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“Never Feel Threatened By A Star Performer” With Heidi Kayser of MedCure

“Never feel threatened. You earned your job. If you have a star performer, it’s because you either hired a diamond or you led to their…


“Never feel threatened. You earned your job. If you have a star performer, it’s because you either hired a diamond or you led to their professional development, both speak volumes to your ability to do your job.”

I had the pleasure to interview Heidi Kayser, Director of Marketing at MedCure.

Thank you so much for joining us! What is your “backstory?”

Growing up I lived all over the country, attending eleven different schools before finally settling in at Portland State University where I received my bachelor’s degree in psychology. Early in my professional career I worked in global operations, managing supply chains. In 2009 I landed at a Silicon Forest-based company called InFocus, manufacturer of digital projectors and large touchscreen PCs. I worked with their global supply chain division where I travelled all over the U.S. and the world negotiating contracts, making the company more efficient and saving operational expenses. In 2011, the CEO asked me to utilize my cost-effective and methodical approach to audit the marketing department, which is where I feel I found my calling I was able to merge my skillsets of adapting to new environments and problem solving to not only redefine their marketing strategy, but drive consumer engagement, cut waste and develop new revenue streams, and I loved it. From there I followed my passion for marketing and worked under various management titles at ADi, GoHealth Urgent Care, and Cambia Health. Today, I work for MedCure where I serve as marketing director and the director of the donor education and outreach program.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began working as Marketing Director for MedCure?

When I first started working at MedCure, I was most surprised by the number of calls and emails my department received for tours and informational interviews. People are very curious! It’s a healthy curiosity about what it is we actually do, and my family and friends share the same fascination too. But I love hearing all of the customer calls and seeing how this perceivably “weird” industry is becoming less “taboo.” Because working in this industry is incredibly uplifting, to know how selfless our donors are and how everyone who works for MedCure comes to work to make the world a better place.

What do you think makes MedCure stand out? Can you share a story?

MedCure is one of only seven body donation organizations to be accredited by the American Association of Tissue Banks, which means there are many organizations, including universities, in our industry that follow their own set of rules and aren’t held accountable by anyone. Our accreditation illustrates that we hold ourselves accountable to a third party and that we adhere to best-in-class industry standards for safety, ethics and transparency. It also means that we are subject to internal and third-party audits to ensure compliance with regulatory and accreditation standards that map closely to FDA and biotech industry standards, which I believe people recognize and appreciate.

However, I think we stand out for our industry-wide push for higher standards. The industry as a whole is largely unregulated, but we vehemently believe this must change in order to eliminate body brokers and the abuse they perpetrate. MedCure, along with other accredited AATB organizations, is actively working toward regulating the industry in its entirety.

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?

Yes! A growing division within our company is our bioskills labs, which are in high demand from surgeons and researchers and not a common offering in the industry. Currently, surgeons and researchers throughout the U.S. utilize our donors and have the option to tap into our bioskills labs for surgical training and medical device trials that are more convenient and economical as travel costs are eliminated. We have an entire team devoted to onsite coursework management, meaning that we can create a mobile surgical training center for clients.

Another new project is our campaign to normalize whole body donation as an after-life option. We’re working to educate the public about the benefits of donating your body to science, and how you are able to leave a lasting legacy even after passing. We’re learning a lot of people don’t realize whole body donation exists or is an option available to them. If we can normalize the practice, we can better more lives and lead to better patient outcomes through surgical training and medical advancement.


What advice would you give to other Marketing Directors to help their employees to thrive?

Roll up your sleeves. I think it’s so important to be able to understand each and every job your employees do. I manage educators and need to be able to stand in to meet with social workers and nurses if ever a member of my team is out ill. I have marketing specialists who manage digital, social, content, etc. and it is very important that I know and understand the information they uncover and present to the public — tone and data. Transparency is also an important part of enabling your employees to thrive. If your staff knows the big picture and objectives, they’re able to utilize creative and analytical thinking to work towards a collective goal.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards, who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My former boss, Scott Niesen, served as my mentor when I first moved into marketing. He was an amazing manager and shaped my managing style. From him I learned how to be flexible with staff and circumstances, how to manage creative deadlines, and how to forgive myself when I don’t have a “perfect” moment.

