Never be afraid to pivot

Over the last couple of decades, digital media and personal technology like smartphones, have completely changed the way we do business. This is true for marketing, for selling, and for customer communication. And it’s even more true for the healthcare sector. So how do you continuously adapt without missing a beat? Listening, learning and never being afraid to pivot could be the key.

We all have great ideas, some of them work and some of them don’t. And the thing is, when you have a great idea and it doesn’t work, that requires adjustment, that requires pivoting.

Gary BisbeeChairman & CEO of Think Medium

Transcription

Listening and Learning Across the Healthcare Sector with Gary Bisbee

Katie Hankinson (00:01): Hi, I’m Katie Hankinson.

Mickey Cloud (00:04): I’m Mickey Cloud.

Katie Hankinson (00:05): Welcome to Building While Flying, our new podcast from The Sasha Group, where we interview business leaders about how they tackle challenges, stay resilient, and navigate ever changing skies.

Mickey Cloud (00:21): Before we dive into our conversation with Dr. Gary Bisbee, I wanted to give some context. This conversation was recorded in October 2020. So, I missed the opportunity to ask Dr. Bisbee about the COVID-19 vaccine and some more current events. But lucky for you, he hosts a weekly podcast called Fireside Chats, where in the past year he’s interviewed 75 of the nation’s leading health care experts. We touched briefly on that, but dug more into his fascinating entrepreneurial story in this conversation, starting now.

Mickey Cloud (00:48): Welcome Dr. Gary Bisbee, to Building While Flying, The Sasha Group podcast. Gary’s leadership positions have spanned Wall Street, academia, health policy and entrepreneurial ventures in leadership development, information technology and medical device industries. He’s co-founder, chairman and CEO of Think Medium, a company that provides personalized insights to healthcare leaders. Could not be more thrilled to have you as one of our first guests on Building While Flying. Thanks for joining us, Gary.

Gary Bisbee (01:12): Great to be here, Mickey. Good seeing you.

Mickey Cloud (01:15): Yeah, good seeing you as well. As you say on your show, welcome to the microphone. We’d love to take just a quick moment and have you just maybe explain what Think Medium is and what your current day to day is looking like.

Gary Bisbee (01:28): Okay. Well, Think Medium is a new company, to start off with. It’s built around the concept of personalization and particularly personalizing content for healthcare leaders. So what does that mean? You could think of a modern day think tank. You could think of developing content through research, through interviews. As you mentioned, I do a lot of that. And what do you do when you develop some knowledge and healthcare leaders would like to have it? You need to really personalize that. So for example, we talked about your father being a chief medical officer, former surgeon. He might be interested in a topic like leadership, have a different point of view than the CEO of his health system or the CFO or the IT director, what have you.

Gary Bisbee (02:20): So, the idea is to personalize content so that we can shape what we know and direct it to a very narrow audience, even an individual. That’s the basic idea. Now, used to be in the old days, when I was in academia, for example, you basically wrote everything. So, if you didn’t feel like reading you weren’t going to get it. We’ve gone through now podcasts, we’ve got videos, we’ve got texting. We have a whole bunch of different ways to deliver content in multimedia ways. That’s what we’re about with Think Medium.

Mickey Cloud (02:58): Awesome. Well, we’ll certainly touch on that as well. I’ve got a couple questions on how you’ve evolved your media content and distributed it over your career. But we’d love to take even … wind it all the way back to the beginning. Your resume is super impressive. You’ve got an MBA from Wharton, a PhD in epidemiology from Yale. You’ve founded and run multiple companies in the healthcare space. But if you have that comic book 001, what’s that story and a little bit about your life and your career, leading to where you are now?

