Company core values may seem trivial to companies. However, being a values-driven organization is a big part of how successful companies scale effectively. Today’s guest is Brian Hudson, Senior Vice President at Avant Healthcare Professionals. Inc Magazine ranked his company #3074 on the 2021 Inc 5000 list. Avant Healthcare Professionals is a health care staffing specialist providing internationally educated registered nurses, physical therapists, and occupational therapists. Brian shares his insights on being a values-driven organization. He gives you strategies and explains why this is so important. Discover new ways your company can be values-driven.
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Brian Hudson: The Transcript
About: Mr. Hudson is a seasoned sales and marketing executive with a successful track record of developing and leading regional and nationwide sales organizations. He has entrepreneurial business start-up and large public company experience with total P&L responsibility up to $300M. Mr. Hudson has a proven track record of developing and executing strategic sales and marketing plans designed to drive momentum and exceed sales and profitability goals. Mr. Hudson was a member of Avant’s executive leadership team when the company pivoted its business model to therapy services and was instrumental in building a nationwide post-acute client base in 2009 through 2011. He relocated to the West Coast of Florida, joining KForce Healthcare as a Managing Director. When KForce divested that business unit Mr. Hudson joined Pyramid Healthcare Solutions as their VP of Sales & Marketing. Anthelio acquired Pyramid Healthcare Solutions in 2015.
Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.
Brian Hudson: Our mission is pretty clear it’s changing lives. So we changed the lives of the nurses that we bring from other countries. We want to live their American dream. We changed the lives of the hospitals who are struggling, and then ultimately changing the lives of patients that our nurses work, , that our nurses work with the core values really, it’s designed to drive engagement and help in building decision-making, decision-making processes we would grow.
Intro: Welcome to Growth Think Tank. This is the one and only place where you will get insights from the founders and the CEOs, the fastest-growing privately held companies. I am the host. My name is Gene Hammett. I hope leaders and their teams navigate the defining moments of their growth. Are you ready to grow?
Gene Hammett: Fast growth companies are different than their peers. Fast growth companies have some principles that we share throughout this podcast. And today we look at the values-driven organizations. We look at mission as well, but we really dive into what does it take to live by the values that you have as a company and what, what it means to be a values-driven organization, and how that drives growth. Today our guest is Brian Hudson. He’s a senior VP of sales and marketing at Avant Healthcare Professionals. And he shares why a mission-driven company and a values-driven company are so important to their success. There are seven time Inc company. He came in when they were about 12 employees over 200 now. And he really believes in what it takes to align people together, create a place where values are a central point, and allow people to move together. In fact, he shares stories about how one of their values integrity became into play as they had to shift in the light of COVID. The value of integrity was something that you don’t really think about that much, but when people are going home and working on how to be productive on their own time, it got to be a little bit of a question, but the right people understood that integrity was doing the right thing, doing what they said they would do. And that’s just one example. A values-driven organization inside today’s story and interview with Brian.
Brian, how are you?
Brian Hudson: Hey, I’m doing great. How are you doing Gene?
Gene Hammett: Excited to have you on the podcast. Talk about leadership and culture of fast-growth companies.
Brian Hudson: Yeah, I’m excited to be here.
Gene Hammett: Now, before we dive into our real topic today, tell us about Avant Healthcare Professionals.
Brian Hudson: Yeah, Avant Healthcare Professionals provides internationally experienced nurses. The hospitals all around the world are rarely all around the US we recruit from over a hundred countries around the world, and it’s really a timely topic with the hospitals, all hurting with the nursing shortage. So we help augment staffing for hospitals that are struggling with nurse shortage.
Gene Hammett: Well, I know that healthcare has been through a lot of changes and a lot of stress and pressure over the last couple of years. What would you say is the biggest change in healthcare as it relates to the work you guys do?
Brian Hudson: I think a couple of different things. I think the COVID crisis has certainly impacted the number of nurses that have left the industry and moved away from the bedside. I think technology. Well with telehealth becoming a bigger player. So I think nurses have the opportunity to move away from bedside. And then you think about, you know, the clinics, because the hospitals shut off elective procedures through COVID, think you’ve seen a growth in the ambulatory care centers and clinics. So nurses have the opportunity to work outside of the hospital.
Gene Hammett: Well, we all know that, we bless these people that are doing it. Bless your work for making sure that they’re safe and we get the care we need. And I know we’re still not out of it as we record this today.
Brian Hudson: Yeah, no, you’re absolute. Right.
Gene Hammett: Brian, you know, we look at fast-growth companies, we study them. We’ve had hundreds of interviews with people. , you work with this fast-growth company as a VP of sales and marketing. You talked about the core values and being a mission-driven company. Give us an idea of why those elements are so important as a company has scaled to where it is today.
