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The Wonder Woman who might save your life

Meet Martine Rothblatt, Sirius XM founder who now creates life-saving technologies

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Today over 35 million people subscribe to SIRIUS XM radio – but it was only 30 years ago that the very concept of delivering high-quality radio service to listeners via satellites was almost inconceivable.

And yet it did happen.

In the early 90’s the FCC established frequencies and licensing rules for the first-ever satellite digital audio radio service. And it was all due to the persistence of one woman: Martine Rothblatt.

The company that she started from nothing is now a $6 billion business, and with its recent acquisition of Pandora, is set to capture even more market share in the fast-growing digital audio space. Even if this – the founding of SIRIUS – was ALL that she had done, it would be quite an accomplishment, a level of success that most people only dream of achieving.

But Martine didn’t stop there. She pivoted her entire career as an engineer and shifted her attention to biotechnology, creating United Therapeutics in 1996 after finding out her daughter had pulmonary hypertension, a rare life-threatening disease. Today, United Therapeutics sells five FDA-approved pills for pulmonary hypertension, and is  experimenting with pig cloning and genetic modification to create organ transplants the body doesn’t reject.

When she found out that 80% of donated lungs end up unusable, she figured out a technique manufacture them in unlimited quantities and overcome the severe shortage of donor organs. She even went on to invent the first electric helicopter to deliver them in a way that is environmentally friendly.

Martine was the top-earning CEO in the biopharmaceutical industry in 2018, earning a compensation package of more than $37 million. But she’s not just a pioneer in business. She underwent gender reassignment surgery decades ago, and has been a powerful advocate for transgender rights ever since.

At Business Mastery, Tony had the privilege of speaking with Martine, and he was completely blown away by their conversation. In this episode, Martine shares how she has built her entire career on achieving the seemingly impossible, and also reveals her own process for turning visionary ideas into technology that we can use every day.


[00:42] Episode introduction
[03:10] The idea for Sirius Satellite Radio
[03:55] Martine’s fascination with space
[05:13] Submitting calculations to the FCC
[05:51] Getting initial funding
[06:21] Overcoming skepticism from the FCC
[07:27] Getting investors to take a bet
[08:26] Howard Stern joins Sirius
[09:17] Changing the rules of the FCC
[10:12] Developing certainty and confidence
[11:33] Finding a larger rocket
[12:18] Finding out Jenesis has a rare disease
[13:08] Talking to doctors about the prognosis
[13:53] It takes 99 no’s to get a yes
[14:40] Approaching GlaxoSmithKline
[15:45] Finding a solution
[17:33] Finding pride in accomplishments
[18:28] Developing a drug that helps Neuroblastoma
[19:24] The growth of United Therapeutics
[20:23] Finding an alternative to organ transplants
[21:25] Manufacturing replacement organs
[22:27] Restoring dead lungs to living lungs
[23:21] Decoding the pig genome
[24:46] Replacement organs without immunosuppressants
[26:18] 3D printing organs
[27:29] Martine’s commitment to organ replacement
[28:20] Dr. Tony Atala creating ears and bladders
[29:44] Testing hearts and kidneys on baboons
[20:31] Delivering organs via electric helicopters
[31:40] Using Tesla as inspiration
[32:15] The Tiger Team philosophy
[32:45] Creating the world’s first electric helicopter
[34:24] Partnership with Ehang in China
[35:20] Making an electric helicopter that wouldn’t crash
[36:38] Martine’s process for solving problems
[41:11] The Secret Sauce
[42:25] Certainty in finding a solution
[44:00] Martine’s transition from male to female
[46:00] The incredible support of Bina
[47:45] The response of Wall Street
[48:34] Being an openly transgender CEO
[49:20] Digital transcendence and cyber-consciousness
[50:00] The influence of Alan Turing
[51:16] The software inside our mind
[53:00] Uploading our minds
[54:04] Getting closer to techno-immortality
[54:40] Tony’s personal and business A.I.

Team Tony

Team Tony cultivates, curates and shares Tony Robbins’ stories and core principles, to help others achieve an extraordinary life.

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