Difficult Conversations Podcast
Lessons I Learned as an ICU Physician
Episode 178 | October 10, 2022
Healthcare and Fatherhood
Author, Speaker and Healthcare Leader
Welcome to Difficult Conversations with Dr. Anthony Orsini. Today, I have a wonderful guest who’s been doing great things in the healthcare field and has some wonderful stories to share. My guest today is Jeff Atwood. Jeff is a healthcare leader, author, and speaker who has more than twenty-five years of healthcare leadership, marketing, and storytelling experience. He consults with healthcare and community groups nationally, sharing insights and encouragement found at the crossroads during his two decades serving healthcare organizations, while raising a daughter with significant and developmental challenges. Jeff’s books have been published by Simon & Schuster, Random House, and Harvest House, and today we’ll be talking about his latest book, Need to Know for Graduates: Little Things That Make a Big Difference, which was released earlier this year.
Jeff shares his journey and how he entered a career in healthcare by accident. He tells us about his daughter who has had a seizure disorder her entire life, and how he and his wife had the opportunity to touch almost every part of the healthcare system as parents. We hear about the Gratitude Symposium and Jeff shares a sweet story, as well as his thoughts about how the healthcare community is wired with gratitude. Dr. Orsini shares his insights on the importance of teamwork when it comes to providing care to human beings, and we hear some great stories of the true kindness of people in healthcare We hear some great advice about how we can bring even more beauty and humanity out in medicine, and why acknowledging people when they do good things is so important. Dr. Orsini tells us his “sticker story” and why such a simple thing seems to bring so much excitement to people. He tells a tender story about a housekeeper in the Neonatal ICU. Jeff’s discusses his most recent book, Need to Know for Graduates: Little Things That Make a Big Difference, and his idea behind the book that shares advice and things he thinks are important for parents to tell their kids. He explains how as a parent you really need to be intentional with what’s important and how you say it.
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Jeff Atwood (1s):
The idea that if you intentionally have conversations with your kids, and it’s not just as a high school senior, right? It can’t be a hail Mary like that, but babies, you talk to parents about this all the time with the importance of communicating with your children. But elementary school, middle school, as horrible as that is, high school, just lean into them and be so intentional about communicate. I, one of the things that I tell young dads now is it’s really easy to sort of just say, Love ya or heart symbol or whatever it is. I’m like, No, no, no, that is not enough.
Jeff Atwood (41s):
Literally say I love you. There’s a wild difference between love Ya and I love you and, and the intentionality of language and what comes from that is so important. And I and I think that’s the key. As parents, as colleagues, as caregivers in a hospital that, you be intentional about what’s important and in hindsight.
Announcer (1m 7s):
Welcome to Difficult Conversations: Lessons I Learned as an ICU Physician with Dr. Anthony Orsini. Dr. Orsini is a practicing physician and president and CEO of The Orsini Way. As a frequent keynote speaker and author Dr. Orsini has been training healthcare professionals and business leaders how to navigate through the most difficult dialogues. Each week, you will hear inspiring interviews with experts in their field who tell their story and provide practical advice on how to effectively communicate. Whether, you are a doctor faced with giving a patient bad news, a business leader who wants to get the most out of his or her team members or someone who just wants to learn to communicate better this is the podcast for you.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (1m 52s):
Well Welcome to another episode of Difficult Conversations: Lessons I Learned as an ICU Physician this is Dr. Anthony Orsini, and I’ll be your host again today. Well, today I have another wonderful guest. He’s someone who’s doing great things in the healthcare field and more importantly, like so many of our other guests has a great story to tell. And so often these things go hand in hand. Today my guest is Jeff Atwood. Jeff is a healthcare leader and author and a speaker. He has more than 25 years of healthcare leadership, marketing and storytelling experience. Jeff speaks to and consults with healthcare and community groups nationally sharing insights and encouragement, found that the crossroads between his two decades serving healthcare organizations while concurrently raising a daughter with significant health and developmental challenges.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (2m 38s):
You’ll hear his story. His books have been published by Simon and Schuster, Random House and Harvest. His latest title is Need to Know for Graduates released earlier this year, which we’ll talk about more today. Welcome Jeff and thank you so much for being here. This is a long time coming. We’ve had to reschedule this a couple times because of different reasons. I’m so excited that we’re finally able to get this going and I can’t wait for the audience to hear this.