Brian Hudson: I mean, when, when I started in 2009, then we had 12 employees. And really at that point we really saw the need to define core values. Our mission is pretty clear it’s changing lives. So we changed the lives of the nurses that we bring from other countries who want to live their American dream. We changed the lives of the hospital who were struggling and then ultimately changing the lives, patients that are nurses for that our nurses work with the core values were really designed to drive engagement and help in building decision-making a decision-making process as we move forward.
Gene Hammett: Tell me a little bit about, the mission and then we’ll dive into the values. You know, a lot of people don’t work in healthcare. , so they can’t say that they change lives the way you do with nurses and whatnot. But you know, if you look at it, this you’re, you’re a staffing agency or placing nurses in hospitals that need it. , you are just a traditional work. You’re not on the front lines, yourself Brian,
Brian Hudson: For a reason, yeah,
Gene Hammett: Well, they wouldn’t let you do that. Your bedside manner I’ve heard is probably not where it should be terrible. , all jokes aside, the mission of the company. Why is that such an important force inside of growing the company?
Brian Hudson: Well, I think people come to work. It creates a level of engagement when I, and especially today, I think people want to work with companies that have a mission and a purpose that’s maybe bigger than themselves. So the idea of changing lives really resonates with employees that we bring on board. And this year we’ve really started to use it as well. And our marketing to our clients, because ultimately at the end of the day, it’s the hospital. That’s helping change the lives by bringing these nurses and hiring them in. So it’s together, we’re all changing lives. So it really just creates a level of engagement from employees as well as clients.
Gene Hammett: How does that play into the ability to attract talent to you? Because it’s a competitive world that you’re in. There’s many people that do what you do. , but having a mission that people are attracted to is a way to differentiate yourself. Have you seen a difference in mission-driven companies versus not in your market?
Brian Hudson: Yes, clearly, and we’ve, we did a survey sometime ago when I think it was well over 60% identified the mission as the number one reason they joined and the number one reason that they stayed with the company, because you have other factors, especially in a competitive market that people, you know, outbidding each other talent that organizations clearly trying to find their way. So to have that glue of that mission and that changing lives thing really helps us across the board.
Commentary: Now, Brian just talked about their mission to change lives. Which is very similar to my mission. I really want to change the world through extraordinary leadership. Let me explain that I’m not interested in just companies making more money. I had a client the other day that sold their business for $24 million. And I love to be able to be a part of something like that. And it’s exciting, but what I really love more is changing the lives of those people. So they’re as confident as they can be they’re courageous they become extraordinary leaders. And I know that that makes a difference because you see results like people selling their business for $24 million, but you also see, , cultures that are improving and feeling powered by a sense of ownership. It really is great to be a part of all of this work that I do. And my mission of changing lives through extraordinary leadership really is my purpose in life. I appreciate you, listening into this podcast and helping me share that with others. But if I can help you in any way, make sure you reach out to me. I’d love to help you become an extraordinary leader that you know, you can be. Back to Brian.
Gene Hammett: I guess, in the heart of what really missions are supposed to do, they’re supposed to attract the right people and repel those that aren’t into this, that they’re just in it for the money. I would imagine that they’re probably not into changing lives the way your company states it. , even though the nurses going to got into their profession probably to change lives at their core, but some of them are chasing the dollars I would say.
Brian Hudson: Oh yeah, yeah. My son-in-law’s a travel nurse and he’s out in California now doing just that. And then, and then when you look at our core employees and our corporate office, and again, I think we started with 12 or, well, over 200 now core values then really help create the norms and the behaviors of how our company works. So you’ve got the mission at the top that’s attracting and engaging. And then you’ve got the core values that are really building and alignment.
Gene Hammett: Well, good segue right into the values. I’ve had hundreds of conversations about companies with values because fast-growth companies understand the importance of values, slower-growing companies think it’s something nice to do or something that’s, they’ve put pretty words on their wall and they don’t really live by it. They just show up to do work. , what would we see inside your organization that might surprise us as it relates to values.
Brian Hudson: Well, we do have them on the wall. We do have them on our laptops and our computers, but we do a lot of different things, with core values, one of the biggest things, and it’s a sub, we do a quarterly meeting staff meeting and we do core value awards where employees can nominate other employees. Or, or value or so for example, you know, passion, teamwork, ability, integrity, those are all part of our core values. So someone would nominate a coworker for an integrity. , and then we have stars made up that have their name and the core value award that they were, , So we do a lot of celebration around the core values.
Gene Hammett: I love the celebration part of it there’s much more to it, but if we looked at this celebration piece for a second, you chose to go employee-based, selection versus leader selection, where the top tier of the company might look out across this. , why did you choose an employee base?
