Ep. 166 – ModivCare COO, Kenneth Wilson

Jun 20, 2021

Our guest today is Kenneth Wilson, COO of ModivCare, formerly Providence & LogistiCare, the nation’s largest provider of non-emergency medical transportation, serving 30 million patients through 70 million rides annually. 

ModivCare is a tech-enabled healthcare services company, whose value-based supportive care solutions address the social determinants of health, enable greater access to care, elevate the patient experience, reduce costs, & drive positive health outcomes. ModivCare seeks to dismantle the barriers of health inequities by reshaping NEMT, nutritional meal delivery, and – together with the newest acquisition, Simplura, personal and home care – empowering individuals to take control of their health. ModivCare represents ~$2B in revenue with over 18,000 team members. 

Kenneth has more than three decades of executive leadership experience in the healthcare industry, encompassing a range of senior operational, managerial, and commercial roles. He recently served as Chief Commercial Officer of Healthcare at Sodexo. Prior to that, Kenneth held the President and Chief Operating Officer role at Hanger, SPS, and leadership roles at Cardinal Health and Allegiance Healthcare Corporation. He began his career at Baxter Healthcare and served in increasingly prominent sales leadership positions.

Kenneth graduated from Davidson College with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Social Science from Davidson College.

In This Conversation We Discuss:

  • What qualities Kenneth looks for when hiring and what success of the company looks like 
  • How to make the tough decisions in order to sustain the company culture 
  • How to bring senior talent into the company gently while minimizing the ripple effects 
  • What it means to have good execution skills  
  • In what ways Kenneth is still developing as a leader 

 

Resources:

Connect with Kenneth Wilson: LinkedIn 

ModivCare – https://modivcare.com

 

Connect with Cameron: Website | LinkedIn

Get Cameron’s latest book “Meetings Suck: Turning One of The Most Loathed Elements of Business into One of the Most Valuable

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The post Ep. 166 – ModivCare COO, Kenneth Wilson appeared first on COO Alliance.

Our guest for this episode is Kenneth Wilson, the COO of Modivcare, formerly Providence and LogistiCare, the nation’s largest provider of non-emergency medical transportation, serving 30 million patients through 70 million rides annually. Modivcare is a tech-enabled healthcare services company whose value-based supportive care solution address the social detriments of health, enables greater access to care, elevates the patient experience, reduces costs and drives positive health outcomes.

Modivcare seeks to dismantle the barriers of health inequities by reshaping NEMT, nutritional meal delivery, and together with the newest acquisition, Simplura, personal and home care, empowering individuals to take control of their health. Modivcare represents $2 billion in revenue with over 18,000 team members.

Kenneth has more than three decades of executive leadership experience in the healthcare industry, encompassing a range of senior operational and managerial and commercial roles. He recently served as Chief Commercial Officer of healthcare at Sodexo. Prior to that, Kenneth held the President and Chief Operating role at Hanger, SPS and leadership roles at Cardinal Health and Allegiance Healthcare Corporation. He began his career at Baxter Healthcare and served in increasingly prominent sales leadership positions. He graduated from Davidson College with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Social Science from Davidson College. Kenneth, welcome to the show.

Thank you, Cameron. I appreciate it very much. That was a great introduction. It makes you feel pretty good.

I feel that way too. Sometimes I do speaking events and get called up on stage. I’m like, “It’s nice when you get to write your own bio,” but then when you have to read it, it feels weird too. You have a pretty cool background but also have been in healthcare your entire career, which is unusual to stay in that one industry. Do you think that’s why you have been successful or one of the reasons you have been successful?

There are a couple of things that have helped me to be successful. First, with my background, I grew up in Rural North Carolina on a tobacco farm. We were very poor, and having a chance to see people at there, I would call it, base level. Good people are trying to make a living every day, sometimes not having access to healthcare. Sometimes not having the money to afford healthcare certainly has helped me.

One of the things that helped me escape that background was that I played basketball. I got a basketball scholarship to Davidson. One of the greatest and best schools in America and had a great career there playing basketball but also academically and learned a lot about people from differing backgrounds. A lot of people at Davidson were very wealthy and well-off.

