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It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,

because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;

who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.

–Theodore Roosevelt

I’ll be frank. I have a problem with overthinking things. I’m pretty sure that I spent twice as much time thinking about what to write for my first blog post than actually doing the writing.

Deciding to start a blog was both exciting and incredibly nerve-wracking for me. I wanted to connect with the biotech community, but I wasn’t sure I was “ready” or not. After all, what do I know? What am I supposed to say? Why did I think this was a good idea? Maybe I should just watch another rerun of Friends and call it a night.

It doesn’t help that I’m one of those people who spends a huge amount of time researching every possibility before making a decision (though I believe the term in psychological circles is “prudence”). So naturally, I spent a huge amount of time reading other blogs, learning how people write the perfect first post, or the perfect introductory sentence. Especially for a blog aimed at my professional network, I wanted to make the perfect first impression.

Then I recalled Roosevelt’s quote, which I came across a few months back in BrenĂ© Brown’s book, aptly titled Daring Greatly. You may know Brown from her famous TED talks on vulnerability and shame. The major thesis of her book? Our constant pursuit of perfection and our fear of being vulnerable is damaging the way we form meaningful, deep connections with other people. It’s okay to be imperfect in order to live authentically to your own values.

So I decided to embrace my imperfect first blog post and just… write.

Who Am I?

I’ll start by telling you who I’m not: I’m not an “expert” by any means, nor am I a “guru” or “ninja” or anything of the sort. I am just a guy who is still trying to figure out his career, who has a lot of interest in biotech and economic development, and who decided that maybe he should start a blog so he doesn’t go insane during his job search.

I graduated in 2014 with a Masters of Biomedical Technology, which is a program out of the University of Calgary aimed at teaching scientists the business fundamentals of drug and medical device commercialization. I knew early on in my university career that I wanted to continue pursuing some kind of work in biotech, after participating as a student in the International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) competition for a few years, and seeing other students just like me working on engineering new drugs, artificial food, synthetic spider silk, and so much more. So I knew I wanted to keep pursuing biotech and synthetic biology, though I wasn’t sure how.

It took me a number of years of working, not working, self-reflection, and soul-searching before I decided I wanted to help encourage more people in Alberta to pursue biotech innovation, and make our province (and Canada as a country) a leader. But many times when I’ve talked to both biotech startups and the general tech community, it seems that not many people really celebrate or even acknowledge how much happens in our province in this field. And that’s a damn shame.

So Why Am I Blogging?

I therefore decided to start this blog for a few reasons:

  1. Share my passion for biotechnology with the world. Anybody who has met me in person has likely heard me talk their ear off about synthetic biology, biotechnology, and life sciences. Through my time at BioAlberta, I was amazed to see how many companies in Alberta that were doing cool stuff in health and life science, but wondered why we don’t talk much about them. So I wanted to share some stories about local biotech innovation in Alberta, and get more people excited about the talent that exists here (and yes, it definitely exists here–that will be a topic soon).
  2. Share my passion in design. Something I never expected to pick up during my undergrad was an interest in graphic design and web design. I find design theory fascinating, especially on a psychological level, and I think the academic world especially could benefit more from how design can really improve their presentations. I want to use this blog to share a little bit of the design tips I picked up with you.
  3. Hone my skills. The primary motivator, though–and I say this with total transparency–is that after a number of months of unemployment, my skills have become rusty. So I decided to take responsibility in improving myself by doing something to focus my energies. I’m starting this blog primarily as a self-improvement exercise to work on my writing, communication, and marketing skills, as well as a way to reach out and stay connected to the local startup community. I think this will be an excellent way to stay on top of the latest news and developments in this field and work on my ability to research and synthesize information. If anybody reads it and derives value from the things I write about, that is merely a bonus.

I intend to write about some spotlights on local life science innovation, current events in the industry, and perhaps some of my thoughts and commentary on the things I’m learning about economic development, innovation, and my own personal development. I also want to hear your feedback on how I can continue to improve as a writer.

I hope that you’ll join me on this journey as I take some new risks, learn some new things, and dare a little more greatly.

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