The Catalyst … accelerating business growth in healthcare

More Important to Be Kind Than Clever

Posted by Jessica Hartman DeVore on Wed, Aug 29, 2012 @12:10 PM

One of the more heart-warming stories to zoom around the Internet lately involves a young man, his dying grandmother, and a bowl of clam chowder from Panera Bread. It's a little story that offers big lessons about service, brands, and the human side of business — a story that underscores why efficiency should never come at the expense of humanity.

The story, as told in AdWeek, goes like this: Brandon Cook, from Wilton, New Hampshire, was visiting his grandmother in the hospital. Terribly ill with cancer, she complained to her grandson that she desperately wanted a bowl of soup, and that the hospital's soup was inedible (she used saltier language). If only she could get a bowl of her favorite clam chowder from Panera Bread! Trouble was, Panera only sells clam chowder on Friday. So Brandon called the nearby Panera and talked to store manager Suzanne Fortier. Not only did Sue make clam chowder especially for Brandon's grandmother, she included a box of cookies as a gift from the staff.

It was a small act of kindness that would not normally make headlines. Except that Brandon told the story on his Facebook page, and Brandon's mother, Gail Cook, retold the story on Panera's fan page. The rest, as they say, is social-media history. Gail's post generated 500,000 (and counting) "likes" and more than 22,000 comments on Panera's Facebook page. Panera, meanwhile, got something that no amount of traditional advertising can buy — a genuine sense of affiliation and appreciation from customers around the world.

Marketing types have latched on to this story as an example of the power of social media and "virtual word-of-mouth" to boost a company's reputation. But I see the reaction to Sue Fortier's gesture as an example of something else — the hunger among customers, employees, and all of us to engage with companies on more than just dollars-and-cents terms. In a world that is being reshaped by the relentless advance of technology, what stands out are acts of compassion and connection that remind us what it means to be human.

As I read the story of Brandon and his grandmother, I thought back to a lecture delivered two years ago by Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of, to the graduating seniors of my alma mater, Princeton University. Bezos is nothing if not a master of technology — he has built his company, and his fortune, on the rise of the Internet and his own intellect. But he spoke that day not about computing power or brainpower, but about his grandmother — and what he learned when he made her cry.

Even as a 10-year-old boy, it turns out, Bezos had a steel-trap mind and a passion for crunching numbers. During a summer road trip with his grandparents, young Jeff got fed up with his grandmother's smoking in the car — and decided to do something about it. From the backseat, he calculated how many cigarettes per day his grandmother smoked, how many puffs she took per cigarette, the health risk of each puff, and announced to her with great fanfare, "You've taken nine years off your life!"

Bezos's calculations may have been accurate — but the reaction was not what he expected. His grandmother burst into tears. His grandfather pulled the car off to the side of the road and asked young Jeff to step out. And then his grandfather taught a lesson that this now-billionaire decided to share the with the Class of 2010: "My grandfather looked at me, and after a bit of silence, he gently and calmly said, 'Jeff, one day you'll understand that it's harder to be kind than clever.'"

That's a lesson I wish more businesspeople understood — a lesson that is reinforced by the reaction to this simple act of kindness at Panera Bread. Indeed, I experienced something similar not so long ago, and found it striking enough to devote an HBR blog post to the experience. In my post, I told the story of my father, his search for a new car, a health emergency that took place in the middle of that search — and a couple of extraordinary (and truly human) gestures by an auto dealer that put him at ease and won his loyalty.

"What is it about business that makes it so hard to be kind?" I asked at the time. "And what kind of businesspeople have we become when small acts of kindness feel so rare?"

That's what's really striking about the Panera Bread story — not that Suzanne Fortier went out of her way to do something nice for a sick grandmother, but that her simple gesture attracted such global attention and acclaim.

So by all means, encourage your people to embrace technology, get great at business analytics, and otherwise ramp up the efficiency of everything they do. But just make sure all their efficiency doesn't come at the expense of their humanity. Small gestures can send big signals about who we are, what we care about, and why people should want to affiliate with us. It's harder (and more important) to be kind than clever.

