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Many (if not most) innovators have pivoting on their mind right now. They’re asking themselves: what role can I play in helping fight the COVID crisis, while still making sure that it’s the right move for my business?

Of course, this will look different for every innovator. And since nobody can see the future, it’s critical to be as strategic as possible as you’re planning and executing on what’s next for your company. But one big opportunity you shouldn’t overlook is how to find the right partners to co-create something awesome.

In this episode, we chat with Stacie Ruth, CEO of AireHealth. She shared with us her brilliant and thoughtful co-creation pivot strategy to make sure that her respiratory care device and app can help more people, faster — while still making sure that her company can continue to stay relevant and flourish in the long run.

Here are the show highlights:

  • How to ask other businesses for help without letting them hijack your business (20:04)
  • Why innovators thrive during chaotic times (27:54)
  • How to promote your healthcare solutions during a pandemic so you don’t erode trust between you and your customers (5:00)
  • How to easily transform your current healthcare products to better help during the crisis (6:01)
  • Make sure you have this critical piece in place before you pivot to help with the pandemic or your business won’t last (15:05)
  • Neglect this when collaborating with other businesses and you’ll pay for it years after the crisis (17:56)
  • Mr. Rogers’ secret for helping more people that works especially well during a pandemic (7:17)
  • The “September check” method for pivoting that ensures your business survives after the crisis (24:26)

I've spoken with dozens of health innovators, and nearly everyone is trying to figure out their best pivot strategy. But they don't know what to change, how to pivot, or if their new pivot strategy is the right move.

So I went into overdrive putting together a clear, actionable 5-step worksheet that will help you quickly define your most viable and profitable pivot path through the COVID crisis. And I’m giving it to you for FREE — no strings attached at https://www.legacy-dna.com/pivot

Guest Bio: 
Stacie is a Connected Health Entrepreneur and the CEO of AireHealth, a respiratory care health company. Go to https://www.aire.health/ for more information, and to get in touch, email stacie.ruth@aire.health.
Read Full Transcript

Welcome to COIQ where you learn how health innovators maximize their success. I'm your host, Dr. Roxie, founder of Legacy-DNA and international bestselling author of ‘How Health Innovators Maximize Market Success.’ Through candid conversations with health innovators, early adopters and influencers. You'll learn how to bring your innovation from idea to startups to market domination. And now let's jump into the latest episode of COIQ. [00:36.1]

Roxie: Welcome back COIQ listeners, we have Stacie Ruth with Aire Health with us again today. If you might recall we had Stacie on the show, gosh, what about six, seven months ago.

Stacie: That’s right! Yes.

Roxie: Yeah, and so we welcome you back.

Stacie: Thank you so much. I'm so happy to be here, from home as we can say.

Roxie: Yes, yes. So I was hoping, you know, I wanted to get you on the show again and talk about where have you been the last six or seven months? What's been happening? And then I think, you know, just with everything that's taken place with COVID, it would be really good for us to, you know, pivot our conversation into, you know, what's happening now. So I think if you could give our listeners just a little bit of an update on what's transpired since we had you on the show last and then we'll talk about what's going on now. [01:30.1]

Stacie: That's awesome. So I'll just remind you that Aire Health is a respiratory care company. We are focused on delivering respiratory medications through a nebulizer. And we've also developed a, an application, a companion application that allows either a patient or a caregiver to really monitor the status of, say, an asthma patient and be able to react more, we'll call it actually more proactively than reactively, and to focus on the different things they can do to monitor their symptoms and alleviate those symptoms with medication. So that's where we were. That's where we are. However, since we last spoke, we have released our product to market. We have released our application to market. We have our first customer, which is Advent Health here locally in Orlando, Florida. [02:22.7]

Roxie: Congrats.

Stacie: Thank you. We can talk a pilot with them and we're focused with them on the pediatric space. And that pediatric space allows us to look at at least 50, caregivers and their, their children that have asthma and that's kicked off quite nicely. So now fast forward and as of the last four weeks or so, we've really been in a mode where we've been thinking about, okay, so we help people with respiratory conditions and we know that that's a strength of our company. We had just launched a product which, you know, you've got some choices to make.

Roxie: Yeah.

Stacie: You keep going on the path that you were on, or do you, do you try to pivot if you will, using that word.

