September 11, 2018 - No Comments!

Jaclyn Martin: Story & Image, A Powerful Duo

Jaclyn Martin is a content strategist, writer and artist.  I was fortunate to meet her early this year when one of my long-time colleagues in HR connected us.  After you speak with Jaclyn, you'll quickly learn that she is passionate about listening, learning, and how to create a bold combination of words and images to tell a story.

She is wonderfully curious and, in her quest to understand others and what they want to achieve, she helps them find the truth of their ideas to write a unique story.  We have been fortunate to have Jaclyn as part of our team, participating in interviews with our new clients, writing, and creating web content to showcase their truth about new job opportunities.  I always learn something when speaking with Jaclyn, so it is my pleasure to introduce you to her as well.  


Sherry Benjamins: Tell me about your experience in the talent business? 

Jaclyn Martin: I first started in the talent business in 2001 as a proposal writer for an international staffing company. I learned quickly that there was deep internal expertise about their services, yet there was less known about how the customer or user perceived their service.  I decided to spend some time speaking with HR professionals and my sister, who led an HR function, to better understand the external user perspective.  

It was fascinating to work in an industry with diverse points of view and learn the challenge of selling a service rather than a product.  I believe it is all about potential – the potential of the people and the customer, as well as the potential of building a relationship that results in quality services and trusted partnering.  The different perspectives translated into addressing very different needs.  

My work in this business ranged from writing proposals, helping sales people create compelling presentations, to managing internal communications.   My team conducted research, collected data, interviewed internal and external clients, and identified themes and trends.  It was great to see how the data informed a new strategy, service, or decision about business investments.  I learned a lot about a wide range of businesses and industries, and found it was fun to help leaders craft a compelling story to engage workers or communicate more effectively with their clients.

SB: How do you incorporate story telling in your work?

JM: Everything we experience in life is a story – in order to engage others, we have to engage on that level.  I found I got the best results when engaging people in their own story.   It helps them clarify their desires, goals, and what matters most to them.  I could see that process moves them forward and hits emotional buttons to create connection.   

SB: What interests you in this work?

JM: People interest me – I want to know what motivates or drives them.  I enjoy the process of helping figure out how to get the reaction they want. There’s a difference between spinning a great story and misleading – I am about finding the compelling, honest story.  Helping people figure out how to take complex elements of their work and translate it into something other people can understand is very satisfying.  

One of the challenges we all face in communicating is, the more we know about our industry or work, the harder it is to explain to someone else.  While we’re speaking with insider colleagues we use a shorthand, efficient communication because we both know what we’re talking about.   That can backfire when your goal is to engage a broader group.  Some people are aware of this difficulty and some not, but it’s always a challenge for creating a simple, engaging, and effective message. 

SB: What do you attribute to your success in taking stories to reality?

JM:  Getting my writing degree was an important part of my foundation and allowed me to be humble as a writer.  I believe staying humble about what we know is a key to success.  Listening is important too.  I pay attention to clients and their challenges, but I also pay attention to the concerns and challenges of their clients or target audience because the content we’re creating needs to speak to both. Creating a strategy from that information is more critical than the actual task of writing.  That may not sound logical given my role of writer, yet, listening genuinely to the client and learning what they want to accomplish provides the understanding and context required to craft an authentic, compelling story.  

SB: As an artist as well as writer, how does being an artist inform your work?

JM: Because I work with both visuals and words, I’m more focused on producing less text. Instead, I pair the right words with compelling visuals to create content that’s truly engaging – giving the client more impact from their narrative.  

I get to do this when helping SBCo with their unique micro-sites for high-end talent sourcing.  We create one-page microsites to tell a unique story about a career or new job opportunity.  The unique combination of a compelling position description and engaging visuals in a web site tailored to the position and employer is a truly differentiated way of communicating about a job opportunity and grabs attention.  Our goal is for them to “see themselves in this job,” and elicit the desired response, “tell me more.”   I really enjoy creating a unique message platform that speaks to potential talent.

SB: What is your advice to companies that are starting the “story telling” journey?

JM:  First decide who or what you want to be – it should be based on your values and the authentic way you approach whatever it is you do. Then, check with your clients and employees to see if their experience matches the story you want to tell. Finally, create the simplest version of that story – if you can’t explain it in just a few minutes, it’s too complex and not as compelling as it should be. 

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Blog, Newsletter

September 10, 2018 - No Comments!

