Cindy Salas Murphy shares how culture drives an organization
Tim Leman: Have you ever felt like you're on the edge of something great, you put in the work, you've done the hard stuff most people aren't willing to do and now you can just sense magical run lies ahead? This season, we'll talk to leaders across the wide variety of industries to learn what it's like to ride the edge and own it. We'll hear what separates those special teams from the more ordinary experiences, the kind, if we're lucky, we get to be a part of maybe three or four times in our life. Join me, Tim Leman, Chairman and CEO of Gibson, as we discuss leading on The Edge. Welcome to The Edge podcast, I'm your host, Tim Leman. On this episode, we have Cindy Salas Murphy. Cindy is the Founder and CEO of WithHealth, a tele-health company. I'm excited to have you on and welcome Cindy.
Cindy Salas: Thank you, Tim. Great to be on with you.
Tim Leman: Hey, tell us a little bit about WithHealth and also your role there.
Cindy Salas: So I'm the proud Founder and CEO of WithHealth, and what that means is I get to lead a team of about 250 professionals that are all focused on one thing, and that is delivering precision care by making it affordable and accessible for everybody. And precision care is really what we've come to know the cross section of precision medicine, we've always heard of that, but we've always talked about being proactive and preventive in the care delivery. And so where science is today, we've created this apex really of delivering care that is aligned to your genomics, your microbiome, and ultimately creates an environment that's proactive and preventative. And we've seen that available for those that can write checks in the 10 thousands, 20 thousands for a doctor's encounter, but we really want to bring it to everybody because everybody deserves that kind of science and technology delivered with amazing care.
Tim Leman: So Cindy, maybe expand on that a little bit. I think a lot of people either have used telehealth, telemedicine or certainly in the last year and a half, maybe experienced it for the first time and have had whatever experience they had. But talk a little bit deeper even about what precision health means and what makes that experience with you guys a little bit different.
Cindy Salas: So precision care, the way that we've created our model is that it's all delivered through telehealth. And I started WithHealth in 2017, knowing that telemedicine was progressing, it was going, but it was still only about 2% of doctor's visits were through telehealth. As soon as the pandemic hit, it went through the roof. And even without the pandemic, we would have seen this increase, but it would have been a slow increase. And so we're delighted that telehealth is available because what it does, it allows us to lower the cost of being in bricks and mortar, that's expensive in and of itself. And so the other objective is really by lowering costs, taking our offering and bringing it directly to the employers, helps us to reduce the costs even further. And so you bring primary care physicians, you bring all medical specialties and we offer that to our employers, our employer clients, and they pay a fee per month and we're able to offer doctors visits, to see a cardiologist, to see a neurologist, an endocrinologist right now, when you need it, no prior authorizations. And our doctors visits are between$ 45 and$ 85. Now, people always ask me, how do you do that? How are you able to do that? Well, that's really what we've built over the last four years, our intellectual property is really around how we enable care for those patients. And that's through our WithHealth digital twin, by using genomics to make your DNA actionable, by using the microbiome to make your microbiome actionable for the care that you need. And also by ingesting your health history from other health records, you may go to an urgent care down the street, you may go to IU, I mean, you may have all sorts of providers all over the place and your data is everywhere. And by bringing in all of that information into our HIPAA compliant medical record, we're able to enable our digital twin so that you can get the best care that you deserve.
Tim Leman: Having parents in their late seventies and just seeing them over the last year and a half with the pandemic and going through all that, could see how they would love something like that too, of not having to leave the house and to be able to get everything they need. I also love hearing about businesses that filled a big need and or thrived during such challenging times, so how was that to have a lot of growth and have to fill out a lot of rosters with providers that are willing to come on and be a part of telehealth, how did you pull that off?
Cindy Salas: Well, Tim, I feel very blessed that we have an amazing season team. Our team of entrepreneurs or C- suite is really filled with entrepreneurs that know how to listen to the market and respond to it. And I'll tell you when the pandemic hit, the first thing we did is to bring our capabilities together and say, how can we serve? We are skilled in genomics, we are experts in business, we're experts in healthcare. We have physicians, we have nurses, how do we bring that together and support our communities? And so the first thing we did is we ended up becoming the telemedicine company for the county of San Diego, right in our backyard. And what that meant is that we were there to support our community and take patients out of the emergency room. And using our telemedicine capabilities we were reducing the rate of infection, we would increase care provided to these patients that we didn't know much about the disease, but after a few days, they would go into the cytokine storm and we would lose patients, that's what was happening in all of our communities.
