Playing in the unknown
With Dr. Joan Fallon
Joan is a visionary scientist who was recently honored as one of the 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs of 2020 by Goldman Sachs. One of her superpowers is her ability to play in the unknown. This type of future thinking is exactly why we wanted to ask her a few questions…
Kelly: What does Ambition mean to you?
Joan: Ambition is classically defined as the desire to achieve something, usually a self-prescribed goal. The word is used often to describe someone who is vigorously pursuing that goal. It has over time adopted a negative connotation when utilized as a descriptor such as “having the ability to push” or “over achieve” in order to reach those goals. I learned very early on, that goals are something that are continually being refined and reassessed in one’s life, not something that is hard and fast. I prefer to look at ambition in much the same way I look at leadership. Leaders solve problems. One should be focused on solving problems that become goals, and then ambition becomes a constructive endeavor to achieve that goal rather than one where the goal is disconnected from the problem to solve.
As an inventor, disruptor, and somebody who is comfortable playing in the unknown – how do you recommend professionals manifest their future in the modern working world?
I think of the future as a blank slate, a piece of white paper upon which you can “write” your future. So, while none of us can actually predict or chart the future, we can remain OPEN to our future and its’ possibilities.
I have a mantra that I have repeated over time in multiple places including in my own organization:
MAKE IT UP… AND MAKE IT HAPPEN
If we can dream of the future we can then make it manifest.
My recommendation is to not limit yourself, or your goals. Organizations must remain open to change that can actually help them to become profitable and successful in the future.
What made you write your new book Goodbye, Status Quo – Reimagining the Landscape of Innovation, and why do you think change is so important?
Change is something that most people fear. As humans, we are far more comfortable with everything remaining the same rather than facing uncertainty.
The pandemic has changed so much in our lives: where we work, where we go to school, where we can eat, and how we commute. Just so many things that we have taken for granted for so long are now different. Change and uncertainty have predominated our lives over the last few years. That uncertainty is very anxiety-producing, and I think we have all experienced this anxiety during this pandemic time. Even just the fear of getting the virus during the early days of COVID-19 produced anxiety.
So, while the book was written over many years since it is about what I have learned in these last years founding and running Curemark, I felt that many of the things I learned had great applicability during these uncertain times.
A great example of this is the fact that change and uncertainty while disarming and unsettling also creates amazing opportunity. We see new ways to teach, to get our food and groceries, and how we conduct business online.
So, change creates opportunity and opportunity creates success.
Dr. Joan Fallon