• Thrive Inc.

Cleaning Up the Trash: Effective Communication with Saul Marquez

Welcome back to the podcast, we have an amazing guest with us this week, Healthcare Executive and Media Influencer Saul Marquez. For the last decade, Saul has been a leader at well-known companies like Stryker Orthopaedics and Medtronic, and is the founder of the Outcomes Rocket Podcast, which has over 600 interviews published to date and a following of 70,000 listeners a month!

Healthcare is an industry where there’s a lot of stress, especially during current times, and there is a huge lack of communication between stakeholders. Saul joins us this week to talk about how he uses his passion for helping people in the medical world communicate more effectively to improve outcomes and business model success.

Tune in this week where we’ll discuss the importance of effective communication and how this can help business leaders deliver messages and value more effectively to customers. We’ll consider the importance of feedback and honest communication and the importance of speaking to clients in a language they understand!

If you want to learn how to deal with conflict more effectively, as always, we are both available for individual one on one and couples coaching. For the next couple of months, we are also offering free virtual training to organizations. Our goal is to support you, your team, and your business both at work and at home during this pandemic. Get in touch with us to find out more!

If you enjoyed the show, please share the podcast with your family and friends, or post a five-star review on iTunes. Rating and reviewing the show helps spread the word, which means less friction and suffering for everyone, and who doesn’t want that?

Listen on Apple Podcast | Stitcher | Spotify

Learn More:

  • How not being heard or understood is a common denominator in communication issues.

  • Why healthcare has its own language and the importance of simplifying it for customers.

  • The importance of listening in successful communication.

  • The startling rate of physician suicide.

  • How people don’t always know the impact they have on others.

  • The importance of giving and receiving feedback.

  • Why getting curious about somebody’s behavior is a technique to better understand it.


  • If you want to learn how to deal with conflict more effectively, as always, we are both available for individual one on one and couples coaching. For the next couple of months, we are also offering free virtual training to organizations. Our goal is to support you, your team, and your business both at work and at home during this pandemic. Get in touch with us to find out more!

  • Outcomes Rocket Podcast Ep #540: The Beauty (not Pain) of Conflict

  • Saul Marquez: Podcast

Full Transcript:

CrisMarie: Welcome to The Beauty of Conflict, a podcast about how to deal with conflict at work, at home and everywhere else in your life. Hi, I'm CrisMarie.

Susan: And I'm Susan. We run a company called Thrive, and we specialize in conflict resolution, communication and building strong, thriving teams and relationships. Conflict shows up in our lives in so many ways. Most people, unfortunately, are not very good at handling conflict. Most people have never been taught the right tools for dealing with conflict, and then it leads to unnecessary friction, arguments, passive aggressive emails, tears, hurtful comments, stuck-ness, all kinds of things we don't want. We're on a mission to change all of that.

CrisMarie: We've spent the last 20 years teaching our clients how to handle conflict in a whole new way. We're here to show you that conflict doesn't have to be scary and overwhelming. With the right tools, you can turn a moment of conflict into a moment of reinvention. Conflict can pave the way into a beautiful new system at work, a new way of leading your team, a new way of parenting, a new chapter of your marriage where you feel more connected than ever before. Conflict can lead to beautiful things.

Today we have a very special guest with us, Saul Marquez, who we had just so much fun being interviewed by on his Outcomes Rocket podcast we had to invite him to our show.

Susan: I mean he is so passionate about his work in healthcare and what he refers to as cleaning up the trash, and more to tell you about that story as he joins us today. We’re thrilled to have him.

CrisMarie: Enjoy.


Today we have a very special guest; Saul Marquez is a healthcare executive and Media influencer. For the past decade he’s been a leader at well known companies like Stryker Orthopedics and Medtronic. The mission of his work is focused on improving outcomes and business model success in healthcare.

In addition to his leadership in the corporate world, Saul is an entrepreneur at heart, as a founder of Outcomes Rocket podcast and SMOOTH Podcasting Productions. He and his teams are focused on helping business leaders more effectively deliver their message and value to customers. With over 600+ interviews published today, and a following of 70,000 a month, he’s seeking to help founders get found, and innovators implement their ideas as quickly as possible.

