Catapult with Punit Dhillon

Punit Dhillon is the chairman and CEO of Sky Bioscience. He’s an entrepreneur, keen athlete, an author of the book, Catapult: How to Think Like a Corporate Athlete to Strengthen Your Resilience. Learn about how Punit’s athletic approach to live has helped catapult his business including:

  • Growing up as an athlete he noticed the parallels in corporate life
  • The components of a corporate athlete
  • What mindset has to do with growth as a leader
  • How to live by true accountability and be purpose driven.

The Leadership Hacker News

Steve Rush: It’s easy to get caught up in the great resignation craze of quitting. Its human nature that makes us see where millions of people are doing something we follow along with that herd mentality that is millions of years old, and it’s quite understandable after almost two years of enduring a pandemic and seeing loved ones, get sick and pass away. It changes our outlook on life. And that realization that life is actually quite short. We’re all going to go through a collective thinking what we should do with the rest of our lives, finding a new job with purpose. Meaning more money is alluring, especially when you’re stuck in a going nowhere role with a boss who micromanages your every move. Here’s the leadership hack.

Before you follow the crowd and make the big leap of going after a new shiny job, take the time to think deeply about why you’re doing this in the first place. There’s an overwhelming narrative when it comes to searching for a new job and its deep within you, the default is it’s usually your boss and often is by the way. And you often will be giving yourself some internal dialogue that it sounds like it’s their fault. You’ve got to move on. You’ve got to get away. Sometimes this is the case, but actually it could be you. It’s really convenient to blame everyone else, but there may be other issues involved as well. So consider this. If you’re just running away from a problem, when you secure a new role, will a problem repeat itself? Will you be happy? Will you still feel dissatisfied? Most of us are too self-critical. We dwell with that short come are, our inner coach gives us negative thoughts that play around in our heads. And while we’re all grown up adults, we still carry around the burden of past trauma, failures, insecurities.

And if we’re fortunate enough for learnings, there is the desperate hope that by quitting we’ll magically become a new and different person. And with a new job, everything will fall neatly into place. The new environment will be our cure and make us happy. So while it may be an answer, it may not be. Switching jobs may not make the difference at all. You might end up just as miserable and thinking and behaving the same way. It’s similar to when you travel or you move. That initial feeling of euphoria being in a new world or a new house can be really alluring and great, as time goes by it becomes normal. And why? We are the same person. As time goes by you realize the same person with the same challenges is now just in a different location.

So my hat to you is think before you make that great resignation greater, because your opportunity could be just under your nose if you looked hard enough for it. We love sharing stories that you bring to our attention, so please keep doing so. That’s been The Leadership Hacker News, let’s get into the show.

Start of Podcast

Steve Rush: Joining me today is Punit Dhillon. He’s the chairman and CEO of Sky Bioscience. He’s an entrepreneur, keen athlete, an author of the book, Catapult: How to Think Like a Corporate Athlete to Strengthen Your Resilience. Punit, welcome to The Leadership Hacker Podcast.

Punit Dhillon: Thank you so much for having me, Steve, it’s a pleasure

Steve Rush: Looking forward to getting into your story and was particularly inspired about the stories that you shared when we first met. So perhaps for those that have not been familiar with your work or your company, just give us a little bit of your back story?

Punit Dhillon: Yeah, basically been an athlete growing up, but then as of the last 20 years been focused on the life science space. So happy and very lucky to be regarded as an entrepreneur in that area in terms of what the different work that we’ve done. I’ve been developing a couple different technologies in my last 20 years. My most recent company that I was involved with was working on a cancer immunotherapy drug and presently we’re working on a novel class of molecules for an ophthalmology application or various ophthalmology applications. So I think by working in the life science industry, it’s been very rewarding and I’ve had a wonderful set of teams that have been a part of and lucky to be continuing to work with some of them over the last two decades. So it’s been quite a pleasure.

Steve Rush: Yeah, so if we peel that back a little bit. There are a couple of things in your early life that set you on your journey, if you like into becoming an athlete and indeed how that then transferred into your ways of working at business. Tell us a little bit about that?

