How Deeper Engagement Improves Business Results
Episode 421

Dale Van Demark, Partner Health Industry Advisory Practice at McDermott Will & Emery

How Deeper Engagement Improves Business Results

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How Deeper Engagement Improves Business Results

Episode 421

Recommended Book:

The Best and the Brightest

Best Way to Contact Dale:

Linkedin

Mentioned Link:

MWE

How Deeper Engagement Improves Business Results with Dale Van Demark, Partner Health Industry Advisory Practice at McDermott Will & Emery transcript powered by Sonix—the best audio to text transcription service

How Deeper Engagement Improves Business Results with Dale Van Demark, Partner Health Industry Advisory Practice at McDermott Will & Emery was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the latest audio-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors. Sonix is the best way to convert your audio to text in 2019.

Saul Marquez:
Welcome back to the Outcomes Rocket. Today, I have the privilege of hosting Dale Van Demark. He's a Partner Health Industry Advisory Practice at McDermott Will & Emery. Dale is… it is really fantastic at what he does. He advises clients in the health industry on strategic transactions and the evolution of health care delivery models. He has extensive experience in health system, affiliations, and joint venture transactions. Dale also provides counseling on the development of technology and healthcare delivery with a particular emphasis on telemedicine. Dale has been at the forefront of advising clients with respect to the globalization of the U.S. healthcare industry and more. He advises U.S. and non U.S. enterprises with respect to the formation of cross-border affiliations and international patient programs. In addition to writing regularly on matters related to his practice, Dale has spoken at numerous conferences around the world on globalization of healthcare. And in fact, I had the privilege of meeting him at one of those conferences at the DOCSF earlier this year. And it's a privilege to have him on the podcast today to chat about looking around the corner and strategies that we should all be considering in our businesses and healthcare. So, Dale, what a privilege to have you. Thanks for joining us.

Dale Van Demark:
Absolutely. My pleasure.

Saul Marquez:
So, Dale, what is it that got you into the medical sector?

Dale Van Demark:
Well, I actually kind of fell into it. It wasn't anything really that I would say was by design. I started out practicing law in kind of a generalist, sort of a practice before I began focusing on transactional work. And a colleague of mine went to a a firm that focused on on healthcare and recruited me to join. And so it was it was really more a matter of happen… happenstance and and that I ended up in healthcare. But I have to say, I'm quite happy that I'm quite happy that it happened.

Saul Marquez:
Well, you know, it's a natural fit. And having seen you speak and, you know, haven't had conversations with you on the topic of healthcare. I mean, you're a forward thinker in the space. And so it's a treat to have you here. What would you say is a hot topic that health leaders need to have at the forefront of their thoughts today?

Dale Van Demark:
It's a great question. You know, there are a lot of hot topics that I think people like to talk about and appropriately with the healthcare industry right now, I know one of the big ones, certainly one that I've been focusing on quite a bit, is the role of technology and data within the healthcare infrastructure and how healthcare organizations can best utilize the vast amounts of data that are now available and the tools that we have to really transmit that data from place to place. Very important subject, very important topic. But I think we actually have to take a little bit of a step back and really think less about those tools for getting things done and more about something more fundamental that I really see at work in people not talking about quite as much as I think they should, which is engagement. I think when you take a look at what's going on in healthcare now, in some of the really interesting, innovative and exciting things that are happening is all really focused around some form of engagement of stakeholders with each other, primarily in ways that didn't exist in the past. And it may be focused around data, maybe focused around technology. But what gets you there is really being able to engage with another stakeholder and figure out that common interests and figuring out how to align your interests in a way that that's going to make something work. It's true whether you're talking about better ways to reach patients and really engage with them in fundamentally different ways than we do. And you can see it also in those really complicated, you know, big corporate transactions where maybe a life sciences company and a healthcare provider really engage with each other to learn from each other, to improve what both are doing. And I think thinking about the way we engage with the people and the organizations around us and thinking about ways to improve that engagement and really create more value from those relationships is, I think, something that we should be focusing a lot more than we do.

Saul Marquez:
Dale, I think it's super insightful. And and so as you think about engagement, what would you say are some of the fundamentals around properly doing like an excellent job at it?

Dale Van Demark:
Well, first and foremost, you know, go back to… go back to some fundamental lessons that we think probably we've all learned throughout our lives and and really think about deploying them in more strategic ways. And to me, the most important one is, you know, to talk less and listen more.

Saul Marquez:
Yes.

