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#114 Interview with Andrew McKee: On quitting a PhD and a journey of self-discovery

With 20+ years of experience in the biotechnology and healthcare sectors, Andrew McKee talks about his journey of experimentation and self-discovery, after quitting his PhD.

Published onOct 14, 2022
#114 Interview with Andrew McKee: On quitting a PhD and a journey of self-discovery
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Sometimes life hits you hard, and then you have to make new decisions you hadn’t imagined making.  Previous goals and ambitions can evaporate, especially after enduring something emotionally, psychologically and/or spiritually harrowing. 
Our guest Andrew McKee was tested by tragedy, on top of career confusion, when he entered an MD/PhD program but realized midway he wasn’t on the right track.  He decided to quit his PhD and embarked on a journey of experimentation and self-discovery.

Today, Andrew has 20+ years of experience in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, diagnostics and healthcare sectors. He is the CEO and founder of Headland Strategy Group, a consultancy firm with offices in the US and Asia, specialising in growth strategy for therapeutics and diagnostics companies. Andrew has previously worked for McKinsey and Company, Google, Genentech and holds biomedical engineering and MD degrees from Duke University. He also is a published writer and holds patents licensed to industry. He is a husband, a father of 3 children and a professional saxophonist.

#114 Interview with Andrew McKee: On quitting a PhD and a journey of self-discovery

In today’s episode, our host Tina Persson welcomes Andrew McKee. They talk about how Andrew, even after quitting his PhD, made such an impressive career. They discuss music, art, entrepreneurship and the importance of networking with people from different walks of life. He also gives insights into his life and about his life mentors who advised him to take a leap of faith.

On the cusp of a critical life decision, one of Andrew’s mentors “...encouraged me that if I take time to reflect and get still, I probably know more than I realise [about what I should do].

If you want to learn more about Andrew’s successful journey, including different ideas for facing major life challenges, make sure to listen to this episode.

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TRANSCRIPT

Tina: Hi and welcome to PhD Career Stories, the channel for PhDs who like to be inspired in their career after PhD. Or if they hadn't finished their PhD. Because today we have a guest, his name is Andrew McKee, and I know he's started a PhD, but he never finished it. But before asking why,  a short introduction because indeed you have an absolutely fantastic career behind you. Over 20 years in the biotech, pharmaceutical and healthcare sector. To that you have been in dream companies that I know many of my clients, they would love to work for McKinsey, Genentech and Google. You have an MD and Bachelor from Duke University. And today you are running your own company, president at the Headlands Strategy Group. And then I have a little teaser, I know you have a hobby and you play saxophone, and I know there's a lot more, but we have to stop it there. So welcome, Andrew, to this show here. Something you like to add to your background here?

Andrew: Thank you Tina. It's a pleasure to be here and thanks for the great summary. I just would add two things, I'm really into writing fiction and I'm a family man, a husband and father of three thriving young girls. That pretty much rounds up how I spend 95% of my time right now.

Tina: And your children, are they also interested in this, they have the same sort of energy that you have?

Andrew: Yeah. You know, each child, each person is different. They do, for whatever reason, happen to have at the categorical level, similar interests. So music, art, dance and learning. So, you know, reading, writing in science and math. But the way they express within those categories is very different and highly unique. 

Tina: Each one is unique, like me and my brother, two parents, same parents, but very different. Yeah. That's how the genetic is. Anyway, I'm going to pull you back, draw you back to when you started your PhD, because we discussed that before the podcast, you actually took a decision to start the PhD that you never finished. But I'm curious to hear: why did you start the PhD, why did you want to do that?

Andrew: Yeah, thank you, Tina. So part of it was I had an unusual kind of freewheeling undergraduate experience, as much thanks to the research investigators I worked with, where in college I, I led a number of kind of high reward, high risk projects, which is maybe one reason I got to lead them, because the PhD students who wanted to finish with the thesis, were not going to work on these kinds of risky, kind of grand slam type projects. And yeah, and there was also a time at Duke, this is in the late nineties, early 2000s, with a lot of research grants coming in and not enough people in my memory to do the work. So I worked on a lot of cool projects and for a lot of great mentors, or PhD advisors or MD/PhD. I probably didn't think it through enough, but I was like, “Oh, this seems pretty cool”. They work on cool things, and that was about as far as it got. Yeah. So I thought they would continue, thats kind of the short answer.

