Inspiring Career Lessons You Can Learn from America’s Youngest Self-made Female Billionaire

Inspiring Career Lessons from Elizabeth Holmes -- America's Youngest Female Billionaire
At the age of 19 Stanford student Elizabeth Holmes had a plan, a strong work ethic, and the foundation of knowledge she needed to launch a career in medical science. But she also had a vision that would ultimately lead her to create something that could change healthcare for millions of Americans. Elizabeth understood that blood tests are a routine and nearly universal aspect of the healthcare industry, but she also realized that she didn’t personally enjoy them, and she knew that she wasn’t alone. Millions of patients dread needle sticks, and far too many procedures and tests require patients to give up more blood than the amount necessary to complete the testing process or provide the diagnosis. As a result, patients often skip necessary visits to the lab or clinic for bloodwork. This move can lead to a missed diagnosis, an improper treatment plan, ignored symptoms, and a cascade of additional health problems. Like it or not, over 7 billion blood extractions are necessary every year, and these needle sticks inform up to 80 percent of healthcare and treatment decisions. But as far as Elizabeth was concerned, there had to be a better way. So she cashed in the money she had saved for tuition, dropped out of Stanford, and with the help of her investors and financial backers, she developed a system that uses only a single pinprick of blood for procedures that once required far more. Holmes envisioned clinics all over the country, within five miles of any given patient, which would provide a calming environment and a speedy, nearly painless procedure that could offer all the benefits of a traditional blood extraction. And her vision is rapidly coming to life. At this point her company, Theranos, is considered a major disruptor in the healthcare industry, and as a 50 percent owner, Holmes now ranks as the nation’s youngest female billionaire. If you plan to follow her path, what can you learn from her success? Here are a few of our key takeaways from her inspiring story.

Start early.

According to Holmes, lots of young people have incredible ideas and insights, but they hesitate to act on them. Sometimes they ultimately decide to stay on the prescribed path, and sometimes they bring their ideas to life, but too often, they wait too long for the right moment. “What I did,” she says “is just start a little earlier.”

Have courage.

It takes nerves of steel to walk away from the defined path of other people’s expectations. Saying no to a college degree or a steady job can be extremely difficult. But if you have another plan in mind and you’re sure you know where you going, nobody else can tell you that you’re wrong.

Target areas of need.

Holmes grew up with parents who worked in disaster relief, and from a young age, she was surrounded by images and discussions of people in need. She knew something about how the healthcare system works—and how it fails—and she wanted to build something that could potentially impact millions of lives for the better.

Be lucky.

Sometimes being in the right place at the right time, having supportive parents, and having a brilliant mind and a talent for problem solving can all fall into place, and at 19, you find yourself running a multi-million dollar company that changes the world for the better. But if you’re missing one or two of the items on this list, do the best you can with the ones you have. Leverage your advantages and don’t let one missing link hold you back. — Wherever you go and whatever challenges you decide to take on, rely on your support team. Turn to the job search tools at MyPerfectResume to take your career—and your life—to the next level.