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Kevin Davis in conversation with David-Paul Cavazos

David-Paul Cavazos

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Listen to David-Paul, CEO at Hodgeman County Health Center on the Culture Eats Everything Podcast in conversation with Kevin Davis.

Read more about David-Paul:

Dynamic Executive Leader with more than 24 years of experience in health care. High-integrity, energetic leader known for the ability to envision and create successful outcomes in complex situations. Adept at fostering relationships within the organization as well as networking and consulting with stakeholders in decision making and project management. Performance record includes successful organizational development, physician relations, recruitment, strategic planning, software implementation and process improvement.

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YouTube Transcript

David Paul thanks for uh joining us on this conversation you're a CEO of a hospital and just want to to learn from you um start with you know your name is David hyphen Paul Cavazos tell us tell us how you have two first names.

I had very indecisive parents and uh I think they're both very stubborn people and so I have no middle name and just so happens that they both wanted the names they selected for my first name so I ended up with a hyphenated first name David Hall uh sort of like John Paul and then the last Cavazos so and did David come first because of like alphabet or you know that as I as I understand it as they as they as I've asked them years ago they kind of what.

They said was they had two friends uh and they both liked the end you know one friend named David the other one named Paul and I don't know how they why didn't I end up with uh Paul David I don't know who they decided got to go first or how they decided that but right yeah all right well tell us by way of introduction like a little bit about you and your family and where you're at what you do so I have I'm originally from Austin Texas I've been in healthcare for 26 years now worked in both large hospitals and small hospitals came up in healthcare through Radiology.

I started out as an X-ray tech um went to school for that and spent 17 years on that side of of healthcare at the Radiology side I came up through the ranks to be a radiology director and then somebody pulled me aside one day CEO of a hospital and just pulled me into his office and asked me you know have you ever thought about being a CEO and it just kind of floored me I said no I never had in my world the Radiology director was kind of the leader of my world and so I'd always sought to achieve that and once I was there.

I was kind of happy there and when he suggested that it made me think a little bit harder and went home and started looking up what it would take to get me from where I was to to being a CEO and went back to school to get my MBA and so on and start as a journey and it was definitely a journey um I had to ask my wife you know it was a big commitment on her part as well to decide to go through that Journey going back to school at a late age and having a family and kids and so um yeah but the last the the rest of that 26 year period has all been in the executive side kind of worked my way out from.

