Editor's Note: As of Friday, HealthCare Voice will end publication with Typepad and move exclusively to JohnGSelf.Com. To continue to subscribe, you must go to the web site, click the BLOG link in the navigation bar and resubmit your email or RSS subscription. My speaker's blog, JohnGSelf, will remain a featured blog with Typepad.
As anyone who has lost data in a hard drive crash can attest, technology can be our friend as well as our enemy. Healthcare has been accused of playing catch-up to the technology bandwagon, and losing out on a lot of efficiencies as a result. But for some processes, the old-fashioned way is still the best way. Hiring is one of those processes.
I’m not saying that technology in recruiting is all bad. My smartphone is my constant companion, and the ability to research organizations, locate potential candidates, build networks, and receive a resume or reference list in an instant makes the process infinitely faster than in the past. That’s a win for everyone involved. But when we start to rely on technologies such as videoconferencing to replace face-to-face interaction, we as recruiters have gone astray.
At first glance, recruiters’ clients may like the idea of videoconferencing because it’s much cheaper than flying in a recruiter to meet with candidates or clients. But what’s gained in money is lost in quality.
For example, while it may be acceptable to use videoconferencing for some business meetings, the technology just isn’t good enough for those “getting to know you” meetings in which recruiters meet with boards of directors and the executive team to find out what they need in a new leader. The clients can run through their list of operational and financial targets on camera, but the recruiter won’t experience the interpersonal interaction in the halls or the tension around the coffeemaker in the break room. These are the things that make up an organization’s culture, and a new hire’s cultural fit is just as important as his or her ability to improve patient care or boost the bottom line.
A good recruiter’s position prospectus runs 25 pages or more for C-level positions. To ensure that the right person lands the job, that document should reveal both the face the client shows the public and the not-so-positive things going on behind the scenes. It’s impossible for a recruiter to draw out an honest assessment of a job’s potential negatives with a group of strangers through a wi-fi connection.
For the same reasons, videoconferencing is a weak way to interview candidates. Those who conduct interviews this way are missing out on the subtle cues that human beings naturally rely on to evaluate another person. They don’t connect with the candidate in a real way. It’s like trying to view someone through a layer of gauze: You get a general impression, but it’s frustratingly difficult to get the complete picture of who they really are.
Some executive search firms never actually meet their candidates in person until they present them to the client, and by then, it’s too late. Some firms’ early screening interviews consist of a videotape of a candidate reading his or her answers to a list of questions. That’s the epitome of lazy recruiting, and it’s unfair to both the client and the candidates, who aren’t given an opportunity to put their best face forward.
The typical videoconference delay of just seconds is enough to create awkwardness that can cast an otherwise confident candidate in a bad light, and the short length of a typical videoconferencing session doesn’t allow for the in-depth conversations needed to make a good judgment call about a person. There is just no substitute for shaking hands and sitting down to really talk with someone to learn about their passions, emotions and values, and to see how they respond under pressure.
Sure, videoconferencing can save the client some money. But is it really worth the price of misunderstanding the job, the candidate or both, and hiring the wrong person? When you compare the cost of a few plane tickets to that of replacing a senior-level executive with a six-figure salary, it seems pretty simple. In the end, cutting this particular corner is just not worth it.
© 2012 John Gregory Self
IMPORTANT NOTE: HealthCare Voice, John Self's healthcare blog, HAS MOVED to the web site, JohnGSelf.Com. The blog will run on the web and here for a couple of weeks and then the content will be exclusively on www.johngself.com/HealthCare Voice.
In healthcare administration as in any modern business, the constant siren song of the smartphone, texts, e-mails and social media leave executives with more demands on their time than ever before.
Sure, accessibility and open communication foster an executive’s “open-door policy,” but spending your day plugged in online leaves little time for productivity. On the other hand, refusing to jump on the technology bandwagon can quickly make you a dinosaur, and unless you’re ready to retire, that’s not good for your career.
Take, for example, social media, such as You Tube, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. The up-and-coming generation is deeply involved in the online world, and they may one day be your bosses. To connect with them, it’s important to understand these technologies and be part of that world.
But, proceed with caution when cultivating an online persona, as it’s easy to cause lasting damage to your career. Here are a few tips:
One of the benefits of having an active online professional life is that recruiters and executive search firms will be able to easily locate you when opportunities arise. But not every “recruiter” uses social media responsibly. Some contingency recruiters – and unsavory characters posing as recruiters – figure that if they blanket the Internet with enough messages, eventually they’ll get a response from someone. These are the ones who flood message boards or spam your inbox with details of potential job opportunities. More than likely, responding to them is a waste of your time.
Healthcare organizations don’t want their executive jobs posted anywhere and everywhere – they expect their executive search firms to treat their jobs confidentially and to do the footwork in person. So, the Internet may be a good place for legitimate recruiters to learn about you and establish initial contact, but if a recruiter is really interested in reaching you, he or she will try to contact you offline.
If you’re not sure exactly what your Internet persona is saying about you, find out. Google yourself, and be sure that the information you find represents you accurately and professionally.
© 2012 John Gregory Self
Editor's Note: HealthCare Voice, John Self's healthcare blog, is now available on our new website www.JohnGSelf.Com. The blog will run on the web and here for a couple of weeks and then the content will be exclusively on www.JohnGSelf.Com. Original plans to launch the site on Friday were delayed until some last minute glitches could be resolved.
John G Self is a frequent speaker and lecturer. He has a new blog, John G Self. It features stories of hope, redemption, and humor of every day life. His latest blog, TRAVELER'S DIARY: The Valued Exit Row Seat, is currently available.
It just keeps happening - over and over. A recruiter's mistake with an unprofessional effort, wastes a candidate's time and costs the client -- or the employer -- money.
In a nutshell, here is the problem: A recruiter calls a candidate, entices them with a new career opportunity, but never inquires about their current salary, a key part of the candidate qualification process. The candidate, who is not a recruiting professional, does not think to ask or they demur because he/she did not want to seem impolite. After all, the recruiter said a colleague referred them. The candidate assumes the recruiter knew. The real question is, who knew?
Then the so-called hiring authority compounds the amateur-hour error by conducting a two-hour interview without ever asking the candidate about their current compensation, or volunteering the salary range of the proposed position. It was assumed that the recruiter had appropriately qualified the candidate.