Jeff Atwood (3m 2s):
Thanks Tony. Good to talk with you. Yes,
Dr. Anthony Orsini (3m 5s):
I think we had to change or reschedule a couple times with my move and so this is, it was long time coming. The first time we spoke was several months ago, although we did know each other through the Gratitude Symposium So. I’m glad it’s finally happened, so thank you. Yeah,
Jeff Atwood (3m 17s):
It’s, it’s fun to make that connection. Glad you’re getting settled in your new world.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (3m 21s):
Yes, it’s gonna take some time, but it’s okay. So I’m in kind of a makeshift studio today, Jeff. I always start here because you know, I’m a big believer in the personal side of healthcare. I’m a big believer in making the human connection with people and you have so many great stories that I’ve heard you tell before about the human connection, So, I, always really like my audience to get the human connection from the person that they’re hearing. Just tell us about yourself and how, as we say in this podcast, how you got to the pinnacle of your career about being on this podcast.
Jeff Atwood (3m 51s):
Well this is it. I’m glad to finally achieved
Dr. Anthony Orsini (3m 54s):
That. You, you’re done now.
Jeff Atwood (3m 55s):
Thank you very much, goodnight everybody (laugh). No, ended up in healthcare by accident. Really did. I’m a marketer and a communicator and writer by background and was doing that for a while in Nashville and was a partner in ad agency and we just started to do some work with a hospital company here in town and I thought that was sort of interesting, had spent better part of my career doing anything from selling banks to lawnmowers, to horse clippers, to anything it, it’s fun to be creative, it’s fun to find interesting ways to tell stories that cause people to do things in a capital sort of way. The hospital thing was intriguing to me and so that was began to do some of that work and begin to spend time in hospitals. Almost concurrent to that.
Jeff Atwood (4m 36s):
Our first daughter was born, Madison is our oldest, she’s 26 now and she was born a typical child and then when she was just sort of being six months old, she got bacterial meningitis from her first year infection, which is wildly, wildly unlikely as we’ve learned and, and so because of the meningitis in the effects to her brain and the illness and all that sort of thing, it was becoming apparently really clear to us that she was gonna have a raft and challenges through her life. And so kind of his all that was playing out, a friend of mine who was at one of these healthcare companies called me and said, Hey, why don’t you come over here and join us? And I was like, I’m not a hospital guy, I’m a marketer.
Jeff Atwood (5m 16s):
He is like, Think you’re meant for this right now. And as fate would have it, he was exactly right. Because when I got the healthcare company and, and we owned hospitals across the country and I got to spend time there and go that this is really, really meaningful work. Not to say that marketing communications is not meaningful, but when you get a chance to tell the stories of people who are doing truly heroic work, amazing work, saving lives and birthing babies and all the things that happen in healthcare systems, it was like, I need to be part of this because this is something that is meaningful and sturdy and advances world, not just sells a lawnmower.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (5m 55s):
So much of who we are comes from really our past and our experiences. You know, I’ve spoken about my childhood epilepsy that really probably in retrospect without me knowing it pushed me into healthcare. I always think of life as like we’re just kind of riding and someone else’s driving the car. And so if it weren’t for Madison though, was it That? You saw things that were good and things that needed help you think you’d begin healthcare if it weren’t
Jeff Atwood (6m 20s):
For that? I think I saw them differently, Tony, I think I really did. I think I had never really had an opportunity to sort of see what the healthcare system was like and what it meant and the impact that it could have. And as we spent time with her when she was critically ill and six month old, and then you mentioned epilepsy, she’s had a horrible seizure disorder her entire life. And so we spent a lot of time with neurologists and neurosurgeons and kind of all around that and all the testing that can come with that. And then just the developmental challenges. And so we’ve had the opportunity to sort of touch almost every part of the healthcare system as parents. You don’t think you’re gonna do that as a parent, you have your first child and I was just talking with a friend about this earlier today.
