Posts Tagged ‘holistic’

Temporary Immortality

November 8th, 2011

ABIHM Header 1 - Integrative holistic medicine

I’m speaking at the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine’s Educational Conference today at 2:00 PM, but have been listening intently to the various presenters — my fellow board members, throughout the event. All of these folks are MD’s who embrace holistic (body, mind and spirit) and integrative (the world’s greatest) treatment modalities for appropriate care in medicine.

I’ve learned about Abraham Flexner who wrote a white paper in 1910 that became the de facto guideline for what would be taught in medical schools; essentially, a reductionist approach to practicing medicine which has led to the modern formula of medical practice, where the physician asks, “What’s your chief complaint.” Then he or she treats that — many times as if it were a stand-alone, unconnected condition, unrelated to any other causal factors.

This type of practice has virtually eliminated the holistic approach and pushed medicine into ICD9/10 codes, (currently going from about 14,000 codes to nearly 68,000…in fact, there’s even one, specific code for “injury caused by riding on the back of pig.)  It all becomes a matter of diagnosis of disorders leading to the prescription of drugs. The U.S. is spending $308 billion a year on pharmaceuticals, which is one half of the expenditures of the rest of the entire world in drug purchases. We’re spending about $14.6 billion on anti-psychotic drugs and $10 billion on antidepressants, alone.

The $2.5 trillion that we are spending on healthcare in the United States is NOT allowing us to live longer than other countries, and the really sad news is that most of these expenditures are for preventable diseases. About 90 percent of our expenditures are because of stress related issues, and when we take such amazing statistics into consideration as the fact that the United States consumes two times more fat than Asia, three times less fiber, and 90 percent more animal protein, it has to make us think a little bit about this course that we are currently pursuing.

If you study the statistics, you’ll see that China consumes less red wine than us…but their population lives longer. Japan consumes less fat than we do, and their population lives longer. Italians consume much more red wine than we do, and they live longer. Germans do everything wrong, i.e., eat high fat, drink lots of beer, eat sausages and fats and even they live longer than Americans. What must our conclusion be? Maybe living in the United States is the problem? (Just kidding . . . but maybe it is the fact that we are so intensely committed to a more-is-better philosophy.)

As a population we eat about 50 tons of food in our lifetime. In fact, it’s probably been closer to 51 tons for some of us, and, for the most part, we’re eating lots of chemicals, insecticides and antibiotics in our unnatural and subsidized corn fed animals, and farm raised fish.

Where am I going with all of this? Have you ever been around a really cocky kid who acts like he or she is invincible? That’s why our highest death rates in the teenage years are primarily related to automobile accidents with Caucasian teens and guns with many of the ethnic teens. They truly believe that they are invincible.

It’s always been interesting to me that those people who have been fortunate enough to have lived charmed lives with no sickness and no close relatives or friends who have died have a certain air of immortality that surrounds them. They are lulled into the belief that they will beat the odds and live forever. We are, in fact, on a finite journey that requires us to provide some self-nurturing, lots of personal lifestyle education and a willingness to try to do what is best for our long term quality of life issues the majority of the time.

The bottom line? as my blogger friend, Paul Levy says in his most recent blog post, we are dealing with “temporary immortality.” So, live every day as if it is your last and take better care of yourself.


In Memoriam, Dr. Lee Lipsenthal

September 22nd, 2011

We have not even to risk the adventure alone; for the heroes of all time have gone before us. The labyrinth is thoroughly known. We have only to follow the thread of the hero path. And where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find…God.
—Joseph Campbell

Such has been my experience with Dr. Lee Lipsenthal. Lee was the co-founder of Finding Balance in a Medical Life, a recognized leader, teacher and pioneer in the field of provider wellness. He was internationally known for his research work with my friend Dr. Dean Ornish in preventive cardiology. He was also well known in the field of Integrative Health, and past president of the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine.

