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Welcome to The Medicine Mentors interview series. Our mission is to create a platform for top physician mentors to share key insights, traits and best practices based on their experiences to guide medical students and residents.

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Mar 8, 2024

Marcel van den Brink, MD,  is the Head and Alan N. Houghton Chair of the Division of Hematologic Oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He is internationally renowned for his work in the field of bone marrow transplantation, the gut microbiome, and immunotherapy. He is also the Co-Director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy and Chairman of the Board of DKMS, an international nonprofit organization devoted to bone marrow donor registration. He is a recipient of numerous prestigious awards and is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and he has been elected to the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences for his contributions in the field of hematologic malignancies.

“Finding solutions is often as simple as shutting up and listening to what people formulate as the problem and what they have thought of as the answer. Without fail, I’m surprised that they’ve got something better than I could have come up with.” Join us in this episode of The Medicine Mentors where Chairman of Heme Malignancies at MSKCC, Dr. Marcel van den Brink, shares tips of effective leadership. Tune in as we learn about the five-minute ‘no talking, only listening’ rule at the start of meetings and why the best leaders find comfort in not knowing everything.

Pearls of Wisdom:
1. We will be leaders before we know it, and the simple formula of leadership is listening. When we conduct meetings, all we have to do is be quiet for the first five minutes and listen.
2. To know when we are ready to move on to the next stage, the next level, we have to know what we don’t know, that is, do we know how to prioritize what matters, and if not, are we ready to seek help for it?
3. Failure and success often follow a 9:1 ratio, and so, to increase our chances of success, we should try our hands in different endeavors to see where we can truly shine.
4. Just like listening is the pathway to leadership, respect is the pathway to teamwork, and we should be mindful of it in our day-to-day interactions.