In a recent interview with Healthcare magazine, Ron Gutman said that his inspiration to focus on building companies in the healthcare industry comes from both his childhood passion for technology and the idea of tikkun olam, a Jewish concept that suggests everyone has a responsibility to help improve society.
Tikkun olam is also entwined with Sapient Leadership, a modern leadership framework Gutman designed with professor Aneel Chima at Stanford University. The framework is focused on societal improvement through collaboration, eschewing the power of top-down individual leadership in favor of a more empathetic approach to managing the “three-dimensional change” we see in areas like health care, education, and artificial intelligence.
Gutman has spent his career trying to blend entrepreneurial spirit, a focus on building useful and commercially viable new technologics, and a passion for improving the lives of others, and tikkun olam has been a guiding principle in this balancing act.
“When I was thinking about potential careers, I wanted to incorporate the concept of tikkun olam into my chosen field and I decided to combine my passion for technology with my drive to make a difference and help others,” he explained. “I realized the most effective way I could do that was by leveraging technology to help people live healthier and happier lives — that’s the mission that drove me at Intrivo Diagnostics and other companies and not-for-profit organizations I’ve founded and grew.”
What Is Tikkun Olam?
Tikkun olam, which can be translated from Hebrew as “repairing the world,” is a simple concept with profound implications and a long history. The core of the idea is that individuals should strive to act in ways that benefit society as a whole, not just themselves, and that this applies to all areas of life, from professional development to personal relationships. It promotes the idea of active pursuit of social justice and widespread access to life-improving opportunities, an ideology that Gutman has tried to internalize as a compass throughout his career.
For Gutman, when we are guided by ethical and inclusive social ideals, advancements in health care technology could provide us with the tools to “repair the world” on an unprecedented scale.
Leaders Have A Responsibility To Repair The World
Sapient Leadership’s focus on emotional intelligence and empathy echoes the human-centric and societal focus of tikkun olam. Just as tikkun olam urges us to contribute to societal well-being, Sapient Leadership urges leaders to understand and address the well-being of their teams. The aim is to develop a more emotionally intelligent leadership approach that builds tangible solutions to broader societal problems that can only be addressed by embracing a range of perspectives.
The framework outlines a leadership style designed to navigate the challenges of rapidly evolving business and technological landscapes. It encourages leaders to utilize empathy and compassion to inspire and motivate others, promote an adaptive mindset throughout an organization, and foster an environment that encourages continuous learning and growth.
There is an emphasis on the importance of understanding the human elements in a team — their needs, aspirations, and fears, as well as the powerful contributions that come from members with unique backgrounds and areas of expertise. Sapient leaders empathize with their collaborators and foster open, candid communication. This promotes the development of a growth mindset grounded in learning from others. Like tikkun olam, it is an approach to work and life that embraces challenges, perseveres in the face of setbacks, sees effort as a path to mastery, and learns from criticism to achieve broader societal goals.
As Gutman put it in a recent article, “Nobody has enough knowledge, experience, and capabilities to understand or solve everything by themselves. When interviewed, the most accomplished leaders repeat similar premises for leading through a reality of constant change: listening, compassion, and caring.”
In today’s rapidly changing world, adaptability and a growth mindset aren’t just nice to have; they’re essential for survival and success. They are essential for building the kind of organizations that can truly repair the world.
Tikkun Olam In Practice
In the coming years, Gutman plans to continue to implement tikkun olam, developing and distributing products that improve the lives of people around the globe, and focusing on philanthropic projects.
His On/Go for Good nonprofit was established to provide health care and technology access to individuals and communities in need. In 2022 the organization donated $1 million in COVID-19 tests to hospitals in Ukraine.
“I’ve come to the realization that profit-driven endeavors alone are not enough to address all of society’s needs,” said Gutman. “While I do believe in the benefits of capitalism, I also recognize the importance of prioritizing philanthropic initiatives to make a meaningful difference in the lives of people and communities everywhere. That’s the main reason I founded On/Go for Good, to support those in need.”
Defining Success Through Service to Others
“Success, to me, is the gratifying and humbling feeling of having made a meaningful positive impact on the lives of millions of people in a way that is lasting and sustainable,” said Gutman when asked for his criteria for a well-lived life.
This definition, like much of Ron Gutman’s recent work in health care, philanthropy, and leadership, is imbued with tikkun olam.
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