I was CEO COO of a community-based mental health center and then got uh after that achieved my first CEO position so yeah okay and I've been doing that for a while now so yeah yeah and I mean you just mentioned your wife uh kids pets yes so um my wife is Laura Laura Cavazos uh we've been married for 17 years now and we have three kids together uh Abram Ada and Isaac and we have two dogs a black lab and a little rat terrier and they're both brothers and they're pretty convinced that they look just like each other so our life's busy but they couldn't be more different that's hilarious yeah well one of the interesting things about your story uh when I met you and and you just pointed out to it is this like Evolution which all of us like you know we start out in one area and we end up somewhere different but part of yours was somebody seeing leadership in you and something that you should consider um what was that like like did that feel totally foreign like yeah you know that that was a really big defining moment for me uh I was working for a small Hospital in southeast Kansas and at the time the small hospital had gone through quite a few CEOs uh four CEOs in three years so lots of turnover um and I as a radiology director for a lot of purposes had tried to step up to the plate and just fulfill a lot of that role in the community try to be present try to be uh on as many boards and committees as I could just really tried to represent the hospital well in the community because we had so much turnover in our top leadership box uh always tried to really help out any new CEO that was coming in to just give the Malay of the land let them know you know how we interacted with other community hospitals around us how the community perceived us our relationships with the Physicians things like that and one of them just pulled me aside and said you know you should really consider doing this I mean I hadn't up until that time but um it seemed to be a national a natural progression you know once once you get once you reach a ceiling somewhere if you're ambitious you kind of think to yourself okay where to go now right what's what's the next what's the next great achievement and that was definitely it yeah you know it's it could be a very hard looking from the bottom upwards because you don't you think you often question the decisions of the people above you right it's just person you might think I can do that better that person's making the wrong decision you know or I can make do a better job than they're doing and then you get up to the top box or to the top seat and you're like some days I don't want this job you know uh you the stressor is the responsibility the human leadership unfortunately you're often a public figure you're often responsible for perception which is very hard these days perception is a big part of reality these days and it's so weird because it didn't used to be that way right it used to be that that it wasn't that it wasn't it wasn't fact until it was provable it's not that way anymore you know we have so many people in our work environment that if something is perceived wrongly it suddenly becomes fact it doesn't matter whether it was true or not you know and and as the figure of the hospital uh you may have you may have a Night Nurse who you've never met working the night shift in the ER who happens to steal meds and the community may come down hard on you for it to say well why didn't you know about that well what are you doing to stop that you know um and she might have already been fired she might have even been fired a year ago and this may just be coming to life it's it's those kinds of things that you are responsible for all of the actions sometimes you get credit for the good ones but most times you're you get credit for the bad ones you know it's just the face of the hospital so yeah that's interesting because I mean even just the part of your story where there's a rotating door of CEOs and you felt responsible to to be involved in the community where's that like sense of I mean it sounds like a civic responsibility but another way to think of it is that you know it's part of the responsibility for that we have in the freedom that we have to participate in our community where's where's that come from for you it's like something you were learned or challenged to to Growing or yeah I think for me it came from some of the early struggles of my life when when I was uh early in my marriage um there were a couple times when I was part of certain organizations and things had gotten difficult and so if you ever have to go through a layoff where you ever have to go through you know a job loss and I just really developed this sense of responsibility that if if I was standing on a boat I was going to do everything I could to make sure that boat did not sink for instance in in those early days of me being a radiology director one of the biggest things I saw was that in our community we had aging Physicians right but because we had such high turnover and CEOs and in these positions were not employed by the hospital they interacted very well with hospital but they were all in the community in private practice so one of the things I first saw was that well our physicians were all aging rather at retirement age or within retirement age of three years or less we we need new doctors but the CEOs that were coming in just didn't really consider it a priority right and they certainly didn't want to spend money on it so I told this one CEO I said um I had found this conference for new residents coming out of the local University uh for to expand their Horizons into rural health care right it was uh there were it was a two-day conference uh one in one city another one in another city so which Tom can say right for Kansas and it was 300 I went to her and I said hey