Gary Bisbee (03:28): Yeah. I grew up really wanting to be flexible. I had a respect for the future. I didn’t know exactly what was coming down, but I did know that I wanted to participate in it. Unlike a number of my friends, who wanted to be a doctor, wanted to be a lawyer, what have you, I really didn’t know exactly what I wanted to be, but I knew that I wanted to be flexible so I could be ready for any opportunity. My dad was a minister. I grew up in the church as a preacher’s kid. That led to understanding people and understanding how to relate to people and meet people and listen to people. Most importantly, for my career, I’m a listener and a learner.

Gary Bisbee (04:14): My dad was also a businessman in wolf’s clothing, sheep’s clothing, so to speak. Even though he was a minister, he’s a businessman. So, I learned about the economics of running a church and income statements and balance sheets and so on. The other thing was that, I had to go to church every Sunday morning, which can be boring. So, I developed an interest in music early on which led actually to my being an opera singer for multiple years before I got into the business side of things.

Gary Bisbee (04:51): Healthcare came about because at the local hospital, every summer, they had eight doctor’s kids that were wall washers in this hospital. It happened at the CEO of the hospital was in our church. So for the years I was in high school, it was seven doctors’ kids and the preacher’s kid. I spent four summers in hospitals, washing walls and really learned about health care. So, that got me off on my career.

Mickey Cloud (05:23): Yeah. I’m super excited to have you on the show because you’re a serial entrepreneur. You’ve worked in lots of companies. You’ve founded companies. You’ve exited some of them, the full gamut of experience. What we’re trying to do with this podcast is share lessons from the high flying times and the tough times, for business builders. We’d love to know, when I first reached out to you, what was that first thought you had when you heard the phrase Building While Flying? What was that immediate gut reaction? Where did it take you in your career?

Gary Bisbee (05:54): I mean, I feel like that is my career. So it hit home right away. You talked about entrepreneurial ventures. I guess I’ve started now four companies, taken three of them public. I’ve sold all of them in one way or another. Every time you start a new company or new idea, you are Building While Flying. I’ve always subscribed to the listening and learning theory. So, as I evolve companies and as we move companies along, we’re listening and that, in effect, is building while you’re flying.

Gary Bisbee (06:37): I would say, out of every one of my entrepreneurial ventures, what I’ve ended up with after several years is largely similar, but really somewhat different from what I started out. That whole Building While Flying in my book, is listening to customers, learning from customers. Lots of times, customers will evidence a need, but they don’t just tell you, “Hey, I need that.” But if you’re listening, you say, “Gosh, they really need that. How can I deliver a product or change or tweak my service to provide that?”

Mickey Cloud (07:17): Right. That leads in perfectly to my next question. Which was, in that listening and learning model, when you hear that need and you think, “Well, who else is doing that?,” or, “Why can’t they get that?,” is there one moment you have in your career where you were like, “Man, that is something we can go after,” or, “That’s an unmet need that we’re seeing right now”? And then, how do you go about building a business route? Did you start as it was a practice or a service you added on or did it have to go be something else?

Gary Bisbee (07:46): The way I think about that is that we all have great ideas, and some of them work and some of them don’t. The challenge is, when you have a great idea and it doesn’t work. That requires adjustment. That requires pivoting. You, at some point, just say, “This is not going to work,” or maybe the timing is right. I’ve started businesses that ended up being terrific businesses, but it took multiple years for the market to figure out that they actually needed that product. So, I think that’s the story.

Gary Bisbee (08:22): If we look at APACHE Medical Systems, that we started, it was primarily a database company for critical care patients. We had a million patients in this database, clinical data, which at the time was the largest database, any place like that. We were out in front of the market. It took five, six, seven years for the market to say, “Bisbee was actually right on this,” because they said for five, six, seven years, “Bisbee, what are you doing?”

Gary Bisbee (08:53): So, I think sticking with your idea or just saying, “Great idea, but not for the right time,” there’s an art in deciding when to hold them and when to fold them.

Mickey Cloud (09:05): I imagine it’s some is gut intuition, some of it’s data, some of it’s customer feedback, but you always kind of … that’s what’s guiding you a little bit through that.

