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Lyndon Nguyen: It’s Okay To Quit To Do What You Love



Have you ever thought you can’t change jobs because you’ve invested so much time and effort into your current career path and education? Think again!


After high school, Lyndon Nguyen thought he wanted to be a doctor and started working on his pre-med degree. He soon realized that wasn't for him and got a degree in Biomedical Engineering.


Then he went on to get his Masters in Mechanical Engineering. With his master degree in hand, he started working at Baylor University in the Department of Orthopedics Spine Research facility as a biomedical engineer.


Once again, Lyndon decided to change his career path and went back to school to get his law degree and MBA. Today, Lyndon is the Executive Director for Love Heals Free Clinic. Love Heals Free Clinic offers temporary free health care clinics across the US.


Listen to Lyndon share why it’s okay to quit to do something you love with Ryan Dye.




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Full transcript:

Ryan Dye (00:00):

On today's episode, we talk with Lyndon Nguyen, executive director of the nonprofit, Love Heals Free Clinics. Lyndon shares how his unique and diverse background allows him to look at a challenge from multiple angles and find the optimum solution for success as it relates to providing free medical care to underserved communities across the United States. From CoLab Inc, it's There to Here, a show about entrepreneurs, innovators, and investors and the impact they seek to make on the world. We'd love to get your feedback on our show, so I'm asking that you take a moment and visit colabinc.org to fill out a brief survey and you'll be entered to win a $25 Amazon gift card. I'm Ryan Dye, executive director of CoLab, and on today's show we're talking with Lyndon Nguyen, executive director of the nonprofit organization, Love Heals. Lyndon, welcome to the show.


Lyndon (00:48):

Thanks. Happy to be here.


Ryan Dye (00:50):

This is a bit of a challenging interview because there are really two areas that I'd like to cover. The first has to do with your background and education. One might say the first part of your career was that of a professional student, or as some might say, you are a restless soul. We'll unpack that in a little bit, but I think it's an important place to start because it ties into the overarching concept of entrepreneurship, and that is to be one who is not afraid of a challenge or trying new things. Why don't we start with your first round in college?

Full disclosure, Lyndon and I graduated the same year, I believe, from Walla Walla University in Southeast Washington State. However, I did not know Lyndon because I spent my time in the business department and Lyndon spent the majority of his time in one of the labs on campus, I would assume. Why don't we start there? What were your interests as you moved from high school on to college?


Lyndon (01:48):

Well, so actually I got a scholarship to Pacific Union College, so I actually started there. Ever since a kid, I always thought I wanted to be a doctor, and so I started out with business premed. The reason why I chose business was because, just about every doctor I knew just didn't know how to manage his practice. A lot of us, I realized, we're managing some sort of business every day, whether or not you believe that your household is a business. If you treat it that way, you need a budget. If you don't have a budget, then you're in the situation that a lot of us find us in where we have debts. I realized, "Well, business is a good thing to have, even if I don't go into business."

I think the interesting thing, if I look back at my life is, it's okay to change directions, be willing to do that. Because I was supposed to be a doctor, but things took me a different direction because I was so interested in so many different things. I started with business premed and unfortunately in the middle of my second school year, my father had a massive heart attack and he was up in Idaho, I was in California. I left in the middle of the school year in order to go up to be with him. That changed my perspective on things. The first time you experience someone close to you that you might lose, it changes-


Ryan Dye (03:28):

Priorities.


Lyndon (03:30):

Yeah, your priorities and you realize, "Okay." I wanted to be closer to him, so I actually switched to Walla Walla College, which was closer. I had already started out with business premed and I thought, "Man, I have all these things. What am I going to do?" Well, Walla Walla had a biomedical engineering program and I was one of those kids that... if you have kids that frustrate you because they take everything apart, that was me. My dad had all these fancy electronics and the next thing he knew I was taking apart-


Ryan Dye (04:02):

Pieces on the floor.


Lyndon (04:03):

Yeah. That always interested me. I love doing that. But for whatever reason, maybe my Asian culture, they pushed me towards medicine and I thought that's what I wanted to do. I loved it anyway. I did work in medicine and I loved it. But I also loved taking things apart, being an engineer. When I started studying engineering, I knew that was really what I enjoyed. But biomedical engineering, it was challenging because it's a different mindset when you're doing engineering and then you switch gears. You might be taking biology class and then you got to run across campus. If you've been to the Walla Walla campus, they're on opposite sides. You run to the other side and now you got to switch gears and think about, circuits or something like that.