In reality there was a sizeable deficit between the candidate's current base compensation and that which the new employer was willing to pay. What makes this real-life example so incredible is that it is a common occurrence. Really common.
Thousands of times each week, inept recruiters attempt to qualify candidates without verifying one of the most important elements of the "match" characteristics: compensation. Thousands of times each week candidates are presented to employers for jobs that they will not accept because the recruiter did not ask one simple question: Please describe your current compensation plan.
Remarkably, this problem is not isolated to the lower level management positions.
Candidates, stop wasting your time. Ask the recruiter how much the new position pays. If they do not know or will not say, stop the process. More than likely, you are wasting your time.
© 2012 John Gregory Self
Editor's Note: HealthCare Voice, John Self's healthcare blog, is moving this week to the website www.JohnGSelf.Com. The blog will run on the web and here for a couple of weeks and then the content will be exclusively on www.JohnGSelf.Com. Original plans to launch the site on Friday were delayed until some last minute glitches could be resolved.
John G Self is a frequent speaker and lecturer. He has a new blog, John G Self. It features stories of hope, redemption, and humor of every day life. His latest blog, A Love Of My Life Is Dying is currently available.
Most of the time I enjoy change. Today we are rolling out our revamped web site and unveiling the transition of my healthcare blog, HealthCare Voice, to JohnGSelf.com . Making this change is something I have enjoyed a great deal.
As we launch this new site, I promise to make JohnGSelf.com more than an online brochure. We will provide daily healthcare news updates as well as an archive of stories on topics covering a wide array of subjects including healthcare reform, the country’s debt crisis, business model innovation, and career management.
My blog will continue on a twice-weekly basis – Tuesdays and Fridays. We will post special editions as events or ideas warrant.
Here is what the new site offers:
This is a work in progrtess and content will be added on an ongoing basis so check back from time to time.
In addition to news updates with links to source documents, JohnGSelf.com will integrate video interviews and news stories. Beginning with a video display on the home page, the video content will be expanded over time. The emphasis of this programming will be on career management and talent acquisition. Other topics such as healthcare reform and the various legal issues related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will also be featured on the site as video is made available.
The blog will continue to be published at its old site during the transition. We are sticking with a twice weekly schedule even though I will admit to missing a couple of Fridays here and there with my busy project and travel schedule. The blog is one of the most enjoyable things I do, after candidate interviews. Most of you know, I am a recovering newspaper writer/reporter. The blog is part of my ongoing rehabilitation that began in 1977 when I left The Houston Post for greener pastures of hospital public relations and, over the years, many other interesting and challenging jobs, including helping implement the first fourteen hospital-based emergency helicopter systems. That was exhilarating, but nothing I did provided me the joy and reward of the news business until I began my recruiting career. I was back in my element. My interviewing skills, I am convinced, are one of the things that separates me from my able competitors. In more than 16 years of search work, I have had only six candidates who did not remain with the client organization through the 36-month C-suite guarantee.
Let me know what subjects you would like for me to cover and I will be happy to tackle the subject in one of my upcoming posts.
Your Input Is Invited
There will undoubtedly be some glitches for the first few weeks. If you identify issues, please let us know by sending an email to email@example.com.
Finally, please let us know what you think of our expanding sections and content. We want to produce a site that not only promotes the value of retaining JohnGSelf Associates to lead your search, but provides useful information that will help you advance your career.
© 2011 John Gregory Self
Editor's Note: HealthCare Voice, John Self's healthcare blog, will be moving to the web site, JohnGSelf.Com in two weeks. The blog will run on the web and here for a couple of weeks and then the content will be exclusively on WWW.JohnGSelf.Com.
John G Self, his blog on stories of hope, redemption, and humor will continue to be featured on Typepad. John is increasingly requested to speak at colleges and universities, professional associations and at industry and community meetings. His latest blog at John G Self, "One Life to Live", reflects his thoughts on career management. Another of his blog offerings, "Gingrich, Grizzard and Marriage" hit many readers laugh button.
They say that a man who hates a dog has no heart. They say a man who hates his job is a lawyer. Last week, I wrote that in a piece about career management for my speaker's blog, John G Self. It had a ring to it -- and it fit my message for today -- so I decided to borrow it from myself.
I do not know how widespread the professional dissatisfaction is within the legal industry, but I have been told by many attorneys in subsequent conversations that it is common.
If you ask the Baby Boomer generation of healthcare leaders why they chose this profession, you frequently hear phrases like "a chance to serve..." or "the opportunity to help people..." Perhaps one of the best career choice explanations that I have heard from a healthcare CEO is this:
"I felt called to this industry. It is a business, but it is a business with a conscience. It offers everything for an executive who is seeking one of the toughest challenges in business. We get a chance to experience the intellectual and emotional satisfaction of running one of the most complex business models ever created and in the process we provide meaningful service to our communities and the people who come to our hospitals. And all the time we are looking for ways to innovate so that we can serve more effectively. It just does not get better than that."
Even after more than 25 years in the profession, this CEO admitted that he still is excited to go to work each day -- yes, some days more than others -- but it still offered emotional and professional satisfaction. His wife agreed. "There are so many challenges in a relationship that create friction or fractures. Your spouse’s work is huge. But I am truly lucky that my husband loves, absolutely loves what he does and it shows up in our daily lives.”
I know, based on my 30+ years in healthcare, that is not an isolated example, and that makes me very proud to be in an industry where so many people love what they do. There are other professions where this passion runs deep, but in this example -- the law versus healthcare -- the contrast is stark.
The larger, more important career/life's lesson is this: pursue the work about which you are passionate. For college students enamored with a certain profession, look before you leap. Do not be seduced by a mind’s eye rose colored image of what your professional life will be like in five or 10 years. Do not discount the negatives, I don't care how much money they throw at you.
If you choose healthcare expect a bumpy but rewarding career where, if you are smart enough and a good leader, you can make a solid impact in one of America’s most important service industries, and, along the way, you can improve life for your fellow man.
© 2011 John Gregory Self
As we race to the end of yet another year, I am taking some time off to rest and recharge, and to reflect on a very successful 2011.
This is a great time of year; we are enjoying the fruits of our hard work and our considerable success. I am using the time to plan for the next business year. The is particularly exciting for me because we bare making some changes that are designed to significantly enhance customer value while accelerating our growth.
