Einstein Ntim: Entrepreneur
Graduate Studies Program 2015 Graduate
Ghana, United Kingdom
“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
Great leaders and entrepreneurs are not born overnight—our lives are ever-unfolding, a welding together of many pieces, twists, and turns.
In these journeys, the quality of adaptability stands out more in some than others—where regardless of circumstance, luck, or fate, it somehow all ties together in the end. And though we all have distinct chapters in our journeys, the way we choose to tell them varies greatly from one person to the next.
For Einstein Ntim, many of the foundational threads of who he is—once a professional rugby player in the UK, a published poet, a London School of Economics graduate now turned entrepreneur—would make a great story.
But those are merely things Einstein has collected along the way. They don’t paint the full picture; they don’t make Einstein, Einstein.
Einstein sees and experiences the deeper notes of life. He is insightful, peaceful yet pointed, and gives the sense that he’s lived many lives—and he has.
After sitting down with Einstein to learn about his own journey, I walked away with one lingering thought: in a world where one of our earliest qualities—adaptability—is in hot demand, what better characteristic could we hope for in our leaders of tomorrow?
But the journeys of entrepreneurs are unknown to many.
So what can adaptability look like?
Einstein was born and raised in Ghana as the only child of his two parents. His upbringing was comfortable, even plush in many ways. But at the age of eight, Einstein’s father was becoming involved in the political scene in Ghana against the ruling party of the last twenty years, which had been a military dictatorship. “It wasn't as severe as some of the other nations you hear about. Ghanaians are quite peaceful people,” Einstein told me.
As the next election neared and tension surrounding the events began to heighten, Einstein’s parents made the difficult choice to have him live in a remote location for two years, where his life become vastly different than it had been before—lacking electricity, running water, and most significantly, communication with his family and friends.
Einstein recalls, “This is where, I suppose, one of my journeys started.”
But Einstein has had many journeys.
He returned home two years later and moved to the UK with his family for a new start. Though Einstein initially began his time in the UK enrolled in one of the worst grade schools in the country, he made the most of things—earning himself a scholarship to a top private school for his final two years of school prior to University, and later graduated from the London School of Economics (LSE) with a degree in economics and social policy. During school Einstein focused on entering the financial industry and interned at Deutsche Bank, UBS, and State Street.
Upon graduating from LSE, he traveled to India for work and saw a level of disparity that jolted him.
“I grew up partially in Ghana, and I've seen difficulties, but I hadn't seen such disparate difficulty and inequality.”
While in India, Einstein also had his first glimpse of the inner workings of a social enterprise while working with a woman who had founded an ambulance service she had successfully grown from scratch—it was the beginning of an internal pivot toward making positive social impact a career directive.
It was later while working in industrial automation in China during the British Council Ambassadorship Program, that Einstein discovered Singularity University’s Graduate Studies Program, through a mentor and alumnus. After looking into GSP further, and inspired by Peter Diamandis, Einstein decided to apply.
During GSP, Einstein and his team launched Bloomer Technology, a product to address cardiovascular disease in women, which often goes undetected in the early stages, and currently causes more deaths in women than cancer, HIV and malaria combined.
The product integrates powerful sensors into clothing to give women greater insight into the day-to-day inner-workings of their bodies to provide insights at the early warning signals. The team ultimately wants to expand Bloomer to other diseases, like cancer, and take the technology to the people who most need it, which is no surprise after hearing Einstein talk about the global perspective he holds: the world needs to progress in totality, not just regionally.
“If we're only ever as strong as our weakest link, the fact that one of the weaker links is not in as strong a place means we're lacking as a species, as the human race altogether.”
Having completed GSP, Einstein found himself at another crossroads in his journey—deciding whether to begin the PhD program at Harvard University he was accepted to, or defer, and focus entirely on Bloomer Technology.
At the end of our conversation, Einstein reached into his bag and pulled out a copy of, A New Way, his published book of poetry, and read a poem titled, Can the Heart Think, which was inspired by a philosophy course Einstein took in China.
“The professor was telling us the heart is almost like a thinking organ, and that it's got a bigger force than even our brains.”
This beautiful take on the heart triggered Einstein to reflect on the times in his life when he too put his heart fully into whatever it was he was doing—rugby, work, academics, the army—and how doing so transformed his experience of that very thing.
So, what makes an adaptable leader? Is it experiencing many walks of life? Or is it this quality of full-hearted dedication to any pursuit at hand? I suggest—both.
Connect with me on twitter @DigitAlison or @SingularityHub, and tell me what inspires your work.
You can follow the full series here or learn more about Singularity University's Graduate Studies Program.
Photography shot by: Alison Berman
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