Punit Dhillon: Yeah, so the discipline of growing up as an athlete really has stuck with me and it care into my professional career. And that’s what I kind of have written about, but I started as a competitive swimmer and then moved into rowing at university. And then after that, I had basically an opportunity to move to the U.S. where I started in life science industry. Actually didn’t do anything competitive at that point. I was still working out regularly, but then I became pretty comfortable as a runner and sort of participating in different like half marathons and marathons. And in my early thirties, or like, as I was turning 30, I kind of had a bucket list thing that I wanted to accomplish.

And there was doing an Ironman. And I basically got hooked on triathlon. So I’ve been competing in triathlons over the last 10 years on and off. And I still enjoy endurance sports. So essentially that has been a very interesting parallel for me. That relates really well to the professional work. We were talking about this earlier, leaning into what it takes to complete an ironman or any triathlon for that matter, or even just endurance training itself. There has a real connection in terms of the component of drive. There is mental aptitude involved. I think it’s really helped me in terms of being able to process a lot and it’s really shaped my approach to life and the approach I take into work and in a border sense.

Steve Rush: And we’re going to dive into this and we’re going to have a look at some of those parallels in a little while, but for again, those who have not bumped into Sky Bioscience. Tell us a little bit about the current areas of work and how that’s evolving for you?

Punit Dhillon: Yeah, it’s very exciting. I had the opportunity of seeing what evolved in the cancer immunotherapy space. I started my last company in 2010. Well actually it was formed in 2011, but kind the business plan was being written in 2010. And when I began that company there was only one kind of new drug launched in the current era of cancer immunotherapy. So over the last decade really saw what has transpired in terms of anyone that is diagnosed with cancer. They have a lot more options. There is a lot of success in terms of these immunotherapies being highly personalized to have that response that patients are looking for. In the current company I’m working in. It earlier stage, but it’s similarly tackling a very interesting opportunity where the endocannabinoid system, which is a network of receptors is linked to a whole range of different diseases from kind of neurological disorders to central nervous system disorders.

And then there’s also, you know, this link to the ophthalmology applications. So we’ve tried to kind of narrow in the field here, see if we can change the biology in the eye by utilizing this unique mechanism that’s at play with these different receptors. And we’re developing our initial drug for glaucoma. And what we’ve been able to demonstrate to date is that it’s showing a really good activity biologically. And were about to start our first clinical trial. So this now is about recapitulating the data that we’ve seen to date in animals, in humans. And we were quite excited about that. That I think for the entire industry in terms of the area that we’re in, really lays the bedrock for a lot more opportunity in terms of utilizing this side of human biology.

Steve Rush: It’s such a fascinating subject, as you’re talking it through, I can see that actually what you’re doing is really groundbreaking. It’s fundamentally shifting the outcomes that people can expect to receive, right?

Punit Dhillon: Absolutely, and that’s the fascinating thing about life sciences. I mean, there’s one frustrating side of it that it takes a long time to develop drugs, and there’s quite a process. It’s not like you, you know, you come up with an application and all of a sudden you utilize. Technology companies are notorious for being able to demonstrate kind of proof of concept to something you’re holding in your hand relatively quickly. In life sciences there’s definitely a longer lead time. However, there’s certain science, you know, that’s underway today that is truly groundbreaking and necessary. You know, unfortunately what’s happening in ophthalmology applications, patients develop tolerance to some of the existing drugs, they become ineffective. So there is a need for having disease management or you know, change to be available for these patients or options to be available for these patients. So this is what I think we accomplish with the technology that we’re developing right now. And then on the business side of the equation, it’s also exciting because Big Pharma who will ultimately be where, you know, we will try to exit the last company I was involved with. We had an opportunity to partner with Merck, similarly Big Pharma has the need to have new intellectual property and new drugs.

Steve Rush: As a serial entrepreneur in such a really niche area of business, how do you just keep innovating? Where did these ideas come from?

Punit Dhillon: So there’s a huge amount of patience from the teams that we’re working with. I think the ideas are always there. There’s so much inspiration around us, right. In my particular case, I feel like I have this very good creative bug about me, but then it’s also balancing that with the reality check, you know, you have the important people around you that can make it pragmatic in terms of the way that things can be developed. So in life sciences, there’s no sort shortage. I think of similar types of creativity and opportunity that we can explore. It’s just trying to be pragmatic about the resources in order to deploy it. I’ve been in the industry now for 20 years, I actually started on the healthcare fund side.