Jay Golden and Stories that Unlock Power

Early this year, I had the opportunity to meet Jay Golden and learn about the power of “retellable” stories. Jay is an author, keynote speaker, and storytelling coach, who helps leaders shape and share their stories in transformative ways. His work was so fascinating that I asked him to coach me through the exploration of my own stories and experiences to uncover what he calls our own “purpose” through discussion of journey. It truly changed how I see my stories, and how I view my career. I am eager for you to get to know more about Jay through this interview. I agree with him that the power of story helps us navigate in this unpredictable and chaotic business world. 


Sherry Benjamins: How did you begin this work on coaching leaders on storytelling?

Jay Golden:  I began working in all types of communication in the 1990s that focused on education, production, strategy, and video. By 2009 as a new dad, I took a break and looked around. I saw how many new forms of media were emerging every day, and instead of being at the edge, I wanted to be at the center. I knew that the center of all communication was story. And that it begins with personal stories. Audiences are open to hearing about what they truly care about on a personal level.  However, we often bury that or shift in a different direction because of necessity – lack of time, impersonal media, and the perception that people don’t want to hear stories. But how do we truly connect? After all the 1000’s of bits and bytes of information we absorb in a day, what do our audiences remember? And on a personal level, where do we keep and share our key life lessons and insights that guide our careers and organizations? I found that helping leaders, especially founders, identify their stories and use them as a guide towards the future they sought often resulted in a life change.  Whether you are speaking to thousands of people or one on one across the table, practicing the art of sharing stories brings people together. It reinforces why our work matters.

SB: What holds people back from telling their story?

JG: Today, with such an emphasis on rapid-fire communication and data delivery in the work world, we often miss the opportunity to reveal a greater journey, and illuminate lasting change for our audiences. Both the individual and company stories matter. They are equally important to ensuring lasting change. Stories that can be retold have personal power and impact.  Today, we are faced with such rapid, distributed information that is devoid of some of the most precious human elements that inform our organizations.  However, because so many of us are being asked to deliver on change in a rapidly changing world, we get to share our stories to support that process in highly effective and personal ways.

SB: Do you see confidence building as an outcome of your work with leaders?

JG:  Confidence builds as you explore the collection of stories that you hold, and the lessons you’ve learned along the way. These stories are alive - they live inside you. Once you tell them, they can inspire others to see a new way. And while many leaders can feel very separate from their teams, stories humanize them. That process builds personal confidence and organizational resilience.

SB: What have you learned from your clients?

JG: Everyone is different. It’s fascinating to take people back to a story that they’ve experienced and see if they can re-tell it. It does take space and a commitment to engage in this process, but I find that they absolutely can transform their leadership by gathering their stories and retelling them in a focused and fun way.  Heart-centered leaders adopt this practice quickly. They are not driven immediately to ROI on this process, because they see how it can transform communication and engagement in an authentic way. These leaders have an openness and willingness to change and set up the change which will most certainly impact the bottom line.

SB:  In our talk, you mentioned that a key part of change is in how you “set it up.” Tell me more about what “setting up the change” means?

JG: There is a deep dark place where we may not be conscious of our own story. Joseph Campbell says, “the hero is the one who comes to know.”  He refers to the belly of the whale, the innermost cave where the mystery lives. Think about Star Wars, when Luke, Leia, and Han Solo are in the great garbage compactor. The serpent almost takes them down – if there’s a serpent there’s often an innermost cave! This is the dark place of not knowing, and often we work very hard to avoid these difficult places in our stories, afraid we might get stuck there. But with some attention and practice, this becomes critical to your stories, and critical to the change you’re delivering. You may not think about it this way, but before social media, there was story-telling. Retellable stories were delivered to others across the world, to take them through a deep journey so the participants could gain the lesson without having taken the journey. This had far-reaching impact. There would be a mystery revealed, a journey explored and in the final moments, something became very clear and transforming. 

SB:  How is this like culture work?

JG: Companies are interested in how stories drive culture. And often this work is about finding those key stories that are hidden. They may be hidden behind the over-simplicity of testimonials, behind values that are stated on the wall but not understood on a visceral level, or hidden behind the focus on gathering ‘likes’ and not insights. Providing the right incentives to your audiences, either internal or external, can provide a treasure trove of data on what true changes you’re delivering on, and give real life to your values. It begins with a commitment to finding your stories. About 60% of my work is with the individual leader who is looking to clarify direction or engage and inspire others which supports empowerment or a culture shift. I’m interested in the stories that workers share and how that translates to their environment, trust and relationships.

