Posts Tagged ‘Leadership’

People You Need (and People You Don’t)

October 31st, 2011

Tom Atchison - http://atchisontom.com/ - Nick Jacobs, FACHEA few weeks ago, I mentioned that I was in Santa Fe, NM for an ACHE educational training course. Since then, I’ve been thinking a lot about some of the things that were said there by Master Instructor, Dr. Tom Atchison, Ed.D. (a/k/a, Yoda), the President and founder of Atchison Consulting Group. In fact, a few of the tidbits that he offered have been wedged in my brain to the point of obsession. It took me 40+ years to learn some of this, and now I am dying to share it. If you are a boss, a manager, or an employee, it applies equally to everybody, and the information has been valid for as long as mankind has roamed this earth.  So, thanks to Dr. Tom, I can finally articulate it.

SSCS…yep, that’s it. SSCS. If you know what these letters stood for, you can stop reading now, but let me explain. In any group of workers, volunteers, employees, leaders, there are four very distinctive types of people:

Stars

There are the stars, and we all know the stars. No, not the “I’m going to get paid a million dollars to pose for a magazine” or for “selling the rights to my make-believe wedding” kind of stars. Rather, these are the bust your butt, be on the right seat in the bus, make it happen, hard working, cooperative, dedicated stars. They’re the people who lead the way and make things happen.

Skeptics

The next group of employees is the skeptics. Skeptics are generally really good people, sometimes slightly below the star category because they question everything in a meaningful, truth-seeking manner. The only problem with the skeptics is that they take a lot more energy than the stars. You must keep them informed, up to speed and appeased. Once they do get it, they are on board and make things happen in a big and important way. It’s just a little harder to get them there.

Cynics

Next we have the cynics. These people are insincere, and they are motivated by self-interest. They question everything, but more importantly, they dis everything, don’t cooperate and try to block every idea, action or activity. They are the ones who work behind the scenes to make sure that things don‘t get done, that people don’t cooperate and then openly criticize each and every idea no matter how sound the concept may be.

Slugs

Finally, there are the slugs. Usually they are nice enough people, but on a scale from one to ten with the stars being a ten, the slugs are exactly what they sound like. In fact, in reference to printing, the word slug came from traditional hot-metal printing where a strip of type metal is used for spacing that is less than type-high, hence a slug to fill in SPACE! They are space-fillers.

So, here’s what leaders who were present at this workshop were told. The cynics suck your life out of you by continuously challenging and undermining everything, and the slugs add no value to the organization. The problem with stars is that they are often taken for granted, or passed over because they are consistently amazing, and because we spend so much time dealing with the cynics and redoing everything the slugs don’t do.

His solution? Fire ‘em. (The slugs and cynics, that is.) Now if that seems a little harsh, maybe it’s because we all know and love both slugs and cynics. Unless you’re a tenured professor or the boss’s kid, it’s really tough to stay in a job where you do these sluggish and cynical things over and over again. Of course, if you fall into either of those categories, you could change!

Final advice? Be kind and nice and wonderful to the stars and the skeptics, and spend time explaining everything to the skeptics so that they embrace the concepts and dreams and vision and move forward with the rest of the team. Oh, yeah, and help the slugs and cynics find work, especially if you can find them work with a competitor because they will be the gift that keeps on giving cause they’ll probably be cynics and slugs for the next place, too, and all of those disgruntled patients and customers will come to you!

The new Brad Pitt film, Moneyball offers some object lessons here…

“We’re building a baseball team, here. We’re not looking for Fabio. We’ve got to think differently!”

“Who’s ‘Fabio?’”

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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.

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“Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

December 3rd, 2009

“Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”
CosmosCarl Sagan (1934-1996)

healing_mural420

Over the last several years, we have made extraordinary claims in our blogs, our speeches, and our consulting.  We have made claims that have been questioned, sometimes scoffed at, and generally ignored by the masses who believe that their way is the only way.  It is almost as if these claims are so seemingly “out there,” that many believe they could not possibly be true.

