I've now made my way through 5 of Walter Isaacson's books, including The Innovators, Steve Jobs, Leonardo Da Vinci, Code Breakers (Jennifer Doudna) and most recently Einstein.
Below are 5 takeaways (1 from each book), and comment on how these books have reinforced and strengthened my entrepreneurial approach:
The Innovators: Nothing is done alone. Teamwork, collaboration, deliberation, and healthy competition is key (this could easily be applied to Code Breakers).
Steve Jobs: Telling effective and resonating stories matters. Don't build what people want.... create something new and excite them to adopt.
Leonardo Da Vinci: Innovation happens at the intersection of science, technology, and humanities. You don't need to have a PhD in mathematics, or physics, or biology to be a mathematician, physicist, or biologist. Da Vinci had no letters after his name. But he was relentless in his studies of the arts and sciences.
Code Breakers (Doudna): As I wrote in December 2021, this book made me appreciate the vision of an incredible scientist, the politics behind innovation, and the number of quiet and often forgotten contributors behind scientific achievements. As I spent more time thinking about this book, it helped me realized that truly profound and once in a life time innovation is scary challenging and requires grit, determination, and often times good luck. Good science doesn't matter if you can't tell the story and willing to push that story loudly (refer back to takeaway from Steve Jobs)
Einstein: People may overlook you, and your work, and write you off. They may expect you to follow the conventional wisdom. Often times, profound innovation occurs at the inverse of conventional wisdom. It's important to be undeterred by the conventional wisdom, and to believe in yourself and your work, and persist. Most importantly, it's important to surround yourself with people who will elevate you, challenge you, and be your champion (refer back to takeaway from The Innovators).
Overall, what I learned from these incredible books and these 5 super stars is, there was a central theme (at least for me): they were all trailblazers who did not conform to the classical paradigm / had a contrarian mindset - they were all rebels in their own right. Beyond that, they all embodied an unwavering determination, persistence, and conviction in their work.
Naheed Kurji is the Co-Founder, President and CEO of Cyclica. Naheed is passionate about building AI-augmented technologies that enable researchers to make more strategic and informed decisions in Healthcare and the life sciences. He spends the majority of his time obsessing over Cyclica’s culture, defining its strategy to best effect change in the pharma industry to achieve the company’s vision, and exploring opportunities for continued innovation.