ASM: Owen Tripp ’97 on Leadership, Love, and Andover

M.Zhang/The Phillipian

Wednesday’s All-School Meeting (ASM) crowd fell silent as Owen Tripp ’97 described his experience with the suicide of former Andover student body president Zachary Tripp ’00, his younger brother. Tripp explained that this experience made him a more capable person and has shaped what he chooses to focus on in his life. Tripp said in ASM, “How many times have we seen this storyline? The great hero faces adversity, faces challenge, somehow gets past that challenge, and emerges a wiser, more capable person. My brother’s death woke me up in ways, and it’s created enormous passion to help people.” Tripp has had ample opportunities to help others as the CEO and co-founder of Grand Rounds, a healthcare company that connects patients with medical providers and assistance. Grand Rounds was founded in 2011 and has since expanded greatly and been named as Rock Health’s 2018 Fastest Growing Company. “We take care of people who are trying to figure out what next steps to take in their healthcare journey, oftentimes for people who are dealing with quite complicated things. The favorite part of my job is the payoff that you get when you get to help people, that you got an answer, or even sometimes when you don’t have an answer. That they’ve actually done everything they can to try to get better, but there isn’t another answer out there for them,” said Tripp in an interview with The Phillipian. Tripp says that the work he does in leadership at Grand Rounds was informed by his time at Andover. Tripp said that his time in The Phillipian’s Newsroom as a Sports Editor helped him enhance and grow his leadership style. He explained that he conceptualizes leadership as the process in which you perform an action, not the action itself. “I think that you learn trying to create something on short notice with people who are stressed or overworked or have other things going on in their lives, and I think that the Andover experience was huge for the leadership.” said Tripp. Tripp continued, “I think in leadership, which takes on a million different forms for Andover students right now, it’s kind of what I said at the All-School Meeting. Be open to letting the process and the feelings of how things unfold affect your brand of leadership and how you’re going to approach difficult situations, and be willing to pay attention to that while you’re here and in the next part of the journey… In leadership it’s 90 percent about the how you do it, and how people watch you doing it that matters more so than the specific decision or the specific action that you’re going to take.” Brooklyn Wirt ’21 said that she related Tripp’s message of hard work and leadership to her own experiences at Andover, especially in regards to how they will affect her in the long term. “Everyone at Andover is always so wrapped up in their next assignment and their next test and their next game that they never have enough time for anything. I think living in this environment, although it may appear and may be slightly unhealthy, has really helped to prepare me for the rest of my life and beyond where I will experience similar circumstances. In my old high school in Montana, I would never have been able to have such an opportunity,” said Wirt. During ASM, Tripp also spoke about the effects of “Two Andovers” on his life and leadership. The first was the one he experienced as a student: joyful and friendly, but challenging at times. The second Andover was shaped by an experience Tripp had after he left the school: his younger brother’s suicide. Tripp outlined the differences between these two Andover experiences and highlighted their similarities, especially how they shaped his reaction to future experiences. “The arc of the first [Andover] started with four years here and continues over a lifetime of incredible friendships. My Andover friends remain to this day my confidantes, my cheerleaders, my jokesters, my pals. And I rely on them for so much… What I learned from them is that the things they thought were important when they were here — AP exams, what dorm you got into, even what college you got into — were frankly less important than the way you felt when they happened,” said Tripp. Tripp continued, “My second Andover has shaped me. It has been an incredible source of fuel and inspiration for the journey. Great hardship created way for great purpose.” Melina Powell ’20 expressed admiration for Tripp’s journey towards entrepreneurship, especially his commitment to helping the community through his company. “He had a terrible, tragic experience, but over time he healed partly, and he learned from it. He acknowledged that a lot of times when you go through really tough situations, the pain won’t necessarily go away completely, but you can definitely go to a better place and use what you learned to help other people… It was really inspiring to hear someone turn a negative situation into something that impacts so many people in such a positive way,” said Powell.