Since starting his healthcare career in 1997, Greg Nielsen has served as the CEO of hospitals in Ohio, Nebraska, Wyoming and Montana in both the non-profit and for-profit sectors. Greg is known for bringing energy and new life into organizations by inspiring others around a vision and executing strategies to achieve that vision. Greg has a passion for helping individuals and organizations achieve their true potential. He believes this is best accomplished by carefully and intentionally feeding your mind, body and spirit on a daily basis. Greg earned a bachelor’s degree from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN and a master’s in healthcare administration degree from the University of Minnesota. Greg is married and has three children. Greg enjoys staying physically active and hunting pheasants with his lab, Ashe, when he’s not working or spending time with his family.


When Greg was in transition and working with Wiederhold & Associates, he executed his transition at the highest level and started the journey with the right amount of passion, attitude and confidence. Greg has graciously offered to speak with all our transition clients as they enter this extremely important journey and share his successful experience as encouragement.

Career development- Top 5 ways to stand out

Developing one’s career is multifaceted and takes time, energy and intentionality. In a competitive market one must differentiate. Here are five ways to stand out and help your career develop over the long-term:

  • Grow your network- it’s about who you know and who knows you. Spend time each month connecting with new people to expand your network. 70%-80% of jobs are found through networking.
  • Know your value proposition- what is your calling card? Communicate this through words and actions. Include tangible results when communicating your value- not just phrases like “hard-worker” or “loyal”.
  • Help others- don’t always make it about you. Help other people find solutions to their problems. Give referrals to recruiters.
  • Perform in your job- help your boss win. Create value for the company and your boss.
  • Have a learner’s mindset - never stagnate. Learn new skills and never stop growing. Become indispensable.

Respond on this blog what you would add to this list!

Thanks,

Greg

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Best career advice- “Play Hungry Hungry Hippos”

Remember that game, “Hungry Hungry Hippos”? It’s simple - s/he who collects the most marbles, wins. If you want to maximize your career opportunities, you must play this game well. How do you win? You must pocket as many network connections (marbles) as possible. 80% of jobs are found through networking (not online job boards). The more people you connect with, the more people you’ll connect with as networking has a compounding effect. This leads to opportunities.

It’s not just about talking with people- you must connect with them. Be inquisitive, learn about them personally and professionally. Find connection points between the two of you. Once people genuinely like you, they are more apt to help you. And, don’t forget to concisely communicate your brand (or calling card, value proposition, what you’re known for). Once they know your value (turnaround king, patient satisfaction guru, etc.) they can help connect you with organizations who have these needs.

Once you pocket these connections, take care of them. Help them every chance you get- don’t always make it about you. Help them solve problems, introduce them to others, listen, and always follow up.

Be like the hippo - pocket network connections and take care of them!

Connect with us on LinkedIn and join our Active Network Program.

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In transition? Cast a wide net

If you find yourself in transition one of the worst things you can do is limit your job search. Do not say things like, “I don’t want to live in . . . . that part of the country,” or “That job is too small”. There are several reasons to cast a wide net:

  1. Practice. Getting a job is totally different from doing your job. If you’ve not interviewed in the recent past (6-12 months) you will be rusty. Casting a wide net gives you interview practice.
  2. Confidence. Getting in multiple job searches builds your confidence and confidence sells.
  3. Leverage. Which sounds better- “I have nothing going on,” or “I’ve had 3 interviews in the past two weeks.” The latter makes you look marketable to others.
  4. Networking. Every time you enter a job search you get an opportunity to start meaningful relationships with recruiters, executives and hiring managers. 80% of jobs are won through networking. These relationships pay off in the long run.

You have nothing until you have a job offer. Work to get the cards in your hand and do not ever turn down a job that you don’t have. Cast a wide net in your job search- you will be surprised to see what you catch. For professional help with your transition, please contact us at www.wiederholdassoc.com

Connect with us on LinkedIn and join our Active Network Program.

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Effective networking- THE best way to connect. Period.

Everyone has a passion for something. When networking with others, make it a point to find the other person’s passion. Why? People like talking about what’s important to them. How do you find out what’s important to them? Ask them. Ask what they do for fun. Ask about their family. Ask what they would do if they weren’t in their current job. Ask where they volunteer. Then simply listen. Many times you will find what’s important to other people is also important to you. That’s your connection.

When discussing yourself be sure to include information that could be potential connecting points- spouse’s name, children’s names, where you grew up, where you went to school, what you like to do, etc. Recently I was speaking with an individual about adding this type of connecting information so I mentioned my wife was from the Twin Cities area. I explained the rationale for sharing such information by stating this would be our connection if his wife happened to be from the Twin Cities. What did he say next? His wife is from the Twin Cities- that is now our connection.