Jeff Atwood (7m 1s):
When you have that first child, you immediately get this slideshow in your head of all the things that are gonna happen first birthday and riding a bike and going to kindergarten and all these sort of things. And you just sort of see them in your head, even if You don’t articulate them, you know, kind what is expected. And then when you have a situation like ours, I would assume like yours too, with the epilepsy where that’s twisted on its head, you begin to think of things differently and go, Huh, there may be more to this than I expected, than what I seen. And really I think is the ability to be part of something that was meaningful to other people really became important to me.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (7m 39s):
You and I became friends and got to know each other when we were both involved in the Gratitude Symposium with Quint Studer. Quint’s a good friend to you and to me and someone that I look up to when Quint asked me to be a speaker on the Gratitude Symposium, I was honored, but the real honor came when he asked me back the second year. Cuz that’s, I think how you know how you did. Because when he asked me back, I was really over the moon. And you’ve done some speeches for him and you work with him. It’s all about the Gratitude of, you said it from the very beginning. You’re watching nurses and doctors and healthcare professionals and even valet guys doing extraordinary work and it’s often not appreciated. But so tell me about the Gratitude Symposium.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (8m 21s):
Tell me about your thoughts about the healthcare professionals.
Jeff Atwood (8m 24s):
I think Tony thing that has been the most amazing to us is to see that it’s not just the clinical teams that are impactful in healthcare. One of the favorite stories, and actually you mentioned Quint a second ago, Quinn used it in his book.The Calling, was there’s a story when Madison was critically ill when she was young and I was walking kind of in and out of the hospital at different times to catch my breath or to go to the car. And the guy who was the parking lot attended at Vanderbilt saw me walking out one day and he sort of waved me over and said, Come here, come here. And I walked over and I didn’t know this guy, he didn’t know me, he’d probably seen me walk out a couple times. He goes, I could just tell that you’re having a hard time right now. And I’m like, Exactly right.
Jeff Atwood (9m 4s):
My daughter’s critically ill. He goes, Let me just tell you this, I just wanna let you know that I’m praying for you. And that was it. That’s all he said. And then he kind of went back to his business and that’s not in his job description. There’s nobody at Vanderbilt who would say, Mr. Parking lot attended guy, Here’s your responsibilities, Collect the money, park the cars, keep us safe. Oh, and make sure That, you interact in this very intensely personal way with this person. That’s how the healthcare community is wired. We talk about Gratitude and I think there’s so much to be thankful for. I know our family has seen over and over and over again the impact of folks who have gone out of their way to make our lives better.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (9m 43s):
Yeah, the two two things come to mind when you tell that story. I always talk about healthcare being like baseball, people get up at the plate one at a time. The valet person made an impression on you, how the receptionist treats you, how the security guard, going up to the elevator. The, it’s not just the nurses and doctors at any way along that patient experience, someone could hit into a double play just to keep using the baseball analogy. And so that’s one thing that in order to really provide care to human beings is really about a teamwork. It’s baseball. Secondly, I think of, and I mentioned this on podcast before, it’s a lecture by Rabbi Kushner and people have heard me talk about him all the time.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (10m 24s):
He wrote the book, Bad Things Happen to Good People. But his lecture, if you’ve never seen it, it’s very old, He’s in his sixties, he’s sweating profusely. He’s got a real skinny tie on. But he talks about his faith and how it was challenged when he had a child who had a tragic illness. And in the end he tells his conclusion when he was doubting God was that God sends us people. And that’s what he does, that he may not cure all diseases, but he will always send people. And there’s that old joke about the guy who falls over the boat. Nobody, he’s God will help me. And God says, I sent you three men to pick you out, you know, out of the water. And So
Jeff Atwood (11m 0s):
I sent you the helicopter and I sent the boat and I sent all this. You know, it’s like, well why didn’t you rescue me, What am I supposed to do? And I think that’s thing. When our healthcare system works at its best, it’s when we get to the humanity of it, it’s super easy. And I’ve done it. He’s used tend to look at these metrics and, but here’s a drg or here’s near the surgery, here’s an add on, here’s this or that and all the other thing. And you lose sight of the humanity of it. When Madison was young and at Venderbilt, she had been in the ICU on event for days and days and days. And then they moved her off the vent into a room by herself because they were still not a hundred percent sure about what the bug was that had caused the meningitis.