I spent some time this week reviewing my blog archive. I ran across the following blog entry that I wrote a year ago about my father's values in business. It seems particularly relevant for 2012 and so I want to share it with you again:
Working for my father during my teenage years in his highly successful retail bakery in Tyler, Tex., I learned some of life's important rules and key lessons of business. He died in 1989 but today he remains my True North.
Here are Lloyd Self’s Five Rules. He never wrote them down; he just lived them.
1. Do what is right, even when no one is looking .
2. The customer comes first. Honor that. It is not just a rule; it is who you are.
3. The customer is not always right. See rule #2.
4. Quality counts.
5. We all make mistakes. We all get tired. We all want to cut corners because of time or fatigue. When that happens, remember rules #1 and #2.
In more than 16 years of interviewing and watching CEOs and other senior executives as a partner in an executive search firm, I have added another very important rule.
6. Respect your employees as if they were your customers. You will get more for your money. Do not yell at, bully, or criticize your employees, especially in public. There is no room in any company for an abusive leader.
We should pause and reflect throughout the year and measure how we are doing against these "rules." If we do that, we will become a better leader.
Happy New Year to you and your family.
© 2011 John Gregory Self
A couple of years ago I lectured to graduate students at a major university on career strategies and personal brand management. As the students entered the lecture hall, a significant number opened their laptops. I told my son who is a graduate student (SMU) that they thought enough of my lecture that they were taking notes.
He laughed. Out loud.
"Dad, they were surfing the web, looking at email, or on Facebook, and those that weren't on their computers were probably texting on their phones."
Humbled by a lack of understanding of how connectivity has changed our lives and our attention spans.
© 2011 John Gregory Self
As I have reported on more than one occasion, I am a fan of the CBS MoneyWatch (formelry BNet) web site. They have excellent content, particularly in the area of career management. As an executive recruiter I spend a lot of time evaluating leaders -- their styles and personality -- and I spend even more time researching the mayriad of concepts written about leadership.
In this digital age we are all overwhelmed with information -- the most commonly used phrase to describe this tidal wave of data is "taking a drink of water from a fire hose." From time to time, as I review articles that I think of interest to my readers and subscribers, I will share them with you. Let me know what you think.
"People listen to leaders. It's one of the qualities that helps define them as leaders -- and their followers as followers.
"But because of this, leaders need to mind what they are saying, and avoid knee-jerk responses. A leader's brain must always work things out ahead of his mouth speaking them,"
"Patrick Alain, author of The Leader Phrase Book: 3000+ Phrases That Put You In Command. To help wannabe leaders cement their status, Alain has compiled a shortlist of four phrases that a good leader will never, ever say. Avoid these lines and people will be more likely to follow your lead."
In a nutshell here are the four no nos.
2. John Doe is a jerk
3. My way or the highway
4. I am always right
© 2011 John Gregory Self
I found this interesting article on the new CBS Money Watch site that replaced one of my long time favorite information venues, BNet. The BNet brand is no more but the edgy and interesting content lives on. You may not agree with everything you read, but it reflects an emerging point of view among younger executives.
The author, Penelope Trunk, is the founder of Brazen Careerist, a social network for young professionals.
"There are no formulas for who is successful. But there are statistical probabilities. For example, you are equally as likely to succeed if you go to Harvard as if you apply to Harvard and get rejected, according to Alan Krueger, Princeton economist. And you are more likely to be successful at work if you were a cheerleader than if you get a Ph.D.
"So you can be proactive, and do things that successful people do. But you can also think the other way, and avoid doing things that only losers do. Here are five of those..."
Some days can provide an important reminder of the significance of taking time for others.
While waiting in my hotel for a candidate to arrive – stormy weather slowed air traffic into New York’s congested airports – I decided to check my email. After reviewing and processing emails for 15 minutes or so, I ran across a message with an attached story from a former boss who I greatly admire.
Who knows or cares whether this particular story is true. There are some stories where “the uplift” is far more important than the authenticity. For years there have been stories with this theme that have been bouncing around on the Internet. Periodically they emerge in various forms – irritating chain letters, personal testimonies, or even for political gain. Naturally they are treated as if this is the first time the heart-warming facts have been shared.
This story, in this telling, is uplifting, minus the cynicism.
It reminded me of an important point in my life. I have been fortunate to be in a career position where I can help people -- providing support when they have been unexpectedly fired, when they cannot find a job, or to give some coaching advice that might help them find one. The only requirement I have is that when the caller finds a new job, that they take the time to pay it forward, to help someone else. Sure I like the money in the business, but it is the chance to help that makes my job so special. I am sharing this story with you because if you do not get it, now is a good time to start.
“One day, when I was a freshman in high school, I saw a kid from my class was walking home from school.
“His name was Kyle.
“It looked like he was carrying all of his books. I thought to myself, Why would anyone bring home all his books on a Friday? He must really be a nerd.
“I had quite a weekend planned (parties and a football game with my friends tomorrow afternoon), so I shrugged my shoulders and went on.
“As I was walking, I saw a bunch of kids running toward him...They ran at him, knocking all his books out of his arms and tripping him so he landed in the dirt. His glasses went flying, and I saw them land in the grass about ten feet from him...
“He looked up and I saw this terrible sadness in his eyes.
“My heart went out to him. So, I jogged over to him as he crawled around looking for his glasses, and I saw a tear in his eye. As I handed him his glasses, I said, “Those guys are jerks. They really should get lives.”
“He looked at me and said, “Hey thanks!” There was a big smile on his face. It was one of those smiles that showed real gratitude.
“I helped him pick up his books, and asked him where he lived. As it turned out, he lived near me, so I asked him why I had never seen him before. He said he had gone to private school before now.
“I would have never hung out with a private school kid before. We talked all the way home, and I carried some of his books. He turned out to be a pretty cool kid.
“I asked him if he wanted to play a little football with my friends . He said yes.
“We hung out all weekend and the more I got to know Kyle, the more I liked him, and my friends thought the same of him.
“Monday morning came, and there was Kyle with the huge stack of books again. I stopped him and said, Boy, you are gonna really build some serious muscles with this pile of books everyday! He just laughed and handed me half the books.
“Over the next four years, Kyle and I became best friends. When we were seniors we began to think about college. Kyle decided on Georgetown and I was going to Duke. I knew that we would always be friends, that the miles would never be a problem.
“He was going to be a doctor and I was going for business on a football scholarship.