can I have a budget of 300 just give me this I'll cover my own gas I just want to go out there and she kind of looked at me like I was silly because it wasn't a priority for the hospital to recruit Physicians right none of the physicians in town were employed they were all independent we said okay so she granted me that I went we set up a booth for the hospital um I handed out a ton of business cards and there I was a radiology director right you know business cards trying to get names and phone numbers of residents that might be interested of coming to our community talking to them about it I took brochures and all this stuff uh and uh strangely enough went to the conference that year didn't go the second year went back the third year because in the midst of all this we also were building a new hospital the reason why I didn't go the second year was because the new hospital that we built we then were responsible that you're basically transitioning to the new building and all of that entailed moving to the new site and location and everything so I didn't make it the second year third year I go back and one of the residents that I met the first time I went he was a first year and not interested in finding a place to land but by the time he was a third year he was like oh hey yeah I remember you they've only because I had two names you know and he's like oh yeah you were talking about your hospital he was like yeah well now these at third year he's interested in he needs to figure out a place to land when he gets out of school so you know ended up signing him um actually we worked on recruiting two we ended up signing one that worked out he's a wonderful addition to the community I think he's still there now um he moved his family out there and it was just a really great fit but even seeing that that's kind of my whole attitude about it as long as I'm see a problem I don't want to be going on a boat I don't want to be going down on a boat that's sinking right I'm gonna do everything I can to make sure that that boat is going to survive that that boat is going to stay afloat and it has a future that's just that's just the kind of person yeah oh that's really cool and you have such a that sense of community though is um I don't know sometimes absence or maybe sometimes we just don't realize when we like in your field like caring about health and patience involves the community like that's that's what you're caring for it's not just individuals it's us as a community as a whole right and so well for me as a radiology director back then I was so one of the things I was really keyed into was volumes right you lived you know if you if you have a high volume Department it actually does does better right you have lots of CTS lots of MRIs lots of x-rays coming through people are happy lots of Revenue falling through the place um but if you have a low volume Department well what dictates your volume the Physicians if you have all Physicians that are close to retirement in the next three years your budget's going to drop right so you have to see the train coming down the tracks before it runs you over and realize I need more Physicians that's why I took it upon myself to then go out and recruit Physicians um it's just you know it just so happens at work lots of great things fell into the place I wasn't the only one um I had lots of people helping me and supporting me along the way which was really good but I think I've never liked to be run over by an issue right you always want to see it coming before it hits and do the most that you can't either avoid it or or move Beyond it so yeah that's good just leadership so we'll talk about you mentioned the the rule uh part to it like you made this move from the Kansas City area out to where you are now talk about that and what drove that decision for you like how do you how do you navigate that yeah you know it was it was I'm I'm guilty of when I was in the urban setting when I was Kansas City in the city life uh my experiencer was all large Hospital experience and I'm guilty of never even thinking about or acknowledging the rural area I never lived in a rural area before so it was never it was never on my radar um which was strange because the rural area is great um there's there's just a ton of opportunity out there the communities are fantastic the people are good they're welcoming it varies from place to place but on a whole uh it's a pretty good place to to make your life um and so the opportunity is what took me out there you know if you think about it as you move up in the management director level let's say your average city maybe it has five large hospitals a decent size okay so once you're you're looking at a director level position or higher five jobs in the whole city right that you can apply for okay well they probably already all have directors so now you're looking at okay who's in those seats and how close are they to retirement how long can I wait based on that then you have to decide how far are you willing to go for it for an opportunity for the title all right well I ended up getting a position or worked at a rural hospital I I hadn't never even heard of this place before I didn't know and it's funny it was only like an hour and a half outside the city right I was just limited in my thinking um but I went down interviewed saw the towns saw the community saw the hospital fell in love with it it was a town and Community were great to my family and I they were a great place to start a family and so it was good yeah yeah so you I mean I feel like all of our stories kind of have that like we happen upon certain things it expands our our thinking our our experience um and I mean it almost sounds like it changed the scorecard for you of what like success looked like because you when you talk about raising a family like

