NEVER GIVE UP: INTERVIEW WITH DR. SOUMI EACHEMPATI, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO OF CLEARED4 WITH ADAM MENDLER
Adam Mendler is an entrepreneur, writer, speaker, educator, and nationally-recognized authority on leadership. Adam is the CEO of The Veloz Group, where he co-founded and oversees ventures across a wide variety of industries. Adam is also the creator and host of the business and leadership podcast Thirty Minute Mentors, where he regularly elicits insights from America's top CEOs, founders, athletes, celebrities, and political and military leaders.
I recently went one on one with Dr. Soumi Eachempati, co-founder and CEO of CLEARED4. Soumi is a former Professor of Surgery and Public Health at Weill Cornell Medical College and was formerly the Director of Trauma and Director of the Surgical ICU at New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Center who doubled as a front-line ER physician helping treat COVID-19 patients in one of the largest hospitals in New York in the beginning of the COVID-19 in Q1 2020.
Adam: Thanks again for taking the time to share your advice. First things first, though, I am sure readers would love to learn more about you. How did you get here? What experiences, failures, setbacks or challenges have been most instrumental to your growth?
Dr. Soumi: Currently, I am the CEO of a health tech company but the road to get here was quite circuitous. I spent 20 years as a trauma surgeon in New York City where I also became interested in public health services. I observed so many inefficiencies in the management of health care services in both private and public sector hospitals. During this time I also studied disparities in care between different socioeconomic groups to common surgical diseases like appendicitis. To minimize these disparities, I realized that smart solutions like application-based technology could be used as an equalizer in providing ancillary value to healthcare. These products can create an enormous impact on healthcare services. In 20-plus years as a surgeon, I performed approximately 7000 operations and influenced maybe 5x that many lives. However, now digital solutions allow us to help over 2 million individuals a day stay safe.
Adam: How did you come up with your business idea and test it? What advice do you have for others on how to come up with and test business ideas?
Dr. Soumi: I had several ideas on how to improve patient care while I was a practicing physician. However, to get to a successful market you need to have flexibility and foresight in addition to the insight that you are addressing a particular need for a target audience. Our current product actually pivoted from a prior technology we were using for a different aspect of patient management. That is why it is always important to monitor the landscape on a continual basis and be prepared to act accordingly.
Adam: In your experience, what are the key steps to growing and scaling your business?
Dr. Soumi: Naturally, the first and most important step is to choose the right product for the right customer and ensure they have the optimal experience for their needs. After this the best way to scale and gain future customers is to find the right way to get your product in front of them. That is the challenge and no two industries are identical.
Adam: What is your best advice on building, leading and managing teams?
Dr. Soumi: Leading teams in the same in surgery or any other industry. As a leader, you have to set the goals of the team and the roles for each individual. You also have to have the right talent for the needs of your team. Additionally, everyone has to understand the shared goals of the team and respect the assigned roles of each of the members. Certainly, each individual can also have other personal goals in addition. Most importantly, everyone has to understand and be comfortable with their role within their team. The teams that do not function well have individuals who maintain incongruities with their role and what the team feels their role is. Many teams function well at times of stability but not at times of crisis. This is generally because they do not respect or trust the other team members to fulfil their roles well. This is where the experience, skills, and knowledge of the leader is valuable in allowing everyone to maintain confidence in the overall team.
Adam: What are the most important trends in technology that leaders should be aware of and understand? What should they understand about them?
Dr. Soumi: In health technology, the holy grail has always been interoperability and compatibility between different systems. Achieving this would be tremendous for a multitude of reasons but has always been elusive due to the intrinsic difference between all the systems. Though conditions are still far from perfect, great strides have been made in this area and optimism for greater functionality is rising.
Adam: What do you believe are the defining qualities of an effective leader?
Dr. Soumi: Competence, experience, and communication skills are necessary for an effective leader. These skills will give you the respect of your teams and allow your shared mission to succeed.
Adam: How can leaders and aspiring leaders take their leadership skills to the next level?
Dr. Soumi: Great leaders always need to be continually improving their skills. They should be the ones at the forefront of technology who can educate their teams. They need to be the ones who demonstrate exemplary value to their clients and collaborators. The key to this is constantly challenging themselves to improve in all facets they can and accepting feedback of their performances. Many leaders fail because they cannot the self-reflection required to improve their own process.
Adam: What are your three best tips applicable to entrepreneurs, executives and civic leaders?
Expects setbacks and have a plan ready if they occur.
Choose your team wisely and always be there for its members.
Understand the big picture and what your ultimate goals are.
Adam: What is the single best piece of advice you have ever received?
Dr. Soumi: Great leaders help everyone else succeed.
Adam: Is there anything else you would like to share?
Dr. Soumi: Years of being a surgeon taught me innumerable life lessons. Some of the most lasting ones include: 1. Never give up during a difficult time; 2. Never celebrate too early; 3. Always credit others for your success. Adam Mendler is the CEO of The Veloz Group, where he co-founded and oversees ventures across a wide variety of industries. Adam is also the creator and host of the business and leadership podcast Thirty Minute Mentors, where he goes one on one with America's most successful people - Fortune 500 CEOs, founders of household name companies, Hall of Fame and Olympic gold medal winning athletes, political and military leaders - for intimate half-hour conversations each week. Adam has written extensively on leadership, management, entrepreneurship, marketing and sales, having authored over 70 articles published in major media outlets including Forbes, Inc. and HuffPost, and has conducted more than 500 one on one interviews with America’s top leaders through his collective media projects. A top leadership speaker, Adam draws upon his insights building and leading businesses and interviewing hundreds of America's top leaders as a top keynote speaker to businesses, universities and non-profit organizations.
Follow Adam on Instagram and Twitter at @adammendler and listen and subscribe to Thirty Minute Mentors on your favorite podcasting app.