Ryan Dye (04:53):

Right. Was the engineering side of bioengineering more mechanical focused or was it, you could pick whatever branch of engineering tied in? I mean, those are two so radically different things. How do you determine which track of engineering you're connecting to biology?


Lyndon (05:13):

Yeah. For me it turned out that I was more interested in the mechanical engineering side, so I chose mechanical engineering classes. I even took classes that I didn't have to, for example, robotics. But that's where my emphasis in mechanical engineering came with. After I got that, I got a business degree as well during that time because I had already started business at PUC. I had all those classes-


Ryan Dye (05:40):

Doing undergrad in business.


Lyndon (05:41):

Yup. That's where the entrepreneurial side of me kicked in. One of the most memorable classes I took was taxation. I still remember it today, and I still show it to people, the time value of money. Where they show you, if you invest... at that time, remember you can only put $2,000 in an IRA and you put $2,000 every year. Well, it's a very simple Excel spreadsheet. You put $2,000 and they showed that if you started when you're 20, you put it in for seven or eight years, $2,000, and let's say you stopped. That's an investment of 14 to $16,000. Seven to eight years of $2,000, and then you stopped. Well, when you are 65, and at a average rate of 8%, it comes out to be over a million dollars. But then it shows, now, if you start when you're 28, you'd have to put $2,000 every single year until you're 65 to get to the same amount. That blew me away, the time value of money. After that class, I worked, saved $2,000 and put it in every single year-


Ryan Dye (07:03):

And started the process.


Lyndon (07:04):

... and started to do that. For me, I had to give up stuff. If you talk to a lot of young entrepreneurs, they had a different focus in life at a younger age. All of my friends they work just like I did, but they take their money and go to Vail, Colorado and skiing or something like that or buy nice new cars and things like that. At that age I already decided I wanted a different direction, a different start. That's-


Ryan Dye (07:38):

Lyndon, you're wise before your years. I wish that was something, as an undergrad, that more students could appreciate and understand, and really be able to... I think most people when they get older down the road, if they could go back and talk to themselves at that stage in life and say, "Look, dummy. Take a moment, look at the... this is basic math, it's simple. Follow some guidelines here and it will pay off for you." But it's hard when you're younger to see that value.


Lyndon (08:18):

For me, growing up as... basically, my parents came over during the war and they were poor. I remember days when my dad at church, he put a $20 bill... $20 was a lot for us. He put a $20 bill in the offering plate. I just said, "Wow, that's a lot of money." I said, "Dad, why are you putting $20?" He said, "That's our last $20." I said, "Well, what are we going to eat?" I was worried about, just like most children are it's we're very self centered. It's like, "What are we going to eat at home?" I think I was only eight or nine years old and I still clearly remember seeing him put that 20 in there. He said, "You always got to give back and God will take care of us," and he always did. I mean, I don't remember a time when I was starving for food. We just had enough all the time. That made an impact on me for my father making sure you always give back, you always give to people. That's what I've adopted in my life.


Ryan Dye (09:35):

Yeah, for sure. That's excellent wisdom. Learning to be a giver, I think, is really important. You finished Walla Walla, bioengineering and a business degree, and you thought to yourself, "That's not enough. I'm going to go get some more schooling."


Lyndon (09:54):

Well, all the engineering friends that I went to school with... if you went through engineering school at Walla Walla, you are only a couple classes away from getting a math degree.


Ryan Dye (10:06):

This is true. The [crosstalk 00:10:08] math you take.


Lyndon (10:08):

Right. When my counselor said, "Well, you only need to take a couple more classes." I said, "Okay," so I just took a couple more math classes and then I got a math-


Ryan Dye (10:17):

Degree.


Lyndon (10:17):

... degree as well. That's what I have from Walla Walla.


Ryan Dye (10:20):

Three degrees.


Lyndon (10:21):

Yeah. It did take me five years, but I switched [crosstalk 00:10:26]-


Ryan Dye (10:26):

Why did it take you so long?


Lyndon (10:31):

[inaudible 00:10:31].


Ryan Dye (10:30):

Were you thinking, "Okay, I've finished. I mean, the bulk of what I did here is bioengineering. It's a new thing, I'm the only one that graduated with it. I'm going to do X with bioengineering." Did you have that thought process or you just knew, "I'm going to keep going on to add to this knowledge."


