President and CEO
Describe your very first job and what lessons you learned from it.
Once I got past delivering newspapers as a little kid, my first job with significant responsibility was driving a taxicab outside of New York City. I did this starting the summer after high school, and did it for each year while in college, plus the year after college. It was 12-hour shifts, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., six days a week. Things learned included the value of hard work, and no matter what the job is you have a responsibility to do it right because someone is depending on you.
Describe your first job in your industry and what you learned from it.
My first job in the health care industry was working as an administrative assistant in a small hospital and I had responsibility for the admitting department. What I learned was that frontline workers know a lot about what is going on, all you have to do is ask them.
What were your salaries at both of these jobs?
As a cab driver, I would make about $50 a day and as an administrative assistant, I made about $13,000 per year.
Who is your biggest mentor and what role did he or she play?
I had three mentors who taught me lessons I actively use on a regular basis. Art Malasto was CEO of a hospital in Indiana, where I was an assistant administrator. He taught me that “visibility breeds credibility, credibility breeds trust, so if you wanted to be trusted, you have to be visible.” Gary Mecklenburg was a CEO at a hospital in Chicago, where I was a senior vice president. He taught me to “plan the work and work the plan.” In other words, you have to plan to know where you want to go, and you have to work the plan if you want to get there. It’s a simple concept that many times cannot be executed.Finally, Ed Howe, a health system president that I worked for in Milwaukee, taught me that to stay focused, you have to “tune out the static.” That lesson has helped me to stay focused on what needs to be done, no matter what else is going on around me.
What advice would you give to a person just entering your industry?
Make sure you have a passion for complexity and a high tolerance for ambiguity, and always remember that misery is optional.
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing instead?
I’d be coaching a 12-year-old soccer team or coaching a college lacrosse team.