July 10, 2015 | (3) Comments

Leadership always influences or determines outcomes – not some of the time, but all of the time.

This is the first of my 10 maxims of leadership, and I believe it wholeheartedly. I always enjoy observing great leadership in action at Texas Children’s. Because I know where there is great leadership, there are inspired people doing phenomenal work to advance our mission. Such was the case as I visited our Texas Children’s locations this week.

On July 6, I kicked off the One Amazing Team tour to visit more than 60 Texas Children’s facilities, including Texas Children’s Pediatrics and Texas Children’s Urgent Care sites, Texas Children’s Health Centers, our Maternal Fetal Medicine Clinics and The Center for Children and Women locations. My team and I started with our practices in North Houston, and, in all, we visited 13 Texas Children’s locations this week.

The smiles and warmth that greeted us at each location was amazing. People were happy about serving our patients and being a part of Texas Children’s. And our patients were happy. Many of them were anxious to tell me how long they’d been coming to the physicians and caregivers at a particular practice and about the great care their family receives. Arlene, a mother I met in the waiting room at Texas Children’s Pediatrics FM 2920, had nothing but kind things to say about the staff and employees there who have become part of her extended family.


Admin_2k15-0264-AK4_7716One_Amazing_Team_Tour_Sterling Ridge_TCP_7-6-15 Admin_2k15-0264-AK4_7611 One_ Amazing_Team_Tour_Conroe_TCP_7-6-15 Admin_2k15-0264-AK4_7925One_Amazing_Team_Tour_Sterling Ridge_TCP_7-6-15 Admin_2k15-0264-AK4_8042 One_Amazing_Team_Tour_Woodlands_Health_Center_7-6-15 Admin_2k15-0264-AK4_8498 One_Amazing_Team_Tour_Medical Plaza_TCP_7-6-15 Admin_2k15-0264-AK4_8672 One_Amazing_Team_Tour_Medical Plaza_TCP_7-6-15 Admin_2k15-0264-AK4_8147 One_Amazing_Team_Tour_Woodlands_Health_Center_7-6-15 Admin_2k15-0264-AK4_8321 One_Amazing_Team_Tour_Woodlands_MFM_Clinic_7-6-15


Also, each location was simply beautiful. Bright, vibrant and clean. Fun, seasonal décor greeted patients at some sites, and inspirational posters and signage encouraged team members at others. I loved walking through each site, knowing that this is what families see when they enter a Texas Children’s location. Obviously, this is important to the patient and family experience. A well-maintained site helps reassure families about the care they will receive there. It also imparts a consistency and level of quality that strengthens the Texas Children’s brand.

But what made the most indelible impression on me was the leadership on display. At each stop, the first person to greet our team was the practice manager or another staff leader. They took such evident pride in their respective facility and team. I spent a good deal of time talking with each of them about their patient volumes and demographics, and overall patient culture. They asked thoughtful questions, and they shared great ideas.

Everyone I met on our tour was on fire for Texas Children’s and passionate about their work. It gave me even more confidence about the growth we will experience in the next few years as we dramatically expand Texas Children’s and our workforce to meet the needs of our patients and their families.

Walking through the many Texas Children’s sites, hearing your stories and knowing of your long-time commitment to Texas Children’s, I know that your dedication and love for this organization will only multiply as so many new people join us. Because it is clear that the Texas Children’s culture of leadership knows no geographical barriers.

Follow the One Amazing Team tour on social media

My team and I will resume the One Amazing Team tour in August, with several dates scheduled to visit more Texas Children’s sites. You can see where we’re going and all the fun we’re having on the road by following us on social media:

Twitter: @TexasChildrens

Instagram: oneamazingteam

June 10, 2015 | (0) Comments

I know, without a doubt, we have the best team in the world right here at Texas Children’s – a fact I was reminded of again and again at all four of the One Mission, One Culture, One Amazing Team events we just hosted at the Main Campus.