Lyndon (10:48):

Yeah, I had no idea. Those of you that are listening to this and you don't know what direction you're going, that's okay. Because I knew I wanted bio something. I wanted medicine and bioengineering. Did I want to be a bioengineer? My final project was to redesign a prosthesis for people post-op. That's what I did, I redesigned a prosthesis. But I realized, "Prosthetics, not sure that that's what I want to do." Then, bioengineering is pretty broad, so for one year I took off after I graduated from Walla Walla, I worked at a tennis club. I loved playing tennis, I was athletic. I worked at a tennis club making minimum wage right after getting a biomedical engineering degree and [crosstalk 00:11:42]-


Ryan Dye (11:42):

You were the most overqualified tennis person.


Lyndon (11:45):

Yeah, and I worked at the front desk. That's all I did. I took the time to really think about, "What do I want to do?"


Ryan Dye (11:53):

What was the next direction. I mean, you finished with the undergrads. You knew you wanted to do these degrees, but even after that point you weren't quite sure what direction that was going to go. I think it's fair to say that you had options, but you took a moment to assess what to do next.


Lyndon (12:16):

Right. Because, even though you have options, you don't want to take a direction where it's going to make you miserable. Unfortunately, I see so many people making a decision that really wasn't their decision, or it didn't make them happy. I mean, I know you, Ryan, you love music. That's not something you're going to give up, even if there's a great opportunity with something else. You still want to do what you love. It's okay to work in things that you're not super passionate about. I know people say, "Oh, find what you are super passionate about and love." As long as it's a part of your life, I think you have that release. But, it's rare nowadays to really find a field where that's you-


Ryan Dye (13:11):

Well, I think it's difficult for people to... that's not a simple thing to answer. "Oh, find what you're passionate about." Yeah. That's good advice, but what... sometimes someone doesn't, "I don't know what I'm passionate about." Some people, that's not as clear. Or it might be one of those things where you start to determine that later on, after certain twists and turns in experience. Because, I mean, even when I was doing undergrad work, I had started as a business major and a music major and decided later, "Oh, I don't know that I want to do that because I don't know if I can build a career off of it," so I stuck with my business degree, and did a religion degree, and just minored in music.

But later on, having graduated and working with some jobs I really didn't enjoy, which I look back on and think, well, having a really crummy sales job which is based on 100% commission and I'm going door-to-door. Oh, it was miserable. But it taught me some good lessons, and I'm grateful for the time that I did that. But it also told me, "Okay, I do want to go back to school and get a graduate degree and further my musical experience," which I did and I'm very grateful for it, and I was following my passion. I can appreciate being able to take a moment, assess where you're at, and realize that it's not a straight line anywhere when it comes to your education or your career. Back to what you did after.


Lyndon (14:38):

No, those are great points because actually that leads to the leadership too. Because great leaders, to me, help people find what their passion is.


Ryan Dye (14:50):

Agreed.


Lyndon (14:51):

I remember when, and this was part of my MBA. I think everybody should at least take some MBA classes, you don't necessarily have to have an MBA. But some MBA classes, because management is very important. Now, not of all of us are leaders or managers, but understanding the concepts of what makes a good leader actually helps you be a great leader in your church, a great leader at home, or a great leader for your kids and your family-


Ryan Dye (15:19):

Or your community.


Lyndon (15:19):

Or your community. Because, one of the examples that I remember from MBA school, and I work on now, is the fact that... you're exactly right. Your statement that, a lot of people do not know what their passion is. Well, as a manager or a leader of some sort, I feel like it's my job to help them find their passion. This is a very simple example, and it ties into exactly everything that we're talking about here with regard to, yeah, you can choose what you're passionate about. "Well, what if it doesn't make money? I still got to pay bills." Sometimes we end up choosing a field that just pays the bills, but we hate it.


Ryan Dye (16:01):

But maybe it allow us to to do what we're passionate about.


Lyndon (16:03):

Right. That's exactly it. There's a balance. There's always this incredible balance here you have to play in life. As a leader, your employees... as a manager, when you say, "Hey, you're doing a great job. What would you like?" Every single time what are they going to say? "I'd like a raise." I mean, they feel like they're trading their work for money. But your job should be more than that. As a manager, your job is more than that. When you walk into your employee's office and they've got pictures of family everywhere, if you are a good manager you will recognize that, "Wait a second, this guy did an awesome job, and he's here 80 hours a week. He loves his family. When does he have time to spend with them?" Even though he says, "I'd like more money," maybe what he really needs is vacation time-


Ryan Dye (17:06):

More time.


Lyndon (17:06):

More time with his family. Instead of offering money, you say, "You did an awesome job on this project. You're taking two weeks off and going to Hawaii with your family."


Ryan Dye (17:17):

Here's a perk or here's a bonus.