Gary Bisbee (09:14): I always wanted to be prepared, Mickey. And so preparation is education. That’s why I went on, got the MBA. That’s why I got PhD and a clinical degree because I wanted both the business side and the clinical side, but it’s also why I listen. I developed a podcast because I enjoy asking questions and I enjoy listening to people’s answers. And so I think that flexibility to learn drives insights and I’ve never been so kind of myself that I thought I had great insights independent of what I’m hearing and what I’ve learned through my career.

Mickey Cloud (10:00): What advice do you have for people that are maybe selling a little bit ahead of the market? And it’s something we experienced at VaynerMedia when I … so I joined VaynerMedia nine years ago in 2011, when there were not a lot of big brands focusing on social media. And so we were always kind of selling against what was the brand manager knew, that their MMA was to come back and say, “Hey, this is where you should be investing your moneys.” And so we always felt like A, we had to find the people that like, we’re just looking for, they could feel it, but it was before it showed up in their data. And they were like, all right, we’ve got to invest in this space. So we were looking for clients that were like that, but our Gary, Gary Vaynerchuk, has the saying of, “Don’t sell to the unsellable.”

Mickey Cloud (10:44): What advice do you have for people that maybe have an idea, have a product, have a service, a business, but the feedback just isn’t quite coming yet?

Gary Bisbee (10:51): Yeah. Well, I’ve been in that situation. I think that any given idea, any given company has a kind of a life cycle. And so what I’ve always done is to try to lay out a 10 year cycle for that idea, for that product, for that company. And if the feedback I’m getting is along the lines of what I’ve laid out, then you can decide whether or not you ought to stick with this.

Gary Bisbee (11:22): If all of a sudden though, you see great idea, 10 year life cycle for that company, and you’re in actual … the reception by either customers or suppose the customers isn’t anywhere near what you thought of. That’s when you could have problems in your hands. And in terms of social media, I suppose that you went through that, you could put a lot of conclusion based on technology, based on what you thought. I mean the time you started, iPhone was what? Two, three years old. Apps were a couple of years old.

Gary Bisbee (12:01): And so you were very early, but if you were looking at that technology and the having a computer in your pocket and what that meant for people then hanging in as you did, lead to the success you’ve had.

Mickey Cloud (12:16): You used a word earlier that I wanted to explore a little bit more and it’s one that’s become quite more popular, I would say in business. And especially in post-COVID pandemic world times, which was pivot, right? The pivot and where you’re guiding a business through a change of how it operates kind of give a new or different circumstances, opportunities. What’s the biggest pivot you’ve had to make in your career, either in a business or personally?

Gary Bisbee (12:39): Well, first of all, if you think about pivot, I think the connotation, as you’ve described in a business frequently is you run into a roadblock. So you pivot to get around it. I’ve always thought about pivot as an opportunity. I’ve thought about pivot as going to an opportunity. So in the companies that I’ve developed, as I indicated, lots of times what you end up with isn’t exactly what you thought getting. And the pivoting is, well, what am I learning from my customers? What am I learning from the market? I’m learning that maybe the way I conceived that particular service or product, isn’t exactly what they want. So let’s pivot to bring that to them. So, that’s the bulk of my life. And we can go through and run a number of examples of that.

Mickey Cloud (13:31): Do you have one that stands out one of those examples?

Gary Bisbee (13:35): Yeah. I mean, I think that the Health Management Academy, which we started 22 years ago was a good example in the sense that we figured that people wanted to get together in a peer group. And it was large health systems and it was the senior executives. What we learned was they did want to get together, but that you needed content, you needed thought leadership in order to have them coming back. And that was a pivot if you want to look at it that way, that we needed to make. And that was a challenge to provide that kind of content and thought leadership. Had we not done that, I don’t think we would have been successful.

