June 28, 2017

Our U.S. News & World Report rankings were released yesterday, and I’m proud to say that Texas Children’s again made an impressive showing in this annual survey. Eight of our pediatric subspecialities are ranked in the top 10, and the other two are very close and steadily climbing. Most exciting, however, is that we have again had another specialty rise to the very top spot – Texas Children’s is now ranked No. 1 in the nation in cardiology and heart surgery.

This is pretty amazing, and I’m thrilled to celebrate this tremendous accomplishment with the entire leadership team, staff and employees at Texas Children’s Heart Center. The Heart Center has held the No. 2 spot on the U.S .News list for the past two years and had consistently been ranked among the top pediatric heart programs since the pediatric subspecialty rankings began in 2008. This year, the Heart Center steps into the No. 1 spot, surpassing Boston Children’s Hospital, which had held the top ranking in this subspeciality for the past 19 years.

The Heart Center’s accomplishment is built on a rich history of expert and innovative pediatric heart care, exceptional leadership, partnership and focus on doing what’s best for our patients. Led by the late Drs. Denton Cooley and Dan McNamara, Texas Children’s Hospital started performing heart surgery on children in 1956. Dr. Cooley, a pioneer heart surgeon, and Dr. McNamara, a patriarch of pediatric cardiology, were among the first to demonstrate that small children could safely undergo heart surgery.

Since then, the Heart Center has continued to grow, push the envelope and pave the way to become a highly sought and respected center of excellence. Much as it was in the beginning, the Heart Center today is led and staffed by world-renowned pediatric cardiologists and surgeons: Surgeon-In-Chief and Chief of Congenital Heart Surgery Dr. Charles Fraser Jr., Chief of Cardiology Dr. Daniel Penny, Chief of Cardiovascular Anesthesia Dr. Emad Mossad, Chief of Critical Care Dr. Lara Shekerdemian and Anesthesiologist-In-Chief Dr. Dean Andropoulos. It is because of their leadership that the entire Heart Center team remains dedicated to developing innovative cardiac interventions and surgical treatment options to treat the tens of thousands of children with heart defects who seek our care annually.

Our U.S. News rankings are a testament to the amazing leadership we have here at Texas Children’s. This recognition is not just about any one person being exceptional. This is about each and every member of the team operating at a level that is second to none. You know one of my maxims is “Leadership applies to everyone.” Everyone is a leader at Texas Children’s. This recognition is about the leadership that is demonstrated by everyone from the frontline to the executive team every single day. I know that a big part of our success is due to our culture of exellence, which challenges each of us to be our best, to think creatively and, most importantly, to consistently exceed our patients’ expectations.

Congratulations Texas Children’s Heart Center. We are beyond proud of your accomplishments.

Watch this video to see and hear people’s reactions when they learned about Texas Children’s No. 1 ranking in cardiology and heart surgery.

June 16, 2017

In honor of Father’s Day this Sunday, I thought I’d share one of my favorite blog posts from a couple years ago about two incredible people I adore – my children. I’m grateful for the lessons they taught me and for the honor of being their father. 

About 23 years ago, I became a single dad to my two young children, Emily and Ben. Emily was 11 and Ben was 9, and I was just 38.

I sat them down, and I said, “Look, guys, let’s do this. We’re going to be a family, and we’re going to be a great family unit. I will do everything I can to be the best dad and mom for you that I can possibly be. It’s going to be just the three of us together, and we’re going to make this work.”

And with that, I made them a promise. I promised that I was not going to remarry until they were out of high school. With all they were already experiencing at the time, I didn’t want them to be concerned about a new person joining our family.

They said, “Dad, that’s awesome. That sounds like a good plan.”

Well, Emily graduated from high school, and she went off to Stanford. A couple years later, Ben graduated and headed off to the University of Oklahoma. And the day I took him to college, after I had gotten him all moved in and was about to leave, he turned to me and said, “Dad, you’ve done what you promised Emily and me. Now, we want you to find someone for you.” And fortunately I did, and Shannon and I were married in 2003.

It was really quite touching. As a young adult, Ben assumed that it might have been a sacrifice to make such a promise to him and Emily so many years before. But what they may not have fully realized was that working hard to be the very best dad I could be for them also helped me to be a better man and a better leader.

When I became a single parent all those years ago, I had recently joined Texas Children’s as the CEO. It was an incredible learning and formation period for me as a leader. And having such a significant transition in my personal life could have potentially impacted me and my leadership positively or negatively. It was really up to me.

You know that one of my maxims of leadership is “We lead in our professional lives and our personal lives.” I was getting a firsthand lesson on that through my children, because in my efforts to be a successful parent and to help maximize my children’s success as young people, I, too was growing.

One of the most important things I learned from them was how to listen. Taking on the role of both mom and dad meant that I had to really refine my listening skills. They were smart, ambitious children who were curious about life and asked lots of questions. Tuning in to their individual needs and feelings and really learning how to listen to them helped me become a better leader by becoming a better listener.

Through my personal experience, I learned how to listen to the organization. Having the ability and willingness to listen to the organization is critical to being an effective leader. It means I must make sure I’m approachable and accessible for all of you so I’m aware of the big issues, as well as the subtle nuances. My children taught me that.

I believe if you have children, there’s not a more important leadership role for a man than being a father. Applying my leadership skills to being the best dad I could be to Ben and Emily helped me in return. And I’m so grateful to them for the lessons and experiences of fatherhood.

Whether you are a dad – or a mom who’s wearing both hats – Happy Father’s Day to you. There’s no greater responsibility or reward than growing and learning with your children and leading your families.