Take time to reboot

It’s that time of year. Maybe you just did a spring break trip with your kids or you are planning your summer getaway. Whatever it may be, you need to take time to reboot. Aruba sunset

Leave the job behind and leave good people in charge and covering for you. Companies give vacation and PTO time for just that – Personal. Time. Off.

Over the years, I have gotten better at checking out and turning it off. I learned my lesson the hard way on a vacation many years ago with my family. It was ruined by being totally available for problems that arose back at work. I spent most of my time either on the phone or worrying about what was going on. Turns out, it wasn’t even concrete problems that needed to be addressed; it was just work politics.

I’ve shared my thoughts on the importance of taking time off openly so others don’t have to learn the hard way like I did. And I encourage my staff to take their vacation time and check out while away.

As it is, the days leading up to a vacation and the days following are tough enough. There’s everything you think you need to get done that just can’t wait a week or two on the front end. And then thinking you are a super human who can get through all their email for a week or two on the first day back. For those of you who can, is that badge of honor worth it? Continue reading

Yes we can: women in health IT

Think about the little girls you know. Did they get even more dolls for holiday gifts? Or did they get toys and games that teach creative thinking and how to build things? Or did they maybe even get toys officiallycanstockphoto36568604 STEM labeled in the STEM category?

Social norms start young. I recently played a match game with my two-year-old granddaughter. When we matched the truck picture, she took it over to her 6-month-old baby brother as though it was his domain! This granddaughter and her two-year-old girl cousin have a variety of developmental toys. But when it’s free play, they are often clutching one of their dolls, whether it’s Princess Sofia the First or the newest Disney Princess Elena of Avalor. At least these characters are both confident, strong and compassionate princesses!

My four-year-old granddaughter isn’t as attached to dolls these days. After a break, she is back in dance class, my birthday gift to her. I know she loves it.  At Christmas, with her mother’s advice, I gave her 3 months of Koala Crate – a creative, educational activity box for 3-5 year olds. She loved the first box – making stuffed reptiles and learning about them.

You may be saying it’s all about exposing kids to a lot of different things. I agree. But it’s important to not fall into the gender norms when they are young.

Let’s fast forward from my 3 little granddaughters to some of the female leaders in our health IT industry. Continue reading

Taking control of your life

It was a year ago that I did just that. I decided it was time to make a major life change professionally and personally. Since then, many people have wanted to learn how I did it. In fact, I spoke just this canstockphoto12123429week with a former mentee about her next professional move.

My advice was basic. Look at your last few professional moves. Why did you want to stay somewhere and why were you willing to leave? What were you looking for in the next opportunity? And what isn’t there today that you’d look for in the next opportunity.

I told her if she looks carefully at this, she’ll see a theme as to what makes her happy and what frustrates her. Then there will be more questions:

  • What kind of work do you want to do?
  • What kind of team do you want to be part of?
  • What mission will keep you committed and passionate?

But I told her not to get caught in the “grass is greener” trap. Because it’s not. Every organization has its crazy. You just need to figure out what that is and how to work effectively within it. Continue reading

Adventure in a new city

A year ago, I suggested to my husband that I would consider doing a series of interim CIO engagements. He is a retired minister and does a lot of volunteer projects for the denomination and ministers associationcanstockphoto20995234 – all from his home office. So he was supportive. His view was we’ll just have an adventure in a new city. We’d bring the dogs with, stay in an apartment and go home to check on our house once a month. That was a great working assumption.

The first interim opportunity was at University Hospitals in Cleveland, which was a great location to start this plan!  It’s just a short 3-hour drive from our home in Ann Arbor. But then we relocated from Michigan to Rhode Island in order to be near family so things didn’t work out quite as we planned. There was way too much work in Michigan to sell and move out of our house; on the other end way too much work to find a house and move into it. So I’ve spent many weeks in Cleveland on my own without my soulmate to have those new city adventures with.

But in the past 8 months, we got to know Cleveland as best we could and it’s truly been a fun adventure! Some of the highlights to pass on to our new CIO who has relocated to Cleveland from Iowa and anyone planning to visit: Continue reading

Next chapter, page 2

It’s been seven months since I started my next life chapter. In January, I Ieft my position as CIO of the University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers to begin a more independent and flexible path. I canstockphoto1593928wanted to be able to live near my family and work less than full-time over the course of a year. The first page of this chapter has been to serve as interim CIO at University Hospitals in Cleveland. I had just one weekend between finishing up in Michigan and starting in Cleveland. CIO positions are more than full-time but I knew that when we hired a permanent CIO, there would be time for me to get a break.

This week, the new permanent CIO at University Hospitals was named. Joy Grosser will be joining UH on September 12th. I am confident she is a great match for us. She is very accomplished, and has significant experience in other large health care organizations. She most recently served as Vice President and Chief Information Officer at UnityPoint Health in West Des Moines, Iowa, a 17 hospital health system. I have agreed to stay for several weeks past Joy’s arrival to orient her and to ensure a smooth transition.

For me, this engagement has been a terrific opportunity to work in a very strong organization with an excellent team. Much can be accomplished in a short time and our IT team proves that. They have been wonderful to work with and I will miss them.

For this final stage of my interim engagement, I will focus on two things. One is to keep everything moving including a host of projects and the day to day issue escalation. The second is to prepare a transition plan and do the turnover. I will be stepping back and letting Joy take the front seat come September 12th. I’ll be there to support her.

A new position means drinking from a firehose. Continue reading

Lift up women and you lift up everyone

History was made this week. For the first time, a woman was nominated by a major party for President of the United States. Nearly 100 years after women won the right to vote and 240 years after the founding ofcanstockphoto4392904 our country, Hillary Clinton has broken this barrier. Did you hear the glass breaking? I did and it was music to my ears.

