Posts Tagged ‘Emotional Intelligence’



In February, New York Times writer Thomas Friedman wrote an article that lit up the internet almost as much as when Ellen DeGeneres took down Twitter with her Oscar Night selfie. Its title was “How to Get a Job at Google“.

In it, Friedman interviews Laszlo Bock, Google’s Vice President of People Operations, about the kind of attributes (characteristics, traits or personal qualities), you need to get hired.  Surprisingly, it doesn’t all depend on your GPA or even your past experience.  As I read the article, it made sense to me that this recipe is one that hiring managers in healthcare should be paying more attention to, if we’re to weather the healthcare storm that’s at our doorstep.

Using the Google-Way to get hired (and promoted)

  • Fail Forward Fast: The phrase “fail forward fast” was popularized by management guru Tom Peters, but is explained most vividly by hockey great Wayne Gretsky who said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. Bock is saying that Google wants people who take the shot, and when failure occurs demonstrate “intellectual humility”. Translation – Failure spurs learning which ignites success.  In it’s most productive form, if you’ve failed, you have a story to tell about what you learned.  You will have an edge against your competition because self-awareness is a rare commodity.  And even more rare is a quality called “learning agility”, which is the ability take the lessons from your past, and apply them to new and different challenges you are facing. Learning Agility is the new black.
  • Avoid the Genius-Idiot Syndrome:  Bock says Google looks for people who don’t blame their failures on other people but also rarely take sole credit for success.  Healthcare is a business so dependent upon a complex web of interrelationships that this advice could make or break your career if you are looking to move up.
  • Approach work with an equal balance of Big Ego and Small Ego:  At Google and in the new healthcare we’re trying to solve complex problems so this means that we’ve got a mix of people in the room when we collaborate.  At Google, it’s engineers and design people and finance wizards and marketing goddesses.   For us it’s physicians and nurses and operations experts and finance gurus, just to name a few.  Smart people often hold fiercely to their opinions but according to Bock, you also need to be able to step back and change your mind when presented with new facts.   Bock calls this emergent leadership. So if you have your eye on growing your career in healthcare, make a point to have a big enough ego to argue vehemently for your position, but be confidant enough to change it when someone makes a valid point.
  • Be a Dot-Connector:  Google hires people who have a skill in pulling together dissimilar pieces of information and creating something new.   In healthcare, we also need to fill our jobs with employees who can connect the dots between their own job and goals for quality, safety or financial outcomes.  People who are connectors, value and build relationships and think about things way above their pay grade.  When we encounter these people we need to protect and grow them.  If you want to be one of these highly valued and promotable people – be a dot-connector.

James McCurley, Financial Analyst
Community Medical Centers


Here’s a case study at Community Medical Centers in Fresno that shows Google is right.  James McCurley is a Facility Financial Analyst at Community Regional medical Center.  He had no healthcare experience when he was hired two years ago but he did have something that a lot of candidates don’t – a degree in physics, an MBA and an insatiable curiosity.  The way James explains it, the combination of science and business has really helped him in his job. “Both physics and math are just about problem solving”, he says.  “You have to lay out the problem in an organized fashion to figure out how to solve it.”  In his quest to improve his problem solving ability James taught himself to computer program.  He’s currently working on a project to create patient “stories” that help physicians do problem oriented charting.  The project that James is most of fond of though, is one where he is working with Dr. Michael Mellenthin to identify ways to increase the utilization of the surgery suites.   He says it’s fun and that he loves working with people who have, “way more expertise than I do”.  Where does James see himself in the future?  If you asked him 2 years ago he would have said- I don’t know, but today he says, he’d like to be a Chief Operating Officer or Chief Executive Officer.

All I have to say is  – leave him alone Google!  He’s ours.


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I recently met with new employee Melissa Phelps to hear why she joined Community Medical Centers, and what she loves the most about her work as an office assistant and scheduler in the radiology department. By the time we had finished lunch I ended up hearing not only how much she loves her job, but also learning about her personal love story with her husband Josh.  See the blog post “Love Letters“.

Valentines Day is a time to celebrate love for our husbands, wives, partners, children, parents, pets and yes, …our jobs.  This feeling of attachment and connection is so important, it deserved a poem of sorts, so I wrote a knock off of 1 Corinthians in celebration of Valentines Day.