Tim Leman: Cindy, I'm curious, do the providers, the physicians, and so on, that participate in telehealth like this, is this what they do full- time or do they still have a face- to- face meeting, interactions with their patients?
Cindy Salas: The majority of our physicians are not full- time, the majority of our physicians have a job where they show up and have face- to- face contact. And so what we have seen though, is many of our physicians have transitioned from that face- to- face to spending more time doing our work and less time doing the work where they have in the past.
Tim Leman: What do you think they like about your work and being involved with precision telehealth like this versus the traditional model.
Cindy Salas: So what many of our physicians will tell you is what they appreciate the most is that they get to rethink the way they work. Our physicians don't have to get in the car and drive an hour to get to where they work, they don't have to sit countless hours filling out documents for insurance, filling out documents for prior authorizations. They truly get to spend time with the patient. And by aggregating all of the information into one location with our digital twin, they're able to not comb through an electronic medical record and really just focus on what they went to medical school for, and that's to deliver care. It's really a wonderful opportunity for them. The other aspect that our physicians love about WithHealth is the culture of innovation and the flexibility that exists. And when you work in a traditional medical practice, your focus is often your billings, what you bill. And so, unfortunately, that CPT code, which us healthcare folks always look at it, that's how you get paid, that no longer becomes part of the conversation for them, because it really is about creating great practices that will ultimately improve the health of the patient.
Tim Leman: A lot of these points that you're making Cindy remind me of on- site employer clinics. But as we know, if employers expand and have a work from home, work from anywhere, those onsite clinics maybe aren't always quite as practical. So this fills a lot of the same space, but is able to really scale around wherever somebody is at.
Cindy Salas: Exactly.
Tim Leman: That's great. So you had said you have an incredible C- suite team of entrepreneurs, tell us a little bit about your leadership team from the perspective of the different roles or strengths that some of the different members bring to the team. So really your team dynamics together.
Cindy Salas: So I have a philosophy that I've always believed in and worked on throughout my career. And that is that you want to surround with people that compliment you, not compliment you. And that's something that every time I interview someone, every time I'm considering a new role, I look at what's the gap that we need to fill. And so our team is really a complimentary group, we are all very different. We're very different in our approaches, but the one commonality is we have a tremendous amount of respect for each other. And so I consider my co- founder and CFO, Mark Broido, Mark is a remarkable human being that has an incredible background and is a serial entrepreneur. And he's done this many times, he's had many exits and so with that comes a lot of experience that he brings to the organization. It also comes with a tremendous amount of rigor and I might even say a little unwillingness to take as many risks. And so complimenting that with someone like me, who is an extrovert and a true believer that we can make a difference and really knowing that we can make a difference and we do make a difference. It allows me to feel the freedom to take a few more risks, because I know what we have holding up this organization. And then we look at someone like Dustin Humphreys, who's our COO and CTO and he comes from CVS and developing digital health for CVS and having had exits himself. So all of those backgrounds, and then we have Cindy Judd, who's our chief marketing officer, and she was one of the top dogs at Accenture. And so we have this tremendous team that has really come together for the success of WithHealth and rounding us out is Ashish Parikh who's our chief business development officer who has been very deep in fundraising for other companies. And he and I worked together at one of the previous startups that has had great success. So again, we're a really small but mighty executive team, and our goal is to transform healthcare and everyone is aligned. And so we bring in our different skill sets to actually deliver on that promise.
Tim Leman: Cindy, you mentioned startup, and I know you've also spent some time in larger organizations. Compare and contrast startup leadership life versus larger company leadership.