Lyndon (17:19):

Here's your perk. Or for some people, you'll recognize them too where it's the comments and the recognition of the little things that you did, that's all they need. They don't need the raise. They want to feel and know that they're being appreciated. As a leader, that's what you're doing. You're recognizing it in your employees where they find value and you give them that value. It's almost like, and that's why they want to work for you. They want to do it because you're filling the cup that they need. In life, I think there's that same balance where... and it took me years to figure it out, of course.


Ryan Dye (18:08):

Well, so you've jumped to an MBA real quick.


Lyndon (18:13):

Sorry.


Ryan Dye (18:13):

We got to fill some gap there. As you're spending time, you've taken this year out or you're working at the tennis club or wherever, and then from there you went, "Okay. Now I think this is my next move."


Lyndon (18:28):

My next move was still staying in contact with the people that I knew that were doing, lots of friends, networking. Of course that's huge, you stay in contact with-


Ryan Dye (18:38):

Regardless of what you do.


Lyndon (18:40):

Regardless of what you do.


Ryan Dye (18:41):

That's nine tenths of it.


Lyndon (18:43):

My friends knew what I graduated in. One of my friends that I hung out with, his name is [inaudible 00:18:50], he's an incredible guy. I can tell you a little bit about him, he does material science. Actually, because he's been so famous in doing material science stuff, he actually now does material science for comic books and comic companies where they ask about Thor's hammer. What kind of materials would you actually [crosstalk 00:19:15]-


Ryan Dye (19:15):

Material science. There's a niche.


Lyndon (19:17):

Yeah, very niche field. He was a close friend of mine and he was doing a master's degree at Texas A&M when we stayed in contact and he said, "Hey, have you thought about doing a master's degree in biomedical engineering?" I said, "Yeah, I thought about going to medicine directly [inaudible 00:19:39] going to... but I wasn't sure that that's what I wanted to do." I said, "Okay, I'll come down." Flew down to Texas A&M, talked to a professor there, he was a mechanical engineer. He said, "I think you would enjoy it here." This is where it became interesting. I went to the biomedical engineering department. It was relatively new, but they had-


Ryan Dye (20:06):

But they had a whole department.


Lyndon (20:07):

Yeah, they have a whole department [crosstalk 00:20:08]-


Ryan Dye (20:08):

Not just a degree.


Lyndon (20:09):

Yeah. I talked to some of the professors and I started out in the biomedical engineering department. They were trying to design a scanner for diabetics, that they don't have to poke themselves to get their glucose. It would scan their eyes, and because your blood vessels are so close to the surface, it would actually get their blood glucose level from scanning their eyes. This was-


Ryan Dye (20:31):

A no touch level.


Lyndon (20:33):

Yeah. This was in 1999. They were doing this kind of stuff and trying this technology out. As exciting as it was, because I still remember exactly what they wanted me to do and work in that area, it wasn't my forte. But that's the thing. Don't be afraid to do something and realize, "That's not what I enjoy." Don't be afraid to make that change. It's another lesson in MBA that they taught, know when to cut your losses. Everybody thinks that, "Hey, I invested all this, it'll come back," and you just invest. You're just throwing good money after bad.


Ryan Dye (21:11):

Right. Well, a little side note to that. I think that's what's challenging, especially in the last 20, 30 years. College has gotten so expensive that often people, they'll go in just because, "Well, this is what's expected. I need to go into school." Then they'll end up wandering around for years, not quite sure what they're wanting to do, "Oh, well I got to get a degree." Or maybe they take two or three years and then drop out. Well, all of a sudden you're stuck with a ton of debt, and nothing at the end of that really. I mean, as far as completing that education, and that's a challenging thing. I think too, it's important for maybe if someone's not so academically oriented, to realize there are a lot of opportunities out there, that doesn't necessarily mean it's college. There are many, many jobs that are high-paying, by the way, that need people who have a focus but it's not academia.


Lyndon (22:09):

Yeah. Oh, I absolutely 100% agree. I work in academics now with my law practice and-


Ryan Dye (22:16):

We'll get to that in a minute.


Lyndon (22:18):

But yeah. I tell people all the time, unfortunately we pushed this degrees, college, degrees and stuff like that. It's a system and it's not made for everybody. I work with special ed kids. Brilliant kids, but the system is not set up for them. It doesn't mean that they're not going to be successful if you put them into a trade school. They're very focused and they're very good at that field, perfect. Find the trade that they're good at, and let's teach them that. Why put them into a college to get a degree, put them a $100,000 in debt and then they want it to be-


Ryan Dye (23:01):

It's no benefit.


