Career advice often includes mention of forks in the road or intersections that represent key decision points. Our future depends on which way we go, which job we choose, which school. I’m starting to think it’s exactly the opposite.
All the exciting things in my career have happened precisely at those intersections. Maybe better advice is to hurry up along the road you’re on until you get to an interesting intersection, then stay right there. I first thought I’d live at the intersection of molecular biology and medicine, initially planning to do an MD-PhD in order to solve the mysteries of cancer in a lab. I then changed course to pursue full time clinical medicine… until I saw how much impact I could have at the intersection of medicine and computer science. My focus here was first on building software for doctors until I learned what was happening at the intersection of the suddenly ubiquitous Google search box and the unmet health information needs of millions of people.
I worked at Google until I started seeing that so many of the complex questions people have about their health aren’t well answered in a document yet — but those same questions are often discussed in online communities, where a network of microexperts often provides useful feedback. So now, building Smart Patients, I sit at the intersection of stories and science.
Innovation seems to happen at intersections of ideas or fields that haven’t really been mixed together before. At what intersection are you uniquely suited to innovate?