(A reading recommendation from BDX Access member Michael Borda, Ph.D.)
The Map that Changed the World by Simon Winchester, is the story of English Geologist William Smith; the creator of the – truly disruptive – first national-scale geological map and the development of the science of modern geology. I did not select this book for innovation or entrepreneurship content (mainly I am a geologist with a love of science history), but I found it to be incredibly insightful about the trials and tribulations of a person who was ahead of their time and of the dogma of their day.
Smith was making observations about the nature of rocks and soils, and ultimately the realization of the age of the Earth itself, all within the intellectual framework of his time (i.e., that the Earth was approximately 6,000 year old based on biblical context). For me, the book speaks to the challenges that anyone who is working at the cutting-edge of knowledge may face – including mistrust, ridicule, and ostracism. Ultimately though, Smith’s incredible observations have been recognized and rightly celebrated.
The message: Being an innovator is hard. It’s uncomfortable, and potentially unappreciated in one’s time; however, the impact can be extraordinary and can truly change the world.
Michael Borda, Ph.D. is a strategist, implementer, change agent, & connector. At the interface between Penn and the region, Dr. Borda seeks to create deep connections into the PHL entrepreneurial ecosystem. Currently the Director of Strategic Initiatives in Penn’s Office of the Vice Provost for Research, Borda is maximizing the impact of Penn’s investment in innovation at Pennovation Works and expanding Penn’s footprint in MedTech.