Naji Gehchan: Hello, leaders of the world. Welcome to spread love in organizations, the podcast for purpose-driven healthcare leaders, striving to make life better around the world by leading their teams with genuine care, servant leadership, and love.

I am Naji, your host for this podcast joined today by Jason M. Dupuis, a thought leader, speaker and organizational behavior enthusiast who believes in the power of Human Experience as a key driver of organizational performance and strategy. Over the last 20 years, Jason has served as the Chief Experience Officer for PM Pediatrics Care as well as the Administrative Director for Admitting and Emergency Services at Boston Children’s Hospital. Most recently, he joined Fidelum Health as a Consultant and Principal Healthcare Advisor to bring the Human Brand concepts of Warmth and Competence into the Human Experience in Healthcare. As a Core Value advocate and fanatic, Jason has devoted his career to successfully demonstrating that being “human first” and leading with personal and organizational core values can create efficient and profitable operations while simultaneously delivering an exceptional experience for patients, families, and care teams. In addition to his professional roles, Jason is an Adjunct Professor in the Hellenic College School of Leadership & Management as well as recently joining Boston College as an Adjunct Professor in their Masters in Healthcare Administration program.

Jason – it is such an honor to have you with me today.

Jason Dupuis: It is a tremendous honor to spend some time with you today and, talk about leadership. I’m looking forward.

Naji Gehchan: Can you please first share with us your story, how you ended up in healthcare, uh, and now teaching leadership management and being passionate about organizational behavior? I’d love to learn more about that.

Jason Dupuis: Yeah, no, of course. Um, you know, my path into healthcare was kind of an interesting one. So my, uh, it all started because my dad was in the army. And, uh, so growing up as a kid, I moved around quite a bit and, uh, when I was very young, um, my father actually, uh, became a nurse in the Army.

And so as we moved around living on, uh, military posts around the country, you know, they’re very small communities and on, in every one of those communities, they also have a hospital. And so, Uh, you know, I was able to spend a lot of time at the hospital seeing my dad and then my, my mother will also report that I spent a lot of time in their hurt, injured, and, uh, because of the crazy things that I did as a kid.

But, you know, so I spent a lot of time in the hospital and I always saw hospitals as just like a cool place where my dad worked. That was, I was comfortable there. I was excited to go there cuz I got to see my dad, um, you know, during his working hours, if you will. As I got older, I would ride my bike to the hospital when I lived in Fort Knox, Kentucky, and I would go see my dad or we would have lunch and uh, you know, so it was just kinda like hospitals were always this very comfortable place for me.

So when I got to college, I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do, knew I wanted to work in healthcare, but I didn’t wanna be a nurse. Uh, I didn’t wanna deal with any of the, kind of the blood and guts, if you will. Uh, and then, uh, I found a program at the University of Hampshire called health Management, and I was like, you know what, like, This is for me.

So my, my drive to get into healthcare was just trying to bring this idea that I’m very comfortable as a human. I’m very comfortable in the healthcare setting, whether it’s a hospital, a clinic. I grew up around it with my dad, and just saw an opportunity to bring that comfort to other kids or other patients that were going to the hospital that don’t have those feelings of, you know, they have fear and anxiety and the, and I just didn’t have those as a kid.

I, I saw it. Fun place where my dad worked, you know? And so, uh, I kind of followed in my dad’s footsteps, I guess. But, um, but that was how I actually, I really ended up in, uh, in healthcare was, was through kind of being around it as a kid and, uh, finding it to just be this amazing and fascinating place.

Naji Gehchan: Thanks for sharing Jason. And yeah. How, how, how did you end up being passionate about organizational behavior?

Jason Dupuis: Well, I don’t. Maybe watching it, right? We watch enough organizational behavior and, uh, and we become, or at least for me, I just became fascinated. Um, you know, that for me, that really developed during my time at Boston Children’s as I, as I was kind of climbing through the leadership, uh, organizational ladder and just seeing how organizations.

