Book-Talk with FindMeCure CEO Maya Zlatanova: 'Nothing Can Replace the Lessons Learned by Mistake'
There are thousands and thousands of clinical trials worldwide, but how do you found out about them? And how do you discover which ones might be helpful and relevant in your particular case? How do you make this kind of decisions, when your life is on the line?
Maya Zlatanova is the CEO and co-founder at FindMeCure, a startup that helps you or your loved ones find clinical trials, and supports you through the application process to access treatments.
When Maya’s sister was diagnosed with an untreatable medical condition, she started looking for a clinical trial that might be helpful. She already had years of experience within the global clinical research industry and access to a network of industry experts, and it was still really hard work, one that required connections, knowledge (medical language!), and research.
As other patients found out what Maya was doing for her sister, they sought her help in identifying clinical trials for their needs. That’s how the idea ignited for Zlatanova and her future co-founders at FindMeCure, Miroslav Valchev and Ivaylo Yosifov: what if they built a Google for clinical trials?
FindMeCure started in 2015, as a platform to help those suffering from rare or difficult to treat medical conditions find clinical trials close to them, help them understand how they work and can be accessed.
We reached out to Maya and learned about her favorite books, reading habits, and current business challenges.
What books had the biggest impact on you? Perhaps changed the way you see things or dramatically changed your career path
Tai-Pan by James Clavell, My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor, Disciplined Entrepreneurship by Bill Aulet.
Was there a moment, specifically, when something you read in a book helped you? Can you tell us about it?
Many things but my recent moment was when reading Disciplined Entrepreneurship by Bill Aulet. I found out that the process of doing customer development for every company is more or less the same and it should be very well structured and aligned with the product development. The first couple of chapters speak a lot about choosing a beachhead market and making the decision about how to own it and what to do next.
What five books would you recommend to someone who’s just starting their career? Why?
It depends on what kind of career. If it is about entrepreneurship I doubt I can name 5 books that are so universal that can help everyone. The one book that I would recommend is Disciplined Entrepreneurship because it is very practical and you can easily follow 24 steps in order to start your business. Yet, nothing can replace the lessons learned by mistake so any book that can boost your motivation and show you how people go beyond their capabilities to achieve their dreams is good. I personally motivate myself by biographies like the one of Lincoln, Bill Gates, Elon Musk etc.
We’re interested in finding out more about your reading habits. How do you make time for reading? What format do you prefer? Do you take notes or have any other techniques to retain information?
It’s really hard to make time but like people say if something is a priority you make time for it. This is why I try to start my day with just reading of just a few pages or spending my time on the plane reading books and not watching movies, or even reading while walking (or most likely listening 🙂 ).
With the jobs market more and more unstable and insecure, lifelong education is key. At the same time, learning resources are becoming increasingly commoditized and know-how also becomes obsolete faster. What fundamental skills, those that will always matter, do you believe should be learned in schools?
The best skill you can develop is being curious about everything. Wanting to know different people, new countries, how the world works. I’ve heard something from one of the founders of Booking.com which I really love as a practice: Try to spend at least 10 mins a day learning something that is completely out of your scope or business. It works for me very well.
There’s such an abundance of information and sources available at our fingertips, that we risk becoming “digitally obese”, and even be paralyzed by the extra information. Is there any way that you try to handle information overwhelm or manage social media?
I don’t have time to serve that much so I can’t say I have best practices. I agree with the time it gets harder and harder to filter information. I guess being always open to different opinions before deciding what’s right or wrong.
What’s a habit that made the biggest difference in your day to day life?
Being outside of my comfort zone.
Last question: What business challenges currently keep you up at night?
Where to start? 🙂 How to be a good leader of my team. How to scale our business and so on and so on.
Links where you can follow Maya Zlatanova or find out more about her projects:
- Connect with Maya on LinkedIn | Twitter
- About FindMeCure in Forbes, 2018: ‘FindMeCure Does Exactly What It Says On The Tin‘
All books mentioned by Maya in our interview:
- Tai-Pan, by James Clavell
- My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey, by Jill Bolte Taylor
- Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps to a Successful Startup, by Bill Aulet
- Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, by Doris Kearns Goodwin
- Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, Ashlee Vance