Lyndon (23:02):

There is no benefit to that, and-


Ryan Dye (23:05):

Yeah, that's not fair to do to some people or to push them down that road where it's not a good path for them. You were at Texas A&M.


Lyndon (23:16):

Texas A&M.


Ryan Dye (23:17):

To go [crosstalk 00:23:18]-


Lyndon (23:19):

From there I switched over to, instead of doing a master's in biomedical engineering, I decided to do a master's in mechanical engineering. If I had gotten a master's degree in biomedical engineering, I just pigeonholed myself into biomedical engineering.


Ryan Dye (23:36):

Yeah, the niche would be pretty small.


Lyndon (23:38):

It's smaller. Yeah, exactly. I can still do biomechanics, so that's exactly what I did. That definitely opened more doors for me, I can be a mechanical engineer, I can be a biomedical engineer, I can be a biochemist or things like that. Go into more chemistry-focused stuff.


Ryan Dye (23:57):

You continued moving forward in that area, applying it to humans.


Lyndon (24:04):

Yes. Yeah.


Ryan Dye (24:05):

How did that go?


Lyndon (24:07):

I ended up finishing my thesis fairly quickly. I did my master's degree in a year and a half, cranked it out. What happened was, my advisor he said, "Hey, there's a job posting at Baylor College of Medicine. You should apply for it." I applied for the position, it was a biomedical engineering position at Baylor College of Medicine with the department of orthopedics spine research laboratory. I applied, I didn't hear back from them, didn't ask for an interview or anything. I just said, "I'm just going to drive out there." Okay, so this is in the middle of summer and-


Ryan Dye (24:07):

In Texas.


Lyndon (24:45):

In Texas, didn't have air conditioning. This is the funny part. I said, "I'm going to be sweating. It's 100 miles away. I'm not going to wear my suit, so I'm just going to wear shorts and a tee shirt, and then when I get there I'll change into my suit and my nice clothes and everything." That was the plan. Sure enough, I was just dripping in sweat by the time I got there and figured out where Houston the medical center was and where to park. I said, "Let me go find where this lab is and then I'll change."

I knock on the door, the manager comes out and he says, "Can I help you?" I said, "Yeah, I applied for a position, the manager of the spine research lab position, and I hadn't heard from anybody. I was just wondering, is this the right place?" He's like, "Yeah, I'm the manager." I said, "Oh, great. Well, let me go change." He's like, "No, why don't you come in right now? We'll interview you right now." I said, "I'm just wearing shorts-"


Ryan Dye (25:40):

Excellent presentation.


Lyndon (25:41):

Right. I walk in, they showed me everything. They did the interview and they said, "You sound great. Uh, but we'll call you on Monday. You're the only one that followed through."


Ryan Dye (25:52):

There you go, follow up.


Lyndon (25:53):

Followed up with it. Just to give you guys a little perspective, I was probably the shyest person in the world before, but I'll talk about later how I made changes in my life where, essentially, I chose to not be shy anymore, and the steps that I took in order to do that. Now people would say, "Man, you talk to everybody." Well, yeah, there was something I had to do in order to do that. Otherwise I'd be that-


Ryan Dye (26:20):

To turn that corner.


Lyndon (26:21):

I'd be still just the shy guy who-


Ryan Dye (26:23):

Who's in the lab somewhere.


Lyndon (26:27):

Exactly.


Ryan Dye (26:29):

You're there in Houston, they call you back.


Lyndon (26:32):

Yup. I get the job. You didn't get paid much because you were a researcher there. But if you have an opportunity where you can learn, take that opportunity. Because the stuff that I learned there, I mean, it's priceless. I got to do things where you just don't see people do nowadays. I got to see a project all the way from the beginning to the end to writing it, to publishing it and everything. I got to design the devices that would test the spines and the devices that we put in them, all the way to writing the programming and lab view in order to do the-


Ryan Dye (27:15):

What was one of the primary things you were working on there, a problem you were trying to solve, as it relates to orthopedic side of things?


Lyndon (27:23):

Yeah. I was in the spine research lab, but because we were in the orthopedics department, we were actually with sports medicine, we were with the hand, we were spine. All of the orthopedics in general. What we ended up inventing there in the spine research lab was motion X-ray. This is a post X-ray and it gives you immediate picture, and it's less radiation because it's-


Ryan Dye (27:48):

It's very specific.


Lyndon (27:49):

Yeah, very narrow. Working with Dr. Hipp, he was the one that actually designed it.


Ryan Dye (27:59):

Wait, Dr. Hipp is an orthopedic?