He believes there’s no reason why any leader’s genius should be left untapped and he’s on a mission to simplify the way you can most effectively reach your target audience before your competitors take the industry stage. So, we’re excited to have you, Saul. And Saul was helping us as industry leaders on his podcast, so we were on Outcomes Rocket. So, welcome, Saul.

Saul: It is such a pleasure to be here, Susan and CrisMarie, thanks for having me.

CrisMarie: Absolutely.

Susan: Well, I have to tell you Saul, I really wanted to ask you this question when we were talking last time. I’ll kind of kick off with this if it’s okay, because you were telling us about your, you know, how you got engaged, the story behind how you got started. Sort of your fascination with healthcare and how it even went all the way back to when, I think it was your mom gave you the message to clean up the trash. So I wanted our listeners to hear that story because I found it fascinating. And then I have a couple of questions too, but I’ll let you start with the story.

Saul: Sure. Well, it’s such a pleasure to be here with you both and just an opportunity to address your wonderful audience. So, thank you all for being with us today. I shared the story about why I got started with the Outcomes Rocket podcast, which is a podcast that is about healthcare. And the goal is to improve outcomes and business model success. It’s a 3.5 trillion dollar industry. It represents 18% of United States GDP. It’s not the best. We’re not getting what we should be getting for the dollars that we spend there.

And so I shared with CrisMarie and Susan that as a youngster, we grew up very poor in a bad neighborhood. And my mother would always tell me, “If the home’s going to be clean, if the block’s going to be clean then you have to pick up the trash.” And it’s something that I grew up with and she always said that to me and eventually it gets ingrained. And it’s a formative experience that I have taken into my adult life and I remember being in healthcare. I’ve been in medical devices for over 12 years and I remember saying to myself, “Wow, there is so much trash here.”

And in particular, the problem of lack of communication between all the different silos that exist in healthcare and I said, “There’s something I can do here. And I’m going to pick up the proverbial trash from the ground.” And I decided to do it via podcast, where healthcare leaders could share best practices and things that they’re doing, products that they’re creating, that will inevitably help patients be healthier and help us get more for our healthcare dollar. It’s been great, and at the beginning it was a struggle to get things going.

But we were able to scale and now four years later, 600+ interviews, we’re cranking it. And have become a good source of healthcare information for anybody that’s looking to learn and stay ahead of the curve.

Susan: I love that, you guys as our listeners, you know we are passionate. Our thing is clean up the trash when it comes to communication. I hadn’t really thought of it like that. But I have often said that, “I don’t know that I’m going to change the world.” Or my version of climate change right now has more to do with how people communicate than it has to do with what could be broader level things.

And when you shared your story it just reminded me of that, we all have these areas where we make choices, hopefully, to address our environment, and hopefully clean it up, we can make a difference. And it sounds like your passion is helping people in the medical world be able to communicate better because that’s often where you saw the trash accumulating, the disconnect between the…

Saul: That’s right. That’s right. For everyone listening, if you haven’t had a chance to hear Susan and CrisMarie’s story in the Outcomes Rocket take a listen. Because I want to give both of you kudos, I mean you work so well together and talk about great communication, you guys did an extraordinary job. I’ve got a lot of positive feedback on that podcast so far, so nice work.

CrisMarie: God, it’s great, we appreciate it and you are a great interviewer, Saul, forget it.

Susan: I am curious because I loved your passion for medical devices. I mean that’s where you started. So where does that come from?

CrisMarie: What’s the back story?

Saul: The back story on that one. I studied classical humanities in university. So I studied the ancient Greeks and the Romans, much to my parents’ concern. So during school I was at a career fair and I remember having somebody from Stryker attend and they were just telling me about how they’re changing the world one life at a time, and I was just amazed. And it’s something that I really wanted to do. It just seemed like the coolest thing you could do.

From there I tried getting a job at Stryker and just it didn’t happen. They didn’t want history majors, can you believe that?

Susan: I can’t understand it.

Saul: And so it was my mission to get in. So I found out that I actually was pretty good at sales, so I did some internships during my summer years. And those internships showed me that I was good at sales. So I said, “Alright, let me get a résumé builder, do well somewhere else and then find my way in.