“Kyle was valedictorian of our class. I teased him all the time about being a nerd.
“He had to prepare a speech for graduation. I was so glad it wasn't me having to get up there and speak.
“On graduation day, Kyle looked great. He was one of those guys that really found himself during high school. He filled out and actually looked good in glasses. He had more dates than I had and all the girls loved him. Boy, sometimes I was jealous!
“Today was one of those days.
“I could see that he was nervous about his speech. So, I smacked him on the back and said, 'Hey, big guy, you'll be great!' He looked at me with one of those looks (the really grateful one) and smiled....
“Thanks,” he said.
“As he started his speech, he cleared his throat, and began ... “Graduation is a time to thank those who helped you make it through those tough years. Your parents, your teachers, your siblings, maybe a coach, but mostly your friends.
“I am here to tell all of you that being a friend to someone is the best gift you can give them. I am going to tell you a story.”
“I just looked at my friend with disbelief as he told the story of the first day we met. He had planned to kill himself over the weekend. He talked of how he had cleaned out his locker so his Mom wouldn't have to do it later and was carrying his stuff home. He looked hard at me and gave me a little smile.
“Thankfully, I was saved. My friend saved me from doing the unspeakable.
“I heard the gasp go through the crowd as this handsome, popular boy told us all about his weakest moment. I saw his Mom and dad looking at me and smiling that same grateful smile.
“Not until that moment did I realize the depth of importance of a kind act or the friendship you share. Never underestimate the power of your actions. With one small gesture you can change a person's life.
“For better or for worse.”
© 2011 John Gregory Self
In a rapidly changing global economic environment with high long-term unemployment likely, regardless of who controls the levers of power in Washington, the value of career planning is in the spotlight.
There are basically two schools of thought:
1. It is a waste of time. No one can predict the future -- new technologies, business realignments and the resulting job losses, or opportunities that will emerge amidst the chaos.
2. It is invaluable. Career planning requires a sense of focus and discipline that is essential to navigate the opportunities and multiple pitfalls in the New Normal economy.
I vote for option number two. I am not engaged in career coaching or outplacement businesses so I have nothing to gain from advocating for the value that is inherent in the career planning process. In fact, I cannot imagine entering the workforce today without a plan for my professional life.
I freely admit that there are thousands upon thousands of stories of people who have enjoyed a rewarding, interesting, varied and prosperous career following what I call the opportunistic pathway; moving from job to job without knowing what new professional adventure next week, next month or next year will bring. But that was then and this is a competitive, unpredictable now.
As a matter of disclosure, I must that admit that I qualify for membership in the “I Had No Plan Or Clue” class. I began my career before I graduated from college, working for a daily newspaper. From there, my career took me to Lubbock and Houston where I worked as an editor and writer. I left the news business for public relations at Houston’s Hermann Hospital. From there I became the first director of Life Flight, to the national marketing manager of the helicopter company, to acquisitions for an investor-owned hospital management company, back to Hermann to lead the start-up of a multi-hospital affiliated program, to a senior executive post responsible for business development for the hospital management company, to forming my own consulting firm, back to the town where I grew up to run home infusion pharmacy, correctional health businesses (not all at once), EMS, and then to be the general manager of an international nurse recruitment agency before leaving to form a recruiting firm and, finally, to forming my current executive search firm, JohnGSelf Associates, Inc. And I did it all without a plan, an approach that I would not think about recommending in today.
My experiences – and my amazing luck – led me to the realization that career planning is no different than strategic planning for a business in which you are constantly adjusting strategy and tactics to address changing market threats and opportunities.
Career planning provides a framework for discipline and focus that will allow an individual to maximize their professional potential.
Is it a waste of time? Not a chance.
There are thousands upon thousands of people who trusted that everything would work out, professionally speaking. It did not.
Not to sound glib, but luck is not a good career management strategy.
© 2011 John Gregory Self
There is a troubling strain of conventional wisdom that suggests that nurse-doctor relationships are dysfunctional, and that is one big reason for our unacceptable problems of quality of care.
Karen Bartholomew, RN, an international speaker and healthcare culture expert and Dr. Joseph Bujak, a speaker and consultant on physician relationships, clinical quality and patient safety, writing in Hospital Impact, claim “that the two most important people responsible for our patients’ care frequently never talk to each other, and when they do the interchange is often dysfunctional.
What makes this article more disturbing is their assertion that changes in medical practice over the past 20 years leave “physicians and nurses lamenting that it was ‘better’ in the old days.”
The authors point to structural changes in both the practice of medicine and hospital operations as reasons for this unacceptable breakdown in communication.
Physicians – “Physicians have progressively become more sub specialized, diffusing responsibility and challenging the ability to integrate care. Coverage groups expanded, reducing the number of days on-call so that the primary attending physician is often unreachable.” The authors point to physician rounding – sometimes before the patient is even awake – and the demands for improved productivity mean that there is little or no time for the physicians to locate the primary nurse. “Sadly, physicians often don’t even know the names of the nurses who care for their patients. How easy it is to be disrespectful of someone who remains anonymous – especially over the telephone.”
Nurses – The structural changes in hospital operations have also adversely impacted nursing. “Twelve hour shifts make the continuity of care more difficult. Only 40 percent of the nurse’s work is actually nursing – they are performing clerical duties, locating missing medications, trying to find equipment or on the telephone on hold.” In a typical patient care cycle, the authors point out that “one nurse admits (the patient), another gives care, and yet another discharges in 48 hours – another example of why failed communication is the number one cause of medical error.”
But all is not lost. Ms. Bartholomew and Dr. Bujak argue that structural changes can also make things better, a rethink of the physician-nurse relationship:
It has taken a long time for healthcare quality to slip to these disturbing levels in quality and safety, and our turnaround will not be “on a dime.”
The bigger question will be whether hospitals can sustain the focus that will be required to make these kinds of changes in an era of unprecedented cuts in funding that will prompt more focus on costs and productivity.
These valuable eight points are more of inside the box solutions.
I wonder how we will manage the nurse-physician relationship outside the box – when we are forced to redesign how we deliver care because can we cannot sustain what we are doing now.
A healthcare system “rethink” is not only possible, it is necessary.
© 2011 John Gregory Self
If you are female and married and aspire to have a big career and a big family, the odds that you will be successful are working against you. Two children are OK, but when you have three, everyone assumes "you are home with the kids, right?"