Jeff Atwood (11m 41s):
And so my wife was expecting at this point, so clearly had a lot going on in our lives. So she was back at Ronald McDonald house resting. I went to the hospital that day to go find Madison. I walked into the PICU and she was not there. And I said, Okay, she’s around the corner, down the hall and So I walked around the corner, down the hall and I peeked in the room and I saw the bed sitting there and there was nobody in the bed. And my heart dropped because I knew what that meant in the vernacular of the PICU. And I looked across the room and I saw a woman in a chair in a rocking chair holding my daughter rocking. And I was furious. Furious because I peeked in the window and I could see of the woman’s name tag was the word student, the bottom.
Jeff Atwood (12m 22s):
I ran back to the nurse’s station, found the attending physician, who by the way, this was the woman who was instrumental in saving my daughter’s life a week before. I mean, this woman did crazy amazing things. I went up to her and I was screaming at this woman, literally complete come apart screaming at her, Why is this woman holding my daughter? And she looks at me very calmly. She says, Why don’t you ask her? I do not need this sort of sanity right now. Okay, please understand my rage. I storms back to the room, I got ready to walk in the door. I saw the woman holding my daughter in the corner. She moved again and I saw the bottom of her name badge. This time I saw it said Masters of Nursing student.
Jeff Atwood (13m 3s):
All right, slow your role here a little bit. This is not a candy striper. On her first day I opened the door in the most accusatory way I could ever say, Why are you holding my daughter? And she looked up at me and she said, because she was crying. And it was just like, I mean, what do I say? At that point, she’s just doing exactly what my daughter needed. Again, just like the story before that, there’s nothing in a manual that says hold the crying baby. I mean frankly, it’s this 25 years ago. So we probably wouldn’t do that today, right? Somebody from risk management or somebody would come and say, No, no, no, you can’t do That. You know, I gotta have the baby with the guardrail and the whole thing, whatever it is. But she saw my daughter, she saw her distress and she held her and I think that’s the opportunity that we have.
Jeff Atwood (13m 49s):
Tony, if we fully lean into all of this and embrace it and understand that these are not DRGs or addon surgeries or another case or someone in the yard or frequent flyer, whatever the case is, these are human beings and we have a responsibility to be human beings caring for human beings.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (14m 6s):
People don’t go into medicine for money or fame or whatever. It’s rare, people go into medicine because they wanna help people and they get lost around maybe during their trail with a lot of the task oriented people. I talk about it all the time where you just get all this pressure, but they’re good people. I could tell you in the Neonatal intensive care unit, I’ve never seen a baby die alone. Never 27 years working in the busiest NICU in the world. There’s sometimes, sadly, a baby will get sick very quickly become critical. It becomes evident that the baby’s dying. We’re calling the parents, having the parents giving them the bad news, telling them they need to come in. Sometimes parents don’t live close by almost a hundred percent of the time, Jeff, a nurse will pick that baby up, sit on the rocking chair and love that baby until the mother gets there.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (14m 55s):
And it’s choking me up just saying it. These are amazing people.
Jeff Atwood (14m 59s):
Yeah, I’m getting chills here. And I saw it in the PICU. It works on the other end of the spectrum too, with older adults. It’s amazing the work that gets done in hospice, Home health in some of those places. There are no victories in those units. I mean, there are sometimes victories in the NICU or in the PICU or in peds cancer. Some of those places in home health and hospice, there are no victories, no one’s gonna recover. It’s just the nature of where it is. And yet the inherent kindness of people to be respectful and honoring is remarkable. It’s truly remarkable.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (15m 35s):
And that’s the good side of medicine. The bad side of medicine is these great, wonderful people get really caught up in being overwhelmed, overworked, covid only really illuminated what we already knew before. I have a whole big thing about just people acting contrary to their beliefs and core values. And this is where burnout comes from, is these great, wonderful people are being pushed to do more and more things and they know that that’s not what they want. And so there’s that other side of medicine and I do my best. You know, one thing I’ve done for years, and it’s a little thing, but it means a lot. If a nurse calls me up and says, The baby in 27 is having trouble breathing, 100% of the time, I will say, Can you please tell me the baby’s name?