Before transitioning departments, I was pretty systematic because in operations you have to run a very tight ship where every dime is haggled and there’s no fluidity when it comes to delivery. In marketing , it was an entirely different world. You still find those with an analytical mindset, but you also have a lot of creative thinkers. Scott helped me to find a balance when managing different kinds of thinkers.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I believe I’ve used my success to bring goodness into the world. I am a big advocate of education, and helped launch the Innovation Academy with the Technology Association of Oregon in 2012 to encourage access to coding in education. I’ve been on the advisory board and communications board committee for the Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center (POIC) + Rosemary Anderson High School (RAHS), which is committed to helping at-risk youth through the age of 25 with services in education, mentoring, family outreach, employment training and more.

On a bigger picture, working at MedCure is directly propelling advancement in healthcare. New surgical procedures have been developed in our labs, and several medical devices on the market today are made possible because of research and training opportunities made possible because of MedCure. One of those procedures is the Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement, a heart procedure that can be done with local anesthesia through minimally invasive incision in the groin or arm!

What are five things you wish someone told you before you became Marketing Director, and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

1. Stay transparent. Many of us all get caught up in what we are working on, including myself, but that is also how silos are created. I like to have a weekly roundtable — we discuss the overall goal everyone is collectively working toward, but I also ask everyone to share what they’re working on and if they’ve had any personal challenges or successes. Together we celebrate their successes with praise and together we can troubleshoot challenges. It’s an hour each week, but certainly worth the time. This also helps with cross-organizational communication, sometimes social media managers have relevant ideas for field sales and the field sales could have relevant ideas for digital communications. A cross-functional team building helps with morale and raises confidence amongst colleagues.

2. Manage your expectations. Managing a team is not managing a team of you. Everyone has their own approach and style to get from A to Z. If you start managing B to Y, you will make yourself crazy. Providing guidance and direction is fine; however if you go down the micromanaging path you will never be satisfied, and you’ll make your staff (and yourself) crazy. I had a manager once who spelled everything out on how she wanted a project to be presented, so that’s what I provided. Then she would change her mind and spell it out again, so I would do it again. This process went on for about 4 months, before we made each other crazy and parted ways. Sometimes even the worst managers teach you things, I learned from her how I didn’t want to be managed and I promised myself I would never manage like her.

3. Do not defer data to staff and staff alone. Every company I’ve worked for has a database of information, and it’s important to know how to read and implement that data to influence business decisions. Contact demographics will influence your creative approach, referral data will influence your approach to outreach, and resulting goal completion will help you evaluate your staff and choices. Learn to read between the lines and translate your data.

4. Never feel threatened. You earned your job. If you have a star performer, it’s because you either hired a diamond or you led to their professional development, both speak volumes to your ability to do your job.

5. Be direct. Everyone knows that you need to communicate effectively, but some people get so lost in explanation and justifying their explanation that in the end their entire point is lost. I like to start with the point then clarify and explain why — it saves time, headaches and helps everyone get on board.


You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire 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. 🙂

I’ve seen a lot of things over the years in professional settings. I’ve seen kindness, encouragement, laughter or hostility, jealousy, bullying and I’m sure many of your readers have too. My movement would be for every executive to evaluate their “floor” culture and strive for a #bekind culture. Not only will it help the bottom-line, but employees will flourish and true talent will develop.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?

“Forgiveness is the answer to a child’s dream of a miracle by which what is broken is made whole again, what was soiled is made clean again.” — Dag Hammarskjöld

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this 🙂

Yes actually. Mike Edwards. Early in my career, I worked closely with Lucy Activewear, and he was the CEO at the time. I was in my 20s and with UPS and LogisNW worked with their operations department. I got to know the company and enjoyed their culture, but operations shifted after Lucy sold. Then I heard he was the new CEO at Ellington Leather who was another client of mine. That was a great organization with good people, but then Ellington Leather sold. That’s when I started to get curious about his agenda and would think about him and how he strategizes — how does he do it?! Later Borders Books was shutting their doors, and sure enough, Mike Edwards was managing that, and that was when he became my professional hero. My career and life continued, and I hadn’t thought about him until you just asked. He just immediately came to mind. At the time, and I’m sure now, he presents to be an individual who can evaluate a company very thoroughly, develop a strategy, and execute his purpose flawlessly. I would be curious to learn about his process and the nuances he considers during his evaluation.

Originally published at medium.com

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