by Ken Mosesian
“Ken, look up!” shouted Dr. Alan Penzias, Vice Chair of The AFA Board of Directors.
When I did, I saw my image on a giant electronic billboard in Times Square. What a rush! Just when I thought things couldn’t get more exciting, there I was, standing next to Dr. Michelle Dipp, CEO of OvaScience, and her team, in the bright lights of Times Square.
OvaScience had rung the opening bell at the NASDAQ, and in their generosity they invited The AFA to participate in the ceremony. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to experience something like that again, and I’m forever appreciative of Michelle including me in the event.
Three key lessons that I took with me from that day:
1 – It’s the quality of the idea: OvaScience has pioneered a groundbreaking technology, based on the discovery of egg precursor cells, which are found in the ovaries. This has the potential to be huge in terms of IVF, and it has implications for elective single embryo transfer (eSET), fetal reduction, and affordability.
2 – It’s the quality of the team: In speaking with investors, a great idea in the hands of a sub-par team doesn't stand a chance of success. A great team is as important – if not more important – than the idea itself. What I noticed about the OvaScience team was a genuine passion for their work, a commitment to excellence, and a real sense of family. They all truly enjoyed being with one another.
3 – Look up!: Sometimes we get trapped in the execution of the “to-do” list, and we forget to look up. That’s where the inspiration is. That’s where the bold ideas are. That’s where people dare to ask “what would be possible, if…”
In having a few days to reflect on the experience and the lessons learned, I saw a great connection to the work we’re doing at The AFA. We’re an idea company. We’re always inventing ways to better educate and inform. We’re always working to stimulate the conversation about infertility and family building in the mainstream, so that more people will have those conversations, and have them earlier, increasing their chances of having a child.
We always come together as a team. We begin with the premise that the accomplishment of our mission is paramount, and we support one another in striving to carry out that mission every day. We produce great work, because quality matters, and we call each other to an increasingly higher standard. We laugh. A lot. I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to work with. (I could, however, ask for more of them!)
We’re always reminding ourselves to look up. That’s how we personally and professionally stretch the limits of what we think is possible. It’s how we created our outreach to the LGBT community. It’s why we began talking with college students about fertility preservation and infertility prevention. It fueled our passion for making family building as accessible and affordable as possible, particularly to underserved populations.
You don’t need to be ringing the bell at the NASDAQ to commit to quality ideas, a quality team, and looking up. You can begin implementing those things today, and they’ll make a real difference – for good. Congratulations again to Michelle and her team. “A rising tide lifts all boats”, as they say, and OvaScience is certainly helping the tide to rise.
Ken Mosesian is Executive Director for The American Fertility Association