Dr. Anthony Orsini (16m 21s):
And I think that just sheds a little late on like, I’m reminding you that you’re becoming task oriented. You’ve been here for three hours, but you’re remembering. And so it’s a message. You’re a healthcare leader. What’s the answer to this? And if there isn’t an answer that we can bring out the beauty in medicine even more.
Jeff Atwood (16m 38s):
It sounds wildly simple, but we just have tell stories like that. I think we get so caught up and I was with a friend of mine who works at an emergency company, the staff’s emergency physicians and hospitalists and is like we’re having trouble telling our story. I go, Dude, you literally save lives for a living. Show me anywhere else on the planet where someone can say they save lives every day. You do this every day. Tell that story. I mean it. It’s just like with your kids. When you tell your kids the good things about them, they hear that and then remember that and they become that. We have to be better in the healthcare world of telling our teams and our colleagues and our associates about the good, miraculous, amazing things they do.
Jeff Atwood (17m 25s):
And truly is. The more we focus on telling the stories of the good that is happening, it is not gonna fix all the problems we have. It’s not I’m a marketer, I’m a communicator. My solution to everything has to tell the stories, right? But if we don’t do that, then we will become crushed. Just like you were talking about with that example, the baby in 27. Just use the baby’s name. I think that’s a great illustration. How do we bring these humanity back to it? We’ve allowed everything to chase the humanity out. That’s not why we’re here. That’s what results in that conflict you’re talking about. And So I. Think the more that we can focus on identifying great things that are happening.
Jeff Atwood (18m 5s):
Because here’s the thing, they’re happening, right? I mean, when we celebrate nurses and physicians and you say, Hey Dr. Smith or Nurse Jones, we wanna salute you for what you do. They’re like, It’s just what I do every day. That’s just where they go. And even so we have a responsibility to them and their profession and the care they give and say, you know, no, no, this is a big deal. And I want you to know it’s a big deal and I’m gonna be very intentional. Just like with your illustration, I’m gonna be very intentional. I’m not gonna say, Nurse, you call me in this. Let me explain to you what you did wrong here. All That, you not gonna do that. But just that slight, slight adjustment and how you approach it changes everything. Wow. If Susie or Johnny in 27 is struggling, that makes it more important to me as a human being instead of, hey, just a kid in 27.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (18m 53s):
It really does. I love what you said about acknowledging when people do good things because, and they’re not always, I saved that life. I did cpr. It could be the valet guy getting acknowledgement for what he said and how much of an impact. All these years later she’s 20. How old is Madison now?
Jeff Atwood (19m 11s):
Madison’s 26. Yeah,
Dr. Anthony Orsini (19m 12s):
26 years ago. And you’re still talking about this amazing person. I do a program called It’s all the delivery. And part of that program after we do training of everyone on patient experience, is we give out hundreds of stickers on the floor. And anyone, no matter what your level is, can give a sticker to anyone when they happen to see something that’s good. Especially if it comes to communication. Jeff, it is amazing. No matter how old you are, no matter how high up on the chain when somebody gives you a sticker, I’ve seen chairman of departments get a sticker and be so excited putting on his door.
Jeff Atwood (19m 48s):
I gu I mean I guarantee you the chairman of medicine or the head of surgery or the hospital CEO or whomever, you give ’em a dang sticker and say, You did a great job. I mean we all become four years old. Right?
Dr. Anthony Orsini (20m 0s):
Exactly. And they wanna hear it,
Jeff Atwood (20m 3s):
They should hear it, they should hear that they are doing work that’s meaningful and it’s changing lives and it’s making a difference. And even if they get their butts kicked for the other 23 hours on their shift or whatever the case may be, they still know That, You know what, at least for one moment I did something that was meaningful. You gotta start somewhere. Right? If we could fix healthcare on this conversation, man we would be awesome. But we can’t. Let’s just start by telling somebody how much we appreciate them.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (20m 34s):
Exactly. And give a sticker for something little Dr. Orsini, I noticed you sat down and talked to that parent and held their hand. Get a sticker.
Jeff Atwood (20m 42s):
Stickers are great!
Dr. Anthony Orsini (20m 42s):
And go home and tell your wife I got a sticker.