Tina: When did you start to doubt that PhD studies were maybe not for you?

Andrew: Yeah, I think so: One was, I try to change gears and go into basic science, even though my prior background, I've worked in four or five different labs on more applied, like biomedical engineering types of projects, both on the biotech and the med device sides of the world. And then I tried to change gears and go into basic science. So basic cell biology, and I think it was just, and I'll try to synthesize. One is, I wasn't cut out for that kind of science. There's a level of patience and repetition of the experiments that was just, you know, not for me. I think the second was the environment. But I was learning that I liked a pretty sociable environment. I'm kind of middle to slightly high on the extroversion scale on these kind of academic personality ratings. So yeah, it's just a little bit too sequestered for me sometimes. I often find myself just enjoying talking about science with my lab mates more than actually running the gel the 18th time.

Right. And that was not exciting at all to me. I have to say. It was like drudgery. And then there were two other factors. One was, there was a fair amount of tragedy and serious trauma in college, when my mom got ill and died from metastatic cancer, it was at a time before palliative care and sort of cancer pain management had really come of age. And so she suffered a lot. And there was a lot of emotional suffering in my family around that. So, in processing that, it took me almost a decade to really face that and turn toward it, which is, we will came back to that later. The third was, because of my musical training, apprenticed under a wonderful mentor, Paul Jeffrey, at Duke University, who ran the jazz program like a conservatory grade program. It has a number of phenomenal alums who are on the scene musically, professionals in L.A., in New York and touring the world.

And I just had things where I was gigging with some luminaries. In my daily life I was spending a lot of time outside the lab practicing saxophone, rehearsing, playing gigs, leading gigs, and it just felt more dynamic than the lab environment, I'm sorry to say. 

Tina: Yeah. I can see that. The thing is, I can completely relate to you because for me, doing the laboratory job was not the fun part. For some reason, I just succeeded to do it. But after my Postdoc, I realized that this is not what I'm going to do. I like to manage things and I like to have many ideas. And interesting was when I then became assistant professor. All these professors, you know, at Lund University: “you should be in the lab doing experiments”. And I thought, no, I'm done with that. I'm done with experiments. I don't want to do a single experiment any longer. Yes, I completely relate to it. But anyway, you took the decision, and could you help our listeners here? Because I know we have listeners and I have clients coming to me and say, “Do I dare to quit my PhD? How will that impact my career?”. What would you say to them listening here?

Andrew: Thanks Tina, a few things. I think one is, well, when we're young, we tend to be a bit more impatient. If I had known some pathways, like what the pathways were, I think a bit more clearly and how I could get there while navigating being a kind of unusual musician person at the same time. Okay, maybe I would have chilled out and said, okay, here's the path, finish your experiments. You know it's not going to be that enjoyable. But emphasize the parts you do enjoy, in my case I shared most of those. I am also highly curious. I spent a lot of time reading papers and I would go into the references and really unpack like, the whole history of something, that was so interesting. But again, that doesn't make getting a PhD, that's more like a science history degree or something.

So yeah, there may be virtue in sticking it out. The second would be there are exit points that if you can get some clarity about what your alternative options might be, say, for instance, where a PhD is not required, more of a nice to have, you could maybe jump out with a Masters, because I think most programs have that option where you do your two years or so and finish that.

In my case I had the MD going to because I was in an MD / PhD dual program. And I was very grateful to my advisors going and have to pay that all back. I felt very guilty on one level, because I had a full scholarship going in and I decided to finish the MD, but actually it was kind of traumatic, not only because of the emotional trauma I was dealing with, but traumatic for me that I, you know, I do have this goal oriented element to my psyche. And I was kind of barreling away like, I'm going to be a clinician researcher, which is pretty much my goal. And I hadn't reconciled. I'm going to be a professional saxophonist also. That is kind of somewhat incongruous goals, you know, these for certain parts of either career and yeah, so I just needed to deal with the fact that this was not working out, like just accept the reality that and for someone who is also very solution oriented.

That was hard for me to stomach. I heard this in your question, but also for me it was a very intuitive thing, that I would try to just query how I felt doing a lot of the work and how I felt to continue to try new things. And unlike other things that I've done in life, staying with a PhD felt like a kind of mushy kind of energy, like it didn't feel great to me.