I worked on a venture capital fund and then moved into the operational side and been in operational roles for the last 20 years. But the great thing we’re seeing today, I mean, compared to 10 years ago, is the intersection of these different industries now. And I even touch on this in Catapult. My last chapter is called like Mavericks and, and it’s really a call to action, there’s very important themes that are still underway today, macro level. You can take that and apply that in any industry. I see intersections between AI and life science happening right in front of us in terms of opportunities we’re looking at. We see opportunities of deep learning, you know, being applied on being able to rapidly scale up drugs.

You look at what happened with the COVID 19 vaccines, you know, they were able to see sequence the virus and then come up with several solutions and rapidly move them through development. And you saw entire industries kind of come together in order to make it happen from the manufacturing that’s necessary to the science, to the scale up, to the distribution. You know, everyone was talking about, you know, taking five years before you can get a vaccine and we saw it unfold in front of us within a year. That’s quite impressive.

Steve Rush: I would imagine that also gives you the permission as an organization to think that you can scale quicker than you may have done in the past. So having had that experience around you, it unlocks different thinking as well, doesn’t it?

Punit Dhillon: Absolutely, yeah. I benefited from coming from the corporate finance side and it’s a very regulated industry, life sciences, but understanding operations, understanding kind of the governance side, and then these international components, business building, licensing, there’s so many moving parts. So I’ve really enjoyed as much as there’s a component of life sciences that sometimes sounds like it’s like, oh, it moves like molasses, you’re actually running super-fast. It may not always seem fast on the outside looking in but inside it’s been amazing to see that growth. And there’s always an inflection in required in early stage companies, early stage industries. And we’re in that right now. I mean, I’m working in an area that is truly kind of a novel area. There’s not many companies in this space. There’s a limited amount of data, but there’s an impressive set of data as well. And there’s been a few companies that have already proven, you know, how this is an effective development space. So, I expect there to be like any industry, like there’s going to be literally a hockey stick style growth that happens eventually once you prove that efficacy.

Steve Rush: Yeah, fascinating stuff I will watch with absolute closeness.

Punit Dhillon: Thank you.

Steve Rush: You wrote the book Catapult, which really you talk around is that parallels earlier from your training in resilience as an athlete and the application at work, what was the moment that you thought, right. I’ve got something here that I could share with others. I’m going to write it down?

Punit Dhillon: Well, didn’t happen until after I wrote, like what a hundred thousand words

Steve Rush: For the case, right?

Punit Dhillon: I didn’t originally plan to share this outside. This was a function of what happened. What we all went through in 2020, right? The pandemic, you know, forced us to be in indoors and slow down and take stock of kind of our lives, right? So there was a definitely a component of me having that opportunity. And then the other side of it, I was also hitting a personal milestone. I’ve always wanted to kind of sit down and write down what I believe in, in terms of my own principles of what have I learned over the last 20 years and what would I have told myself if I had the opportunity, tell myself 20 years earlier, what, you know, what would be the way to do it?

I talk about this sometimes with my wife and in the last 10 years, I’ve been living in San Diego. I’ve only appreciated the lifestyle in San Diego brings, really in the last 5 to 10 years. And maybe it’s partially because as the kids are older and so forth, but the other aspect of it, reality has been that, you know, I didn’t take advantage of that beautiful lifestyle that Southern California brings in the early part of my career. I was very focused on working hard, you know, working those long hours and putting in that time. And as you get to a certain, you know, stage in your life, you’re able to kind of look past a lot of those type of things and be a bit more reflective of how to be not only efficient, but at the same time more purpose driven in terms of how these other aspects impact our lives. So Catapult was an opportunity to do that. In one respect, I feel very blessed with the opportunities of working with several different people. Having the chance of building these different companies and the technologies, and truly it’s been rewarding because you’re seeing, you know, you’re seeing that these drugs actually save people’s lives. I have to pinch myself in terms of the opportunities that we had. So that was an opportunity in a period where I was just really focused on saying, well, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to have that same definition of success in the next phase of my life. You know, there’s a certain trajectory that comes with going into your forties.