Mickey Cloud (14:18): And the Health Management Academy is how I got introduced to you. I have a good friend who worked there for you for a decade there, Jared, and he’s kind of always explained to me that healthcare is a kind of notoriously complex industry, right? I think we all know that, but that it’s a pretty collaborative industry in the ways that like Coke and Pepsi, aren’t getting together to kind of share ideas around what’s a best practice, but that’s what you guys found is that you could convene people. And especially maybe at the CFO level or at the CEO level or at the chief medical officer level and bring them together.

Mickey Cloud (14:53): So I guess what are some lessons that you’ve learned from the healthcare world that could be applied to other businesses that you’ve had maybe other industries or vice versa. What are lessons that you think maybe healthcare needs to take from the broader business?

Gary Bisbee (15:08): Well, there’s a lot of those lessons healthcare needs to take from business, non-healthcare business. That’s kind of the first part of your question though. The point that healthcare has been very successful at collaborating, and the expression that physicians learned is first, do no harm. And so what that in effect means is that if one doctor has an approach to a particular disease that he can or she can share with other doctors and that’ll make more people well or better, then they do it. And that kind of collaboration applies to quality. It applies to business models and so on. And that’s not typically the case in business, which is built around much more competition.

Gary Bisbee (15:56): So I think that a business could learn that collaboration from healthcare, the flip side of it is healthcare is particularly health systems, large multi-hospital systems are very matrix oriented. They’re not a command and control operation. And so when we set up the academy 22 years ago, we had health system executives, but also industry executives. And what we were trying to do there is have the industry or the business side learn healthcare from the healthcare executives and have the healthcare executives learn about command and control, supply chain, business models, microeconomics, that sort of thing. And we’re pretty successful at that, but there’s still a long way to go.

Mickey Cloud (16:48): Still a long way to go. But I even feel like even through COVID and through a lot of the interviews that you’ve done on your podcast, when you have one of those health systems CEOs on, one of the first things they talk about is making sure that we have more resilient supply chain for PPE and for things … and maybe it’s just because of what we’ve just gone through, but do you think that maybe the acceleration of what COVID and the pandemic has done is forcing these health care systems to maybe act a little bit more like a business? And what do you see kind of carrying through that?

Gary Bisbee (17:19): Yeah, I do that. Let’s go first at the speed of decision making, because that’s the point that I’ve learned from talking to the CEOs following the COVID surge, which is that if you look at the speed in decision making relative to how we can find PPE, personal protective equipment, how do we get that? If you look to speed of decision making about vaccines broadly, about drugs, Remdesivir, how does that work for example. If you look at the whole supply chain, if you look at what we were talking about with telemedicine, how do you gear up for an exponential increase in telehealth visits?

Gary Bisbee (18:00): So there’s a lot of things that have caused the decision making to increase. And the question that I’ve been asking the CEOs as I talk to them is, “Can you sustain that, or are you going to go back to the slower way that it was?” And I think that business in general has been faster at decision making than these healthcare institutions or health insurers. So one of the lessons that they’re asking for is, well, what can I learn from business that builds in this speed of decision making so we can sustain it? And it’s tough in a matrix organization. It’s a lot easier and a command and control organization.

Gary Bisbee (18:44): So one of the things I think it’s going to lead to is that the health systems, the multi-hospital systems will become more like the business from a standpoint of this command and control. CEO, COO CFO, they all have jobs. They all make decisions. And the organization responds. Part of it is of course governance. Part of it is the boards of directors. And so the boards, I think following COVID are going to have a different set of expectations for how these places are managed and how fast they can make decisions and how they can sustain that over time.

Mickey Cloud (19:22): It’s super interesting too, because I think you’ve seen a ton of headlines in the past couple of years around, Amazon is committing X amount of dollars towards a new way of doing healthcare. And you’ve got a lot of startup innovation that’s happening in this space. I guess, what are some of the things that maybe businesses as some of these business titans and startups get into the healthcare space, that what are the lessons they’re learning, or why don’t we still kind of have the same system that we’ve always had in a world where every other sector seems to be embracing innovation and disruption?