SB: How do you see communication changing today in corporations?

Even with the acceleration of messaging, there is a recognition that we should return to mechanisms that offer personal relevance.  Everything is going to the cloud, yet human relevance is even more important than ever – that which is shared live, in conference halls, at lunch meetings, and in interviews. The cloud doesn’t help as much there. Deep, authentic connections become even more precious.  I lived through the boom and bust of San Francisco, while so much was changing. What stayed constant was this: what makes us individually alive and what we hold dear will remain. Our precious memories, our insights, and our lessons, well delivered, will hold our attention, and the attention of our audiences, even in difficult times.

There are so many changes coming at us from all perspectives that have social, political, technological, and economic impact.  I believe that the leader who has resilience and can adapt to and navigate these changes, while retaining the core of “what they are here to do” will thrive. Stories will be essential for them to inspire and take us into the future. 

Check out Jay’s book, Retellable: How Your Essential Stories Unlock Power and Purpose.

Conclusion

Have you ever worked for a leader who shares a story and it sounds like, “it’s always been that way here” or “this is just how things get done.”   It leaves you with a sense of resignation without much inspiration to change.  For good or bad, our stories offer a vision of how things are in our mind and we use them to interpret forward thinking actions.  Imagine if we could review our stories so that we can acknowledge our strengths and inspire others to challenge them themselves through the gift of personal story.

As you start to scan your own stories, think about what you learned and how it shapes who you are today. That is a great first step. Enjoy the journey.  

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Blog, Newsletter

August 5, 2018 - No Comments!

The Shifting Power Base with Employer & Candidate – Kate Kjeell

By Kate Kjeell

“Why do you want this job?” That was the ubiquitous interview question a decade ago.  Candidates needed to demonstrate their interest and prove themselves worthy of consideration.  

The question that now needs to be answered is “Why should I take this job?” and it is the candidate that is doing the asking.

You don’t have to be a nuclear physicist to know that times have changed. We are collectively coming up on the 10-year anniversary of the great recession and nearing full employment.  In addition, technology, social media and access to crowd sourced information on hiring managers, companies and job openings have shifted the power to the consumer, in this case the candidate.

No longer can any of us sit back with the mentality “if we post it, they will come.”  Job opportunities need to be marketed just like products and services, and candidates need to be treated like your customers.  They expect to be wooed and presented with a compelling value proposition.

This shift in power extends all through the hiring process even to negotiations around compensation.  In many states, as in California, it is now illegal to ask about current or prior compensation.  The candidate is entitled to know the compensation range without divulging any information other than their expectations.

To attract great talent, progressive companies are already changing their approach to talent.  The early adopters will win.  It is not too late to shift your strategy.

Here are four things you might want to think about:

  • Value Proposition: What is the value proposition your company offers? Can everyone involved in the hiring process articulate that in a few concise sentences?  A clear message that authentically engages the individual sees an  improved response rates with higher quality passive candidates.  
  • Marketing Message: What is exciting about this particular job? What will this candidate get to do in the first year?  Call us at SBC to learn how we market a role with a very unique and tailored micro-site.  Our goal is to leave the job description as an artifact of the past and create a forward looking, digital friendly and compelling  story so that ideal candidates want to learn more.  Trust me – it works!
  • Market Savvy Total Rewards: How does your company create total rewards offerings that match up with the market? In this competitive market and with more access to compensation information, candidates are savvy.  Be prepared with an understanding of what the candidate wants balanced with your best thinking on an attractive offer.  Act quickly.  We are seeing more candidates with competitive offers than ever before. 
  • Back-Up Plans: What is my back-up plan to fill this position?  Based on all the factors outlined candidates do have multiple offers.  This leads to offers that may be declined or your need to explore a counter-offer.  Be prepared to engage with multiple candidates so that you have alternatives in this tight talent market. 

The rules of the hiring game are ever changing.  You have the opportunity to adapt and excel in successful hiring.  It will take some strategy, selling and astute selection.  Those of you adapting will thrive while seeing others go the way of Blockbuster Video, Polaroid or Tower Records.

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Newsletter

August 5, 2018 - No Comments!