Steve Rush: Right.

Punit Dhillon: A different trajectory afterwards and it’s nothing to do with age. There’s an author, David Brooks, he kind of talks about it in two mountains. In terms of the first mountain of your life. It’s basically a checklist, right? You have to finish your school and you maybe do higher degree. And then you established your career and then you want to start a family and stabilize your life with the things that are necessary, the food, shelter type of equation. Like the basic needs, Maslow’s hierarchy.

Steve Rush: Right.

Punit Dhillon: And then once those things are in place, then you’re really moving on to your second mountain and your second mountain ends up being a lot more about self-fulfillment. And that’s the thing I think that I was wrestling with as an individual. I believe I’ve had a wonderful opportunity in this first segment of my life, but how do I define that same success going forward for myself and you know, whatever quote unquote, what does that trajectory look like? It may not mean that it’s like, you know, it’s not the same definitions that were very prescriptive, I guess, in the first 20 years.

Steve Rush: Yeah, I like it. And also, I guess, whilst it’s not about age.

Punit Dhillon: Yeah.

Steve Rush: It is definitely about experience though, isn’t it? So, you know, some people get over that first mountain really quick.

Punit Dhillon: Yeah.

Steve Rush: Some take much longer to get over it, but I think all of us can recognize that at some point we go, okay, where is this all heading? And in order for us to really tap into that, that’s where that corporate athlete can really help us. So you talk about this corporate athlete with having some core foundations, some themes behaviors that are associated with them. I wonder if you to share those with us?

Punit Dhillon: So as a corporate athlete, it’s really this aspect that strengthening resilience can help you attain the success that you want to achieve. So I believe there’s so many similarities in behavior and training in approach that both the athlete and call it a corporate athlete face to really realize their dream and then lead to whatever breakthrough or, you know, sometimes it’s an innovative breakthrough, sometimes it’s just a personal breakthrough and that’s really the underlying premise of the book. And I feel I use this word blessed a lot, but I have to kind of state it because I wouldn’t take kind of re redefine anything or redesign any component of what my experience has been. I was raised in India. I grew up in, in East Vancouver in Canada, and then had an opportunity to move to the U.S., to work in a career and had the opportunity to also work with companies that not only were incredibly successful, but they also had their own challenges along the way.

Probably been at the brink of like insolvency. Working in startups half a dozen times in my career, which is interesting in itself. So all of those aspects I think have a definition of resilience. I believe that I’m kind of wired to go through the hard stuff in order to experience the positives and the benefit out of it. I don’t know how often your wife’s making you train for the iron man, but, you know, when you go about training, you know, like a bike a bike session. You usually want to work that hill and do what’s required to get up a steep mountain climb or whatever. And then the reward is usually coming down fast or it’s the fun part of the session. So I enjoy that climb because I like enjoying the satisfaction of the feeling on the other side of it.

Steve Rush: That’s interesting.

Punit Dhillon: And a lot of people just don’t take enough stock or notice of that important part of that climb.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Punit Dhillon: In anything.

Steve Rush: She absolutely loves climbing hills but I absolutely hate it and we have different perspectives of it. So, you know, she gets this real rush.

Punit Dhillon: Yeah, and we all hate it.

Steve Rush: Yeah, she gets this rush of energy. It gets her up there. I do the opposite. I have the rush of energy of, I got to hold it in and get to the top of the climb. And then boy, I can fly down the hill, the other side.

Punit Dhillon: Yeah.

Steve Rush: And therefore mindset has got a massive part to play in this too, isn’t it?

Punit Dhillon: A hundred percent.

Steve Rush: Because people will come from it from different perspectives.

Punit Dylan: That’s the thing. Whenever anybody gives me a challenge, I’m in the happy place. Like that is something that I’ve lucked out in terms of being able to really take advantage of seeing these difficult situations and having a half glass, half empty type of attitude about anything. So it’s not always pretty, but I do really well in that situation. And partially what I do well in is visualizing what that outcome looks like on the other end.

Steve Rush: Right.