Gary Bisbee (19:51): Well, why would non-healthcare companies get into healthcare to begin with? Is the first question. And among other things, the answer is because it’s 20% of the gross domestic product. So I mean, it’s a big, big multi-trillion dollar business. So, that’s the first thing that attracts them. Then they start looking in healthcare and what they see is there’s a substantial number of inefficiencies. And they say, you know what? We can do that better than the current healthcare system, right? In a lot of cases are exactly right. If you look at Walmart, they’re putting clinics in their Walmart stores. Well, that’s pretty efficient. You look at all the hospital systems through the year, if you had to go to the hospital, it wasn’t efficient. It wasn’t convenient. One of the great things about tele-medicine is you can talk to the doctor from your home. That’s pretty efficient.

Gary Bisbee (20:47): So we’ll see that growing. But I think a lot of the inefficiencies, the question is can Amazon do it more quickly, smarter, more efficiently with better margins than healthcare systems or doctors have traditionally done it? And they’re definitely chipping away at telemedicine being one. Just went to CVS yesterday, I think they’re here in my little town in Connecticut. There’s something like 1500 CVS that are going to have a nurse or a doctor in the CVS. So you go in and you buy your bubblegum. You go see the doctor because your head hurts, whatever it is, that’s pretty convenient.

Gary Bisbee (21:35): And so we’ll see a lot more of that. But the big underlying factor that an Amazon or an Apple or a Walmart can bring to the table is data. And it really gets back to your point about social media. When you started nine or 10 years ago, data now is ever present. Everybody’s got an iPhone or some kind of smartphone in their pocket. If you think about the data that exists on that smartphone. 10 years ago, there weren’t smartphones. You’ve got enormous quantities. Then you can look up doctors, you can look up diseases, you can look up drugs, you can find out a lot of information. And so when Amazon thinks about it, they go into their idea about healthcare, thinking about those data being available. Well, health systems didn’t start that way. They started with paper records.

Gary Bisbee (22:36): And so it’s been harder for them to make the conversion. Now the federal government during the ’08, ’09 timeframe, when we had the economic downturn, the great recession, created the high tech act and provided something like $35 or $40 billion to digitize medical care. So data are now available that never used to be. That’s allowing the health systems, health insurers to move more quickly to find areas that need efficiency, but it also is allowing Amazons and apples of the world to come in. So they’re definitely coming. And the health systems and health insurers are trying to move quickly enough to stay ahead, but it’s kind of a close race right now.

Mickey Cloud (23:24): Are there any kind of emerging trends that you’re seeing that you think like from kind of this innovation that is happening in the health system space that you think will … I know we’ve talked about telemedicine and things like that, but is there something that really kind of stands out to you that is emerging, that you’re excited about for the industry?

Gary Bisbee (23:42): Anything that makes it more convenient for the consumer is going to be an area that will be attractive for the whoever’s delivering the service. So, first thing we look at as convenience, and then the parallel factor there is satisfaction. So if you can make it convenient for you Mickey, or for me to receive care, if we’re satisfied, we’re going to come back. I’m not satisfied driving from my little town in Connecticut to New York city to go see a doctor. I want to see one here. I want to go see them on Zoom.

Gary Bisbee (24:21): And so I think the innovation is around data. Data’s the big, big issue here. The innovation’s around data, if the provider has data, then the location becomes much less important. Personalized medicine is the term. And what that in effect means is all the data around a particular disease around a particular individual. Genomics data, for example, they’re pulling all that together into this huge volume of data that they can use to diagnosis to treat us to do it in a way that’s most efficient and most successful. So anything that has to do with data today, anything that has to do with driving data through technology is going to look pretty attractive I’d say.