Lyndon (28:00):

Yeah. H-I-P-P.


Ryan Dye (28:04):

Of course.


Lyndon (28:05):

[crosstalk 00:28:05].


Ryan Dye (28:04):

Sorry, that was the setup.


Lyndon (28:07):

We took the post x-ray and you can actually move now in real time. Instead, nowadays if you go get an X-ray of your spine, they'll say, "Do a flexion, hold it." They take an X-ray, "Do a full extension, hold it," take an X-ray. Then they extrapolate. Well, with the motion X-ray they were able to put markers on it and that as it moves, it tracks it, and then it spits out analysis that says, "C1 relative to C2. Translated two millimeters and rotated five degrees during the full range of motion."


Ryan Dye (28:38):

It tells you exactly what's happening.


Lyndon (28:39):

Exactly.


Ryan Dye (28:40):

That's amazing.


Lyndon (28:42):

Yeah, it was awesome. Probably one of the coolest things with our motion X-ray was, we had a kid come in. He was probably about seven or eight years old and started to get headaches, and a pediatric orthopedic surgeon just really couldn't figure out what was wrong. Took x-rays and nothing looked weird, so they sent the kid over to my lab. I started talking to the kid and he warmed up to me. He's like, "Want to see a cool party trick?" He would pop his neck out of place and it just looked really awkward. He'd pop it out of place. I said, "Did you tell your surgeon about this? That's not normal. You shouldn't be able to pop your neck out like that." I called the surgeon over and the surgeon said, "Can you use your motion X-ray as he's popping it out to see what's happening?"

If you don't know, C1 and C2 are stuck all the way underneath your skull down here. You really can't see because you have to open up your mouth and see through the back there. We had the kid go down to our lab and I said, "Go ahead and do your party trick and pop it out."


Ryan Dye (29:51):

Do your party trick.


Lyndon (29:53):

He did the trick. As I was watching and recording it, when he popped it out, it was pretty amazing. If you don't know anatomy very, very well, C1 is your cervical vertebra number one that sits underneath your skull. C2 has a little protrusion on it, it doesn't allow you to pop anything out because of this protrusion right there. Well, when he popped it out, he doesn't have that little protrusion that holds it in place, and so he's just free-


Ryan Dye (30:27):

Free-floating.


Lyndon (30:28):

... floating all the way on top of his neck. As we started talking to the parents more, they said, "Well, he loves climbing trees. When he was five or six, he was climbing a tree and he fell. It looked like he fell on his head or his neck, but he popped right up." They were like, "Okay-


Ryan Dye (30:47):

Seems fine.


Lyndon (30:48):

... seems fine, so I guess we're not going to take him to the hospital." Our theory is, essentially, because he's a growing kid, he actually broke that protrusion right off, and that his body saw that as a foreign substance and it just dissolved the bone. Now he just was free-floating. As he was doing that though, he was stretching the ligaments that hold him together, then it started giving him headaches. All of this just to say, that was a cool use of our-


Ryan Dye (31:21):

All of your education and you've wrecked a kid's party trick, way to go.


Lyndon (31:25):

Can't do this anymore.


Ryan Dye (31:26):

This is a bad idea.


Lyndon (31:28):

But yeah, that's the thing we did at the spine research lab. We did a lot of cool things there. We actually got to work directly with cadaver bodies. It was a great opportunity for me to work with spines. I got to work with real spines. Now, when you have DePuy Orthopedics Synthes Spine, and all these big companies, Biomet, they don't get to test their implants on a human body. This was the start of my entrepreneurial journey. I thought, "Well, wait a second. I have access to these spines. How much would these companies pay to bring their instruments here, have these doctors use them and try to put them into human spines, and I would test the human spines for them?" It turns out they would pay hundreds of thousands of dollars. I started renting out my lab to help these companies test their equipment on human spines and have the doctors actually implant them and test them on human spines.


Ryan Dye (32:29):

On the cadaver.


Lyndon (32:30):

On the cadaver, so it brought in significant income for our laboratory, which was helpful because we were all on soft funds. We'd have to apply for grants, we'd have to apply for funding-


Ryan Dye (32:39):

It wasn't a constant flow of funding. Yeah.


Lyndon (32:42):

It's fascinating where the medical profession has gone.


Ryan Dye (32:46):

You had that experience. How old were you roughly in this time period?


Lyndon (32:50):

About 21, 22. Bought my first house when I was 22. That was-


Ryan Dye (32:55):

But you came to a point there you're like, "I'm bored with this. I think I'm going to move on and do something else radically different."


