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How I Thrive: “My husband and I have a standing pizza and movie date night” with Ming Zhao & Heather Rodemann

First and foremost, spending time with my family is an important spiritual lift for me. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but there is nothing that recharges my heart more than being with my family. My daughter is an avid equestrian and we spend a lot of time at horse shows watching her compete. […]

First and foremost, spending time with my family is an important spiritual lift for me. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but there is nothing that recharges my heart more than being with my family. My daughter is an avid equestrian and we spend a lot of time at horse shows watching her compete. Before she started riding, this was a foreign world for me, but being with her and watching her thriving with her passion (and with her horse) is simply the best! Friday evenings my husband and I have a standing pizza and movie date night. I love these too. It gives us a chance to just stop! Stop the constant moving, and working, and doing and juggling. We sit down, eat pizza and enjoy a nice glass of wine, or two. It’s time for us to turn off our brains, laugh, and have idle chit chat while decompressing from the week.


I had the pleasure to interview Heather Rodemann. As Vice President of Subrogation Operations for Discovery Health Partners, Heather is responsible for directing the company’s Subrogation organization and driving continuous improvement in how the company delivers Subrogation services for its clients.

Throughout her career, Heather has established herself as an innovative Subrogation expert. She spent 13 years at Optum, ultimately leading their Subrogation division where she was responsible for a 300-person team across 4 domestic locations and the Philippines, delivering hundreds of millions in recoveries annually for customers.

Heather received a Bachelor of Science in Management and Leadership from Cappella University and holds an Associate of Science in Paralegal Studies. Heather is also an active member of the Women’s Health Leadership TRUST.


Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path and to where you are today?

Mycareer path wasn’t typical. I started as a paralegal working for a small personal injury law firm and then an anti-trust law firm. My initial thought was that I would go to law school at some point. I loved working for law firms, but the hours were brutal! A friend of mine worked in the financial services sector and they had an opening in their Operations area. I was thrilled to work within that organization until the dotcom bust at which point staffing eliminations caused my role to be eliminated. I was devastated — I truly didn’t know who I was without working — I had been working since I was 14! It took a few months but I found a great job pulling in my legal background and my operations background — and have been working in cost containment areas within health insurance for almost 20 years.

When I started in the health insurance space, I started at the ground floor and through great support by mentors, lots of hard work, a willingness to push myself, think creatively to solve problems, and continually asking for additional responsibilities, I was able to move up the ranks and eventually lead a large, multi-national team.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

After Hurricane Katrina I was working on a complex case in which a member had to return personal injury dollars to his health insurance, as dollars he received in a lawsuit were allocated to medical claims, which his health insurance had paid. This gentleman lost his house and all of his personal belongings and was financially and emotionally devastated. Asking him to return dollars the allocated dollars to his health insurance was really hard. But I listened to him, explained the process and the “why” behind the process, and then listened some more. We reached a mutually agreeable spot and not only did he send the dollars back to the health plan — he sent me a thank you note. Here was someone who lost everything and still took the time to send me a card thanking me for listening and showing compassion. He has no idea what an invaluable lesson he taught me — the critical importance of listening, showing compassion and empathizing — both in and outside of work.

Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?

When I started as a paralegal I moved from Fargo, ND to the big city of Minneapolis! I was working downtown and it was winter time. If you aren’t familiar with Minneapolis, there is an amazing skyway system connecting the buildings together, but it can be confusing to navigate at first. I think I got lost every day for the first month! The office used to joke that I couldn’t leave without a quarter in pocket in case I had to call to get directions back (Clearly this was back in the day before cell phones and when pay phones were prevalent!). As funny as it sounds, what I learned from this has really helped me out in life — always be prepared, don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it and give yourself extra time!

What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture and work life?

Connect with your team. Learn about them as individuals — who they are outside of the confines of their job, what is important to them, who is their “family”, what makes them thrive. Learn how they do their job and why they do it that way, sit beside them and watch what they do.

Connecting on a personal level helps you understand what is important to that individual, who they are as a person, not just as a role, and what motivates them — it’s often different for each person.

Understanding their role, asking for their feedback on how to change things and understanding why they do what they do helps you to see the full picture and think of alternatives to make things better for them.

Recognize that while you will not make everyone happy, if you connect with them, learn from them and help them understand the “why” when you can’t make the whole world perfect, it goes along to building comradery and creating a great place.

Now let’s shift to the main focus of our interview. In my work, I focus on how one can thrive in three areas, body, mind, and heart. I’d like to flesh this out with you. You are a very busy leader with a demanding schedule.

Can you share with our readers two self-care routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body to thrive? Kindly share a story or an example for each.

Honestly, like lots of busy people, I struggle with this! I have learned that self care Sundays are great and so is carving out time for yourself. For me, Sundays are a day to do a bit of pampering — it can be as easy as facial mask or painting my nails or going to the gym and taking a restorative mediation/yoga class. I also make a gratitude list on Sundays and reflect back on the prior week and what makes me thankful. It’s a reminder to take a minute, pause, and focus on the good.