Shared by Bill Taylor

Tags: leadership, marketing, teamwork, brand management, sales, business growth, strategic thinking, business development

Melinda McDonald Joins EHM Team

Posted by Jessica Hartman DeVore on Wed, Aug 15, 2012 @12:05 PM


Essential Healthcare Management (EHM) has announced that healthcare industry veteran Melinda McDonald has joined EHM as Senior Vice President. Most recently, Melinda was Vice President, Non-Clinical Products and Services for Children’s Hospital Association, formerly Child Health Corporation of America (CHCA).  In that role, she managed a portfolio of over 100 agreements representing over $40M in spend.  Melinda was instrumental in starting and developing this role at CHCA. Savings in one year for the hospital participants was close to $6M.  In addition to managing the portfolio of agreements, Melinda also developed new suppliers, assisted them in working with hospitals and increased their revenues. She has an outstanding reputation with suppliers and helping them to succeed.

“We are very happy to add to our growing company, a person of such great experience, skill and professionalism as Melinda.  She will bring real world contracting experience to her role representing suppliers, specifically in the purchased services area, which is growing in visibility to the contracting world.  We look forward to a very productive relationship with Ms. McDonald and welcome her aboard,” EHM Managing Partner Stan Schroeder commented.

Prior to her work with the CHCA Group Purchasing Services division, Melinda was responsible for the Executive Institute.  The Executive Institute was a membership organization with CHCA comprised of CEOs, COOs, CFOs, and CNOs.  Her responsibilities included formulating a yearly business plan for the Executive Institute, planning and facilitating three meetings per year for the CEOs, coordinating deliverables and projects for the Executive Institute, and marketing and selling the Executive Institute for renewals every year.

Melinda also held a position at Saint Luke’s Health System in Kansas City, Missouri.  She was instrumental in the development of a Women’s Heart Center, as well as various programming for women.  Melinda’s other responsibilities included developing advertising campaigns for print, radio and television, as well as handling team and event sponsorships.  She also worked with the team charged with purchasing physician practices.

Melinda began her career with Xerox Corporation.  Her last assignment was an account executive handling transportation and advertising agencies.  She attended the Xerox sales school, as well as other sales and account management training programs.

In her new role at EHM, McDonald will be responsible for creating and developing national accounts programs for EHM clients, specializing in the purchased services area.

Melinda received her Bachelor of Business Administration from Georgia Southern University and her MBA from the University of Kansas.

Tags: Essential Healthcare Management, Schroeder, Ripullo, teamwork


Posted by Jessica Hartman DeVore on Tue, Apr 10, 2012 @12:14 PM

I have been involved in hiring hundreds of sales people and managers in my career. Not once during the interviews for these jobs did any candidate say, "I want to lose" or "I don't care about winning".
Every one of us says we want to win - and I believe that is true. So why do we have people who continually succeed despite the challenges that are put in front of them and others who effectively give up the day the goal or quota is assigned?
In some ways I believe it is about really having the Will to win. Coach Bobby Knight once said that "the will to win is not nearly as important as the will to prepare to win."
Let's use presentations as an example. When you give a presentation to a customer, your own team or even in public, you know going in how well prepared you are and how much work you have done to be ready. If you are completely confident because your preparation has been flawless, it is apparent to everyone who hears you.
We have all been on the other end of a presentation where someone was not prepared because they did not own the material. I certainly don't want someone reading slides to me instead of having an engaged conversation whenever possible.
When I started selling very few people had cell phones, email was just starting and people actually didn't answer their phones or text during the meetings. And unless it was a doctor, very rarely did anyone interrupt a meeting that was taking place.
But just as those thing change - so has our ability to prepare with the data and knowledge that is readily available on companies and people. Can you imagine asking the president of a company "what does your organization do"? Yet - many people are not prepared to ask intelligent questions and show that they have done their homework. Every person we deal with wants us to be prepared and show them that we value their time.
If you watch cooking shows, it is easy to see the finished meal and say - wow, that is great. But it doesn't happen without practice and repetition, preparation and hard work.
It's not what you want, but what you do that matters. Everyone wants to win. Some people choose to.

