Hosted by Travis Tasset, the Value Talks podcast explores a range of topics that matter to people, including healthcare, leadership, and culture. In the inaugural edition, I talk with Travis about living and working with purpose.
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Transcript of Episode 1
Travis Tasset: Welcome to the inaugural podcast of “Value Talks”. This is Travis Tassett and today I am here with Dan Tasset, chairman of Nueterra Capital, also my father, and our topic for discussion today will be “Living and working with purpose.”
You’ve always talked to me from a young age about purpose and the importance that purpose plays in your life, that plays in all of our lives and I would just like to hear you talk about, from your perspective, what it is and why it’s so important.
Dan Tasset: Well, Travis, I got to tell you this is probably one of the most important aspects of life, it’s one of the most important aspects in my opinion of raising a family, that the family have a purpose behind their existence. I think it is one of the most, if not the most important thing, about business, or having a business, or a series of businesses, is that collectively as a group you have a purpose for getting up every day and interacting with the family. Or in a business, get up every day, coming to work in the same building. Without that common purpose, it makes it really hard to determine what you’re supposed to do and why you’re doing it. So the purest sense of the word for me, “purpose” is, regardless of your religious belief or your faith tradition, in the purest sense of the word, “purpose” is, “why was I put on this earth?” Why was I created? Why do I exist? What is the purpose for my existence? Why am I here? And once you figure that out as an individual, and once you figure that out as collectively and a family, or once you figure that out in a business and you can now act on it, then it’s incredible what’s possible. So the definition of purpose for me is, and there’s a lot of definitions by a lot of different people, a lot of different quotes some of which we’ll probably talk about today, but it is, why do I exist? Why was I created? Why was I put on this earth? What is my purpose for existing? It is the best definition that I constantly refer to.
Travis Tasset: Have you always had a sense of what your purpose is throughout your life, or has it been more prominent? Have you understood that at different times better than other times?
Dan Tasset: It’s like any other thing in life. There’s times when it becomes more evident in what you’re trying to do and at times it becomes less evident. But the answer to that is yes, at a very, very early age, and the best I could recall it would have been probably when I was around the fourth or fifth grade. I started having this sense that my purpose in life, or my connection to God, or some people call higher authority or whatever that belief is, that I was put on this earth to help people. That is a broad sense for why I was here and I had very early on a sense that I was meant to help mass numbers of people, not small numbers of people. But that I was given the gift, I was given a gift, whether it is just the gift of being able to lead people, or motivate people, or to get things done, accomplished, whatever it might be, but that gift needed to be applied to a large number of people. And I had that at a very, very early age. I love the quote by Pablo Picasso that says, “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” And I just had that sense at a very, very early age, that I was to give the gift that I was given to be able to get people to do more. And my personal purpose statement today reflects that. My personal purpose in life, the reason I believe I was created, and the purpose that I refer to almost on a daily basis is stated like this, “Through leadership, to help people be more, do more, love more.” And there’s a lot of depth to that but that is essentially how I state my purpose to myself on almost a daily basis. And I’m now going to be 65 years old this year and that started at a very, very, very early age, way more than 40, 50 years ago. I’ve had thought strong sense of calling, strong sense of purpose throughout my entire life.
Travis Tasset: How do you know if you’re on point with your purpose, if you’re living true to it or not? Do you have a sense of when you are and when you aren’t?
Dan Tasset: Yes. I mean, that’s a great question. Again, like anything in life is easy to become distracted and to be caught up and to try to get off track. So if we, Nueterra Capital, are going to buy this particular business and we need to make some hard decisions about what to do with the business to either improve it, or to buy it, first of all to sell it, all those kinds of things. So for me I always have to constantly go back and say, “If I make the decision, is it consistent with why I’m here?” So am I doing this for some other reason, or am I helping people be more, or to become more? Another quote, Travis, that you and I have referred to often times, and I don’t remember who wrote the quote but the quote was really something along these lines, “If you see people as they are today, you make them worse. If you see them for what they could become, you see them as their creator sees them,” something like that. So I constantly, when we’re living as a family, or whether we’re living in business, or living, or working which is I think is the title of your podcast “Living and working with purpose,” I try to just say, “Am I helping people to be or become more?” And as a result of that, am I helping them do more, do more with their own life, do more with their family, do more inside their community, have a better influence, improve life for their children, for their spouses, for their siblings, improve life for their coworkers, improve life for the community in which they live? Are they becoming more? Are they doing more? And of course, it’s all about love.