That whole experience taught me another side of life. I have been able to apply those lessons learned as a poor Black kid in Rural America. As a poor Black kid in a very wealthy, affluent school like Davidson, that prepares you for life and prepares you for life in the business world and out in the world as it normally is. To take that into healthcare and those experiences, that teamwork, growth, empathy, that thought process around helping my fellow man, all those things that I’ve applied to my healthcare career have been things that have made me successful.

I love that you are bringing up the empathy and understanding of the good people part. When you said basketball, I had a flashback. A friend of mine passed away. A pretty famous basketball player, Mark Eaton, from the Utah Jazz. He was riding his bicycle. That’s all he was doing. He was going for a bike ride in Park City and fell off his bike and was dead. This isn’t making light of things but when you are 7’4”, what does a bicycle look like for a guy that’s 7’4”?

I was wondering about that. It probably looks like a big giant monster truck or something.

It’s either a custom-made bicycle or he looked like from the shrine circus riding a little clown bike. I see that he wasn’t very old. It’s interesting that you talk about the good people and notice what you noticed growing up on a tobacco farm. There’s a CEO of a company over in India that talked a lot about hiring people from the villages. He would never hire people from the big cities because they had lost the core values. Do you look for that in your hiring at all? Has it made you more empathetic, or do you look for those people still?

That’s an interesting point that you make. Success as an executive and as a leader is extremely dependent upon the people you hire. A lot of times in these roles, we have a vision or a thought process about what we want to get done and how it should be done but you’ve got to have the right people to do it who buy into your vision and have the executional skills and the leadership skills themselves to do it.

Here’s what I would say about that question. First, I tend to look for, in many cases, former athletes. People who understand teamwork, self-sacrifice, and the ability to get beyond themselves. People I know who want to win and deliver. I tend to look for that. A lot of times, it’s in the person or former athletes. Let me also say this. I found that those qualities are very prominent in women. They have kids and families or they are taught all their lives, maybe in some cases, that they can’t do it and what they can’t do.

I like that little bit of a chip on the shoulder. I like that the family orientation sometimes you see with women who, in some cases, come to work, bust their butts, go home to 2 or 3 kids and have to do it again. They have that sense of self-sacrifice. That sense of team, and in many cases, they are brilliant. They are creative around getting things done.

In my career, there are 56 women who’ve worked for me, who I’ve found developed that are either at a VP level, SVP level, EVP level or, in some cases, CEOs. Those qualities are prevalent a lot of times in athletes, in women and sometimes in plain old people who understand how life works and have learned to embody those qualities.

It’s interesting how, as we grow, we gain a little bit of that wisdom of what works either with us or what does work. I agree with the women part. They are way better at multi-tasking, project management and organization because they tend to have either built-in DNA or they’ve learned the skills along the way. I have a very strong bias toward that as well. What do you think has made you successful, then? You talked a little bit about noticing those traits and becoming an empathetic leader and what you learned on the court and in pro sport or in sport. What else has made you strong as a leader?

I will touch on a few of those things. For me, it starts with and has always started with. You have to have a strong desire to get a job done or get to the finish line. I’ve always had that. I want to win and want to win badly. You have to have that. That’s a driver. As I’ve gone forward, I’ve realized there are certain talents and abilities that I have. One, many people think I’m a great communicator. I’m very good at getting my message across to people, both publicly and individually.

That’s helped me be very successful because, in business, you have to be able to communicate your vision. The other thing too is that I do look for certain profiles in people. The people who want to win, who have a strong work ethic, who can multitask, and who have great organizational skills. I also think people that have skillsets I don’t have and be comfortable with that.

In business, you have to be able to communicate your vision.

Hire people that you think could be or might be better than you someday, and be comfortable with that. Lead them. I’m a good teacher, and I believe in people significantly. It applies to people. Some people have it, and some people don’t. For me, one of the success factors with people is that I genuinely have love. I love the people I work with. I love the customers I’ve worked with. I love the members that we pick up every day. I love the janitor who’s cleaning the building. My boss, the CEO, I love him too, and I genuinely have those feelings.

When you have those genuine feelings for people, and you want to see everybody be successful, people work harder for you. They come to the forefront for you. With few exceptions, I’ve gotten the best out of people and gotten them to want and buy into my vision. In many cases, I had constructs of my vision that were better than my own vision. That’s what ultimately wins. If I had one singular talent that has made me successful, I feel like I’m very good with leadership and being with people. Those two things have made me maybe different than other people who’ve come up along the same path I have.