Jeff Atwood (20m 45s):
Yeah, yeah. I mean mean I guarantee you, you know, in my fifties and when I get a note in the mail from a colleague or from somebody that I helped or from a publisher or something, that thing goes on the refrigerator like I was in kindergarten. I mean, and my wife is like, seriously? I mean, do we need to get you more stickers or something? Cuz I mean No, no, no. It’s cool. But I got these right here. I don’t see your stickers.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (21m 9s):
That’s so funny. It it really is truly a team. I’ll tell you a quick story about Julio. Julio was a housekeeper in their Neonatal intensive care unit in the unit that I worked in New Jersey. And Julio cleaned in the nicu, loved being in the nicu. He was there for 15 years and when Julio retired, our group gave Julio a retirement dinner. He was part of our family. And I’ll never forget, our senior partner introduced him to give a little bit of speech and Julio said how amazing his job was because he saved lives every day. Because if he didn’t clean the isolator, the incubator well enough, the baby can get an infection.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (21m 50s):
And he was saving lives. And you know what Jeff, that hit me, that this wasn’t just a housekeeping job for Julio, he was saving lives. Yeah. And he was.
Jeff Atwood (21m 58s):
Absolutely. And I think that’s the opportunity we all have is to remind people that the work they do is good and holy and important. I think about this, So Madison, when she was 19, she was having catastrophic seizures and the point where they would kill her. And so she had to have this significant surgery called the Corpus callosotomy where they essentially separated two halves from her brain and she had to relearn everything was, she was really, really slow to come out of anesthesia from this. And really it took her days to even really kind of fully wake up. So I was talking to a friend of mine the day after the surgery. You know, as a parent, I mean we had to make a decision on the surgery but there really wasn’t a choice, right?
Jeff Atwood (22m 39s):
I mean we could have said no and one of those seizures would’ve killed her. So we said yes. And so she doesn’t wake up from the surgery for 48 hours. I’m convinced that the decision I made made things worse, not better. And so I’m walking in the hallway outside of the ICU where she was and I’m just walking and walking and walking. I’m on my phone and I’m talking with a friend. Tell him I have made it worse. And so we hang up and I notice somehow at some point this guy from EVS was literally just walking the hallway with put on of when it was I was really, really struggling and just walked up and down that hallway for 10-15 minutes and when I caught my composure, he went about his day.
Jeff Atwood (23m 33s):
But the ability that’s afternoon we have as leaders is to create a culture where that’s acceptable, right? That was unproductive work. He wasn’t cleaning a room or cleaning a floor or whatever it was. So in terms terms of productivity and efficiency as a EVS person, that was unproductive time as a human being It’s the most productive thing he did. I dunno, certainly that day.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (23m 57s):
And as a leader, if you go and give that gentleman a sticker or a pat on the back and I saw you walking with Mr. Atwood, that was an amazing thing. That you were doing and and just pat him on the back, you’re reinforcing that this is the kind of culture that we want.
Jeff Atwood (24m 11s):
That’s right. Yeah. Our responsibility as leaders is to create cultures where that can happen. Instead of going, Oh I’m sorry you’re over by 0.7 6 43 on this particular thing. Go clean rooms faster and just let that man wander the hallways completely falling apart by himself. The opportunity we have as leaders is to lean into that humanity and create the culture where the good is celebrated and where the humanity is celebrated.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (24m 40s):
But that’s the teaser right there, Jeff. That just summarizes everything that is all about what’s good in medicine and our first major step to stick. And that’s why I’m such a fan of yours and Quint’s and people who are working really hard to make a difference and I see improvement. I think we’re getting there. We really are.
Jeff Atwood (24m 57s):
I think we’re realizing that it’s important. I think we’re realizing that mental health and leaning in to being human and all those sort of things are important. And we lost that. I think we lost it. And then Covid came and just crushed all of it. And I talk to different organizations and I’m going speak with some nurses in the Midwest in October and we are talking about the theme this week and the idea is replenishment, we have to replenish these folks and help them be able to care for people who are sick and I think that we’ve identified the problem, we haven’t fixed it certainly. But first you have to admit you have a problem, right?
