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Q&A with Eric George about his new book, “We: Ditch the Me Mindset and Change the World.”

The physician turned serial entrepreneur and investor talks about the power and meaning of human connection

Cover of Book "We: Ditch the Me Mindset and Change the World."

Q:

Tell us more about your first book, We?

A:

Absolutely. It’s about a philosophy that’s very important to me both personally and professionally. And that philosophy revolves around my ability to connect with the people I encounter. I have always believed that when we orient our lives around other people and become more committed to learning about them and helping them, then everyone’s life improves. The book explores six key outcomes of embracing this mindset, which help us live a life of abundance. And as I write in the book, abundance isn’t restricted to financial gain. It means feeling fulfilled in every facet of our lives, whether personal, emotional, psychological, etc. So, at the broadest level, the book is about the power of human connection to create the life we want for ourselves and other people.

It was important to me when I started writing the book to use stories and experiences from my own life. The subject of human connection is an abstract one, and to make it more concrete I grounded the narrative in my encounters with my patients as a physician, my endeavors in business, my fun excursions with my family.

Q:

That’s interesting. Why did you choose to explore the outcomes of your philosophy? I imagine some readers would want more advice on how to become connected.

A:

When I started writing this book, I made the conscious decision not to tell people how to live. No one wants a lecture. And I don’t feel like I’m qualified to give people that kind of advice. I also know that the mindset I write about doesn’t work that way. As I write in the book, there is no universal formula for becoming more connected. It depends on the individual and the situation, and so many factors affect both. And our circumstances are never constant, but always changing, so what may work today, may not tomorrow. That said, there are general guidelines for becoming more connected. Being people-oriented, compassionate, humble. Recognizing that you can’t get anywhere in life without others to help you along the way. Taking the time to consider another person’s point of view, even when it’s different from your own. All help you become more connected. But again, they’re more guidelines than steps.

Q: Would you mind talking about some of the outcomes?

I don’t mind at all. The six outcomes are purpose, partnerships, perseverance, trust, support, and perspective. Embracing a mindset of “connectedness” (the name I use for my philosophy) enhances our ability to discover our purpose in life, of which there may be many; form partnerships; become more resilient; etc. Each outcome is connected and helps reinforce the others. And they all help us discover that state of abundance I talked about.

Q:

Talk about the significance of the hand in this book? After all, you’re a hand surgeon and it’s the design of the front cover.

A:

To me, the hand carries such significance for people. I’m not just saying that as a hand surgeon. Just think of how much we use our hands in our daily lives. We rely on them to live and perform the most basic to complex functions. They’re also an essential aspect of how we work, no matter what we choose to do. Whether you’re a painter, a mechanic, an accountant, a professional athlete, a wood worker. Our hands reflect who we are as people, a reason the hand has always been a great source of connecting with people. It teaches me about my patients and allows me to learn about them. It gives me insight into their lives and allows me to build a relationship with them.

The hand has taught me how to form connections and bonds with people inside and outside of medicine. So even when I’m not practicing medicine and treating someone’s hand—when I’m interacting with business leaders and subject matter experts, for example—I know how to connect with them and the importance of doing so. That’s the most important part, and something I’ve learned over my career. While my profession is conducive to making personal connections, we don’t need to practice medicine in order to become more connected with people.

Q:

You mentioned that your book uses many stories from your life to define your philosophy, which you call “connectedness.” Would you give an example of one? Perhaps one that’s most meaningful to you? 

A:

That’s a tough question. Because honestly, I find them all meaningful. Of course, when my family and I took a trip to Mombasa, Kenya, and helped build a nursing school for an orphanage—that stands out as very meaningful to me. Of course, there are patient cases that have also added meaning. I write about some of the gruesome injuries that I’ve treated and how connecting with other people accelerated the healing process for them. And, of course, I write about my business endeavors. Buying the Pythian, for instance, which is a historical building in New Orleans and one that carries great significance for the African American community. That example stands out. Hurricane Katrina brought it into a state of disrepair, so we bought it and started renovations on it. The new Pythian would give us the chance to offer affordable housing to working people of the city, who’d been priced out of the market. These are people providing essential services—many staff our local hospitals. My efforts with the Pythian has served as another point of connection—with people I know and strangers I come across.

I would also say the Orpheum Theater is another meaningful example to me. Sorry, I’m going on and on. You said to give you one example and I gave you a list.

Q:

What would you consider as a successful outcome for your book?

A:

If I’m able to help people embrace this mindset that I write about, I would consider that success. I know what it does on an individual level, so I can only imagine the value we could create if everyone saw connectedness as the answer to their problems. Imagine how much happier everyone would be; we’d be in a much better place as a society too. Today, I find there’s too much talk and energy focused on dividing people and not enough bringing us together.

Of course, if it becomes a bestseller, I wouldn’t mind that either. I would call that success, because it would mean my message reached more readers than I ever anticipated. But just impacting one person would be enough for me.

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