Keith Cowing

Keith Cowing

Product guy. Entrepreneur.
Career advisor. Read bio

Why you should tackle the most epic problems you can find

December 4, 2015

Cancer_antennarius

I am excited to announce that I have joined the product team at Flatiron Health.  I recently decided to make a change and pursue one of my passions in either health or education. After exploring opportunities,  I came away deeply inspired by the people and mission at Flatiron. The team is tackling one of the most epic problems in healthcare: helping oncologists and researchers provide better care for cancer patients.

As I thought about my career and my decision, I wanted to share a few thoughts about why it’s important to tackle the most epic problems.

It maximizes your impact

Choosing important problems can be viewed in the absolute sense (cancer) or in the relative sense (the most important problem that your team, division, or company faces right now).  Look for roles at companies that are doing things that matter to you. Then consider it part of your job to get yourself on high impact projects, even though it’s not directly in your control. This means being transparent about your career goals, seeking visibility from executives, and asking to join projects that will help you grow.

When times are hot, you can still recruit

Regardless of your role, you will hit a point in your career where your ability to attract top performers will be critical to your success. In crazy markets it is hard to attract talent.  Top candidates will have four or five offers and will always have an option that pays more.  If your pitch is not focused solely on compensation, but on the potential to make an impact, you can still win.

When times get tough, it’s still worth it

Let’s be real.  Things will get hard.  You will have days when everything goes wrong and you want to throw in the towel.  When you’re working on something meaningful, it’s easier to muster up a second wind and power through.  It’s important to work on something that helps you keep your chin up during stressful times.

There is nothing more satisfying

Working on big, hairy challenges is simply fun and exciting. When you turn 80 years old, will you regret the decisions that you’re making today? We can’t predict the future. But working on important problems paves the way for a satisfying career.

“Work on something so important that even if you fail the world
is better off for you having tried.”

-Tim O’Reilly

P.S. Flatiron Health is hiring!  Come join me

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