Roxie: Yeah.

Stacie: And if you find something where maybe you can help more people faster than you were planning to before, and that's where we are. So I'll give you more information about the way in which we've pivoted, but I'll, I'll let you ask the questions as you want. [03:23.9]

Roxie: Yeah, yeah. So I think that that's great. So one of the things that I've had conversations with innovators with is, you know, I see that there's varying degrees of this interest in pivoting, in the sense of that, you know, Oh, I don't want to just take advantage of, you know, what's happening with COVID. And I think that the conversation really has to be, it's not really taking advantage of it. It's more of we have a social responsibility to help people in a different way than we were before because needs have changed, priorities have needs, priorities have changed. And you know, a different set of lives are at stake. And so, you know, I can only imagine the, the additional burden and responsibility that you fear, feel, being in respiratory care and, and what's happening. And so, yeah. Let's talk about what, what are some of the pivoting decisions that you're making, and some of the things that you were kind of, debating back and forth wrestling with and then kind of talk about where you landed. [04:25.0]

Stacie: Yeah. So in the first, we'll call it the early days, the first couple of days that we saw there was a national and an international emergency or a crisis coming on.

Roxie: Yeah.

Stacie: And that it was going to affect respiratory care. The very first thing I said was, Hold off, let's listen before we talk and let's understand if it is appropriate for us to enter into the conversation.

Roxie: Yes.

Stacie: So the first thing we did was we waited a couple of days, not long, but long enough to listen. The second thing that I, that I made a decision about very quickly was that we were not going to insert our brand in and our product capabilities in, from a basis of fear.

Roxie: Right.

Stacie: So we were not going to create fear and uncertainty around the conditions that, that the people that we're serving with our products and solutions we were going to come at it with if there's a place for us to help, we will help. And if it's creating more fear or more concern or inaction, be terrible if we were creating an action or confusion, then we were not going to engage in the conversation nor will we try to be the people that were solving the problem.

Roxie: Yup.

Stacie: So that's where we started. [05:39.6]

Roxie: Hmm…hmm.

Stacie: And then we said, okay, from a place of empowerment, from a place of having the patient do more for themselves, especially if they're a respiratory patient. Yes, we have something to offer. And we pivoted very quickly and when I say quickly, I've never seen anything like this before. We literally said, okay, what is the one thing we can do with our existing cleared product, our existing capabilities, what can we do to pivot? And we said, okay, we have to be able to manufacture faster if we're going to help more people. So we immediately started a change in manufacturing strategy, a change in supply chain strategy. [06:19.8]

Roxie: Yup.

Stacie: Big deal, right for a small company.

Roxie: Yeah.

Stacie: But we started that first and then we did a regulatory assessment that said if we were to move from, say a product that lasts a year to a product that we want to shift over and have disposable so that it's very clean.

Roxie: Hmm..hmm.

Stacie: And very safe for a respiratory user, what would it take from a regulatory perspective?

Roxie: Hmm…hmm.

Stacie: Then we put on our regulatory hats and we determined what we would do.

Roxie: Yup.

Stacie: From there we said, we don't want to do it alone, so how are we going to ask for some helpers? And we put an innovation plea and open innovation plea out into the world. We started with a very simple post, it linked you to a site with, with a video and a clear explanation of how we were wanting support from the outside world. And we just said, come one, come all. And they have came, they came. There's been a lot. Okay. Um, and truly it's been a lot of helpers. [07:09.3]

Roxie: Yeah.

Stacie: And so, you know, the, the Mr. Rogers saying about his mother told him when you know, when you're ever scared, you just look in the world for the helpers.

Roxie: Yeah, yeah.

Stacie: We have found seriously found some helpers.

Roxie: That's wonderful. And so what, what, what, what are you guys doing? Like what are some of the things that they're helping you with?

Stacie: Yes. So we looked, our appeal looked at four different types of helpers or collaborators, if you will. And again, with an open innovation mindset. So this isn't, how do we turn this into a business and focus on profitability right now this is how do we by summer and we put a goal in our appeal by summer. [07:59.1]

Roxie: Hmm…hmm.