When you care about people to the level that you care about them and love them the way that you do as well, how do you fire the ones that you know you got to get rid of? How do you make those tough decisions?

It’s easy for me in this sense. Not easy to fire people. It’s very difficult but there are a couple of things. In business, the only intolerable thing is a failure. You have to continue to win to sustain the culture and the business in the way that you do now. If you don’t win, everything changes, including me, everything. The success factor of being in business has to be sustained.

The other thing I always think about is that I might fire ten people so that I can preserve a thousand. That’s the mercy of maybe firing someone. Firing people because you are attempting to create an organization and a culture that grows success and rewards success. If someone is not being successful, everybody knows it. In some cases, they hold you accountable for it if you don’t do anything about it.

SIC 166 | ModivCare

ModivCare: If someone’s not being successful, everybody knows it. And, in some cases, they hold you accountable if you don’t do anything about it.

 

I rarely fire somebody. In most cases, they fire themselves because they have to be successful. There’s no substitute for it. There’s no question about it. It has to happen, and like I say again, sometimes we fire ten and get better people in those roles so that we can preserve thousands. That makes it a little easier for us.

I heard this, and I don’t know where I heard it but someone was talking about that concept. They said that firing the underperformers or firing the bad culture people is the way to take care of our A players. By keeping the wrong people, we are often hurting our A players. It’s like, which group do you want to take care of the bad ones? You take care of the good ones by getting rid of the cultural cancers or the underperformance.

As you said, you fire the ten to take care of the thousand. The other thing you touched on, you didn’t quite say it but it feels to me like you do treat your employees and the company much more like a team and much less like a family. In a family, we are stuck with who we get. You got to love them either way. You can’t fire them. You just got to love them, but in a team, the underperformers and the cultural cancers are off the team, and you bring in the new ones. You work hard, and you are always driving.

I use the word team all the time because that is the point. A family, you are born into it. A team, you earn your way through it. By the way, the thing about a family is that sometimes, the worst you perform, you get more of the family’s resources. That’s not the way it works on a team. The worse you perform, the more likely you are to be sitting on the bench or off the team.

I call people teammates often. I use that term to refer to people, “Hi, teammate. How are you?” A teammate is an earned distinction. It’s a respectful distinction, and not everybody is a teammate. Not everybody has earned that distinction but this is a team. It has to be a team but you don’t stay because somebody put you there. You stayed because you earned your way there and sustained your place through your performance.

Teammate is an earned distinction. It’s a respectful distinction. Not everybody is a teammate. Not everybody can or has earned that distinction.

Some people had dysfunctional families, so the term, “It’s a family,” doesn’t ring very well with the people. I don’t want to be in a family.

All in the family. No, we don’t want it all in the family. We don’t want that.

You are in a role now when you are at a bigger level, a bigger company. You are bringing in senior people above 3 to 7 layers of others. How do you bring in senior talent into the company without upsetting the apple cart? How do you bring them in gently? What are the ways to bring them in without causing or minimizing the ripple effects that they cause, both good and bad ripple effects?

Two things that I would say about that. First, you have to make sure in the development of your organization that you are mining for and understand the talent you have within. It’s very important to understand it. It’s very important to develop it. It’s very important to tap people on the shoulder and give them a chance if the organization has opportunities that they can fit into.

In the scenarios where we can’t do that and in many cases, with some of these senior roles, we can’t, there are a couple of things. First, I have a long history in the business. One of the things I’ve always done, in my mind, was recruit people that I thought had a chance to work with and that might bring value to the organizations that I am going to or am in. That there was some chemistry between us that allowed us to work well together, and/or there was some ability that they had to bring things together in a way that maybe someday down the road, I could use.

I will give you an example. I have a person who runs one area of my business that I’ve worked with three times. He’s a person of unbelievable focus and excellence. Everything he does is driven by his tremendous focus. If you tell them to do something, it’s going to happen, and he’s typically excellent. I gave him the biggest job he’s ever had in his career because, in this case, it was loose. It was not disciplined enough. It wasn’t focused enough, and this particular customer base needs focus.

They need it for us to be on top of everything. This is a person that I knew would have the focus and capability to do that. I gave him the job, and he is somebody that I hired years ago. I put him in various jobs. I wasn’t working with him at the time I hired him but I knew about him. It kept him on my scorecard about somebody I could get down the road. As we go through our lives, develop, and train people, we should be keeping a little bit of a scorecard as to who we think can help us down the road. I’ve always done that.