Thousands of you came out to celebrate with me, and the room was simply electric. We packed the space, and we filled it with Texas Children’s pride. We also danced a little bit, did some catching up, ate lots of that great maple glazed bacon and those chocolate toffee cookies. And I lost count of all of the selfies we snapped. More than anything, we just had fun. In fact, you can see just how much fun we had in this short video from the first event.

At each of the events, we had anywhere from 800 to more than 1,300 people attend. That’s about how many people we had total in our organization when I joined Texas Children’s almost 26 years ago.

Wow, have we grown! And we’re not just bigger. We’re better, mightier and our vision is bolder. That’s why we are celebrating. We are an incredible team – our employees, physicians, volunteers and board members – and together, we’ve created something so unique here that it is hard to put into words. Some of you described it best on the brainstorming board from the events. You wrote things like “I love my work and my team. They bring joy to my life,” and “We rock every day!” I couldn’t agree more.

The best part, though, has been talking to you. I can’t tell you how great it is to see so many old friends who’ve been here at Texas Children’s for years. I also met a ton of new employees – one was just two hours into her first day on the job. What a treat for me to get to meet her just as she’s beginning to experience what an awesome place this is.

I chatted with Nancy Berges, a pulmonary nurse who worked here from 1992 to 2012. She left when her family moved to Cleveland, Texas, about 60 miles away from Texas Children’s, and she took a job closer to home. But she came back, she said, because Texas Children’s is home. She makes the drive every day and said it’s more than worth it just to be back with her team.

I talked a while with Alexandra Vassiliadis, an administrative assistant in the Central Business Office of Texas Children’s Pediatrics. She’s originally from Greece, and she moved here last year with her husband and baby. Her love and appreciation for her job humbled me. She’d only been in the U.S. four months when she joined Texas Children’s. She said she’d always dreamed of working in a hospital like this and that Texas Children’s has changed her life.

Texas Children’s has changed my life too – you have changed my life. You have been a factor in almost every decision I’ve made in the past 25 years. You are my family, and you are very special to me. And these events are like a family reunion. So even though I very much want our One Mission, One Culture, One Amazing Team events to be a treat for you, I am feeling most grateful to be able to enjoy the good times and special bonds I share with so many of you.

Together, we’ve done so much to impact hundreds of thousands of families. I know that day to day we are primarily focused on the care and tasks at hand, but every now and then, I want you to take a moment and really appreciate what we’re achieving here. That’s what One Mission, One Culture, One Amazing Team is all about.

I can’t wait to see more of you as we continue the events and the tour over the summer. For now, thank you for coming to celebrate with me. Thank you for passionately driving toward the mission every single day. Thank you for this incredible culture we’ve nurtured and grown together. And thank you most of all for being the most amazing team in the world.

We do rock, every single day.

One Mission, One Culture, One Amazing Team tour

One Mission, One Culture, One Amazing Team will hit the road in July, making stops at Texas Children’s Pediatrics practices, Texas Children’s Health Centers, The Center for Children and Women locations and Texas Children’s Urgent Care sites. The tour will continue throughout the fall and winter, until all locations have been visited. Specific details will be communicated to the appropriate leaders of the locations as tour stops are scheduled.

Click here for more information about upcoming One Mission, One Culture, One Amazing Team events.

May 21, 2015 | (10) Comments

A few days ago, I was part of a long and cherished tradition at Texas Children’s – the Employee Recognition Celebration, which honors employees who have served the organization at least 15 years. I love this celebration because when I walk into the room, it’s so full of excitement and energy and laughter and memories. It simply gives me goose bumps.

As I visited almost every table in the room, I’d look at the employees’ faces, hear their names, and I’d remember how we started. There were just 1,400 of us when I arrived in 1989. So everyone in the room celebrating 25 to 40 years, well we’ve been together a long time. And when we started out together, we were like the Spartans – we were a small group, but fearless.