Have a great week.
Rob Bahna

Vice President of Sales
Rescuscitation International

Tags: selling, leadership, determination, teamwork, leader, sales, business growth, strategic thinking, business development

Spring Training

Posted by Jessica Hartman DeVore on Thu, Mar 08, 2012 @12:29 PM

Here we are getting ready to start the 2012 Major League Baseball season with another Spring Training under way. You can almost smell the fresh cut grass, hot dogs, peanuts and taste the cold beer as the warm sun hits your face.

Each year these elite players spend weeks getting ready to do the one thing that they have been doing all their lives - playing baseball. And then the regular season lasts for 162 games followed by the playoffs.

The following numbers are provided by the NCAA about the chances of being drafted by a major league baseball team (this is not making the majors - but just being drafted so the real odds are worse).

--High school senior players who go on to play NCAA men`s baseball: Less than three in 50, or 5.6 percent

-- NCAA senior players drafted by a Major League Baseball (MLB) team: Less than eleven in 100, or 10.5 percent.

-- High school senior players eventually drafted by an MLB team: About one in 200, or 0.5 percent. Drafted baseball players almost always go to a minor league team. These teams abound; there are over 150 of them, compared to 30 in the majors. The big leagues have 750 players, yet the 2004 draft alone took 1,500. Hence some estimate that only one in 33 minor leaguers ever makes it to the pros. If that's correct, the chance of a high school player making the big leagues is one in 6,600, or 0.015 percent. That's roughly the chance of a thief guessing your PIN number on the first try

Why then do these elite players - the millionaires, the best of the best, who have been doing this their entire life focus on the fundamentals and basics in Spring Training? The answer is, of course, that to make that elite team it takes tremendous talent and skill. But at that level it also takes hard work and effort to be the best of the best - just like in any field.

How often are you practicing, evaluating and working on your skills and that of your team? How much do you spend making your team better?

In today's major leagues, players spend countless hours studying videotapes to try to gain a competitive advantage on the competition in any way that they can. That includes video of themselves and what they are doing well and need to improve upon. Do you? Are you studying what your competition is doing?

Show me a person who knows it all, and I will show you someone who I don't want on my team. Show me someone who has had success, and wants to continue improving and working to continue that success - and always find a better way, and I will show you a superstar.

Have a great week.

Rob Bahna

Vice President of Sales
Rescuscitation International

Tags: selling, leadership, teamwork, leader, sales, business growth, Management, business development

The #1 Skill of Effective Communicators

Posted by Jessica Hartman DeVore on Thu, Mar 01, 2012 @12:35 PM

Randall was my boss at IBM. He brought me into his organization early in my career as a first-line manager. As great leaders do, he saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. I’m glad, because in my first few months as a manager, I made a lot of mistakes. I first tried being a super-contributor, a manager who relies on his own contributions rather than working through his people. Then I tried to manage my team instead of lead them. I focused on controlling my employees and enforcing company policies rather than coaching and enabling them. All the time, Randall was patient.
Randall’s office door was always open. I could come to him with my questions, frustrations, or need for encouragement. He would always hear me out without interrupting or redirecting. Rather than change the conversation to something he would rather talk about, he would stay on my topic. He would probe, reflect, and show empathy.
When you talked to Randall, you knew he was listening and not merely formulating his response. When you left Randall’s presence, you felt understood. He had a way of making you feel good about yourself. He made you feel important. It was even therapeutic at times. Depending on your need, Randall could be a proxy for your counselor, pastor, friend, and even your parent.

Great leaders are great listeners. They are not merely great speakers or talkers. They leverage the power of both their mouth and ears. They provide information when appropriate, but equally well receive it. They make themselves available to their constituents. They are open-minded. They seek to understand before being understood.
Talking to someone is not a conversation. At best, talking is half of a conversation. The other half of a conversation is listening. If you are talking to someone who is distracted and not understanding, your talking is more a vocal cord exercise than a conversation. For effective communications to take place, there needs to be effective listening.
Counter intuitively for many people, people who focus more on speaking than listening are not as effective in their ability to influence. They don’t garner the trust of others. They don’t endear themselves to others. They don’t have as deep and meaningful a dialog. Nor do they understand or learn as well.
There is no joy in being with someone that wants to do all the talking. They constantly redirect the conversation back to themselves. They don’t care about what others have to say. They want to be the center of attention. You think, “Why don’t they just talk to a mirror? It’s obvious they don’t really need anyone else in their conversation.”
Listening enables understanding and builds relationships. It makes people feel important, valued, and respected. It satisfies people’s basic need to feel understood. There are many situations where people don’t need you to solve their problems or do anything other than empathize and listen.
The ability to influence, collaborate, encourage, coach, gain trust, and learn is more dependent on a well-developed ability to listen than to speak. As Stephen R. Covey, author of The 8th Habit, said “The most important skill in life is communications. And the most important communication skill is listening.”
Regardless of your role or level, develop the #1 skill of effective communicators – listening - and watch your performance dramatically increase.