You know, made decisions and how all of the moving parts, like how dynamic, um, the moving parts of, of every organization are. And I just became fascinated by it. And, and what I started learning and realizing, which ties into the human stuff is like the organization. Is gonna do what an organization’s gonna do.

It’s gonna make its decision, set its strategy, create priorities, make goals. But at the end of the day, it’s the humans. The humans underneath it are the ones that you know, you have to understand, build relationships with and grow with. And so for me it was this organ, not just understanding organizational behavior, but understanding really how the humans respond and react to the organizational behavior.

And how can we. Lead through that instead of, um, allowing it to kind of control how we do something, uh, or how we execute, how can we kind of lead, you know, and understand the organization’s behavior enough to understand how to lead in it within it, the construct of the confine.

Naji Gehchan: So let, let’s double click on this.

I’m intrigued, uh, by what you describe as power of human experience. Uh, can you share with me a little bit more what do you mean by that and how does it translate into organizational

Jason Dupuis: performance? Yeah, of course. So, you know, this was a journey for me, and I know a lot are on this journey too, in, in healthcare, trying to understand human experience.

But, you know, I, I can share a little bit about when I, when I started really realizing this, um, and I, if I can, I’ll tell a very short, but a quick story. Um, you know, shortly after the height of the pandemic, I, I was with p m pediatric care at the time as the Chief Experience Officer and right after the height of the pandemic, you know, we started seeing an increase.

In, um, negative events, what we call threatening events happening within our, our sites, within our physical locations, with patient families coming in. And we had this one particular event where, um, we watched video and we saw, um, uh, it was a grandmother and our front desk person getting in. They were in some sort of an exchange we could not hear.

We could only see, and the front desk person, this particular front desk person was somebody that I knew. I had met multiple times. I knew them pretty well, and I saw them kind of just. Like they, they broke down in that situation too. Very heated exchange. The staff person actually had to be restrained, you know, pulled back away from the desk.

And it was in that moment that I realized, hey, listen, everyone is struggling right now. Right? That’s the human experience thing is like, this is not just. An angry parent or an angry grandparent with their kid and and frustrated or what, you know, that they have to go to the doctor. It’s like our staff are frustrated too.

And it was, watching that video was really where I started realizing like, Hey, we’ve gotta start shifting and start thinking about this in terms of not patient experience, not employee experience, but human experience. We need to focus on the fact that at the core, we’re all just humans. Um, and we have certain, uh, and similar behaviors and characteristics that drive our actions and reactions.

But we have to stop separating and say employee and patient. It’s like they’re really going through the same thing. And the pandemic for me was a huge example of that. Like us all going through that no one was immune or right. We, we all went through that together. It didn’t really matter. We all felt it.

We all saw it. Um, and so that was what kind of really got me going and saying like, Hey, We need to start thinking about this differently, but I wanted to go beyond thinking. We need to start looking at data differently. We need to start providing support differently, um, and be more human-centric, or as I like to say, human first, that every decision we’re making, or as we’re doing things, we make ourselves in the mind of a human before we start making strategic decisions or taking direction that we think is a human first.

How would this feel? How will it be perceived? How could we execute on it? Understanding humans under.

Naji Gehchan: Well, thanks, thanks for sharing this. It’s super powerful. And obviously you, you touched on something in healthcare. I was just reading a new, um, uh, article, uh, that, that went out. It seems, uh, it, you know, all the frontliners have been really struggling.

With also, you know, wrong behaviors and yes. And being aggressed. Uh, but, and, and I love how you’re sharing it. Everyone is struggling, right? Like there are both sides. And I think as leaders within organization is taking care of your people. And it’s a great segue to by second question, which is people, uh, you say, Human first.

I was going to say people first because I, I always say this. Uh, you, so I like how you framing it. It’s human first. Uh, so can you, you devoted your career practically to demonstrate that it should be human first. Um, and so can you tell us a little bit more about this? Uh, you shared the story about what brought you to this belief, so can you share a little bit more now how you’re taking this and making it a real practice?

