how much you'll learn. 

Deceleration as a Tool for Identity and Preventing Burnout

I was listening to The Tim Ferriss Show (his podcast), Episode #295, where he goes into “The 4-Hour Work Week Revisited.” If you’ve read any of his books, or even if you’ve just heard of “The 4-Hour Work Week,” I highly recommend listening to it. He has some thoughtful insights from the unprecedented response to his most famous book on working well, productivity and “lifestyle design”, and answers some of the most commonly asked questions he’s received since first publishing it over ten years ago.

Approximately midway through the episode, Tim discusses what he believes is the most important and overlooked chapter, “Filling the Void.” In a nutshell, the chapter is about what the reader could do after finding their success on their terms; automation, fantastic cashflow, a great team, flexibility, low stress; as detailed in the book. However, Tim has found that people too often mistake the chapter as being a treatise on the benefits of lifelong idleness after achieving “success” in this manner. Furthermore, he believes people who misread this chapter may misunderstand how to relax well.

“It’s about contribution; getting yourself out of a ‘me, me, me!’ focus, so that you’re hopefully putting a positive dent in the world, in a way that extends outside of yourself and your immediate family, and hopefully has some persistence over time,” says Tim. “And taking the tools you’ve developed in a business capacity, and applying them to impact in some fashion. I expect many people skipped (the chapter) because they don’t expect to succeed…. But (perhaps) what started out as a party or a celebration ends up being really lonely, they feel isolated and don’t know how to address that…. and by thinking about filling the void, about starting to incorporate those pieces into your life, BEFORE you end up in a challenging psychological position where you end up being reactive, … since you haven’t filled the void with anything non-business related, you’re going to continue to work for work’s sake. This is really common for people who succeed in any capacity. .. It’s really rare you see someone who’s been in sixth gear for a very long time, who then retires and is really good at chilling out. Learning to relax and enjoy other aspects of life, and engage with people around you- friends, community or built community- those are skills you need to practice and develop, just as you need to develop and practice the skill of split testing (ie. A-B testing) to anything else. It’s not a default ability you have as soon as you stop.

“They can be really existential (issues) for someone. If the business has been your identity for a long time, and all of a sudden you want to replace that, if you don’t have a compelling replacement, you’ll just continue working because you don’t want to have to sacrifice that identity.”

(If you don’t have a business, feel free to replace it with “work” in the quotes above to apply to your situation.)

I think this is why people have trouble taking a break; even if you haven’t felt that you’ve reached your ideal of “success” yet; even if you’ve failed or had a hard time and wanted to distance yourself from your work for a time; in order to recuperate. If your identity’s so wrapped up in your work (and don’t worry, you’re not odd- it’s very common in medicine and startup land), you’ll feel that strange sense of time stretching out, empty and unfilled, and you’ll perhaps feel guilty for having that free time, and try to keep “busy” by filling it up with quick dopamine rushes, which may be simply starting a bunch of new projects with too much zest (who doesn’t love enthusiasm?), or at their extreme, can include overspending, binge eating, even drugs and so forth.

Or maybe you don’t experience any of that, but you think that to fill that void, you have to go back to work ASAP. And if that work environment was toxic for you, or you had issues to work through that you didn’t get addressed while having time off, those issues can quickly reappear, or be amplified, creating an even worse situation for yourself.

And the worst is that you may feel you’ve trapped yourself.

But there’s always a good way out.

You can be proactive about this.

As Tim suggests, no matter where you’re at in life, you can start today by asking yourself if you’re enjoying enough time with your friends/loved ones; if you’re doing something meaningful to you that is part of your identity, like a hobby that isn’t directly related to your work; or you can start something new, a new activity or hobby that helps build your identity beyond your medical life or startup life. You need to know that you’re valued beyond the workplace. And if you do find that you want to go back to work, that’s okay, but you could consider an option of trying a different work environment; working fewer hours/part time; or changing your work style in some other way. (A burnt-out, bullied doctor shouldn’t necessarily jump straight back into the exact same workplace; locuming a couple of days in a different workplace, or volunteering your compassion, integrity and other qualities into a tutoring job for homeless children, let’s say, could help you recuperate and feel fulfilled beyond your initial job description.)