I was willing to literally move anywhere in the States to do it. And being born and raised in Chicago, and getting my first job out of college here in Chicago, found myself on an airplane ride to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where I took my first medical device job. It’s been 13 years and I haven’t looked back since.

CrisMarie: Wow.

Susan: And it sounds like it’s still your passion.

Saul: It’s just wonderful. I mean when you can – and now I’m with Medtronic, so the mission there is to alleviate pain, restore health and extend life. How can you not get behind that?

CrisMarie: Who doesn’t want that? Yeah, exactly, yeah. That’s a good mission. Even in your field, can you go back to like what you see as the lack of communication in those different silos? And what have you seen, especially since you’ve had over 600 interviews, can you give our listeners kind of some key tips that break down those silos and help people connect? Because that’s – we’re always trying to help organizations talk more holistically?

Saul: Yeah. What’s super interesting, and I think it’s a great question, I mean communication is critical. I feel like healthcare in itself is its own language, like how you language things is so different. And then when you get within the different silos of healthcare, say pharmacy, versus providers, versus payers. The language is also so different. And a big challenge happens when you’re trying to achieve the mission of your organization and you’re not speaking the language of the people that you want to be engaged with.

A good example of that is if you’re working to help clinicians save lives by implementing capnography. So, capnography is an end-tidal CO2 monitoring device. It helps prevent respiratory compromise, which is basically a five billion dollar a year problem in the US alone. Over 200,000 people die every year because of it. And so if you’re going to help communicate this message in such a way that inspires clinicians to use the technology, you have to do it in their language.

And the way you do it is you learn, you listen, and without listening to clinicians and how they work and their environment within which they work, you’re never going to have success. And so one of the big things that I have found and our teams have found in med devices is that you have to listen. And you have to listen intently to understand the pain points. And maybe you guys are talking about the same pain points but you’re using completely different language.

CrisMarie: It’s interesting, because we’ve worked in pharmacy and we worked, you know, the bridge between providers and IT. And then even payers, insurance companies. And I would agree that they’re all looking at this Rubik’s cube from a very different point of view. I guess our common denominator is the human dynamics and the pain points of not feeling heard or understood, or the politics and factions that come up in organizations.

Susan: I just even think back to my own experience of being in a large – I went all the way across the US in various healthcare facilities from the National Cancer Institute, to – this is when I was dealing with cancer. And even the way in which within a hospital setting there was a breakdown in the communication. They weren’t accepting at that time, when I went to the Mayo Clinic; I was so amazed at how they had come up with a way to communicate. I could go from one place to the other and they always had my records, people knew what they were doing.

The people who were actually taking me from one test to another test were very educated about the test I was getting. The communication at that time was so amazing across all the different areas, I mean, and that so struck me. Even finding a place to live while I was there, because I was going to be there for a while, they had it down in their systems, in their communication. Now, I don’t know if that continues to be the case with the Mayo Clinic, but at the time I remember I was like, “Wow, this is a whole different set up.”

And I could really see how it breaks down in other situations I was in, even, you know, I mean you didn’t mention the patient itself, but that comes up too, who was willing to communicate how this, the language of the patient, which is usually different than the language of the doctor, and that’s it.

CrisMarie: That’s true. I guess the Mayo Clinic would be – and, Saul, this is the problem, you often saw this translating, but I guess they were patient, yeah.

Susan: Was the best I had seen at that time. I don’t know now. I think that continues to be a challenge, but maybe it’s better.

Saul: Susan, your story is incredible. I mean you overcame cancer and you know better than most how difficult it is to navigate the healthcare system. And sounds like you had a great experience at Mayo, so that’s really great to hear. Just thinking about it, like when my grandfather got his pacemaker, I went in and how do you translate medical ease? And how do you make it easy for patients to do better?

Medication adherence is a problem, 50% is the number. So 50% of all medications prescribed don’t get taken or don’t get taken the way they should. It’s a huge problem and that’s why there’s businesses now that have taken it upon themselves to solve for it. And they’re translating and making the language a lot easier to understand. They’re offering it in different languages, now there’s opportunities in voice like with Alexa and Google. And you’re right; it exists from the B2B perspective of healthcare but also the B2C, the consumer of healthcare.

