In a post-COVID world where things haven’t gotten completely back to normal and likely never will, healthcare entrepreneur Ron Gutman makes it clear that great leadership changes with the times.
In a recent interview, Gutman, the co-CEO of top health-tech company Intrivo, gave insight into what he believes are key elements in business success.
As one of his newest entrepreneurial endeavors, Intrivo is a perfect example of how businesses that have flourished during the pandemic (and even some that merely survived it) integrate compassion, listening, and learning to achieve success. Intrivo paired rapid COVID-19 detection with population management advanced technologies to track data in order to produce a complete Diagnostics as a Service (DaaS)™ solution that satisfies multiple customer pain points.
Gutman’s secret? A good balance between entrepreneurial drive, mission orientation, integrity, and artisanship.
Compassion Is Unique to Humans
Sympathetic empathy might not be the first thing you think of when you consider what it takes to achieve business success. But that’s exactly what Gutman suggests is one of the key ingredients. “One of the most important things that make us human, in my mind, is compassion,” Gutman says. “I think that it’s compassion [for] each other, compassion for animals, and compassion for nature that makes us a unique species. That’s what’s really made humanity as successful as it is today,” he surmises.
Intrivo’s business model clearly indicates how Ron Gutman used deep compassion to determine how best to meet the needs of the largest number of people during the global health crisis of the past few years. In the early days of the pandemic, many people had difficulty getting access to testing. Testing was expensive and initially only available to government authorities, celebrities, and for handling severe cases of the virus. Once testing centers were established, people had to travel and wait in line for several hours in their vehicles to be tested. By considering the experiences of others and having compassion for people in difficult situations, Intrivo was able to quickly meet a rapidly growing need that arguably hadn’t even been fully realized at that time.
Listening Solves Serious Problems
Ron Gutman also shared the importance of listening and why learning how to listen well is so critical to finding workable solutions to widespread problems. In an interview, he said that at the end of the day, one cannot lead and cannot solve big problems if one doesn’t deeply listen, empathize, want to do good, and then synthesize it all together. If a leader doesn’t listen, if she or he cares deeply, they cannot lead effectively.
Intrivo provides a real-world example of how this theory can be applied. Establishing drive-up testing wasn’t enough. Many people couldn’t take the time to wait in long lines, or they didn’t have a vehicle to go through the drive-thru. Employers had no way to quickly assess and help sick workers to stay at home and not infect others. Clinics were busy treating sick patients, and running large-scale COVID testing wasn’t feasible in many cases.
Intrivo’s cutting-edge testing-to-tracing solution has been an ideal solution for population health managers and employers navigating sizable teams who need to test, track, and handle people suspected of having COVID-19. Results are delivered in real-time, so critical decisions can be made as rapidly as possible. The technology that Gutman and his team invented and developed has helped employers and healthcare providers to prevent unnecessary, expensive shutdowns while giving them the data needed to call for closures when their employees were genuinely at risk.
The effort to listen to employers, public health professionals, and consumers have paid off for Intrivo — the company was among the very first to receive authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to deliver at-home COVID-19 testing solutions. Intrivo remains a top provider of the service.
Mistakes Are Necessary for Learning
Everyone makes mistakes, and Gutman admits that he’s no stranger to occasionally making a wrong move. For as many successes as he’s had, Gutman shared that there were plenty of missteps that he took along the way. Nonetheless, Gutman suggests reframing how we should all think about the mistakes we make in order to become better people and better leaders. “When you make a mistake, and you learn from it, and you can articulate what you have learned, next time you’re inevitably going to do it better,” Gutman says. He adds that as individuals and as organizations and societies, we need to admit when things go wrong, learn from them, and continue growing indefinitely.
Not only has Ron Gutman reframed how he looks at success as service for the greater good and improving human welfare, but he has also worked to reframe his definition of “failure.” He says that “learning” is the prescription of success, and if you can explain why something didn’t work and learn from it, you will end up succeeding and eventually accomplishing great things.
Gutman elaborates on what it really means to fail, suggesting, “The only way to fail is to repeat mistakes. If you did something, it didn’t work, and then you did it the same way next time, and it still didn’t work, that’s a failure. If you make new mistakes all the time and learn from them — that’s actually great. It means that you’re growing.”
Thomas Edison is often credited with making a similar point in the early 1900s as he was inventing the light bulb, reportedly saying of his many unsuccessful attempts, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Success is not guaranteed despite the amount of effort and skill put into an endeavor. Instead of allowing the frustration of failure to discourage one from continuing to try, Edison and Gutman stress the importance of using mistakes as teachable moments.
In a post-pandemic era, it’s more important than ever for leaders to take point with compassion and understanding. People in leadership positions need good listening skills, tenacity, and endurance to successfully make a difference in the world after a major pandemic and disruption to normal life. Ron Gutman’s wise words can serve as a primer for leaders to navigate the challenging path ahead and begin carving out meaningful solutions to new problems.
More About Intrivo and Ron Gutman
Intrivo is the maker of On/Go rapid COVID-19 antigen self-tests and COVID tracking technology. It’s the first and one of the only programs of its kind, allowing population health managers and businesses consistent access to real-time diagnostic data they can use to make critical decisions for their people.
Organizations can test, identify, and notify infected employees, allowing healthy employees to continue working without an increased risk of viral exposure. This prevents an unnecessary decrease in productivity, which can mean the difference between staying open and closing up shop. Population managers, business owners, and their employees can have peace of mind knowing that COVID is detectable and manageable in their workplaces.
Ron Gutman is a serial entrepreneur turned philanthropist, educator, author, and investor who has developed a number of businesses and nonprofit organizations dedicated to improving the health and wellness of millions of people worldwide.
Gutman’s list of accomplishments includes:
- Presenting the “The Hidden Power of Smiling” during a TED Talk
- Author of: Smile: The Astonishing Power of a Simple Act TED Book
- Curator of TEDx Silicon Valley Curation
- Contributor to the Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Program for Stanford University
- Founder of HealthTap, Wellsphere, FestiHealth, the Live Long & Flourish Club, and the inventor of On/Go, Dr. A.I., RateRx, AppRx, Talk to Docs, and DocNow — the first Apple Watch virtual health app
Ron Gutman has lent his knowledge to many health and technology initiatives, such as the Harvard Medical School’s SMArt Initiative and Stanford Medicine X. He’s spoken at widely attended important conferences like the World Economic Forum. He has been a featured innovator in popular media like PC Magazine, Fox Business, TechCrunch, Fortune magazine, Forbes, and the Harvard Business Review.