Tell us a bit about your background and what brought you to where you’re at today?
In college, I graduated with a double major in chemistry and political science. I could have gone either to medical school or law school, but I chose medicine because I have a genuine passion for helping people, for making their lives better. I’ve been a hand surgeon for more than 30 years now, and I’ve had the honor to treat many celebrities, athletes, and notable public figures. I genuinely love people. I have a curious nature, and when I see a way I can improve something—whether that’s a patient’s quality of life, a process, a building, or a community, I have an unrelenting drive to do so. It’s what drives me forward; I’m always focused on the solution, the way forward.
What made you make the leap into entrepreneurship?
My first acquisition was Omega Hospital. I partnered with several other physicians on the purchase, and our goal was to make Omega the kind of hospital we’d want to stay in. Just because we’re providing healthcare and surgical services doesn’t mean we had to stick to conventions. We wanted to make Omega a great place to come to, to work, and to stay. It was an incredibly successful venture because there was really nothing else like it. And we saw how much our patients and their families appreciated the care and thought we put into everything—not just our facilities but also our internal culture and back-end processes. Every single interaction was held to a higher standard, from the first contact to billing and follow-up care.
I guess you could say it was a revelation for me. We were doing something very idealistic, and it made such a difference in people’s lives, and it also translated to revenue. One thing followed the other. It occurred to me that the same approach would work for pretty much any customer-focused industry. You don’t often think about healthcare and hospitality in the same breath, but there are many parallels.
What makes you different?
As an entrepreneur and investor, I think the most significant difference between me and others who do similar things is that I always apply my mission and vision to every decision. Many investors take on a project solely for the return. They’re not afraid to take risks, but it’s all based on money, and they don’t consider the bigger picture. For me, I always ask myself, how does this entity (product, service, property) enrich the community and its people? Can my input make this better and elevate people’s lives? You can look at it from a broad or a macroscopic perspective, but the answer to these questions has to favor the people and the community. If it doesn’t, it’s probably not the right thing for me or ERG.
How do you define success?
Success means something different to everybody. For some, it’s about having a certain standard of living, money in the bank, power, material things. In my estimation, no amount of money is going to make you happy all the time. The thing that really matters—how I define success—is seeing how something I’ve done has made someone’s life better. It could be the joy of a patient finally being pain-free, making it possible for people to see a great show at a historic venue, giving a cherished property a new lease on life, or being able to facilitate a proper education for kids in underserved areas. For me, success is about enriching the experience of living, and the fact that ERG is making these things happen for people, there’s nothing better.