How Personal Purpose Fuels Business Purpose
Travis Tasset: That’s such a beautiful quote. That quote comes from Goethe and it’s about helping people become what they’re capable of becoming, being more, doing more, loving more. And so one vehicle that you’ve been able to do that with is through business and through work. So let’s talk a little bit about that in terms of the purpose of Nueterra Capital. You’re the chairman of Nueterra Capital and we have some subsidiary businesses, ValueHealth, NueHealth, MuveHealth and there are a number of others, but generally, what are your thoughts on how your personal purpose ties in with the purpose of Nueterra Capital and some of the other businesses?
Dan Tasset: So the purpose statement of Nueterra Capital currently is, and this is something that we have to revisit on a periodic basis, but it’s currently, “To enrich our existence through sustainable healthcare enterprises.” And being a private equity firm, obviously we invest in businesses and we want those sustainable because we want those to carry on. And the key part of that purpose statement is “enrich our existence.” And so almost everybody that works inside our organization knows that the term “enrich our existence” has more meaning to it than just financial success, that we call it internal personal wealth, not just financial wealth. And the internal personal wealth, “enriching our existence” ties into my personal purpose statement, which is “To help people be more, do more, love more.” So that internal personal wealth, as I describe it to people in our organization is, “I want you to be everything that you were created to be, everything that’s possible for you to be, the best version of yourself. I want you to do as much as you can. Don’t waste time on meaningless tasks, on meaningless activity. Do everything you can, live it to the fullest and all to help the existence of those close to you as well as the community in which you live.” Now, each company that Nueterra Capital invests in, we encourage them to have their own purpose statement as well, in addition to vision, mission. And we’ll talk about those I’m sure in another podcast, but today’s is primarily just focused on purpose of the organization.
Travis Tasset: So let’s talk a little bit about how the purpose of a business manifests itself, and if you could use an example with one of the companies that Nueterra Capital owns. Talk to me a little bit about, specifically how you see that business’ purpose manifests itself and how does that translate into real-world, real life?
Dan Tasset: So one of the portfolio companies that Nueterra Capital owns is called ValueHealth. Interestingly, ValueHealth is kind of a successor to a company that we created called NueHealth, and the purpose statement of NueHealth is actually identical to the purpose statement of Nueterra Capital. That’s not always the case. Each portfolio company that we own has different, for the most part, they’re all different, purpose statement, but in this case it’s unique that NueHealth has a purpose statement, owned by Nueterra Capital that is the same – again, “To enrich our existence through sustainable healthcare enterprises.” What really leads us is, the space we’re in is the surgical space and so, is this about just making money, or are we really doing something good for society, for our country? And so “enriching our existence” also has a personal meaning for every employee, meaning that not only are we doing to create financial wealth and earning a living and so on and so on, but each person in our organization can enrich their personal existence and internal personal wealth as I described earlier. But also just in general, to enrich the existence of the community in which we live and, in fact, the entire country. And so we’re really, really big on what we’re doing is actually decreasing the cost and improving the quality in healthcare, in the surgical space that we’re in, which is now almost one-third of a $3 trillion industry. It’s a massive amount of money and from the beginning, we believe that we can improve the value delivered to the patient and so thereby improving the existence for the patient, enriching the existence for the people who are paying for the healthcare, the payors, for the self-funded employers, and taking hundreds of billions of dollars of cost annually of waste out of the US healthcare delivery system. And so the last five years in particular and all the money that NueHealth and ValueHealth have put towards research and development to consumerize healthcare, to engage in payment reform, and truly transform – transform – the way healthcare is both delivered, consumed and paid for, has been paramount in everything that we do every single week in the organization. It’s all driven by purpose, enriching the existence of internal, external employees, the community, for employers that are self-funded, for the entire country because of the wanton waste that’s going on in this massive surgical space, the third of the healthcare industry which is almost $1 trillion a year. And so it really drives what we’re doing. We’re passionate about what we do because we’re not only helping ourselves but the we’re doing the right thing and we’re doing something so good for the rest of the country as well.