Lee Lipsenthal, MD - Enjoy Every Sandwich - Nick Jacobs, FACHE - HealingHospitals.comAlthough Lee’s entrance into medicine was traditional, (a BS from George Washington University, his MD from Howard and an internship and residency at the Medical College of Pennsylvania), he started on his truth path of healing as a resident, where he developed the first multi-disciplinary cardiac rehabilitation program in Philadelphia, a plan that addressed stress reduction, exercise and nutrition teaching.

He then went on to become the Director of Cardiovascular Services for the Benjamin Franklin Clinic in Philadelphia, as well as a staff physician at The Pennsylvania Hospital. In this role, he developed treatment programs for patients with heart disease or risk of heart disease; he developed corporate wellness programs for national companies, and consulted on patients with cholesterol disorders at the hospital.

But who was the real Lee Lipsenthal? Lee was a hero who embraced the adventure and led the way for us all. In an incredibly selfless and positive way, like all heroes, Lee “lost himself and then gave himself to all of us.” He mastered the transformation of consciousness, and taught us all to look deeply inside ourselves. Lee’s life and teaching was always about the powers of life and their modulations through the action of man, and Lee’s actions led us all to a better place; a place of healing, love and understanding. He did this through his words, his music, his soul and his heart.

Lee Lipsenthal, MDLee captured the imaginations of many of us and gently drew us into his circle of positive influence where he provided a psychological center for our lives, he fed our individual and collective souls and he helped us to experience life at its fullest. He often took us to the edge of self-discovery, but he always took us to a place of peace and love. He could literally show us the “belly of the whale,” and then bring us back to a deeper understanding of our lives, our abilities and our spirits.

In many ways he helped us transcend our humanities so that we all could emerge into a deeper reality of serving our fellow man. He taught us that, as a person, if we don’t listen to the demands of our own spiritual and interior life, we will drift dangerously off-center.

Lee was our center. Lee was our friend, our mentor, our spiritual guide and our hero.

Lee passed this week, surrounded by his wonderful, loving family, and our hearts are breaking from the loss, but also reveling in the joy of having known him, having shared him and always loving him.

Learn more about Lee’s extraordinary journey, and his wonderful book, Enjoy Every Sandwich below.

You will be inspired and moved.


It’s Not Just About the Passion

February 20th, 2011

Get up at 3:00 AM, get to the airport at four, fly out at five, arrive in Austin, Texas at 10:20 AM, wait until 1:30 PM to meet three other board members, rent a car and drive to the retreat center. Check–in, have a quick dinner and go to the first evening board meeting; in bed by 11:30 PM, up at 6:30AM and meetings on Saturday until 11:00 PM. Next day: Up at 6:30 AM, meet until 10:30 AM, drive to the airport and fly home through multiple cities; arrive at around 8:00 PM. That was my weekend. Why? Because I am the only non-physician member of the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine. More specifically, I am the not-so-token former hospital administrator, and that’s how much ABIHM cares about spreading the word.

This is my third year as a board member, and during that time, it has been my genuine pleasure to watch this amazing group of caring, integrative/holistic physicians build what is fast becoming the most important element in the U.S. healthcare reform movement. Most of them may not be seeing this the same way that I am (i.e., as not only life but also economic saviors), but it is absolutely a fact that their way of providing care is the only hope that we have in this country to contain health care costs and improve the quality of life in America.

As physicians, this group of humble yet brilliant men and women are true giants in their respective fields of endeavor, be it Family Practice, Internal Medicine, OB/GYN, or Psychiatry. They are “top docs” in combining traditional practice with integrative and holistic medicine. They come from prominent medical schools, and some eve teach residents at these schools. Some are in private practice and still others are working for large, prestigious health systems. They have literally written many of the books on integrative and holistic medicine, but the most important thing that I can tell you is that they are all unbelievably positive people; kind, caring, nurturing, thoughtful human beings who are “in it for all the right reasons.” No kidding. All of them.