what was like was it was it the scorecard was it that like you felt like success was going to be a big hospital and being in a city um and then that that shifted now or was it just I don't know how would you you know I I think it was I I think the scorecard definitely did change I think success is different for everybody and I also think it depends on what point in life you're at you know uh when you have a family for most people your concerns are different they're not as they were when you were young and single when you're young and single you may not think about anything at all you might just go about your day living your life and and being happy with that um but you get a family you want certain things for them you know some of those things are Safety and Security some of those things are good people to be around in a nice life you know yeah uh in the cities in the urban areas it can be very difficult and costly to get those things right to find a good place a nice environment to find

um good neighbors even you know that that can be a hard thing to find these days uh in the rural areas you have a lot more opportunity to just be welcomed and invite good people um not that you can't find that in the city uh but it's just easier I think a lot of a lot of people who live in cities again I say I was guilty of this don't realize how much value there is in the rest of their states in terms of the lawyer for one just scenery wise it's beautiful in most rural areas you know um and the I think there's a lot of people in the rural areas that are still incredibly welcoming to many people you know because you can find rude people anywhere the cities are full of rude people you know you can go to a coffee shop in the city and be treated snotty and just have a bad interaction with somebody it's not the end of the world you know but rural plate rural communities on a whole are really fantastic places to raise families so yeah that's cool so one of the things that I just I find fascinating about your journey and many of ours like we can kind of Trace them back to these defining moments where someone saw something in us that we didn't or presented something as possible that previously we were like oh I didn't I didn't even know maybe I could do that or that I would even maybe want to do that um talk about how that now that that's happened now you're a CEO of this hospital and you like raising a family there and that but how is that changed or influenced the way you look at the people that work for you now yeah I think uh you always want to help people in the way that you were helped out right and I think as an industry one of the the most common factors that's uh uh I don't know if you want to call it a complaint but it's just a it's just a trial that we're going through as an industry right now which is a shortage in Workforce right so that shortage and Workforce has caused us to have to look into a lot of places we may not have looked before before you might have used to have thought of things in terms of a job well okay who around you or with you or in your area would look at things in terms of career or as interested in career okay now let's take it a step further what about that term succession planning right succession claiming the idea that you are thinking ahead and selecting people underneath you to eventually move up who would be the right fit for that who has the ambition who has the willingness because often it does take something extra maybe a certification maybe some schooling maybe some whatever right to to get them to where you need them to be are they willing to make the journey you know do they and probably the one of the worst things that we have right now amongst our young people is a lack of of uh of being able to see down the long term young people these days are so short-sighted you know they are they just and and again you stamp me with with that label for when I was younger you know I was very short-sighted retirement what was that why would I need that you know I was not concerned with that at all um but the thing is you do live you do get older you do want to do something different in 10 years than what you were doing you know now at this point in time you want to achieve more you want to you want your career to grow you want to turn what what is a job right now into a career you know maybe you started working at this doctor's office answering the phone there as a young lady and if you have the potential that one may be practice manager maybe maybe you do you know um probably the number one thing that you're missing is experience you know and and staying in working with a facility getting more accepting more responsibility being in charge of things helping people with things just being that type of person that is about helping the facility to grow and get better and you can move up in anything you know and and experience matters experience is great um there are still many things that can't be taught at the end of the day you have to arrive with a certain skill set and and some of that is just work ethic and drive yeah yeah that's interesting um because you know there's something about like when you talk about being young which for sure I was guilty of in the same way being short-sighted and then that experience is so important being short-sighted has this like uh Short change or undervalue what experience really does because we just you can't just get a title or you can't just get experience you just have to be willing to go through it right and that's what condition and drive come into like to see down the road that this could turn into this will turn into experience even if it doesn't turn into the job that I necessarily want or where I'll stay forever so I guess that's a long a short-sighted thing is to think well it will always be in the same spot forever like yes let's change us I you know I agree with that and I think that um I never would have thought when I was an X-ray tech that I would even be a CEO I would have laughed at you I would have you know quit talking to you and said you're you're foolish uh yeah and it was never even a want though for me in those days you know for me being an X-ray tech is a single guy covered all my bills and get laid me uh left me a little bit of money at the end and I was happy with that right right um having a family seems to do a funny thing to people whether it's your male or female it doesn't really matter but but the opportunity to care for others I think really places a sense of responsibility on most people and that's when they do a lot of their growing and deciding and thinking gosh you know how can I make more how can I obtain more how can I provide more that's that's a natural feeling that many people have and that's who you know well when you're young and you're mad at your boss some people will contemplate just getting up and walking out the door you know you get older you get a family and if you if you're a manager boss you hope that you're not mad at him when you come back on Monday because you're going to come back on Monday and clock in again you know yeah you can get a job uh it's a different mindset you know but I think so many people these days are are adverse to challenge they're adverse to difficulty and and learning and just the the difficulty breeds experience it does you know hardship breeds experience it usually will make you stronger it will usually improve you in some way or form you know usually you'll learn from it and many people these days they a little bit of difficulty and they're they're out you know they're checking out they're quiet quitting and they're on the internet looking for their next job and yeah so one of the the interesting ways thinking about like just that CEO that asked you to consider that thought like you could be a CEO so they like that like he gave you Vision in that moment for a future you hadn't previously considered how do you how do you try to keep doing that now like how do you do that for the younger people that are working for you how do you help them see a future that they haven't considered for themselves and can can be the future CEOs that we'll need some some people are ready uh to have the talk some people are are waiting for that spark for somebody to light that spark in them uh some people are they are are not ready but there would but it's it's kind of like breaking the ice you know some people are willing to have the conversation um but they just don't see themselves in that spot yet you know uh and I think you never know whose life you're going to touch as you go through your day you know and and I think one of the greatest things you can do for somebody is to inspire them to uh you know light that spark in them to want to go further if if you have a good employee they'll want to move on you know and and even if they don't want to move up but just change in their responsibility level you know most good employees grow just do you know uh it's like a plant or an animal or anything else you know they they grow um the people that are just passing through that are just with your facility or Organization for a season that's okay we have a lot of that in healthcare right now with with our with our staffing uh issues that we've had unfortunately there's been a big turn in the industry towards uh agency Staffing right and the high cost that comes with that but that's created a whole transient Workforce um