I would say for

Jason Dupuis: organiz. Totally. I, you know, I think the primary thing, um, in as far as bringing it into practice was really reentering and refocusing within the sphere of core values. And, you know, so some of my reading, you know, that I, that I do, I call it for fun, uh, but, uh, some of the reading I do for fun isn’t necessary fun.

It’s actually very challenging and I, I enjoy it. But, um, there were two big books that I’ll mention that kind of helped this and got me onto this, uh, or reinforced rather my, my core values. As being like a true north and like that’s what’s driving everything. The first book was Sapiens, which, um, yeah, it was a book that most people, I think at this point has at least heard of.

Many are afraid to pick it up. Uh, myself was, I was included in that, uh, actually a, a former colleague, a guy by the name of Pat Dillingham, who used to work with me in, in patient experience at PM recommended it to me in an airport and he was like, dude, you gotta read this. It’s gonna be amazing. And it actually blew my mind.

And what it was, you know, what I learned in Sapiens in the first part of it was, Hey, we’re still programmed, like we were thousands of years ago. Yes, we’ve changed and technology has changed, but inside who we are at the core is still the same. And so that to me was very, you know, reassuring about core values of what we look for in other people, how we develop trust.

Uh, and then the second book, um, which is what actually and ultimately led me to Fidel Health and, and working with them was a, a book called The Human Brand, um, which was a book written. Why we love or don’t love organizations, uh, why we interact as consumers with organizations, or we don’t. And in that, uh, the, the author, uh, author Chris Malone and, uh, his, uh, colleague Susan Fisk, actually put forth warmth and competence that humans judge other humans on warmth and competence.

And when I got underneath that and started reading and studying that I saw underneath that, when we think about something like warmth, what does that mean? It means kindness. Do I trust you? And I said, core. Core value , right? These are core values, trust, kindness, respect. Um, and so it was really through kind of combining those together and saying like, at the simplest form, we are just humans.

So are we over complicating this by putting too much process, too much digital technology, too much right strategy? And are we forgetting. Kindness, empathy, compassion, respect, understanding, and it. And so I kind of see it as a back to the basics and that, and that was really how I got on this pathway was core values and reading books that were using science and um, studies to show that we’re still acting the same way we’ve acted for the last thousands of years in spite of her, despite the technology.

Yeah. Pretty wild when you think about it, right? Oh yeah, yeah,

Naji Gehchan: certainly. And this is what actually brought me to love as the name of this podcast. You know, it’s war. I, I call it love by its word. Yeah. So how, how do you ensure this, your daily work or working now with organizations really reflects what, what you like this deep belief of core values, uh, this deep belief of human first, when actually there is a constant stress, pressure on results on how we’re gonna get there.

Uh, and I’m, I’m asking you this question that I. Always receive, right? Like I, I’m a big believer of this, so I’d love to see how you frame it and how you make sure that it’s in daily practice in your organizations.

Jason Dupuis: Yeah, I think the number one thing and um, you know, I just had the fortune. I did a a a a lunch and Learn yesterday with an organization, and it was on, uh, a similar topic.

And what I was talking about with them is that, how it really starts is making sure that we individually share our own core values. Um, that we know what our core values are, and that we’re willing to discuss them and share them. And most importantly, Back them up by living them. And you know, my three core values are passion, dedication, and integrity.

And I always say passion. I love what I do. Dedication, be there, and integrity, do the right thing. And so I have tried to live my life. I have failed many times at all three of those, you know, of, you know, we all make mistakes. Um, but it really, I think, starts at that individual level. So when we say human first, it’s like, okay, so as a human I describe myself as someone who is passionate, dedicated, and operates with integrity.

Um, and I’ve spent a lot of time, or when you’re working with organizations, and I always say, I try not to work with organizations, we try to work with the team because those are the humans. It’s trying to understand what are their drivers, what are their values, what is it that they’re saying to me where I can extract what their value is.