A Culture Story – Meet Bilal Khan, CEO of New World Medical

It is rare to meet a CEO who invests as much in people as he does in products. Bilal Khan, CEO of New World Medical is on a mission to deliver innovative solutions in vision to benefit the global community. As a matter of fact, one of their key values is to Benefit Humanity. The company works to achieve this lofty goal by developing, manufacturing, and marketing cutting-edge medical devices intended to alleviate the suffering of glaucoma patients around the world. 

We had the honor of meeting Bilal and his senior team last year to help them answer the question: “As we scale our efforts to Benefit Humanity, how can we maintain and enhance our mission-driven culture?”  Only an enlightened and open leader asks this kind of question as he embraces growth and greater impact in the world.  I was eager to catch up with Bilal to see how they are doing.

Sherry Benjamins: Tell us about New World Medical and the progress on your culture initiatives.

Bilal Khan: We are an ophthalmic device company based in Rancho Cucamonga focused on developing and distributing glaucoma implants and devices that empower surgeons to enhance the lives of their patients.  

Our team is proud of our tremendous growth, which has been driven by our collective focus on building collaborative relationships with surgeons and developing innovative technology to enrich the lives of patients.  Equally important has been New World Medical’s investment in our culture. Late last year we embarked on a journey to refine our core values and build upon the special foundation we have at New World Medical.  

Our partnership with your team, drove us to broaden executive coaching efforts, refine our charitable initiatives, create a culture committee, launch quarterly town halls, and refocus our employee engagement activities around community-building.  This work was essential for us to establish a scalable and authentic foundation for our rapid growth.

SB: You have mentioned the importance of coaching in your company – how does that show up today in your culture?

BK: We have an ongoing commitment to develop our team through coaching. It’s important for us to invest in our colleague’s success if we are going to be true to our mission. In our effort to better understand them and what they need from us to flourish; we have brought in external coaches for our managers and continue to build-out our professional development efforts. 

SB: What are you learning about innovation and taking risk? 

BK:  As the CEO, you have to decide whether you are building a business or only a product. If you’re building a business, invest in and empower your talent. I have learned that giving talented people autonomy, allowing them to take risks and creating the room to recover from occasional setbacks builds capabilities.  We strive to create an environment that gives our colleagues this space, while also holding them accountable to our collective mission. 

I have seen far too many entrepreneurs limited by their inability to recruit, maintain, and cultivate the necessary talent to scale and sustain the remarkable platforms they have built.  My philosophy is, you help me grow the business and we can share the success together. Talented folks yearn for a sense of ownership, and it is only a zero-sum opportunity if you don’t plan on growing.

SB:  What is your leadership philosophy?

BK: My leadership team needs the freedom to take on more responsibility and that requires trust.    My job is to coach them on process not tactics, which is a hard transition to make.  Most individuals that ascend to a leadership position do so by always having the right answers, but once your are charged with greater responsibility, you need to continually identify the right questions.

SB:  Is that part of the family owned, privately held philosophy?

BK: We are fortunate to have the luxury of a long-term perspective to building our business that is not distracted by the constant pursuit of a liquidity event.  Our family believes in New World Medical’s mission and this is something we focus on with potential hires.  When you join a family-owned business there are freedoms that come with our ability to focus on mission and values, however, there can be struggles too if it is not run as a meritocracy or there are confounding objectives. 

SB: How do you think about innovation in your industry?

BK: There have traditionally been two primary types of innovation in our space.  First, there is venture-driven R&D that is capital intensive and necessitates a substantial business opportunity to justify acquisition by a strategic. Second, there is less rigorous, incremental innovation driven by firms with narrower capabilities. 

These models leave the needs of many vulnerable patients unaddressed.  There may not be enough of them to attract the attention of multinationals or venture investment, and their ailments beyond the technological capacity of smaller firms.  For glaucoma patients, New World Medical hopes to bridge that gap.  Additionally, our long-term approach allows us to develop institutional knowledge and chart an iterative path towards improving patient care.

SB: What is your advice to other CEO’s who are growing their business?

The number one thing is to invest in and empower your talent.  If you do this and hold your team accountable to an inspiring, higher cause, it will lead to special results.

Closing thoughts...

Most of us like Bilal, probably want to give people autonomy and freedom to develop ideas that will take your business further.  It is logical yet we revert to company controls that used to work but today are obsolete.   It seems we invest in data, systems, machine learning, AI and now block chain today.  And, we underinvest in building a creative, agile and risk taking culture for our employees.  In Michael Arena’s new book, Adaptive Space, he talks about “fueling agility” in our business and touches on this freedom that we talk about.  Thank you Bilal for reminding us that the human investment is what matters in setting a collective mission that energizes us.