Done well, work is Love.  Work is kind. It allows us to accomplish things in service to others, it allows our hearts to swell with pride and our voices to sing praise of goals met.  Work done well does not dishonor others, is not self-seeking, it praises in public and criticizes in private, it is slow to anger and it keeps no record of wrong doings (except of course those that violate policy).  Work delights in excellence and rejoices in customer satisfaction. Work done well always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.  Work done well –  is Love.

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A couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to attend a presentation called “How to Fail at the New Healthcare: The Masters Class,” at the beautiful H. Marcus Radin Education Center on the Community Medical Center campus in Fresno.  Healthcare futurist Joe Flower has spent 30 years studying the way healthcare works and challenged us to think about the risks of 22 strategic choices we might make about how to operate in the future. The “ways-to-fail” list include things like failing to build a new business model by sticking with fee for service, failing to engage patients and physicians and forgetting to build trust.

My natural focus, in both life and in business, is to explore and reveal the positives.  I am a proponent of strengths based learning and development, emotional intelligence, and the power of positive thinking.    But just this once, I thought I’d see what happened if I explored what my friend Chris Slater, who is an artist calls, “the importance of painting the negative space.”   So, here are 10 things you can do if you want to be completely and totally miserable at work.

1) Lack a sense of humor

Life is messy so one of the quickest ways to hit bottom is to be dead serious, all – and I mean all – of the time. If you are working on a project with your peers and the DRI (Directly Responsible Individual) fails to act on one of their accountabilities, take advantage of this by blaming them, talking behind their backs or snubbing them the next time you meet them in the cafeteria.  Healthcare is a serious business right?  Falderal and silliness just causes mistakes and we can’t have that, now can we?

2) Be self-centered 

I know you think it’s all about you but really it’s all about me.  Heighten your quest for misery by focusing really hard on ignoring the people around you.  I mean, geez – how needy are those people!?  They want to be communicated with constantly.  They’re always asking for help. They are clingy and want to spend quality time together. They use reverse psychology to get compliments for themselves by saying nice things to you!  They can’t think for themselves so they’re always asking for your input. You can fix all this by saying, “Leave me alone, so I can do my work and get out of here.”

3) Think the sky is falling

Catastrophizing is an excellent way to bring on that dull prolonged sense of unhappiness.    When I hear about the innovative plans to expand our bed capacity, I know by gosh, that there is no way in H-E-double-hockey sticks that the idea is gonna work.  Seriously, things are never going to get better – EVER – no matter how hard any of us work.  See?  Uh, are you getting that sinking feeling yet?

4) Stop learning

Remember that saying, “Everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten?”   It’s true. There’s no reason to spend any time developing new skills.  That’s too much work.  And besides, if you are properly executing strategy #2 (Be self-centered), the teammates you are snubbing in the cafeteria will get the hint and just do those things for you.

5) Believe you’re the smartest person in the room

It’s really difficult to work amidst such a large number of low functioning people. But you must so just buck up.  Remember, things will be ok because you are the only one who really knows what’s going on.  Asking others for their insights just clouds your thinking.  This strategy works best when combined with some physical behaviors like frowning while crossing your arms in front of you, or the ultimate – the eye roll.  Use a mirror to practice.  You’ll know you’ve got this one down when people stop sitting next to you in meetings.

6) Distrust everybody

Surely you’ve been watching the news and have heard how the National Security Agency (NSA) is collecting all the phone numbers you’ve been dialing and gosh, who knows – maybe even listening to your calls.  People are sneaky.  It’s just the human condition so watch your back.  Don’t share any personal details with the people you work with.  I mean not even the names of your kids.  Why would they want to know that stuff any way?

7) Create a hit list

If you’ve developed your proficiency in #6 (distrust everybody), you’re definitely going to want to create a hit list.  Luckily on this one, we all have a great role model to follow in the Governor of the great state of New Jersey.   Step one – gather the names of everyone who has ever disagreed with you on anything and put it on a list.  Step 2 – find a way to make their life a living hell for as long as possible.  Don’t worry about the collateral damage of impacting people you never intended.  Think of it this way – if Governor Christie had been worried about the elderly having their ambulance show up on time, he never would have been able to properly make his point.

8) Talk a lot

Since #5 is true and you “believe you are the smartest person in the room,” it just makes sense that everybody else should listen to you.  Find a way to monopolize conversation.  Truly, it doesn’t matter if you know all the facts.  It’s your opinion that counts.  Oh, and go ahead and interrupt if someone else is talking—that’s always good.