Defining Value for Healthcare Delivery
Travis Tasset: I think it’s important to acknowledge that that statement, “Our existence is our own stakeholders, our own associates, our own employees,” but to your point it extends to the broader community, or perhaps local communities, our national community, our entire country in terms of the impact that we want to have in this particular case on the healthcare space in general. And one thing that I’ve heard you talk a lot about that I’d love to get your thoughts on, when I think about the name ValueHealth, clearly value is a key part of that. Talk to me a little bit about how you define value in terms of delivering healthcare?
Dan Tasset: So the whole idea behind ValueHealth and delivering value in healthcare, and I’ll explain the definition in a minute, but the whole idea was driven by an effort to simplify what we’re trying to accomplish. Not just the purpose, but to simplify what our mission is. Every single day when we get up, what are we trying to do? A singular purpose. I love the quote by Vince Lombardi that says, “Success demands singleness of purpose.” And so what we’re trying to do is make our purpose within the company so single, so easy to say, so easy to recall, and that is to improve the value delivered to the patient. Now, we’re in the surgical space again, but it’s such a large chunk of the total $3 trillion industry which we know now is almost 17% of our gross domestic product. So it’s a massive space. But value equals clinical outcome plus patient experience, divided by cost. That is the value equation for every product, goods, or services that we buy as a consumer. That is the value and our goal as healthcare providers, we’re in this space, should be, and not just a goal of healthcare providers, the goal of everybody involved in healthcare: providers, insurance companies, employers, employees, the federal government, state government, Medicare, Medicaid, you can go on down the list. The singleness of purpose should be, as Vince Lombardi stated, should be for us to improve the value delivered to the patient, because if that is our purpose, everybody wins. Everybody wins. Again, if we all agree to the definition of value: patient satisfaction plus clinical outcome or clinical quality, divided by cost. That is the meaning; I gave you the numerator and the denominator. That is the definition of value. That’s our singular purpose. And so we created the name ValueHealth to remind us every single day this is what we’re going here for, this is what we’re doing.
Travis Tasset: And that becomes the guiding light.
Dan Tasset: That’s the guiding light and it transforms right into our mission statement and vision that we’ll talk about I’m sure at a later podcast.
Travis Tasset: Well, I love that equation for value and I could even apply it to this podcast. If the name is Value Talks, hopefully the conversations that we have and the topics that we explore give people (a) a good experience when they listen to it, and it helps them have the outcomes that they want in life. And the cost of that to them is nothing, it’s free.
Dan Tasset: It’s a little time.
Travis Tasset: It’s a little time.
Dan Tasset: It’s a little time. I don’t know many minutes we’re in here but give me 15, 20 minutes of your time and hopefully you’ll get real value out of it and you could multitask and listen to this while you’re working out, or driving in a car, or whatever that might be.
Travis Tasset: But going back to you what you said a minute ago on the purpose of ValueHealth, to improve the value delivered to the patient, what do you see as the low hanging fruit there, within the space of the industry in healthcare?
Dan Tasset: Well, again, I’m going to focus just for a minute on the surgical space, but the same thing I’m going to talk about is going to apply to the rest of healthcare as well. So you’ve got to kind of understand, healthcare is again, a $3 trillion industry. Thirty to 34% of that $3 trillion is spent on the professional component, the physician piece. Probably 36-37% spent on the technical side, the facility, the hospital, and the rest of it divided up between prescription, right on down the list. But what we have failed to do and the US healthcare delivery system, is mostly a result of the perverse incentives that were put in place years ago by a combination of tax code and the way things are paid for. But what we have failed to do in healthcare is to be innovative and creative in terms of how healthcare is both consumed and how it’s paid for. Been very innovative in clinical research and development and new techniques and so forth and so on, but the way healthcare is actually paid for and consumed, there’s been complete lack of innovation. And I would equate that to other industries. And you see the innovation that’s occurred in just ridesharing, and everybody, if you needed a ride 10 years, ago five years ago, it was all about calling a tax, right, period. And now that whole industry’s been Uberized and so complete innovation. So everybody knows what that value proposition is: lower cost, better experience, better quality vehicles. They are cleaner, they’re better, more convenient. They actually have to have air conditioning on versus the taxicab is dirty, they don’t run your air conditioning or whatever might be. So the consumerization and the way consumer goods are both paid for consumed. Amazon: 10 years ago whatever you wanted regardless of what it was, you’d had to go to the store to buy it. Now there’s virtually nothing you can’t buy, no consumer goods that you can’t buy that you couldn’t do through the Amazon innovation and technology, and that’s been deployed. Same is true with movies, books, music, I mean you can go on and on. Every industry, the way the goods or service has been both consumed and provided and paid for, it has been a complete innovation around technology enabled and that’s what we’ve lacked in healthcare, but not anymore. So that process has begun. Payment reform is well underway and the consumerization is well underway. So you will see over the next three to 10 years a complete transformation in healthcare and it will begin to look like every other industry currently looks.