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Newsletter

July 5, 2018 - No Comments!

Opportunity Guide – What are you learning this week?

There is something great about a holiday in the middle of the week.  It seems to slow us all down and allow for reflection.  It can be disorienting too.  I understand that too well.

Our ability to withdraw can be the best way to move ourselves forward.  Our success in doing this is letting go of "busy."  You are not getting lost or out of touch when you withdraw, you are allowing  yourself to return newly refreshed with more intention on what matters.

The real secret here is that the success we all strive for whether it is in our work or our transitions to something new, does not start with a list of to do's.  It might feel good having that check list to go to. However, it seems that a week like this with a break in the middle allows us to remove ourselves from the list making and make ourselves available from another ground.  We can look for that new ground and speak in a more clear and rested voice.

With your day or two off explore what is right in your life rather than what is wrong or missing.  Even when things are going well, our nature is often to search for the "problem to solve."   Ganesh, our lovely elephant-headed Hindu deva, is widely revered as the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences and represents intellect and learning. Find your Ganesh this week, dispel those problems and focus on appreciating your gift of learning.

My friend Jeremy Hunter with the Drucker Institute says, "we can miss opportunities to appreciate what's beautiful, nourishing and even magical even when it's staring us in the face. All it takes is a slight shift in perception to notice what's around you and be fed by it."

So, in the spirit of withdrawal and being courageous to let go of busy, appreciate Ganesh too, I wish you all a week of rest and reflection.

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Uncategorized

July 2, 2018 - No Comments!

What is your brand when you can’t be there ?

Every minute of the day, our brand communicates information about who we are, our character, interests, perspectives and performance. People can find out a lot about us online. If you have not googled yourself lately, I suggest doing that now. Are you pleased with what you see?

How you show up in social sends a message about yourself whether it is intentional or not. I think by now, most of us see the importance of having an authentic presence in social media. At least in the business world I participate in, you can’t avoid this. You are checked out before a networking meeting, before an interview and before someone says they want to do business with you.

Bob Johansen, a distinguished fellow at the Institute for the Future in Silicon Valley recently wrote a book about leadership literacies as we look out the next ten years. He writes about one literacy in particular that has me thinking about how we “show up the world.”  He says we will need to be there for our teams across the world, when we are not there.  It is virtual and non-conventional platforms for communicating that will become norms.   We see it now.  We will earn trust in our network or our company through other means that just being in a physical setting.  Building on-line relationships and having presence virtually across geography will be more important in the future.  Technology makes this possible.

Imagine a future where; where you are leading a team without physical presence.  We have that now most of the time in our small and mighty team of recruiters. Our managing director, Kate Kjeell brings them together once a week for de-briefs and problem solving. Instant messaging keeps daily communication a key aspect of being present. We use phone, email, conference call, skype or combinations.

How do we convey presence when we can’t be everywhere?

Here are the three things to do in order to create your voice online:
1.) Ask yourself, “How will people know what I know?” In your effort to share a story online or your point of view make a list of topics that are important to you. These topics or themes are areas you are passionate about and will be the starting point for your writing, blog or on-line presence.
2.) Research how others are known in a field that interests you.  Where do they express themselves? Dorie Clark writes a book called, Stand Out. It is a great foundation for building a presence and point of view without being physically together.
3.) Share your ideas with your colleagues. How do others influence virtual teams?  Test out "being there when you aren't" by scheduling a skype call.

Consider being your best you, when not being there in person.  One of the future competencies to learn is how to lead when you are not there.  What is your way to start this journey?

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Communication, Management, Talent Economy

June 19, 2018 - No Comments!

Does M&A Bring Welcoming Surprises?

This past week we hosted our pre-summer HRoundtable and were fortunate to have Gina Codd, VP of Global Talent Management & Development, Edwards Lifesciences, and Mark Oshima, Managing Partner of Aon’s Strategic Advisory Practice facilitate this session. 

Our HRoundtable is comprised of senior leaders in HR and meets quarterly to discuss forward looking topics and insights into relevant current challenges.  The goal is to learn from each other and think outside the box.  Gina and Mark did just that with a deep dive conversation into the world of M&A.  They were a fabulous duo looking at the work of due diligence and integrating companies, culture and people.   

