Make listening your competitive advantage with your customers, your suppliers, your team – everyone.”
Children’s advocate and author Robert Martin writes books with his granddaughter Keira Ely, including the bestsellers “The Case of the Missing Crown Jewels,” and “SuperClara: a Young Girl’s Story of Cancer, Bravery and Courage.” Robert founded the nonprofit Bridge to a Cure Foundation to tear down the deadly barriers impeding the timely development of pediatric cancer treatments and cures. To learn more, please visit www.RobertMartinAuthor.com.
Where did the idea for The Bridge to a Cure Foundation come from
On St. Patrick’s Day 2016, my then four-year-old granddaughter Clara was diagnosed with a stage four glioblastoma multiforme tumor—terminal brain cancer. In my search for a cure, or a treatment that might sustain her until there is a cure, I uncovered five deadly barriers to the timely development of pediatric cancer cures and treatments. Sadly, Clara died on October 8, 2017. I started Bridge to a Cure to tear down these barriers and replace them with the building blocks necessary to construct the bridge to a cure.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
From 5 to 8 a.m. I write books that deal with pediatric diseases and disorders. SuperClara, a Young Girl’s Story of Cancer, Bravery and Courage is a picture book dealing with brain cancer. Before changing hats from author to advocate, I run five miles. I do some of my best thinking when I get my heartbeat up. As an advocate, I spend the remainder of the day researching, phoning and emailing the leaders of organizations that participate in the cancer arena. I end the workday at 6 p.m. to be with my wife.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Throughout the day, I text new ideas to myself. I assess these while I sleep (a technique I learned while living in West Africa). The ideas that survive the night I classify in terms of importance and probability of success. Those that earn high marks for both are shared with my support team. The support team consists of leaders from Foundations, Medical Research Institutions, Technology companies and Patient Advocates.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Artificial Intelligence. There is probably enough data for each disease, each drug, each treatment, each patient, that when combined can unleash hidden answers to many diseases. The problem is not only that there doesn’t exist a single robust data base today, but if there was, the amount of information would be too large to be digested and analyzed by the human mind. Artificial Intelligence offers researchers the tool they need to do just that. There are several companies already taking the lead in this arena.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I wake up 4:45 a.m. with all cylinders going full speed to address ideas and priorities I set for the day while I was sleeping.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Make listening your competitive advantage with your customers, your suppliers, your team – everyone. Many entrepreneurs have an “I know best” mindset. While entrepreneurs are creative and great problem solvers, they won’t reach their true potential until they master the art of listening.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Creating an organization that has character, will drive success. Just like we refer to a person who is successful and has good values as a person with character, the same can be true for organizations.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Revisit your mission and strategies. On our journey as an entrepreneur we learn something new or experience something unexpected with surprising frequency. The danger is that our response can be off strategy or might even require and adjustment to the original strategy.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Building a network of industry experts I can rely on for advice and input. My expertise is organizational leadership. I am not a content expert nor could I afford a staff of experts. Thanks to the network I established I not only am able to seek advice from leaders in the world of cancer, technology and foundations, they also provide me with introductions to others that can help me when needed.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I set unrealistic goals. I should have done more research first and not have let emotion set the expectation.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Develop technology that can translate text data into digital. If I am successful with Bridge to a Cure, agreement will be reached among all constituents to build one robust data base of terminal diseases. To do that we will need this capability.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
A small leather device that holds my “What’s Hot” list for the day. I like the way it feels and looks plus it keeps me focused. It sure beats a scrap of paper.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
MailChimp and Infusionsoft. They both do the same – design and release emails to large groups. I use them to send foundation updates, plus to promote books.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
SuperClara a Young Girl’s Story of Cancer, Bravery and Courage. As an entrepreneur, we are going to have down days. A down day took on a whole new definition as I watched my granddaughter Clara withstand invasive brain surgery, aggressive radiation, and months and months of highly toxic chemotherapy, with an attitude that redefines the meaning of the word courage. If you’re feeling discouraged and need an injection of courage, this is the book for you.
What is your favorite quote?
Nelson Mandela: “May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”
• Find what gives you courage and you will find the motivation you need to chase your dreams.
• Build a network of experts you can rely on for advice and input, and to connect you with others who can help you pursue your dreams.
• Write down all of your ideas and assess them in terms of importance and chances of success, then get input from your support team.
• Master the art of listening and make it your competitive advantage.
• Continually revisit your mission and strategies.
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Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.