Um, so for example, if I hear somebody saying, you know, Joe’s always. Making up something. It’s like, okay, that person, whoever that was saying that values punctuality and punctuality generally relates to respect. They wanna feel that their time is respected, right? This idea that we. , we’re very good actually as humans at making those connections.

And so I think it all starts with what are, what are our individual core values? Can we quickly create alignment around do we agree that respect is important? Do we agree? You know, I kind, I guess it’s ground rules, right? I mean, that’s what we’re saying is how do we set core value, ground rules? And then of course, it’s always my next layer to that is what are the organization’s core values and are we living them?

Right? And uh, so what are your core values? How do you. You know, is this, do people know them? Are they, are they aware? And again, I I, every time I have a conversation like this, I always say the same thing. I don’t think I’m saying anything novel. I think what I’m pointing out is like, we have removed ourselves though, from the action backing up the words.

And as a result we have a say, do gap. You know, we, we say our core values, we don’t do them. We say them though, cuz that feels good, but we need to do them more. And so as I work with organizations or I give talks or I even a podcast, it’s always, that’s my focus. Know what your core values. Be sure that others know what your core values are and spend time learning theirs.

And in that you will always find alignment, always.

Naji Gehchan: So going, going there. Uh, when you talk about values, so I’m, I’m interested, I, I know you’re teaching also leadership. Uh, is there one or two core values or. It’s very different from capabilities, but I’m intrigued if there are like one or two that you think the leadership of today leader in the 21st century specifically in healthcare, should

Jason Dupuis: have.

You know, I’m gonna be cliche in the first one, and I’m gonna say empathy and, um, and I’m using empathy on purpose, and I know it’s a bit of a buzzword now, right? Brene Brown brought us this idea of empathy and vulnerability and understanding. We all, and everybody knows it, everybody puts out content on empathy.

But, you know, when I really look at healthcare leadership, I see a tremendous lack of empathy, um, for in specifically post pandemic. The insanity that the care teams went through during the pandemic, and I think there’s a huge opportunity to be more empathetic to the struggle, more empathetic and understanding to the burnout, um, and really focusing on riding that ship, um, that has already sailed and is sinking.

And I think that, that, I see that. I read that. I hear that. And I feel that. And I think that that’s, so that’s one of the areas where I say I think empathy has to be in there. Um, and the other from a healthcare perspective has always been, and I still believe in this, is defying the status quo of, you know, that simple acceptance of what the system is.

And our willingness out of fear of change to allow the system to persist is a huge leadership problem. You know, and it’s. , um, you know, you keep doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result is considered insane, right? Like that, there’s a quote somewhere in that, right? That’s the definition of insanity.

Doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. And so I do think that what, you know, the system from a value perspective is starved from, you know, people defying that status quo and not just simply accepting it for the way it’s. Been for the last hundred years, you know, and I think that’s, so that’s two areas in healthcare leadership where I think if, if leaders are paying attention to being empathetic to those in their charge and they are helping the people in their charge also push the envelope of innovation and defying the status quo, that that success will come behind that.

I’m gonna give

Naji Gehchan: you a word, uh, now and I’d love to your reaction to it. The first one is

Jason Dupuis: leadership passion. . I think, um, I think leadership for me is, you know, if you’re not passionate about it, you’re gonna fail. I think it’s not, you know, there’s the difference between managing and leading. Um, you know, the difference between a manager and a leader.

Uh, and I found that out early on, that like, if you’ve really enjoyed the people component of it, You have to be passionate about it. If you’re gonna be successful as a leader, if you’re not passionate about it, everyone sees through you very quickly. And so every time I hear leadership or anything like it, I think I’m passionate about it.

And you have to be passionate, . I mean, uh, because it’s not easy. It is not an easy task. And if you’re, as soon as your passion goes, it’s time to go. I, I really believe that.

Naji Gehchan: The second one is health.

