The advice 8 hospital CEOs remember most

The Corner Office series asks healthcare leaders to answer questions about their life in and outside the office.

In each interview, leaders share the piece of advice they remember most clearly. Here are answers collected by Becker's Hospital Review since March. 

John Couris. President and CEO of Tampa (Fla.) General Hospital: My mentor, Doug Brown, former president of Enterprise Fleets and executive vice president of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, gave me the most critical piece of advice I have ever received (which is printed and sits on my desk to this day): "never trade what you want most for what you want now."

Leslie Davis. President and CEO of UPMC (Pittsburgh): One thing I always tell young professionals is: When opportunity comes your way, take it! Raise your hand and say, "Yes, I'll do it!" Never stop looking for opportunities to grow. And never make it about the money or the title. Make sure you're in a position where you can continue to grow and influence change.   

Tina Freese Decker. President and CEO of Corewell Health (Grand Rapids and Southfield, Mich.): A great piece of advice from one my mentors was: "A leader's job is to provide hope." This is what I focused on during the pandemic, balancing the knowns and unknowns, the things that scared us and excited us, and turning what seemed to be impossible into something possible. 

I love this quote from Jane Goodall from The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times. She wrote, "Hope is often misunderstood. People tend to think that it is simply passive wishful thinking: I hope something will happen but I'm not going to do anything about it. This is indeed the opposite of real hope, which requires action and engagement."

We must have hope. If not, our aspirations and dreams will not become reality. 

Patrick Frias, MD. President and CEO of Rady Children's Hospital and Health Center (San Diego): Early in my career in Atlanta, my mentor Dr. Robert Campbell would say, "The foundation of any good business is service." We were both pediatric cardiologists at the time and we took those words to heart, making service the cornerstone of our clinical practice. I believe those sage words are relevant to what we do at Rady Children's. We are here in the service of the children and families in our community. If we make decisions based on what's best for those we're here to serve, then I think we'll do a pretty good job of driving our business, which, in our case, is the business of caring for kids.  

Catherine Jacobson. President and CEO of Froedtert Health (Milwaukee): An executive I worked with in Chicago once gave me advice that I actually passed along to my kids. You get 24 hours to mourn a mistake or something that went against you, and then you have to get back at it. And you get 24 hours to celebrate the victories. And then you have to get back at it.

Anita Jenkins. CEO of Howard University Hospital (Washington, D.C.): When making the decision to come to Howard University Hospital, my daughter said to my husband and I that, "Sometimes you have to do things that are bigger than yourself, and sometimes you have to do things that God has in store for you to do." That was one of the determining factors in my decision to move to Washington. Another piece of advice I received, which still sticks with me, says, "There is no deadline for you to advance in your life." I was a part-time student throughout my tenure in college, and I worked the entire time. I've learned that time stops for no one, whether you move forward or not. So, the goal is to keep advancing.

Jim Shmerling, DHA. President and CEO of Connecticut Children's Medical Center (Hartford): It's not what you say to people, it's how you make them feel.

Kate Walsh. President and CEO of Boston Medical Center: I reflect most on two pieces of advice, one practical and one spiritual. The practical advice was one "to do" list. If you are juggling work and family, you should put everything you need to do on one list and take things off the list over the course of the day; you can answer an email after 5 p.m., but if you call the orthodontist after 5 p.m., you can't change an appointment. The spiritual advice comes from Maya Angelou: "I've learned that people will forget what you've said, will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you make them feel." I try to live by and live up to those words every day.  

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