First four months

Where did October go?

Between SynBioBeta, customer discovery interviews, pitch decks, regulatory documents, Associate onboarding, and the occasional mushroom foray, there wasn’t much time for writing. The first four months of the Blavatnik Fellowship are just about up, and I’ve got a backlog of blog posts about what I’ve learned to share in scattered notes and outlines. I’ll get around to it in the darkness of winter (coming soon), but for now, here’s what I’ve done in the first four months of the Blavatnik Fellowship:

  • Built and re-built pitch decks based on feedback
  • Figured out how to read patents
  • Learned a ton about: various oncology indications and cancer pathways, high-fructose corn syrup production, carbon capture, biofuel production, industrial biocatalysts, phage therapy, spider silk, rare enzyme deficiency diseases, and large-scale biologics manufacturing
  • Identified, in deep detail, the steps from lead asset to phase 1 trials
  • Mapped out different career paths to CEO
  • Onboarded 4 direct reports who are working with me across multiple ventures
  • Coordinated a TON of meetings and pushed along agendas to get consensus and get stuff done

Here’s what I’m aiming for in the next 6 months:

Work my way through an investor diligence with at least one venture

As Blavatnik Fellows, we’ve met with investors who have generously given their advice on what they look for in a diligence, but I’m betting there’s a difference between learning about the process in abstract and experiencing it in reality. Getting deep into the diligence process also means the investor is likely serious, so it’s a huge step in getting a venture launched.

Optimize a system for working with direct reports

I have worked with direct reports before and have a rough system for it, but I want to optimizing this process so that everyone gets the most out of it. So far I can help them learn well and analyze the implications of that learning. Improvements I’m going to focus on are providing clearer roadmaps of total project and what the logical next step is, while at the same time minimizing the amount of time required to keep project tracking up-to-date.

It still also feels weird to use the word “direct reports”, when I really mean to say “the awesome people who chose to work with me.” I care a ton about their professional development, but I also need a ton of help from them given the workload I have, so building a system that works is paramount.

Write through the backlog of experiences and learning

Helping launch ventures is my #1 priority right now, so that has often left me with little time to write. But if I can save people time in making mistakes equal to what it took to write them, I will have saved net time in the world. So I’ll work on getting posts up more regularly, maybe bi-weekly.

Minimize the amount of time I spend answering email and sharing my schedule availability

If you have solved these problems, TELL ME HOW YOU DID IT. I’ve watched the percent of time I’ve spent answering email and searching through my schedule for openings creep up into the double digits and it is not productive. How did this happen? Do all of these emails really need to be answered?

My current plan for this is just to spend less time crafting each email. I’m also looking into ways to share my schedule automatically or find shared availability. If you have a process that works, I’d love to hear it.

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