Brian Hudson: Well, I think it goes back to the engagement piece. I think, you know, leadership, you know, as you’re growing very fast, you know, you’re adding a lot of employees and sometimes it’s hard to be able to see everything where you’re a small company and you have your, your hands right on the business every day as you get bigger, you move further away. So the employees inside the organization. See what each other’s doing. They see the contributions that they’re doing. We also really try to build, you know, results is really a key, you know, end of the day, we’ve got to achieve results. And typically what we do is we have one big goal at the beginning of the year that we go after, you know, the B hat and then we do quarterly, quarterly strategy sessions where we kind of do 90 sprints, wherever we’ve come up with things that are going to drive the results. And we share those with the entire company.
Gene Hammett: I love having a structure behind goal-setting. , how long have you guys been using those two too?
Brian Hudson: Five years? Yeah. Five years.
Gene Hammett: And how would they help to create the kind of company you have now?
Brian Hudson: Well, I think it, it really, is something that just. The leadership team, get aligned and focused. And it’s a reminder of our mission of changing lives. It’s a reminder of our core values, but in setting those goals and creating tactics to achieve those results, it just has given us a clear definition where sometimes if you go too long, without that, that strategy piece you spend, you know, spend more time working in your business rather than working on your business. So it’s really allowed us to step back for a couple of days, evaluate where rat and then move forward along.
Commentary: If you are listening to our podcast and you are a little concerned about what is next for you, maybe you realize that you’re getting in your own way, you know, that you work in the business too much and not on the business. And you aren’t evolving as a leader and you get in your own way, a number of things. But I can help you get out of that way. I can help you identify what it really is. I’ve spent the last 10 years really understanding the leaders of fast-growth companies, working with their teams, senior-level leaders, and coaching them. And I can help you too. This is absolutely free as a benefit to my audience. Most people don’t take me up on it because they think I’m not serious. Or maybe they, they think that they’re too busy for this, but here’s the real truth. If you don’t take time to sharpen the ax, as they say, you’ll never get as much done. You’ll never be as productive. We will never make, reach the impact. You’ll never be the leader that your team deserves. I want to help you figure out what’s getting in your own way. What’s your blind spots are. And I can do that in one call. We can do it quickly, but I’d love to get to know you get to know what’s really going on and it helps you assess, create a game plan. And I’m not here to sell you anything, but I build relationships this way. And some of these people become quite. Which is great and others become voices out there to help me spread the word. I’d love to give you that time with me. Just go ahead and apply at GeneHammett.com. Schedule your call and we’ll get to know each other. And to help you create that game plan, to be the extraordinary leader that you want to be. Here’s the interview with Brian.
Gene Hammett: Brian, you guys have hundreds of employees, and having these values is something I’ve seen the kind of set boundaries for decisions that are made when you’re not in the room. And other executive leaders are not in the room. I think you even mentioned that before. How does that really play out in, in your work day-to-day?
Brian Hudson: Well, I, I think, you know, from a standpoint, especially in a COVID world, you think about integrity. You know, one of the things and people always say integrity stuff, but in the world, we live in now, you know, our company had virtually all the employees working in an office in Orlando, Florida. So when COVID hit and we had to go remote, you know, that integrity piece, a lot of people sometimes question, what are they, what are the remote people doing? Are they going to be productive? And we’ve been very, very productive and very successful in sending our folks home. Now, some of the people can’t be working from home because. A lot of hands-on training that goes on in our company. But I think, you know, that’s one way where the company has had to go back on that core value of integrity when we talk about trust.
Gene Hammett: So being a hybrid company, I think a lot of companies are trying to, you know, have lived with it for a while, but also trying to figure out what is the future looks like? Are you guys going to continue to be a hybrid company moving forward?
Brian Hudson: Yeah, I think so. I think we’ve had great success, through the pandemic. , there certainly will be parts of the company that cannot go remote, but in areas where we feel we can. And currently my team, they, actually came up with the hybrid model. They worked a couple of days in the office one week they rotate and then maybe to the next week. So they’d take turns. So it’s worked out really well because you still want to have that. And I think a lot of companies are worried about if, Hey, if we’re not all in the same building, we’re going to lose that collaboration piece. The same thing I mentioned on the technology though, earlier with the nursing field, you know, applies to our business. You know, technology has really advanced, you know, thinking about teams and zoom and all the ways we can communicate, collaborate with each other. So it’s, it’s been a fun ride for us.
Gene Hammett: I want to switch gears, Brian, because we’ve been talking about the company level, you as a leader have had to evolve as you lead a company that goes from nine, 10 employees down to, you know, to over 200 employees now making the Inc list seven times. What are some of the inflection points of your change of leadership approach?
