001: Dr. Tom Garrrison - From Emergency Medicine to Entrepreneur

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                    Dr. Tom Garrison, MD

                   Dr. Tom Garrison, MD

Dr. Tom Garrison shares his personal story of how being an emergency medicine physician helped him to become an entrepreneur. Dr. Garrison founded Sono Bello (Body Contour Centers that specialize in minimally invasive laser liposuction) in 2008. He is also the founding Board Member of Bio Path, a publicly traded company holding an exclusive licensing agreement with MD Anderson Cancer Institute to take chemotherapeutic drugs for blood cancers through trials and to market.

In addition, Dr. Garrison is a partner in an investment group specializing in corporate development, company incubation, fund raising, IPO's and reverse mergers. He also served as the Medical Director for American Laser Centers, Advanced Laser Clinics, Laser RAZOR and additionally founded an internet based business selling beauty products called Dr. Tom's Beauty. 

Dr. Garrison has over 25 years of full time clinical and emergency medicine experience with extensive administrative experience. Among his many notable accomplishments, he has been recognized over multiple years as:

  • One of America's Top Emergency Medicine Physicians;
  • Founding Director of Intermountain Health Care (IHC) Emergency Medicine Clinical Programs;
  • Founding Medical Director for Northern Utah Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners;
  • Contributing author to two major Emergency Medicine textbooks; and
  • Emergency Medicine Consultant to the Command Surgeon General. 

Dr. Garrison also served 15 years in the U.S. Air Force and was a USAF Flight Surgeon for 5 years providing medical support for F-16 flying missions. 

What is your biggest Ah-Ha moment as an entrepreneur?

When I could really sit back and say gee, I've moved from a physician to a businessman. I will always be a physician and I respect the profession...but to be able to say that I'm a businessman too is really an accomplishment for me - to be able to wear both hats... to step back a little bit from that and contribute to medicine in a different way, in a  less stressful way through businesses I think has been a great thing for me.
I apologize I don't think that I have an ah-hah moment that I can think of at this time but really that transition was really my ah-hah moment in that I can do this! I can be a business man. I can make good decisions. I can have the leadership in business and guide people and help develop things and create even though my training is not in that per se. 

What have you learned from your failures?

Never give up on a good idea, put it on the shelf for awhile if you have to. 

What is something that you are grateful for?

I am most grateful for my family. 

What motivates you?

I like to grow things, I like to build things, I like to dream a little bit, make things happen...

What is something that you intentionally do every day?

I value the people in our company...when we hire a new employee I tell them that they are joining our family. They are not joining our business, they are joining our family and I feel very strongly about that. The first thing that I do everyday when I go to work is that I walk up and down every hallway and poke my head in every office and greet every employee and ask them about their wife or their children or their weekend or whatever it is that I have a personal connection with them and I don't start my day without doing that. 
Great people have said that it's not what you know or what you can do, it's the people who you surround yourself with and what the combined energy can do. 

If you could go back to young Dr. Garrison in the Seventies, what is one piece of advice that you would give yourself?

I think that the only thing that I would have really liked to have done is to get an Executive MBA degree. 
To phrase that question a different way which is 'would I have changed anything that I did?' and the answer is no... my theory and philosophy is that I'm in a great place, how I got here I'll never know and if I had to go back in time and follow that journey again I would probably screw it up and would't get to the same place today, so no regrets...

What piece of advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs today?

Two things; one is don't give up. Follow your dream and your ideas. Bounce it off other people and get input/feedback. Your perspective may not be the global perspective for that idea. That idea is probably sound it just needs to be polished if you will or broadened. 
The other thing is don't quit your day job to pursue your dream...you have to fund it, you have to live, you have to maintain your family or whatever it is in the world that you are doing... I tell my children that the entrepreneurial spirit has to be after you have a good foundation. 

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