Why am I so enthusiastic about these folks? They truly practice what they preach. Spending even 50 hours with them revives the soul and confirms my beliefs that every one of these holistic modalities can contribute to our well-being. I’ve heard their stories about the power of meditation, of vigor restored by appropriate diet and things like simple yoga stretching and walking. They casually discuss case after case of people who have been cured or healed of what would otherwise be considered debilitating maladies simply by altering a diet; cutting out the processed foods and sugars, walking a little every day and finding anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes a day to just step back and focus on themselves, their hopes, dreams and positive outcomes through internal journeys of self-exploration and meditation.

So, where do we go from here?

If you’re a doctor, look them up on the web at, attend their seminars and workshops, meet them, learn about their peer mentoring program, embrace them and their 1200 Diplomates, and, most importantly, get on board. Each and every one of these gifted, inspired physicians has one thing in common: they love their work; they love to go to work, and their patients and staff love to work with them. If for no other reason, look them up for yourself.

If you’re a patient, don’t settle for less. Search their website at and find physicians near you who are certified in Integrative Holistic medicine. Get off those medicine cabinets full of pills, start taking care of yourself, and begin to live the life that you and your loved ones deserve. It’s the only way. The promise of technology has not cured us. The skill of steel from our gifted surgeons has not prevented the malady from impacting us in the first place, and, finally, the pain and suffering keeps going on and on in our lives.

The solution? Find an ABIHM doctor and start the change today.

The American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine (ABIHM) is pleased to announce an additional opportunity to take the 11th Annual Board Certification Examination, on-site at the conclusion of the iMOSAIC Conference in Minneapolis, MN.  Please take a moment to review the iMOSAIC conference schedule at, where you will see an impressive program of faculty and topics!

Date: Sunday, April 10th, 2011 at 1:30 PM. Sign in between 1:00-1:30 (preregistration required).

Location: Minneapolis Convention Center, Room 208 AB

Duration: 5 hours allotted; at least 50% of candidates finish by 2.5-3 hours


Along the Way…Things Became Very Interesting

January 31st, 2011

Two years ago I began this new journey, but not until a few months ago did my work in consulting really begin to take shape in a way that could never have been predicted.

As the challenges of our present economic times have become increasingly daunting, my personal and professional journey has become even more dedicated to innovation and creativity. One goal has been to provide new alternatives to past practices that will create value for patients. This means making a contribution to saving and transforming lives, while producing cost savings and financial stability, and developing new markets to enable provider growth in their missions.

Olympic National Park, Port Angeles, WA - Nick Jacobs, FACHE - Healing Hospitals - SunStone Consulting

The driving force behind my exploration began with asking how we can begin to control those out of control expenses that are currently blurring the lines between continued care for our population, and rationing or elimination of services?  But, the answer(s) must enable us to continue to add healing opportunities for our patients at every turn.

Because my creative energies have always been focused on producing more ways to generate new monies for whatever organizations I have personally represented,  it seemed somewhat foreign to me to spend more time on fiscal issues than creative alternatives.  However, with literally millions of Baby Boomers coming of age each year, it was obvious that our entire culture is at risk both fiscally and socially. Consequently, after listening carefully to my peers, several opportunities presented themselves that would address all levels of these concerns.

Through the combination of their proprietary software and dozens of years of combined knowledge in the healthcare finance field, SunStone Consulting, LLC, spends each and every working day addressing the challenges of finding monies that should already have been captured by hospitals and physician practices, while also creating new opportunities that have heretofore not been explored. That’s where SunStone Management Resources comes into play.

SunStone Consulting - Nick Jacobs, FACHE

We have identified new companies, new entrepreneurs and new creatives who can not only improve healthcare, but also significantly improve the bottom line of those organizations willing to embrace their programs. One such company with whom we are partnering can increase Emergency Room productivity by as much as 35 to 50%.  They can also help do the same for cancer centers and operating rooms. They utilize robotic systems that communicate patient needs and simultaneously seek out the appropriate medical services required as soon as the patient is triaged. The patient’s condition and potential requirements are communicated to every individual who will or should have contact with them throughout their hospital stay.

