One’s college years can be a time of great fun, learning, and enjoyment. Experiences with friends, academics, and extracurricular activities often dominate this time in life. Many recall these years as some of the best of their lives.
John Deedrick ’84 has over 30 years of experience as a Christian businessman and leader. As successful venture capitalist, he has made investments in over 50 medical startups, helped create over $10 billion in enterprise value, and helped many patients with chronic and disabling diseases. John’s practicality and business capabilities trace their way back to his years at Northwestern. John recalls the common-sense, ethical approach taken by the Northwestern business department as being instrumental in his early professional development.
More than academics, however, college taught John a work ethic that has stayed with him over the years. In order to finance his education, John had to work multiple jobs throughout college. Instead of focusing on the challenges presented by these circumstances, however, John recalled these years as being formative in his development of a solid, biblical work ethic, which he has applied to his family, his businesses, and his ministry.
John married Kelly (Hemmen) Deedrick ’82 in his junior year, and they have been together for 35 years. They have had a blessed life with two married sons and two grandsons. The journey to this point in life was not easy. John is convinced that sanctification takes time, work, and, sometimes, a few epiphany moments. John would tell you that he has had three such experiences in his life. These moments have been instrumental in his life of faith, family, and work.
In 1997, after coming home from another international trip, Kelly showed John a picture their oldest son, Tim, had drawn in school. It was a picture of a boy with a tear in his eye, a football under his arm, and a plane in the sky. It was clear to him that he needed a job change in order to be the man that God wanted him to be and the husband and father his family needed. Within three months, the Deedricks had moved to Rochester MN, where John was working as a corporate venture capitalist for Mayo Clinic. God blessed this move for both his family and business.
After numerous years of success in the financial industry, John wanted something more. “As a businessman, I always felt called to minister to others,” he said. In 2001, John was in San Francisco for business, when an idea came to him. John remembered the “Holy Spirit speaking into my life and my pen flying across a piece of paper.”
Several weeks later, his idea came to fruition. John, Kelly, and their good friends, the Bunkes, founded GreatDeeds, a Christian ministry committed to doing and empowering others to do good deeds. John’s motivation was influenced in part by 1 Timothy 6:18: “They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share.” Through this biblical foundation and a commitment to servant leadership, GreatDeeds has been able to shine the light of Christ in the lives of many people with true needs.
In the span of two years, John endured the loss of his father, father-in-law, two of his best friends, and the 21 year old son of another friend – all tragic and unexpected deaths. While he survived this difficulty through faith in the Lord, he became broken in confidence and spirit. God sent a friend from many years earlier who came along side and helped him rebuild his confidence while faithfully influencing the people who worked alongside of him.
Today, John is back starting companies in the healthcare industry. He and a business partner are raising money for a new venture capital fund, and he has reengaged with the Northwestern community. He is enjoying the opportunities and challenges the Lord provides every day.
For John, Northwestern proved to be a training ground for a career of success in both his professional and personal life – a career filled with experiences that John has now put to work in GreatDeeds. Through the character and vision put forth in his business, family, and ministry, John Deedrick is truly doing good for Christ as a servant leader.