"Thanks for a great date. I’d love to see you again. Are you free Friday?”
“Great meeting yesterday. Here’s my proposal based on our conversation. Look forward to hearing your thoughts!”
Sound familiar? Nearly everyone has encountered one, or both, of these exchanges at some point.
Ghosting — or a sudden disappearance with no reply and no explanation — has been on the rise for years, and shows no signs of waning. We do it in our personal lives, after a first (or several) dates, but it has seeped into our professional lives, as well. Even after multiple meetings and customized proposals and pitches, responsible professionals will just completely disappear, without the courtesy to simply say, "Thank you, but we’re not a fit," or, "The timing isn't great." Instead, they leave the other party to pursue them incessantly.
Technology is the easy scapegoat, and it certainly is at the root of the problem. Technology makes communication easier than ever, which collectively lowers our value of the individual interactions. It also overwhelms us with the volume of pings and messages nagging for a reply each day. So we mentally block and prioritize, and, inevitably, there are winners and losers in that hierarchy of exchange.
But technology does not excuse this bad behavior, and not holding ourselves accountable is a lose-lose approach. Here are two main reasons why we continue to ghost and what we can do about it:
1) We have a false sense of our networks.
We value numbers over the quality of connection, and think that just because someone is a Linkedin contact or a Facebook friend, that that relationship doesn't need to be nurtured. But relationships are not a “one and done” operation. The digital point of connection is merely the springboard for the actual meat of the relationship. We’ve all had someone fail to respond to our personal correspondence, but continue to “like” our posts on social media. It’s maddening, to say the least.
Research indicates that both close and loose ties are important in building a valuable network, but we forget that close connections and loose ties alike require ongoing effort to continue to deliver value. Relationships, just like everything else worth having, are hard work. And laziness — however appealing in the short-term — yields an equally disappointing outcome over time.
2) We want to be wanted.
In business and in pleasure, we like the feeling of being pursued. Someone might reach out 2, 3, or more times, and yet we still don’t take a moment to respond and give them clarity. The time it takes to say “no thank you” is far less than the time and mental energy spent processing the on-going requests and pursuit. And yet, we continue to let others chase us. It feels good to be wanted.
Social media does us no favors in this department. Likes and follows fuel our ego, and we wrongly think that relationships are one-directional or can be turned on and off when beneficial to us. But relationships are two-sided enterprises. Valuable intros, time spent mentoring or consulting, or merely showing up to an event or always responding to a note — the cumulative effect of these small acts matters in the life of a relationship, but when only one party consistently holds up their side of the bargain, an imbalance ensues.
Sure, there are moments of great hardship or times when we simply can’t rise to the occasion — but most of the time, it’s not an emergency that fuels the ghosting. We all know people who perpetually embrace the “I’m busy” excuse and disappear, but don’t hesitate to ask for what they need when it’s beneficial.
So what's the solution?
For years I mused that I wanted a life sponsor — someone to help bankroll all my creative pursuits. A patron of sorts. Then I realized I had many, albeit in a slightly different format. Entrepreneurs seek funding from venture capitalists (VCs), but everyday people have investors, too. In my new book,Startup Your Life: Hustle and Hack Your Way to Happiness, I talk about the value of creating "life VCs" — people in whom you mutually invest, over time, to create reciprocal relationship returns. But rather than check writers, they are our strategic advisors and unofficial mentors. They’re the individuals who make time to share life lessons and dole out advice. They include us in their lives and make introductions — or just counsel us when we’re down.
This isn’t just everyday networking. Enlisting life VCs involves relationship building that goes far beyond a business card exchange or a Linkedin request. These relationships evolve and experience varying degrees of intimacy over time, but for them to really work, the investment must be mutual, even if each party fulfills a different function at different points in time. It is a feedback loop of value in which everyone benefits — but only if they continue to participate.
And fair warning: Life VCs aren’t always obvious. The intro that leads to your dream job or life partner could come from a connection you least expect, when you least expect it. Which makes ghosting dangerous and myopic.
So as you navigate an already complicated 2017, put an end to ghosting. If not out of courtesy for others, then out of a selfish desire to maximize the human capital in your life. You’re far richer than you think you are, but cashing in isn’t free.