We have also identified what I refer to as “no brainer” opportunities. By making otherwise locked fiscal percentages  a commodity, even small and medium sized organizations can save huge dollar amounts. How? By changing out only the electronic reading devices used hospital-wide. This simple change has resulted in huge fiscal savings for clients.

Add to examples like those above the introduction of  a new invention that, in the right hands, can help to extend some types of Stage 3B and Stage IV cancer patients’ lives from months to years through a relatively simple post-surgical procedure. Also consider the invention of new materials that would support bone growth, while virtually eliminating the need for casts or even slings. Imagine a series of protocols that have brought over 40 people out of deep, irreversible comas. Then, on a completely different path, consider having access to  the cumulative knowledge garnered from over a hundred million dollar investment in breast cancer care.  (This is about to be made available to small and medium sized hospitals across the world.)

These are but a sampling of  just some of the opportunities currently driving my passion in this new healthcare world order.

You may want to make a simple inquiry into what’s behind the innovative, practical, and incredible creations of the brilliant people doing this work.  It’s not just so many words on a page.  It is the future, and the future for you and your organization could be now.


On The Road Again

November 2nd, 2010

I’ve been living in hotels and airports lately speaking at and visiting Planetree hospitals in places like Colorado, Alaska and Iowa.  I’ve had some really fascinating and also some creepy experiences. For example, a few weeks ago, I was eaten by bed bugs in Denver. My legs looked like they were Thanksgiving dinner for someone. I was so freaked out from that experience that I threw away my suitcases and kept my clothes in the dryer until they could fit my granddaughter’s Ken doll.  I’m happy to report, however, that I’m bedbug free now. The down side? I really haven’t had a good night’s sleep in any hotel bed since then.

1919 Classic American Root Beer - Nick Jacobs - Healing Hospitals blogWhat else have I observed?  Last week, while traveling in Iowa, I learned about a drink called 1919.  I thought that it was a stronger version of a 7 & 7, but it turned out that it was root beer —Classic American Draft Root Beer.   Also, for the first time in years, I noticed that every table in almost every restaurant had Thousand Island salad dressing. Everyone seemed to like waffle fries, too; these are French fries that are cut to look like little waffles. By the end of the week, I was saying things like, “I’d like a salad with Thousand Island dressing, a plate of waffle fries, and a 1919.” (Sorry, Dr. Ornish. )

This hospital in Waverly, Iowa was incredible.  It was beautiful, warm, and filled with really friendly, competent employees.  Iowans also claim the honor of being the fourth windiest state in the union, but I think that notoriety only came after my speech.  They can claim Johnny Carson, Buffalo Bill Cody, Herbert Hoover, Ann Landers and John Wayne as theirs, too.  The very most interesting find?  The Quaker Oats factory is in Cedar Rapids.

The week before, while making a speech at Central Peninsula Hospital in Alaska, I noticed that everyone’s eyes had left both my presentation and me and were focusing on the scene that was taking place outside of the panoramic window behind me.   Imagine, gorgeous, snow capped mountains with glaciers tucked in between them feeding a glacier lake.   One of the employees explained to me that a seal had emerged with a halibut the size of a Volkswagen hood in its mouth while several bald eagles swooped down at the seal and grabbed bites of the halibut right out of its mouth.  It was like the Disney movie, “Seal Island,” or maybe it was like “The Muppets Kitchen?”  Anyway, it was fairly amazing to watch, and I was glad I was NOT the seal, but even more delighted that I was not the halibut.

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

After the meeting was over, two of the administrators in attendance were taking a small fishing boat to some island nearby, and then, were going hiking into the woods where they planned to go deer hunting among the bears. Read that line again; they were going deer hunting with the bears, the very big, grizzly bears.  The up side of that trip is that the deer there are very BIG. The down side is that the bears are bigger.  These guys explained to me that a lot of time, the bears decide to try to eat both the harvested deer and the non-harvested deer hunters.  It’s at times like that when being able to run faster than your hunting partner is probably important.

Where to next?  Pittsburgh for a panel for the American College of Healthcare Executives at Station Square, then a panel for the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine in San Diego, and finally, Fort Myers, Florida for work on a bio-tech center.

