This is an incredibly powerful episode of the podcast.
John F. Crowley is the Chairman and CEO of Amicus Therapeutics, a publicly traded biotechnology company, which he helped found in 2005 and is now a 300+ person company in 22 countries. John’s involvement with biotechnology stems from the 1998 diagnosis of two of his children with Pompe disease — a severe and often fatal neuromuscular disorder. In his drive to find a cure for them, he left his job and became an entrepreneur as the Co-founder, President, and CEO of Novazyme Pharmaceuticals in 2000, a biotech start-up conducting research on a new experimental treatment for Pompe disease (which he credits as ultimately saving his children’s lives). In 2001, Novazyme was acquired by Genzyme Corporation for nearly $200 million.
John and his family are the subjects of a book by Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Geeta Anand, The Cure: How a Father Raised $100 Million — and Bucked the Medical Establishment — in a Quest to Save His Children. The major motion picture Extraordinary Measures, starring Brendan Fraser and Harrison Ford, is inspired by the Crowley family journey. John is the author of a personal memoir: Chasing Miracles: The Crowley Family Journey of Strength, Hope, and Joy.
John also served as a commissioned intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve from 2005-2016. He was assigned to the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and is a veteran of the global war on terrorism, with service in Afghanistan. He graduated with a B.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, and earned a J.D. from the University of Notre Dame Law School and an M.B.A. from Harvard.
He previously served (2014-2016) as the National Chairman of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America and is a founding board member of the Global Genes Project. John is a Henry Crown Fellow at The Aspen Institute.
- Listen to it on iTunes.
- Stream by clicking here.
- Download as an MP3 by right-clicking here and choosing “save as.”
Want to hear another interview with a superhuman scientist? — Listen to my in-depth conversation with Dom D’Agostino. In this episode, we discuss fasting, heavy deadlifts, and the end of cancer (stream below or right-click here to download):
This podcast is brought to you by iD Commerce + Logistics. I’m asked all the time about how to scale businesses quickly. Rule number one: remove unnecessary bottlenecks. Many businesses can do so by outsourcing inventory management and fulfillment to a company that makes this its primary focus.
iD Commerce + Logistics is just such a company. It helps online retailers and entrepreneurs outgrow their competition by handling all types of details — from inventory to packing and shipping. I depended on iD to handle these types of details when I launched The 4-Hour Chef so I could focus on promoting the book. As a listener of this podcast, you can get up to $10,000 off your start-up fees and costs waived by visiting tim.blog/scale or idcomlog.com/tim.
This podcast is also brought to you by Wealthfront. Wealthfront is a massively disruptive (in a good way) set-it-and-forget-it investing service, led by technologists from places like Apple and world-famous investors. It has exploded in popularity in the last two years and now has more than $2.5B under management. In fact, some of my good investor friends in Silicon Valley have millions of their own money in Wealthfront. Why? Because you can get services previously limited to the ultra-wealthy and only pay pennies on the dollar for them, and it’s all through smarter software instead of retail locations and bloated sales teams.
Check out wealthfront.com/tim, take their risk assessment quiz, which only takes 2-5 minutes, and they’ll show you — for free — exactly the portfolio they’d put you in. If you want to just take their advice and do it yourself, you can. Or, as I would, you can set it and forget it. Well worth a few minutes: wealthfront.com/tim.
QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.
