The Hook


Posted by Jacob Victory

I recently bought a pair of trousers. The cloth was fancy, the pleats were perfection and the pants actually had lining. “Swanky,” I thought to myself, and I got excited about the discounted price; so I bought it—without trying it on because I’m a lazy shopper and found my size quickly. Excited about the purchase, I didn’t think about the pants until I had to wear it a couple of days later.  Yet, my enthusiasm waned; when I slipped on the trousers I had a wrestling match with the pants hook in order to button the pants. It did not hook properly and despite my strong intentions, multiple attempts and raised eyebrows, the hook won and I gave up. Defeated, I slipped into an older pair, grabbed my keys and took the train to have breakfast with one of my mentors.

On the train ride to work after my breakfast—elated at having had an hour’s worth of advice, encouragement, playful banter and savory hash-browns—my mind obsessed about the pants hook.  While I dislike purchasing clothes, I had found a great pair of fitted and expensive (albeit discounted) trousers. But that blasted hook prevented me from wearing it. Annoyed, my mind reflected back to my breakfast conversations and I was thankful that I had one mentor who, despite his modest rolodex and retirement from health care 10 years ago, understood me, listened to the questions I asked, and offered his years of experience, observations, and input on how I should focus on what I seek, delegate the rest, and look forward to all that a successful professional and social life has to offer. “He’s got me hooked on every word he says,” I recall thinking. And, just as the train conductor announced my stop, it struck me that “hook” was the morning’s theme.

On one hand, I had a fancy pair of trousers with the perfect cut and material but it was useless to me because I could not hook it up properly. On the other hand, I had a modest man of modest means offering me a tanker’s weight in wisdom & encouragement—and had me hooked for more. I believe in mentorship. If you’re a looking for a mentor, here are eight points to consider:

1.       Seek mentors who listen more than they speak. They are often the wisest.

2.       Do not solely focus on seeking the most powerful, well-liked or well-positioned person you can find. The best advice or opportunity is not always offered by those in “high” places.

3.       Once you identify someone, never ever (ever) ask, “Will you be my mentor?” It can be off-putting and tainted with obligation. Instead, consider asking them out for coffee or a phone-chat by asking: 1) “There is an issue on which I would love your advice,” or 2) “I’d love to hear about your background and thoughts on (insert topic here).” Anyone who allocates their time and lavishes advice on you will, in time, become your mentor.

4.       Find that “hook,” or that connection or particular commonality that bolsters your relationship.

5.       Carve out time to build a relationship, as this is 90% of the task.

6.       Consider their time valuable.

7.       Realize that some people are not inclined to teach, to give advice or lend their time. If you receive a polite “no,” thank them anyway and move on.

8.       Lastly: enjoy it, as feedback is a gift.

Jacob Victory, an NYU-Wagner alum, is the Vice President of Performance Management Projects at the Visiting Nurse Service of New York. Jacob spends his days getting excited about initiatives that aim to reform and restructure health care.  He’s held strategic planning, clinical operations and performance improvement roles at academic medical centers, in home health care and at medical schools. Jacob also exercises the right side of his brain. Besides drawing flow charts and crunching numbers all day, he makes a mean pot of stew and does abstract paintings, often interpreting faces he finds intriguing.


Who I Am and What I Hope to Achieve


Posted by Jacob Victory

While inaugural game-day outings, presidential swear-ins, or grand openings of the local laundromat tend to have a lot of noise, glamour and “a 15 percent discount on your first five pounds of laundry,” my premier blog post comes with a large dose of humility, a little about who I am and what I hope to achieve with this blog.

 About Me: As a kid, I was the one who batted a home-run but couldn’t catch the ball (the mitt was too tight remains my excuse). As an artist, I paint my portraits to zoom-in on what I think is going on behind the mask of someone’s face. As a person, I believe in merit and in understanding that the ego doesn’t matter. As a professional, I seek to make an impact in serving those who are vulnerable—in other words, those who are rich, poor or like spicy foods, anyone who needs health care, healthy or otherwise, is always in a vulnerable spot. Why am I sharing my thoughts? Well, I want to give you my angle and I remember what is was like to be a student or what it was like early in my career and I’d like to share my thoughts because I’ve learned a thing or two from my experiences that others could benefit from. I also want to open up a discussion so we all can learn more, too.

My Blogging Roadmap: My blog will primarily focus on two areas. First, I write as an NYU-Wagner alum whose goal is to encourage current students and fellow alums to focus on what is relevant, what I consider smart things to do and not do, and how to work with others to chip away at making an impact. I’d like to address the need for mentorship, for reflection, and for relationship building. Also, I think students and alums always need strategies for job hunting or an understanding of how to network and find who may seem to be an elusive mentor.

Second, as a quiet observer of, but an active participant in, the theatrics of health care delivery, outcomes and, these days, reform, I wish to offer the practical viewpoint of what matters, what gets in the way, and what, in my self-exalted viewpoint, we should focus on. I’ll zero in on the need to maintain the viewpoint that “patient care is the only reason we are here” and what is needed to support this view; the need for collaboration between clinicians and “those business folks;” how performance improvement and succession planning must be priorities; as well as what I think the federal, state and local levels need to tackle in order to help health care organizations, clinicians, and administrators make this health care reform work..

Perhaps most importantly, I’m looking for a dialogue with you. If I can stretch your thinking (or make you chuckle), I’ll consider this blog successful. I’m flattered to write and excited to share.

Jacob Victory, an NYU-Wagner alum, is the Vice President of Performance Management Projects at the Visiting Nurse Service of New York. Jacob spends his days getting excited about initiatives that aim to reform and restructure health care.  He’s held strategic planning, clinical operations and performance improvement roles at academic medical centers, in home health care and at medical schools. Jacob also exercises the right side of his brain. Besides drawing flow charts and crunching numbers all day, he makes a mean pot of stew and does abstract paintings, often interpreting faces he finds intriguing.