  • less than 1% infection rates
  • lowest restraint rates
  • lowest re-admission rates
  • lowest mortality rates
  • 99% patient approval rates
  • 97% employee approval rates

In hindsight,  should we have just kept these claims “under the basket” because too many believe they look too good to be true?

When we claimed a bottom line that was over $2.5 M in a hospital with fewer beds than an average wing of most hospitals, you could see the frowns of disbelief on the faces of financial officers.  When we claimed those approval rates, the CEO’s of other hospitals simply smiled and probably thought to themselves, “…maybe in your little hospital, but NEVER in mine.”

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Now that I am no longer affiliated with my previous employer, let me throw down the gauntlet to you.  It is my complete and sincere belief that these results, with your total support and endorsement, can happen in your facilities. It is my further belief that I can help deliver those results for you, so that instead of laying people off, you too can double or triple in size. I believe that you can take your everyday challenges and turn them into unbelievable successes.  How?  Take the pages from my book on hospital management.  (The one that’s not published yet, but firmly planted in my heart and head.) In the interim, get yourself a copy of my first healthcare book that has been published, Taking the Hell Out of Healthcare.

  • If you are a genuinely kind person, that will show through in your management style.  Kindness is not weakness.
  • If you care about your staff, they will care about not only you but also about your patients.
  • If you treat people with dignity at all levels of the organization, your organizational culture can change.
  • If you help the 10 percent or so of your employees, physicians, and others who do not support this philosophy to find work at neighboring institutions, they will be the gift that keeps on giving as they run rampant over patients at those hospitals and drive those patients to your doors.

These are not difficult assignments.  They require only that you stick to your resolve, that you always try to do what is right, and that you do not stop until all of the necessary changes have been made.  Healing organizations start with YOU.  Healing organizations embrace their human resources.  They embrace patient families.  They DO NOT function like cold, corporate America.  They function like patient-centered America.  Kindness in the workplace is not a gimmick, not a fleeting idea, not a once or twice a year thing, it is a complete commitment to a change in culture that reaches out to patients, employees, and medical staff.

doctor_welcome220The cost?  In the big picture, the cost is not even a consideration. Your investment now is less  than you can imagine, as your facilities grow, expand, and thrive. Besides:

What does it cost to be nice?

What does it cost to be civil?

What does it cost to be kind?

Healing Hospitals are a way of life.  Make sure that your hospital becomes just that, a place for healing.

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Thanksgiving and CHANGE…

November 21st, 2009

One of the sometimes-challenging realities of Thanksgiving is that it forces us to look into the microscope of our personal time here on earth and acknowledge the change that will always be a part of our humanity.  This week I received a phone call that should never have been necessary “in my lifetime.”  One of my former employees passed away. For those of you who have some knowledge of my past, you might scratch your head in confusion regarding my deep consternation and pain from the loss of one person, because there were literally thousands of employees with whom I have worked over the years. But, for the others of you who know me well, you will clearly understand.

When I became the president of my former hospital, the waves of change had touched on it shores only briefly as it had attempted to avoid being consumed by neighboring health systems.  Because of this challenge of competition, we were given the authority to “try some new things” to attempt to preserve the facility as a community hospital.  To say that the road ahead was laced with hazards would be a serious understatement, but we did  navigate those sometimes treacherous waters successfully.

Carolyn "Winnie" Horner (1961-2009)As my tenure began in this difficult environment, a few people stepped forward who “got it.”  Winnie Horner was one of those people.  She “got it” from our first presentation about our dreams and plans.  Winnie was literally one of a handful of people who was willing to put herself out there to help the hospital establish new dreams, new ideals, new goals, and new caring philosophies.

Because a concept seems easier to embrace if it can be identified with others, we became a Planetree Hospital, the third in the United States and the first in Pennsylvania.  It was our goal to become a Healing Hospital.  It helped to jump start us into a new world of compassionate, healing, loving care that literally gave new life to the organization and helped it to remain not only open but also to succeed in ways that could never have been imagined.