It takes time to decelerate; even a car doesn’t do it gracefully when the brakes are slammed on! Patience with yourself will go far.

Feel free to comment below with your thoughts!

Don't Be Afraid

Don’t be afraid to say no to a deal that isn’t fair.

Don’t be afraid to walk away from teammates who don’t support you, despite false words and appearances.

Don’t be afraid to walk away from those who discredit you and your hard work.

Don’t be afraid to call out what’s wrong.

Don’t be afraid to believe in you.

Don’t be afraid to persist.

Don’t be afraid to wait to figure out your next move.

Don’t be afraid to walk away from that which doesn’t nourish you.

Don’t be afraid of time.

Don’t be afraid of change.

Don’t be afraid of success.

Don’t be afraid of happiness.

Don’t be afraid of your dreams.

Don’t be afraid to put your health first.

Don’t be afraid to put your loved ones first.

Don’t be afraid to say what’s tough.

Don’t be afraid to have values.

Don’t be afraid to care.

I hope this helps you.

The Australian Startup Aiming For Zero Waste In Healthcare

Globally, there’s been increasing awareness - and action- regarding sustainability and climate change.

Healthcare is no different.

Have you ever wondered what happens to the tonnes of unused, sanitised medical supplies found in well-stocked hospitals and clinics in the developed world?

The pristine cannulas and IV drips. The instruments in the operating room. Even the surgical gloves.

Melbourne anaesthetist Dr Martin Nguyen studied this with Hospital Sustainability expert Dr Forbes McGain and their team, and was perturbed by the findings that, in one week in Melbourne, 23% of waste generated from six operating rooms was recyclable. Was it feasible to recycle this waste? The study showed that, yes, it was, both financially and with infection control integrity.

This brought Martin back to his journeys on medical missions trips, where, he says, “in isolated pockets of Vietnam, I noted these communities were in desperate need for medical supplies, but did not have connections or the resources to reach out.” Furthermore, “we discovered (through our research) that there were unused items thrown out into landfill. This practice upset many staff who were avid reducers and recyclers at home, but had to be wasteful at work. They were keen to collect and donate these supplies, but did not know where to send it to.

“This is where the inspiration for Medical Pantry came from. The Medical Pantry sits in the middle to match the needs of undeserved communities with the generosity of the givers.”

Since inception, Medical Pantry has successfully donated high quality, unused clinical goods to communities worldwide, including in Tonga and Papua New Guinea. Led by Martin and a team of eager volunteers, goods are readily donated from hospitals and clinics, and are given to recipients usually via clinicians on missions trips and other aid ventures. Goods can also be used locally; wildlife sanctuaries have benefited, along with local businesses in Victoria’s Western Health district; local clinics may run short, and mechanics find the unused, sterile kidney dishes useful! However, Martin envisages a future where tech enables donors to match recipients’ needs directly online, saving further costs, time and resources that can then be put to use expanding the reach of their work.

A hospital in Papua New Guinea using donated goods from the Medical Pantry.

A hospital in Papua New Guinea using donated goods from the Medical Pantry.

“Our ultimate goal is for the Medical Pantry to not exist at all - for there to be no waste from the healthcare system,” says Martin. “But, while there is waste, the Medical Pantry will find a second life for medical supplies and stop it heading to landfill. I hope in future, this will be a national program with collection/distribution centres in each major city in Australia. I believe the data collected will raise awareness and feedback to those in healthcare to help achieve zero healthcare waste.”

Currently, Medical Pantry is in the running for up to $100,000 in local government grants to help with more permanent warehousing, distribution and storage. (People with Victorian addresses can vote for Medical Pantry to receive funds in this grant, until 5pm, Monday 17 September.) However, to fulfil its dream of recycling goods in other cities and expanding its reach, it will need more funding and support beyond this grant. It’s amazing what impact local work can have on global health.