Mike Hawkins

Alpine Link Corporation

Tags: leadership, teamwork, leader, business growth, Management, business development

Follow Up Calls

Posted by Stan Schroeder on Thu, Feb 16, 2012 @03:45 PM

In my 20 years of medical sales experience, one of the most common mistakes I see sales professionals make is having follow-up calls that are not what they should be. If you are calling someone who has done business with your organization in the past but you don't know them well - or it is your first time personally calling them, make sure you are well prepared.
And do yourself a favor - put as much pre-call planning into your phone calls as you do your personal visits for the best results. There really should be no such thing as a "cold call" any more with key people in an organization since you can do so much research before you call. If they have any authority - they expect that you have done your homework.
Here is an outline I might use to call on someone I don't know well....
Good morning _____, this is Rob Bahna with Resuscitation International.
I have been working with other ________ departments (or title you are talking to), discussing some ideas that have helped them deal with some of the unique challenges they are facing today with SCA victims. We have seen some outstanding customer satisfaction and positively affected patient outcomes.
I would like to ask you a few questions to see if some of our solutions might make sense for your department.
I would like verify some of the information I have been able to learn about your facility and
make sure I understand them from your perspective as the ____________(title)?
Ask about them…..

I understand you have been a _________ for 5 years. What are the biggest changes you have seen in that time as it relates to how your responsibilities have evolved? Where do you find yourself spending a lot of time where you didn’t use to?
Besides yourself, who else do you involve in the important process of purchasing medical supplies and equipment?
Sell Your Company
Jane, we know it is important for you to know who you are doing business with. Resuscitation International has been servicing the emergency medical supply and equipment needs of pre-hospital professionals for 10 years. We have a proven track record of being an industry leader. We are proud to have more than 100,000 agencies and professionals rely on RI.

 ______, as you are well aware, over the last 10 years we have seen a shift in acuity levels. You are being asked to do higher levels of care in many situations with less resources, especially in today’s economy. RI has been in business for over 10 years – and we can help you deal with these challenging times.
Determine Your Customer’s Objectives
Make them stop and think – ask high gain questions that differentiate you and are not only situational.
1) What Criteria do you use to evaluate your potential suppliers (business partners)?

2) How do you prefer to place your orders?
3) Which company do you currently order your supplies from today?

Do you order from more than one company?
4) Could you please share with me what your experience has been with Resuscitation International?
If they do not volunteer it – ask them
5) It looks like you have not ordered from us in the last ______, could you share with me some of the reasons?
Engineer Agreement to Demonstrate Product-Program
________, I appreciate you taking the time to share this information with me. Based on your feedback, and some recent changes we have made it (whatever areas kept them from ordering from us – or things they like about others) we believe we can make your job of ordering easier and be very competitive from a price perspective.

When do you normally place your supply orders? What do we need to do to earn a shot at your next order?
If my pricing is competitive, would there be any other reason that would prevent us from doing business together?
Best of Luck. Be proud to put your signature on everything you do. Or don't do it.
Rob Bahna
Vice President of Sales
Resuscitation International

Tags: selling, Essential Healthcare Management, hospitals, healthcare suppliers, teamwork, medical devices, brand management, market research, priorities, sales, business growth, Management, strategic thinking, business development