Cindy Salas: Well, absolutely different I must say. In a larger organization, at the end of the day, when you look left and right, there are loads of people there to help you carry the load. And you have the benefit of having all of those folks to really help you achieve the tasks that you need to accomplish. And that's tons of fun because then you can work through your strategic plan with a boatload of folks to help you execute. In the startup world, at the end of the day, you're sitting at your desk and you look left and right, and it's often good to put a mirror right next to you because you're looking at the person that is responsible to execute. So having been a company of two to now a company of 250, I can tell you that the culture is different and there are more people now at WithHealth that can help execute. But in a startup world, it often takes rolling up your sleeves and moving forward quickly, which is also another contrast of being in a small company versus a large company. A large company, you have more bureaucracy, you have a lot of layers that you have to go through to get things done. And so in a startup, you really don't, you have a vision that you're to execute to and if everyone on your team is nimble and they're able to take on the responsibilities, then you can move very quickly and execute.
Tim Leman: So Cindy, how do you, as you continue to grow and so on and scale, how do you maintain the best parts of startup life and the ability to be nimble like you talked about, but also the need for some structure in place and not landing in a highly bureaucratic type of model?
Cindy Salas: Well, Tim actually at our executive leadership team, we just discussed this yesterday and in our town hall, we discussed this yesterday, and that is that you focus on culture. And oftentimes what we do is when we're growing and we're growing fast, we forget that culture is what drives the organization and if you create a culture of bureaucracy, that's what your employees will carry out. If you create a culture of excitement and innovation, that's what your employees will carry out. If you create a culture of fear, that's what your employees will carry out. And so making sure that you have not only one articulated what your values are, but two show how you bring them to life every day, unless you're doing those things, you can't expect the culture to align with your values, the culture of the team to align with you.
Tim Leman: Cindy, I wonder if you have some tips for employers, because I think a lot of employers are still struggling to how to figure things out that culture is not attached to a building. And of course, you all are highly virtual in terms of your relationship with your employees and so on, so you've had to do it this way from the beginning. But what are some tips or tricks that you've found to help build and keep the culture alive and do it in a virtual way, the way you've been doing it?
Cindy Salas: So I think some tips for employers, I would say, first and foremost is transparency. And don't just say you're transparent, actually be transparent. And what that means is having those difficult conversations and also showing your appreciation for the experiences that you go through. I think sometimes as employers, we forget that the challenges are also growth opportunities for us. And so we may end up coming from a place of fear and not many of us CEOs like to use the word fear, but at the end of the day, if we're not sleeping or if we can't quiet our mind, that's fear. And so we need to be able to call it what it is. And so I think one, is having the humility to call fear when it's fear and having those transparent conversations that you are in a place of fear and how you can mitigate that fear. I think the other thing is to have as leaders to be curious, to be curious as to where the organization stands in relation to how they see the organization and how they see the culture of the organization. I'll tell you, in December, in the middle of COVID, we were swamped, our employees were working so much, we were continuing to hire every single day, we were doing new employee orientation twice a week. I mean, we were bringing onboard people so fast. And the one thing that we never let up is actually spending time one- to- one with each employee, every leader one- to- one time with each employee. And being curious about what they believe and also sharing our cultural values with those employees is tremendously important and not just saying it, but actually demonstrating it. And I would say the last thing are the town halls, those have been tremendously helpful for us. And Tim, it was so cool, I'll tell you, you can appreciate this, you've been in your role for a while. When you hold a town hall and you're on Zoom, now we have a policy at WithHealth if you're on Zoom, you're always on camera, so we're a telehealth company so we need to see each other. We're pretty much remote everywhere we are, so we want to make sure that we see you. And we had pages upon pages on the town hall, and it almost felt like a webinar, but I think the town halls are so great and not doing it like a webinar, doing it like a town hall that people can go off mute and ask questions and really share the state of the organization in a way that you can tell them what's going well and tell them where there's contrast, because they also have tremendous amount of ideas that can be helpful. And so creating that space, whether it's a town hall for us, it works well in a town hall where they can actually share their ideas, but you share your concerns.
Tim Leman: Real quick on the town halls, just how often do you do them and what's about the approximate length of time?