Winnie not only “got on board,” for a long time she became the engineer of that train.  Her passion, her kind ways, her belief in spirituality, her amazing  voice, and her commitment to change was always obvious and appreciated.  She was a leader, a champion, the Joan of Arc of this effort, and I loved her for this.

Unfortunately, she will not get to read this because, at 48 years of age, she died this week.  Unbeknownst to her, she had been working with pneumonia, but, like Winnie always did, she kept giving of herself.  Who would have ever thought that it would have had this ending, and her three beautiful children are now without their mom this Thanksgiving.

So today, I write to you, Winnie.  You were a very important part of the soul of Windber Medical Center, and your presence will always be felt, but your absence will be felt even more deeply.

For me, Thanksgiving has always been a time of change, starting at a very young age as grandparents, uncles, aunts, and parents passed on.  The empty chairs at the table were always indicative of our own mortality, and the loss of those we love, be it permanent or just because of the sometimes-messy circumstances that are a part of living,  is a reality that we all must deal with throughout our time here on Earth.

thanksgiving_table_white

It’s ironic that, as commercial as our country has become, the tradition of Thanksgiving has remained virtually untouched in the essence of its meaning.  If you are alone for Thanksgiving, or with a cast of dozens, take a moment to reflect upon your life and your gifts.  Understand that nothing is permanent, and that, like Winnie Horner, we all have a chance to make a difference in thousands of lives, a positive, forever difference.

This year, Winnie and her passionate partners were able to achieve something that has only happened a handful of times in the world.  Through their work, Windber became a Planetree Designated Hospital, a model of care in the Planetree philosophy, my final Windber dream.  Thank you, Winnie, and if any of you don’t believe that you can make a difference, a real difference, take a page out of “Winnie’s Book.”  She was one of the best.

Planetree banner

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Loyalty and The Life of a CEO

August 9th, 2009

Since stepping back from my CEO role, I have had time to reflect upon the toll that a position like that can take on any individual regardless of the thickness of their epidermis. I have come to realize that anyone who is completely in charge of an organization faces many of the same challenges.

CEO_scales256As a young man, I had serious delusions about what it would be like to be in the role of President. It was kind of a Superman fantasy: Yes, I would be kind, understanding, and fair. It would be my further commitment to be honest, forthright, and ethical in every way. My obligation would be to the people and the patients at all levels. My motto would be “Truth, justice, and the American way.”

Then the big day came, and my tenure began. It took about an hour to realize that it was now my personal responsibility to do everything necessary to generate all of the money needed to make payroll for the employees. In an area with a disappearing population base, that was an extremely challenging task, and as the Sisters of Mercy used to say, “No money; no mission.”

During the money quest, the issues of loyalty and fairness were always rearing their ugly heads. Could you, in this very self-centered culture, ever really expect people to be loyal no matter what your commitment had been to them? I would minimally try to play the role of a benevolent, servant-leader.

I was the guy who would reach out to people who needed a break and then provide them with that break; sometimes against the conventional wisdom. What did I expect in return from them?  Simple loyalty. Time and time again, however, those same people who might never have had the opportunity that they were given would turn on me. It became almost predictable.

It took them a long time to believe that they were capable of doing the job that I had personally selected them to take, but usually as soon as they reached their comfort zone they would begin to turn away. Maybe it is just human nature, but even Mighty Mouse would have been disillusioned by this recurring situation.

The other CEO reality is that fairness is situational and so subject to interpretation that it becomes impossible to please or satisfy everyone. The nature of our new collective employee psyches seems to be one of “If it’s not done directly for me, then it’s not fair.” The list of individuals who were brought to the leadership stage over my 22 years in healthcare was voluminous. Dozens of people were given consideration for their education, salaries, promotions, and advancements, yet if one other person was recognized in a similar way, the hue and cry was often, “It’s not fair.”

superman_couch

So, looking back over two decades of running hospitals, foundations, a research institute, and several other spin-off companies, an appropriate summary for any future leader is to “go with your gut.” With that in mind:

You are not now and will never be a superhero.