That from Laura Vanderkam, a New York City author (168 hours: You Have More
Time Than You Think) who reported that when she mentions to people in social circles that "my prominent lump is baby number three, (people) either don't ask me about my job (while asking everyone else about theirs), or they say, 'kiss of death' for a career or that it will 'derail' your professional prospects."
Aside from Ms. Vanderkam's current state of pregnancy, she was motivated to focus on this issue in her BNET blog this week after reviewing an Australian study issued in July that reported that a mere 21 percent of the mothers under the age of 30 with three children worked outside the home. Lord knows, with three children, working inside the home is no walk in the park; the demands of being a full-time COO of the home is an incredibly tough job. Older women with three or more children were a greater part of the workforce -- 55 percent versus 68 percent of that group who had only two kids, according to the survey.
As I speak at college campuses on career management, I am frequently asked by women graduate students about choices -- career and life -- and the prevailing mood in the marketplace about the so-called life balance issue. Will they derail their career path to the CEO spot, or one of the other C-suite posts if they take time out for a family?
In healthcare, the career versus having children question may become a more challenging for issue (choice) for women as hospitals and other providers face profound reductions in reimbursement over the next 10 years. Hospital leaders say they can see a day where they will have to do more with less, which could translate into longer hours at the office and an expanding workload for the after-hours time at home. That said, there are more than a few examples of successful women leaders who have managed to balance the rigors of two full-time jobs (their career and motherhood) while achieving impressive results in business.
Today, this is not an either or choice for women. It does, however, require incredible discipline, enormous focus and physical and mental stamina, but there are some outstanding women executives who are able to do both, and do it well.
While it may get tougher for women executives to achieve the comfortable work-life compromise, there will always be opportunity for competent executives, regardless of their gender and number of children, the Australian study notwithstanding.
Many studies on this subject tend to reflect conventional wisdom and that is seldom right.
© 2011 John Gregory Self
The nation's hospitals, which have consistently lagged behind other industries in terms of management technology and service, will soon face a new demand for MIS innovation just as they are implementing new platforms, systems, and programs to deal with electronic health records and the concept of meaningful use.
It is called Customer 2.0.
It seems like only yesterday that some hospitals ventured timidly into the 20th century with call centers to assist clients navigate their way through a myriad of questions concerning unpaid balances, paying bills, scheduling and registration. Now we learn that other industries are looking at innovative ways to meet consumer demands that want them to incorporate new media into the customer service mix.
This will not be a change that occurs overnight. Thank goodness, since healthcare management information systems, which are today better than ever, are still far behind retail and manufacturing. But this is a change that will come, and once the critical mass trigger is hit in other industries, it will sweep into healthcare.
"Brett Shockley, a senior vice president at Avaya, told a recent technology conference that businesses are just coming to terms with a new kind of consumer – he called it Customer 2.0 – and defined it like this:
They’re born with a keyboard. They’re born with an attitude.
Now that they’re graduating from college, they’ve got a disposable income and there’s about 80 million of them.
We’ve got to pay attention to all the different ways that they want to communicate. We’ve got totake all of this into consideration in our companies."
If you are not a regular reader of BNET, I want to encourage to check in on this site from time to time. They have some excellent articles.
Now add to the mix that we will have less money for the whistles and bells – aka new technology – and the fact that we are change resistant, voila, you have yet another interesting confluence of competing interests that will make the CEO’s job – already one of the most difficult on earth – even more challenging.
Have a great weekend. I am staying indoors, if at all possible. It is forecast to be 100+ again in Dallas.
© 2011 John Gregory Self
What’s in a name?
A lot, it would seem, especially if you can find the humor in the law of unintended consequences in the child naming arena. And sometimes the last name is an indicator of the career choice of its owner.
When parents pick names for their children, they typically rely on family tradition, personal preferences, or what is currently popular. They do not think ahead to the implication of the awkward possibilities that a marriage or career choice might produce.
When I was growing up in East Texas, I had a friend. His last name was Fernley. He was cool. A lot of girls agreed, including the daughter of a local OB-GYN. Her name was Finley. Luckily, the romance ended in high school and we were spared dealing with Finley Fernley.
In an earlier married life, I had a sister-in-law whose first name – her only name – was Morgan. She fell in love, got engaged and then, fortunately, the romance faded. The good news is that the world was spared a woman whose name would have been Morgan Morgan.
In my days of reporting for The Houston Post, I frequently worked with a photojournalist – a photographer – whose last name was Click. He liked to hang out in a bar on Buffalo Speedway. Dave Press was a foreman in the press room of one of my former newspaper employers.
When I left the news business, I joined Hermann Hospital in Houston as their public relations director, and I met an aspiring Colon and Rectal surgeon whose last name was, no kidding, Dr. Butts. Fortunately his first name was not Seymour.
Mr. Tobak thoughtfully assembled a list from the WSJ as well as “reliable examples” from the comment section. Kudos to Mr. Tobak for bringing these wonderful examples to our attention:
Finally, apparently the founder of the University Of Rhode Island Graduate School Of Oceanography was Charles Fish. And then there was a family Realtors in West Virginia with the surname of Greathouse, Mr. Tobak wrote.
He asks us not to forget about the financial advisor whose name was actually Rich Widows.
I am John G. Self of Dallas and Tyler, Texas. Clearly my name has nothing to do with recruiting or any of my earlier career pursuits. I have been accused of being "self"-centered, but I will just ignore that for now. My father was a very successful retail baker in Tyler. By ancestry we are Dutch by way of Arkansas. An earlier spelling of the family name, changed prior to my father's arrival in this world, was Selph. No humor there, thank goodness. My grandfather, also a baker and later in life a city judge in Terrell, Texas, did ride his bicycle through Indian territory -- now known as Oklahoma -- when his family decided to forego the wilds of Arkansas for Texas.
No, I do not have children with the names of “Him” or “Her” but my name does come up frequently in Sunday morning sermons.
© 2011 John Gregory Self
Senior executives and managers who repeatedly castigate employees in front of their peers – yelling or humiliating them for whatever reason in whatever venue – prove only one thing: they are not leaders, they are bullies.
Physicians, the leaders in clinical care, who yell, curse and denigrate colleagues, nurses or other workers, are no different. Their clinical brilliance, or lack thereof, is no excuse. The problem of abusive physicians is well documented, so is the practice of far too many hospitals whose executives will look the other way when the offending party is a big admitter who drives significant profits to the bottom line.