Stacie: Launch something that makes an impact against COVID. So what we knew we could do was create this disposable product and to scale up manufacturing. We also pivoted by changing our application from an asthma caregiver, right? The supplemental application we're building. We shifted over with new customer requirements that had to be done very rapidly, okay. We didn't follow it up. Perfect process.

Roxie: Rapid cycle of innovation.

Stacie: Rapid, rapid, rapid. Okay! And we have shifted over to redesigning and redeveloping a COVID feature focused app. So the appeal was like this we said ‘We have a drug delivery device, do you have a novel or existing drug targeted toward respiratory patients, right, that you believe should be administered in the home?’ That was the appeal there. Do you have some, someone want to work with us that has a drug, a biologic, a generic that's already being delivered by a nebulizer. The second thing we said was in the ecosystem are there marketplaces, are there platforms that either call themselves device aggregators? The other word we use were virtual care platforms and of course tele-health platforms because you don't quite know how they're positioning themselves. [09:18.9]

Roxie: Hmm…hmm

Stacie: But if you have a platform and you are able to accept customers like us onto your platform, please come talk to us. And there's been four in that direction with fantastic traction there. One drug, by the way, one drug, four platforms.

Roxie: Okay.

Stacie: Are in the mix right now.

Roxie: Yeah.

Stacie: The third thing that we said was, are you, uh, are you capable of scaling manufacturing extremely fast? And if you are, do you also have reach into distribution? Come talk to us.

Roxie: Hmm…hmm.

Stacie: And then we actually added a fourth, which was do you, well there's actually five, if you add, if you add the last one that I'll talk to you about that we're doing on our own, but the fourth was if you collaborate with others so are you an accelerator and incubator, an online platform like Healthbox, put something together. [10:09.6]

Roxie: Right.

Stacie: Where your ideas can be funneled in with other ideas. Please allow us on your collaboration site or on your collaboration network that's going well. Now, how we're contributing is the biggie. What we've done is we've said for any of those other partners, we will work as hard as we can until summer to bring as many devices, algorithms, sensors that are either cleared.

Roxie: Hmm…hmm.

Stacie: Exempt, right? Or that we can take it and make it a little less clinical, a little more informational, and we'll put it in the app for you.

Roxie: That's huge.

Stacie: So those are licensing agreements that we're working on right now.

Roxie: Hmm…hmm.

Stacie: So that's where we are. So we're taking our own technology and enhancing it. We're scaling up our own operations in order to satisfy a much larger need as far as equipment is concerned. And then we're asking for helpers to help us be able to create a more robust solution and get it to the world faster. [11:10.8]

Roxie: So how do you think asking the world for input and collaborators has changed or altered, influenced your pivot strategy?

Stacie: So we knew from the beginning we were too small to do this alone.

Roxie: Yeah.

Stacie: Right.

Roxie: Hmm…hmm.

Stacie: And quite frankly, we didn't want to do it alone. Right.

Roxie: Right, right.

Stacie: A lot of good that can come from sharing.

Roxie: Okay.

Stacie: So we also knew that we wanted to approach, I mean there's a lot of stimulus right now going on and that we wanted to approach some of this innovation related stimulus. So for example.

Roxie: Hmm…hmm.

Stacie: There is a part of BARDA which BARDA is the uh, biomedical arm of HHS, which is a countermeasure. Okay. So when there's something biologic or pandemic, there is a countermeasure process in the government that says, we'll help you fast track. [12:09.6]

Roxie: Hmm…hmm.

Stacie: We'll help you fund and we'll help you find other collaborators if you are a medical countermeasure to a known and declared emergency.

Roxie: Right.

Stacie: We're approaching that. Okay.

Roxie: Hmm...hmm.

Stacie: And what we've done is we've hired someone who helps from that perspective to help us understand not only how do we best position our own company Aire Health as a medical countermeasure, but how do we source and find other partners that when we put our capabilities together, we have a stronger chance of being able to approach BARDA and say, this coalition, this collaboration group is ready to approach you BARDA with a solution that we believe we can have out by summer. So at first it was whoop, can't do it alone. And then it was, Oh, this is going to be good. Right? And then it was look at all the opportunity that gets opened up if you'll just take an open innovation and partner's approach to solving the problem. [13:11.4]

Roxie: I love it. Brilliant!

Stacie: Thank you.

Roxie: Brilliant. Brilliant. So let's talk about what are, so what are some of the challenges that you faced over the last four weeks?