Mickey Cloud (25:19): In addition to data, I think one of the other principles that you and I discussed when we first met was kind of the idea around the ability to connect directly with your audiences, B to C whatever, and that digital social media over the past 10, 15, 20 years is companies configure themselves as a media company first and then whatever it is they deliver.

Mickey Cloud (25:41): So whether that’s, they’re a media company who delivers healthcare, or you’re a media company who delivers consulting, or you’re a media company who sells sugar, if you put that mindset on first, it can kind of really change how you think about marketing, how you think about connecting with your consumers. And I know you experienced that a little bit at HMA, you were kind of famous in your industry for the Bisbee Brief and the kind of weekly newsletter. And now you’ve probably tasted it even more with your Fireside Chats podcast. I guess you’ve now done what, 58 episodes of that? It launched mere weeks before kind of the pandemic.

Mickey Cloud (26:16): So now you’re talking to people who are in the spotlight nationally, I guess, talk to us about that kind of mindset, that I’m a media company first, and then whatever I do is product or service I deliver. How has that impacted your career?

Gary Bisbee (26:28): How do people learn? Some people like to listen, the latest studies I saw about 20%, 25% of people learn best by listening. 40% or 50% of the people learn best by viewing as in video and the rest by reading or some combination of that too. So the way we look at this from Think Medium’s standpoint is that we want to personalize the data or the information for those that learn however.

Gary Bisbee (27:01): So if they learn best by listening we’ll drive the data that way. If they learn best by viewing, we’ll drive it that way. Sometimes various types of data or information or content is much more understandable if it’s in one form or another. So as this has affected my career, my PhD dissertation was 400 pages long. Well, who the hell is going to sit down and read 400 pages? Not going to happen, right?

Gary Bisbee (27:34): If you abstracted it to maybe five main takeaways, they might read that if you talked about it, some people will kind of say, oh, that makes sense. I’ll learn from it that way. So what I’ve found in my career right now, and the reason we’ve found at Think Medium is we have so much opportunity to personalize information and get it into the hands of any given consumer. And that’s really what you’re talking about with the media company. What you’re doing is trying to figure out how do people learn? How do people learn about a brand? How do they learn about a product? And then how can we design the information that will familiarize them with that brand or that product, make them want to go buy it, or use it, or listen to it, what have you. And the capability to do that today is so much greater than it ever has been. I just see the next 10 years is going to be much better than the last 10 for you all, given what you do. And for us given what we do.

Mickey Cloud (28:40): And the past 10 years is amazing compared to you [crosstalk 00:28:43] I mean, we always talk about the fact that if you wanted to start a television show or start a radio show program, you used to have to buy the actual satellites and they’d get up in the sky and here was real infrastructure that you had to buy in order to get that message out there or tap into, or be a part of. And there were so many gatekeepers around that, and now you can go directly to your audience.

Mickey Cloud (29:04): And so, it should be freeing in a lot of ways. And it’s what we’ve seen in the past decade plus of entrepreneurs building sometimes even message first and then figuring out kind of a product or service off of that. So the last kind of question I want to ask about was, we love this Building While Flying analogy or entrepreneurs, for a lot of reasons, a lot of flexibility, you talked about the listening, the learning, but also because pilots are renowned for their kind of inflight checklists. And in training that keeps them calm under pressure. So when your back is against the wall, when you have to make a tough decision for your business, what’s that internal checklist or what’s that process that you go through?

Gary Bisbee (29:48): First question I ask myself is, did I work hard enough on that particular topic to really understand it as best I can? That’s the first thing, the second thing is if I have the opportunity to check with experts or people whose opinion I respect, I’ll do that. Thirdly, I look back at my career and say, you’ve paid a price to educate yourself, to listen to people, have some confidence that your instinct is the right instinct. So that’s the way I think about it. We can go to models, we can go to our pad with the pluses and minuses and all that sort of thing. But I think that your history, which you’ve developed yourself to get to that moment, then have some confidence and go with it. And I’m one of those people that likes to make decisions. I look for an opportunity to make decisions, but I feel comfortable because I feel like I’ve trained myself to make the right decision.