Mark has extensive global experience with fascinating companies and provided the overview and the structure of a “perfect deal”.  He discussed the major phases of “doing the deal” and “making the deal work” as well as why deals fail and the criteria that drives a deal to success. There are a range of integration strategies based on the type of transaction and Mark shared insights on how the areas of Behaviors, Beliefs and Decisions intersect and ultimately shape culture.  

Gina has experience at the ground level with leading HR M&A efforts throughout her career.  Both Gina and Mark confirmed that while every deal is different, the value is in the learnings from repeatability and looking for patterns and trends.  Gina shared various dynamics and situations where a mentality of “welcoming surprises” and thinking like an air traffic controller is necessary to be agile through initial due diligence through integration.   

What is HR’s role in the M&A process? Both Mark and Gina talked about the critical role HR plays from the very beginning.  HR often enters at the integration stage but Gina shared what happens in the early stages of due diligence when companies are initially being evaluated and the initial requests for information are made.  Both Mark and Gina discussed how aspects of business acumen, critical thinking, adaptive capability, judgment and understanding cultural and strategic insight are all roles HR plays in Merger and Acquisition activity.  It dawned on me the Mergers and Acquisitions are an excellent opportunity for those in HR to get close to the business. 

I have been known when asked about HR career opportunities, to advise professionals to step out of HR into the business functions.  If M&A, business strategy and being the best HR Business Partner is a goal, then there could be nothing better than rotating out of HR to the business to gain this perspective.  In Ram Charan’s book, Talent Wins, there is a great chapter on “The New HR Career Path” that highlights specific case studies showing the power or rotations like this.   It is a two way street – for business leaders can rotate into HR for a talent immersion experience and HR moves out to the business to learn about adding value as well.   Want to add value to your business?  Consider this as a possibility to differentiate yourself and contribute at a higher level.  Although Gina is contributing her expertise from HR, she is clearly a key participant in a complex, multi-dimensional challenge with colleagues from diverse functions in order to help guide the company in its strategic business decisions.   Although Mark is a seasoned consultant in M&A he is extremely tuned in the importance culture and people play in the success of a deal.  The HRoundtable and I thank you both, Mark and Gina for sharing your wisdom in a fascinating interactive discussion which inspired us to think big.

If you are interested in learning more about joining the HRoundtable – please call Sherry at 562-594-6426 or sherry@sbcompany.net

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Blog

June 19, 2018 - No Comments!

Brad Younggren and the Future of Healthcare

Meet Brad Younggren, Chief Medical Officer at 98point6

Imagine realizing breakthrough solutions with a one of a kind approach to primary healthcare in a way that has never been possible before. The Seattle based firm, 98point6 is embarking on that journey. They are using AI technology paired with distinguished, hand-selected and board-certified physicians from all regions of the country to bring on-demand care, diagnosis and patient engagement to all via our smartphones.  It is evident that innovation in accessible care that enhances benefits and creates passionate employees is just a glimpse of what they are creating.  

I spoke with Brad Younggren, Chief Medical Officer, so that I might learn a bit more about their journey to transform care with affordable scalable solutions to patients young and old. 98point6 delivers personalized consultation, diagnosis and treatment by using technology and smartphones to patients in 14 states with the goals of reaching 50 states by year’s end.  

Sherry Benjamins: Brad, tell me about you?

Brad Younggen: My career into medicine began in the Army as an emergency physician in Iraq.  Early on I could see the potential of using digital technology in saving lives.  I also had a great experience in using ultrasound to transmit digital information. We saw that phones could be medical devices, which allowed us to scale beyond where technology began in telemedicine. A friend of mine connected me to the impressive leaders at 98point6 where I saw Robbie Cape’s vision for allowing physicians to do their best work in offering quality care for all patients.  It was clear that the notion of leadership and investment in the physician side of the business as well as the technology platform had tremendous value and opportunity so I joined the organization in early 2017.

SB: How are patients dealing with technology?  What needs to be done to overcome the hurdles to adoption?

BY:  Most of us have leveraged the mobile phone in ways that make it essential for daily living.  The relationship that we aim to create using mobile technology is already something people understand.  Who isn’t making texting the go-to for their communication with others? We are not seeing age as an obstacle in adopting our platform. We do have video capability but it may surprise you that people don’t naturally opt for that.  

