Minter Dialogue with John Hervey

John Hervey started out his career working as a research analyst at prestigious banks, before becoming global head of Reuters Insights. He then made a career switch and was appointed CEO of Cota Healthcare, COO at Inspire before his latest venture, as CEO of PatientsLikeMe, the world’s largest personalized health network, boasting 830,000+ people who are living with 2,900 conditions that have generated more than 43 million data points, creating an unprecedented source of real-world evidence and opportunities for continuous learning. In this conversation, we discuss his career and pivot, his experience as the CEO of a publicly traded company and now piloting this fascinating PatientsLikeMe initiative. We look at how the role of a leader has evolved over the years, his view on risk taking, and creating a successful culture.

Please send me your questions — as an audio file if you’d like — to Otherwise, below, you’ll find the show notes and, of course, you are invited to comment. If you liked the podcast, please take a moment to rate it here.

To connect with John Hervey:

  • Check out the PatientsLikeMe site here
  • Find/follow John Hervey on LinkedIn

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Music credit: The jingle at the beginning of the show is courtesy of my friend, Pierre Journel, author of the Guitar Channel. And, the new sign-off music is “A Convinced Man,” a song I co-wrote and recorded with Stephanie Singer back in the late 1980s (please excuse the quality of the sound!).

Full transcript via

SUMMARY KEYWORDS: patients, people, idea, empathy, company, john, find, ceo, minter, talk, Cota, health, large populations, years, healthcare, understand, person, data, convinced, working

SPEAKERS: John Hervey, Minter Dial

Minter Dial  00:05

Hello, welcome to Minter Dialogue, episode number 557. My name is Minter Dial and I’m your host for this podcast, a most proud member of the Evergreen Podcast Network. For more information or to check out other shows on this network, go visit So, this week’s interview is with my old friend John Harvey. John started out his career working as a research analyst at prestigious banks before becoming global head of Reuters insights. He then made a career switch was appointed CEO of Cota Healthcare, then became COO at Inspire before his latest venture, as CEO of Patients Like Me, the world’s largest personalized health network, boasting more than 830,000 people who are living with 2900 conditions that have generated more than 43 million data points, creating an unprecedented source of real world evidence and opportunities for continuous learning. In this conversation with John we discuss his career and pivot. His experience as the CEO of a publicly traded company, and now piloting this fascinating initiative. We look at how the role of a leader has evolved over the years, his view on risk taking and creating a successful culture. You’ll find all the shownotes on And please, if you have a moment, please consider to drop in your rating and review. And don’t forget to subscribe to catch all the future episodes. Now for the show. John Hervey, how lovely to be able to see those two will let two words together. You and I have known each other a ton. And yet, there I am starting off by saying what the heck are all those guitars in the background? John? I didn’t know you played, John, in your own words. Who are you?

John Hervey  01:59

Who am I? Well, let’s see. I am a beyond the middle-aged man who is as well into his second career. Having spent the first career in finance and Wall Street, the second career in healthcare and health startups for a variety of reasons. Very, very happily married to my bride of 32 years of love that has two kids, both making their way into the world about now.

Minter Dial  02:31

And yeah, the funny thing is, of course, we not only went to the same university together, we actually worked at the same company. We did post university, Donaldson Lufkin and Jenrette and so we both went our long our little merry ways. And here we end up back on the phone together zoom. Gosh, a few years on! One of the reasons I immediately perched on your job, you were very kind to get me in to do some work with you at one point. And I’ve been following your new track. And this notion of being a CEO, you were CEO at Cota for about three years and four years at Inspire, which is all about data, infrastructure and analytics. And now at PatientsLikeMe, my thought for you, John, is to think about your now voyage in this new area as a leader, how has the notion of being a CEO changed for you?