With so many groundbreaking medical advances being revealed to the world every single day, you would imagine there would be some advancement on the plethora of many female-prevalent diseases (think female cancers, Alzheimer's, depression, heart conditions etc.) that women are fighting every single day.
For Anna Villarreal and her team, there frankly wasn't enough being done. In turn, she developed a method that diagnoses these diseases earlier than traditional methods, using a pretty untraditional method in itself: through your menstrual blood.
Getting from point A to point B wasn't so easy though. Villarreal was battling a disease herself and through that experience. “I wondered if there was a way to test menstrual blood for female specific diseases," she says. "Perhaps my situation could have been prevented or at least better managed. This led me to begin researching menstrual blood as a diagnostic source. For reasons the scientific and medical community do not fully understand, certain diseases impact women differently than men. The research shows that clinical trials have a disproportionate focus on male research subjects despite clear evidence that many diseases impact more women than men."
There's also no denying that gap in women's healthcare in clinical research involving female subjects - which is exactly what inspired Villarreal to launch her company, LifeStory Health. She says that, “with my personal experience everything was brought full circle."
“There is a challenge and a need in the medical community for more sex-specific research. I believe the omission of females as research subjects is putting women's health at risk and we need to fuel a conversation that will improve women's healthcare.,"
Her brand new biotech company is committed to changing the women's healthcare market through technology, innovation and vocalization and through extensive research and testing. She is working to develop the first ever, non-invasive, menstrual blood diagnostic and has partnered with a top Boston-area University on research and has won awards from The International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering and Northeastern University's RISE.
How does it work exactly? Proteins are discovered in menstrual blood that can quickly and easily detect, manage and track diseases in women, resulting in diseases that can be earlier detected, treated and even prevented in the first place. The menstrual blood is easy to collect and since it's a relatively unexplored diagnostic it's honestly a really revolutionary concept, too.
So far, the reactions of this innovative research has been nothing but excitement. “The reactions have been incredibly positive." she shares with SWAAY. “Currently, menstrual blood is discarded as bio waste, but it could carry the potential for new breakthroughs in diagnosis. When I educate women on the lack of female subjects used in research and clinical trials, they are surprised and very excited at the prospect that LifeStory Health may provide a solution and the key to early detection."
To give a doctor's input, and a little bit more of an explanation as to why this really works, Dr. Pat Salber, MD, and Founder of The Doctor Weighs In comments: “researchers have been studying stem cells derived from menstrual blood for more than a decade. Stem cells are cells that have the capability of differentiating into different types of tissues. There are two major types of stem cells, embryonic and adult. Adult stem cells have a more limited differentiation potential, but avoid the ethical issues that have surrounded research with embryonic stem cells. Stem cells from menstrual blood are adult stem cells."
These stem cells are so important when it comes to new findings. “Stem cells serve as the backbone of research in the field of regenerative medicine – the focus which is to grow tissues, such as skin, to repair burn and other types of serious skin wounds.
A certain type of stem cell, known as mesenchymal stem cells (MenSCs) derived from menstrual blood has been found to both grow well in the lab and have the capability to differentiate in various cell types, including skin. In addition to being used to grow tissues, their properties can be studied that will elucidate many different aspects of cell function," Dr. Salber explains.
To show the outpour of support for her efforts and this major girl power research, Villarreal remarks, “women are volunteering their samples happily report the arrival of their periods by giving samples to our lab announcing “de-identified sample number XXX arrived today!" It's a far cry from the stereotype of when “it's that time of the month."
How are these collections being done? “Although it might sound odd to collect menstrual blood, plastic cups have been developed to use in the collection process. This is similar to menstrual products, called menstrual cups, that have been on the market for many years," Dr. Salber says.
Equally shocking and innovative, this might be something that becomes more common practice in the future. And according to Dr. Salber, women may be able to not only use the menstrual blood for early detection, but be able to store the stem cells from it to help treat future diseases. “Companies are working to commercialize the use of menstrual blood stem cells. One company, for example, is offering a patented service to store menstrual blood stem cells for use in tissue generation if the need arises."