Tuesday, June 13, 2017

For ‘Bioentrepreneur’ Read Organizer, Operator, Risk-taker

A Walk With Purpose:
Memoir of a Bioentrepreneur
Author: Michael D. Becker
Publisher: Self-published, Lexington, KY, 2017                                                                     

If Michael D. Becker can be characterized at all, I would say it is his disregard for any felt need of security in his life, much to his wife’s chagrin at times. The reason being that he learned early to walk with purpose – a task that has no need of, or capacity for, safety.
I read this book without utilizing my usual approach – that of highlighting every key thought so that I could write about it afterwards. I did so partly because one page just flows into the other and chapters seem to do the same. It is a fast read.

Becker starts his ‘memoir’ (very appropriate word) with his discovery of a lump on the right side of his neck. We are then introduced to several medical specialists that saw him and treated him, some of them individuals he had met through other contacts made during his very diverse career.
As the treatment for his diagnosed cancer began, Becker “started to ponder (his) own existence and how it might very well be coming to an end in a relatively short period of time.”  I have always been fascinated with the way different people face death. Becker’s approach was, like that of each of us, unique.  He reflects on the many near-death and reckless experiences he had made it through to get to this point, and shares them.  His experience with the drug LSD was both informative and entertaining.
Early in life he had to face his parents’ divorce and ultimately became a difficult teenager, moving out of his mom’s house and dropping out of school. On the positive side, he had discovered his love for computer programming and ended up working for the same investment firm his father and before him, his grandfather, worked, starting at the bottom. From there he never looked back, moving from investment advisor to financial communications guru, to chief executive officer of a biotechnology company. And more recently, a photographer with a most interesting website and several photo-publishing accomplishments. But the journey had its up and downs. His integrity faced challenges, as did his trust in people. And then of course, came his own experience with cancer.
Becker has a unique way of covering all aspects of his life – his challenges with his daughter due to her health, his wife’s need for him to have a regular paycheck yet her unfailing faith in him and support for him, his desire to help others, to enjoy adventure and nature, and so much more. Each reader can identify with him in more than way.
But one also learns a lot from reading the book. For me, it was gaining so much insight into how several types of organisms work in our world: investment firms; PR firms; biotechnology firms, etc.  And I was amazed by how many times the author was willing to start something new, long into his career – a growing trend these days.
Ultimately, Becker writes of his hope to have contributed to the world through his career. He writes of “only one true regret in life” and of having “made peace with that and any other demons.”  And in many ways, that makes his story, though unique to him, “also universal and [one that] will resonate, hopefully, for many people fighting against cancer and other diseases.”  And I would add, one that will challenge even those of us not diagnosed with anything at this point in life, to reflect on our own contribution to society, our legacy for our family, our fears of death, our regrets in life, and more importantly on how to address each of these to the point where we can find peace and meaning in living the time we have left.
A recommended read for the high-flyer business person who seeks balance in life while trying to understand life (and death) beyond the C-Suite.

·      Ken B. Godevenos, President, Accord Resolutions Services Inc., Toronto, Ontario, June 11, 2017. www.accordconsulting.com

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