Tag Archives: reinvention

Incarnations and Generations

One of the funnest parts of being around for a long time is the opportunity to work with a second generation of families I’ve known during my career. This has happened to me several times now, and it’s amazing how cool it is, and how gratifying. I’ve advised sons, daughters, nephews, and even a grandchild.  Last night the magic happened again.

I have an abiding interest in health care, which has been a large part of my marketing and consulting practice. I am also the widow of a physician.

Through that interest, I came in contact with a man named Lucas Felt, the co-founder of a startup called The Medical Memory, which provides HIPAA-compliant video recordings of patient-provider visits. His co-founder Robert Porter, MD, a neurosurgeon with world-famous Barrow Neurological Center in Phoenix,  developed the product after his own father was diagnosed with cancer.

Dr. Porter experienced the challenges and frustrations of having to rely on family members to accurately recite complex information about his father’s condition and treatment. The experience had a profound effect on his approach to patient communication in his own practice.

I’ve been informally advising Lucas because I want to see the company succeed. And this may be its year: Medicare does not pay for hospital readmissions anymore, and patients must understand their discharge instructions and comply with them so they don’t have to go back to the hospital. It is in the doctors’ and the hospitals’ best interest to get the patient to comply. And when patients are at a doctor visit, they don’t often remember what is said to them, because they are ill and nervous. The Medical Memory, a video that can be replayed, is a solution for that.

So that’s the entrepreneurship side of the story. The interesting part is that one night last year at Hillstone while having advisory red wine, I found out that I had known Lucas Felt’s mother, who had been an editor at the Arizona Republic when I was in my previous incarnation as a “PR maven.” Both Lucas and I were amused when we discovered that, but we let it drop.

Last night we had another session of advisory drinks, and I realized my knowledge of the workings of the Arizona legislature with respect to health care might be useful to him. We made a preliminary plan for me to time travel back to the days when I lobbied the legislature on behalf of health companies, and then Lucas got a text message.

It turned out that his wife and his mother were in the dining room at Hillstone! We ran into the dining room and Susan Felt and I had a joyous reunion and made plans to see each other again.

That’s part of the joy of spending a long career in the same city. I might have made more money somewhere else, but I feel like I’ve had a bigger impact in Arizona, and at the end of the day, isn’t it all about making yourself useful and helping people? I think it is.


Arianna Huffington and the Killer App

Last week’s news that Arianna Huffington was leaving The Huffington Post stunned the publishing world, although I knew for a long time it was coming. Why? Because I’ve been following Arianna since the 90s, and I know that she re-invents herself as often as I do. And when I started doing a miniscule amount of research for this post, I realized I had missed a few reinventions that happened before I started following her.

She was born in Greece, but left there for the UK at age 16. She worked for the BBC. She appeared in a play. In the 70s she — if you can believe it — wrote a book against the Women’s Liberation movement called “The Female Woman.” She then went on to become perhaps the most liberated woman of my generation.

She left the love of her life because he didn’t want to have children, and in the 1980s wrote books about Maria Callas and Picasso. She married Michael Huffington, who was a conservative Republican, and became a conservative pundit, for which she even won an award (“Politically Incorrect”). That was the 90s.

But then she became a Democrat, and soon after that she founded the Huffington Post. I met her at a lunch in Phoenix one day, and she gave me a log-in. I admired her so much that, like many more important writers, I wrote for her without pay. I kept on doing it until she took the company public and sold it and none of the writers profited. Many rebelled, feeling used. I didn’t, but I didn’t feel it was the same place.

Along the way I am sure Arianna has learned some lessons. One of the most notable was about the value of sleep: she collapsed from exhaustion not too long ago.  Now she’s 66, and she’s starting a new company called Thrive. She is once again re-inventing herself, using her core communication skills, to teach people what she has learned.

I get it. She’s accumulated wisdom on the way to where she is now. She wants to share it. There’s a part of your life where you feel it’s time to give back. That doesn’t have to be with money, or even volunteer time. It can simply be your wisdom, and you can do it in a discussion with your children.

And for those young people who think wisdom no longer exists in a society changing so rapidly, I leave you with this: certain things happy in every era. Love, marriage, heartbreak, illness, loss, death, financial struggles. When it comes to those, wisdom is the killer app.