People instinctively want to connect with other people. Listen for people’s passions, make meaningful connections and you’ll network successfully./p>

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Recent comment in this post
Mike Jones
Great advice. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
Wednesday, 01 March 2017 14:48
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Executives- Read this if you made $100k or more last year

Last year your employer gave you a bunch of money- what did you do for it? If you cannot clearly answer this question, you are vulnerable. In today's competitive market it is imperative to create value for your employer. Employers have problems- executives are hired to solve these problems. You must be able to clearly demonstrate a ROI on your salary- otherwise you are simply unnecessary overhead. If you cannot measure improvement in profit, sales, quality, customer satisfaction, efficiency, or cost reduction from a year ago I guarantee your employer is wondering if they are getting commensurate value with the money they are giving you.

How do you create value for your employer? First, make certain you completely understand your boss's goals- they are your goals. Second, make sure these goals are quantifiable. Third, achieve those goals. If you rinse and repeat this process year after year you will continue to create value for your employer. In turn your employer will keep giving you fistfuls of cash.

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Keeping your edge- staying marketable in today’s competitive environment

As an executive it’s easy to lose touch with staying marketable in today’s competitive environment. We all get busy doing our own jobs- it’s easy to forget about maintain and growing our network, keeping a current resume, and understanding the needs of employers. Here are a few tips on staying marketable:

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  • Perform in your present job. Create value for your employer. Be intentional about achieving the results that your employer desires.
  • Build and maintain a network. Ideally you want to make 5-10 phone calls per week to grow an active network.
  • Help others, including recruiters and colleagues. Helping others is a simple way to maintain your network.
  • Maintain (or better yet, have a professional do it) a current resume. Resumes change every 2-3 years. You want to stand out and appear relevant. You do not want an old resume as this makes you look out of touch.
  • Know and communicate your value proposition.
  • Know your number (X-Y’s). How have you moved the needle on service, quality, growth, market share, profitability?
  • Grow professionally. Earn a degree, certification, or extra training.

If you need to sharpen your competitive edge, contact us at www.wiederholdassoc.com to learn more about staying marketable in today’s competitive environment.

Connect with us on LinkedIn and join our Active Network Program.

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What was your value in 2016?

Do you have years of experience or one year of experience, repeated each year? We want to grow each year and create real, tangible value for our employer. Now is the perfect time to write down and record the value you created in 2016. I’m not talking about serving on committees, task forces or anything that is activity based or simply spending time. I’m talking about real results- the kind your employer pays you to produce.

Take a look at improvements over the year in the following areas:

  • Customer service,
  • Employee engagement,
  • Community perception,
  • Quality,
  • Sales,
  • Revenue growth,
  • And profit.

Any noted trends or themes (especially across multiple years) become your value proposition. This is what you’re known for - your personal calling card.

As you look forward to 2017, make sure to build on your successes in 2016 while working on any developmental gaps. We want to continuously grow and develop as this helps shape and improve the value we bring to our employer.

Happy New Year!

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Where's me money?!?

What your boss, Mr. Krabs from SpongeBob Squarepants, and Rod Tidwell from Jerry Maguire have in common and why you should care.

“Where’s me money?!” as Mr. Krabs would say. That is exactly what your boss is thinking but won’t ask given today’s decorum. As we learned in graduate school at the University of Minnesota, “it’s not about the money… it’s about the money”. Yet no one wants to talk about money- it’s uncomfortable. Try and ask people about their bank account, salary, or taxes and you will get some awkward reactions. Likewise your boss and the company you work for don’t want to look bad by overemphasizing finances. Don’t let this fool you as your company lives or dies by its profitable growth. That means your boss is counting on you to drive profits and make more money.

A system CEO once told me, “You know it’s very hard to get fired when you’re making budget.” I got it - message delivered. How can you deliver? First, cover your own costs. You better produce enough revenue to cover your salary or else you are vulnerable. Next, if you manage a budget you want to grow revenue at a rate faster than expense growth (positive spread ratio).

Finally, make sure you communicate to your boss the actions you will take to drive profitability. This builds trust as your actions turn into results. Remember- the bottom line is the bottom line. Pay attention to it and it will pay dividends for your career.

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Executive job seekers- why your Master’s degree and years of experience aren’t good enough

If you think your Master’s degree and experience alone will translate into landing that great executive job, you will likely find disappointment. Why? Simple - everyone else in the candidate pool has a Master’s degree and experience. You need to stand out from the crowd. How does one do this? By communicating your value proposition. What are you known for? What is your brand? What is your calling card? What measurable results are you known to achieve? These are the questions you must answer and clearly communicate in order to make yourself stand out in a sea of executives.