Jeff Atwood (25m 38s):
And I think maybe we’ve done that
Dr. Anthony Orsini (25m 40s):
Well. People like you and Quint that other people are really making a dent. So thank you so much for doing all that In our last 10 or 15 minutes, I wanna talk about your book cuz I love your latest book. Is this your fifth
Jeff Atwood (25m 50s):
Book? It’s the third in this series. I’ve written some others, but this is the third in this series. It’s called It’s a Need to Know Series. And the whole thing began a few years ago when our middle daughter, we have three daughters. Madison is the oldest, Mackenzie is in the middle. She’s got a great career in animation, that voice acting in California. And then our youngest is Macy who’s an equestrian. Then he has just made it a career to say there’s a 1500 pound animal, I think I need to put him way up in the air and go really fast while doing that. So wow, she’s got a 24 7 connection to orthopedic surgeon. So that’s you. But it’s when Mackenzie was senior in high school, beginning her senior year in high school, I got really nervous about it.
Jeff Atwood (26m 30s):
I was like, this is sort of where the rubber meets the road in terms of parenting. We’ve got her for another year.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (26m 36s):
This is your first one leaving the house.
Jeff Atwood (26m 37s):
Yeah, exactly. And so yeah, Madison would always be with this, This is the first one to leave the house. And it’s like, does she know what she needs to know? And So I did was every day of her senior year of high school, I sent her a text and said, Mackenzie, this is So I think you need to know. And some of were like, Dad loves you. Just know that Dad loves you you and were pieces of advice and thinking out to know career and that sort of thing. And so it was like, that’s a good idea. Maybe I could give more advice to other people. So we found a publisher, we did the need to know for newly weds and for new parents because those are people who are looking for something solid or hopefully we’ve been married 30 years so we learned something and we have three children who were speaking to us.
Jeff Atwood (27m 17s):
So that’s part of, But Need to Know for Graduates was truly just advice and things I think are important for parents to tell their kids. I mean it’s really that simple. We talked about being intentional in conversations with employees or colleagues and that sort of thing. I think we have to be very intentional in our conversations with our kids. And it’s easy to lose sight of that Tony. It’s easy to sort of go, Oh, you know it’s tough and they’re busy and they have their phones and their things and all this sort of thing. But your job as a parent is a leader in your family. You have to be intentional about how you communicate with your kids. Everyone lives and dies with their phones. So the method that I chose was to send her a text.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (27m 57s):
I love that. The other thing is we think that while our kids are teenagers, they’re not listening. But you find that when they’re in their twenties that they actually were listening. And of course it wasn’t a couple years ago. We’re sitting around at Thanksgiving table and my kids start, I have three kids and they’re busting on me basically and calling Daddys and all the things that dad say. But what came out of that was, holy crap, they’ve been listening. And so they’re actually saying, and I’m blessed, I got three good kids. And one of the things that I’ve been saying to them since the very beginning is I always say to them, the most dangerous words in the English language are, it will be fine. And what I mean by that is when anyone ever did something stupid, the last thing that they said was, it’ll be fine.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (28m 37s):
Before they jumped off the bridge before they did drugs. And so they were busting me about that. But it’s nice that they’re listening. I love the idea of the text messages, but then you took it further. You put it in a book for all of us.
Jeff Atwood (28m 48s):
Yeah, I think I is again, school is just starting right now. And so if you have a senior, obviously I think things are great, but just be intentional about telling your child things you want them know. And it’s to your point about one of the things that the dadism that I share all the time was the idea of just show up. Opportunity follows availability and I. Look at my girls in their careers and the things that they’re doing and literally quoted back to me “Dad I showed up I showed up”.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (29m 25s):
I mean they were on me for about an hour, Jeff. I mean the worst four letter word in the English language is lazy. Starting there going, Oh. And I’m like, holy crap. They were listening.
Jeff Atwood (29m 33s):
Exactly. Well I mean I think, but that’s the thing is, I mean well you’ve got 18 years with ’em, right? So hopefully over the 18 years something will stick. They joked about it. But we were with our girls a couple weekends ago in DC at a wedding and we were just, the five of us were riding around in a van and, and I mean they were just beating me mercilessly cause I needed to go find a pair of socks for the wedding cuz dad forgot to pack socked. But the other like, Dad, we wanna stop at a Wendy’s. And they like kept this running tally of how many Wendy’s we passed. Hey dad, there’s one up here. I go, that’s over at Dulles airport. We’re not gonna go to Dulles Airport to go to a Wendy’s. Well, we could, but the idea that, you intentionally have conversations with your kids and it’s not just as the high school senior, it can’t be a hail Mary like that.