John Hervey  03:36

Oh, it’s such a great question. I think when I first took on the CEO role, I thought of it a lot like being a senior manager at a large company. You know, I had my own my own world being CEO. And it really isn’t anything like that. It’s, it’s a very, very different world, you have to both be fully accountable to your board of directors and investors. But you have to have a very strong sense of what you’re going to do, and how you’re going to do it, and with whom you’re going to do it. Whereas in a big company, you don’t really have those requirements, the path is set, you’re following a course you’re trying to, to work towards someone else’s goals, and maybe you’re going to add some things to it. But as a CEO, you’re setting the course alone. And you want to surround yourself by great people, but you’re still the one in that holds all the blame if you don’t do it, right. But, but more importantly, there really gets the opportunity to make something of the company.

Minter Dial  04:44

Well, so you’ve had multiple experiences. And I know for having hung out with you at that time on cote that you had a personal reason that was relevant for joining Cota Health. At the same time, you Have along and is it? What are the parameters that you evaluate when you join in I mean, put it this way, if I give a context, somebody I know a lot of CEOs who have huge success, enormous paychecks and can serve on our coast on their reputation for doing good stuff at the CEO lab. And yet, I don’t actually see them as happy. Because they, they’re doing a good job. They’re working really hard, they’re being successful. But they don’t actually feel the business. It’s almost like a just a transaction. On a day to day basis. I mean, it’s a little bit more nap because of the challenge. And there’s excitement in that yet. Purpose, personal fulfillment. Without going into the extremes, but it’s sometimes difficult to get. So, for you, how have you survived that, because to the extent that we could, it was so obvious, but for the rest?

John Hervey  06:01

Well, it’s important to just briefly recap why I left Wall Street in went to Cota. You know, as you remember, my, I lost my father to cancer and at the time realized that my local grocery store knew more about my father than the healthcare system did. For a variety of reasons. But, we’re so used to sharing data in all parts of our lives, but healthcare is different. And often for very good reasons healthcare data is locked away. But it makes it very hard to use. And in the way the American healthcare system works, especially at the practice level, it is a factory, I mean, and I don’t necessarily mean that disparagingly there’s phenomenal doctors, and they can do phenomenal work, but it is all built on volume. I mean, you have to have very, very high volume, you don’t have time to really get to know the patient. And as I say, I realized that, that there was so much more that the healthcare system could have known about my father, and perhaps it would have changed, I probably wouldn’t have changed his outcome. But if it could have changed his course, I joined Cota because it was a pure data cancer data platform. I’d been on the board there for a number of years. And it’s what got me immersed in, in healthcare. But the to me, part of what was exciting was the data. Part of what was lacking were the humans, because we were working with pure datasets. Matter of fact, part of our job was to de identify them and to make sure that no one ever knew who these people were and, and then hopefully, that data could then be used to develop drugs more efficient. But getting closer to the patient was really what I wanted to find a way to do. When I when I joined Cota that led me to inspire which is a patient platform, as you mentioned, they do collect a lot of data, but it’s far more about patients connecting with other patients. Okay, that to me, led to my idea. And my idea was something that that inspire wasn’t going to try and change to do. And that’s, that’s fine. And the idea was, right now I look at the healthcare system, and I see it being very fractured. There are 1000s and 1000s and 1000s of companies, many of them are tiny little startups, some are behemoths. But it almost to me feels like the patients are secondary. They’re the customers. But, you know, first I have my service. And oh, by the way, I also have people who use my service, I have my, my, my tool or my drug or my implant, and oh, by the way, I have people who use those things. And I think there’s an opportunity out there to put a company at the middle that is made up of those patients. That links to all of those companies a whole, you know, a galaxy of companies so that I can log into Patients Like Me in this case. And I can get my prescription filled, see my doctor, make a new appointment, get symptom check, get genomic tests, have genomic testing, counseling, all of those things right now that our individual Labor’s for a patient. And that’s what we’re embarking on. So, I took I’ve taken a company that was looking for new leadership, wanted to develop a new idea. I clicked with the chairman amending Larry Renfro, who was very well known in finance, but he he’s been working on the same idea in his own way. And it was just luck that we came together and said, Okay, here’s the vehicle. Let’s go do this. So, I’m only about six months in, but, but that’s the idea. So, having that going back to what we first said, having a vision, an idea of where you’re going to go, and then figuring out how you’re going to get there, how much money do you need? What people do you need? Who are you going to connect with? How are you going to build this, you know, build out a plan, and then execute?