Mickey Cloud (30:50): Oh, that’s awesome. Well, thank you so much for coming on today and sharing your experience with our audience and how it applies both in the healthcare sector and beyond, and just your experience as an entrepreneur. So really, really appreciate the lessons you’ve shared today. And thank you so much.

Gary Bisbee (31:05): Well, good being here, good being with you Mickey and congratulations on your career and Sasha Group and keep up the good work.

Mickey Cloud (31:11): I appreciate it, will do.

Katie Hankinson (31:15): Well, now that we’ve finished that thoroughly interesting interview, we’re getting ready to land, but before we do, Mickey and I spent some time unpacking some of the key takeaways that really stuck out to us.

Mickey Cloud (31:26): We liken this to the post game show where we break down the really extraordinary nuggets that we can all benefit from, including us here at the Sasha Group, so get ready for the Sasha Sidebar.

Katie Hankinson (31:43): Hey, Mickey. I just went and listened to the Gary Bisbee interview, it was awesome. What a dude.

Mickey Cloud (31:48): So cool.

Katie Hankinson (31:49): Such an interesting guy. There was so many cool things about the stuff that you covered. First of all, I couldn’t believe what kind of story of mash-ups Bisbee’s whole career has been, like starting out from the minister who was also a businessman of his dad. The fact that Gary himself had not only been an academic and been in the world of science, but also been an opera singer at one point.

Mickey Cloud (32:15): That one threw me. I knew he had an interesting background. I know him a little bit. I was doing my research. Opera singer was not something that I saw coming or anyone had told me about.

Katie Hankinson (32:26): Amazing.

Mickey Cloud (32:28): So that was awesome.

Katie Hankinson (32:28): And also starting from like the wall washing in a healthcare institution and like almost seeing stuff from the real inside, the kind of inside the blueprint as it were, it was so interesting to see how all of that had kind of layered into his whole life experience.

Mickey Cloud (32:43): I think that’s so interesting too, because it kind of ties into what we were talking about on the last episode of those, what are the learnings you can take from one field and bringing them to another? And I think Gary kind of straddles this world between entrepreneurship, business and then healthcare, and those do operate … there are different rules sometimes in those two worlds, but he’s found a way to like apply lessons from one to the other. And I know we talked about that a little bit with what can healthcare companies be learning from the business world around speed and agility and making decisions. And then what can the business world learn from healthcare around the do no harm? When you’ve found a better way of doing things, it’s almost your obligation to share that out.

Katie Hankinson (33:26): Yeah. There was a real mentality around that. I wrote the note that down as well, the idea of in healthcare, if it’s going to help just go ahead and do it. Whereas in business, the traditional approach has always been just about competition. So it kind of pushes you towards this kind of zero sum game of everyone needs to … someone needs to win versus the rising tide lifting all ships. Super interesting. The other thing I thought was just the running theme throughout the whole of the interview and clearly of his career is the importance of listening and learning. And it’s obviously his ethos, but also what he’s built his whole company on, this idea of kind of helping to teach people in the ways that they learn and helping to really stay with the times and adapt content to reflect that too.

Mickey Cloud (34:15): I don’t think there’s a ton of people as experienced as him who are launching multiple podcasts and figuring out ways to put out content too. That isn’t just the traditional way that you do it in the healthcare or in that world. And so it’s one of the first things that drew me to Gary is just like how much he embraced that new forms of content and how he’s adapted to it.

Katie Hankinson (34:40): Which Gary in this case, Bisbee or Vaynerchuk?

Mickey Cloud (34:45): Both. Definitely both. My good buddy, Jared, who I mentioned introduced me, he worked for Gary Bisbee for a long time and we would go back and forth. I’d say, “I’ve got Gary V you’ve got Gary B.”