Stacie: Okay. So, we were already running on a startups investment budget, right? And you know, it, you start to get concerned about what if, you know, what if we end up with a team, we have a team of nine. What if we have a team of nine and, and, and we don't have a team of nine. Right?

Roxie: Right.

Stacie: What if for some reason someone needs to take time off or there's a complication that we need to work through?

Roxie: Yeah.

Stacie: And so the, the very first thing was get our house in order, ensure that we could make it, let's just be frank about it. We're an early stage startup. Be sure we can make it out the other side of this pandemic as

Roxie: Yes.

Stacie: As a functioning and growth oriented company.

Roxie: Yeah.

Stacie: That was, that was plan one and that took two of the weeks. Okay. A lot of my attention went in that direction while my very capable team worked on many of these other things that I mentioned.

Roxie: Alright. [14:19.6]

Stacie: So that I got the house in order so that we could ensure that.

Roxie: Which is critical.

Stacie: Yes, when we come out the other end, there was a foundation there that that left everything we're going to do to accelerate it left it a runway to accelerate from. If you can't take off at the end and you're starting over again, building your runway, not a good plan. So that's what

Roxie: I would love that you pause, if you will, maybe not your entire team but you yourself and dedicated focus to that because a lot of entrepreneurs, you know, obviously a lot of us wear multiple hats and we in in we do. And um, you know, we can try to run those parallel. And so it just, it's really hard to focus on what you need to focus on if you're still trying to figure out how long is my runway. And so pausing and figuring that out so you could focus on that and then focus on the other is just, it's critical. [15:17.9]

Stacie: Yes, absolutely. And we closed investment during this four week period as well. So there were a lot, of course we were really far down the line there, but I think it was also the understanding of the investment community that Aire Health has a plan, right? There will be continuity of business. There is a strong leadership team in place.

Roxie: Yeah.

Stacie: And so that mattered. So that was the first big hurdle. The second was, when I talk about ramping up a supply chain and in the manufacturing capabilities, that is something that takes a lot of manpower, alight. And we're very lean on manpower and that's not the type of thing you can outsource.

Roxie: Right.

Stacie: Come on, right? I mean there's lots of things you can get some help with and support with. Starting over on a contract manufacturing strategy is not something you take outside from the day that you go

Roxie: Right, I know.

Stacie: Can we do it? Should we do it? Those are internal discussions. So that did take quite a bit of work and,and we're still in the middle of that.

Roxie: Hmm…hmm.

Stacie: But we did have one of those partners when we put the appeal out. We did have some contract manufacturing capability step forward and say, we're in the same boat you're in. So what can we do to help you this year to get you off the ground? So the appeal is working. [16:38.4]

Hey, it's Dr. Roxy here with a quick break from the conversation. Do you want your innovation to succeed, to change lives, to shape the future of healthcare? I want that for every health innovator, which is why I invented COIQ, an evidence based framework to take your innovation from an idea to start up to full market adoption. If you're not sure where you are in the commercialization process, take the free assessment now at drroxie.com/score or don't miss out on impacting more lives just because you have a low COIQ score. The free assessment is at drroxie.com/score that's drroxie.com/score. And now let's jump back into the conversation. [17:30.9]

Roxie: So wisdom, all of our listeners, appeal, appeal, appeal. Don't be afraid to be transparent about what you need and open about what you need and bring others into the conversation, especially when you're trying to do it fast, right? Cause you don't really have time. None of us have the luxury to kind of, um, you know, piddle around for a couple of months to go, Oh no, we now we need help. Right?

Stacie: Absolutely.

Roxie: We don't, we don't have the luxury of that time loss.

Stacie: Absolutely. And the things that I would say that you don't want to lower your standards on, there's collaboration, but don't give your business away.

Roxie: Yeah.

Stacie: Okay. Don't sign on balloon or backend heavy obligations for yourself. Be smart. Right? Just because the help is coming, it doesn't mean you're not paying for it somewhere. Okay? So I would just be smart and think ahead. Three, four, six quarters. And what is this going to do in the long-term and start getting that on paper, right? Be sure that you have the right capital strategy to accompany it, right? And the second thing that you cannot be weak and you cannot be a black confidence in is you better have your IP strategy locked down.

