This can’t be the new normal

I am sickened, saddened, and angry all over again.

Yesterday as I did my early morning check of Facebook, I smiled at a memory that popped up from 3 years ago. It was a picture of my then 3-month-old granddaughter dressed in a little Valentine’s outfit withcanstockphoto50204846 school icon a little red and white stuffed bear next to her. She was propped up in a chair and holding a sign that said, “I love Nana Sue and Papa Tom”. It made my day.

Early afternoon, I talked to my daughter who is the mom to the oldest of our 4 grandchildren. She had just finished registering her 5-year-old for kindergarten next September. She learned that she’d be taking a bus to school and not going to the school within walking distance. The 5-year-old was excited at the thought of a school bus with her friends.

I learned about the latest school shooting in Parkland, Florida just before my husband and I headed to that daughter’s house to babysit the 5-year-old and her 3-year-old sister, so the parents could have a Valentine’s Dinner date night. The story was still unfolding, and the number of injuries and fatalities were still unknown as we drove to her house.

But watching just a short news piece I saw the anguish of parents anxiously awaiting news of their children. And I saw the fear and pain of the students who survived as they were being escorted out of the school by armed police officers.

Parents send their children to what should be a safe and nurturing learning environment every day. Yet, parents now with increased frequency wonder if their children will return home. Continue reading

Another year, another chance

Whatever resolutions or goals, personal or professional, you had in 2017 – it’s time to revisit, revise, and recommit. The most common ones are go to the gym, eat healthy, lose weight, read more, watch less TV, canstockphoto24043991 (002) NYEspend more time with your family, get organized.

And then there are bigger, loftier goals. My daughter has a saying on the wall of her home office, “Do Something Great Today”. It means doing something bigger than herself.  For her, it is helping her company act more responsibly, to act more sustainably. It is a great motivator to live her values and find ways to have a greater impact.

She also has her personal mission statement on her office wall – “live a life that I’d want for my two daughters”. If she wants something for them, then she must do the same – like be healthy or be a good friend.

I was inspired by a Happy New Year post on LinkedIn from Vicki Davis, VP at Healthcare IT Leaders. She said, “No matter what life has for us, we should enjoy every minute of it. Celebrate the beginning of a new year the most, as it is a clean slate. Set positive goals and resolutions. Hang them where you can see them every hour of the new year. Choose your actions and words wisely this year so that you are remembered as a good human being, a great friend and a true guide when you end this year.”

We all are driven by different motivations. But fundamentally, I believe we all want to be good people and do good for others.

I look forward to another year of learning and making a difference through my client work and the non-profit organizations where I volunteer my time. With my colleagues at StarBridge Advisors, we work with organizations to advance healthcare by leveraging technology.

While I have yet to formulate any bigger than me goals for this year, I am recommitting to some basic resolutions. Continue reading

You need to own your own career

December brings the holidays and social time with co-workers, friends and family. It’s also a good time to take stock and reflect on your work and career. Two years ago at this time I planned my next chapter and canstock120117 careerdecided to leave a permanent CIO position. My two goals were to live where I wanted to live and have more flexibility in my career.

I talk with a lot of people at different stages of their career who are taking stock and trying to figure out their choices.

They may be in their 30’s, relatively young in their career, and thinking about the next right move and where that would position them for the long run.

Or, they may be someone in their 50’s or early 60’s and thinking about how long they want to work and the one final job change that might make the capstone to their career.

Or, they may be someone who has made the decision to “retire”, but not quite yet. They are considering what kind of work they still want to do, and how much.

For people in that last group, I ask them to think about 3 questions:

  • What do you want to do? After all, what you are good at and enjoy the most?
  • How much do you want to work?  If you’ve been working 60+ hours a week at a demanding job, it’s time to consider how much time you want for yourself, your family, your other passions and hobbies.
  • What do you need financially? There are 3 ways to look at it: continue at roughly the same income level and continue contributing to your retirement, make enough to live on but not contribute any further to retirement, or start drawing on your retirement savings.

Until you ask and answer these important questions, it’s hard to make a solid plan.

For people younger in their career, these questions still apply. But there are others: Continue reading

Thinking about relocating?

“My spouse won’t move.” You may have heard this if you have ever hired someone who would need to relocate their family. You may have even heard it after you extended the offer. If it happens that late in thecanstockphoto49324635 process, it may be just an easy excuse because they weren’t going to accept the position anyway.

