Get above the trees. It is just as important to work on your business as it is to work in your business. I think the same can be said of life. It is critical that we take time for deep thought and introspection. Without these “pauses,” we risk getting stuck in ruts.
As part of my series about the “Meet the Disruptors,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Josh Weiner.
Josh is the CEO of Solutionreach. He joined Solutionreach from Summit Partners, a leading global growth equity firm. Through his work with Summit Partners, Josh served three years on the Solutionreach board of directors. Prior to Summit Partners, he was a consultant with McKinsey & Company. Josh is a graduate of Stanford University and resides in Salt Lake City with his wife and two children. Josh and his family spend as much time as possible exploring the natural wonders of Utah’s mountains and deserts. Connect with him on LinkedIn @joshfweiner.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
I began my career as an analyst at the management consulting firm McKinsey & Company. I can’t think of a better training ground for solving business problems and guiding change at some of the world’s most influential organizations. After my stint at McKinsey, I put those skills to the test at a venture-backed startup in Central America. Our mission was to reinvent the chocolate supply chain. There, I learned a lot about managing in a chaotic and unpredictable environment. My career progression led me to Summit Partners, one of the early pioneers in growth equity. At Summit, in addition to making wonderful interpersonal connections, I learned from the best how to build great companies. I have been fortunate to have such humbling and meaningful career experiences that have informed my approach to leadership today and driven my passion for greater change within my community.
Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
In many respects, healthcare is an industry that is more resistant to change than most others due to the disparate complexities of care delivery involving patients, providers, payers, and regulations. As a result, innovation and adaptation tend to move at a snail’s pace. Despite this uphill climb, we’re passionate about creating a modern and convenient healthcare experience that not only delights patients but also makes them and their families healthier. And we’re not alone. We have a network of clients and partners across the healthcare space who are committed to helping us leverage technology to improve the patient experience.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Mistakes rarely seem funny in the moment, but I always laugh when I look back at the very first performance review of my career. It was the worst one I’ve ever received! I had just graduated from Stanford and was beginning my work at McKinsey & Company with a lot of confidence in my abilities. So much confidence that I thought under-communicating was better than over-communicating with my team. I thought I could figure it all out on my own, which resulted in a very “constructive” six-month review. I received the worst performance rating possible for an analyst. My engagement manager coached me on how to involve team members proactively, and to communicate and leverage teammates’ strengths. I learned about real teamwork. I was lucky to be a part of a firm that placed such an emphasis on professional development. This trainwreck performance review was a pivotal point for me, fueling and accelerating my growth.
We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?
One of my mentors is Jim Higgins, the founder and executive chairman of Solutionreach. One of the most valuable pieces of advice I ever got came from him as I was transitioning into the CEO role. Jim coached me that success is all about building a team that will “run through walls for each other.” I keep this in mind every day as one of my top jobs as CEO is to recruit and retain the best team in our industry. He taught me that just as important as an individual’s leadership skills — arguably more important — is how the team works together, bonds together, compensating for each others’ strengths and weaknesses to tackle monumental challenges.
In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?
No, like everything, disruption has its pros and cons. Specifically thinking about this within the field of communication, social media and data privacy are great examples of when disruption can have serious adverse consequences. With tools like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, we’ve got these amazing, potential-rich technology channels to communicate with people and exchange information around the world. But when misused, this technology can be exploited to devastating effect to harm individuals and damage their communities.
On the flipside, when patient engagement technology is paired with more effective modes of communication, it can position healthcare organizations to change people’s lives, livelihoods, and well-being. By helping patients arrive on time and prepared for their doctor’s visits, we play a vital role in ensuring that people get the care they need when they need it, and in a way that takes the patient experience to a whole new level.
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
- Get above the trees. It is just as important to work on your business as it is to work in your business. I think the same can be said of life. It is critical that we take time for deep thought and introspection. Without these “pauses,” we risk getting stuck in ruts.
- Simple but not simplistic. This is from the book Traction, one of my favorites. The idea is that we must reduce concepts, whether operating principles or strategic themes, to a simple form. Why? Simplicity is the precursor to alignment, to inspiration. In simplifying, we must still respect that the world is full of nuance and complexity. For example, my company seeks to transform healthcare through communication. We believe that every healthcare interaction should start with a text message. This is a simple assertion. The work needed to accomplish this is full of real-world tradeoffs. That’s what I mean by simple but not simplistic.
- Celebrate wins along the way. I have a sneaky bad habit of thinking primarily about the future. When good things happen, I’m thinking “what’s next?” When bad things come my way, I shake them off. My team has coached me to call timeout every once in a while to celebrate goodness, even if it is small. This has an interesting application from a business problem-solving perspective as well. We have found that we can learn more about our business from asking the question “why did we win that customer?” instead of “why did we lose that customer?” It turns out that replicating success tends to be more powerful than avoiding failure.
We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?
Entering a post-pandemic era, now is the time to apply and put into practice all the valuable lessons we’ve learned in the past year and half. We found that quick and responsive communication with patients was severely lacking during COVID. We also learned patients — just like consumers — want to connect with healthcare providers through modern digital communication, like text messaging. Another takeaway is providers can benefit by reimagining the healthcare appointment as much more than a visit; it’s actually a series of crucial interactions with patients to help guide and support them before, during, and after the visit.
Now is the “seize the day” moment for healthcare organizations to make long-term investments in innovative patient engagement solutions and realign communication practices to more effectively meet patients where they are. Our job is to empower providers to establish more robust connections with patients so that healthcare organizations are always prepared to offer healthcare to people regardless of future contingencies.
Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?
NPR’s “How I Built This” is one of my favorite podcasts because it highlights the point that anyone can become an innovator or entrepreneur. At the end of each episode, the host, Guy Raz, asks his guests some version of the following question: “Were you lucky or were you good?” This question elicits a variety of responses that sheds light on different successful business leaders’ viewpoints. Some offer a candid response about how they got where they are. Some give themselves too much credit, while others give themselves too little credit for how strategic they’ve been or how hard they’ve worked. Listening to their responses reminds me how unique everyone’s journey is. Most recently, I listened to the episode featuring Daniel Humm of 11 Madison Park. His path to becoming one of the world’s most influential chefs was as fascinating as it was inspiring. These stories of entrepreneurship have pushed me to think creatively and to trust wonderful teammates.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite life lesson is rooted in statistics: “N=1.” Statistics and trends are great for mapping the moves of large populations. But they are much less relevant when it comes to you, your team, your company, your life. You aren’t a statistic. We are all capable of becoming outliers (for the better!), and it’s up to us to do just that.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
Despite all the resources available to modern medicine, access to healthcare is still an iffy proposition across much of the world, and even in the United States. Today, with all the powerful technological and organizational capabilities and resources at our disposal, there ought to be a better way to provide basic access to healthcare. How do you get basic access? You need only to turn to technology. Smartphones and digital devices are so ubiquitous now that nearly every person of every demographic on the planet owns a device. With the nearly global availability of virtual medicine tools like telehealth and far-reaching broadband services, we ought to be able to expand on-demand access to healthcare to everyone.
How can our readers follow you online?
Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn @joshfweiner and follow my thoughts on the latest topics impacting healthcare and patient engagement on the SR Health blog.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!