Roxie: Hmm. [18:41.5]

Stacie: When I say open innovation, I don't mean, let me give you all my stuff and then you figure out what to do with it, right?

Roxie: Right.

Stacie: I'm saying you go, here's my stuff and for this particular field of use or purpose, here's how we're going to use it together, right? Your rights stop and my rights stop, right?

Roxie: Hmm…hmm.

Stacie: So this is very much about putting things into motion. But please, the second part of that appeal is don't over commit or balloon yourself too much.

Roxie: Hmm…hmm.

Stacie: And then don't, don't let IP be one of the things that you let fall through the cracks because you're diminishing value in your company.

Roxie: And I think that's really important for us just to pause and talk about, because you know, it's, it's not going to benefit you in the long run if you save your company for the next 30 days, right or the next 60 days only to figure out that, you know, in six months from now you really have a hot mess. You really don't, you don't have a business. Somebody else has your business, right.

Stacie: Yes.

Roxie: Golden handcuffs, right? [19:45.7]

Stacie: Yes, absolutely. So, I mean the, the financial term would be a creative.

Roxie: Yup.

Stacie: You just be sure that everything you're doing is a creative to the business.

Roxie: Hmm…hmm.

Stacie: It's not, we're doing something in a snap. Right.

Roxie: Yup.

Stacie: And so we're going to let some of the, the future value of our company be in question. No. Everything we're doing at Aire Health is a creative.

Roxie: Yup.

Stacie: Everything we're doing is either pulling in something we would have done already.

Roxie: Hmm…hmm.

Stacie: Or it's accelerating us in a direction that requires a partner to take us there.

Roxie: Yup.

Stacie: We've been very careful about a creative, the creative nature of what we're doing and people should really stop and think about it. Yes. You're asking for help, you're not asking for help at any cost.

Roxie: Yeah. And that's really important too because, you know, I was reading this article about the difference between a bull and a bear market. And you know, there's a lot more leverage that, especially when it comes to investors, there's a lot more leverage that they have right now in a lot of ways at this point in time that we're facing. And so I think all of our listeners really need to heed that, that sometimes nothing is better than something. [20:56.4]

Stacie: Yes. I would say that. You know, so probably so because I would say that the market has been in the, in the company's favor, in the startup favor, right? We've been, because the pendulum just swings back and forth.

Roxie: Yeah.

Stacie: And maybe this is a reset more toward the middle I hope.

Roxie: Yes.

Stacie: And that it's not so one side or the other.

Roxie: Yeah.

Stacie: But that's also something to look for is where are the investors stepping up and saying, I recognize talent when I see it.

Roxie: Hmm…hmm.

Stacie: I recognize, the ability to actually have business continuity when I see it.

Roxie: Hmm…hmm.

Stacie: And I recognize when people are marching toward that creative value or increasing the value of the company by what they're, what they're doing so that you got to look for the right partners even from an investment standpoint right now, not folks that are looking for a deal. [21:48.6]

Roxie: Yeah, yeah, exactly.

Stacie: Yeah.

Roxie: So one of the things that I kind of hear you touching on is another concept that I was reading about in the last few weeks is investors looking for opportunities that are COVID proof. So it doesn't necessarily, I don't think that anybody saying that it's a guarantee that you're going to grow, that you're going to survive or that you're going to thrive during this pandemic, right? Nobody can, has a crystal ball and know how this is going to all pan out, but at the same time you described, I think a lot of the elements that are really important to and how you're presenting yourself to some of those investors, is that your business is COVID proof, where you've got the business continuity, you've got the intelligence, you've got a lot of these things that you just described. Talk about that for just a second. [22:37.9]

Stacie: Yes. So I'll talk about what we didn't pivot because that's the important part to understand is we are still focused on the respiratory compromised human.

Roxie: Yeah.

Stacie: Yet the other end of our solution.

Roxie: Hmm…hmm.

Stacie: We didn't pivot the, the, I guess we'll call it segment.

Roxie: Yup, yup.

Stacie: Or whatever word we want to label it. We didn't, we didn't re-segment, we still are focused on respiratory compromise people.

Roxie: Hmm…hmm.

Stacie: And there's still a hundred million of them, regardless of whether COVID creates another 5 million people that that may be now have some difficulty with their lungs that didn't, regardless if that is or isn't the case in the end.

