Meet Gique Suelin Chen

CEO and Co-Founder at CAKE, MIT B.S. and PhD Graduate, Dancer, and Art Lover

Tell us about yourself.

"I've always been interested in healthcare, which has led me from medical research, to strategic healthcare consulting, and now to CAKE, a tech startup that helps people with advance care and end-of-life planning.

I have also always been involved in the arts, from minoring in music composition at MIT to dancing in music videos to serving on the advisory committee of the List Visual Arts Center.  Not only do I get to meet fascinating people this way, these experiences make me feel energized, curious, and alive.

For a while I tried to find the perfect job that would leverage all of my skills and interests. When I was the Director of The Lab@Harvard, it was explicitly my responsibility to support student ideas in both art and science, which was great.  It's not always necessary though to combine everything you like into a single career--you can live as a multi-faceted person and that's a beautiful thing.

Even though I don't directly use knowledge from my PhD, I use the skills every single day: I teach myself new things; I break down complex, nebulous problems into testable parts; and I know that I am resilient, tenacious, and super persistent!"

How was CAKE created?

"Having diverse interests is not just for checking boxes to get into college-my experiences in healthcare, engineering, technology, art, and entrepreneurship have all contributed to the idea of CAKE.  My background in science and engineering helps me approach everything in a highly analytical and data-driven way.  My background in art has helped hone my capacity for empathy, which applies to every aspect of my business--that includes collaborating with team members, pitching investors, and of course, designing products for our users.

Part of our company's mission is to help us all gain perspective in our daily lives.  It's so easy to fall into automatic routines and habits without asking the question of whether it is serving you and the people you care about. Life does not go on forever, so how do you want to spend your time? What's most important to you in life? For me, it is always helpful to connect to a deeper sense of self to make sure that when I look back at my life, I'll feel like I was fully present for it, and remembered to be grateful."

What does being a gique mean to you?

"A gique is someone who seeks experiences that enlivens them, without regard to labels or pre-defined roles--a gique is dynamic and always learning. A gique is not afraid to live on that exciting edge of their abilities.  They are not content to just sit around and "coast". A gique wants to be challenged in order to thrive."

What advice do you want to offer the people who read this?

"Being an entrepreneur is similar to being an artist in that you have to put yourself out there and make yourself vulnerable. Sometimes you encounter haters if you don't, you're probably playing it too safe. It takes a lot of bravery to open yourself up to criticism, but that's how you learn and grow. Also, it sounds cheesy, but you should try to see every obstacle, and every moment of adversity as a gift: it's a learning opportunity.   Nothing worth doing was ever easy!

I have learned over the years that you have to stay humble, but you also have to make sure not to be too hard on yourself. It's so important to develop a sense of worth that comes from within.  Your value as a person is not determined by anything external--not by what other people think, not by successes or failures--nor is it determined by the "inner critic" inside your head (which, by the way, we all have!).  You are wonderful and you are enough, right now, exactly the way you are. You are worthy! You are a rock star! Go out and do!"

CAKE is a company that repositions death in our lives and our society by making it easier to think about.  Their first-in-class, mobile-friendly web app helps users discover their end-of-life preferences, and store and share those preferences securely in the cloud. In addition to the app, CAKE offers personalized concierge services with end-of-life planning experts.