Brian Hudson: Yeah, that’s a good question. I think, the trust piece has been a big one that comes, it comes to mind also continuous improvement in everything that we do. , Settling our standing pat, and that’s why those quarterly strategy sessions help us move, keep the ball moving forward. So it’s really, you know, trusting the team, utilizing the technology, and I’m not a big technology person. So, you know, my adaptability in terms of embracing the technology is one of the biggest changes for me. I think, as a company, when you’re growing fast, I think challenges staying in front of the hiring, you know, you’re, you’re growing at a very rapid rate. And are you bringing in people that can help support that type of growth? Because what will happen is if you don’t continue that hiring and staying in front of it, it can really put pressure on the team that you have currently. ,
Commentary: Brian just talked about growing fast and staying in front of hiring. Now’s the time for you to reflect on how you’re staying in front of the hiring process for your company, how you are being intentional as a leader. Not what you can you do? How are you being intentional as a leader to hire the best people? What are the things inside the organization, the culture that attracts people to you? Are your employees referring your best-talented people to you for interviews? Well, if they’re not, there’s something. Now if they are, there’s a lot of other things that you can be doing to be intentional about the hiring process in your company. Right now, we have an incredible problem with hiring and making sure that we have attracted the right talent. And I want to help you figure out what is next for you. If you have any questions about that, reach out to me and back to Brian.
Gene Hammett: Speaking of hiring, it’s probably one of the biggest challenges in today’s workforce. , what could you share with us about what you guys are doing to attract the top talent?
Brian Hudson: Yeah, well, we do a lot of local market branding again, around the changing lives themes, and we try to let people know in the Orlando market what we’re doing from a community standpoint, but also how we’re impacting the nation, the nationwide shortage. It’s really soft when you are in competition with a lot of great companies that are based in Orlando. But we’ve done some things to streamline our recruitment process. We have quick, application rather than having somebody spend 30 minutes filling out the whole application, more of a quick application where we can screen them. And if they’re the right fit, then we can move them to the application.
Gene Hammett: Love that. , yeah,
Brian Hudson: I think timeliness if you’re, if you’re waiting a week to give an offer, the person’s going to be going.
Gene Hammett: Well and no one probably wants to fill out those things, even though I haven’t done this in years and years and years fill out anything online for a job application, but I can imagine, , streamlining that process has improved your ability to attract people.
Brian, when you look at, you know, all of the things that we’ve talked about today, and I’m sure. Something that you feel like might be critical to the success of a fast-growth company? What would you say? We should leave on the conversation?
Brian Hudson: I just think, with where we’re at today, the future is not predictable. It’s very difficult to forecast, so, you know, where is your next business opportunity. How are you going to maybe move into another line of business, whatever the case may be, but how, how are you going to be able to be agile as you move forward in a very uncertain time?
Gene Hammett: Well, we can’t leave without you trying to answer that question for yourself. How are you as a leader looking and preparing for the next opportunity and being agile and this crazy world?
Brian Hudson: Yeah, we’re really looking at, you know, as I mentioned earlier, the technology piece, the telehealth I think you’ll see, you know, hospitals are wanting to get patients out of the hospital quicker. So, you know, they’re sending people home earlier than they may have in the past. I think there’s a huge growth opportunity in home health. , and, and really as the baby boom age continues to, to, to need more health care, there’s going to be lots of growth opportunities in the health care space.
Gene Hammett: Brian. I appreciate you being here on the podcast, sharing this wisdom and your story.
Brian Hudson: Hey, thank you. Take care, Gene.
Gene Hammett: I want to wrap up here because what I can really assess from this conversation with Brian is something I think you should understand as a leader, that the future is uncertain and that’s one reason why you want to make sure you have a clear mission that aligns people together. You want to take the time to do it. You want to hire people based on that you want to market and brand attract top talent based on that mission. You also want to make sure you’re living the values of the company. Not just sometimes, but all the time, you’re rewarding. You’re having conversations. You’re helping them make decisions through all of the values that you have, and you make sure that you are truly operationalizing them across the company, because those times when you aren’t holding people accountable to the value. They began to slip. And so, you know, this company has Avant has made the ink list seven times. They’ll probably continue to make it because they understand the value of people. And that’s what this podcast is really about. Is leaders understanding the value of people? If you want to be clear about what your next move as a leader is, we do assessments.
We do conversations where we can help you find the blind spots. Do you really understand what’s next for you as a leader? Most people don’t even realize what is next. They just show up for work and I want to help you figure that out for yourself. And all you have to do is go to GeneHammett.com. Go schedule your call and I’d love to talk to you about what your next step is. As a leader, get a game plan. I promise to sell you nothing.
Just going to GeneHammett.com. Look forward to talking to you soon. When you think of leadership and you think of growth, think of Growth Think Tank as always lead with courage. We’ll see you next time.
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