It does not matter if the performance of the bully's target(s) is sub-par or whether the organization is in a turnaround crisis. Physicians, executives and managers who employ all manner of lame excuses to justify their abusive behavior, are really just thugs masquerading as professionals.
Boards or bosses who know that such behavior is occurring and allow it to continue for whatever rationalization, are no better than those who terrorize their employees. They act as if there are no consequences for tolerating such shameful actions. There are -- political, legal and economic.
Lest you think that I am angry about a relatively small issue – especially in healthcare – think again. Let’s be fair. This is not a problem that is limited to healthcare. This unacceptable behavior touches every industry, in every corner of our nation. It is more widespread that anyone wants to acknowledge.
In my role as an executive recruiter, I hear of these stories far too often. In my more than 30 years of executive experience, I have seen bosses shred employees in meetings and justify it as honest dialog about accountability. I have seen CFOs shove employees against the wall “to get their attention.” I have heard story after story of executives who blame their own mistakes on those who report to them. I have seen leaders and managers misuse subordinates for no other reason because they can.
When I see this type of contemptible behavior, I often wonder what the bully’s home life is like.
Being the victim of bullying -- emotional and verbal abuse -- brings with it a special shame. The victims often feel isolated, afraid to seek help. Notifying or asking for support from the wrong person -- the bully's ally or just another enabler -- may only aggravate the problem, especially if the bully's boss or the board believes the perpetrator is essential to the success of the organization. They rarely are, but that is part of the delusion.
For the victim, quitting is not always an option.
I know victims who have risked exposure and called the hospital's compliance hotline because they simply could not take it anymore. Some people have even tried notifying the Joint Commission because they did not trust the Chief Human Resource Officer to do the right thing or felt the internal process was compromised. That failing is part of a larger story. When the chief of HR fails to investigate and protect, they are betraying the organization, themselves and their profession. Being the HR advocate for an abused employee is not an optional job duty.
We are entering one of the most turbulent periods in the history of healthcare. The impending challenges will require great leaders. There is no place for bullies in the executive suite, as department managers or shift supervisors. There never has been.
© 2011 John Gregory Self
Today marks a first for HealthCare Voice: a guest blog posting. Taylor Dardan is a dedicated cancer prevention advocate and supporter of private healthcare. He steadfastly believes that America's healthcare system in one of the finest in the world and is one of the most innovative and robust market sectors in America because it consistently draws among the top medical and business talent. He is a medical student, and lives in the Southeastern United States. -- Editor
By Taylor Dardan
The healthcare industry, already one of the largest business sectors in the US, is one of the few career fields that despite the hard economic woes, is continuing to hire. In fact, healthcare jobs are expected to grow faster than any other job field, with an extraordinary 3.2 million new jobs projected to be created by 2018. And it’s not only surgeons, specialists, and primary-care physicians whose jobs are in demand, its registered nurses, home health aides, medical assistants, and medical secretaries.
In fact, with over 580,000 new jobs expected to be created within the next five years, registered nurses are one of the most in-demand careers in the entire US. Furthermore, this number doesn’t even include the thousands of jobs that are slated to become available as older nurses retire. A large majority of these new jobs are expected to be in home health care services and outpatient care, where there is expected to be about 35 percent job growth. Likewise, home health aides should have no problem finding employment as the field is expected to rapidly develop as an expected 384,000 new jobs are expected to be created. Home health aides work as hired caregivers to people who are unable to either leave their homes or live on their own. As baby boomers continue to age and diseases with a late onset like mesothelioma, Alzheimer’s, and Huntington’s are diagnosed in increasing numbers, the amount of people needing home health aides is expected to rocket.
Medical assistants, on the other hand, are on the opposite end of the healthcare spectrum. Medical assistants, a staple of the healthcare industry and who perform administrative and clinical tasks, are in demand across the country already and their ranks are expected to grow by 27 percent. Although jobs on the administrative side are largely in hospitals, the largest and slowest growing healthcare industry segment, they are still expected to far outpace the average job growth as America expands its health coverage to meet the burgeoning needs of an aging population. Even jobs that are far more related to administrative duties than health care, such as medical secretaries and medical transcriptionists are expected to experience significant levels of job growth.
Ultimately, as a large portion of Americans age and experience late onset disorders and diseases, it will force the entire healthcare industry to expand rapidly. A large portion of the job growth is expected to be related to the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Researchers at the National Cancer Institute however, have reported that by 2020 the health care costs associated with cancer treatment could skyrocket up to $158 billion, a stunning 27 percent increase. In fact, even if there is no increase in the rate of cancer diagnoses, increasing healthcare and technology costs could easily push the costs up to between $173 and $207 billion with just a two percent to five percent increase annually.
I have been blogging for more than three years. I have written more than 240 posts and received more than 18,782 page views. My focus has been on recruiting, talent management and public policy in the healthcare industry.
The past three years have been challenging. I left a company that I founded and built. It was an emotional, gut-wrenching but necessary decision. I started a new company, JohnGSelf Associates, Inc. and things are going very well.
I have thoroughly enjoyed the process and the intellectual challenge of writing a blog twice a week. To my loyal and supportive readers, a heart-felt thank you for joining me at HealthCare Voice, either through the host site on Typepad, or through LINKED IN, FACEBOOK or PLAXO. Please know that your comments, compliments and suggestions have been an enriching part of writing the blog.
But now it is time to move on to a broader range of subjects and ideas.
In the next month, I will share my plans for the future. Until then, keep reading and commenting.
Thanks for your many kind words.
© 2011 John Gregory Self
There are two essential “R” words that graduate schools and students are wrestling with:
In a classic business school cartoon, Peter Beale, whose work appears in the Financial Times, captures two erstwhile MBA graduates: “I left business school knowing all the answers. They didn’t tell me the questions would change.”
There appears to be a three-way debate emerging regarding business school curriculum: the case study method popularized at Harvard Business School that focuses on the practical and the analytics; the “flight” simulator, game-style approach to analysis and strategy that is catching on with many younger graduate students; and finally a less popular but credible model based on the liberal arts approach that many MBA students received in undergraduate training. This latter method is championed by David Bach, Ph.D., dean of graduate management programs at IE, the Madrid-based university that is attracting more attention with its redesigned MBA curriculum.