A Big Little Life

Posted by Stan Schroeder on Wed, Dec 21, 2011 @01:02 PM

I am an avid reader. This weekend I read probably the only Dean Koontz book I have never read - "A Big Little Life".
For those of you who are not Dean Koontz fans (and don't say you are not if you have never read one of his books), this is a non-fiction book he wrote as a memoir about his golden retriever, Trixie.
Admittedly, I am a dog lover. I am fortunate to have a great dog, Jeffrey, that has given us more joy and happiness than we could have imagined. As you know, the books and movies about dogs have been very popular in the past few years. I don't think that is coincidental with the down economy and other pressures we all face in our world today.
This book is worth the $15 price tag and I found several different parts in the book that really made me think about our relationships with dogs, and how we view the world if we stop and analyze it from the perspective of why dogs are our "best friends".
Trixie was adopted at the age of 3 and for the next 9 years impacted Dean and his wife Gerda with her " intelligence, her innate joy and her uncanny knack for living in the moment."
A few passages from the book:
"In this big world, she (Trixie) was a little thing, but in all the ways that mattered, including the effect she had on those who loved her, she lived a big life."
"Dog's joy is directly related to the fact that they do not deceive, do not betray, and do not covet. Innocence is neither naive nor unhip; innocence is the condition of deepest bliss."
"Loyalty, unfailing love, instant forgiveness, a humble sense of his place in the scheme of things, a sense of wonder - these and other virtues of a dog arise from his innocence. The first step toward greater joy is to stop fleeing from innocence, begin retreating from cynicism and nihilism, and embrace once more the truth that life is mysterious and that it daily offers meaningful wonders for our consideration."
'When we have the deepest affection for a dog, we do not possess that love but are possessed by it, and sometimes takes us by surprise, overwhelms us. When we take a dog into our lives, we ask for it trust, and the trust is freely given. We promise, I will always love you and bring you through troubled times. The promise is sincerely, solemnly made. But in a dog's life as in our own, there come those moments when we are not in control, when we are forced to acknowledge our essential helplessness. Looking into the trusting eyes of the dog, which feels safe in our care, and knowing that we not deserve the totality of its faith in us, we are shaken and humbled."
T.S Eliot: The only wisdom we can hope to acquire / Is the wisdom of humility.
"Dog's lives are short, too short, but you know that going in. You know the pain is coming, you're going to lose a dog, and there's going to be great anguish, so you live fully in the moment with her, never fail to share her joy or delight in her innocence, because you can't support the illusion that a dog can be your lifelong companion. There's such beauty in the hard honesty of accepting that and giving love while always aware that it comes with an unbearable price. Maybe loving dogs is a way we do penance for all the other illusions we allow ourselves and for the mistakes we make because off those illusions."
Dogs live most of life
in Quiet Heart.
Humans live mostly next door
in Desperate Heart.
Now and then will do you good
to live in our zip code.
- Trixie Koontz, Bliss to You
Have a fantastic Holiday season and New Year. And may all of us live A Big Little Life..

Tags: selling, teamwork, Quality, sales, business growth, strategic thinking, business development


Posted by Stan Schroeder on Mon, Nov 28, 2011 @12:06 PM

Thanksgiving is a great time to reflect on all of the things we are blessed with in our lives both professionally and personally. And quite often, those areas of our lives cross-over with the key mentors and true friends we have developed in our professions.

I have had a couple of key mentors in my career. The two that come to mind most are Don Paullin and my father, Bob Bahna. And hopefully one of the most important things I have learned from them is how to treat people. You can probably count on one hand the number of people in your career who you can really trust, and who truly have your best interests in mind.
How sad that is.

In today's world it is often so much about hitting numbers that the human side of business is lost. If you are in a leadership role - please try to remember that these are people's lives that you are dealing with. Hopes, dreams, plans, goals, futures, feelings and emotions.

Recently someone suggested that it was not poor performance that was the reason that they were being let go - and acted as if that made it ok. That person still has to go home and explain to their spouse, significant other, friends and family that they lost their job. And saying it was down sizing does not make that any easier.

If you don't understand that you can be a great leader that cares about people and does the right things, and drive outstanding results, then you don't really belong in a leadership position.

My mentors taught me many things. Among them are several key sayings that underline my philosophies, and I keep them with to try to help me make decisions.