Driven by Purpose
Travis Tasset: To wrap this up, I want to share one more quote and you and I have talked about this quote, how powerful of a quote we both believe it is. And this is both attributed to Victor Frankel who authored the book “Man’s Search for Meaning,” and I’ve seen it also attributed to Friedrich Nietzsche as well. And the quote is, “He who has a why to live, can bear almost any how.” I’d love to get your thoughts, Dan, on how you see people in this life, some personally, professionally are doing well, some are struggling, whether it be personally or professionally? How does purpose help us get through those tough times? How do you see this play out?
Dan Tasset: What do we all want to do? What do we want to do when we have a family, or we get married and have children, or we want to engage in this activity, that activity or be in business and earn a living? I think we all just want to enjoy life and be happy. So you ask me this question and as I see people, often times I see this dynamic going on. I see a married couple and the mother’s happy. And as soon as the kids leave the home, becomes an empty nester, she becomes unhappy. So what changed? When the kids were there, she had purpose, and when they left, she’s trying to regain her purpose or stop. Or I see a guy that is working really hard and I know several of these guys, and they’re very, very engaged and happy. And they retire and then their life loses its meaning, its purpose and they become unhappy and depressed. And I can give you example after sample. You pointed out Victor Frankel’s book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” and the people, the men and women that survived the Holocaust compared to the ones who did not was all about having a purpose. Meaning, his whole book was titled, “Man’s Search for Meaning.” I love also the quote by Helen Keller that says, “True happiness is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” And I just think that regardless of what you’re doing, that you have to have meaning in your life, you have to have purpose, and that has to transcend and it has to survive one stage of life to the next. And that’s why what we do here, I’m so driven by leaving a legacy to my family because of my purpose. I’m so driven by sustainable healthcare enterprises and creating more portfolio companies within Nueterra Capital, not for the money but for purpose, both the personal purpose and the purpose of the company itself. And that’s why I’m so driven by the success of One5 Foundation, our private foundation, or Soventas, our public charity driven by purpose to help other people and to be more, do more and love more, because both – all of those for me can continue until the day I die, that I can continue to live purpose and therefore be happy. And I just heard a guy the other day say, “I’m going to continue to live my purpose every single day. I hope I go to work in the morning and die in the afternoon,” and I just think that’s a great way to look at life and a great way to live.
Travis Tasset: Well, I just want to say thank you for your time today. I couldn’t agree more. I mean, the importance of purpose in my own life as you’ve encouraged me throughout my growth and maturation, was to be attuned to that, to be aware of it. And for anyone listening to this podcast, you can ask yourself, “Am I living and working with purpose? Do I know what my purpose is?” Three great questions to reflect on for all of us, even to do so periodically is, “Who do I want to be?” number one, and hopefully I’m not that person quite in this moment yet, meaning there is a vision I have for myself that I’m working towards. Number two, “Who do I want to do it with? Who are the people, the family, the friends, the associates, the colleagues, the stakeholders that I want to surround myself with?” And then number three, “Where do I want to do it?” I just will close with one of the first books you gave me when I was younger was a book by Og Mandino called, “The Better Way to Live.” And these are different rules and tips for succeeding and being successful in life. Recently, I came across this quote again by Og Mandino saying, “I am here for a purpose and that purpose is to grow into a mountain, not to shrink to a grain of sand. Henceforth, I will apply all my efforts to become the highest mountain of all and I will strain my potential until it cries for mercy.” And that journey to me is where the joy is.
Dan Tasset: Awesome. Thank you Travis for talking to me.
Travis Tasset: You’re welcome. Thank you for listening today. Please give us your feedback, what you liked, what you didn’t like, if there is a topic you would like to hear more about in an upcoming episode. Please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.