Jason Dupuis: You know, I think for me what comes to mind is my human first statement. That if we, you know, if we really start paying attention to the fact that, you know, things aren’t fair, um, and we start paying attention to the fact that we are all humans, that it helps us.

Shift the paradigm a little bit. Not to separate out groups, but to say, Hey, can we rally around the one thing that we all have in common? And that is human. So let’s be a human first and then start building systems that consider all humans as humans and not build systems here and there and everywhere.

That never takes into considerations. Humans in general. And so, um, yeah, no, that was, that was actually equity, health equity or equity in general. And healthcare has always brought me into my, that human first brain of saying if we can do that really well and treat each other just like humans, we can make a lot of headway.

The third

Naji Gehchan: one is

Jason Dupuis: sis. Homeostasis. You gotta love it. Um, , you know, one of the big teachings of my dad as a, as a kid, uh, and then as a teenager, and then as an adult, and then as a grown man to give him credit was balance and right. The, the definition of homeostasis, essentially balance in a system. And, you know, so anytime that I kind of feel that there is an imbalance in a system, I feel like it is our responsibility.

To not just try to fix it, but to understand it and try to fix it. And I think oftentimes homeostasis in healthcare doesn’t get achieved because we just try to fix it and we don’t always understand the problem. And I think we’ve been action oriented that way by organizational decree, by history, by organizational structure.

And so I would say every time I hear homeostasis, the first thing that comes to my mind is balance. And if you wanna establish balance and you wanna improve, you have to understand the problem that gives you the balance. That true under. Love it.

Naji Gehchan: What about spread love in organizations?

Jason Dupuis: You know, I have been very fortunate in my career, you know, between Boston Children’s and p and pediatric cares that, you know, I’ve worked with extremely passionate people and I’ve worked with some not passionate people, right?

Um, and this idea of being able to spread love to each other inside of an organization is really talking about building community. Whereas, um, as you’ve all would say in Sapiens, you know, building your tribe, um, and when you have love in your tribe, there’s trust, there’s belonging, uh, and there’s progress.

Uh, when you don’t. , you have war and separation and you know, all the other kind of the negative components. And so I hear love. You know, I think organizational love or love throughout an organization is really getting everybody on the same page and believing in each other, which then allows you to believe in the organization.

I, I think very rarely do people just believe in an organization. They believe in the people within the organization, and you can put love into that.

Naji Gehchan: That’s, that’s so powerful and I can’t agree more with you, totally. With this. Any final word of wisdom, Jason, for, uh, healthcare leaders around the world?

Jason Dupuis: Yeah, you know, I would say that, uh, the one thing that I learned, I learned it during the pandemic, I learned it during my time in the emergency department at Boston Children’s, was that the number one thing a healthcare leader can do is. and, um, you know, that goes into my core value of dedication, which translates to me to be there.

Um, there’s never really a reason as a leader that you can’t show up. I think showing up is a choice that every leader makes, and that the best leaders, the most amazing leaders that I worked with were never, ever afraid to show up, never ever afraid to show up and listen, and never, ever afraid to show up and listen.

And, and, um, you know, so for anyone that’s in healthcare leadership or trying to grow a career in, in a career that brings you into healthcare leadership, I would, I would say those are the things I would take away is always showing. Um, it’s, it’s the easiest thing to do sometimes is to physically show up.

Uh, but it matters when you do and everyone notices. It does.

Naji Gehchan: Thank you so much, uh, Jason, for being with me today and for this incredible chat.

Jason Dupuis: Thank you. Unbelievable, unbelievable pleasure. Thank you.

Naji Gehchan: Thank you all for listening to spread love and organization’s podcast. Drop us a review on your preferred podcast platform

Follow us on LinkedIn and connect with us on spreadloveio.com. We’re eager to hear your thoughts and feedback. Most importantly, spread love in your organizations and spread the word around you to inspire others and amplify this movement, our world so desperately needs.