On a daily basis, I try to carve out a little “me” time each day. Being outside has always been a way for me to replenish my soul, but this isn’t always possible. When I travel, I make it a point to take a walk — whether it’s walking outside to explore a new city, walking to meetings, or just taking a short stroll and finding a nice spot to sit and recharge. At home, there is nothing better than taking my dog for a walk. I don’t think my dog has ever had a grumpy day — everything is good, all of the time and watching life through his exuberant eyes always makes me smile. New things to check out, people to meet and of course tennis balls to chase!

Can you share with us two routines that you use to help your mind thrive? (Kindly share a story or example for each.)

Reading, hands down! I love to read — rather the topic is self-help, business book, historical fiction, or a mystery book — I love to read. Learning new things, gaining new insights, and getting a better understanding of the world around us is so much fun for me.

The other thing I love to do, and this sounds funny, is to play word games — Scrabble, Words with Friends, WordConnect. It is my daily brain exercise!

What are two routines that use to help your heart, your emotional or spiritual life to thrive? (Kindly share a story or example for each.)

First and foremost, spending time with my family is an important spiritual lift for me. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but there is nothing that recharges my heart more than being with my family.

My daughter is an avid equestrian and we spend a lot of time at horse shows watching her compete. Before she started riding, this was a foreign world for me, but being with her and watching her thriving with her passion (and with her horse) is simply the best!

Friday evenings my husband and I have a standing pizza and movie date night. I love these too. It gives us a chance to just stop! Stop the constant moving, and working, and doing and juggling. We sit down, eat pizza and enjoy a nice glass of wine, or two. It’s time for us to turn off our brains, laugh, and have idle chit chat while decompressing from the week.

When life is very busy, and you cannot stick with your ideal routine, are there any wellness practices, rituals, products or services for your mind, body, or soul that you absolutely cannot live without?

Does red wine count? That’s probably a bad answer, but I do really love a glass of red wine at the end of the day. It’s a chance to sit down and unwind and decompress. Sharing that glass of wine with my husband, a colleague or a client is fun too — it’s a chance to connect on a personal level.

All of us have great days and days that are not as great. On days when you feel like a rockstar what do you do? What does that day look like, and what did you do to get there?

On days when I feel like a rockstar, I am able to connect with people — whether it’s staff or clients. Listening to them, understanding their needs, developing a solution to meet their needs or even resolving the problem on the spot, is amazing. Often the best positive vibes come when true collaboration is happening across the table. I value and feel better when I’m partnering on a challenge together, getting to the root cause of an issue and finding a solution for it.

In contrast, on days when you feel down, what do you do?

I try to stay positive and focus on the good. I know a bad day is a moment in time. It doesn’t define yesterday or tomorrow. Another thing I try to do on a bad day is to help someone else. Helping makes me feel good! I can make a positive impact on someone else and forget about what brought me down.

Do you have a story about the weirdest, most bizarre or most humorous wellness experience, treatment, practice, or practitioner that you’ve ever partaken in? If you do, we’d love to hear it.

When I was in Asia, I went to get a massage. The massage therapist climbed up on the table and literally walked on my back. I was taken aback at first, but it certainly put some additional pressure on my tight muscles!

You’re a high achieving business leader, and you also have family and loved ones that may require a different side of you at home. How do you leave the executive at the door, and be the most loving caretaker at home?

One of my favorite sayings is “be here now”. It’s really important to find out how to compartmentalize your life so your work doesn’t spill over to home. For me that means being present — making meals, breaking bread together, helping my daughter, playing with my dog and visiting my husband. It also means doing projects around the house — things that do more to make our house a home. My husband and daughter will both tell you that my “executive voice” does show up from time to time and they when it happens, they will point it out and that is a really good reminder to refocus!

Is there a particular practitioner, expert, book, podcast or resource that made a significant impact on you and helped you to thrive? Can you share a story about that with us?

I love Brene Brown. She is wicked smart, funny, and cuts to the heart of the matter. One of my favorite quotes by her is “if you’re not in the arena getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback”. It’s easy to be defined by what people think and to have that impact you. It’s critical that you don’t stop caring about people’s feedback and that you remain open and vulnerable, so you have to be selective. I repeat this quote to myself almost daily.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Clean water. I read that each person on earth required at least 20 liters of clean, safe water a day for drinking, cooking and keeping themselves clean. The same article stated that 1.8 million people die every year of diarrheal diseases like cholera. We take advantage of this natural resource. We put it in fancy bottles, leave the tap water running and fill huge swimming pools while others walk miles a day to get barely a drop. With clean water, health would improve, crops could grow so people would have easier access to food, and disease would plummet.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

I was to believe that “if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well”. I cannot tell you the number of times, as a child, I had to reclean the bathroom because I didn’t do it right! This lesson has stuck with me and truly taught me that if you are going to put forth effort, put forth your full effort. Don’t take shortcuts, don’t do it without fully committing, because it just won’t be good enough. This still goes through my head and has had a profound impact on getting me to where I am today. If I didn’t fully commit to my family, my work, and my well-being, none of them would be what they are today.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

https://www.linkedin.com/in/heather-rodemann-29a5612/

twitter.com/discovery_hp

www.facebook.com/DiscoveryHealthPartners/

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