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Fellows Friday is a weekly series on the TED Blog that profiles one TED Fellow each week. We have asked the Fellows to answer our question below to share their knowledge and advice with other social entrepreneurs, innovators, and changemakers who are coming up with big ideas that can change the world.
Through his organization, Baobab Health, Gerry Douglas has implemented a top-of-the-line electronic medical records system in Malawi. Many health centers in the developed world have not yet achieved what Baobab has. His secret weapons? Touch screen computers, super-high usability, and low power usage, just to name a few.
Sokunthea: There are many aspiring social entrepreneurs out there who are trying to take their passion and ideas to the next level. What is one piece of advice you would give to them based on your own experiences and successes?
Gerry: If Baobab is a success, it’s a success not because of me, but because I brought the right people in at various times. It’s a bunch of Malawian people who did this.There were several committed “azungu” (foreigners) involved over the years - Mike McKay, Zach Landis Lewis, and Jeff Rafter, for example - but I think we were just the catalyst.
If I look back at what went right and what went wrong with my career, I don’t think I listened to my heart as much as I should have. When I deviated from what my vision was, it was because I listened to other people, in spite of my gut telling me, “That’s not the way to go.”
It’s an interesting thing about advice. It doesn’t matter who you listen to. At some point, somebody will give you bad advice. That’s not a bad thing: you shouldn’t do what everybody tells you to do. You get advice, you weigh it, and see how it fits with your vision. I probably allowed myself to be influenced in certain areas more than I should have.
Read the rest of Gerry's Fellows Friday post here.