And that feeling actually came way before I could kind of conceptualize it. So, and because of my training in jazz, a lot of improvisational training I've been doing since like I was in middle school, and a lot of these really high performing masters, almost get like spiritual, and that level of connection with themselves, with the other musicians. And this is kind of what my training was in the Arts. So it's like, yeah. So I felt it a lot. I'm not sure if I got all the practical elements of your question.

Tina: Yeah, yeah, yeah. But you're telling our listeners what you felt. So just shortly, if what I, if I sort of sort of trying to squeeze out what you say is that, when you come to a point and you feel that this is maybe not what I expected, that you should not be afraid to evaluate other career paths, do that follow, your heart and your stomach. That's you know, it's okay to do that. And if you just look at you, you have succeeded very well. You know, without the PhD title, we're coming back to that. You know, at the time you decided to leave. And what was your first step outside of academia then?

Andrew: Yeah, thank you Tina. I had a brief interlude where I took a leave of absence. So I took about six month leave of absence, where I started, I think, process some of the sadness, also had a relationship break up around that time, and it felt like the only thing for me for a while going well was, well, my surviving immediate family. I was grateful for their love and connection. I had and still do have a number of very intimate guy friends where we could talk about anything. And I realized it's pretty rare in America. A lot of them came from the arts traditions, so they are comfortable talking about emotions and a full palette of experience. And then I had music, so I had a full time job as a performer, bandleader and arranger. I get paid to write charts and that was great, you know. So that's what I did as an interlude. Then a few of my advisors recommended that I just finish the MD because I was like 80% done. So I really recommend that folks in graduate school take advantage of what they can within their school, as well as with all the other schools. We sometimes don't realize that you know, you could talk to people at the business school. It's all for free and you can just walk and talk, go grab a coffee. The hospital, I'm talking generally about schools that might have multiple professional graduate schools. You go to law school, all sorts of places where you can talk with people. They might be older than you, have different life experience as well as, of course, professors. Many of them did many different things before their current job. So I did start doing that and then I started thinking, I think I was figuring out I had an artistic and entrepreneurial personality and sort of energy to me. Not everyone does and that's fine, right? So just trying to think through like, what can I do there? I think maybe hoping I'll find some great sort of Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg type of thing. That would just be some all consuming thing that I would launch. And I tried and even started so many businesses, but none of them were like the singular passion that would subsume everything else. So I kind of gave up on that and decided to go to either venture finance or consulting as a way to build new professional skills and experience.

Well, not to sound too much like a former (unclear), we are not over differentiating myself into one specific career, because I maybe, like you, have a high degree of openness and interested to try a bunch of things. I was a little nervous. Okay, if you want to do one thing that would box out music, which is one reason I practice through residency, I was really nervous about residency being 100 hour work week basically, and how to find time to, you know, do these other things. I like to do so. So then I went to McKinsey and landed a job there, came up to the Bay Area focused on consulting in health care, but also in financial services and in clean tech. And I think it maybe, you know, looking back, that was great for me to try because I didn't feel like I wanted to be purely in health care. It was fun to test out some other industries as well.

Tina: Yeah, you know, you did a lot. You know, when I listen to you, I do a lot of assessments and I thought I would bring that up in the podcast here that I'm an assessment specialist. I do tests called Birkman and I do it with professors and academics, and it's a fantastic test because many, many professors and academically trained people, they come out as extremely innovative. And we can see that because they are very into music, they have an interest in music, literature and the artistic part, and that comes out as the blue color. And they are always very surprised, but particularly professors of 50 plus. Why do I have always music here and why? Well, you know, that's the abstract mindset you have. That's your creativity, your innovation that you have that makes you the scientist you are. And then I hear that you are very open, and abstract in the way you discuss in the podcast. So, you know, this is something, you know, that it's good to know because that also indicates a certain job field you should go into. You have said it many times, I like to have many ideas but not to be in the lab. Yeah that's the hands on job. That's the mechanical part in Birkman. So you can be very high up in creativity, very low in the technical hands on part. And then of course, it's very difficult in the long term to find it interesting to be in the lab. Although, I can add that some survive to do it because okay, if I finish this, maybe I could do something else in the future. They had to stay in the lab. But you did that jump to McKinsey. So what ideas did you have to choose McKinsey? Did you have a plan? Because I heard you were networking and talking with people a lot. So I'm just curious how you ended up there.