To reach out to Medical Pantry regarding funding or other support, please visit medicalpantry.org or facebook.com/medicalpantry.

All images in this article courtesy of Medical Pantry.

Best Reads This Week, September Edition

We’ve been quiet for awhile! Hello again :)

It’s great to be back!

We’ve got a lot happening at The Medical Startup- thankyou for bearing with our site facelift as it happens.

For now, entertain yourselves with a roundup of some great articles we’ve enjoyed from around the Web this week.

  • Beth Comstock’s a CEO- and an introvert. Tips and strategies at Girlboss.com.

  • Clinical trials are underway for novel early-stage cancer screening through a simple blood test. (The article’s from January but still relevant!)

  • Our friends at Lysn have been listed as one of the top 5 Mental Health social enterprises in tech to watch, along with other inspiring startups. Check out the full list at Social Change Central.

What are some articles and resources you’ve enjoyed recently? Share your finds below!

How Co-Working Spaces Can Help You And Your Startup

First published June 2, 2016

 

Wondering what co-working is? We visited two major co-working spaces in Perth-  Spacecubedand its sister space Flux, to find out.

Co-working spaces are community spaces for working on and building your startup, sole trader enterprise, or scaling business. Spacecubed just held Australia’s first Mental Health Hackathon, MindHack. Its success means another MindHack is in the works!

Co-working spaces are also, by definition, a space for working with other businesses, at various stages of a business lifecycle and from a range of different industries. Startups and sole founders can be very isolated, and co-working helps to solve this problem. Membership flexibility allows businesses and sole founders to adapt as they require, and the space is built to facilitate networking and collaboration, as well as quiet -room working spaces and longer-term office leases.

Spaces tend to offer a rotating program of activities that can help its members, for example, SEO tutorials, legal advice, games events, pitching tips, and drinks. Some of these events may be open to the wider community.

 

Spacecubed offers packages including mentorship and legal advice for its members. Photo: The Medical Startup

 

Spacecubed Marketing Manager Matt Kirk kindly took us on a tour one Wednesday, showing us the varied office spaces, desks and personalities inhabiting Spacecubed over several floors. Home to startups across a range of industries, co-working helps members cross-pollinate ideas, resources and perspectives that they wouldn’t encounter otherwise . Having neighbours who are coders, engineers, designers, or copywriters from fintech, education, photography and even space tech, helps new connections and, potentially, new startups form. Mentor programs also run from many spaces.

 

Spacecubed, Perth. Photo: The Medical Startup

Hot-desking options allow members to meet and greet while working in different spaces. Office space for more established companies are also available for hire. Part-time and full-time memberships are on offer, and many spaces offer one-day or even free introductory rates. Packages at most co-working spaces exist to be flexible, starting from daily rates to monthly or even yearly memberships. Spacecubed also offer a day of free co-working at partner locations across Australia, and this helps foster connections between communities across the country.

Housed in the former Reserve Bank of Australia headquarters, Spacecubed has different floors for levels of quietness during work hours. Meetings can be held in a soundproofed former bank vault. And, further down the road at Flux, businesses can use the new maker labs with 3D printer, virtual reality lab, and prototyping materials – a first for co-working in Perth. Introductory packages are on offer to coincide with Flux’s opening this month.

 

A peek inside a demo office at Flux Perth. Photo: The Medical Startup

The other benefit of co-working spaces tends to be location. Both Spacecubed and Flux are situated along the CBD hub of St George’s Terrace. The area’s bank facades and glass windows are punctuated by shortcuts to some of Perth’s best bars and dining areas for business meetings and post-work meetups. I snuck over to the Print Room for a meeting, chomping kale salad while my colleague had a drink, and, later, The Apple Daily Bar & Eating House for a dinner catchup. (Melburnians, think Chin Chin with less queuing and a more Malaysian twist.) Perth’s startup scene may not be as well-known as Sydney and Melbourne, but its geographical isolation, strong education institutions and quiet beauty has helped it become a major player in Australia’s startup community.

For more details and to book a free tour, visitSpacecubed‘s and Flux’s websites.