Select Team Members Who Are “Givers,” Life Sciences Hub Attendees Told


Photo: Fairleigh Dickinson entrepreneurship professor Ethne Swartz Photo Credit: Mark Annett

Fairleigh Dickinson entrepreneurship professor Ethne Swartz | Mark Annett

At the Launch NJ Life Sciences Hub meeting on Dec. 8, a panel discussion that was meant to be about how to seek advice and compensate advisers turned into an even more valuable discussion.

The panelists concurred: What makes people successful in their professional and startup lives is “not being a jerk!”

Launch NJ Life Sciences Hub meetings take  place monthly at Kean University. The group aims to help life science entrepreneurs get their ventures off the ground.

The panel was moderated by Sam Kongsamut, one of the organizers of LaunchNJ Life Science. Among the panelists was  Caroline Hoedemaker, of VALUEDsolutions and tTAp, a workshop-based medical-technology accelerator focused on team formation.

The other panelists were Ethne Swartz, an associate professor of entrepreneurship at Fairleigh Dickinson University, whose research is mainly on “women who negotiate term sheets for investment into growth companies”; and Robert Hutchins, a partner at WithumSmith+Brown, an audit, tax and business consulting firm. Hutchens is also serial entrepreneur, and is currently chairman of the board of two medical-device companies, BioFortis and IntelliSanté.

The discussion started with Hoedemaker, who talked about the need to find the right people, and the fact that it is the right mix of people that leads to success.

Photo: Caroline Hoedemaker, of VALUEDsolutions and tTAp Photo Credit: Mark Annett

Caroline Hoedemaker, of VALUEDsolutions and tTAp | Mark Annett

She was followed by Dr. Swartz, who presented findings based on her research and that of Dr. Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. She said that, aside from hard work, talent and luck, what really determines success is whether or not someone is a “giver” rather than a “taker” (or even a quid pro quo “matcher”). 

Hutchins spoke next, noting that he puts what Swartz and Hoedemaker had just been discussing into practice in the startups he founds, through a hiring policy of “No Jerks!”

Photo: Robert Hutchins, partner at WithumSmith+Brown Photo Credit: Mark Annett

Robert Hutchins, partner at WithumSmith+Brown | Mark Annett

According to Swartz, a “giver” is someone with a sense of altruism who wants to make the cake bigger for everybody, and who is always trying to pay it forward. The reason givers are successful is that human beings are essentially hardwired to sense authenticity. The givers are authentic human beings and the takers are not, she said.

Hoedemaker responded that givers are exactly the type of people she seeks as team members for the companies she brings into her accelerator.

Hutchins said that he hires givers for his startups, and when he finds the right people, he rewards them with founder’s shares. He explained that creating a medical device can take years, so he gives his employees founder’s shares because wants them to have a sense of ownership, rather than a sense of  being only employees. However, the reason he hires givers is that “we are going to be working together for a long time,” and nobody wants to work with a jerk.

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