Dr. Fred Poordad is one of the world's leading physicians in liver care. When he's not mentoring and teaching medical students, residents and gastroenterology fellows or managing liver transplant patient care, he's a scientific advisory board member, peer reviewer, and researcher -- his work has appeared in over three-hundred publications. According to the US News and World Report, he's in the top 1% of physicians in his field which has landed him gigs on Dr. Phil and multiple media spotlights. (He's also a race car driver, but that's a story for another day.)
Spending his early childhood in Texas, his family moved to another oil capital (his father designed oil and gas pipelines), Calgary, Alberta at age 13, where he completed high school and went on to receive his MD from the University of Alberta in 1990. He accomplished his post-graduate medical field work through a cross-country tour of prestige, doing his Internal Medicine Residency at Northeastern Ohio College of Medicine, his Gastroenterology Fellowship at the University of South Carolina, and his Hepatology/Liver Transplantation Fellowship at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine -- all by the time he was 32.
Fast forward to present day, Poordad can be found at the Texas Liver Institute, a venture he co-founded with his partner, Eric Lawitz, and an unequalled force in liver research and treatment. They have a professional affiliation agreement with University of Texas Health, San Antonio and University Hospital Systems, where Dr. Poordad is the Chief of Hepatology. These three entities in partnership also created the Texas Liver Tumor Center, an idea that was both conceptualized and realized by Poordad and his team in order to streamline the care process for patients and their families.
Under one roof, and in one day, Texas Liver Tumor Center patients are evaluated by a comprehensive team including hepatology,hepatobiliary surgery, interventional radiology, social services, and a registered dietician. So, instead of seeing several consultants spread over months, a patient leaves with a care plan in-hand -- an efficient and humane system to deliver care to cancer victims.
It's hard to imagine a career more resoundingly successful than that of Fred Poordad's. So, how did he do it?
"I had no plan B, so I'm glad it worked out," he says.
While "worked out" is an understatement, having no backup plan is a philosophy that's served him well, and one that has been echoed throughout history.
Perhaps the most infamous such story takes us back to 1519 when Captain Hernán Cortés, the Spanish colonizer who headed the expedition leading to the fall of the Aztec Empire, ordered his men to burn his ships upon arrival in Mexico. Essentially, Cortés eliminated the option of retreat -- he burned his plan B.
The notion that resounding success is often foiled by fear, leading inspired entrepreneurs to find comfort and complacency in their nine-to-five jobs, is not novel but is nonetheless worth repeating. If you plan to fail in business, it's easy to do so.
So, the question you have to ask yourself is: what ships do you have to burn to find success in your passion?