Punit Dhillon: I already am picturing what the success looks like at the other end of that. And I try to kind of recapitulate that to the best of my ability on the completion. So yeah, this book was about encapsulating, a lot of that. And I believe as an athletes, they go through a lot of that. They go through visualization techniques, they go through a lot of rigorous training. They go through a lot of pain in order to reap the rewards and have the discipline then to compete at the world stage. So I haven’t had the same, you know, same level of success being able to compete at the world stage, but I’ve also benefited from training at a pretty elite level throughout my career. So I’ve tried to apply those things into day to day in terms of even working with my team.

Steve Rush: So if you think of the component parts of being a corporate athlete, you’ve got things like mental aptitude, holding yourself accountable to the things you commit to, making sure that you’ve got a real strong regime of training that is not just regular training, but its endurance, which means it gets stronger and deeper. And then of course you have this focus drive element that you call out in your book. Of those kind of four things, is there one that’s more important than the other, or do you think they’re all interrelated?

Punit Dhillon: I believe they’re all interrelated and each one of them stands, you know, capable of being on its own. You just have to recognize that there are a big part of it. I mean, I’ve looked at this trapezium situation many ways, and I purposely designed it in a way that it has an openness to it. So there’s no closure to it. So a big part of it is the fact that, by defining your purpose or defining you’re, like kind of understanding of what’s that engine in that’s in inside of you, and what’s leading you that is a big part of the source of motivation and the source of determination. So if we were to prioritize, that is a very important part of it. The other components like accountability, the physical capacity, the emotional intelligence and the mental capacity, those are all helping really support that and really achieve that impact that you’re looking for.

Now that this book has had a bit of time to breathe, even kind of reflecting on it further is like, is my message coming across too harsh in terms of, does everyone have to make some sort of significant impact or dent on the planet? I don’t think that has to be the case. It has to be kind of your own personal definition of what that dent is. So sometimes people get lost and trying to make a connection with whatever their purpose has to be something that’s, you know, too lofty or not communicating enough to themselves in terms of what is maybe right in front of them. I really am challenging people to go and spend the time to understand your purpose and define what that means for yourself. And don’t try to compare yourself to, you know, Oprah Winfrey’s purpose or whoever else, you know, everyone has a different definition of that. And in order to help you achieve second mountain, it’s the underlying, you know, these underlying components.

Punit Dhillon: I wonder how many people who don’t end up feeling like they’ve had this impact on life, get stuck because they perceive the journey to be too big. The second mountain is too big. Rather than actually looking at themselves internally versus looking at external events happening around them.

Steve Rush: Yeah, absolutely. That’s why I think it’s a really important question you asked about what are these things or most important because everyone has to take a very holistic approach and that why this joy component that’s emphasized in this book is another important lens to that equation. This proverbial balance in life doesn’t exist for anyone. Most often we’re working towards our professional goals and we’re working towards our personal goals and we’re working towards our individual goals. So finding joy in work, in yourself and in life is part of the necessary thing that helps you continue to have that nuclear engine inside of you as well, that keeps spinning so that you have that source of motivation. Joy is a hundred percent linked, I believe, to giving somebody that intrinsic motivation to actually do what they ultimately want to do.

Steve Rush: I like that. There’s so many people you bump into who hate getting up in the morning, going to work.

Punit Dhillon: Yeah.

Steve Rush: They go around in these routines, they get stuck almost. And it’s because they can’t find joy, because joy is emotionally and locks, everything else, right?

Punit Dhillon: Yeah, and I hate like when people get stuck, trying to define what other people’s routines and other people’s definitions for themselves. I guess the health industry does this really well. Everyone’s always hawking the next plan and whatever the next diet regime or, you know, or workout regime or whatever. So people try to implement their model onto someone else. And I tried to avoid this in this book because I was trying to be very clear that these are my principles that I believe that help. And what it is? It’s giving you a framework, but please spend the time to identify your own set of principles that work for you. And that this takes time and effort, you know, how often are people sitting down and writing down what their principles are.

