The Road Goes On…

Robert Earl Keen is a singer-songwriter with a large cult following among “roots music” or “outlaw music” sorts such as myself. His most famous song is one about a short, ill-fated and violent relationship between a man and a woman living on the bleaker side of life. The song is called “The Road Goes on Forever (and the Party Never Ends),” and it became the title of an album released by The Highwaymen (Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson) in 1995.

For me the road has gone on for nearly 50 years in healthcare. Along the way I have been fortunate to meet thousands of people who have enriched my life and made it full and rewarding. I have acquired so many friends that if I were to try to acknowledge them all, I would only succeed in falling woefully short and offending the ones I would have unintentionally left out.

Folks who know me know that I have had more data points of employment than a good linear regression analysis chart, and often preface their greeting to me with, “Are you still at (company name here)?”

A lot of people would think that a bad thing, but for me it has been wonderful. I once asked a chief operating officer at a company where I was working, “How many companies have you worked for, Joe?” He answered, “One,” and I told him, “Then you have a problem with perspective. You see, you can’t have perspective unless you have two data points to compare, and you only have one.”

If I have nothing else, I have perspective and plenty of it.

And now I will be obtaining even more. I am moving down that road—the one that goes on forever—to take a new position and reuniting with my good friend and former boss Glen Hall at MD Buyline.

Glen has asked me to join the MDB team, and I am looking forward to helping the company grow. I will, however, continue to write for this newsletter, which I believe is a valuable resource for our industry.

Leaving my day-to-day work with Optimé doesn’t come without some serious sadness. For the past two-plus years I have worked with the finest group of people I have ever known. Ed Hisscock, Kristen Wookey, Shoaib Abbasi and Mike Neely are all consummate professionals and caring human beings who have made my experience at Optimé one of the most enjoyable of my life. Every day has been both fun and challenging as we put the Seven Rs to the test in an industry on the cusp of massive change. Optimé’s tools will help smooth the transition to a new way of doing business that ties data to action and develops evidence that will lead to positive change in the industry. It has been an honor to be part of this team.

So why am I leaving? When I told Ed about my decision to leave, I told him that there was only one person that could ever pry me away from Optimé, and that person was Glen Hall. Like Ed, Glen is a person of the highest integrity, vision and clarity of purpose. Like Ed, Glen knows how to relate to people on both a human and professional basis. Like Ed, his work ethic is unparalleled. I have known Ed for 15 years; I have known Glen for 35— from the time he was a fresh, bag-toting representative for Pharmaseal. I helped Glen learn about supply chain, and throughout the years, our personal conversations have contributed to what each of us knows about life.

Glen reminds me of the statement that the late Houston Oilers coach Bum Phillips made about Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula: “He can take his’ns and beat your’ns and your’ns and beat his’ns.” Glen knows how to work with what he’s got, confront the challenges of the workplace and come out on top.

And now he has asked me to help him one more time. How can I refuse?

The road goes on forever … and the next party is about to start.

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