Katie Hankinson (34:55): That’s awesome. The one last thing I’ll say, which I think could be a really nice question out to our Building While Flying audience is around the way that Gary Bisbee reframed the pivot and the idea of thinking of it less about it being a roadblock and something that you have to avoid, but instead being something you could move positively towards like finding an opportunity and moving towards it. So I’d be curious to know from out there in the pogverse, what examples people have around a pivot that hasn’t necessarily been avoidance, but has been a positive move against opportunity instead.

Mickey Cloud (35:33): Yeah. I kind of see it as opportunistic and if you’re seeing … I was actually talking to our good friend Lindsay [Blum 00:35:42] the other day about a new offering in the Vayner Talent world. But it came after just like a lot of listening to when people would say yes or to when people will say no or to the Vayner Talent offering and it came down to, well, they kind of have something new that they’re coming out now that is going to make an easier yes. And sometimes that’s all it is, is like, how do you tee it up to make it an easier yes or no for your customer?

Katie Hankinson (36:03): And the way to find that out is by listening and learning.

Mickey Cloud (36:06): Right.

Katie Hankinson (36:08): Thanks for joining us for Building While Flying today. I hope you learned as much as we did. We’ll meet you right back here next time for another flight.

Mickey Cloud (36:20): If you’d like to hear more about how business owners and brands are navigating these times, tune in to the next episode. And if you’re so kind, please rate and review us. Plus we’d love feedback. So let us know what you think, what you’d like us to dig into next on Building While Flying, across brands, businesses, marketing, and more.

Katie Hankinson (36:35): This podcast is produced by the team@mustamplify.com, original music by Folsom Street Music Group.

Welcome to Building While Flying!

This weekly podcast is brought to you by the Sasha Group. We’re the consultancy meets agency arm of the VaynerX family of companies. We help ambitious companies build strong brands that flex with the times through strategy, branding media and marketing.

In ever-changing times, businesses and brands have to shift and adapt. And across all sectors, there is an air of experimentation. Business owners are trying new things out in the wild;  building the plane while flying.

Our pilots, Katie Hankinson and Mickey Cloud, will be talking to a diverse range of business leaders and founders. They’ll explore how these guests tackle various challenges while staying resilient and committed to growth. Through these real-life examples of strategies put into practice, we hope to inspire you to experiment and develop your own strategies as we all navigate these uncertain times together.

Gary Bisbee has been learning and listening throughout his entire career.

Gary Bisbee, Ph.D., is the Co-founder, Chairman and CEO of Think Medium. This innovative company provides personal insights to healthcare leaders. Gary’s vast career spans executive positions in healthcare organizations from Wall Street to academia. His passion for what he does is extremely evident and he prides himself on using his platform to inspire thought leadership. Gary’s done a little bit of everything (including professional Opera singing!), and he is so amazing at articulating what he’s learned from each experience.

In this episode, Mickey asks Gary about lessons he’s learned about the healthcare industry during this incredibly volatile time. With steadiness and infinite wisdom, Gary imparts how crucial it is to listen and learn always. And he gives us plenty of examples and stories of how he’s done just that throughout his career, and throughout the pandemic. The healthcare sector may seem a bit foreign to us in other areas of business, but Gary’s insights remind us of the universal similarities. He is one cool cucumber, and it’s obvious from this conversation that we all can learn so much from each other. So take a minute to listen and learn with us.

Other in-flight topics:

  • A brief explanation of Think Medium
  • Gary’s super interesting backstory
  • Gary’s thoughts on the “building while flying” metaphor
  • Knowing when to hold em’ and when to fold em’
  • Is pivoting a bad thing?
  • Lessons of the healthcare world
  • The power of convenience
  • Data, data, data
  • Learning and listening
  • Why understanding how your customers learn is everything
  • Gary’s pre-flight checklist

New York, NY
Chattanooga, TN
Los Angeles, CA