Minter Dial  10:20

Well, like you said, at the very beginning, there’s this finding the idea, then there’s, with whom you’re going to work and, and yet, it could end the day you are responsible. But it’s always good to have some sparring partners, and people with whom you have a certain confidential relationship and intimacy that you can go down and, and really shoot the ship, because otherwise, and from my vantage point, all the CEOs I talk with, there’s definitely a lot of solitude.

John Hervey  10:53

That’s so true. I have, I have a very good board. Everybody on the board is really terrific. But I’ve got two people who one comes from the financial world that I grew up in. And the other is Larry, who I mentioned who was in the financial world, but then he went to healthcare, and he basically is the man who built Optim, the services arm of UnitedHealth. And having those two guys to be able to call and say, is this crazy? Or how would I do this? Or is there a better way to do that? Boy, that makes it a lot easier.

Minter Dial  11:34

Isn’t it? Though? Tricky? Sometimes when you in that? Is this a crazy idea? You are vowing some self-doubt you are, you’re not like the affirmative guy stamping, you know, this is what I need to do kind of, I know what I’m doing thing. When you introduce doubt, if you don’t have that kind of a good team, or good surround sound advice? They’ll give me like, oh, well, did we do we choose the right person?

John Hervey  12:03

Yeah, I’ve been in the circumstance where you cannot show any weakness. And both in the finance world, and as a CEO, where you cannot show any weakness, if you do, you’re, you’re a peg lower. And that’s a true disadvantage. I mean, that’s, that’s a true disadvantage. And by the way, I’ve learned that that’s an important leadership skill in managing people as you need to allow people to be vulnerable, you want them to make you, underneath you. And, therefore, me having that ability to talk to some people is important, too. I mean, they need to walk away with confidence that once we’ve talked about this, we’ve got an idea, and we’re going to go for it, and this is the guy to do it. But it’s a whole lot easier to have those conversations with people who have a different perspective, or a different view, or different experiences. And to gain from that otherwise, you’re just making a presentation at a board meeting and telling everybody all the time that things are fine. And that’s, that’s very limited.

Minter Dial  13:11

Well, and I frankly, I think rather risky. Yes, you know, the idea that I know it all. And I I’m the I’m responsible for everything, so no ability to delegate. How do you How about, as you were saying, with your team? How about the idea of showing vulnerability with your team, because there’s so you have the people to whom you’re responsible the board, find that the investors, and then you have the people who are reporting into you. So, it’s already dangerous, let’s say to show vulnerability to your board your investors, because all of a sudden, they’re going to have doubt. But they also have the possibility of doubt on the other side, and to what extent do you feel you can say to your team, you know, you guys, I’m quite nervous about this particular decision, or I’m really not sure about this decision. Or, or on another level. You know what I had a shitty night last night. I’m really sorry, I might be a little bit of service. Or I had a I had a fight with my wife or something that shows genuine vulnerability that can impact your performance. Is that something you would even bring into the way you do things? Or is that something that sort of needs to be separated? But what happens at home stays at home?

John Hervey  14:33

There is about to me, I think people do need to see you as human. They do need to know that you have a life I do tend to be private after you get an inch deep, so I’m happy to share that first inch. But, then I want to keep them a bit separate. But I think empowering people to understand you know if I say look at Thanks, I had a really crappy night last night I am I’m really grumpy, or that I just came out of a really terrible meeting guys, you know, you need to understand this is going to be this may not be our favorite meeting that we’re following up with I am in a bad mood. I think it helps me to say those things rather than just let people figure it out, you know, John’s being a jerk today. But on the other element of showing, I guess, vulnerability in decision making and steps, there’s also a balance, because you have a great team to help make things better maybe to think of things you haven’t thought of, to, to, to do things better than you can do by yourself, and you have to let them write it can’t all be you do exactly as I say, first of all, that would be exhausting. And then second of all, you wouldn’t benefit from those different perspectives and those different ideas and hopefully, the talents that you sought out when you hired these people, or, or kept them. So, so there is that balance of Alright, guys, we have to get this done, how should we do it? And I tend to find, as I’ve is, I’ve done this longer? I asked more questions, even if I already have a pretty good idea of what I think the answer is, just to give people a chance to surprise me or to present a better idea. I find that a lot more effective than saying this is how we’re going to do it unless you have a better idea.

