#BalBlog: What I Read During My Break



Happy New Year! Welcome to 2018.

Those who know me know that I’ve never been that big on New Year’s resolutions. In my mind, one should always be thinking of improvement or generally be happy with who they are. That’s what I say, but it’s really a cop-out. In actuality and in true resolution fashion I spent some time recently thinking about what’s working well and what we can improve on with MedStack. It was an interesting and different mode for me, but in the end just motivated me to get back to what we do.

Over the short break I took in December, I had the opportunity to read the book Rework, by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. In it, the two founders of Basecamp and creators of Ruby-on-Rails discuss, via amusingly incendiary statements, an approach to dismantling typical startup management stereotypes and assumptions and why what may seem counterintuitive, works.

I was delighted and a little surprised at what I found to be familiar, in our practices here at MedStack and at some of the healthcare startup companies we service on our platform. Here’s a sampling of 10:

Learning from mistakes is overrated – There’s always lots that can go wrong, and when they do, it’s important to take stock and figure out what you can do differently going forward. But it’s far far more important, because it’s rarer and more special, to figure out what you’re doing right and then to do more of it.

Make a dent in the Universe – I do get asked sometimes “Why would you try and tackle healthcare? Aren’t there easier things you could try?” Exactly. I know running a startup is hard and will continue to be hard. Shouldn’t the effort be worth something? Nothing important is ever easy.

Start at the epicenter – There are lots of directions we could have gone, and even a few we did start down and then walked back from. That said, no matter where we go, being focused on, obsessed with, and experts in secure DevOps automation is at the heart of all we do.

Focus on what won’t change – We believe cloud-based innovations in healthcare are the future and here to stay, and the need to protect and rigorously align data rights in those apps is fundamental.

Underdo the competition – We’ve seen others try to be too many things (in, for example, combining platform with service offerings, or even in tackling healthcare with other industries) and fail, and we feel that the problem we’re solving is too important and sensitive to be diluted with other things. Stay focused and double down.

Build an audience – Our partnerships with our customers go beyond the servers we run for them and encryption protocols we protect. Healthcare takes a village, and we’re in the business of sharing wins and learnings across a very large, cross-company team.

The myth of the overnight sensation – We’re in this for the long haul, so steady, sustainable growth has always been the gear that we’re driving in.

The best are everywhere – We’re a slightly distributed team working under self-management, each on our own projects and tasks while collaborating openly and confidently. It’s led to strong debates and the ability to scale through an optimized mix of alone and together time.

Put everyone on the front lines – Our customers are our lifeblood and so everyone at MedStack gets time working with customers, from support escalations, to new deployments, to new product feedback.

Sound like you – This industry is full of jargon, conservatism and measured words. But there is nothing more real than helping humans live healthier lives, so we try to be as real as we can with the way we think and talk to each other and our ecosystem. This is us.

The big takeaway for me is that at the end of the day, the success of our customers, our firm beliefs about the challenges of our industry and the opportunities they present, and what we know we’re good at – that’s all that matters. That’s what will carry us, and any good honest startup, forward. Books are great, but this has just motivated me to roll up my sleeves and get back to work. Maybe more slow-down reading will happen next December.