The other piece of it is how do you bring those folks in. First, you have to make sure that they are extremely confident, that you have a clear picture of what you want them to do, and that you give them that clear picture when they walk through the door. By the way, sometimes, an organization will have people who are naysayers about those folks.

SIC 166 | ModivCare

ModivCare: You have to make sure that they’re extremely competent, that you have a clear picture of what you want them to do, and you give them that clear picture when they walk through the door.

 

You have to be supportive of them as long as that path that you ask them to be on is being met, and they are going down the right path. You have to give a little grace sometimes if you need to. I’ve had very good success typically in bringing people in because, in many cases, I knew these people well before I brought them in, understood them well and knew and had the job prescribed for them when they came through the door.

One of the things you were talking about was the types of leaders that you are bringing in as well. This a random question but have you had any experience bringing in leaders that are from the military at all and what they are like?

Yes, I have. I like military leaders, people who have been through that process.

I’m Canadian, so we don’t have a big military in Canada. I don’t know anyone who’s ever served. I’m curious about what you’ve learned in that realm.

It’s a couple of things. First, if you bring in someone from the military, there’s typically that tremendous discipline. That tremendous belief or ability to get the job done because they understand they have to do their job. In the military, when you do your job, you are not only protecting yourself. You are protecting those who count on you. By the way, business is very similar to that.

When you do your job, you are protecting the flanks of those who are working beside you. Military leaders tend to understand that and understand it very well. Typically, you tell them to do something. They are okay with doing that. The other thing I like about military leaders is humility. They understand that when you ask them to do something, they will give you their opinion and their thoughts but if you say, “Billy Joe or Susie, I need for you to do this,” it’s over. They go out and do it.

You need that sometimes. You need people to execute, even if sometimes they don’t 100% agree. All my folks always tell me their opinion, “Give me another way if it’s better but if we make a decision as a group, we are going to go in a direction.” I need people to be humble enough to do that and drive to that.

When there’s a decision, the consensus is now, “It’s done like the debate has been left. We are now going forward. You can’t keep the meeting.” That’s interesting. I hadn’t thought about it that way. You talked about execution skills like looking for people that have good execution skills. What does that mean to you?

If you think about the way companies are set up now, they put tremendous resources into acquisitions, initiatives, and IT. With all those tools, we need people who will take those tools and make them manifest in the marketplace. That’s what execution means to me. It means not that we have these tools but that you’ve taken those tools, capabilities, and opportunities, and you’ve driven them in the marketplace to the customer, to your employees, to the vendor community or whoever it is that you have been asked or signed to work with that you understand that there has to be a significant outcome for what we’ve asked you to do.

SIC 166 | ModivCare

ModivCare: Execution means not just that we have these tools, but that you’ve taken those tools, capabilities, opportunities, and you’ve driven them in the marketplace to the customer, to your employees, to the vendor community or whoever it is that you’ve been asked or signed to work with.

 

It can’t just be, “I did what you told me, and we are neutral.” Execution, to me, is that you advance the organization through the execution and your ability to do your job. You changed the organization as a result of it. By the way, you also took our strategy and moved it forward through your efforts or energy in your leadership. That’s what execution means to me.

When you are a larger company, and you are 18,000-ish employees, how do you prevent or work around or break down the silos, the politics, and the corporate bureaucracy that starts to happen when you get up to that speed? How do you work around that, or you’re okay with it? Is it part of the puzzle at that size?

I’m personally never okay with it. Any leader will tell you that some of that is always going to be in the system but what you have to do is two things. First, you have to demand excellence, demand results, and reward the people who give you those things. By the way, anybody who’s divergent from that will see pretty quickly that they either have to change course or go somewhere else.

As a leader, you have to be very consistent about what you ask, what you want to see and lastly, what you reward. When you see something that you don’t reward or that you don’t like, you have to deal with it. Deal with it with extreme prejudice, with extreme speed. If you see things you like, talk about it, embrace it, show the way, and teach and reward financially and with promotions.

People learn very quickly what organizations value, and they do that. If organizations value politics and pretty slides and people that backs stab, that’s what everybody will do if organizations don’t value it. It quickly, in my opinion, goes away. I like to believe our organization is about performance and getting things done and that our organization is about treating people the right way with respect and regard.