Catch Them Doing Something Right
Lead From the Front
Managing is not Leading
Hard Data Drives out Soft
Differentiate Yourself and Your Company
Maximize Effectiveness - Move the Ball Forward on Every Interaction
Always be Willing to Learn and Change for a Better Way
Don't Expect What you Don't Inspect
Develop Your Sense of Urgency
Steps of the Sales Call are Critical - Every Time
Don't Do the Same Things and Expect Different Results
Know Your Cost Per Call and ROI (Including Opportunity Costs)
Set Expectations and Get Buy-in
The Definition of Insanity is Doing the Same Thing and Expecting Different Results
The Hardest Part about Climbing the Ladder is Fighting Through the Crowd at the Bottom
Eagles are Like Leaders - They Don't Fly in Flocks, You Find Them One At a Time
WIIFMs (What is in it for me) are Critical
Do The Right Thing, and Fight For It If You Have To
Don't Ever Lose Because You Were Outworked
Be Fair, Conistent and Don't ask People to Do things You Are Not Willing or Able to Do

Have a Blessed Thanksgiving. And Thanks to those of you who take mentoring to heart.

Rob Bahna

Tags: leadership, teamwork, leader, mentor, business growth, business development

The Genius of Teamwork

Posted by Jessica Hartman DeVore on Thu, Oct 20, 2011 @08:55 AM

True teamwork is the rarest, most exhilarating, and most productive human activity possible. Every business wants to harness this incredible energy, but achieving such a level of motivation and esprit is not always easy.

A team is not just a group of individuals who work at the same location or have the same logo on their business card. A real team is made up of people who may be unequal in experience, talent, or education, but who are equal in their commitment to working together to achieve the goals and good of the organization, each other and their customers.

If we are going to be successful, we can no longer look at our organizations as departments, divisions, or branch offices. We must look at the bigger picture and resolve to work together in ways we may never have done before. We may even need to cooperate with the competition. Think of all the mergers and acquisitions in the past few years. Your number one competitor today could be your partner tomorrow.

Futurist Bob Treadway CSP, from Littleton, Colorado often gives the Mensa IQ Test to participants in his seminars. He has found that many "average" people, when working as a team, test at "genius" level or higher. Participants contribute in different ways. Some brainstorm. Some work alone and then report back to the group. Treadway finds that a team "becomes a genius when everyone works together."

Treadway also noticed that when a team is working at optimal performance, it is hard to know who the leader is. In other words, the team runs the team.

Such teamwork doesn't happen by accident. It requires commitment and effort, a willingness to accept the uniqueness of others, and an appreciation of diversity. We build teams in our companies the same way we build relationships with our friends and coworkers. High-functioning teams establish us and our companies as reliable, internally and externally. We then project this image to our customers, vendors, competitors, and communities.

With downsizing and restructuring, many managers today are responsible for as many as 250 people. More than ever, these managers need to build responsible and committed team members if they want the best performance from them. But how do they go about it?

A very dynamic, productive example was the team led by Mike Powell, when a senior scientist at Genentech. Because of its past successes, his ten-person team was given the most important assignments. I asked Mike how he managed to keep his people highly motivated in an environment with long hours and a great deal of frustration.

"I keep them happy," he said. Now, every manager wants to do this, so I pressed Mike for details. "Ten years ago," he continued, "I told team members only what I thought each needed to know. Now I tell everyone everything. It may slow them down a bit while they are filtering through all the information, but they get the big picture. Then they can then decide what it is they need to know and do."

He added, "I also gave them lots of positive feedback via email and voice mail. One group at Genentech lost their leader, but they stayed incredibly productive. I left a voice-mail message for one of them, saying 'Everyone in the company is talking about how well you all are doing.' They were really effective as a team and appreciated knowing it."

Building a real team gets real results, but it can't be done with slogans and directives. Ed Stair, Senior Vice President at Gap talks about 'Gap Heroes,' everyone who uses innovation to find ideas to save money or improve productivity. Start by respecting each person's individual contribution, showing appreciation, exciting them about their possibilities for achievement, and sharing with them that their group effort has the potential for real genius. Good luck!

by Patricia Fripp, CSP, CPAE
1-800 634 3035

Tags: selling, teamwork, sales, business growth, Management, business development