If companies pay attention to mindfulness and intentionality in their culture, this will, in turn, create fulfilled, mindful citizens of that culture, and the ripple effect is astounding. Those people can impact their families. Their family members can impact their companies. They can all impact their communities, and beyond. The ripple effects are tremendous when a company decides to do this because the company can help show people that this stuff is important. When a company does that, people take notice. In DaVita, one of our philosophies is that companies can be a powerful force for good.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Dave Hoerman. He is the Chief Wisdom Officer for the DaVita Enterprise. In this role he oversees the Wisdom team which is responsible for all cultural elements as well as organizational and leadership development. This includes DaVita University, all major events and Village Gatherings, as well as all internal branding. Dave has been expanding his capabilities in leadership positions in the realm of human performance development, personal, professional and career coaching, as well as organizational development for over 20 years. Dave graduated from Drexel University in Philadelphia with a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce & Engineering in 1985, and began his career by doing systems engineering, sales and technical training for IBM, NYNEX and other technology companies.
Dave has built a broad experience base in leading training both within the U.S. as well as internationally, in the technology, banking and healthcare industries with organizations such as Citigroup, Salomon Smith Barney, Deutsche Bank, Gambro Healthcare, and now DaVita. Dave is known for and has won several awards for his work in design, development, delivery, and evaluation of performance improvement strategies for fortune 500 companies, and has a proven track record in leadership development, mentoring, coaching, and speaking to leaders and teams. Dave has built several training departments from scratch and has led several international training projects in the corporate finance environments. Through the years, Dave has earned multiple professional certifications including Senior Professional in Human Resources, Achieve Global Curricula, needs assessment and design, executive coaching, information mapping, and Motorola Quality Management. In addition to leadership positions within large organizations, Dave currently serves on the Board of Directors at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver, has helped hundreds of individuals by coaching and mentoring them toward work that they love through career counseling, and has volunteered in several non-profit organizations as a mentor, coach and teacher for adults and young people. Dave now resides in Colorado and enjoys playing drums and piano, spending time with his wife and three daughters, and enjoying outdoor sports and recreation in the Rocky Mountains.
Dave Hoerman had little experience with mindfulness or spiritual practices in his life growing up. Not that his parents didn’t guide. He attended church on Sundays, but he grew up in a family that didn’t do much of the more “touchy-feely” stuff.
Spirituality became more embedded in his life, as is true with many young people, as he matured and grew older. Dave began to discover the need for mindfulness later in life when he started to realize, “Holy cow, it is very hard to keep up with the world if you’re never stopping to allow space for reflection, something new.” He discovered that he was going to burn out if he didn’t slow down. Dave determined four domains that guide his spiritual life and empower him personally and professionally.
Mindfulness and Business
Dave found the importance of being intentional about being mindful through many coaches and mentors in his life. Now, he thinks of mindfulness and spiritual practice in four different domains:
i. Physical: Dave asks himself, “How am I doing physically?” Physical health impacts so many other parts of people’s lives. DaVita pays attention to physical health through several programs, for example, Village Vitality, a DaVita program that helps teammates (DaVita employees) achieve a sense of wellbeing in every aspect of their lives. All of these bring attention to how teammates are doing and allows them to ask themselves, “Am I healthy, and could I be more healthy? What are little things I can do, practices or habits in my life that will enhance my wellbeing?”
ii. Mental: He thinks about this as challenging oneself. Dave is in a business that makes him feel like he’s contributing, being contributed to, but also has mental challenges that allow him to use his brain. To Dave, that is very important because he tends to get a lot of fulfillment and meaning in his life from solving some big problems that help others. Dave also realized, he loves being in both personal and business situations where he gets to be challenged mentally. When it comes to new ideas, getting out into nature, changing his scenery, tends to be where he can do his best thinking, innovating, and problem-solving. So fresh air can sometimes by his best way to refresh mentally.
iii. Emotional: Dave considers emotional wellbeing as connectedness. He looks at his emotional bank account, emotional balance and health, as “Do I have opportunities within my day or my week that I get to celebrate other people or do something human, fun, or heartfelt with them?” This doesn’t mean connecting business-wise but rather, sitting down with people and talking about life, kids, or families. He wants to connect with humans beings in a real, meaningful way and that means helping them, and getting help from them, in a real and meaningful way.
iv. Spiritual: Many people give out a lot of energy every day, especially teammates at DaVita, who help and serve others. So for Dave, caring for ourselves is important in restoring and re-filling our cups so that we can continue to care for others. DaVita has several practices and programs they offer teammates so they can re-energize, rejuvenate, be grounded, be at peace, and have the energy to take on the next day. Spirituality isn’t necessarily about religion, it can be, but it’s more broadly about being centered, or grounded. People can decide whatever their source of higher power or their source of beliefs are that give them strength. DaVita encourages them to tap into whatever that is for them. It is also important to accept and make sure everyone feels like they belong in whatever spiritual practices they may have, and all practices they may have over these domains.
