Life is One Amazing Adventure After Another.
At times, you look at life, and you imagine you know exactly how it is going to unfold. Perhaps you are right a third of the time, a third of the time you are completely wrong and a third of the time you’re just off in your timing. When we embarked on the first trip in 2006-07, I remember thinking I would return remarkably enlightened and move from the for-profit space to the non-profit space. It didn’t happen. I dabbled in impact investing but within months of returning, I was squarely back in the for-profit space at Myspace. (That could be a joke either way, not-for-profit enough, or perhaps too for profit before it was ready.) Myspace felt right at the time, and so did going to help build AXS. After this recent trip, I thought I would come home and join the frothy start-up world. I looked at some opportunities and nothing resonated with me. There were intriguing opportunities at companies in different stages, but I wanted something to sing to me. As I explained to one friend, at the turn of the year, I want to be a missionary again; I am a great mercenary, but I miss that missionary feeling I had earlier in my career.
Well, shortly after exchanging those words with my friend, two different opportunities jumped in front of me. One was to help the leadership at Operation Smile. I have been a supporter of theirs for five years, and their founders are some of my heroes. The kids and I joined one of their missions in the Philippines. It was inspiring to watch volunteer doctors from around the world come together to repair 100 children. Operation Smile is on their way to fixing every child in the world with a cleft lip or palate. They also are evangelizing the plight of the billions of people in the world with no access to surgery of any kind.
Within a day of getting the call to help Operation Smile, I got a call to see if I could lend a hand to the Prostate Cancer Foundation. The Prostate Cancer Foundation has led the way in cancer research. Their research into curing and detecting prostate cancer has helped almost a million men be alive today and the drugs they helped fund have proven to be effective in some forms of breast, colon and childhood cancers. As they described to me they are on the cusp of more major breakthroughs; they feel they are only a handful of years from finding drugs or treatments for the remaining dangerous types of prostate cancer.
Since the beginning of the year, I have been splitting my time between both organizations. I would love to keep working for both of them but starting next week I will be working full time at the Prostate Cancer Foundation. If I can do anything to help other families not go through what we did, how can I not do it? If you told me ten months ago, on our second trip, this is what I would be doing, I would have shared all the reasons that wouldn’t happen if you told me ten years ago, on our first trip, I probably would have nodded in agreement. Isn’t life amazing!