Dale Van Demark:
And really, Right. Not just kind of listen tactically to figure out what's going on, but really trying to get behind the discussion and find out what's really driving someone or driving another organization so that you can understand really what their broader perspective is and figure out ways that you can as an organization really work to align yourself with them and and find those points of commonality that you can that you can work from. I think that that is fundamental and critical. In a sense, everybody should go back to school and learn how to sell things. Right, because what's one of the first things you learn about selling right? It's really to understand that underlying perspective in figuring out how to create value right. And that's what I think we need to do in all of those relationships is really figure that out so that we can have the most productive conversations we can have with people.

Saul Marquez:
Dale, what a great message and everybody listening. You're probably thinking, huh? How can I listen better? I like this idea of engaging. If you're not listening with genuine curiosity, you're missing out. Right. You know, Dale calls out tactical listening. Put that aside. Listen, with genuine curiosity, you'd be amazed what you could figure out. And so and then how you can engage with folks. So tell me a little bit more about maybe how your firm or just, you know, in the work that you guys do, how this engagement principle is creating results and improving outcomes, increasing efficiencies. Tell me more about that.

Dale Van Demark:
Yeah, well, as a service provider, you know, we don't we don't have the opportunity to directly impact what's going on in, say, for example, the delivery of healthcare services or the development of new drugs or devices or even the creation of new relationships. You know, we help people achieve those things, but we're not the prime movers behind them. And so for those of us who and most of us in our healthcare practice are this way, for those of us who are really interested in and and really moved by what's going on in healthcare, do feel sometimes a bit of frustration in that regard that we can't be directly at that table and really working to do those things as prime movers. But what we what we naturally do in our healthcare practice, I think all of us, because we are so interested in and in and engaged in the healthcare industry, is that we do just what I was talking about before with our clients. We really listen to what it is they're trying to do. We really try to understand their perspective and we try to in the services that we provide, really fundamentally impact what it is that they're doing and let them know the things that we can do for them that they may not be thinking about. And also let them know, quite frankly, at times when they may be asking us to do things that really isn't either the highest and best use of our time or something they may be able to achieve, not using us in really trying to make sure that they're extracting from us the most value that they can extract from us so that the relationship that we have with them becomes stronger each time we engage with them so that they can they can really see that we're not you know, we're not there just to skim off the top where we really are there to try to help them improve what they do and succeed at what they do. For us, those long term relationships are the most valuable to have. You know, I have relationships with people that have lasted decades from which I've I've only extracted a little bit of work recently. But it's worth it. Those long term relationships are worth it because you learn so much about what your clients do and you get to really figure out. Those different perspectives, and if you do that across a variety of all of the sub industries within health care, the value you bring to the table when you when you talk to your client to be able to tell them, hey, you're you want to do a deal with somebody in a different industry. They're thinking about things this way. You know, having the ability to do that is is fantastic. So we really try to, you know, take our experience, take our big ears and focus on providing value to the client, not just the delivery of the service, but really delivering value. We do that not just in terms of the services that we provide, but we sponsor and host a number of conferences throughout the year all over the world, London, Munich, Shanghai, all over the United States, focusing on different industries within within healthcare or different topics within healthcare. We invite all of our clients and we take those opportunities to get our clients to talk to each other and get them the opportunity to face to face in a relatively safe environment. Call it right so there's not a lot of selling going on, as it were, just so that they can engage and really start to, you know, interact with people they they maybe haven't had the opportunity to speak with in the past. And what we have found is that that not only gives them the opportunity to find things out that they may not have known about before, but we've also seen relationship starts start in those sorts of conversations. And in the end, deals get made, you know, just by chance. So it's been it's been a real value that we can that that we've been providing to our clients for many years and we intend to continue to and for all of your listeners, if you want to come to any of her conferences, just go to our Web site, take a look at our upcoming events, and I'm sure you'll find one or two that are of interest.

Saul Marquez:
Dale, what is what is the website?

Dale Van Demark:
Very easy. It's www.mwe.com

Saul Marquez:
www.mwe.com, I love it. And I have taken a glance at some of the things that you guys offer. I mean, pretty in-depth stuff. It's incredible that you guys do that. A phenomenal service. And look, I mean, you're walking the walk, right? I mean, we led this podcast with the idea of engagement. You're doing that in not only the listening aspect, but also engaging through creating conversations and debates around these topics that people dedicate their lives to.