How to “lead a good life”
Dave believes this is all centered around reflection. Reflection is so important and DaVita offers people time to pause their lives. One of DaVita’s team’s, Wisdom, which helps teammates foster discovery and growth, really puts speed bumps in people’s lives so they slow down to reflect. People will come to programs, such as DaVita University’s Restore program where teammates embark on a silent retreat, put their phones away and reflect on their lives. This helps teammates empty out the busyness and reflect on what path they are going down and decipher whether it’s intentional or not. Teammates have the opportunity to ask themselves, “What am I doing that aligns with my life and what am I doing that doesn’t?”
At DaVita, teammates are encouraged to slow down and reflect. In the past, there have been teammates that decided they wanted to follow their dreams overseas or work for a non-profit in third-world countries. DaVita works hard to prepare teammates and support them to move forward in their life’s journey, whatever that may be. One of DaVita’s core values is Fulfillment and the company encourages those people to find fulfillment in whatever they do, which is why the key to mindfulness at DaVita is a reflection.
An impactful moment of mindfulness
In one of the first programs Dave had the opportunity to experience, he got to co-coach with the faculty. It was at the end of the program that Dave had the chance to step outside on the balcony of the hotel and reflect on what he had just experienced. He became very emotional, filled with love and joy, as he realized that DaVita was a place where it was okay to “go there” with people. He had found his home. In other words, it was okay to go into a room and talk about real life─marriages, life with kids, death in families and struggles that all people encounter. He was overjoyed at finding a company that accepts people for who they are. DaVita allowed Dave to do work with people on their lives, so they could go off to be a great patient care technician or facility administrator, but also, a great mom, dad, brother, sister, friend, husband or wife. To Dave, work-life and personal life aren’t separate; it’s all life and he truly wants to help others along the way.
An Inspirational Mentor
Dave believes mentors are incredibly important because not only does the mentee learn but the mentor does as well. It’s an opportunity for people to discuss work, but also life — the pain, sorrow, joy, and everything in between.
Though Dave has many mentors and leaders─CEOs, COOs, teammates that have participated in DaVita University classes one of the first mentors he ever had was his father. Dave’s dad was a role model for him in one of DaVita’s Core Values, Integrity. He always taught Dave to do the right thing. He told Dave, “If you do the right thing, you’ll be rewarded for it. Nothing else matters as long as you speak up and be honest.” But that was not just through his words, Dave’s dad started him early on a road of understanding what a role model and a mentor is, and then Dave had and still has many additional mentors in his life, and is incredibly grateful for them all.
How leaders can create a “healthy and uplifting” work culture
a. Role Modeling: Start with yourself. Everything leaders do is being watched, so those leaders in an organization need to act as role models. For example, if you want to create more fulfillment in your organization, walk around and talk about your own fulfillment, express your love and fulfilling moments to your team and chase fulfilling moments in your life. If you expect something from your team, do it yourself. It’s imperative to decide what is important to you, make it your own and “be” that which you want to bring to life.
b. Relentless Reinforcement: Put your money and time where your mouth is. You can’t just say, “Hey, our company wants a healthy and uplifting culture” and then not show up. You have to show up to meetings, classes, and relentlessly reinforce what is important to you because again, people are watching, and will follow what your lead is — what’s OK here, and what isn’t.
c. Clarity in Leadership: If you have clear intentions of what you want in leaders, you need to take those to the leaders and set expectations. Getting clear on your intentions and expectations takes mindfulness and reflection. Don’t assume everyone knows what you are trying to create. Even if you’re a role model, you need to communicate with others what you want to see and follow through. It’s all about taking action and aligning on expectations. Dave strongly believes that one’s words and actions must match — that’s what creates credibility and trust, which is foundational to leadership.
d. Integrate mindfulness into daily work life
i. Meditation basics and practice within DaVita programs, morning check-ins and meditation groups that meet twice a week at DaVita headquarters
ii. Zen rooms
e. Create programming within the company for any teammate
iii. Mindfulness Micro StarLearning course: Scientific studies confirm that mindfulness leads to better performance, health, and well-being. DaVita University Faculty, Pam Tanner, explains in the basics of mindfulness and how you can quickly and effectively build a mindfulness practice within your busy schedule.
iv. Mindfulness Webinar: What is mindfulness? What difference does it make? How would I go about cultivating it? For answers to these questions and more, join us for an engaging and interactive session.
v. Silent retreat in-person program
vi. DaVita Great Outdoors: leaders in nature, having time to refill their cups, reflect on life and leadership, and share in life’s journey with others
A movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people
Dave believes that, if companies pay attention to mindfulness and intentionality in their culture, this will, in turn, create fulfilled, mindful citizens of that culture, and the ripple effect is astounding. Those people can impact their families. Their family members can impact their companies. They can all impact their communities, and beyond. The ripple effects are tremendous when a company decides to do this because the company can help show people that this stuff is important. When a company does that, people take notice. In DaVita, one of our philosophies is that companies can be a powerful force for good.
If Dave could inspire a movement, it would be to see more companies getting serious about creating an intentional culture, and within that, creating mindfulness in their people. Companies should point inward, start with themselves and say, “We want to create something impactful and then we want our employees to create the same thing in their families, communities and beyond.”