Roxie: Yeah.

Stacie: Or when we're through this cycle of what's happening with the pandemic, we are still focused on the a hundred million people that have some trouble with their lungs. So that's, that's very important to note is what we didn't, we didn't change. [23:36.3]

Roxie: Hmm...hmm, yeah. And you know, so I think that that's really important too for any of our listeners is, is that, you know, each innovator is going to have a different pivot opportunity and a pivot strategy. And there'll be some things that they're more open to pivoting and some things that they are like just non-negotiable. This is who we are and we're not changing that. And I think that that's really important to define that upfront and as you're working through that strategy, otherwise, you know, depending on where the company is, there could be this sense of desperation that leads the company to pivot in some areas that not only do they not own the company but, but you know, is that a possibility, but also I own the company but now I'm in this completely different business and how the heck did I even get here? [24:25.6]

Stacie: Yes, yes. I would just say to be sure and check that there is a market for your solution in September, do the September check and be sure that a pivot doesn't mean that there isn't, that one's COVIDs relaxed a little bit. I don't know, gone is the right word.

Roxie: Right.

Stacie: I'm not, I'm not a immunologist or a infectious disease person, but once it's waned a little bit, make sure that you still have an offering.

Roxie: Yeah.

Stacie: And a very clear direction on who your customer is and how you're serving that customer, that we don't get a pass on that.

Roxie: Right.

Stacie: Even if you have a fantastic six months strategy, there still has to be a customer in September. [25:10.4]

Roxie: Well that's one way you can COVID proof your business, right.

Stacie: Exactly.

Roxie: Oh my goodness. So, so let's talk about, kind of just go back in time a little bit when, so you and I were supposed to speak together a couple of sessions at the HIMSS conference, which, gosh, doesn't it feel like that was years ago?

Stacie: It actually does feel like it was last year, but yeah it was just last month.

Roxie: That wasn't even a month ago, but okay.

Stacie: Yeah.

Roxie: That is crazy. You know, when we, you know, what is it like, and I think a lot of our listeners will be able to just really empathize with what that was like for you. But what was it like when you first got the, the messages that HIMSS is canceled and the South by Southwest is canceled and all these other conferences, so let's just talk about that experience a bit. [26:04.0]

Stacie: Yes. We were headed to both. We, we were invited to South by Southwest to um, for a special invite only pitch for companies that sell to children's hospitals. So that was a very special invite and that one probably hurt as much or more than HIMSS. But HIMSS was a big launch for us. So HIMSS was a very market forward opportunity and the, the opportunity there to take the stage as well cause we were invited the top 16 by Venture Connect to do a pitch during the startup day. So you and I were really, we were going to talk about the work that we did last year, which was fantastic work.

Roxie: Yeah.

Stacie: We were going to get to talk about it more conversationally. So we kind of missed out on that. We can always come back and have that conversation.

Roxie: Sure, yeah.

Stacie: And then we were also going to have a woman in innovation panel that we were on together and to talk about kind of riding this wave of digital health. So those topics are very near and dear to me as a person. [27:07.8]

Roxie: Hmm…hmm.

Stacie: And as a professional and then of course from a business perspective.

Roxie: Wow.

Stacie: HIMSS was a bit of a hit from the standpoint of this was the time to share our brand with the world. We had press releases about our first customer.

Roxie: Yeah.

Stacie: You know, we had our product officially launched the downloadable app. There was a lot. Right? But that doesn't mean we can't come back in September. So to my point before, maybe September is the time.

Roxie: Yeah.

Stacie: Right, we also have a product going to the FDA in April, right?

Roxie: Right.

Stacie: So there might be a whole lot of news in September for us to have a conversation around. So it's never an opportunity loss, maybe it's just a little bit delayed. [27:47.4]

Roxie: I completely agree. There is a silver lining in everything and I don't know exactly what the saying is, but there's a lot of opportunity for innovation in chaos.

Stacie: Yes.