I’ve decided to carry a very large flashlight and a very small bottle of bourbon, with some sand.  I’m thinking that the bed bugs will get drunk and try to stone each other to death.


Bhutan’s Philosophy of “Gross National Happiness”

October 3rd, 2010

Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.
—Albert Einstein

At a recent conference I had the opportunity to learn about the Himalayan nation of Bhutan. Most of us had not heard of this country, but we should have, because they have done something that is reminiscent of the Broadway Musical “Camelot,” or possibly “Brigadoon.” Their King introduced a philosophy of living that is intended to shape all of the government’s activities. According to Mr. Kuenga Tshering, Director of the National Statistics Bureau of Bhutan, Gross National Happiness (GNH) was promulgated as Bhutan’s philosophy of economic and social development by the Fourth King of Bhutan as soon as he came to the throne in 1972.

The reason I’m writing about this is because I believe it is an amazing idea, a wonderful goal, and a step toward embracing  idealism.  Many of you have heard my thoughts on change, and know that I do not believe that there is only one route to follow on this journey through life.

Takstan Monastery, Bhutan (image credit:

Takstan Monastery, Bhutan (image credit:

The Bhutanese philosophy of “living” refers to a set of social and economic interventions that evaluate societal change in terms of the collective happiness of people.  Further, these measures are also applied to the creation of policies that are aimed at that objective. Premised on the belief that all human beings aspire to happiness in one way or another, the concept promotes collective happiness of the society as the ultimate goal of development.  Now that would be a political platform!

The philosophy of Gross National Happiness considers economic growth as one of the means towards achieving happiness, but it also offers a holistic paradigm within which the mind receives equal attention. While GNH recognizes the importance of individual happiness, it emphasizes that happiness must be realized as a collective or societal goal and not be defined as an individualized or competitive good.

The philosophy should also not cause misery to future generations, other societies, or to other  beings, and it is important to the government of Bhutan that the efforts of this philosophy be distributed evenly across all sections of  the society.

They work at strengthening the institutions of family and community; the spirit of voluntarism, tolerance and cooperation; the virtues of compassion, altruism, honor and dignity, all of whose active promotion may be a contributing factor to Bhutan’s low crime rate.

Culture also provides a framework where an individual’s or society’s psychological and emotional needs are addressed. By preserving local, regional, and national festivals, the government attends to these needs and provides a forum for maintaining social networks and promoting the conviviality of public culture.

His Majesty, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck of Bhutan

His Majesty, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck of Bhutan

Bhutan treasures the extended family network as the most sustainable form of social safety net. Aware of the possibilities of family disintegration or nuclearization, the government makes conscious efforts to revive and nourish the traditions and practices that bond families and keep communities resilient and thriving.

Their environmental policy is predicated on the perspective that human beings and nature not only live symbiotically but are inseparable from each other. According to this perspective, nature is a partner in existence; a provider of sustenance, comfort and beauty.

Environmental preservation, therefore, is a way of life in Bhutan. Currently, 72% of the country’s area is under forest cover, 26% of the area is declared as protected areas, and the state has decreed to maintain 60% of its area under forest cover for all times to come. Environmental cost is an essential ingredient of evaluating new development projects in  Bhutan.

Finally, Bhutan launched parliamentary democracy 2008, becoming the youngest democratic country in the world. All this was initiated by the country’s leader – His Majesty, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, thus fostering people’s capacity to make choices.

Well, we have generally been making choices as a country for some time now that generally do not embrace nature, family, our fellow man, or the environment.  On a recent boat trip up the Caloosahatchee River, I expressed a dream, namely that mankind would embrace a philosophy of “National Happiness.”

Now wouldn’t that ROCK?

Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted. — Albert Einstein

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Planetree or Bust!

October 4th, 2009

Those who have worked with me know that I have been unequivocally one of the most loyal supporters of the Planetree Philosophy of care in the world.