The smartphone is at the core of how we live.  We were pleased to see broad usage across demographics. 30% are ages 25-34 and 28% are 35-44. Over 90% would use the service again and last month 42% of visits were returning users with a new condition or question.  It does not appear that the technology is getting in the way at all. The top 5 categories treated range from upper respiratory conditions, dermatology issues, gastrointestinal or digestive and ear, nose and throat issues.  

SB: What does personalization mean for your company? 

BY:  We are meeting our patients where they are comfortable with technology. There is a board-certified doctor on our back-end model which means a personalized diagnosis and virtual high-quality care for each patient.  We deliver the whole spectrum of primary care and we are seeing patients really responding to the platform.  Some wonder how a text-based service can offer quality care.  Much of what is diagnosed today by primary care physician’s in-person can be treated by our physicians via or app.  Our in-app resolution rate is consistently over 85% and in March it was 93% and April 96%.  If we are unable to meet a specific individual need, we refer patients to an in-person primary care specialist or urgent care.

SB: What attracted you to 98point6?

BY:  It was clear from my first meetings with our CEO that quality care and physicians are at the center of this solution. They are carefully selected and physicians participate in in-person strategy retreats and contribute actively to product reviews. They really get to do what they value most here and that is to deliver care and have an impact.  We now have more than 100 employees and some of the very best minds in technology, medical and regulatory.  We have a Medical Advisory Board of 18 physicians and are recognized leadres in their specialty. They guide us in a powerful way. We attract top talent because our social mission is as compelling as our technical vision. 

SB: What are you learning from this experience?

BY: There is a leadership commitment to investing in technology, but more importantly investing in technology as it intersects with medicine. Our core values serve as the foundation for our behaviors and allow us to be focused on selecting new hires that are a long-term fit. These values include a bias for action, building trust, collaborating and committing to our patients and our team members as well as relentless improvement that guides our growth and success.  These are not just words on the website, they are seen in the actions of our leaders.

SB: And what have you learned about yourself so far?

BY:  I am learning that amazing things can inspire people to do great work.  There is a drive and a collaborative culture here focused on solving complex problems and I have seen this energy and tenacity consistently here at 98point6.  Through this experience I am also improving my own capacity as a leader. 

Conclusion

To be totally transparent here, after I spoke with Brad I had to try this service.  They make it really easy for you to log in and ask your health question. The Automated Assistant even had a sense of humor! We already have personalized experiences with other virtual applications and services so this seemed natural in many ways. I did not expect that as the skeptical baby boomer I am.  All I can say is, Alexa, watch out!  Thank you Brad for introducing this innovation to our community and we will be eager to learn more about this transforming journey for all of us.   

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Blog

June 9, 2018 - No Comments!

Why it Pays to “Break the Rules” – Are you a Rebel?

There is a new book out that is worth exploring.  Francesca Gino, Professor of Business at Harvard just published, "Rebel Talent: Why it Pays to Break the Rules at Work and in Life."

It is refreshing to read about others who break the roles, re-invent or change the world for better.  At a time when there is so much disturbing news and divide across the country, Francesca speaks to possibility and prospering even in this turbulent world.

The rebel leader is not just about people who lead others.  It is about those of us who thrive in a world of change and at times welcome discomfort.  It might be more natural for us humans to accept conformity, but Francesca shares rich stories of those that know themselves and stretch the boundaries.  One of her guiding principles is to encourage constructive dissent.  It is really about understanding all perspectives and gaining understanding before making decisions.  Her examples from Robert Kennedy to leaders at General Motors brings to life great rebels.

I so appreciated another one of her principles, which is "fostering happy accidents." One of our colleagues, Gina Codd from Edwards Lifesciences introduced the refreshing concept of "welcome surprises" at her company.  Cultures that welcome idea exchange, making mistakes and enjoying what you learn from accidents is clearly a place I would want to be.

What type of rebel are you? There is an assessment that allows us to explore that and learn.  Check out Francesca's book and begin to recognize that we need rebels in our work and life in order to bring about positive lasting change.  

 

 

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Employee Engagement, Management, Newsletter

May 20, 2018 - No Comments!

A Unique College strategist – Meet Joe Teske

I met Joe Teske, business owner in the financial advising and career strategy arena, at a networking event this past March. I was taken by his passion and purpose around coaching others to be their best. He is a unique guide to those looking for answers and ideas about careers, money, college for kids or grandkids, or looking for insight and action in an unpredictable economy. 