one of the one of the things I was thinking about the other day for a while there was this big thing and I don't even know if it's still a thing anymore but an app that workers can get on and see who's paying the highest price right now and based on the app they can decide where they want to work for the day right geez yeah and

that doesn't really work for Healthcare I think people who consider it themselves or call themselves innovators want it to work for healthcare but look at this from a patient perspective you know for a moment uh think about this

you're coming into a hospital for a surgery maybe we'll have the surgery today maybe we won't because we don't know which nursing staffs are going to take our our pricing bid that we have out there um and you know you can't all not every facility can be the highest paid facility in the industry right we can't pay the highest amount or that doesn't make sense right and there is no highest paid right so the nurses the the the the workers are probably going to go where the highest paid bid is okay well then if you don't get any nurses for that day then how do you do the surgery you know how do you see the patients oh we're gonna have to reschedule surgery I mean it just doesn't work for the patient it works for the individual um the worker the worker it does it works for the worker as a because Healthcare is not although you do have some health care systems hospitals institutions that are for-profit as a business on a whole it's mostly a non-for-profit industry right it's mostly the idea is that the money goes back into the system thereby providing resources for additional services or better Services right or to support the services and so when you're looking at and Healthcare is different it's different from providing a product right let's say it's even a weird model though if you if you let's look at grocery stores and milk all right let's make it really simple and say let's say that you live in a suburban area and there are three major groceries in your suburban area next to your house hi but there was this new app that's created by the dairy guys and they say well whoever's going to pay the most for our milk that's where we'll deliver the milk so you go to one grocery store no milk there go to the second one no milk there the the third grocery store they set the highest price so they got the milk delivery for the day well the other two are now out right they're they're just empty negatives no no milk volume that's lousy that's a lousy way to have your grocery store right you have some products and not others well it's a lousy model for healthcare as well it doesn't work you know you need you need those people that are willing to be reliable and show up you need those people that are willing to commit themselves to the idea of helping people for the day um to be a part of the industry to make a life out of it to have a sense of responsibility towards the greater good that's what you need the higher gun you know that's just coming in because they're getting paid X number of dollars yeah yeah well I feel like that's that's where I think yeah I feel like you just hit the nail on the head because it I mean it ties back to what you were saying earlier this sense of responsibility you've had you don't want the ship to go down but that particular model for Health Care fragments the community in that sense it would happen anywhere but yeah that it's going no no like this is about building your life and being connected somewhere and having consistency and having relationship and there's just so much more what's interesting though while that there's a lot of Health Care specific there like every organization is facing what almost feels like an arms race like highest pay best benefits highest pay best benefits yeah and you know I feel like then we're going to get those results we're going to get the people that want those things right so what would you suggest to CEOs across the board like how do you how do you keep trying to figure that out to maybe get out of the arms race and different you know I would say the number one thing I would suggest is and this is probably going to be funny and it's it doesn't make a very good um catchphrase but not to give up hope and here's here's why because there are still good people out there there are still good people that do feel a sense of responsibility towards the greater good that are willing to show up when other people say well I'm not getting paid enough so I'm going to leave right and it doesn't really matter whether we're talking about a surgery department or a coffee shop right um if do you want do you want 10 people working in your surgery room the operating room that you're getting ready to go into for the day that have worked together for the last three to five years that are well are well machine that know what they're doing that have a lot of experience uh and that make a great surgery team or do you want 10 different people each day working together because we're in a in a Hired Gun type of society and you know none of these guys have ever worked together and that's the