Roxie: And so we think that we are going to see, a lot of innovators really rise from the ashes in a real powerful way and in maybe in a way that we wouldn't have if we wouldn't have had this, burden put upon us. [28:15.4]

Stacie: I think so. I don't, I don't know the names of the company, but I did see some statistics around the companies that were born of the recession of 2008 and that they were unheard of before or they were doing something totally different and they ramped so well coming into and out of that recession that it made it, I mean, we've got quadrillion dollar businesses out of it, so, yeah [28:43.5]

Roxie: And you know, that's worth talking about too. You know, it's definitely a very somber time for us, you know, personally, professionally as a country and just humanity in general. So we certainly don't take anything that's happening, lightly. At the same time, I do feel really strongly that there's a social responsibility for us to continue to grow and build our businesses because they're employing people that have families right and lives to provide for. And that, you know, really at the end of the day, isn't this why we all got into this? Right? We want to shape the future of healthcare. We want to have impact on people's lives. And so there's a responsibility to continue doing that and whatever small way we can. [29:31.7]

Stacie: I totally agree. And that's why when I said where we started was not coming at it from a position of fear.

Roxie: Yeah.

Stacie: You know, we've been not only immobilized, but we could have sent a signal that, you know, that this was too scary to even approach. Right?

Roxie: Yeah.

Stacie: And we've decided not to treat it that way. So I, I don't mean by my, that there's any levity in what I'm saying.

Roxie: Oh absolutely.

Stacie: I know you're not insinuating that, but just for the lit, for the listeners to understand that, I mean, we have a choice. We have a choice to either be terrified of it, right? Or we have a choice to lean into it a little bit. I know that's a bit of a cliche, but lean into it a little bit and see what we can do to make a difference.

Roxie: Yeah.

Stacie: And I agree in the social responsibility thing, my first concern and the reason why I focused on business continuity, my first responsibility were for the seven, eight people.

Roxie: Yeah.

Stacie: Then that I employ. Right. And it's being sure that I'm doing the right things, that, that, that I don't, that I don't cover up in my blanket cause these days, these days I want to just cover up in my blanket and go, WOOH, I just just need a breather. [30:41.6]

Roxie: I don't get, I don't want to do this anymore today.

Stacie: With all a little bit of Netflix and just chill out for a minute. Right.

Roxie: Yeah, what’s up with those people that are like, I'm so bored. I'm like, are you kidding me?

Stacie: But there are moments, right. But I, but I believe in the responsibility piece of it and it is time for, for, for me and my team knows as well. I had an all hands and I said, I want to see each of your faces and I want you to know that what I'm about to ask for us to pivot for us to lean in instead of doing status quo means you're going to be working much, much more than you did weeks ago. And that's going to have to be okay.

Roxie: Yeah.

Stacie: And, and it's, uh, if you tell me that it's not, then that's a conversation that we'll need to have. But we're at a point where this is going to have to be okay. And I got everybody's buy in that.

Roxie: Yeah.

Stacie: It's more than, okay, this helps us mentally. This, this is going to help us from a, from a sustainability standpoint as people, we're, we're ready to go. And every one of them said they're ready to go. [31:46.1]

Roxie: You know what's interesting is I have seen that, is a real common occurrence across different, companies and teams that I've worked with is, is that, you know, I do one of these things where I'm asking people what their, their happiness score is. Right? So, you know, like what do you think about the last week, right? How did it go?

Stacie: Okay.

Roxie: Kind of allows us as leaders, right, to be able to like have conversations about what's going on. And I am blown away by these satisfaction scores or happiness scores that are much higher than they were pre COVID. I’m like what is going on?

Stacie: I agree. We did a colored heart, so we did the rainbow of hearts and we basically said, choose your heart color and tell us, you know, tell us what that means. And yet they were all above average on, on the heart colors. You know, and mine was probably one of the ones that were a little bit lower. Right. Cause I was trying to be very transparent. Right. I want; I didn't want to send out like the perfect pink heart. [32:42.8]

Roxie: Right right right.