Cindy Salas: So our town halls are every month, we do it on the same day, every month. I think this last month we had to move to a different week, but it's typically the same week, the same day of the week. The agenda is based on what's occurring in the company. We always do a mission moment, we select somebody that exemplifies the mission of the organization. We don't do employee of the month, for us it's really about carrying out our mission, so our mission moment is a really fun way of recognizing those folks and then whoever gets selected, gets the opportunity to speak and they share what they believe, so that's always a lot of fun. And our meetings are scheduled for an hour, I'll tell you, we've had meetings that end in 35 minutes because we've communicated everything that needed to, and there weren't any questions. And we've had meetings that are scheduled for an hour and there were loads of questions so we went over by 10 minutes or 15 minutes, but we pretty much stick to the hour. And our executive leadership team also gives updates, we have a huge vaccine management program that we're doing right now. We have a lot of very large customers that are bringing their employees back to work and they're requiring vaccinations from their employees and the employers don't know how to manage their data. So the beauty is we're able come in, we're able to support them with their vaccine management and so, because that's an area of growth. Then yesterday, our COO gave a wonderful update on how that's going, how the implementation of that is going, the security aspects of it. And as a way of introducing it to the employees.
Tim Leman: Got it. So Cindy, we've been talking about teams, leadership teams, et cetera, but I also love talking with CEOs about another team they're on and that's at home. Tell us a little bit about how you're doing all the things you're doing and how you engage in and your relationship with your husband and you're raising kids and all that kind of thing. It's tough when everybody's going in different directions.
Cindy Salas: Absolutely. I love that you asked me this question. I am a total family person. I am the daughter of two immigrants, I'm first generation American and the values that they instilled in us and my sister and I have really been around family first. And so it's fun because I get to pass that on not only to my children, but also in the team when we have team members that come and say, I have issues with my family. We have unlimited PTO policy, so our employees are able to take the time that they need to be with their family. But back to my family, I have incredible support system that started with my folks and they still are whenever I have to travel and my husband has to travel, then they fly in and they're with the girls and the girls jump up and down every time, but they see them, but I'll have to say a tremendous force in my life is my husband. My husband is a incredible advocate for making the world a better place and he lives that in his work, he lives that through his life and so I'm very privileged to be married to such an amazing man. Also, my children are incredibly life- giving and I have two little girls that are seven and 13. I just became the mom of a teenager, and when I say that most people go, oh my goodness. But I have never been more excited to enter a new phase of my life than now, she's such a great kid and she's so loving and caring for others, so I feel very privileged. And we also have two older kids that are in college and so living through that process as well, and they're just so bright and energetic and it's so fun to see them grow as well. So as you said, we're all running in different directions, but at the end of the day, the one thing that my husband and I do with the little ones that are at home is we do favorite moments, we do prayers, some favorite moments. And even if we're traveling, we do favorite moments and prayers. And I'll tell you, I've been at a conference in San Francisco, JP Morgan conference for healthcare, and I run into the bathroom at a happy hour, I run to the bathroom and I do my FaceTime with favorite moments with the kids so that we can finish off our day. And so that ends the day on a positive note for them, it gives me energy to know that they're living their life and they're expressing their gratitude for the day that they've had. And then it gives me pause to also consider what has been my favorite moment, what am I grateful for? And I get to hear what my husband's grateful for. So that's fuel, that's definite fuel for me.
Tim Leman: That's great. Well, I hope maybe tonight, recording a podcast with Tim Leman maybe makes the favorite moments from mom. So I plugged the voting for that.
Cindy Salas: All right, done.
Tim Leman: One more question before we hit rapid fire here, what would you say is your edge in life?
Cindy Salas: Positivity.
Tim Leman: Positivity.
Cindy Salas: Yeah. I see my lens is different, I know it is and my lens is positive because I'll tell you something that I've experienced my entire life, Tim, it always works out for me, I always get the upside of everything. It always works out, even when it seems like it isn't, at the end, it always does. So I have the ability to be positive because things always work out. And someone says," Oh, knock on wood or don't say that," and I said," No, it really is the truth, it always does." So I have no fear in saying that it always works out because it really does.
Tim Leman: Cindy, would you say that something that's innate in you or you maybe born that way? Did you just grow up that way or is it something you've learned?