Andrew: Yeah, thank you. So good question. Well, part of your question about a plan, not really. And that's probably to my chagrin that I feel like literally only like now as I was like really sort to congeal my different activities and feel good about them, like how I spend my time. Now the plans are like distilling slowly and it's like, maybe that's kind of backwards. It would have been nice if I had the plan when I was in my twenties, and I was grateful to start cultivating what I would call life mentors around that time. So I still keep in touch. And these are defined as people immersed in empathy with the field or fields they are working, but they're always older, almost always, and usually in completely different walks of life. They have no kind of vested interest in seeing me get promoted, blah, blah, blah. They're just really kind people. And one of them, you know, I came with this grid. It's like, okay, here are the parameters of what I think I want in a job, here are all these jobs. It's like a little spreadsheet. Not super complicated, but like a little table. And he was just like, yeah, I think this analysis is sound. But he is also, like he said two things. One is sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith. You just don't even know. Because, you know, for me, the analysis wasn't crystal clear, which should I do? And he also encouraged me that, if I take time to reflect and get still, I probably know more than I realize. And that was like a really powerful kind of mind blowing comment, which is still to this day, especially with meditation and journaling, at a meta level I'm still working with, it's like we know so much more if we would only listen to ourselves and relax and do some of these practices. So, why McKinsey? So it was a way for me. It was at a time where they invested a lot in their advanced degree folks. So you basically got 80% of an MBA if you came in there with a JD and MD, PhD. And some of my classmates in the program, I think, had a Masters. So it was like some kind of advanced degree. And three business schools in the US did like a custom curriculum. It was great. So I got to learn a ton about business and then I learned a lot of professional skills on the job and through subsequent trainings at a large firm like that with, you know, communication skills, project management, project leadership, business strategy. So that was really good, and then I think for me, I realized maybe because of some of the stuff I'd gone through with my mom, I wanted to do something that I did feel pretty fired up about generally, and that wasn't for me. I describe myself as an ethical capitalist, like I see the places for capitalism, sometimes it's not so good and I want to do good by the businesses I lead and run. And it just didn't always feel like, again, I'm trying to be charitable, but for me it's sort of become not the greatest fit and I wanted to explore. So I don't know if I answer your question. Again, it was a good place to go. Great professional training and build a lot of good relationships. I still have maintained to this day.

Tina: Yeah, what I hear is you did a very good tactical move because you got training in business and all that. So it's very good. One of my clients has done the same, and also got an MBA. So I think it's a very good tactical move. And you got an advice I like. Let's see if I can get the right way here. You say sometimes when you don't know what you want to do, you have to take a leap, even though it's not crystal clear what you want to do. And I think that's very good advice, actually. It's like Alice in the Wonderland. You just have to just do something and trust that you will figure it out basically. And you will, you know, you will figure it out.

Andrew: Exactly. And happy to offer listeners more encouragement. Yeah, I'm a big fan of experimentation and part of it is the science training. It's just like, okay, you have some ideas, it's a cell experiment. You're going to look for some protein or do some sequencing experiment. You don't know how it's going to happen. You can do the same with your life and career decisions. So you can. And I didn't do this, but McKinsey and the other bigger firms have like summer programs you apply to. So you really get a taste for what it's like. And I think there are all sorts of things, whether they're structured or not you can create it as experiments like, I got a friend who was exploring a career pivot into nursing and he arranged something where he could be like a nurse for a day and just, you know, I guess the hospital in America, they get all the confidentiality stuff sorted out and he could just like go around the hospital, and be like, is this what I wanted to do? Because sometimes you don't know. And again, those experiments aren't high risk or high investment, other than spending the time. Whereas, I think were people get really scared or intimidated, and this is a normal mental function/process, but we'll often think of like the most extreme, either positive or negative. It was like, if I do this, will I become as famous as Bill Gates is typically another you know, that's a very extreme and extremely unlikely scenario.

