Robin is a serial entrepreneur, futurist and the author of the #1 bestselling book ‘The Patient as CEO’. She is also a ball of positive energy on and off stage. Robin’s vision is to positively impact hundreds of millions of people worldwide by using cutting edge technology. In this conversation we cover the one habit that leads to more success, how to leverage technology for better health, and the fundamental changes that will occur during our lifetime.
Reading time: 8 minutes
Hi, my name is Robin Farmanfarmaian and this is HOWILEAD
I’m a serial entrepreneur, and have worked on 12 early stage startup companies, all in cutting edge medtech, biotech and education. As a professional speaker, I travel the world meeting interesting people working on cutting edge tech. Currently I’m the COO of Arc Fusion Programs, working on the fusion of medicine, science and IT, and a VP at INVICTA Medical, a device company for sleep apnea.
A life long philanthropist and mentor, I am the Co-Founder and on the Board of Directors (formally Executive Director) for the Organ Preservation Alliance, catalysing breakthroughs in organ banking for transplants and tissue engineering, and President for the Innovation for Jobs Summit, finding solutions to disrupt unemployment.
I have joined the advisory board of many startups and conferences, and mentor female entrepreneurs. Previously, I founded Morfit, the Exponential Medicine conference, and was a VP at Singularity University. My book, “The Patient as CEO: How Technology Empowers the Healthcare Consumer”, is a #1 Best Seller on Amazon.
Robin, what tough challenge are you currently trying to solve?
I am working to positively impact hundreds of millions of people worldwide by using cutting edge technology. That’s why I’m so diverse in the types of startup companies I work with – from sleep apnea, to tissue engineering, to genetic testing – everything I work on has one specific goal: To make millions of people’s lives better in their health.
What are the 1-3 most rewarding aspects of your job?
Everything comes down to one thing: knowing that I am helping people. With the sleep apnea company alone, we can help 100 Million people worldwide. With my work getting funding for tissue engineering, we can eradicate the world’s transplant wait list, as well as help the millions who don’t qualify for the organ wait list. On the personal side, I get to spend time with passionate, brilliant people every day.
Exercise daily! That sets up your entire life for success. – Robin Farmanfarmaian
What is the book/documentary/article that most influenced your life and why?
I read a lot of sci-fi as a teenager, and most of it felt like it should or could be reality soon. Now every innovation that happens, it makes me think, “of course” (that exists and can do that). I’m never surprised by technology, more of a feeling of “what took you so long”.
What is the number one thing (belief, habit, character trait, etc.) that held you back before your life took off?
The one thing that held me back was worrying about getting sick while I was doing something important. I have had a chronic disease since I was 16 years old. Now I have safeguards in place and ways of handling every situation, so that if I do get sick during important events, I can easily handle it, and it doesn’t change what I’m doing.
What belief have you changed in the past year and why?
What has changed in the past couple years was my belief that most people are good and trying to help other people. That’s not true, though that’s what a lot of people “say” they are doing, especially here in Silicon Valley. In reality, see how they treat people in their day to day lives, especially how they treat women – and avoid the ones that don’t “walk to the talk” or push other people down in order to get ahead. That happened to me in a work environment (Singularity), and at least here the “all-boy network” does exist, and they band together to push women down. Avoid these people at all costs!
Please share with us your morning routine. I do have a morning routine. I wake up at 6 or 6:30 am, drink tea and a small breakfast like yogurt or toast while doing email for an hour. I then work out for an hour in my second bedroom (totally fitted into a workout room with 3 large machines) or the hotel gym if I’m travelling, stretch, shower, and I’m ready for the day!
Please share the story of the moment in your life when you found your purpose or the skill you excel at.
I knew from a very young age I was great at sales, and absolutely loved doing it. I love finding value for people and helping them get what they want or need, and sales accomplish that.
What aspect of your life do you expect to be fundamentally different in 2050?
Everything. Literally everything. In fact, technology is moving so quickly that even I, as a futurist, have a hard time imagining it. Autonomous vehicles that fly and drive. No one owns cars. Home robots that do everything from cooking to
cleaning to companionship, and even sex.
Your house and environment perfectly personalised to you, no matter where you are. Temperature, decorations, everything changing when you walk into a room. Organs printed on demand and switched out when yours start to show signs of wear or disease. Cancer cured, no more nuisance than a mosquito bite. Space travel and colonisation. 3D printed food on demand, including meat (so no longer killing animals for meat). Literally, everything will be different by 2050!
If you could only leave behind 1-3 truths of life as your legacy, what would they be?
Help other people, work on things that make a positive impact, and take control of your own health.
If you could re-live one moment in your life, which would you choose and why?
I love being on stage and getting my message out about taking control of your health, to change people’s lives – so any of those moments would be great!
What were the 20% that returned 80% of the results you consider central for your success?
Exercise daily! That sets up your entire life for success. It helps with mood, focus, pain ,disease, sleep, and helps you with the confidence to succeed in all other areas of your life.
What makes the difference between being good and being great at something?
Being good at something is a hobby, being great at something is hard work, skill, and more hard work.
What was the most interesting conversation you had lately?
The most interesting conversation I had lately was with a VP at Walmart. He told me they are analysing 20 years of consumer data to predict disease. So cool! For instance, they discovered that if you change your laundry detergent once, you are 50 times more likely to have diabetes or get diabetes that year. Wow! It’s because skin gets sensitive when you are developing diabetes, and the first thing people do is change their detergent in case it’s an allergy.
Which smartphone app is mission critical for your life and travel?
My communication apps to stay in touch with my friends and family – messaging and email apps.
What makes yourself and your followers follow your lead?
I share all my life with my followers – the good, the bad, the amazing. I am authentic and real, and always reply to comments, as I love interacting with people.
To wrap up, what is the one piece of advice you would give your 20-year old self?
Technology is moving so quickly, there will be lots of solutions in the near future, take control of your health and explore technology to help.
Robin, thank you for inspiring us! Keep up your amazing work!