You are a human being with human frailties.

You cannot right the world or repair dysfunctional childhoods, marriages, or lifestyles through your benevolence.

However:

You can do what you believe will result in the most good for the most people.

You can respect the fact that your efforts could help to continue payrolls for hundreds or even thousands of families.

You can embrace the fact that the vast majority of your mistakes will not be fatal to anyone, but you also need to learn to cut your losses and deal with the disloyal.

One of my mentors used to pull me aside periodically and say, “Nick, you’re doing a great job, but you need to lighten up. We only pass through here once. So, try to enjoy yourself, my friend.”

Now that was good advice.

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The Health Care Reality

May 15th, 2009

1979 was the year in Johnstown, Pennsylvania when I decided that it was time to leave teaching and transition into business.  For those of you who don’t remember that year, it was the beginning of some serious financial challenges for our country, but it was also two years after the Johnstown Flood of ’77, and there was an unemployment rate of 19.5% in Cambria County, PA.

1979 Rolling Stone cover Blues Brothers SNL Dan Ackroyd John BelushiIn 1980, when I accepted a job with a then bankrupt nonprofit organization in Somerset, PA, what had been a booming coal industry went into the skids. My house mortgage was about the same as the unemployment rate, 19%.  The job that I took was in the arts and Ronald Reagan was interested in cutting funding to the National Endowment for the Arts.

In 1985, my new job was with a tourism agency, and that was the year that then-PA Governor Casey cut funding to tourism.

In 1988, when I entered healthcare, it was clear that Johnstown could no longer support four hospitals, and the next decade and a half resulted in the closing of two (and almost three) of the four hospitals in that area.

Turn the clock forward to last October, when I announced my decision to become a healthcare consultant.  The stock market crashed, eight of every ten hospitals stopped, postponed, or scaled back needed capital projects, 58% of hospitals are now reporting  increases in uninsured patients using the emergency departments, 48% of hospitals have cut staff, and 80% have reported cutting expenses that include consultants.

As a consultant, the first thing I would tell anyone is that “No matter how bad things appear to be, you can do it.”

  • Our successes as a teacher continue to remain evident as former students ranging in age from 38 to 58 continue to remind me of great memories of our time together.
  • The arts organization became the largest and most successful rural arts organization east of the Mississippi.
  • The Convention Bureau went from almost closed to the fifth largest agency in the State, and most of you have tracked the successes that we experienced at Windber.

Not unlike the little engine that could, we focused on the positive, forgot about the negative, and never dealt with “Mr. In-between.”

roosevelt_action400

There are those who approach life cautiously, carefully, and very conservatively, and then there are those of us who drink from that same cup in big gulps and dream about how things could be rather than how they are.  There are those who are afraid of failure, and those of us who embrace failure because we know that it is getting us closer to more dramatic successes.

The only boundaries that we have are between our ears.

Because the future is a design function. Let me close this blog post with the ending from my commencement address to the graduate students of St. Francis University (with the help once again of Dr. Leland Kaiser):

  • Nothing has to be the way it is.
  • We can invent (or prevent) our future, because all limitations are self imposed.
  • We can empower ourselves to create a new world.
  • Reframe any limitations to become opportunities because…
  • Tremendous limitations breed success. They open doors.

So, as we design our future, remember that we should not work to create what people will like, but instead work to create what people will love!

…and we will know success beyond our wildest dreams.

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Never Look Back

January 21st, 2009

Never look back.

That should be the motto of every outgoing president. You did the best that you could. You did what you thought was right. You gave it your all, but when the power changes, when the new world order takes shape, and when you fly off to your new life, it will be forever evident that what you did will not be what your predecessor will do. It will not be what you fought for, believed in, or worked so hard to accomplish. So, never look back; George W., Bill, George, Jimmy or Nick. It was what it was; it is what it is, and you can’t change either the past or the future. You can only go on with your life.