Jeff Atwood (30m 23s):
But babies, I mean, sure you talk to parents about this all the time with the importance of communicating with your children. But elementary school, middle school, as horrible as that is, high school, just lean into them and be so intentional about communicate. One of the things that I tell young dads now is it’s really easy to sort of just say love ya or part symbol or whatever it is. And I might, No, no, no, that is not enough. Literally say I love you. There’s a wild difference between Love Ya and I love you and the intentionality of language. And what comes from that is So important and I think that’s the key.
Jeff Atwood (31m 5s):
Parents as colleagues, as caregivers in a hospital, That you be intentional about what’s important and then how you say it.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (31m 13s):
That’s wonderfully said. I really love that. The book is great for those of you out there. Basically the way I see your book is you’re dad 18 years, like most dads have been doing all these dadisms. But what a great thing to do then is kind of, this book is a summary. Each page is one dadism or one piece of advice. I read it on the beach, It was a wonderful book to read on the beach. It’s a coffee table book. But what I found myself doing is they were all great, but every two or three you go, Oh my God, I say that I love this one. I’m like, dog earing this one. And and So I think it’s a great book if you do have a high school kid, get the book. Make little dog ears. This is the ones that I love to say this is good.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (31m 53s):
And what an easy read and I, what it’s a great coffee table book.
Jeff Atwood (31m 57s):
I think what it does is it causes you to say, I’m gonna say these things to my kid this year. And it’s, it’s really interesting. We have a mutual friend, Dr. Steven Trzeciak, who just wrote this great book called Wonder Drug, where he and his colleagues did just the most research about kind of what comes, you know, optimism and hope and service and all these sort of things. And I was looking back at my book, which is just all these things that I said as a dad, which is a normal goofy dad. I’m like,
Dr. Anthony Orsini (32m 25s):
There you go.
Jeff Atwood (32m 25s):
Go. I’m validated by Dr. Trzeciak, how about that? He says that what I’m saying is real. And I’m like, I don’t know That, you would validate me. But the idea is that sort of that intentionality in relationships is So important and it’s work, right? It’s work. You gotta be intentional, especially as you know, as a colleague and as a boss, Yeah, you can do those things, but you’re raising these kids and you get this narrow window in the broadest contact, this narrow window of time and is a finite number of conversations. And don’t be lazy about ’em and don’t miss the opportunity to be very clear with your kids about what you think is important and what you think is great about them.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (33m 7s):
And here’s the common thread that brings us slack, full circle, is being intentional, being a good communicator and being a leader in healthcare and as a parent. And you’ve been able to put those all together because really all of our lives, our professional, our personal lives get better when people take those times to be intentional communicators. And so whether it’s your kid or a patient, that’s the whole theme of this. And that’s what Jeff Atwood is about. And that’s why I’m so honored and happy to know you and to admire your work. It’s been really great.
Jeff Atwood (33m 41s):
Thanks Tony. It’s great. I’m thankful that our paths have crossed and like with most things that I do these days, I go thanks to Quint for bringing our lives together.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (33m 49s):
Why Quint brings a lot of good people together. I’m so grateful to him. So the book, again is called a Need to Know series. Graduates Little. Things That Make a Big Difference.
Jeff Atwood (33m 57s):
Yeah. It’s available anywhere, anywhere online.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (33m 59s):
Great gift for your kids when they go to school. Great thing for the holidays. What’s the best way for people to get in touch with you? So we can put it on the show notes.
Jeff Atwood (34m 6s):
Email is just Jeff@jeffatwood.com.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (34m 9s):
Perfect. So I, want to thank you for taking the time. I know you’re very, very busy. I appreciate it everyone. Thank you for spending time with Jeff and I. It’s been really great and illuminating and it’s just an honor. This show will be available on all the platforms. If you wanna get in touch with me, you can get in touch with me through The Orsini Way.com, DrOrsini@TheOrsiniWay.Com. Please encourage, go ahead and download previous episodes. So thank you Jeff, appreciate it and thank you again.
Jeff Atwood (34m 33s):
Announcer (34m 35s):
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Dr. Anthony Orsini
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