CrisMarie: Can you talk a little bit, Saul, about how teamwork shows up in healthcare? Because a lot of times it seems like doctors have their point of view, probably salespeople from medical devices have their point of view, or these different areas. How do you see either…

Susan: Administration.

CrisMarie: Yeah, administration, yeah, how do you see them developing teams or not developing teams? Is it more individually based? Can you talk a little bit about that since you have such a big exposure to the industry?

Saul: Sure. And I think it varies. So there’s industry and then there’s providers. And so I think the culture and standards and just normal ways of working, vary from one to the other. But maybe let’s focus on providers for a second. So one of the biggest problems that exists is physician burnout. I mean sadly in 2020 one in every 1,000 physicians will commit suicide.

CrisMarie: I had no idea. Wow!

Saul: It’s very real. I mean, and it’s sad. And so when you talk to them, they’re going through some things, or they know somebody personally that’s going through some things that potentially even committed suicide. I mean I can’t tell you, I’ve had a lot of interviews, guys, on the podcast and they know somebody or they were close to doing it but were saved. And so there’s a level of toxicity in the environment. And there’s thankfully now many people working to solve for it, there’s physician coaches, there’s wellness programs.

And so the conflict that you experience with the pull of what’s required of you at work, and then you layer on, okay, now you have to lead a committee. And this committee of physicians, you have to put together to drive this result, how do you do it? The challenge comes around; number one, what is your culture? By the way, I want to pause for a second and say that’s just – I don’t want to be all negative, because there is also a lot of really positive.

So within the provider space, there has been an incredible amount of time spent by executive teams to bring together those Chief Innovation Officers, those Chief Strategy Officers to think through how they do their best during Covid. All the amazing work that’s been done to think through innovative ways that they could best take care of themselves while taking care of us if we need it, when we come into their doors.

CrisMarie: I was thinking, that’s why I was asking about the physicians because that’s most of our listeners probably have, you know, that touch point into the whole system of healthcare. I get that this is a, you know, there’s so much behind just the providers side. One of the places that we hear of conflict most is – and this is just more of this typical story, I have much more compassion for the physicians.

But the physician is arrogant and the nurses all have to bow and do whatever the doctor sort of wants. And that’s often a place of conflict on the provider team. I know you’re going to go another direction, but if you’ve encountered that?

Saul: No, let’s park there. Yes. And the nurses do such incredible work. And I think that there is just a negative behavior toward them. And they are faced with conflict and they’re running ragged. And so what do you do? How do you handle that? How do you stand up for yourself when there’s a hierarchy that exists? And you’re almost like expected to do exactly what you’re asked. And there’s this power that’s held by the physician. There’s ways to do it and I’ve got friends that are nurses and they have told me their story. I’ve had nurses on the podcast that have told me their story.

The common denominator of, I guess, success in handling it is just understanding the context and being able to communicate in a way that works for that particular individual. Or sometimes just walking away and saying, “No.”

Susan: I do think, I mean we talk about this a lot in terms of how do you actually influence and be relational in your communication, versus the right, wrong thinking? And I think often in a medical situation it might be pretty time sensitive. So you don’t have a lot of time to go deep. But how you present that information, I think does make a huge impact with the physician. I mean I do feel for physicians, they’re expected to know the answer, have the right answer. And I think patients want that as much as they may think they have to have it.

So that’s been set up that way, and so to actually go in and say to a physician, “What you’re doing isn’t really what you should be doing.” It would be very hard because you’re up against how do you actually say that. And we talk a lot in any kind of conflict, if you can be more relational than right, wrong, like, “Here’s what I’m seeing, I don’t know if you’re seeing the same thing but I wanted to bring it up with you.” Something to sort of take the heat off of what their rightness or wrongness.

It seems to be, you know, having done a lot of work in healthcare, that seems to help and companies like Crucial Conversations, they spent a lot of their years in the healthcare industry trying to deal with this silence that happens, that actually creates tremendous problems.