“Success is a marathon with daily sprints”, Dr. Selin Kurnaz and Parveen Panwar, Mr. Activated

Unfortunately there is no short-cut for success, you need to work super hard, be ready for massive set-backs, never give up on your values, never give up learning and never giving up standing up when you fall down. In the end, success is a marathon with daily sprints. As a part of our series about “How […]

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Unfortunately there is no short-cut for success, you need to work super hard, be ready for massive set-backs, never give up on your values, never give up learning and never giving up standing up when you fall down. In the end, success is a marathon with daily sprints.


As a part of our series about “How Anyone Can Build Habits For Optimal Wellness, Performance, & Focus”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Selin Kurnaz, CEO and co-founder of Massive Bio. After emigrating from Turkey and completing a PhD at the University of Michigan, receiving multiple engineering degrees, Selin spent more than a decade specializing in delivering revenue enhancement, margin optimization and capital efficiency improvements for Healthcare and Life Science companies. Her startup, Massive Bio, brings the latest knowledge in cancer care to patients treated at community practices in the US and worldwide. Selin has written and spoken extensively about life sciences in tech and how to deliver information in creative ways. Massive Bio is an alumni of eLab and PhilipsHealthworks Precision Cancer Care start-up acceleration programs.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I was born and raised in Turkey. I came to US for my graduate education and then I stayed after my PhD and entered into the business world. My father is an engineer and my mom is journalist. I was already born with super good genes. Since I am a single child, starting from the very beginning I had the opportunity to live a limitless life and be very adamant to change the world.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story. SK response: My uncle was diagnosed with cancer and my mom got impacted very negatively. Although I was climbing the ladder in the corporate world, I thought that I need to change the future of oncology clinical trial access for my family and for the world. Thus, I started Massive Bio. We are an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven platform connecting cancer patients and their community oncologists to bio-pharmaceutical clinical trials.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

My family is the main source of my success in my career and my life. I am extremely grateful. They have given me a spectacular education, unmatched confidence and they have never stopped or limited me in my giant aspirations in the world.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

When I was at the beginning of my career, there was a guy and he was working much less than I do but he was getting much better performance scores than me. I observed that I was too busy with working and not spending time selling my work or promoting myself. That was one of the main AHA moments in my career. After that point, I have discovered the value of self-marketing/promotion and then my career took off. Never underestimate the value that you bring to the table and never shy about promoting it.

The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?

Unfortunately there is no short-cut for success, you need to work super hard, be ready for massive set-backs, never give up on your values, never give up learning and never giving up standing up when you fall down. In the end, success is a marathon with daily sprints.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

It is hard to point a single book because there are many but I still believe that Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell is a good one for starters.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.” -Aristotle; running a start-up is really challenging and you really need to have a very thick skin and always need to see the light at the end of the tunnel to keep going and to keep believing in changing the world. Also, if you don’t believe in yourself, never expect somebody else to believe in you.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

Massive Bio’s mission is to provide access to clinical trials for every cancer patient regardless of his/her location and/or financial stability.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. This will be intuitive to you but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to create good habits? Can you share a story or give some examples?

Good habits lead to good performance which then leads to happy individuals.

How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?

Habits played an important role in my life some of those good habits are being a very disciplined person, be very physically active, distant myself from negative individuals, focus on important priorities, etc.

Speaking in general, what is the best way to develop good habits? Conversely, how can one stop bad habits?

First of all you need to believe in that habit and believe it very well and should not give us until there is a small success or victory

Let’s talk about creating good habits in three areas, Wellness, Performance, and Focus. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum wellness. Please share a story or example for each.

Stay active, eat healthy and clear your brain

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

This is not easy but it should start with getting rid of bad habits as opposed to institutionalizing three of them at the same time

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal performance at work or sport? Please share a story or example for each.

Do the high mental capacity work outside the work hours, don’t waste time with low quality people and laser focus on results

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

This is again don’t happen over-night, it comes with time, discipline and experience

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal focus? Please share a story or example for each.

Isolate yourself from the work environment, define a scope of focus (i.e. focus on the right thing that has the maximum ROI) and blind your emotions in most cases

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

This is again don’t happen over-night, it comes with time, discipline and experience

As a leader, you likely experience times when you are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a state of Flow more often in our lives?

I get this. I feel like I am always in the Flow due to my passion for my business, and field. I was told I am on the go 24/7. And I don’t even realize it, because I am consumed by my business ideas constantly. In a positive way. That is all I can think about and that creates my flow. I feel like as long as you do what you LOVE, with passion, the flow comes naturally..

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

This is an easy one. Increase oncology clinical trial enrollment rate to 20% in the US.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

Business: Jeff Bezos because in one sense I am trying to develop the Amazon of clinical trials. VC Funding: Noubar Afeyan, Manager Partner at Flagship Pioneering as he seems to know how to build great companies with the right infusion of capital.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Website: https://massivebio.com/; Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/massivebio/; Twitter: https://twitter.com/MassiveBio; LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/massive-bio/

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

Thank you.

Web: https://massivebio.com/

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