My husband, Hal Morris, and I are currently both living in The Crown. He is a historical nonfiction lover, I love biographies and autobiographies, and this is a show that squarely intersects our shared interests. So have Outlander, True Blood, and a handful of other addictive, Netflix/HBO/Showtime/Starz series that are sometimes released en masse to their rabid audiences of fans and followers.
So I can’t help but wonder, what are the lessons learned in non-media, non-consumer-based businesses from these overt examples of giving the customer what she wants, when she wants it, how she wants it, where price almost becomes no object?
And then I realized, that these life-lessons learned from binge-worthy television shows had been paralleled by my life experience as the CEO of Surgical Solutions, “hacking” the Health Care Industry
When I started my tenure as CEO of Surgical Solutions, I’d never worked in healthcare a day in my life.
On day five of the job, I arrived at my first hospital site visit in New York City with my Chief Clinical Advisor and Account Manager. I showed up in high heels, with a roller bag, fresh off a redeye—and had to jump into scrubs and get behind the scenes with our team in less than an hour.
I snapped a selfie in the OR and sent it to Dr. Amanda Munoz, my childhood best friend who is a Harvard med school-trained, Stanford ENT resident/fellow, and current ENT surgeon.
“Hell hath frozen over,” she wrote back. “You could barely get through the fetal pig dissection in AP Biology without screaming. How on earth are you running a healthcare company?”
Amanda wasn’t wrong. I was a babe in the woods in the health care industry—and I had to lean hard into Leadership Hack #22 from Leadership and Life Hacks: Insights from a Mom, Wife, Entrepreneur and Executive: Keep your mouth shut and eyes open. Watch and learn.
But let’s rewind a bit. To understand how Surgical Solutions itself is innovative in the US healthcare industry, providing a service that helps hospitals operate more profitably by pushing an array of fixed costs to variable costs—a “health care industry hack,” if you will—you first have to understand how the story began, and how I came to be a part of it.
From my early conversations with Steven Taslitz, Chairman of Sterling Partners, I knew I would have a unique opportunity to work with an entrepreneurially minded private equity firm as a CEO of one of their portfolio companies. While our conversations over several months included an array of possibilities, from coffee to women’s health and more, I was eager to run something $20-$50MM in revenue, and Sterling was in need of a CEO for Surgical Solutions. Whatever reticence I had about healthcare was overcome by Steven and Sterling’s long tenure in building, growing, and managing portfolio companies; in the depth of experience and easy communication dynamic with my board chair, Ancelmo Lopes; and in the deep domain expertise and awesome mentorship provided by other tremendous directors, Jay Istvan and Cherilyn Murer.
That said, there was a lot I didn’t know. Over the next two years, I would leverage an array of Leadership Hacks that not only transformed the way I led the company, they transformed the company itself. Ironically, several of these “hacks” have been employed by the producers of today’s most addictive television series. They understand their audience, they design a “system” for the behavior that their seeking (binge consumption of their content), and more.
My only final question to myself is, would running a media company generating passionate content, rabidly consumed by its audience be as gratifying as running a healthcare services company?