By the way, have great regard. Putting number one regard in the face of our customers and members. I would like to believe that. It’s what we talk about and reward but there’s always going to be diversion, behavior, and politics, and sometimes you can’t do anything about it. The behavior that we model and reward drives it in or drives it out.

What was it that attracted you to Modivcare? You also picked up and moved across the country for this role too, didn’t you?

There are a couple of things. I wasn’t necessarily looking for a job but I have to be honest, I love our mission. We deal with fragile people in the community and are doing great work around social determinants in our own way. I love the opportunity that we’ve had to do that. The second thing, though is, and I will tell anybody this, I liked our leadership team. I particularly liked our CEO. I like his passion, energy, drive and willingness to take risks and do big things in the marketplace. His engine matched mine. I wanted to be around somebody like that. I felt like it would motivate, drive, and push me even further, and it certainly has.

How long did it take you to get up to speed to feel comfortable with the surroundings in the business?

I’m still getting comfortable with it and learning. I have been here for one year. There were some immediate changes I had to make in areas of account management and our call centers, and elements of our operation and sales team. I was focused on that but I feel like, in the last few months, I’m starting to get the handle on the business I like. I’m starting to understand the transportation portion in a way that’s at a higher level than I was. I’m starting to see my own personal leadership instincts and management style, and ability kick in. I’m starting to feel like I’m growing in that regard.

It’s interesting. I was thinking about that within me in a role that I had years ago as well. It felt like it was around a year when I felt like it was okay. We got things rolling and going. I don’t know why that was about the time but people talk about the first hundred days but that’s too fast.

You may think you know a lot in the first hundred days but you don’t.

How are you still developing as a leader?

There are a couple of things for me. I’m a people person significantly. I grew up in a world where I was poor. If I ever had an opportunity to treat people with the respect and regard that I craved as a poor kid in North Carolina. That’s still the biggest part of me but what I’m learning is that my life and what I have become have evolved. I have to continue to grow and evolve with it. I can’t treat all employees the same.

There are employees where you need to have some boundaries because of the level you are and how people might perceive friendships, relationships, and things of that nature. I’m still learning and understanding that we can be great in terms of leading people and showing compassion, love, and friendship. There still needs to be boundaries and people need to continue to understand that you are the COO. You got to make tough decisions. You got to set the right tone, boundaries, and success measures. Those are all things that I continue to grow and learn at this level. At the COO level, the buck stops here in many ways. I need to make sure that I fully understand that and not forget that always.

We can be great in terms of leading people and showing compassion, love, and friendship. But there still needs to be boundaries.

That’s interesting. I don’t think I’ve had anyone on the show yet speak about playing favorites and not getting too close to some of the employees. Can you give us a specific example of maybe when you did get too close or too familiar with it? That’s an interesting thought. I know we are the playing favorites that sometimes we had our best friends at the office, and others feel a little bit left out but speak a little bit more about getting too close to them and maybe where that bit you in the ass.

It’s one of those things where it’s more of an overall thought process. I love anyone who speaks to me and talks to me that I see every day and who brings me cookies. I have to be careful of those things because one of the things I’ve learned through this is that when you are in these roles, everybody is watching at all times and wondering what your goals and motives are and what that means to them more than anything else. I’ve realized that I have to be aware of those things because, from a personal standpoint, my natural instinct is that I want to love everybody in the same way, and you can’t do that.

I’ve got a question about situational leadership that you were talking a little bit about how you have to adapt your style. When are you hiring leaders that are better than yourself, when in your career did you finally get comfortable with that? People seem to be worried about, “If I hire them better, what’s my role going to be?” When did you finally get okay with hiring people better than yourself and leading them in building teams of teams, and how did you get there?

I was a Regional Manager in Cincinnati early in my career, and this happened. I took a region that was struggling but I hired this young man. He had everything. He looks the part. He was a person of honor, dignity, and pride. Immediately, he started to go out and produce incredible results. As a result of his efforts, we had the best year in this particular region it ever had. It was almost solely, entirely because of his efforts.

