It’s Saturday night, the Alabama-LSU game is on, and I’m listening to I’m Not Like Everybody Else by The Kinks.  If I had to pick one song that explains who I am, it’s this one.  When Ray Davies yells, “And I’m not going to live my life like everybody else…and I’m not going to be destroyed like everybody else…and I don’t want to get a job like everybody else” I get it.  I understand him.  I’m not an iconoclast or nonconformist.  Hell, I wear a suit and tie every day…kind of hard to play the rebel with wingtips on.  But, maybe I am in my own right.

I’ve worked for a few Fortune 500’s and realized I wasn’t created to fit inside a mold designed by bureaucrats.   I tried like hell to make it work, but I was a lost cause.  Mindless corporate citizens looked at me like an iconoclast.  And for good reason – because I was and I still am.  Now that I think about it, plenty of iconoclasts wear suits: William S. Burroughs comes to mind and my favorite artist, Mark Rothko.

william-s-burroughs  rothkoportrait2

I read this quote by Warren Bennis and it made sense, “Too many companies believe people are interchangeable. Truly gifted people never are. They have unique talents. Such people cannot be forced into roles they are not suited for, nor should they be. Effective leaders allow great people to do the work they were born to do.”

I’m not claiming to be “truly gifted”, but I know where my talents lie.  I also know a few other things, like why I went crazy within the confines of corporate red tape and I have an ability to see through bullshit and immediately recognize when there’s a lack of leadership.  My entire career, with the exception of a stint in a healthcare start-up, has been plagued by people doing the opposite of Bennis’ last sentence.

All I want to do is use the talents I’ve been blessed with.  I read an article in the Wall Street Journal during my banker days that said companies do themselves a disservice when they opt to make their employees focus on getting better at things they’re not inherently good at.  Why do companies do this?  Why don’t they recognize what people are good at and hone those skills?  Actually, I do get it.  But I’m not interested in exploring it here.

This is what I am interested in – attending Brown to study Healthcare Leadership, starting a company, and solving healthcare issues in America and abroad.  And, as I’ve done with everything else in my life, it’ll be unorthodox.  It’ll be a company full of iconoclasts.  We’ll have passionate people and let them run wild.  We’ll let them do the work they were born to do.  And we’ll change the world.

-Sincerely, The Graduate (at Brown)