team you're getting you know yeah nobody wants that you know uh whether you're working at a coffee shop or whether you're people with experience and a team mentality that work together for the larger purpose always deliver a better product yeah it doesn't matter whether you know go ahead no that's no that's just like yeah like that no one wants it and yet you know it's just one of the ways we talk about this in our work with cultures is it all boils down to the human side of it like you said operating room or coffee house we operate out of we're emotional and we either operate out of a fear that's focused on ourselves or a love that's the greater good and so often if we can just slow down and make a conscious Choice around love it changes everything it has the ability to to not give up hope like you said like that can sound maybe cheesy or not an answer but that really is it right focus on the the good that you want to see not the bad that just seems to kind of cloud our our vision constantly every day of Our Lives well tell me one um I always like to end with asking like what's what's one leadership book that you would recommend um to everybody what's a book you've been reading that you're like everyone should put this on the top of their list uh so I'm reading a book right now called execution uh and the authors are Larry bossity and RAM Charan and um the two CEOs I did a lot of CEO Consulting back in the 90s uh somewhat in the late 80s um but the book is really centered around leadership and their ability to actually execute the vision right or let's say we're increasing patient satisfaction scores or we're building a new surgery we or we're doing this or we're doing that can you execute on that how do you go about that nobody is a one-man show nobody is you know if you're building a new surgery when you didn't build the surgery right didn't um you know that there's you must have a team with you it's so important that your team is is understanding of the mission that they're committed to it and that mission being um whatever you know whatever business you're in whether you're working at a car dealership right you want to sell 200 Cars by the end of the month everybody on your team has to be committed to that right nobody has to take their job in a relaxed way everybody must take their job seriously and it can't be a joke for them you know it's and that's that's a that's a big thing you know finding the right people to be on your team you might think well I can just train anybody to sell a car that might be true but you get a lot further when you have the right people selling cars you know um you get a lot further building something or growing something or running a large organization when you have the right people working with you yeah and so that's how you can that's how you end up executing your vision that's how in two years you go from I want to build a new surgery ring two you're cutting the ribbon on a new surgery yeah well the interesting thing that you're talking about like it's called execution but it it may anyways is about leadership it's helping generate a view of the future that's going to take all of us and it's getting people to commit to that and feel inspired by it and that we can all accomplish this thing whether it's a sales goal or a new hospital Wing or a startup um yeah that's cool well David Paul we try to keep these short and sweet and conversational we could talk about a bunch of other things but I appreciate you just taking time uh to hang out and and share your insights with us and um and share this book well I'm sure on I read a quote of his years ago it was about like apprenticeship as a new way of seeing leadership development how do we help people embrace it and yeah you know just developing the people uh around us the way others have developed us spoken to our lives about this get here so yeah you know absolutely there's um I've got other books in leadership I've got I've got um little I I love Simon sineken the stuff that he has uh I actually really like Jocko will Nick too if you know who he is um and there's a lot of good there's a lot of good guys out there who who have leadership books uh I do think there is something to be said for people from the past who have built large companies large organizations you know really done some great achievements how did they do it what did they find what helped them to turn a failing organization around and I I don't really find that it's individual to an industry you know it's it's a it's a model and it's a method um and so yeah I just that's the kind of stuff that I like I guess I'm I drank the Kool-Aid and I'm fully bought into it right and you're living it so that's even better all right ma'am well Paul thanks for your time thanks for what you're doing in Jetmore Kansas uh leading the hospital and being involved in your community and challenging and inspiring the rest of us to to take a little more responsibility in that way um so appreciate your time sounds really good Kevin thank you it's always good to talk with you

thank you

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