Stacie: I’m…yeah exactly.So, yeah. But I agree. You gotta ask, you gotta check in, we're all people at the core and again, our responsibility as leaders is to ensure that our people are okay so that we can make the world better. [32:56.4]

Roxie: Yup, yup. Absolutely. And I love that you talked about, you know, doing the all hands and really being forthcoming about, Hey listen, this is what's going on, so that helps eliminate fear so people can really focus on the mission. And I think that that, that sense of mission and purpose, you know, across the board, you know, there's definitely a lot of gratitude, you know, opportunity, a lot of opportunities for gratitude along the way. You know, not being sick, you know, still being able to breathe, right. We, you know, for those, you know, that, aren't, aren't battling that. And then having jobs to be able to pay the bills. And so I'm in in this sense of purpose, like it's, it's like that, you know, we as human beings, we all want to matter. And, you know, it sounds like your team has the opportunity to really rise up and matter in a really big way. [33:46.6]

Stacie: Yes. And I've had those notes come to me. You know, that say I can't believe we have this opportunity.

Roxie: Hmm…hmm.

Stacie: I can't believe that a company that I decided to join that this is the difference I'm going to get to make. [33:56.4]

Roxie: Doesn't that just give you a chill?

Stacie: Absolutely. Absolutely. And you gotta be appreciative that people do take that point of view as well.

Roxie: Yeah. Yeah. So what’s what's next for you? [34:12.3]

Stacie: So we've got a lot of stuff to get lined up by summer.

Roxie: Hmm…hmm.

Stacie: And I feel very confident that in the summer time we will be able to launch something that has a positive impact for home care.

Roxie: Yeah.

Stacie: And respiratory care and drug delivery. I think what's next is to plan very well for what happens on the other side. Right. And, um, just to ensure that we're doing okay as people. That's what we're up to. [34:41.5]

Roxie: Right. Yes. So Stacie, I wanted to ask you before we wrap up here, you know, we worked together last year with the COIQ early adoption strategy and we wrestled through those things for months.

Stacie: Yes, yes didn't we. We did.

Roxie: And so was any of that work, pivotal in, in, in what you've been doing over the last six months and then what you've been doing here in the last four weeks? [35:07.4]

Stacie: Yes. And the reason why is because it helps us to maintain the continuity or the plan that we had put in place. Had we not wrestled through that and had we not put in place a plan, a very concrete plan of how we were going to innovate collaboratively across the five CO's, right.

Roxie: Yeah.

Stacie: How we were going to innovate, who we were going to ask for support and help. Right. And partnering was one of the categories that we went through quite heavily and did a whole report out on it. And many of the things that we discussed have shown up in, well, I'm going to make a personal phone call to the CEO.

Roxie: Yeah.

Stacie: Or I'm going to reach out on LinkedIn to this particular influencer and have a conversation with them. And had I not made that list with you and had I not gotten that concrete about what our strategy was going to be, I would just now be thinking about that. Who am I going to call? Which CEO EO am I going to send an email to? I would still be considering it rather than just making the phone call.

Roxie: That makes my heart so happy.

Stacie: Yeah, it made a huge difference. And, and will we go back to our primary customer, our primary early adopter? Heck yeah. We will.

Roxie: Right, right.

Stacie: Absolutely. Absolutely. [36:25.4]

Roxie: Yup. Absolutely. That's great. So any, um, words of advice before we wrap up for the fellow entrepreneurs who are in the trenches maybe at different stages than you, but nonetheless in the trenches with you?

Stacie: I would say just do your best. Just come at it with, from a place in your heart where you're making a difference for people. Um, be sure that you're taking care of yourself and the people around you, whether that's your family, whether that's your friends or your employees. Be sure that you're reaching out and asking each other, um, how you are and just focus on the fundamentals. Be sure that your business can continue, be sure that you understand the financials of your business and be sure that anything you do during this time you'll be proud of.

Roxie: Hmm.

Stacie: And that, that you know, there's going to be at least a positive and net positive. It might not be a gigantic positive, but there is a net positive over what you're going to do for the next however many weeks. [37:31.9]

Roxie: Well, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with our listeners. I always enjoy chatting with you when we're on camera, when we're off camera. You're brilliant and I love to hear all the success and I hear, I'm really excited to continue this journey with you and see, um, how air health is going to continue to help the world.

Stacie: Sounds wonderful. Thank you. Dr Roxie.

Roxie: Thank you. [37:55.9]

Thank you so much for listening. I know you're busy working to bring your life changing innovation to market, and I value your time and your attention. To save time and get the latest episodes on your mobile device automatically subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast app like Apple podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher. Thank you for listening and I appreciate everyone who's been sharing the show with friends and colleagues. See you on the next episode of COIQ. [38:24.6]

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