But the point that you raise is really important. We don’t have to follow, you know, anyone else’s routine, if it brings you joy to wake up at nine o’clock and start your day with, you know, a quant rather than starting your day with a, you know, 30 minute run, then I don’t see anything wrong with that. You got to really navigate for yourself what it may means to get to wherever you’re going in terms of your motivation, of course, underlying that there are still things like you have to take good care of your health, and you have to take good care of your mental health and being continuing to be accountable to yourself to be a high performer. But the definition of high performance is different for everyone. And it doesn’t need to be like what first images that come to mind when we say the words high performing. I think that’s what’s unfortunately, you know, gets very frustrating for people and then people lose that joy and that energy that is pretty intrinsic in everyone.

Steve Rush: Yeah, it’s a hundred percent. And for anybody listening to this now who are thinking, I can never run an ironman, or I never perform in an ironman or run a marathon or take up a new sport. That is absolutely just a mindset. Now, respectfully, there are also some physical things that might be going on around them, but it doesn’t have to equally be an ironman. It could just be a personal best in something. It could be starting something new, it could be leading a different team, getting different results. So it’s absolutely about personalizing some of those principles and behaviors. Isn’t it?

Punit Dylan: Absolutely, 100%. I think that philosophy of that mindset is where we all need to continue to focus on. I’m very happy that, you know, like my nine year old, you talk to her any day and she’ll always quote somewhere along the line about having a growth mindset. And I don’t know where she picked it up, obviously she’s got some strong influences around her, but it reminds me to always also have that growth mindset.

Steve Rush: It does, yeah.

Punit Dhillon: We sometimes get caught up with all of the other noise in our lives and we forget the simple things like that. And sometimes just starting something different, maybe try your routine different or work with your team differently.

Steve Rush: So our folks listen to this will be familiar that this is where we start to hack into your leadership brain, start to get all of those experiences and shortlist them into your top three leadership hacks. What would they be?

Punit Dhillon: My top three leadership hacks? Okay. Well, I definitely use the lists. I talk about that. So that is a big part of my daily routine is checklist. So I’m a big list person. I use a top three, I use a longer list of 10 things, but every day there’s three things that have to get done and it’s regarded as a top three, otherwise, you know, I do use lists often. Number two has been really being myself. I find that that’s a constant reminder in terms of everyone that you’re around is just to be yourself. And that’s big part of the first part of this book is called true accountability and kind of try to define a formula around that. And the third has been try to enjoy Friday nights.

As long as I can think, you know, I try to have a lime margarita or something like that, or, you know, just remind myself that there’s you know, a lot to be thankful for, you have to find joy and sometimes really make room for it. In the book, I talk about different routines so people can, kind of dive into that, but sometimes it’s a Sunday on Sunday nights and other times margarita on Friday nights.

Steve Rush: Yeah, and some reward too.

Punit Dhillon: Oh, yeah, right.

Steve Rush: For all of the disciplines and that you apply in your life and work, we all still need that reward don’t we?

Punit Dhillon: Yeah, and by the way, there’s the obvious ones that I have to wake up in the morning and start my day with working out. So I guess one of the biggest leadership hacks that I can emphasize is that I really take pride in owning the morning. So if you get the morning, right, it really helps you set yourself up for success the rest of the day. So by really taking the time to own that morning and on a organize yourself, and that means, you know, starting the time that allows you to do that, it really helps you be successful throughout the day without being feeling flustered the rest of the time.

Steve Rush: Great advice. Next part of the show, we call it Hack to Attack. So this is typically where something hasn’t worked out well, but as a result, we’ve learned from it, and it’s now a force of good in what we do. So what would be your Hack to Attack?

Punit Dhillon: Lack of planning. There’s definitely been a couple situations in my career where not having a plan has basically been, like a plan to fail. When we’re developing different drugs. And there’s quite an extent a process involved and most often clinical trials is kind of your measurement point along the way. So there’s different stage gate decisions that lead to a clinical trial, but once a clinical trial is underway. I think many people get kind of caught up, for different companies have get caught up with just getting to the on inflection point and not properly planning for the success of ensuring that the trial can go smoothly. Sometimes that’s linked to enrollment and sometimes it’s linked to the appropriate resources. And I’ve been through a situation where both of those were not properly sought after, in terms of the resources and the bandwidth that was required in order for us to really succeed in the time that was given.