9) Go it alone

We enter this world alone and we leave it alone. Our DNA is obviously programmed so that there is no need to lean on another human being for support.  Be stoic.  Hold in your feelings until you think you’ll pass out.  Remember that no one else has problems like yours – absolutely no one.  Even if someone wanted to help you they would not know the first thing about what to do.

10) Play it safe

Don’t listen to that song “Brave” by Sarah Bareilles.  Being brave just puts a target on your back.  Stay in the shadows. Don’t be direct or transparent or real or honest or committed.  Don’t express your feelings, don’t be passionate, don’t dance as though no one is watching, or love as though you’ve never been hurt or sing as though no one can hear, or live as though heaven is on earth.  What good would that do? Honestly!

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Deepak Says Reinvent

I’ve read quite a few books on spirituality over the years, and more than a few self-help books.  So after returning from Austin where I slept well, ate healthy food, and exercised several hours a day I figured my next step was to pick up a book that would move me to another mental plane. I decided to google Deepak Chopra.  His most recent book is called “Reinventing the Body, Reinventing the Soul”.  This sounded like just the right medicine so I eventually found my way to a CBS News video clip where he is interviewed about the book and about his opinion of healthcare reform.

He talked about the fact that we can control the production of dopamine and opiates (yep that’s what he said) in our body that give us that feeling of peace. That we simply need to re-program our genes.  Bob Schaffer, the storied news reporter from CBS, looked a little surprised at this comment and said something like “I’d like to do that.  How do I reprogram my genes?”, to which Deepack said that we need to focus on the “qualities of our spirit”.  That we need to tap into our insight, creativity, conscious choice-making, generosity, compassion and love. His message, and he kept stressing we need to BUY his book to really understand the whole thing, is sort of the refrain from the song “Don’t worry, be happy”.  Can it be that easy?  I think not, but then, if you watch the video clip – Deepak looks pretty darn satisfied with his life.  At the end of a pretty funny and long-winded diatribe about what’s wrong with healthcare (interesting note-  he does support a public option in the new healthcare bill), Bob Shaffer thanked him and reminded the audience that he has written 54 books.  Deepak spoke up quickly saying “That’s 56 books, Bob”.  I guess not having those last two books in the tally might have upset the quality of Deepak’s spirit.

So tomorrow morning I’m going to take Deepak’s advice and  meet with a group of friends for a Quality of Our Spirits, greasy egg breakfast at the Hollywood diner.  We will share among us, compassion, insight and bacon with nitrates.  I’m hoping this gene-therapy does the trick.

How have you reinvented yourself?  Have you figured out a secret sauce for staying focused and relatively balanced during stressful times past or present?

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Hiking the bluffs in Austin

This week I traveled with a very wise friend to the Lake Austin spa in Austin Texas.  The purpose was pretty simple:  I had complained to her via text that I was experiencing “defib” and she suggested that we change our surroundings, contemplate our navels  – literally, since this place has great yoga instructors and basically detox from our last year of less than 8 hours/day sleep, and 10 hour+ work days.  I agreed even though I felt a little indulgent doing this.  Boy was I wrong to feel guilty.

One of the activities that we took advantage of was a 2 hour hike through and around the lake.  There were five of us on the hike plus our two guides and after we piled into the SUV for the short drive to the entrance to the nature preserve, I started an interesting discussion with a woman named Donna from Vancouver.   Donna shared that she was an artist who did oil paintings and pottery. I joked with her asking “Do artists really need stress reduction?   She smiled and said as a matter of fact -“Yes, Art is a business”.  After about 20 minutes of hiking, she shared that she had a very bad car accident  seven years ago.  She said it changed her perspective about what was important.  She  quit a corporate job that was causing her a lot of stress and physical symptoms.  She said “My body was a wreck”.  She decided to make a change, de-stress. She journaled morning pages,  decided to go to art school, met her second husband, and bought a cabin in the woods.  She suggested to me that I needed to take my job change as an opportunity to “write a new chapter”.  She basically paraphrased the quote – “It’s not what happens to you, but how you handle it that counts”.  At the end of the hike, she also offered the suggestion – “Homemade soup is very medicinal”  and said she’d send me a recipe for Portuguese Fish Chowder.

This hike was just what I needed.  My muscles have relaxed, I think there is probably a fun and challenging job in my future.  If Donna can survive a debilitating car accident and exude such incredible positivity – I have nothing to complain about.

And to my wise friend Amy, YES, I will go on another spa trip.

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