Across this country, women have proven they can do anything a man can do in any field. Yet women lag behind in pay, in executive roles and are poorly represented in fields like technology. In a longitudinal salary assessment, HIMSS found that women’s share of health IT salaries for comparable jobs is smaller than it was ten years ago. That means we are losing ground!

I’ve written and spoken about this and will continue to do so. As I was quoted in a recent article, Removing the Glass Ceiling in Health IT, we need to be open about this problem. Naming a problem is the beginning of addressing it. I could sit back quietly but I won’t. I owe it to the next generation of women, my daughters and my granddaughters to speak up. I was influenced by the women’s movement of the 1970’s, so I know that if we don’t speak up, we will never make the changes we need.

At last year’s Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, I was greeted by a 10-year-old boy with, “I thought only men were managers”. Continue reading

Being in between – part 2

My husband and I are as in between as anyone who has ever done a long distance move.  Our possessions are on a truck somewhere between Ann Arbor, Michigan and Providence, Rhode Island. canstockphoto0356593Stuffed into our cars is everything that can’t or shouldn’t go on the moving truck.

This is the fifth long distance move we’ve done together and we hope, the last. We are headed back to New England, the part of the country where we wanted to end up.

I will continue working at University Hospitals in Cleveland during the week as the interim CIO until we hire a new permanent CIO but my home base now shifts east.

We made some close friends in a few short years in Michigan. We did a long goodbye with them on weekends over the past few months. And we promised to continue what we started by keeping in touch any way we can.  We issued an open invitation to our guest room.

We started this move in March getting our house ready for market. We thought (and hoped) we’d sell quickly. Instead, we found ourselves buying in a hot market where houses were gone before we could see them but selling in a slower market. Once again we’ve learned that you can’t count on the market being in your favor.

As we packed and purged, we found goods that others could use and filled the cars with donations. We donated lots of clothes in good shape but in sizes we’ll never see again. This included business clothes that women needing a fresh start can use for interviews and getting back into the workforce.

I’ve once again learned about making tradeoffs and letting go. Continue reading

On being a grandparent

My fourth grandbaby was born this week. I helped out by taking care of his 19 month old big sister while his parents were at the hospital. Being able to be present to give this support to my daughters is one of canstockphoto17685636the reasons I started my next chapter back in January.

Why is it so important for me to spend time with my family as my four grandchildren grow up?  My father died when I was just 4 years old. His death left my mother to raise my 3 older siblings and me alone. Her parents lived 3 hours away.  We only saw them a few times a year – a 3 hour drive for a mom and four kids was a big deal back then. My father’s parents had died before my parents were married. And my own daughters grew up without grandparents. By the time my husband and I were in our 30’s, all of our parents were deceased. None of them lived to age 70.

As a professional woman, I have worked far more than 40 hours a week since my late 20’s and been in management since 1984. When I had babies, a 6-week maternity leave was the norm. Both my daughters went to infant programs in daycare centers when I went back to work. I learned that babies start to smile at their parents (and it’s not just gas) at around 6 weeks old. I realized that I would miss her first smile being back at work.

I treasure the times I have now with my grandkids. My daughters are appreciative of the help I can give but don’t want it to be a burden. I have heard people my age say being a grandparent is great but it’s really nice to be able to hand the kids back to their parents. Yes, kids are demanding and tiring when you are no longer young. Continue reading

Who do we want to be?

While I try to stick to the topics you would expect in a professional blog, there are times when I can’t ignore the events we all witness. Whether they are joyous or tragic, they all leave a mark on us. Last July Icanstockphoto6283939 wrote about marriage equality sharing the story of my Aunt Dorothy.

During the fall as a US presidential candidate repeatedly talked about building a wall along the Mexican border, my post “Build bridges, not walls” was a message about the importance of embracing diversity. In that post, I quoted a church hymn that really struck home for me. “Our World is One World” by Cecily Taylor included this verse:

Our world is one world, the thoughts we think affect us all. The way we build our attitudes, with love or hate, we make a bridge or wall.

I closed that post with this statement: “Let’s continue to work together to build the kind of world we want for our children and grandchildren and generations to come.”

My fourth grandchild is due next week. I look forward to holding this new baby and welcoming him into our family. I am busily crocheting his baby blanket trying to get it done in time. While I crochet at night, I watch hours of television news about the worst mass shooting in US history – 49 people were killed in a gay nightclub, a place they considered safe and welcoming.

My maternal grandparents were born in Slovenia and came to the United States as immigrants in the early 1900’s. My grandfather was one of 11 children. One of his sisters had 10 children; two of her sons and one of her son-in-laws were rounded up and executed along with 30 others in their Slovenian village by the Fascists in 1942. They were my mother’s cousins. Continue reading

Do you know your big rocks?

April is a mixed month for me. No, I’m not talking about the fact that we had snow this week. In April, I celebrate many happy milestones, including my birthday and my wedding anniversary. Andcanstockphoto25793802 now, both my daughters have April wedding anniversaries. And the blooming daffodils along the road remind me that spring is finally here. 

Yet, there is always a sad part of April for me. My father died from Hodgkin’s disease on April 23rd, just a few days before my fourth birthday. Losing a parent as a child leaves a hole in your heart and shapes who you are.

Stephen Covey has a great story about “big rocks”. If you’re not familiar with it, just google it. Our families are our big rocks and my daughters remind me of that. And as little as they are, my grandchildren are also big rocks for me.  Every time one of my daughters calls me on FaceTime and I see a cute little toddler smiling at me from my iPhone, I fall in love with them all over again. Continue reading