Dale Van Demark:
We our view of the work that we do is, of course, that it is in service of a critical industry. And whether we're talking about health care or life sciences, right.. These are industries that impact people's lives in extremely meaningful ways everyday. My clients run the range from life sciences companies to health care providers. You know, these are the the frontline people there that are are helping, you know, my family, your family. And so you can't help but have a very strong connection to what you do on a day to day basis. And I think that that that is part of what drives us and what what really wants us to see our clients succeed and drives us to figure out how to really provide value to them and how to improve the chair of our firm. And our firm is not just the health care firm where we are, you know, a a piece of a decent size piece, but only one piece of our practice. And we in the health care practice are very happy that one of one of our colleagues has become the chair of our firm. I did so a few years ago. And he's been a great, great leader for the organization. And when he became the chair, he he did something that, you know, some people may kind of scoff at, which a lot of us have really embraced and which was to come out with a motto for our firm, which is always better. The notion being that we should always be getting better at what we do. We should always be improving the service that that we provide. And I think that that message is definitely is in alignment with what we see our clients trying to do every day in terms of the delivery of the service or the production of the of the devices or the or the drugs or the delivery of ancillary services, health care these days, everybody's trying to improve what they do. And we're right there with them.

Saul Marquez:
Well, I think that's that's incredibly inspiring. You know, always better if you're asking that question and you're asking it daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, every year. Imagine the difference that you could make. I mean, just these two concepts like engage, listen, always better. Wow. I mean, these are and I love that you just kind of said I'm not going to focus on the tactical today. We could talk about virtual medicine. We could talk about, you know, cross-border deals and global. But you just you're getting down to the basics. And I love that. And and with that, I believe that a lot of the basic fundamentals that we learn most from his mistakes, Dale, so I love if you could hone in on maybe a setback that you had and how that setback has made you better. And what lessons you learned.

Dale Van Demark:
Oh, my goodness. I make mistakes every day and probably way too many to count. I think one of the things that we tried to do is really focus on kind of what's coming around the corner in health care so that we can be prepared as our clients start to engage with it and so that we can be out there in front in and understand it. And, you know, sometimes we get it wrong. And so sometimes we'll focus on things that really don't turn into what we think it may turn into. And that's happened to me personally a few times, focusing on some areas where I thought the industry would turn and it hasn't. And I've really learned, I think, two lessons from those big mistakes that I've made that I can that I can point to. One is that the failure was a mistake frequently that I shared with a number of other people. So I didn't feel so bad about it. And so it taught me that, hey, you know what? Everybody makes mistakes. But part of that was recognizing that I wasn't thinking as critically as I should be about where I thought I saw the industry might be might be headed. And so, you know, those two things, you know, it's the old saw. You know, it's not about getting knocked down. It's about, you know, what you do after you stand up and you learn that when you when you make mistakes and you and you don't succeed, it's something that you that you wanted to. That the best thing to do is get back up and just put it behind you and don't give it too much thought in terms of stopping you from trying again. Right.. That's something else. And then for me, the other is, particularly with an industry as complicated as as we have in health, is that it's always good to cycle it through one last turn of critical thinking before making a decision.

Saul Marquez:
How do you do your best critical thinking, Dale?

Dale Van Demark:
Usually with other people. I have to say, you know, I'm a firm believer in conversation and analysis and not by committee, but engaging with other other people whose opinions you you respect. I tend to not make decisions about things until I run them by somebody else, even if it's someone who is not, you know, fully engaged, someone who's, you know, bright and whose opinion as a general matter, you know, I respect just given a bit of giving that person a bit of context and giving that person a short description of my thinking on it and in in getting some outside perspective can be can be very helpful. So I try to work. Obviously you can always do that. But I try to, you know, sit down and focus as best I can turn my phone off that kind of a thing. But if I can, I really do try to get other people engaged and get their perspective on it as well, because, you know, whether you know it or not, you know, tons of smart people and I know tons of smart people. And I'm always amazed at the insight that I get from my colleagues.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah. Dale love. I love this. And, you know, one of the things that I try to do. And I think is so critical is to do that critical thinking. We often we have to schedule it. You know, I mean, you really can't get around. You just have to schedule it, period. So I love your call out around this schedule, that critical thinking, folks. What about on the other side of the coin, Dale? Tell me about something that you're so proud of, like something that you've done in your career in health care that you're just so proud of.

Dale Van Demark:
Well, the thing that I'm most most proud of really doesn't have anything to do with health care per se, but has to do with my colleagues. So one of the things I've always done and always tried to spend time doing is is mentoring the people who are younger than me. And then earlier in their career, and I'm now at a point in my career where I'm a bit older. And so I get to see how successful those people I've been mentoring have become. And seeing their success, I think has been professionally the most rewarding thing that I've experienced it. It's just a fantastic feeling to know that you have played a part in the success that somebody else has has achieved. I have the older I get, the more pleasure I get out of that, I have to say.