We knew together that we could accomplish great things. So it was really special to connect at this year’s celebration. It was a remarkable reminder of how we all came together – along with the Board, Dr. Feigin and the medical staff – and just knew we were going to do something amazing here.

Taking the stage and looking out into the crowd, those first few moments were pretty emotional and very special. There were 415 Texas Children’s employees being honored for their collective 7,460 years of service to our organization. In those moments, looking out into the room, I thought, “This is our core.” Long-term employees who have been here 15, 20, 25 years or more, they are our core. They are the organization’s backbone – the guardians and caretakers of our mission and culture. Their passion, and most importantly, their commitment are the secret to our decades of success.

Mark stops to chat with Valesca Adams, a 40-year employee who was honored recently at the annual Employee Recognition Celebration.
Mark stops to chat with Valesca Adams, a 40-year employee who was honored recently at the annual Employee Recognition Celebration.

Employees like Valesca Adams live, breathe and drive our mission every day. Valesca, a nurse in renal dialysis, was celebrating 40 years of service to the organization – 38 of those years have been in the same unit. Dedication and longevity like hers strengthens our foundation. When Nancy Hurst joined Texas Children’s 30 years ago, she began our lactation support program and the milk bank was created. She has worked tirelessly to educate new mothers ever since, and her work has been invaluable to the health of newborns.

And I couldn’t help but break into a smile when I chatted with Keith Strobel, a systems analyst who was celebrating his 25th year right along with me. Keith was one of the Spartans. Jewel Mitchell was also celebrating 25 years of service. She began her career here just six months before I did. When I stopped by Jewel’s table at the celebration, she talked about how much change and growth she has seen during her time here. Jewel said the past 25 years have been “one heck of a ride.” I couldn’t have said it any better.

Everywhere I turned, there was a face with a story and a life dedicated to serving others. I was honored to stand amongst them all as I remembered my own milestone anniversary and my own commitment to service. It really has been one heck of a ride, and we’ve come such a long way. Yet, I feel like we’re just getting started. Thank you all so much for this wonderful journey.

May 14, 2015 | (4) Comments

One of the things I love about Texas Children’s is that we are not afraid to speak up when change needs to happen. Many of you email me when you have ideas about how to improve patient care or how we can operate more efficiently. Sometimes your emails are very personal in nature, or you may be passionate about a change that would impact many.

Regardless of why you email me, I read your messages. I listen, and I think about your questions and suggestions, because it’s not lost on me how incredible we must be as an organization if you can so freely do that – regardless of who you are or what your title is. Your messages and your efforts to continuously make us better reflect how invested we are in the mission of Texas Children’s. We are not 12,000+ people simply clocking in to work every day. We are a team – a family – driven by a passion to care for and heal people.

A few weeks ago, I blogged about our patients’ experiences here. Just as important to me, however, is your experience here. In an interview once, I was asked, “What keeps you up at night?” While I wouldn’t say I lose sleep over anything in particular, I understand the essence of that question, and my response then and now is that more than anything, I think about our people. I think about whether I’m helping nurture your growth and providing the tools and opportunities you need to carry out your ideas and visions to the greatest extent of your capabilities and talents.

As a leader, I believe if you foster a culture centered on your employees, you will be amazed at the extraordinary effort they put forth. So, your notes to me and the conversations we have in the hallways of Texas Children’s are integral to how I lead this organization. One of the most important characteristics I think a leader can possess is being a good listener. To be an effective listener, you have to be available to listen and listen with the intent of understanding a different, yet valuable perspective.

That’s why it means so much to me that we are bringing back our organization-wide engagement survey, now called “Your Texas Children’s Experience.” It’s open for the next two weeks, and for me, this survey is a way to hear from each one of you about what you’re experiencing here – the good, the great and especially the things we can do better. But it’s also a promise – a promise that I will listen and that your leaders will listen. And together we will work to respond to the needs of the organization.