It occurred to me, “What if I had ten people like him?” I started to raise my standard for the other nine people that were on that team from a sales team standpoint. Pretty soon, I had 5 or 6 people like him. All of a sudden, we were cooking with gas and that success we had that one year multiplied and got me promoted. When people said, “What did you do?” I said, “I hired better people than myself but I’m their leader. I found them. I put them in place. You can take them and put them in other places.”

When you promote me, you can give them my job but I learned that if you get the right folks, they will produce results. It doesn’t make me nervous. If I hire good folks and give them a chance to succeed, they will be loyal, I will be loyal and the company will reward me for being courageous enough to put significant people in the roles that we have. They will value that. I’m their leader, so at the end of the day, I put those people in place. It doesn’t hurt me to have the greatness that works for me. It makes me greater.

SIC 166 | ModivCare

ModivCare: If you hire good folks and give them a chance to succeed, they’ll be loyal, you’ll be loyal, and the company will reward you for being courageous enough to put significant people in the roles that we have.

 

When you are a smaller company or mid-size company, one of the core roles of leaders is to keep growing and developing people. Does that still happen in larger organizations? Are you still growing your skills?

It’s even more important in large organizations because we are still trying to expand. We are still trying to find exciting ways to be successful. We are still trying to go into new markets, and because of the size of the company, you need to scale more quickly and significantly to grow 5% or 10% as the company gets bigger. To me, it’s the need to do that is greater in bigger companies. Plus, you have more slots, places, and opportunities to put people.

I had a friend of mine who used to say this to me all the time, “Kenny, the greatest thing a leader can do.” I said, “What’s that?” He goes, “Always be recruiting.” It’s true. People come and go lead or you have opportunities. You want to have somebody that you can plug in that can continue to deliver against the results that you need and the opportunities that you have. The need for people, successful and great people, is always going to be there. It continues to be a need for us now.

What do you think makes Modivcare different than some of the other organizations you have been with?

It’s mission. It’s easy. We deal again with some of the most fragile people in the world, elderly, diabetics who need dialysis treatment, methadone clinics, people who some cases have questionable home situations, and who need restricted diets when they go home from the hospital or whatever event that they are going to that day. We deal with fragile people. Some of them are unhappy because they are physically struggling, don’t feel good, miserable, sick or not well.

In many cases, we realize that if we make a mistake, if we don’t pick somebody up, the stress on their bodies could be something that puts them in jeopardy. We understand that. If you ask me what I like about our company more than any other I’ve worked for is the understanding of the mission we have. Social determinants are about where someone lives to have a greater impact on their lives than maybe even their job or other things.

Where you live has a greater impact on your life cycle and your health than anything else. We realize that. We are a community-based organization, so our company provides opportunities, health results and outcomes. You can’t beat this from a mission standpoint. It matters to all of us in the leadership team quite a bit. Many of our folks are some of the most altruistic people I’ve ever seen. They love this job and what we mean, and what we represent.

Let me tell you this quick story. My boss got a call from a member that got left by the road and called me into his office. He was upset beyond words, and I was looking at him. I was like, “This is a CEO, and he’s upset.” He was upset about it, and it mattered to him. He called this person on the phone with me sitting there. I have been to a lot of companies. I had never seen that. This person was an individual member who was from a dialysis clinic. It wasn’t some customer with millions of dollars to give us. It was one individual person, and that’s the spirit of this place and easy to buy into it.

What’s interesting about what you are talking about with mission is that some companies try to create a mission. They try to create something out of thin air because they don’t have anything. Others that are in healthcare have potentially the same mission you’ve got. They don’t give a crap about it at all. It’s not like you were given the gift of a mission. You do care too, which is different.

You can go into all kinds of hospitals, and they don’t care at all, whereas you go into another hospital, and they do. That’s intriguing the way you guys live it. Let’s go back to the 21 or 22-year-old Kenneth Wilson. You are graduating from college, and you want to get some advice. What advice would you give your 22-year-old self?

Save more money would be one. I would say three things. First, understand and work hard on understanding what your strengths are and what you bring to the world every day. Try to strengthen those things. Number two, understand what your weaknesses are. Find a way to make yourself uncomfortable with growth. With growth around your weaknesses, getting better and trying to find things to do that you didn’t know you could do.

Understand and work hard on understanding what your strengths are and what you bring to the world every day and try to strengthen those things.