Scroll below for links and show notes…
Selected Links from the Episode
- Connect with John F. Crowley:
- Amicus Therapeutics
- Pompe disease
- One Dad’s 14-Year Quest for Cure by Geeta Anand, The Wall Street Journal
- The Cure: How a Father Raised $100 Million — and Bucked the Medical Establishment — in a Quest to Save His Children by Geeta Anand
- Extraordinary Measures
- Chasing Miracles: The Crowley Family Journey of Strength, Hope, and Joy by John F. Crowley
- How to Climb a Rope Like a Navy SEAL by The Art of Manliness
- HBS case study: A Father’s Love: Novazyme Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
- How Genzyme Became a Source of Biotech Executives by Robert Weisman, The Boston Globe
- Saint Peter’s University Hospital in New Brunswick
- Matt Swinton’s Declaration of Independence
- How Focusing on Obscure Diseases Made BioMarin a $15 Billion Company by Matthew Herper, Forbes
- Angel in the Whirlwind: The Triumph of the American Revolution by Benson Bobrick
- The field of biotechnology owes a lot to Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Genentech
- The Essential Rumi, New Expanded Edition by Jalal al-Din Rumi
- A Life-Saving Biotech with a Personal Mission (John on CNBC with Jim Cramer)
- Make-A-Wish Foundation
- The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology by Ray Kurzweil
- Plated and Blue Apron
- Growing up Catholic, John knows well the Hail Mary and The Lord’s Prayer
- Megan’s blog: High Heeled Wheels
- John explains what it’s like to be afraid of heights and practice fast-roping drills with Navy SEALs. [08:00]
- What John learned about sudden loss in childhood. [12:03]
- Was John like Captain America even at age 10? [15:52]
- In high school, what did John think he’d be when he grew up? [19:41]
- Mentors who had an impact on John during his early years. [20:26]
- What does a curriculum at The School of Foreign Service at Georgetown entail? [22:44]
- John’s special connection to the University of Notre Dame. [23:49]
- What a class at Harvard Business School is like for someone who’s not good at math. [28:22]
- The events surrounding John’s children being diagnosed with Pompe disease. [32:04]
- How looking for a cure became a full-time job. [37:00]
- On the difficult protocols involved with getting John’s own children treated. [47:10]
- The best Christmas present John could have wished for. [50:11]
- Conventional rules of the biotech business John broke in pursuit of a cure. [52:16]
- Early treatment: improvements and plateaus. [55:46]
- How are Megan and Patrick doing today? [58:03]
- On the principles of good parenting. [1:00:57]
- Advice for parents of children with special needs. [1:04:23]
- “Little people can teach us big people an awful lot if we just listen.” [1:05:53]
- How does one create an economically viable company when developing drugs to treat rare diseases? [1:11:08]
- What drives John today, and how did he choose the name “Amicus” for his company? [1:13:29]
- What prompted John to get reinvolved with the miltary? [1:16:09]
- Characteristics that make John capable in the elite military world, and what carries over from his business experience? [1:17:23]
- As someone who’s so busy on multiple fronts, how does John keep from feeling overwhelmed? [1:20:07]
- Most-gifted books. [1:21:34]
- Inspiring, but underrated or lesser-known leaders. [1:23:22]
- How would John advise someone to train for resilience? [1:28:01]
- How does one balance living like there’s no tomorrow with the planning required for long-term goals? [1:33:02]
- Altruism: where to begin? [1:41:43]
- Hopes for the future of genetic medicine and the pursuit of longer lifespans. [1:44:02]
- Likely breakthroughs ahead. [1:45:46]
- John’s daily habits. [1:48:38]
- What a Crowley evening workout looks like. [1:52:32]
- Ways of coping with insomnia. [1:55:03]
- What is grace? [1:56:40]
- What would John’s billboard message be? [1:56:58]
- Parting thoughts on healthcare and high heeled wheels. [1:57:30]
- Geeta Anand
- Brendan Fraser
- Harrison Ford
- General Stanley McChrystal
- Megan K. Crowley
- Jason Statham
- Aileen Crowley
- Bill Clinton
- Madeleine Albright
- Jeane Kirkpatrick
- William Colby
- Steven C. Wheelwright
- John Crowley, Jr.
- Patrick Crowley
- William Canfield
- Henri Termeer
- Matt Swinton
- Robert Ginsberg
- Ed Devinney
- George Washington
- Benedict Arnold
- Eugene Kleiner
- Tom Perkins
- Bob Swanson
- Herb Boyer
- Jonas Salk
- Anna Quindlen
- Jalal al-Din Rumi
- Chris Greicius
The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 600 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.