Don’t make recruiters and hiring managers figure things out on their own - it is up to you to communicate your brand, value, and worth. Don’t assume people read every word of your resume - they likely do not. You must stand out by communicating why you are valuable to an employer

How do you identify your value proposition? Ask others. Read your prior evaluations. Look at results in the following areas: service, quality, people, community, growth, finance. Identify themes in your resume.

Remember- organizations have problems and executives have solutions. Communicate your brand by communicating the types of solutions you’ve solved for your employers.

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Drive the C.A.R.

Circumstances. Actions. Results. (C.A.R.) Recruiters want to hear that story.

When a recruiter asks you about your tenure or a specific challenge you’ve faced, remember to drive the C.A.R. Too many people wax on about their experiences as just that - experiences filled with activity. Recruiters and hiring managers want to hear about results, not just activity.

A good response looks like this, “When I arrived at XYZ Health System our operating margin was -6%. Over three years we implemented two new service lines, recruited 24 physicians, implemented productivity standards for all departments and closed an unprofitable service that wasn’t meeting community need. As a result our operating margin is now 7%.

If you are not clearly communicating the circumstances, actions and results you are not fully demonstrating your value.

Look for examples in the following areas:

  • Service
  • Quality
  • Growth
  • Finance
  • People and Community

The C.A.R needs to be driven on your resume and when speaking with recruiters and hiring managers- make it a part of your lexicon. The root of the word executive is to execute. We must achieve results as that is why we are hired.

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Can your resume be understood in less than 10 seconds?

I advise executive clients for Wiederhold & Associates and I don’t read every word of every resume. Do you think every recruiter and hiring manager does? Chances are they are not. One recruiter told me he takes about 10 seconds to size up a resume. A good resume first and foremost needs to stand out. Many executives have the same tired, basic resume format they’ve been using for fifteen years. Many people think it’s safe to have a resume like everyone else’s- that is certainly true. However, if you want to stand out, your resume first has to stand out.

What makes a good resume? One that the reader can paint a clear picture for the reader within 10 seconds. Stand out. Clear value proposition. Numerical accomplishments that hit as many pillars as possible. As an executive I bring in expertise to the organization when called for, so why don’t more people hire professional resume writers? They, like I used to believe, think they can write their resume on their own. For a nominal investment you can have an expert market your most valuable money-making machine - you. Resumes change every 2-3 years and you and I are not experts in that field. Make it easy on yourself and hire a great resume writer to make your candidacy stand out and clarify your value proposition.

If you want your resume to stand out, contact Jim Wiederhold for professional guidance on crafting your own brand and value proposition.

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Putting the Execute Back into Executive

Say the word “executive” to some people and it conjures up images of leather chairs and mahogany desks. In reality an executive’s job is to execute, or achieve results. At times we all get caught up in the storms that surround us- meetings, urgent issues, committees, etc. Just remember, never confuse activity with results. Like what? In healthcare we must achieve results in: service, patient safety, quality, growth, market share, service line development, cost containment, productivity, community benefit, employee/physician engagement, turnover, etc.

When executing, know where you are going. In order to execute you must have a X-Y goal in mind. For example, create a goal to grow market share from 22% to 50% in two years. If you are not clear where you want to go, how will others be clear? Relentlessly pursue your goal as that’s why we were hired- to execute and achieve results.

At the conclusion of your tenure with a given organization, know what you’ve executed. What was your X-Y in HCAHPs, profitability, turnover, market share, etc.? Clearly communicating these results to recruiters and hiring managers is the key to honing your value proposition. Remember- execution and results are the reason we get paid.

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Throw Darts Not Hand Grenades

When interviewing, please keep in mind one simple rule- answer the question. An amazing number of people think that when they have the microphone (answering an interview question) they can talk as long as they want about whatever they want in an interview. This is understandable as candidates are excited and want to sell, however it’s a turn off to the interviewer.

Throw darts when interviewing- be concise, brief and use facts/numbers to support your answers. If they want more information, they will ask. Remember- the interviewer has a list of questions they want to get through. They can’t get through the interview if the candidate takes five minutes to answer every question. This is a major turnoff and it signals the candidate isn’t in tune with the employer’s needs.

To answer the question is to be a good listener. If someone asks you a yes/no question- answer with a yes or no answer. Listen intently to the words they are using and ask for clarification if need be. Don’t forget to mirror the interviewer- if s/he is a fast talker, then talk faster. If s/he is a slow talker, then slow down. The goal is to make a connection by listening and answering the question. Finally, only practice makes perfect when interviewing so practice with family, friends and colleagues and remember to throw darts, not hand grenades!