Lyndon (33:01):

Radically different. Working in medicine, I realized that a lot of the technology that we find doesn't actually make it out to people a lot of times. It's sad. It's really hard. I understand the need for the FDA and all things like that, but it's a long, expensive process to get FDA approval for all kinds of devices that we [crosstalk 00:33:25]-


Ryan Dye (33:25):

So, sometimes it could be prohibitive for progress, because there are so many hoops to jump through.


Lyndon (33:32):

Exactly, yeah. I found that out too, and I thought, "Well, shoot, this is taking too long. Maybe I should go into law. I should do patent law and intellectual property law." I looked into local schools in Houston, I also got accepted at University of Idaho. I went up there and visited with the dean of students and told him about my background. He said, "We just started a program where you can do your JD and MBA at the same time." I said, "Well, that sounds like some [crosstalk 00:34:07]-"


Ryan Dye (34:06):

That sounds fantastic. I could use a few more letters after my name.


Lyndon (34:11):

Yeah. He said, "Well, why don't you try it out?" I said, "Okay." It was a great experience. It taught me a lot about managing people. Whether or not you understand it, you're managing the person that you take an order from. You got to read that person and they might be having a terrible day. You're reading your patients, your clients, all the time. You're always managing people somehow, and you want to meet people where they are.


Ryan Dye (34:41):

When you went and did your MBA and law degree, you're moving out of the engineering side to a certain extent and now into a whole new universe that involved what?


Lyndon (35:00):

The interesting thing was, I graduated in 2010 with my law degree and we were still recovering from the market crash of 2008 and 2009. The competition was so great, I remember one of my law professors wanting to have a law position opened up at the university. Those are great positions. He'd worked with the university for years, he was a perfect shoo-in. The job paid, I'm wanting to say a little over 100, 110, maybe even 90,000 or something like that. But his competition was senior lawyers from New York who were applying for the same position that is one third or one fifth of the salary-


Ryan Dye (35:46):

Of what they were making.


Lyndon (35:47):

That's how desperate they were applying for these positions. They're willing to take a pay cut from 500,000 to 100,000. That was the market that we were graduating into. You're not only competing with other law students, you're competing with senior lawyers that need jobs, and I had-


Ryan Dye (36:05):

You had nothing to fall back on. I mean, none of that other education.


Lyndon (36:09):

Yeah. Luckily, my barber, which happened to be, at the time, my girlfriend's mother, was cutting my hair. She knew a lawyer who got her hair cut with her and said, "Well, she needs some help right now. She's really, really busy." It was special education law. I said, "I've never even heard of that. There was no classes in law school at that time for special education law." She said, "Well, just do a project for her and see if you like it." A project turned into another research project into something else, and then she hired me before I even passed the bar. I hadn't even taken the bar yet. I worked in special education law and that huge turning point there too, and learning experience, where you're working with special ed families, especially kids, and realizing that, that's when I was dead set and learned that, don't think that just because someone has said that you are a certain way or you've been labeled a certain way that you're stuck there.

I had questions in medicine too, because western medicine teaches you, "This is how it works. This is peer-reviewed, and this is how it's always worked, and this is..." But I had questions. You know how they say, and people might criticize me for this. They say, "Oh, heart disease is a genetic, so you're predisposed to it." Well, wait a second. Let's really think about the bigger picture. Yes, there are some genetic issues with regard to heart disease. But, if I grew up in a family that eats chicken wings, hot dogs, and burgers every day, what do I eat when I leave my family? What do I teach my kids to eat? Well, I go out to eat every day and I chicken wings, hot dogs, and burgers." Well, it looks like it's genetic, but it's really just something that's taught.

We see that unfortunately now, when I was working in special education, where your personalities are learned too. Now I have my first child, which is a furry child, a puppy, she picks up on my personality or my anxiety, anger, things like that. Your kids do the same thing. All of us come from disordered families, I've learned that too.


Ryan Dye (38:35):

No, that's not accurate. I'd like to see the science in that.


Lyndon (38:39):

Okay. There's one [crosstalk 00:38:40]-


Ryan Dye (38:40):

Is there a report?


Lyndon (38:43):

... family. Imagine, essentially, if you don't decide to make that one change and break that cycle sometime and say, "I'm going to be different than what I learned from my family. I'm going to change this about me." If everybody did that, we'd improve every day of our lives because otherwise you're passing disorder to the next generation. That generation is disordered, passes that on to the next generation.


Ryan Dye (39:07):

Right, it's a hard cycle to break.