With the changing of the guard this week in Washington D.C., the entire process was very moving to me. Things that are being proposed seem so obvious, so clear, so amazingly right, but they too will most probably be disassembled almost before the door is closed on our next president’s final helicopter ride. The only worst situation would be if all of President Obama’s former loyal leaders would stay behind and make those disassemble decisions on the next inauguration day.

In the raw emotion of abstract observation, it dawned on me that, my time as a president is over, too and that change will happen as it is permitted to happen by the leadership left behind. It also became clear to me that my role should now be one of elder statesman not that of interfering has been.

We built this city on rock ‘n roll” is a song that plays over and over in my head. In our case, we received international recognition because of the uniqueness of the institutional soul that evolved there. It was an open, progressive environment, but, more importantly, it was an environment filled with positive energy.

My role now as elder statesman is to offer advice only if asked, to realize that my time is indeed over as a president, and to help those who believe in what we once created to do the same for their organizations.

It is not to attempt to stop motion, no matter which direction it is flowing, but this part is damn hard, and I don’t have a library to focus on building.

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More on Leadership…

December 12th, 2008

Nick Jacobs, FACHE author of Taking the Hell Out of Healthcare

One imperative for any leader is a positive mental attitude. We must work tirelessly on believing in ourselves, and then we must work constantly to reinforce that belief with positive self-talk. If we embrace that concept that we can, there’s a very good chance that we indeed can. If, on the other hand, we believe that we won’t, we probably won’t. This single belief can initiate all forward movement. Winners in life constantly encourage themselves to think that I can, I will, and I am, and they don’t focus on the past —the should have, would have, or can’t do’s are gone forever. We can never make a better past for ourselves.

Last year, one of our employees attended a non-traditional educational seminar whose primary focus was directed toward the analysis of different personality types. When the employee returned, I asked, “What did you learn?” Their response was, “I learned that the primary function of people with my personality type is to pee on your cornflakes, to rain on your parade, and to frustrate your every creative idea, because that’s just what we do.”

Hence the opening paragraph of this piece. We are in difficult economic times, and the general counsel from our advisors is more often going to be to take no risks. If they are doing their jobs, we will be inundated with reasons why we should be against almost everything. In fact, words like growth, expansion, and opportunity all seem to be put away as this storm cellar mentality prevails. They will argue that they are saving their organizations by “shrinking to greatness” while opportunity after opportunity slips away.

One of my favorite visuals of this mind set comes from the 1990 movie Ghost where the people were helped to find their place in eternity by little demons that came out of the sewer grates to drag their souls into Hell. As leaders, we are surrounded every day by people who see their job as one of hard, cold, black and white facts. There are the extremists who spend their days spreading pessimism, fear, gloom, and negative energy; looking at the down side as they constantly undermine not only growth, but the attitudes that foster growth. The blacker the sky, the deeper the reinforcement of their concerns, and the more intense the corporate paralysis becomes throughout the organization.

Positive Mental Attitude Psychologist, Denis Waitley helped to change my life when he lectured on this topic nearly 30 years ago. He had been the U.S. Olympic athletes’ psychologist. Dr. Waitley taught us to learn from the past, set vivid, detailed goals for the future, and live in the only moment of time over which you have any control: now. He always spoke about the reality that life is inherently risky and that there is only one big risk you should avoid at all costs, and that is the risk of doing nothing.

Don’t get me wrong, conservative thinkers are important in the balancing act of leadership, but they must never be given the power to control all aspects of an organization. It is a recipe for disaster. The result will be stagnancy and eventually, business failure. There must be a means to carefully look at what they have to say, to evaluate the risks outlined, and then to make a decision based upon the prudent person process, but, having said that, remember that leadership is not a gutless proposition.

If you are not interested in some sleepless nights, tension filled meetings, or numerous failures, don’t get into the game. As Waitley says, the winner’s edge is not in a gifted birth, a high IQ, or in talent. The winner’s edge is all in the attitude, not aptitude. Attitude is the criterion for success. There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.

A leader’s world is not always black and white.