Right. Or on the flip side, gosh, all these negative things could happen and I'm going to lose a lot of money and I'm going to be embarrassed. I'm going to not be explaining to my parents why I did this. And this could be legitimate concerns. And that's why I get to journaling to kind of practically process them. But it does not mean at all that one would stop from, hey, I'm doing this weird thing, quote unquote, like I'm going to the business school, to talk to a friend who's doing something I find interesting. And again, sometimes you have to sort of, one other point is I'm a big fan of cultivating your tribe, so to speak, of like well-meaning, kind friends that could be peers slightly older, younger, but they're not hurting you, like, almost ever with the boundaries of normal human relationships. Right. And they care about you and want to see you thrive or whatever it is. They don't have to be in the same field. And I found that sometimes it's very similar to like when one deepens with meditation, you sometimes start to lose the friends you had because they don't see things the same way or whatever you're doing. It's weird, but you also gain. I find more enduring friends who are on this path. And so, you know, that was the fun thing. Maybe to bring it back to Mackenzie, I made a few like friends who are also kind of only there for a few years, like one of my good, one of my best friends who's a writer. He was like working at McKinsey 8 hours a day and writing, I think every night for like 4 to 6 hours. And not only content wise, was that interesting to me, but is a kind of friendship where this is someone who's really on a journey of self-discovery and similar values to me. It's made for a really enduring friendship.

Tina: Yeah, it's great to hear that. And now I have to pull back here again. It's like that. Listen carefully to what Andrew's doing here, because, you know, you're doing the networking and you cultivate the tribe. You stay connected with the people you have been working with. And this is a success factor because you never know when you're going to need the people again. You know, it can take 20 years. Suddenly you meet again and suddenly you know, oh, now I understand why I met you, that have happened to me. Why did I join that company? You know, they fired me and it was 2009. I was just irritated. But, you know, I did it in a nice way and I didn't say so much. And then I got unemployed again. And suddenly that woman, the consultant manager, changed jobs, she’s in Stockholm now. I saw her on Facebook in Stockholm looking for a job. You know, I have something for you. Now I know why I met her in life. And I like that. And it is interesting, and she said, yeah, I remember you. You were the only one that actually on that meeting, said that to the manager. Yeah, but I got fired because of that. Yeah, but it was so cool. So you have to live your values, then you always get the people around you that you're going to need for the future. So thank you.

Andrew: If I could just riff with you for a moment, I love the kind of spirit of I think what I hear, what you're sharing is like the spirit of mystery and positive exploration that I think tends to get deprioritized in just speaking generally about mainstream society. So I think at least in American culture and certainly professional circles, I think over a dial tone like the career with big, bold letters and like it's just definitive. Like you're building some or carving some statue that's going to be this ironclad thing and instead of realizing that, okay, yes, sometimes you do the dance, you have to pitch yourself and sell yourself. You apply for jobs that way. But if you kind of think of it as scientifically like the way we try to find happiness day to day is not with these like ironclad labels of I achieve this, I'm blah, blah, blah. It's like you're actually just going through your day talking with people, solving problems, and the more you can kind of bring that practice of mystery, a positive into seeing what you learned, even if something was painful because sometimes we have painful experiences, those really help you. And I agree on networking, I'm a huge fan of that. And maybe because my mother was a refugee from Hungary, with her parents during the Cold War, and there's this kind of resilience. I think I would just be growing up with her energy that they literally gave up everything other than like the jewels they could hide in their clothing. They gave up all their money and status and so forth. To start things anew like so many people come to America do. And she was a phenomenal network. So I had a lot of like good role models that she would meet someone in a coffee shop, on a plane, in a library, and they could become lifelong friends. And so I've always taken that final point of encouragement here, too, is that I occasionally think about people, and I usually try to follow up 80% of the time. It may not be immediately, but I'll be like, I wonder what my friend who's it? My lab mate, who's now a professor at USC. Like, what's he up to? And it's, you know, it's better late than never. And I find people are overwhelmingly surprised and often overjoyed that you reach out. They're like, oh, I haven't heard from you, blah, blah. And especially with the pandemic, I've been doing that even more, just reconnecting with people that haven't been such a source of news a decade or more, and it's always a really positive experience.

