John is an executive recruiter & speaker sharing his thoughts on healthcare, recruiting, digital technology, career management & leadership. 

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Michael Lewis: Boomerang: Travels in the New Third WorldMichael Lewis: Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World Next up on my reading list. Lewis, author of Liar's Poker, The Big Short and Money B
7 November, 2011 Posted by John G. Self
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19 September, 2014 Posted by John G. Self Posted in Stories
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A 1960s Lifestyle in SW Texas

Posted September 19th, 2014 | Author: John G. Self

In a small isolated ranching town in Southwest Texas — a place with no movie theater, no Walmart, no car dealership, one drug store and only three or four places to eat — there is a little of the 1950s and 1960s that is alive and well.

It is not new phenomenon to the locals but fascinating to those of us lucky enough to wander through for business or to visit relatives.

Travelers on Interstate 10 who stop for gas or a bathroom break, probably thank their lucky stars they are not stuck in “a place like this.” There is no McDonalds, Burger King or Taco Bell, no welcoming diner on the Interstate. Just some lower price point motels, gas stations and a few local restaurants, whose operating hours, the locals say, are sometimes mysterious, plus a Pizza Hut, a Sonic and the ubiquitous Dairy Queen.

People do not eat out as much as in larger cities, “After a while, with so few choices, it is just more enjoyable to stay at home, with our family” an oil industry official said.

So what is so special?

Parents from every economic and ethnic cohort are actively engaged in supporting their children and the local education system. Not just a few parents as is the case in larger cities, but virtually every parent with a child in school. It is overwhelming.

In a time when malls, movies and game arcades are a narcotic draw for kids in most communities across America, in this town all of the energy is directed to the children and their extracurricular activities.

The school superintendent, who says many of his colleagues envy the amount of parental engagement his system enjoys, explains there is a strong undercurrent of a lifestyle that was common in the 50s and 60s. It is one of this town’s little secrets. The other secret is their extraordinarily well equipped hospital, rated one of the top Critical Access Hospitals in America. Residents are equally proud of that, but the hospital is a story for another day.

“This town is all about the kids,” said one local rancher/civic leader in describing why he moved there, It is an amazing thing. “There are two things we worry about here,” a local businessman remarked, “water and high school football and in the fall we don’t worry as much about the water.”

This is not a huge school district — it moved up to 3A status when the University Interscholastic League added another level to designate the largest of the state’s schools — but there is a lot going on. From football, basketball, baseball games and track and field events, to band and choral concerts, 4-H events and academic competitions, the kids are involved and the parents are there.

Studies show that when parents are actively engaged with their children in school, they tend to do better academically and developmentally. And that is worth a lot more than a Walmart, shopping mall or a movie theater.

Sonora, Texas does not offer much in the way of glitz or entertainment outside of school events but the kids who are growing up here are pretty lucky.

© 2014 John Gregory Self

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17 September, 2014 Posted by Nancy Swain Posted in Career Management, Leadership, Stories
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Bits Of Inspirational Wisdom

Posted September 17th, 2014 | Author: Nancy Swain

By Nancy Swain

YesterdayEndedLastNightOver the years as a teacher, corporate trainer, public speaker, sales executive, single mom, and career coach, I have developed many “go to market stories”, built sales training courses for healthcare companies, assisted thousands in their career transitions, and coached hundreds in their quest for executive development. Along the way I wrote down some thoughts and captured some from others that made a difference to them and me with whom I had the privilege to work with. Below is the list that may inspire you, confirm what you already know, or be just the bit of wisdom you were looking for today. Enjoy…

  • The difference between “just” a conversation and a “relationship building” conversation is at least 2 more questions
  • Perception equals reality
  • The world is hungry for honest communication – stand on your word
  • Negotiations begin with the first encounter where perceptions are created. Ask yourself what you want the other person to think, feel, believe and remember when you are not there
  • Labeling is a helpful task, not representative of your job description. Be mindful of the opportunity to impart knowledge and shift perception from the helpful rep to the rep that was willing to help
  • Knowledge is power.   Planning is the differentiator
  • We are creatures of habit, good and bad. Do one thing differently today, think outside the box… recreate the joy of work
  • A good manager imparts a view that allows others to have breakthroughs for growth… and assists in making order out of chaos… being an enabler. It is about coaching and facilitating instead of supervising and controlling. A manager’s job is to make those that report to him/her better than they are on their best day
  • Money follows energy, put passion in your work. A quote from Bill Gates: A lousy process will consume 10 times as many hours as the work itself requires. A good process will eliminate the wasted time
  • I’ll trade you an ounce of passion for a page of vision — from the book by Tom Peters: Liberation Management
  • Tomorrow’s results will be determined largely by today’s approach
  • The most promise for the future will be found in process improvement, and to a large degree our processes determine our destiny
  • We must consider ourselves personally responsible for cross-functional results
  • Design your job around outcomes
  • Work backward from what the customer values
  • Customers are five times more likely to leave because our business processes are poor than because we have poor products
  • Three process components; plan, perform, measure and manage
  • Communication is the oxygen that change needs to survive


NancyHeadshotNancy Swain is a member of the JohnGSelf + Partners transition coaching team, leading the Transition/Outplacement practice and advising clients on candidate profiles. She is also President of Strategic Intelligence in Dallas.  You can reach Nancy at

© 2014 John Gregory Self

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15 September, 2014 Posted by John G. Self Posted in Career Management
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Smelly Feet and Bad Breath: Are You Practicing Personal Awareness?

Posted September 15th, 2014 | Author: John G. Self

Personal awareness seems like a straightforward proposition.


iStock_000010560711SmallTruth be told, personal self awareness really falls into the category of mysterious.  We all want to believe we are very aware of who we are, ever so sensitive to how we are being perceived.

If only… If only we were as good it as we would like to believe.

Much has been written about emotional intelligence.  Well, I wish we could create a personal awareness intelligence chart.  Sadly, far too many leaders will embarrassingly find themselves ranked somewhere between their blindside and that guy with smelly feet and bad breath.

While the majority of leaders aren’t that guy, this is no time to become complacent.

As you work to build a deep reservoir of support and goodwill with your board, physicians, employees and key stakeholders, tuning in to this self awareness concept is pretty darned important.

Here are five questions to consider when thinking about your self awareness.

  1. Do you regularly ask for feedback from members of your leadership team?
  2. Do you have the trust relationship that will allow them to be honest with you?
  3. Do you regularly make rounds, or hold no bosses allowed luncheons to ask your employees for their candid input?
  4. Do they trust you enough to tell you what they are thinking, even if the truth stings a bit?
  5. Do you have a leadership coach/confidant that you regularly bring in to help you stay on top of this issue?

This is not the time to assume that your employees respect you today and will follow you tomorrow.

Turnover in the hospital CEO ranks is increasing and it is not all Baby Boomers heading for peaceful greener pastures.

© 2014 John Gregory Self

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