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A Note From Nick Jacobs

October 24th, 2008

A Note from Nick Jacobs

On October 23, it was my honor and privilege to speak at the PATIENT-CENTERED CARE CEO CONFERENCE in Chicago with some very impressive CEO’s and Leaders. My topic was “Linking a Patient-Centered Approach to Quality Improvement and HCAHPS,” but my deeper theme was “Leadership with a Heart – Developing Love and Respect in the Workplace by Nurturing Staff, Physicians, and Patients.” For those of you who were able to attend, thank you for your kind words of encouragement and support.

As was explained during my introduction, I have made the very difficult decision to leave Windber Medical Center, but I leave with a commitment to spread the word both nationally and internationally about the journey to Patient Centered Care and how to achieve it.

Obviously, it is a risky time to attempt to begin this endeavor, but, because no time is ever completely safe, it was my decision to reach out to my peers and friends to offer my commitment to work with you with that same passion to help you achieve your goals regarding this effort.

Because Sunstone Consulting is an organization that has specialized in finding additional financial support for hospitals, we can bring you not only the formula for Patient Centered Care, but also the needed additional financial support to achieve your goals in this area.

Although I will not officially complete my assignment at WMC until December 31st of this year, my current schedule permits me two days per week to begin to develop new relationships with my friends and peers. Should you have interest in contacting us for a visit to Windber, or if you would just like to make inquiry regarding engaging us for work at your facility, please feel free to either respond to this letter by E-mail or to call me at the following contact address below.

Once again, thank you for the privilege of working with you on such a significant topic.

Warmest Regards,

Nick Jacobs

Nick Jacobs FACHE - Author of Taking the Hell Out of Healthcare

Nick Jacobs

F. Nicholas Jacobs, FACHE
International Director
SunStone Consulting, LLC
1411 Grandview Avenue Apt. 803
Pittsburgh, PA 15211
nickjacobs@sunstoneconsulting.com
jacobsfn@aol.com
Mobile: 412-992-6197
Fax: 866-381-0219

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A Personal Journey

September 16th, 2008
F. Nicholas (Nick) Jacobs, FACHE

F. Nicholas (Nick) Jacobs, FACHE

Upon making my decision to leave teaching nearly 30 years ago, I interviewed with numerous companies. At the first interview, the human resource director looked up at me and said, “You’re a teacher. You bring nothing of value to the business world. It’s as if you were a drill instructor in the military. That does not help us in any way. We are not interested in you.”

The second interview was a much worse experience. I arrived at the office of the public relations/marketing director of another local firm. He looked up from my résumé, crumpled it in his hands and threw it into the waste basket in front of me and said, “Not interested.”

During the next interview, the HR director looked me in the eyes and said, “If you could do anything in this world, what would you do?” My reply, 29 years ago was, “I would be a writer and speaker.” He smiled and said, “You don’t want to be in retail. Put my name down as a reference and get the heck out of here.”

In the Wall Street Journal, Melinda Beck wrote an inspirational article about rejection and those who are moved in a positive way by denunciation. She talked about actress and singer, Julie Andrews who was rejected as “not photogenic enough for films.” She also talked about the rejection of the Harry Potter books by 12 publishing companies, Michael Jordan being cut from his high school basketball team his sophomore year, and numerous other successful people like Walt Disney, the Beatles, Dr. Seuss and Thomas Edison.

What was it that made them continue to drive forward, to push their ideas and dreams to reality? In the article, Ms. Beck says that the psychologists call it ‘self-efficacy,’ the unshakable belief that they have in themselves to succeed.” “It also is the hallmark of ‘positive psychology,’ which focuses on developing character strengths rather than alleviating pathologies.”

Here was the key point to the article: Those people who succeeded believed that persistence will let them beat the odds. “Sometimes genius itself needs time.”

The good news about this is that, according to Harvard Medical School psychologist, Robert Brooks, “You can develop a resilient mindset at any age.”

Bottom line? Do not allow negative responses to disrupt your dreams. Go for it. No matter what your age is.

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