Discomfort is a result of growth. That’s what drives discomfort. Seek to be uncomfortable in trying to make yourself better. The last thing I would always say is to love and honor people because, at the end of the day, that’s one of the things that has made my career. People have reached back and said, “That dude was good to me, nice to me, helped me, and I’m going to honor that by giving him an opportunity or business.”

I will tell you one quick story. It was a story that changed my career. I called on a group person organization in Dallas. I was given that as a throw and went into the office one day. There was a lady in the lobby, and she was crying. This was back in the days when you wore suits and put the handkerchief in your lapel. I saw this lady crying, and people were walking by her. Nobody said anything to her but she was crying.

I didn’t know what it was but I walked over to her, took my handkerchief out, and handed it to her. I said, “I don’t know what’s wrong with you. I don’t know what’s bothering you but I will say a prayer for you, and here’s my handkerchief. You dry your eyes and hope you have a better day.” I turned around and walked off. One year went by, I got a phone call on Friday, and it was a lady on the phone. She said, “You have a meeting with the CEO of our company on Monday. Be here because I want you to talk about the glove deal that you have on the board.”

I said, “I don’t have a meeting.” She goes, “Yes, you do.” There was a glove deal we had pending there. It was worth $150 million. I get a plane ticket. I called the guy that ran the glove business and I said, “Do you want to go with me?” We go to Dallas on that Monday morning early. We get to the office. When you know it, the lady who I gave the handkerchief to had set the appointment for me, walked up to me, gave me a hug and said, “My mother passed that day. You are the only person who said anything to me that day. I wanted to tell you how much it meant to me. I made this appointment for you.”

As she finished, my competitor who had the business, the incumbent, opened the door of the CEO’s office, a guy I couldn’t get to. He looked and saw me, and all the color went out of his face. I had a meeting with the CEO of Mike Glove, the leader of the glove business. We had a wonderful conversation. Two months later, I was awarded $150 million worth of business. One singular act changed everything.

We sit around sometimes and don’t do things we could do. We don’t do things we should do. We don’t treat people the way we should treat them. Sometimes we miss opportunities because of it. One of the things I don’t do, I don’t miss those opportunities. One act of kindness to me can change everything, and that particular day, it did.

SIC 166 | ModivCare

ModivCare: We sit around sometimes and we don’t do things we could do. We don’t do things we should do. We don’t treat people the way we should treat them. And sometimes we miss opportunities because of it.

 

That’s a massive story that I hope every one of your employees hears over these years too because there’s something cool in there. The other part of that, even if it doesn’t link to an opportunity, is that none of this crap matters. We are all going to die. We are all walking each other home.

That’s it. It was worth it just to do it.

I may have to just carry a pocket square in the pocket of my jeans from now on.

You never know.

I got too many of them. Maybe I will carry them and give them out now. Kenneth Wilson, COO from Modivcare, thank you so much for sharing with us. I appreciate it. It has been wonderful getting to know you, and congrats on the move to Denver.

Thank you very much. It has been wonderful being here, and I appreciate the time, Cameron. It was great.

I appreciate it.

 

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About Kenneth Wilson

SIC 166 | ModivCareKenneth Wilson is a proven and accomplished Fortune 15 strategic visionary growth executive tied to the customer with operational execution & delivery healthcare focus. He creates growth visions starting from the customer enabling digital, brick and mortar, and and last mile engagement for ultimate profitability. He has successfully served as a chosen executive in several high impact Fortune 15 and broader publicly-traded growth executive healthcare roles delivering significant financial and cultural accretive growth including Cardinal Health, Sodexo, Hanger, and others. 7 time award winner of the Ring of Excellence Award at Cardinal Health for financial performance growth in the business.

 

 

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Written By Cameron Herold

Written By Cameron Herold

Cameron Herold is known around the world as THE CEO WHISPERER. He is the mastermind behind hundreds of companies’ exponential growth. Cameron’s built a dynamic consultancy: his current clients include a “Big 4” wireless carrier and a monarchy. What do his clients say they like most about him? He isn’t a theory guy—they like that Cameron speaks only from experience. He earned his reputation as the CEO Whisperer by guiding his clients to double their profit and double their revenue in just three years or less. Cameron is a top-rated international speaker and has been paid to speak in 26 countries. He is also the top-rated lecturer at EO/MIT’s Entrepreneurial Masters Program and a powerful and effective speaker at Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer leadership events around the world.

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