Whether your spouse and family are willing to relocate to a particular city is something that should be discussed and agreed on together very early in the process. Why waste everyone’s time if it’s not going to work.

Relocating is a big decision. I’ve done it several times. And each time, my husband and I discussed it early on. Was this a part of the country we were willing to live in? Was this city one that we’d be happy in? What did the housing market look like? These are just some of the considerations.

If you are early in your career, you probably want to figure out what kind of future opportunities are in that area, is it family friendly, are there good schools, and can you afford to buy a house. If you are later in your career, you may think of your next move in terms of where you might want to eventually retire or living closer to your grandkids.

Regardless of where you are in your career, there are some common considerations. Assuming it’s a job you really want and an organization you really want to work for, here is my advice on what to consider when relocating: Continue reading

From One to Many

In the past four days, I’ve learned about and interacted with ten different healthcare systems. Some are current consulting and coaching clients while others are prospective clients. Their needs for services canstockphoto1878305range from interim management to leadership development to small, discrete consulting projects.

Their challenges and needs are unique, but not necessarily new to me. After 30+ years in healthcare IT, I “know a lot because I have seen a lot” as the insurance company advertises.  But if I am going to be effective in meeting each client organization’s needs, I need to get to know each client organization, the players and the culture.

I enjoy the day to day work of an interim CIO engagement like my recent one at Stony Brook Medicine. It’s very rewarding to be part of a larger team making a difference for patients. But interacting with many different organizations around the country and helping them solve problems is an entirely different kind of challenge. It is fun and rewarding in its own way.

On that first call with a prospective client, you need to establish your credibility and determine if your services are a match to their needs. Listening skills are critical – when talking to a prospective client and once you get the work. You need to go deep to understand their unique issues. And at the same time, you need to apply your experience and knowledge from other organizations.

Five new leads for StarBridge Advisors have come my way this week. I’m chasing them all. Once I understand the unique need, I’ll match one of our advisors and prepare a proposal for the client.

This level of client activity requires good administration, organization, and tools. We have the tools and continue to refine our processes. We’re trying to fully leverage SalesforceIQ and use it consistently as a firm. Leveraging our tools and creating repeatable processes is all part of the work this first year in business. Continue reading

Island adventures

This is not about a fabulous vacation on some distant island.

This is another version of “adventures in a new city”. That’s what my husband and I have called my interim CIO engagements.Sunset on LI

This time “our adventure in a new city” was on Long Island. It was more my adventure than my interim in Cleveland last year; my husband spent more time with me there. We did have two weekends together on Long Island: one in the Big Apple and one to enjoy the island in the summer.

The weekend in NYC was what you’d expect – great restaurants, museums, the subway and a lot of walking. On Long Island, we visited the wineries on the north fork and went to the beach on the south shore. We got more ideas for our garden after a walking tour of gardens and landscapes in Port Jefferson. It made me want to spend more time here and, who knows, with a ferry between New London, Connecticut and Orient, New York, we just may do that.

The island is 118 miles long – the longest and largest island in the contiguous United States. Suffolk County makes up the eastern 2/3 of the island. I learned the history of Long Island’s growth and eastward expansion over the past 50 years and how Stony Brook Medicine fits into that growth, providing quaternary and tertiary care to Suffolk County. Continue reading

Family support systems: priceless

I am regularly reminded how much young working couples with children need family support systems. Even with the new more flexible work arrangements and the ability to work from home occasionally or on canstockphoto43984614a permanent basis, working parents need help from time to time.

We have four young working parents in our family. They balance the demands of their jobs and raising young children. That’s my two daughters and our sons-in-law or as my husband called them on Father’s Day, “active duty dads”. And he of course is an “active duty grandpa” when needed.

My oldest daughter is a nurse practitioner who works three 12 hour shifts a week and a fourth shift one week a month. She has an hour plus drive each way to the hospital. She leaves the house before her 1-year-old and 2-year-old children are awake. She gets home in time for bath and bedtime stories.

On the days she works, my son-in-law gets the children up, dressed, fed and off to the day care center. He is a senior loan officer at a mortgage company with an office in downtown Boston. He takes the train in and out and works from home a few days a week. Continue reading

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