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Interview Advice; It's Not About You

I remember conducting an interview for a key leadership role and the candidate kept talking about results and accomplishments from their former job that did not correlate with our environment. We were turned off almost immediately. Remember - organizations have needs, people have skills. Your job is to clearly communicate that your skills are a match with the employer’s needs. You must fully understand why the organization is hiring for the position. What are the key skills and competencies needed? What are the measurable goals that define success?

When looking at a position, the first step is to obtain a copy of the position description and read it multiple times - highlighting pertinent sections that clearly demonstrate the reasons why the position exists (goals, skills, competencies). Organizations want to win- you help them win by clearly communicating how your skills are a good match to meet their needs. When speaking with the employer or recruiter, make sure to communicate your specific (numerical) career accomplishments that clearly demonstrate past success that match with the employer’s needs. Jobs exist to solve problems and meet needs- show them you can do both.

Matching your skills with an employer’s needs is nothing more than good listening. Make sure you understand the needs by reviewing the position description, taking notes when speaking with recruiters or hiring managers, and highlight your specific accomplishments that match their needs.

Check out this site for more help with sharpening your skills to match an employer’s needs.

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Tell Me About Yourself

Tell me about yourself… (hint - you only have two minutes!)

The famous question, “Tell me about yourself.” This is not an open invitation to incessantly talk for minutes on end about your life from start to finish in exquisite detail. I used to think everyone else thought my life was as interesting as I thought it was - wrong! The fact is, no one really cares (that much). You have two minutes to answer this question. And, it needs to be a structured answer that includes the following:

  • Humanizer - make a connection and be likeable/personable
  • Career progression - make sense of your career moves
  • Value proposition - what are you known for?
  • Personalize - what do you like to do? Make a connection and humanize.

If you only remember two things, simply be brief (around two minutes) and clearly communicate your value proposition. What are you known for? What is your calling card? Remember, organizations have needs and people have skills. Be clear about your skills and match them with the organization’s needs.

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Do You Know Your Numbers?

Do you know your numbers? (not just finance)

“It’s a nice day outside.” Does this mean it’s 65 degrees, 75, 82? It depends on who you ask. Unless you ascribe a numerical measure to something it will never be fully clear to an audience. So many executives I advise are not fully clear when talking about their career accomplishments- I’ve been guilty of this as well. “We grew revenue and patient satisfaction improved when I was at XYZ Health System” or “We set up this corporation, joint venture, committee, etc.” These are simply not clear statements when compared to, “We grew revenue by 35% and our patient satisfaction improved from the 12th percentile to the 67th percentile” or “We started a new joint venture that grew market share by 34% and grew net revenue by 40%”.

Many comparisons have been made between the airline industry and healthcare. The pilot knows where the plane is going by following specific numerical coordinates. Do you know your X-Y? What was the origin and destination of your last journey? This is communicated simply by knowing your X-Y’s in one or more of the following areas: service, patient safety, quality, growth, service line development, finance, community benefit, market share, cost containment, productivity, physician or employee engagement, turnover, etc. When X-Y’s are communicated well it sounds like this… “When I was at XYZ health system our HCAHPs went from the 23rd percentile to the 78th percentile over 4 years” or “During my tenure we reduced RN turnover from 35% to 16% in three years.

Organizations want results. If you clearly communicate that you achieve results, your chances for success improve when looking for your next job. Contact www.wiederholdassoc.com for more information on learning how to communicate your “X-Y’s” and taking the next step in developing your career.

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What’s your value proposition?

Why should an organization hire you? What do you bring to the table that helps the organization win? What are you known for? If you aren’t communicating these answers briefly and succinctly (backed with facts), you are not standing out and will have a tougher time with your job search. Do not assume your experience and resume speaks for itself. Most people do not read every word of your resume- they scan it and size you up in a matter of seconds. Do not make people guess or leave it up to chance- tell them what you are known for and how you create value for organizations.

Almost 100% of the executives I speak with in my executive advisor role for Wiederhold & Associates do not understand and communicate their value proposition. This is nothing more than personal branding- think of yourself as a business. What brand messages are you communicating? Most people will believe you are who you say you are. For example, if you’re known for growing market share and you communicate this simple message (backed with facts), you have just communicated a brand message.

How do you identify your value proposition? Look at your career accomplishments and look for consistent results. It will likely come from results in service, patient safety, quality, net revenue growth, service line development, employee/physician engagement, turnover, cost containment, productivity, market share, profitability, turnarounds, community benefit or engagement, etc

A well communicated value proposition looks like this, “I am known as a turnaround expert. For example, in my last role I led a $20 million turnaround” or “I am known for getting results in patient satisfaction. For example, in my last role we improved HCAHPs from the 12th percentile to the 75th percentile”.

Be intentional and purposeful about your value proposition- if not it will be defined for you (or not at all). For help in crafting your personal brand, go to www.wiederholdassoc.com for a free consultation.

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