My former place of employment was the third Planetree hospital in the country, after Planetree’s headquarters moved to Griffin (Derby, CT.)  We were the first Planetree hospital in Pennsylvania, and that hospital, Windber Medical Center, is now one of the top ten Planetree-designated sites internationally.  After having served on the Board of Directors of Planetree for nearly eight years, having written literally dozens of blog posts and articles about Planetree,  having taught numerous online seminars for them, contributed a chapter to their latest book, and served on the Planetree Speaker’s Bureau for half a dozen years, I’m back once again with a presentation this Tuesday at the Planetree 2009 conference.  It’s called: Take Care of Your Employees and They Will Take Care of Your Patients.


Although I was encouraged to retire from the board in order to give newer members their opportunity to participate, and am no longer a part of the Speaker’s Bureau, with no formal ties to the organization anymore, I want to assure you that my experience, passion, and commitment to humanizing healthcare, transparency, creating a nurturing environment for patients and their families could not be stronger.

Since my transition from formally running hospitals full time,  I have immersed myself deeply into the world of  helping hospitals through my consulting practice to achieve the patient, employee, and family satisfaction ratings that ensure top scores in HCHAPS which, in turn, will result in increased business, increased revenue, and increased growth for any organization.

Nick Jacobs, FACHE
Nick Jacobs, FACHE

I am including one of my lastest articles on Integrative Health written for Hospital News.  Remember, if I can help, just call, e-mail or or comment:

Integrative Medicine

Massage, Flower Essences, Spiritual Healing, Drumming, Reiki, Acupuncture, Music, Aroma, Humor, Pet, and Art Therapy; all of these healing practices were formerly referred to as Alternative or Complementary Medicine.  They deserve, however, to be referred to as Integrative Medicine. Because, when we integrate these various disciplines with other contemporary healing methodologies, the results can be amazing.

As a hospital CEO, it brought me great satisfaction to introduce all of these treatments to the healing environment of the hospital.  Many times they came amid intense resistance from both the medical staff, and some members of leadership.  In fact, after nearly 10 years of offering comprehensive exposure to Integrative Medicine, we still had a smattering of nonbelievers.  The only thing questionable about these therapies for a healthcare administrator is that the typical insurance companies don’t cover the costs of all of them and cash payments come into play.

The number of patients coming to our facility had tripled through the emergency room alone as did the overall budget of the entire organization during that time period.  Those “Forest for the Trees” practical leaders still could not bring themselves to give credit to one of the major contributing factors involved in that surge of the hospital’s popularity.  Yes, of course, we also encouraged 24 hour, seven day a week visiting, had guest beds in many patient’s rooms, and served meals to the families on the medical floor where their loved one was a patient. Did all of this combine to the create a healing environment?  Of course it did, but Integrative Medicine was the heart and soul of the difference.

Their skepticism seems to fit into the cycle of questioning the validity of wellness and prevention, two comprehensively established methodologies for improving general health and well-being, proven over centuries of unofficial clinical trials.  Wellness and Prevention works, but because the insurance companies have not yet fully embraced these philosophies, then some still say that they are not valid.  Treating sickness can be as comprehensive as ensuring wellness.  For whatever reason, some of our medical and administrative leaders often confuse reimbursements with healing, and forget to add new patients and additional income from related disciplines like PT and OT to the equation.

As a nonmedical, nonscientist, it was easy for me to understand why the various integrative arts worked so well for our patients and their families.  From the old song, “All You Need is Love,” you could easily enjoy the looks on the faces of those patients and family members who used these treatments to receive sorely needed relief from whatever pain or loneliness they were experiencing.  It doesn’t matter if you’re eighty minutes or eighty years old; touch, nurturing, and love all remain critical in our lives.  Have you seen the statistics on how much better people do with pets than without, or how many babies died in orphanages due to the “failure to thrive?”

None of these ancient arts were created because the scientific method produced FDA approved results in trials of 200,000 or more.  They evolved into centuries old healing arts because they provided relief and help in a time when leeches, bleedings, and a lack of hand washing were the accepted medical treatments.  The tribal shaman, medicine man, healers, and other spiritual leaders all knew what the subtle and not so subtle impact of their work meant to their fellow human beings.