Saul Marquez:
That's really great. Building the future generation to succeed is, I think, a fundamental and, you know, hey, I've been the beneficiary of a lot of great mentors. And so kudos to you for for being able to do that, Dale, and just kind of embracing those people that you feel are going to make a difference. I mean, I really I really appreciate that that that's your proudest moment.

Dale Van Demark:
Yeah, absolutely. Without a doubt.

Saul Marquez:
That's so cool. So. So tell us about an exciting project you're focused on today.

Dale Van Demark:
Well, I have tons of really exciting projects, and I can't tell you about any of them because they're all clients. But, you know, I mean, you know, health care and both the healthcare and life sciences industries these days are really transforming in dramatic ways. And I'm involved in tons of exciting projects that my clients are engaged and developing and deploying technologies…

Saul Marquez:
How about this angle, Dale, how about this? Yeah. As as as the listeners take a foot in their new exciting projects, what kind of advice would you give them?

Dale Van Demark:
Oh, that's an interesting question. Well, what I would say is don't get ahead of yourself. If you're anything like me, I get really excited about really interesting things. So as an example, I've been all over the Chinese exploration of the moon that's been been going on. And now the Indians have have have a lunar explorer out there. And it's just really exciting. And you can get very interested in this strange substance that the Chinese have found on the moon and what is it and what's it made of and what does it mean? And it's really easy to kind of get excited and speculate. And it is always good. And of course, the scientists behind those missions are doing this to always say, OK, we can get pretty excited about where we're going. But let's not forget about the fundamentals. Let's not forget about the blocking and tackling. But let's make sure we are really doing everything correctly and in not making, you know, small little mistakes that can turn into big ones or, you know, make big mistakes. And so for me, it's a matter of not letting the enthusiasm get ahead of good business judgment. I see this all of the time. And I shouldn't say we just shouldn't say all the time. But you see it in any number. Yeah. Any number of transaction. There's a there's something you know, there's a moat. What we sometimes call in in larger transactions kind of deal momentum. You kind of get to a point where even though you may have ticked off all the things that say, no, I can't do this deal. You've gotten so far along in the process that people find it sometimes difficult to say, oh, I've got to pull the plug. And I think it's important to maintain that discipline and make sure that your strategic decisions about, you know, go no go decisions, for example, are maintained and you don't lose sight of those things.

Saul Marquez:
Now, that's so powerful. Great advice, Dale. And so getting here to the lightning round now, we're going to do that followed by a favorite book that you recommend to the listeners. You ready?

Dale Van Demark:
Okay.

Saul Marquez:
All right. What's the best way to improve health care outcomes? And I'd say from a business side.

Dale Van Demark:
I think aligning incentives is the best way to improve outcomes. And that requires you're talking about in for real before real engagement. Really understanding what your partner wants in your partner, meaning your patient, your joint venture partner, whomever it is, really understanding what they want, what they need, and seeing if you can align your and their interests so that you both have the right motivation to do the right thing.

Saul Marquez:
What's the biggest mistake or a pitfall to avoid?

Dale Van Demark:
Kind of the opposite of that. Not really understanding what's going on. Which is probably part and parcel of not preparing enough and not really understanding completely the environment that you're working with, the perspective of the of your other of your other party or the other person you're dealing with and not taking the time to to figure that out so that you can really maximize the relationship and make sure that you're not heading down a path that really ends in a dead end that you could have seen before.

Saul Marquez:
How do you stay relevant as an organization despite constant change?

Dale Van Demark:
Well, I would say, again, you know, big ears and stay engaged. And I think in terms of really staying relevant, I think it's always important to go back to the notion of solving your customer's problem, not your problem. Making sure that you really are thinking about. What the end user of your product, what the what the person who is receiving your service really is looking for and getting them to that as opposed to what you think maybe they should get. That's a problem.

Saul Marquez:
That's that's really powerful, Dale. And I think a lot of times, whether we want to admit it or not, we do get sucked into solving our problem versus our customers problem. You could deny that. But if you're true to yourself, you'll admit it and this is a good call out. So something to think about. And, you know, as as we go through these, the other thing that I'll that I'll say is engagement. While it might sound easy and you could say, oh, yeah. Basic principle, it's easier said than done. And so I like to put a challenge out there to everybody listening to this and say to you, what can you do to be more engaged? What can you do? What can you do to have those big ears? Because it's more difficult to do than to just say it. So. And the last one here on the on the lightning round is what's the area of focus that drives everything in your organization?