Tina: So yeah, yeah, I agree with you. Yeah, this is something I encourage people to listen carefully again. Some really good advice coming out here. When I say, use LinkedIn, when you start networking, try to check out where people are, and you would be surprised to hear like everything when they hear from you, and they will reply. People like to help each other. I think that has also increased in the pandemic. People like to help, you know. Time is running here and I would like to make a little bit of a jump, because now you are running your own business. When did and how come you started to think, okay, I'm going to have my own business here? How did that go? Why did you do that?

Andrew: Yeah, thank you, Tina. So it was about ten years ago, I decided to leave my job at Genentech, so after McKinsey went to Google briefly. And that was when their health care activities were rather nascent. And then I moved from there to Genentech, which was a great experience. Got a lot of great relationships and a lot of business content around biotech innovation. That was extremely helpful for me. And yes, so but then, you know, as a large company started to not fit my need for, I have a high comfort with lack of structure, with high uncertainty and comfort with high stress too. So it was kind of like it got to be a bit too repetitive for someone with those kinds of interests. That was a good job. The second was I was discovering writing as a real passion of mine. And so it's hard to give you short answers, but I will do my best here. With writing I got into it as a way of self therapy in dealing with the trauma from my mom's death, got into it about 15 years ago now. And it just sort of snowballed, not only is it helpful therapeutically, which I absolutely recommend for anyone, but I kind of had this nice discovery in my twenties. I actually loved and had some aptitudes for writing fiction, particularly literary fiction, maybe to a lesser extent, poetry. And so I was like on the side doing all these, like I did some UC Berkeley extension classes, with like the most inspiring and demanding professor there. And she was fantastic and convinced myself it wasn't crazy because, you know, I don't have a humanities degree. I had a lot of negative baggage, like I'm a math and science person, blah, blah, blah, you know. So to bring that back to about ten years ago, the writing was snowballing to a level of inspiration and excitement and intrinsic motivation that I knew I had to do something more in my life. And with writing. And I couldn't reconcile that with what I felt like I was being expected to do in a large corporate job. So, and then the third was we had to tutor two kids at the time and they're very young and my wife is a physician, was going through some training and from a family perspective, it felt uncomfortable for me to also be outside of the house a lot.

So yeah, I decided to do my old job part time initially, so I was working 50%. That gave me a chance to be picking up the kids from daycare and cooking and changing diapers and all that, and to write. And I negotiated with my former boss, in the teams we worked with, that I would have two and a half days off each week where I was writing. So that's how it started. And then again, another nice discovery to make this theme around experimentation was, I mean, that could have been fun. I could just sustain that like full stop. But I discovered I actually liked, and also remembered how much I liked the outward facing element of being a consultant and not only doing the projects but the interfacing with people, trying to understand what problems they're trying to solve, whether I could help them solve those. And then I realized that's really part of ethical sales. I feel like I need to have that adjective ethical sale and was like or genuine sales, which is like, how can we help? Is there a win-win, that could fill a collaboration. And so I started to realize and also realized to like, yes, I can do business analysis with Excel models. And yes, I could dive into the papers behind some biotech innovation. And I kind of like to do that, but I actually like to lead a team more than and trust them and teach them and empower them and see their skills develop. I like that more than actually doing it myself, and so it's not like a hands off like, I own a restaurant and. I just don't do anything there anymore. It's like I want to be involved. So that sort of snowballed, I started to work with a few consultancies that work with freelancers, also worked with a boutique firm and started to take on more responsibility there. And it was also a great learning and built a lot of great relationships. And then as our oldest two kids started to get older, it started to just finally clarify. So my goals were, I started to realize “Oh, the last five years or so I've become like a consulting executive and leading all these projects and winning a lot of business and became a bit more real.”And that's why I made a decision to start my own firm. So I had it about five years old. I feel like I'd want to move on and define things from the start on my own. So that sort of built headlands, we had a few clients from the early days and again, just to try to wrap it up quickly, I just tried to leverage my strengths a lot, which again are mostly which I mentioned that work well for my job description, which is heavily tilted towards sales, leading, also a lot of client service, which i like a lot and I'm pretty comfortable with HR. And management things that a lot of people don't like. And it's good to know if you don't like that because some of that stuff like negotiating, you know, compensation and job descriptions with staff, that stresses some people out a lot. And it's good to know that because not everyone needs to be a leader or manager. You just find, maybe find someone like me to work for and I'll try to make sure we treat you well, you know? But again, everyone's different. So I don't know, did I answer your question there, Tina?