So what it ended up leading to was over budget, not being able to complete the trial and the amount of time that we’ve had had allocated. And we didn’t get to our end goal in time, a very basic example, but it’s a, very important one in our industry.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Punit Dhillon: Because I think sometimes entrepreneurs or just teams can get caught up with just feeling like, okay, we just got to get there. And once we start that it’ll happen, but it’s not anything like that. You’re always having to think way past that. Talk about this, about thinking past the finish line. This is a very important takeaway for this, is that in, in anything that you’re doing, sometimes your mind is only set on achieving that goal that you had set and it could be lofty or important or whatever it is, but it’s most often getting to that is usually not the problem it’s actually following through and finishing whatever, you know, is required after that. And so thinking past the finish line is a critical one. And in my case in that clinical trial, we ended up getting to the end result, but it wasn’t pretty in terms of getting there. We almost ran out money as a company. It took too long. The number of patients that we had to enroll in the study had to get larger. And then we had to go to more sites around the world. And a lot of those things could have been avoided earlier on. 

Steve Rush: It’s an old cliché, but the whole failed to plan, plan to fail philosophy, isn’t it? Exactly right.

Punit Dhillon: Yeah.

Steve Rush: So last part of the show we get to give you a chance to do try and travel, bump back into yourself at 21 and give yourself some advice. What would it be?

Punit Dhillon:  I think my advice to myself, would’ve been to take more time soaking it in. In terms of the different experiences. Oftentimes we work with some really wonderful people and we fail to kind of recognize that in the moment. And I think each one of the interactions that we have in our careers is super critical in terms of building those experiences. So just enjoying those moments and treating every single interaction. Sometimes it’s with your boss, sometimes it’s with your team as great opportunities for learning. That would be my big takeaway and part of that, I wish I spent a bit more time writing about those experiences sometimes like you’re so in the midst of doing these transactions, like I pulled All-nighters and I’ve done these complex deals, raising capital for companies and licensing deals and we’re talking like mega million deals. And I wish that I had taken the time to kind of journal around some of those experiences because.

Steve Rush: Yeah, it would be another couple of books written.

Punit Dhillon: It’s not even about that, but just in terms of appreciating, like what you get out of those things.

Steve Rush: Exactly.

Punit Dhillon: You’re dealing with all of these complex, you know, legal terms and all of these things that are great learning experiences, but it’s all in our head now. Like, you know, I can recall it vividly in terms of the pain points that we’ve experienced in those things. But I just wish that I had taken more time to really appreciate those moments because they went very rapidly.

Steve Rush: And that is thinking past the finish line, right?

Punit Dhillon: Yeah. What I’ve learned from my boss is a responsibility that I expect, like my team to be able to share with their teams and so forth. So I think it’s like a cycle that continues to evolve, but it’s an important one because that’s how innovation happens.

Steve Rush: It certainly does. It certainly does. So for folks, listen to this, who’d like to get a copy of Catapult. Would love to learn more about you, the work that Sky Bioscience are doing, where’s the best place for us to send them?

Punit Dhillon: Yeah, you can send them to my website and its and there are several tabs on the website that can lead you to the book as well as contacting me if you have any questions. I would be happy to respond.

Steve Rush: Brilliant. And we’ll make sure they’re in the show notes as well.

Punit Dhillon: Thank you so much, Steve.

Steve Rush: So thanks for ever so much for being on the show, Punit, and thank you for sharing some stories and we very much look forward to having you a part of our network.

Punit Dhillon: Thank you so much, Steve.


Steve Rush: I genuinely want to say heartfelt thanks for taking time out of your day to listen in too. We do this in the service of helping others, and spreading the word of leadership. Without you listening in, there would be no show. So please subscribe now if you have not done so already. Share this podcast with your communities, network, and help us develop a community and a tribe of leadership hackers.

Finally, if you would like me to work with your senior team, your leadership community, keynote an event, or you would like to sponsor an episode. Please connect with us, by our social media. And you can do that by following and liking our pages on Twitter and Facebook our handler there: @leadershiphacker. Instagram you can find us there @the_leadership_hacker and at YouTube, we are just Leadership Hacker, so that is me signing off. I am Steve Rush and I have been the leadership hacker.

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