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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18 May, 2015 Posted by John G. Self Posted in Recruiting
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Going Small Versus Big

Posted May 18th, 2015 | Author: John G. Self

We all recognize the popular business cliche, bigger is not always better.  It is a nice sentiment, especially if your organization is included in the small category.

Big or small options on the chalkboard

To give “big” its due, there are certain advantages to using a big company for certain types of jobs where capital structure or geographic diversity are critical, such as a company that builds commercial jet engines for clients throughout the world or a nationwide restaurant or retail chain.

It makes less sense when you need a specific type of information or expertise.  Whether the provider is a boutique firm or a nationwide behemoth makes almost no difference.  Price may enter the equation — the nationwide firm probably charges more to cover their larger overhead — but in the end it is the quality of the expertise or knowledge, not price or geographic coverage, that should win out.

Being a big company can stifle creative innovation in the name of efficiencies of standardization.  It can limit flexibility in customization of process, pricing or the ability to be nimble to meet a client’s specific needs.

Small firms can have their own limitations but if you are purchasing expertise, size does not matter as long as the person you need to solve your problem, or provide the guidance you require has that knowledge or experience and will be available to personally do the work.  Engaging the world’s top thought leader on an issue is not much of a benefit if a less experienced, junior associate does the critical part of the work.

So, if your goal is to get a package from Houston to Seattle overnight or in a day or two, using Sue Ellen’s Courier Service is probably not a good decision.  FedEx has a few more resources for that kind of work.

For legal advice on physician contracting or to help an executive you are terminating successfully navigate to a new job, the size of the firm need not be a factor.  In the case of the outplacement firm, your departing employee will probably thank you later for going small.

© 2015 John Gregory Self

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15 May, 2015 Posted by John G. Self Posted in Healthcare, Leadership
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Make It Personal

Posted May 15th, 2015 | Author: John G. Self

A friend, an accomplished and respected Hospital CEO, has seen health care from the other side.  Recently, a beloved family member died.  He took early retirement so that he and his wife could offer full support.

making it personalThis heart wrenching ordeal offered him a unique perspective on what healthcare in the US has become — a business model that is more focused on policy, process and reimbursement with less attention to how all of these “smart” business decisions impact the patient and family members.  Prices and policy got in the way of making it personal.

A highly successful CEO came to healthcare leadership after spending much of his early life in hospitals as a chronically ill teenager, sometimes not knowing whether he would live or die.  He spent much of his career talking about putting the patients first, about treating them as a beloved family member.  During his tenure, his hospital’s quality and safety numbers soared.  He made it personal.

A respected healthcare consultant, someone who lived his values, lost his wife, the victim of repeated medication and standard of care errors.  He was stunned by the inefficiency of the delivery system — that the policies and procedures designed to prevent catastrophic breakdowns, actually led to the environment in which his wife, his best friend, fell victim.  He travels around speaking to healthcare groups, trying to make these mistakes and needless loss of life personal.

The grandmother, scheduled for discharge, fell during the night.  She never recovered.  The hospital was more concerned about lawsuits and risk management than ensuring it never happened again.

Bad things happen.  Good compassionate care givers make mistakes.  Things go wrong, even in the best of hospitals.  I get all that.

What I don’t get is how we arrived at a point where business processes all too often have become more important than the patient.  I also get that healthcare in the US is way too expensive when compared to all other modern industrialized nations and, on average, the results/outcomes for US patients do not equate to the high costs.

Why is our profession not more outraged at what has become of our industry?

This is not a political or policy problem.  It is a personal problem.  We should all try to make this more personal, and less about making Wall Street happy.

Financial analysts and investors may think that I am a Pollyanna for my steadfast belief that patient care, safety and compassion for the family is more important than an unrelenting, unforgiving focus solely on sterling business results – meaning profits, but I have made it personal.

© 2015 John Gregory Self

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13 May, 2015 Posted by John G. Self Posted in Career Management
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6 Ideas For Fighting Age Bigotry

Posted May 13th, 2015 | Author: John G. Self

For aging executives, here is the cardinal rule: do not make it easy for prospective employers (and they’re typically young recruiters) to discriminate against you.Sadly true, some recruiters and employers are age bigots.  If you are older than their mind’s-eye vision of their ideal candidate you won’t be considered regardless of your relevant experience or accomplishments.  No explanations.  Sometimes there is not even an acknowledgement that you submitted a resume.

fighting age

Bigotry is not about hate, but ignorance.  In this case, candidates can do something to fight that misguided point of view.  Here is what we advise our candidates:

  1. Be physically fit.  Being overweight saps energy, creates increased risks for serious disease and sends a bad message to the employer or recruiter.  Having trouble walking up a flight of steps at an interview — a trick some employers/recruiters use — creates a bad atmospheric that you may not be able to overcome with your prior record of achievement.  If you cannot lose the weight through improved diet and exercise, then consult your physician.  (Don’t do this just for the job, do it for yourself and your family.)
  2. Embrace change, do not complain about it.  While this is not necessarily age-specific advice, older executives are more likely to resist transformational change than their younger counterparts.  Older people are sometimes seen as set in their ways.  See the change as opportunity, not a threat.
  3. You have more experience and wisdom, use it.  Older executives, on any given day, are more experienced and wiser than their youthful counterparts, many of whom are trying to figure it on the fly.  Be a good mentor/coach and trusted adviser, someone the up-and-comers trust, not disrespect.
  4. Master the digital age, from the use of social media and smartphones to mobile applications.  Understand how these powerful tools can be instrumental in healthcare strategy.
  5. Stay up to date on issues.  Transformational change brings a tsunami of programs, regulations and opportunities for improved performance, or even new businesses.  Read, read and, when you have some spare time, read more.  Attend local and regional meetings whenever possible to reinforce that which you learn from other information sources.  If you are not on top of the information, you just make it easier to be eliminated.
  6. Interviewing today is very different from when today’s senior executives entered this profession.  Understand these changes — what employers are looking and listening for.  Submit resumes that reflect the specific language of the job description.  Emphasize your relevant achievements that match those in the job posting.  Submitting the same resume for every job is like wearing a sign that says, “I Don’t Get It.”

Above all else, be confident.  If you look good, feel good, possess the energy and up-to-date industry knowledge and, can demonstrate that you are “with it” in terms of the digital age, you can go a long way to diminish age bigotry.

© 2015 John Gregory Self

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