Cindy Salas: You know what, Tim, I think it's something that I've learned. I've learned because I've lived through it. Some people might look from the outside in and say, well, I grew up with a disabled mom, my mom could never sit on the floor and play with me, her body didn't move that way. My mom couldn't go hiking with us or running because she was disabled. And so somebody might look and say, well, wow, that was rough. But I'll tell you it was the best thing ever, because we'd have real conversations, we wouldn't just be moving through space together, we would actually have real conversations on what's meaningful and resiliency. And those are aspects of my life that I think were really taught and it was through that. So I think it's learned and through experience that I've realized that things always work out. And it's so funny, Tim, because once you know it, which I know it, it's not that I believe it, it's that I know it, people see it. And so at WithHealth if you talk to any employee at WithHealth, what they always will tell you is that it's Christmas every day at WithHealth because some miracle, some new gift is always coming our way every single day. And it's not just me I mean, I know it, but now we have 250 other people that also know it. And it's super fun to work with people that know that something amazing is coming today and at the end of the day, it always does, something amazing always happens. It's like, wow, look at what happened here. So I have the privilege of hearing the Christmas everyday stories, all the time.
Tim Leman: Okay. Let's shift gears to rapid fire, this is always my favorite part of the show. Favorite color?
Cindy Salas: Pink.
Tim Leman: First car?
Cindy Salas: Toyota Corona 1984.
Tim Leman: All right. Yeah. You know what, that was funny. My mom had one of those Corolla hatchbacks for awhile and I was hoping I didn't have to inherit it. And I managed to, I got the Ford Taurus instead, so I don't know if it was much better, but-
Cindy Salas: Well, that was a Corolla. Mine was a Corona.
Tim Leman: Oh, a Corona-
Cindy Salas: Even before then, it was an old one, but I cared for it like it was a Bentley.
Tim Leman: Nothing like the first vehicle.
Cindy Salas: That's right.
Tim Leman: What's the most memorable concert or performance you've been to?
Cindy Salas: Ed Sheeran.
Tim Leman: All right. What's something about you that very few people know?
Cindy Salas: I wear a size nine and a half shoe.
Tim Leman: We won't tell anybody except those listening to the podcast.
Cindy Salas: Except those listening.
Tim Leman: Three people you'd like to have dinner with?
Cindy Salas: Oh, this is so fun. Mother Teresa, because somehow she was always able to see the beauty in others. My grandmother who has now passed, but knowing what I know now to sit and have a conversation with her would be tremendous. She's one of the most positive people that have ever walked this earth and so having a conversation with her would be tremendous. And the last person would be Abraham Lincoln and his vision for our country, regardless of politics, I don't really care about the politics, but his vision for the country and executing on that vision is something that as a CEO, we're always looking to do. And so having a conversation with him would be tremendous fun.
Tim Leman: I'm listening to a biography on US grant right now and a lot of course, Lincoln crossover in it too. And I've listened to, read few of his biographies also, and yeah, just incredible stuff. So the last one here, what's something big you want to do before it's all over?
Cindy Salas: Hike through Antarctica. I think that that's a good one. Although I think that one will be achievable pretty soon.
Tim Leman: Think so too, Cindy we're in sync on that one. If it were me on the other end, I want to visit all seven continents, so I got an Australia trip planned and then I'll be down to Antarctica. So I'm trying to recruit, see which one or both, my sons are interested, so.
Cindy Salas: I'm close to as well, we love to travel and the kids enjoy that bug as well. So it's really fun to explore our world and live even for just a few days with other cultures. I think it's incredible for the soul and it generates a lot of ideas within me. So it's fun to do that and then bring it back and see how I can create a better life for myself, for my family, for my workplace, from those learnings. So I'm with you Tim.
Tim Leman: We'll Cindy, thanks so much for joining us there. I really enjoyed hearing about your thoughts for leaders to around being transparent and curious. And I think combining those two things can be really powerful. So we appreciate you being on and thanks for your time today.
Cindy Salas: Thank you, Tim. And thank you for doing this podcast. I think so many people truly can learn from it. And I think it's very exciting to have a thought leader like you bringing other people together to share their ideas. So thank you for doing that.
Tim Leman: Thank you for tuning in today. I'm Tim Leman and remember to own your edge. Subscribe to The Edge podcast on Apple, Google and Spotify.
Tune in to hear Cindy Salas Murphy, CEO of WithHealth, discuss why you need to surround yourself with the right people and how culture drives an organization. She and Tim also discuss the importance of embracing transparency, curiosity, and positivity.