Joe has been providing college planning and financial strategies for families for over 15 years.  Prior to this, he was an executive in aerospace, hiring/managing over 250 people. He has a deep understanding of college planning and job acquisition skills students need to succeed and he is a certified College Planning Relief specialist. His early years and continued expertise in financial planning helps him see the interconnectedness of financial and career in order to help families set direction and minimize costs. 

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Sherry Benjamins: How do you work with students before they are considering college?

Joe Teske: Abraham Lincoln said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” I learned that there are numerous ways to make the college journey more efficient and effective. In our firm, Reliant College Planning Solutions (Reliant CPS), we work with students and their families to educate them on career, cost and college, in that order.

Up to 40% of students entering college undeclared (without knowing their major), will not graduate. I believe student’s and family’s focus should be primarily on the “40-year career” and not necessarily the 4-year college. We have tools to help students identify a best-fit career and major in which they will enjoy their work and be productive.  Isn’t this the hope of every parent – a child in an occupation they love?

The other element of this work is helping families characterize the affordability of college.  Oftentimes families don’t truly consider the total cost of attending college. Graduation rates in 4 years at public colleges averages 34%. Most students can take 5 or more years to graduate. When you consider this for each child in the family, and with the costs of college growing each year, it’s clear that laying out a multi-year budget is critical to understanding how a family will afford a college education.  

SB: What do you learn from students in this process?

JT: Each student has unique wiring. While the education system is structured around a relatively standard set of coursework through the first 14 years of education, each student can find a path that supports their specific interests.  Helping families themselves find the distinctive profession where their child will love the work they do is an extremely rewarding process.  

When you look at the education system outside the U.S., many adolescents are choosing their occupational direction by the 8th or 10th grade. It could be a trade, a technical path or academic. There are very few teachers bringing an assessment process to 10th graders. I believe that is a big loss. Why not introduce the potential careers to students much earlier?  When that is accomplished, there is a real sense of relief and hope as they are able to address their most pressing question, “What am I going to be/do?”  With a career narrowed-down, students choose classes in line with their future profession. I also see that often their GPA improves as they’re taking classes that match their wiring.  Life has just gotten much simpler – and easier for them.

SB: What are the stresses from their vantage point?

JT: The pressures placed on students today far exceed what we’ve seen, even ten years ago.  The competition now for each seat in college is international! And with an admission process that evaluates leadership, volunteering, extra-curricular activities, writing ability, and demonstrated interest, along with their GPA and aptitude test scores, our adolescents are facing more demands than ever before. The mental health of these students is strained to the limit. They are trying to please everyone – parents, teachers, coaches, friends, and even the yet-to-be determined college admissions office. Focusing your student on a direction matters, even if it changes over the process.  Earlier is better. 

SB: What is your perspective on the future of education?

JT: I am a parent of children in this age group and I see first-hand visibility of the demands placed on my children and others. In addition, with my background in financial advising, I understand the economics of the education system. Families are doing whatever they can to get in and get the degree. This has led to a national college debt level at $1.5 trillion- growing at $100 billion each year. This far exceeds credit card debt. College has become the new credit crisis.

I believe that going to college and finding your way – does not work any longer. Knowing your career path first is critical. It is too costly to be left to chance, and not knowing often leads to five or more years to get a degree. Families are exploring alternatives to this heavy cost burden. Many are sending their students to a 2-year college and then transferring to a 4-year university. Some colleges offer co-operative programs where the students alternate academic and work semesters to gain experience and pay during their education process.  Students are taking online coursework as well. One change I anticipate that will grow in the future is companies/industries working collaboratively to customize job structure and learning for their future employees. This has already started in the healthcare and information technology industries with certification programs. Entry- to mid-level position qualifications are met through specified course content without needing a 4-year degree.  The amount of money spent on education will draw more creative solutions like this in the near future.

SB: What is your advice to parents?

JT: Building a network is not just for the experienced working professional or parent. It is the right thing to do as a high schooler as well. Imagine having a LinkedIn profile and networking strategy starting in high school. This is now the new 21st century life skill.   


We will see creative solutions to these education challenges. We are learning from recent generation Z research, those children born into the digital everything, smart phone era, after millennials about how they learn and where they want to learn. They do not remember a time before social media.  Stay tuned for what education will need to look like for this next smart, start-up mentality talent of the future. 

If you have interest in learning more about the college and money challenges and solutions, please reach out to Joe Teske, Reliant College Planning Solutions at www.reliantcps.com. 

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Blog, Newsletter