Lyndon (39:09):

It is very difficult. I'm not saying it's easy at all, for us to even identify that path-


Ryan Dye (39:14):

Or even have the awareness.


Lyndon (39:15):

Yeah, that we have these. As I was going through relationships, I remember a girlfriend, we got in a fight and I left the house. But where did I learn that from? When my parents got in fights, my dad didn't like the conflict, but he never communicated, "Hey, I need a break. I'll come back in about an hour and we can talk about this. He just left." All that anxiety that's created through lack of communication. That's when I realized, "Oh my goodness. Communication is the key to so many different things."


Ryan Dye (39:54):

You did an MBA, you did the law degree, you've been working as a lawyer. This, I could definitely see, is going to be a two-part interview because we have not even touched on Love Heals yet, and that actually is something I do want to discuss. But to wrap up this part of the discussion, you've gone through, you've had all of this education and it's varied. You've moved from being in the sciences to really the business sciences and also the legal side of things. You've been working with special ed. Do you feel that having the MBA connected with a law degree has been really helpful? I mean, you talked about the management side of it. But being able to understand processes in ways that it's not just law, but also how business might relate to that on a broad scale. I mean, it's applicable in so many ways.


Lyndon (40:55):

Oh yeah. You see all of this being intertwined and you think, "These are such different disciplines," but realistically in life you experience so many of these things every single day. Love Heals is a great opportunity for me just because, not only does it give back developing a business from scratch, having the legal background for contracts writing. I mean, we've had to do all kinds of new things with regard to COVID and working in the medical field. All of this has now coalesced into the perfect area right now where I get to give back and use all of these skills. Then people will ask, "Well, where does your engineering come in?" Well, actually it comes in all the time when I'm... for example, we have these pipes that run all of our compressor. The compressor runs some of our A-dec units, which are the dental units.

Well, previously they had purchased these from another organization. Well, they were poorly engineered. I said, "Well, I can make this way more efficient and save thousands of dollars." I re-engineered the pipes that run them. Talking to some of the staff they said, "Well, we don't like unscrewing the waste bins after they've gone through a patient and the suction has sucked up all the waste, and we have to unscrew it and now dump it." I said, "Oh, that's easy. We'll just run a hose into them. Since we already have compressed air, we'll just use the Bernoulli principle in order to create a vacuum in order to suck it all into one bucket. Just little things like that, that I used my engineering background in order to use the stuff that we have without spending any more money.


Ryan Dye (42:48):

I mean, that's what I would have thought, it's just the Bernoulli principle. Why would we not think of this? Well, and I think that that's what's great is, here we have, Lyndon, you're a person who can work on how something is engineered. I can read this legal document, I know what we should and shouldn't sign, I can reword it, how to manage groups of people and volunteers and all that. That's why we will get into having a discussion on the Love Heals organization and how you've been able to apply all of what you've done to helping an organization that's in its infancy in many ways, become more efficient and make a bigger impact in the communities that you visit. We'll talk about follow-up, what is Love Heals and what does Love Heals do to help communities.

But, we're going to leave it at there today, and I appreciate hearing your backstory, Lyndon, because it's always fascinating. I've heard you talk about this many times, but it's always interesting to me to meet someone who has touched on so many areas, and obviously you're an exceptionally bright person. But to be able to go through all these different parts of education and then apply them in life, let's have a follow-up and hear the rest of the story of what we did today. Lyndon, how can people get connected with you and Love Heals?


Lyndon (44:12):

Right now, of course with COVID, it's a little difficult, but we are still planning to do clinics in 2021. I'm writing protocols in order to keep, not only volunteers, but our patients safe. You can email me at Lyndon@lovehealsfreeclinic.org, L-Y-N-D-O-N@lovehealsfreeclinic.org. You can go to our website and contact me through there, or just call us on the phone through the contacts in our website.


Ryan Dye (44:38):

Fantastic. Thanks for listening to There to Here. We invite you to check us out on all the various social media platforms and visit our website colabinc.org to sign up for information on our mini upcoming workshops and the various ways provide mentorship to aspiring entrepreneurs. If you have comments on today's episode and know someone who would be a great guest on our show, please send your suggestions to ryan@colabinc. org. We'd love to hear your thoughts on our show, so please take a moment to visit colabinc.org and fill out our feedback survey, and you'll be entered to win a $25 Amazon gift card. Congratulations to Joe [inaudible 00:45:16] for winning last week's gift card. Special thanks to our producer, Michael Weberley, editing by Tanya Musgrave and all the CoLab staff. Until next time, be well, and God bless.



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