Dec 21, 2007
By: Andreas Engvig
This is Andreas, the Norwegian MD/PhD in neuroscience candidate who worked as an intern at SharpBrains a few months ago. Now I’m back in chilly Oslo where I’ve just begun my PhD program on cognitive training for patients with memory problems.
Today I felt it was time to reflect upon my 3 month stay in San Francisco earlier this year. It all started when in April when the Norwegian school of entrepreneurship said: You’ve got a ticket to San Francisco, now you got to find the perfect start-up company to work for.
Being interested in brain training, I googled Brain fitness San Francisco and guess what I found? I got in touch with Alvaro Fernandez, the co-founder of SharpBrains.com and two months later I started working with him and his team.
As a scientist, being placed in an exciting start-up company in a novel market like brain fitness was a huge learning experience that gave me hands-on knowledge of business and entrepreneurial culture. Being a neuroscience student, I know that learning physically changes my brain, strengthening it.
Here’s a list of some of the key things I’ve learned:
1) First of all, one of key rules for brain fitness is learning. In SharpBrains I immediately got to experience what a great learning culture can be all about from key insights in entrepreneurship to how to make creative videos and writing for the web. The urge for constant learning is both fun and stimulating and I appreciate Alvaro’s suggestion to write this post.
2) Science and business can learn from each other. Coming from an analytic field of science I really enjoyed working at the commercial counter-part for a while. Actually I used the first weeks understanding who business people think differently from scientists. In the commercial world you have less time, often working for shorter deadlines, meaning you have to work more efficiently in a goal-oriented manner. I have applied much of what the world of business taught me to be a more efficient scientist.
3) The 80–20 rule as a rule to live by. The rule states that 80% of effects are usually explained by 20% of causes. Did you know it’s an invaluable concept in time management? Here is twenty unique ways to apply it to your life also.
4) “Don’t boil the ocean. In general, when doing research for a project, try to find the key experts and reports that have evaluated your area of interest. You don’t need to find out every aspect of a case to evaluate or use it for your research. As my boss said it: - 100% perfection is the enemy of results and action.
5) “Intention means nothing” says motivation guru Anthony Robbins. What matters is the action. If you don’t try to implement ideas, you will learn little.
6) A valuable lesson in project management: Always approach every project in a goal-oriented, hypothesis driven way. Find and use an initial hypothesis to start with and constantly try to seek information that either supports or falsifies it.
7) Find your “unfair advantage” (as one of our Professors put it). A company can outmanoeuvre its competition by having a certain sustainable competitive advantage compared to its competitors. It can apply to all levels of a company and its services from branding to strategic partnerships.
8) Spreading the message that our brains have a life long potential for change and that you can train your mental muscles systematically in numerous ways. We experimented different Internet media: from Youtube videos to writing the world’s greatest brain fitness blog.
9) Building the bridge between science and the people is important for helping thousands benefit from the recent findings about the brain’s life long potential for change called neuroplasticity. In my opinion, Alvaro and the Sharpbrains team are doing a great job for that cause.
10) Starting up a company is hard work. It demands persistence, discipline and commitment over long periods of time. But if you’re really pursuing something you are really passionate about it’s all worth it.
Thank you, Alvaro and the SharpBrains team. It has been a great summer!
Happy Holidays to everyone,