[quote style=”boxed”]I love to be productive and make a difference. To me, there is no “worst job.” Everything contains an opportunity. You just have to recognize it.[/quote]
Robin Farmanfarmaian, a major driving force behind building the successful medical conference at Singularity University, FutureMed, has spent most of her career focused on making a positive impact on medicine and healthcare.
In 2011, she became FutureMed’s Founding Executive Producer, which brought together her experience in medicine and technology with her leadership, strategic, and organizational expertise. She is also the Vice President of Strategic Relations for Singularity University, where her responsibilities include developing and maintaining VIP relationships, sponsorships, and partnerships.
Why are you passionate about working with Singularity University and FutureMed?
When I was going through some serious medical challenges, none of my doctors knew that technology was going to change medicine in just a few years. Had FutureMed existed when I was teenager, my outcome would have been different. That’s why it’s important that healthcare providers, executives, and patients know what’s going to happen in the next two, five, and 10 years in medicine. Technology is hope, and patients could potentially put off dramatically life-altering procedures if they knew what was coming down the pipeline.
What does your typical day look like?
I am very goal-oriented, spending the majority of my time working. I am lucky enough to have a job that I’m incredibly passionate about, at a company that is working toward making a massive positive impact on the world. I’m communicating with partners, managing our important relationships, and personalizing education or VIP packages for future partners. I spend quite a bit of time on the strategy, revenue, and relationships for FutureMed.
How does Singularity University’s FutureMed help bring new ideas to life?
For one of our partners, I created a workshop called “The Future of Pain Management Beyond Opiates.” We’d never run interactive workshops before on the future of a discipline, and now we’re going to be doing multiple workshops spotlighting the future of oncology, digital medicine, pharma, and more.
I love the idea of getting people outside a particular specialty in a room together to provide an entirely new viewpoint on a problem. Healthcare has become so massive, yet it exists in silos — the convergence of accelerating technologies from outside the medical field now has the ability to make a major positive impact on healthcare. That’s why it’s important to look at a problem much more globally, from both inside and outside the industry.
Many ideas from these types of interactions and more have resulted in startup companies being born. Jointly, Health and Scanadu are two that have seen considerable traction, with the ideas and partnerships stemming from FutureMed.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
I think 3D printing is going to disrupt every single industry and economy out there. What is especially exciting is the potential of biologic 3D printing. Right now, Organovo is 3D printing liver sections to test drug toxicity, which will eventually lead to 3D printing of a specific person’s liver section, enabling a completely personalized drug toxicity test.
Three-dimensional printing has the ability to create patient-specific devices to restore functionality or treat and solve a problem. It can turn what was traditionally an uncomfortable, one-size-fits-all device into a lighter, more elegant, personalized solution.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I love to be productive and make a difference. To me, there is no “worst job.” Everything contains an opportunity. You just have to recognize it.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Obviously, there’s always room for improvement, but most things I’ve done in my career have been strategically thought-out in terms of impacting the world and helping people, and that’s what matters.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Make sure you’re highly focused and passionate about what you’re doing, because it drives you to work much harder than you would have ever thought possible. If the drive isn’t there to succeed in your particular field, success will be much more difficult and less enjoyable. When the drive and the passion are there, work becomes fun.
What is one problem you’ve had to solve as an entrepreneur and how did you overcome it?
The biggest problem was getting the first FutureMed up and running from the starting line in just a few months — from concept to execution. We managed the marketing, finances, sponsorships, curriculum, and speakers. It was quite intense, and it was so satisfying when we did succeed. We showed a profit in our first year.
What is one business idea you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I have heard from meditation instructors that it’s hard to monetize their chosen profession, and that it works best with one-on-one instruction. I can foresee someone creating an accreditation program for meditation instructors and coming up with a business plan to partner with wellness centers, gyms, and medical centers. Redefine what meditation means, back it with hard data, define accreditation with some metrics, and make it more mainstream.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
I’d make access to healthcare universal.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
I was a tri-varsity athlete, playing ice hockey, field hockey, and lacrosse.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
I love Singularity Hub because it gives me a new story on cutting-edge technology on a daily basis. I visit Twitter to get updates on med tech from the medical thought leaders I follow, and I’m a huge user of the cloud, especially Google Docs and Dropbox. I like to be connected at all times, and I don’t want to be reliant on a specific device.
What is the one book you recommend our community should read and why?
I’d recommend Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler’s “Abundance.” It gives the reader a deep dive into a lot of the areas we cover at Singularity University: the convergence of exponential technology and its ability to create a world of abundance and solve some of humanity’s grand challenges.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
I literally laugh out loud multiple times a day. According to my StrengthsFinder personality assessment results, positivity is my greatest strength. It is a state of being for me — I’ve been called a “walking happiness factory.”
Who is your hero, and why?
I have a bunch of heroes. Bob Hariri was on the team that discovered tumor necrosis factor, changing the lives of hundreds of millions of people. Peter Diamandis is someone I admire, with his positivity and ability to foster support for huge, impactful, groundbreaking ideas. My dad, Nick Soloway, is a big influence — he’s been supportive in every way you could possibly think of. He’s my biggest cheerleader.
Who is the ideal employee for your company?
I’m looking for someone incredibly passionate and driven. He or she wants to learn and wants the overall mission to succeed. This person is a self-starter and requires little to no management.
Favorite quote that describes me?
“Live life to the fullest. Don’t forget to help a lot of people along the way — and laugh.”
– Robin Farmanfarmaian
“True happiness comes from the joy of deeds well done, the zest of creating things new.”
– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Do you have a morning ritual? What is it?
I start every day with a 20- to 60-minute workout, always with music. It really clears my head and contributes to my positivity.
FutureMed and Singularity University are located at NASA Research Center in Silicon Valley, Calif. The next FutureMed is November 3-6, 2013, at the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego.
Singularity University on Twitter: @SingularityU
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