We have casually observed the use of these healing modalities on patients who have experienced restored feelings to otherwise numb feet.

We have seen them relieved from debilitating back pain, healed from hopeless wounds, saved from surgeries due to the opening of blocked intestines through acupuncture.  We have observed psychological breakthroughs from drumming that had never been reached by traditional therapy.  Truthfully, I didn’t care exactly what made our patients better, just that they were better, and the results were dramatic, with an infection rate of 1% or less, a 3.4 day length of stay, a low readmission rate, and the lowest mortality rate for adjusted morbidity in the region.

Remember, “All You Need is Love.”


Non-traditional Thinking Pays Off

July 19th, 2009
health_montageWho would ever consider having 24-hour ’round-the-clock family visiting in a hospital; beds for loved ones to stay overnight; deli-style counters on the patient floors to serve hot meals to loved ones, patients, and staff; popcorn machines in the lobbies; bread baking in the hallways; live music, massage, aroma, pet, humor, and drumming therapy; decorative fountains; and special mammography gowns for modesty? We did, and that was over 12 years ago. Our patient population tripled through the emergency room. The budget tripled, and the number of employees almost tripled.

At a lecture I once attended, Dr. Leland Kaiser said, Give me the creative leader every time. They will always win over the traditional one.”

Well, yesterday, I met a creative leader. This young business entrepreneur was only about 34 years old. He owned a construction business that specialized in concrete. You know, poured basements, slabs, sidewalks, and driveways. When we discussed the current business climate, he smiled and said, “I’ve done okay.” Well, we all know that the construction business is literally on the skids right now and has been since the crash last year. NPR news ran a segment on Thursday about the 12,000 new government jobs being created in the Washington DC/Northern VA area. Seemed like good news until they said that these jobs represented only about a third of the more than 30,000 construction jobs that had been lost to date there.

When I asked our young rock star how he did it, he smiled and said, “I got this idea.” The number of times that those words have come out of my mouth is virtually immeasurable. Yet someone else has later described the related actions as an accidentally brilliant strategy. My response to him was, “So, what was the idea?” He smiled and said, “As soon as I got a bill, I paid it, that day, that minute, that instant.” As an employee of an accounting-type firm, my mind began to race with the traditional thoughts of “Oh, my gosh, how foolish. He could be getting interest on his money for 30, 60, or even 90 days, and he is paying his bills when they arrive?,” I thought to myself.

He then began to explain the outcome of his decision. “My suppliers love me, and because they don’t have to add in late fees, collection costs, lost interest, or simply lost money from late or uncollectable accounts receivable, this practice got their attention. Because they, in his words, “loved him,” he was able to negotiate better pick-up times for the concrete. This made him more flexible and productive as the trucks arrived at 8:00 AM with the morning’s first load of cement. The suppliers were also willing to negotiate lower prices for him than they could for the other contractors with whom he competed. Why? Because he paid them promptly every time.

He then went on to say that because his costs were lower than the other contractors, he could lower his prices to the builders with whom he wanted to do serious business, and, instead of the six or eight regulars that kept him going in the good times, he was now able to attract about 28 builders who wanted to work with him because he was on time, did good work, and, of course, was less expensive.

So, when he told me that he was doing okay, it meant that none of his employees had lost their jobs, his income had not gone down, and his business was virtually booming in an economy that has meant bankruptcy for more traditional construction oriented businesses. The really great news, however, is that this guy is a long lost, distant cousin about whom I had never known until just a month ago. So, I guess creativity runs in the family. Oh, yeah, and he’s a heck of a musician, too. Seems like Leland was right.

A Blueprint for Transformational Change: Nick Jacobs’ 2009 Graduate School address at St. Francis University’s 2009 commencement ceremonies


In Their Own Words: Patients, staff and physicians on their experiences at Nick’s Planetree hospital

October 5th, 2008

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