“The economic upheaval was a profoundly sobering experience on business schools. Yet we continue to believe that we can and ought to teach our students by identifying what they need to know and then doling it out in digestible bits,” Dean Bach writes in a Financial Times Soapbox column in Monday’s editions.
“Frame a challenge and then get out of the way!” He writes that this is the best piece of advice regarding engaging senior executives in the classroom.
Dr. Bach attended high school in Germany where schools are apparently built on the belief that government ministries, universities and other schools divine what students should know now and in the future.
As an undergraduate student at Yale, Dr. Bach (master’s and PhD from University of California at Berkley) received a learning jolt that stayed with him. “My professors were the smartest and most knowledgeable people I had ever met, (they) cared about only one thing: what did we think?
“Albert Einstein called ‘the training of the mind... to think something that cannot be learned from textbooks’..." and should be compulsory for business school, he argues.
That approach may hold promise for healthcare graduate management programs given the enormous complexity of running a health system or hospital, and the rapidly changing revenue models that will emerge over the next 10-15 years.
Selecting the right school is only one challenge facing future graduate students. The other, and perhaps more daunting, is the cost of the graduate degree. Top-tier MBA programs like the ones offered at MIT, Harvard, Wharton, and Kellogg, for example, are very expensive. Harvard estimates the cost of an MBA for a single student is $84,000. At Kellogg, the tuition is lower but after adding fees and living expenses, the cost is more than $79,000. For some students, who relied on loans for both undergraduate and graduate degrees, they may be paying off the last of their loans about the time their children are ready to incur debt for their own education.
So what is the return on investment? That is an important question to ask. Will the expensive degree generate any more income in the first five years, than the run-of-the-mill good, but not great, public university? Is that extra income potential worth it?
Sometimes yes, or so goes the conventional wisdom, if you are pursuing a degree on Wall Street or a blue chip corporate job where starting incomes can be significantly higher. For graduate students in the healthcare arena, this is as much a personal brand management decision as one about the choice of schools since there is little evidence that an MBA from Harvard, Wharton or other high-flying business schools will command that much more money in the first five to 10 years in healthcare.
In a time where recent graduates must often have roommates – sometimes mom and dad – to defer the cost of living while they search for work, the choice of a graduate school, regardless of the industrial sector, is a serious one to make.
© 2011 John Gregory Self
Our professional brand is defined in two ways: The first is by the decisions we make, the actions we take and how we conduct ourselves. The second way is by how others perceive what we do, say or how we act.
In today's rough and tumble "new normal" economy in healthcare, executives who ignore the importance of professional brand management do so at their own peril.
In the coming months and years, CEOs and members of their senior leadership will be forced to make tough choices as payors place more pressure on health systems, hospitals and physicians to improve their performance in the crucial areas of quality, safety and satisfaction at the same time that Congress considers additional funding cuts because of the country's serious national debt crisis. These two events will produce some tough sledding for us all.
When I think of the worsening economic/reimbursement storm, and the impact it will have on executives in far too many healthcare organizations, the title of Marshall Goldsmith's wonderfully instructive book comes to mind: "What Got You Here, Won't Get You There."
The first step for a CEO or other senior leaders is to take stock of their current professional brand. Begin by talking to your Personal Assistant. Not only do they interact with you as much -- or more -- than anyone else except your spouse, but they usually are good listeners to the organization's informal news channels. They are a treasure trove of information, both good and bad, regarding how you are perceived. (A cautionary note: if you are a CEO with a reputation as someone who hates to hear the truth, then do not expect much honesty from your colleagues. Reach out for a professional coach who can help you get a handle on this very important issue. There are some outstanding people in the field who can help you sort this out as well as plot a successful branding strategy going forward.)
An important hint: while you can get away with this kind of candid conversation with your PA without much advance warning -- she is probably used to it -- develop a plan for talking with members of your senior leadership team. Be mindful that a sudden burst of self-reflection might ignite panic or a wave of rumor regarding your or THEIR future. Take the time to explain what you are doing and why you are doing it.
If you truly want to succeed in developing a gold plated professional brand, do not immediately reject as misguided those criticisms that surprise or irritate you. It is infinitely easier to point out the problems with someone else's leadership style or performance than it is to take stock of our own areas for improvement. Dismissing that with which you disagree can be a big mistake.
This process can and probably will be uncomfortable. When I get negative feedback about elements of a speech --an idea or construct that I particularly liked, it frustrates me. Like many of you, I start looking for the push back button. I know that if I am going to move into the top tier as a professional speaker (FYI: I plan to keep my day job as an executive recruiter) I must be willing to examine the good, the bad and irritating critiques and force myself to rethink the issues in question.
So must we all. We can no longer take for granted the importance of our professional brand. We will all need a full reservoir of good will and support.
© 2011 John Gregory Self
Career branding and the art of managing one's professional brand is an issue that I have been speaking and writing about for more than 10 years. At first people thought it was just a novel idea with little application to their own lives. Now, as the impact of the "new normal" economy becomes a reality, healthcare professionals -- from physicians and hospital executives to early careerists -- are taking a second look.
Doing a good job is no longer a sufficient standard to ensure upward mobility or uninterrupted employment. Brand management is rapidly becoming an essential career competency.
When I entered the healthcare industry in the mid-1970s, a graduate degree in healthcare management was a ticket to virtual guarantee of landing that hard-to-get first job. Now, as universities pump out increasing numbers of aspiring leaders at a time of economic and regulatory transformation, landing a good healthcare management job with upward mobility is anything but a guarantee. Lower rates of reimbursement and the gradual transformation of the healthcare services segment from sick to well care, will pose increased career management challenges for these new graduates as well as experienced executives.
The importance of understanding personal brand management and developing a robust network of professional contacts will be essential competencies to ensure a successful career.
© 2011 John Gregory Self
Third in a Series
The best way to prepare for a career of networking and professional network development is to think of recording your efforts much like an epidemiologist would plot the spread of a…for the lack of a better description…disease. Begin with a root circle and as you are referred on to others, create new circles and plot the relationships.
You will make a startling discovery during your pursuit of building a vibrant professional network -- how people are connected. You may have 10 or 15 root circles but as you add to the tree, it is amazing how many times the branches will cross over and connect with networks from other root contacts.