Dale Van Demark:
Always better.

Saul Marquez:
Always better. And it's so I love how simple he made that.

Dale Van Demark:
Yeah.

Saul Marquez:
And and, gosh, you know, I love it so much that I'm going to I'm gonna print the Alan or write it down and print it out and just put it on in front of my computer because I want I was seeing that.

Dale Van Demark:
I will tell Ira and he will be thrilled. I guarantee you.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah. And you know, we're working on the next steps and Outcomes Rocket 2.0. And, you know, that was the theme. It's like we got to innovate. You know, we've been doing this for three years. Always better. Is is is something that is I'm holding within me. And Dale, I'm glad you're you're you're bringing it up again. So thank you for that.

Dale Van Demark:
Absolutely.

Saul Marquez:
What book would you recommend?

Dale Van Demark:
Oh, my goodness. There are so many books that I have read that I could recommend. And so I'll do two thing. I'll say two things. I recommend reading a book that has nothing to do with your professional life and just getting immersed in something else.

Saul Marquez:
How long…

Dale Van Demark:
All the time. I read it all the time. And I find that I learn a great deal from other disciplines, whether whether it's, you know, reading history or reading about how something else is done. It's you get a you just get a different perspective that you can you can bring to what you're doing. And actually, a book I'm reading right now is a rereading right now, I should say, is a really good example of that. I'm rereading a book called The Best and the Brightest by David Halberstam, who is a New York Times reporter who covered the war in Vietnam. And he wrote a book about U.S. foreign policy in Vietnam from roughly 1945 to 1970 or so. And the focus being primarily the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. And in rereading it, I am remembering how the lessons that you can extract from that book that are absolutely applicable to the things that we do, things like hubris, Right. thinking that we know more than we actually do, letting a some policy decision on a global basis override what's best for what you're trying to achieve right in front of you. Not getting all of the facts right and not really hearing them and understanding them for what they are. And instead of learning from them, trying to make them fit what you want them to say. Right. all of these mistakes that were made by the U.S. government during during that conflict are lessons that I think we can bring to the things that we do on a on an everyday basis. But it's not just the. Yeah, I mean it. And it's not just nonfiction. It's fiction as well. I am a firm believer. You can learn from Shakespeare and Dashiell Hammett and then in Stephen King and anybody else. So I'm always reading a combination of fiction and nonfiction.

Saul Marquez:
Love that read something outside of your realm of expertise. And you know, the other side of that, too, is attend the conference Right.. Go to a plumbing conference.

Dale Van Demark:
Right? Yeah.

Saul Marquez:
I still have to get…

Dale Van Demark:
Start a podcast.

Saul Marquez:
Start a podcast, right. I love it. Now's a great recommendation, Dale. Appreciate you doing that. Folks go to outcomesrocket.health in the search bar type in Dale Van Demark. You're going to find the podcast show notes there, a full transcript links to things that we've talked about. It's all there. Dale, I wish we had more time, man. This has been a ton of fun, but I'd love if you could just leave us with a closing thought and then the best place for the listeners could continue the conversation with you.

Dale Van Demark:
Sure. Absolutely. Well, this final thought is something that I came to way too late in life. And so if you're younger than me, I hope you've learned this lesson already. But you haven't if you haven't, listen to this. Think about it. See what you make of it. But I think what is… There you go. Good. So I think it is absolutely critical is for everybody to really define for themselves what success means. And then to go out and achieve that and not what somebody else tells you success is. I think that people tend to go down rabbit holes with preconceived notions of what's gonna make them happy. What's going to make them feel fulfilled instead of really asking themselves that question and trying to achieve what their honest answer for themselves may be. And that's not a static thing. My belief is that that's something that can change over time and different periods of your life. You may have different things that may fulfill you or or make you happy. But I think it's important that we that we return to that question and really be honest with ourselves about it so that we can live fulfilling and happy lives. Which is which is, I think, the most important thing for us to do.

Saul Marquez:
I think that's that's a strong message, Dale. And, you know, the conversation today has been really, really interesting. You know, philosophical in nature. And I love that. And so I hope that listeners today took a lot of notes like I did and find a way to engage, to listen with big ears and and live their own version of success. Dale, just want to say big thanks, my man. I'm so glad that we're able to do this.

Dale Van Demark:
My pleasure, Saul. And I look forward to seeing you again soon.

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