Tina: Yeah, you did. Because what I can hear is that you grow into your business naturally, somehow. It wasn't start and stop like, you know, I end and start. And this is something I learned from many of my clients and coaches that, oh, I like to start my business. I don't know how to do it. And I say, maybe you have to grow into it because I had to grow into my business too. It took many years to sort of suddenly I just had my business and it was something that happened. It's very hard to explain, actually. I just started to invoice, so it wasn't so that I stopped. It didn't happen like that. And this is what I hear from you as well. But, you know, if you are aimed sort of to run your own business, and this is what I understand from you when I listen to you, that you sort of have moved your whole life into that path. What you do today a little bit, it's something that you gradually grew into. So it becomes something very natural. And this is what I help my clients with. It's like, maybe you shouldn't look, maybe you should feel more and follow what people you like to be with and start from there and just do things that you like to do. And it will come. It will come slowly. It would just come to you. 

Andrew: Absolutely. Yeah. I don't know if this resonates with your coaching and executive development practice, but I found that it's fun to have entrepreneurial friends, whether our audience likes to be an entrepreneur or not, because they're often very rebellious. And kind of iconoclastic, they're constantly breaking things in their mind and say, well, what if you did things this way? And one of my friends is like, well, sometimes it's fun to just think about what the grown up world will pay you to do, even if you're nurturing all sorts of side things. And so to your point to this, I didn't plan it, but I realized at some point, and this is long before the pandemic, this is circa 2012, I realized that the grown up world and biotech, so to speak, you know, tons of colleagues, I think so highly of, didn't care one lick if I was in my pajamas two days a week writing poems, as long as I showed up with the team I was leading. We were working on high priority strategy projects that, you know, with a super high visibility, like SVP and CEO level major decisions, this is like really important work. But I could do it and also not do things on like Mondays and Tuesdays. But then the insight for me was okay, like people actually don't care that I'm I'm kind of like a mr. mom at home, a lot of days that I'm doing writing and this kind of weird, artsy things, they just care about I'm delivering results, and I think still to this day, right with anything, especially with the services business. If you deliver the results, people don't care about a lot of other things and they trust you. So yeah, for me it was like, okay, because for a long time I was like holding biotech in part of my mind, like, this is almost a problem. Like, it's not music, it's not writing. But then I realized, okay, I do enjoy it, and if I do it on my own terms, I can be paid for it. And you know, I have to push that away in my psyche. So I sort of accept it like, yeah, it gives me a lot of meaning also, especially with my mom and other family members having died from a lot of different diseases. It's nice to be in a sort of era where there's so many cool new medicines being created that, you know, you can talk about a whole podcast about that, right? But anyway, so yeah, I know that resonates with you.

Tina: Yeah, absolutely. Sometimes we work too hard to try to find the answer. And I had a client, I said, “Do you know why? I'm just curious why you have to run into the wall all the time. Why don't you let the wall come to you?” You know, just, you know, and if you don't know, talk with people because suddenly, you know, there is something out there and you don't find it until, you know, you talk with someone you just suddenly bump into it somehow. And this is where it happens in that sort of unknown interface. This is very hard to give advice around that. That's a lot of coaching and working with your feelings and help people say, you don't have to be an expert, because in academia you are trying to become an expert. So you think I need to know everything? And I say, you don't have to know everything. It's okay to say I don't know. Why don't you tell me more, how would you do? So suddenly, Oh, God, now I have it. Now I know what to do. Yeah, yeah. Thank you. You are pointed in that direction completely. So we are coming a bit to an end here, Andrew, and I would say it was absolutely fantastic to have you on the podcast. We could have made another hour here. I probably would have to invite you again.

Andrew: I'd be honored. Yes.

Tina: Yeah, because there are many things, you have done so much and there's so many life lessons to be told from you, Andrew. Thank you very much for being so personal here and sharing all your tips and tricks. Thank you very much, Andrew. And for you guys that have been listening to this podcast here today, this is Tina Persson, founder of the podcast. And don't forget, you find many, many more podcasts if you go to the webpage or check Facebook, it's over 100 at the moment. So there is for sure a story that you're going to like there. So thank you very much for today, and speak soon again, take care.

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