Here is an example of how this investment can pay off. Just when I think I have seen it all, I see some new improbable link. You can be looking at a position with a top tier system in Seattle and discover that a member of your network was the best man in the CEO's wedding, or that their kids were college roommates. I see developing a professional
netwo rk much like I see candidate sourcing, a wonderful adventure, a journey that will frequently yield amazing gems. It is the process of what Wayne O'Neill of Wayne O'Neill Associates calls "connecting the dots." Wayne, formerly a highly successful business development executive, now consults with corporations to develop meaningful strategies to identify, win and retain profitable new business. He understands in a way that few do that building a great business requires discipline and the time to identify and build relationships that can step in to support your value proposition.
This is the same principle used in professional network development. It is an investment in time and effort that builds enormous value over time, and which will yield important results in career advancement, personal professional development and, at the very least, new friendships that will enrich your life and your career.
If you have questions, please email me at info@JohnGSelf.Com. Meanwhile, stand by, this is one of my favorite subjects and I will write more on Thursday.
© 2011 John Gregory Self
Words matter. Actions fulfill the promise of those words. When a leader’s actions do not match his or her words, he/she is creating an environment that will compromise their achievements, damage their brand and, worse, limit the success of the enterprise.
At the core of what makes a talented executive a great leader is authenticity. When a leader is perceived to be anything less than authentic, the consequences can be far reaching.
In healthcare, that environment can trickle down – actually it cascades – to such deeply important issues as quality of care, patient safety and customer satisfaction.
Why would anyone want to be admitted to a hospital where the work environment is dysfunctional, where the leader is seen in less than favorable terms – an executive fraught with inconsistency, yearning to be liked at the expense of respect, a shouter, an abuser or a bully?
These characteristics may be the extreme, but it is surprising how little it takes for the culture of the leadership to reach an unhealthy tipping point. In challenging times, with financial, regulatory, and competitive pressures accelerating at breath-taking speeds, CEOs must be mindful of not only many complex issues and relationships, they must also ensure that their authenticity gauge is working correctly.
© 2011 John Gregory Self
Last Wednesday I spoke to the Health Management and Policy grad students at the University of Michigan. We discussed how healthcare reform will change this industry. But the bigger threat is the budget crisis and the looming national debt/bond market upheaval, which could have abrupt, dramatic and painful consequences for our industry. Look at the disruptions and severe austerity measures in the euro zone. We are not far behind -- three to five years, according to David Walker, deficit hawk and former Controller General of the GAO. These are different times that require new career strategies.
I challenge new graduates -- and early careerists -- to think of themselves as a brand and to manage that career brand with enormous caution and focus.
Our sovereign debt problem poses real challenges for career management, especially for new graduates and early careerists. First among them is increasing pressure to perform, to deliver measurable value and do it with less, not more, resources. Reimbursement will only decline. The amount of money healthcare providers are paid today will probably be the most we will see for a DRG in our lifetime, save some minor adjustments for COL. Managed care companies will only follow CMS in lowering their payments.
These developments will also impact the elusive life balance battle that so many of us wage. There will be the inevitable system consolidation, hospital closures and job loss -- in other words fewer entry level positions with more new graduates competing for the fellowships, internships or even entry level analyst positions. The first job is always the toughest to land, but even if it is not exactly "on point" with your ultimate career path, do it well to prepare yourself for the next step. You will not get any free passes in our “new normal” economy.
Along the way find a mentor --someone who will take the time to tell you things you do not necessarily want to hear when you ask for advice, but listen carefully. Someone who can spot your unrealized or undeveloped talents and then push you to improve will be a necessity for early careerists going forward.
Choose your jobs wisely. There are a host of bad leaders in this and all other industries, and they have the ability to wreck an up and coming career. A good leader is a work of art who will prepare you for the next level. A bad leader is a tragedy.
Start a career journal. Athletes and musicians improve their skills with continuous practice, but what type of practice can leaders use to improve their skills? Journaling. At the end of each week, spend some quiet time reviewing your performance and your decisions. Using regulated thought, replay in your mind the game film of your week’s decisions and interactions with colleagues, as leadership consultant Rand Stagen likes to say. Force yourself to think about what you could have done better -- from analysis, the actual decision, to communicating the way forward. Record your feelings and observations. Ask yourself hard questions. This is not easy work. The journal is not for self-laudatory B.S. It is a record that you can revisit over and over, reminding yourself of important lessons learned.
Wrap all of this together and you begin to understand the importance of effective career brand management.
For early careerists who push themselves to get better, who deliver results and who effectively manage their brand, the healthcare delivery segment will provide incredible career opportunities. But just as the size and performance of athletes has improved substantially over the generations, so will the performance expectations for healthcare leaders.
These are troubling times, but there are abundant opportunities for those who want to make a difference.
© 2011 John Gregory Self
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Michael Lewis: Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World
Next up on my reading list. Lewis, author of Liar's Poker, The Big Short and Money Ball, is a great story teller. I am looking forward to beginning this soon.
Bill Conaty & Ram Charan: The Talent Masters: Why Smart Leaders Put People Before Numbers
Just started this over the weekend. Great, engaging read. (***)
Frederick Kempe: Berlin 1961
Kennedy, Khrushchev and the most dangerous place on earth. Mr. Kempe provides an extraordinary inside look at the Genesis of the cold war. This is a great leadership book as well as a historical expose. (*****)
Michael Lewis: The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine
This is an excellent inside look at the financial crisis that nearly brought the U.S. economy to its knees, and how a few very smart people made millions in profits. from the foolish decisions of mortgage originators and investment bankers. (*****)
Atul Gawande: The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right
A good read from a physician in the forefront of improving healthcare safety and quality.
Youngme Moon: Different: Escaping the Competitive Herd
A wonderful read. Exciting stuff. Visit Amazon for a wonderful and creative new media promotion for this book. It is one of the best I have seen. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26PVrm4iLA0 Helpful hint: if you do not run a company, simply substitute your name for the references to companies. (****)
Matthew Stewart: The Management Myth: Why the "Experts" Keep Getting it Wrong
If you have ever had a bad experience with consultants, this books will explain the dirty little secrets of management consulting. (*****)
Marshall Goldsmith: What Got You Here Won't Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful
An extraordinary book! As you move through his unsettling examples, be ready for self-reflection. Embrace change. We are experiencing unprecedented changes in our economy. It is not logical to assume that the management style that brought success in the 1970s or 1980s will be as effective today. (*****)