Minter Dial  16:34

And to follow that up. I mean, I’ve also seen people who asked the question, but are only too keen to impress upon everybody their answer, so that it needs to be done in a way where the people who are being asked don’t feel like they’re being immediately judged or immediately overridden because the boss said so. Yeah.

John Hervey  16:55

Or set up for to give a foolish answer or, or what have you. Yeah, you know, it’s, it’s a balance. And then there’s also the balance of okay, that’s fine for your immediate team. You’ll have a different relationship with your immediate team than you may as you present the entire company. You know, I’ve seen a lot of back and forth as to whether CEO should even have company-wide meetings anymore, that it’s left them to open for unnecessary critique or people voicing opinions that are distracting, etc. I still like them. I still like letting people talk and let people letting people ask and say and one thing I learned the favorite person I ever worked for you and I both knew at our at Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette who was always candid, he just told me what was going on. And I remember thinking back on that at some point, I don’t know if I always followed it. But thinking back on it and saying, Boy, it’s a lot easier just to be straight with people. You know, here’s what’s happening. Here’s what I know. Here’s what I don’t know. I mean, you can’t share confidential necessarily information. But for the most part, you could tell people, almost anything. You know, the reason we can’t have a Christmas party this year is because we don’t have the money. Here’s what we have to do to get the money. Here’s how you can be part of fixing this, as opposed to we’re not having a Christmas party this year, because I decided we won’t I don’t want to scare you about the money thing. Yeah, there’s it again, it’s always a balance. But I find candor is just a lot. Honestly, it’s just easier to keep track of.

Minter Dial  18:46

And so, it’s like you’re lying all the time, you don’t know who you like to what you said last time. When I tell you again, I don’t know if you’re referring to stew. But it’s interesting, this notion of being straight. There’s the truth and the concept even of truth. Like beauty is kind of moving around these days. What is the truth and the thing that I grab on to is trying to be as congruent because when you’re talking to your team, and then you’re talking Town Hall, you can’t be two personalities, just like – and I feel — which would happen on occasion, which is when my family, my children would come see me speak in front of my employees. And I want it to be the same person, or at least Lincoln to that same person. I couldn’t be a dick with a tie onstage to 1000 people and be completely unrecognizable to my family. In fact, at any point being unrecognizable to the people close to you any point but You’re angry. When you’re in a boardroom when shits going in hitting the fan. Finding a way to stay true to who you are, is an ultimate challenge.

John Hervey  20:13

I agree with that. I also think there’s, as I’ve gotten older, yes, I’ve just mellowed in that I find it’s also helpful to take a beat. Don’t react instantly. Don’t lash out.

Minter Dial  20:31

I mean, don’t be a teenager.

John Hervey  20:32

Don’t be a teenager don’t show the anger. You got nothing to prove anymore. So, so there’s that even temperament. Now? I bring that up, because there’s also a downside to that, which is I’m really pissed at something and people aren’t really sure. Am I really just, you know, trying to take in more information? Is it all cool? You know, and in fact, it isn’t. So, so that, that even temperament can be a hard read for people. Sometimes, it leads to congruence, which is which is good. But it can also lead to some ambiguity as to as to how we’re really doing, you know, what are you what do you really think of that personality element of keeping it inside? Knowing when to then thoughtfully let it out?

Minter Dial  21:26

Well, I suppose is congruence is predictability. Yeah, you can be hot headed, the congruent. Yeah. And then there’s the sort of the unpredictability of going off the rails when normally John is a really relaxed dude. And that sense of break? Well, of course. And then there’s like, when I when I speak on stage, on occasion, I’ll let slip a big old F bomb or something, which is designed to surprise and that sometimes you also, as the leader, need to sort of shock or surprise. Yes.

John Hervey  22:01

Well, by the way, that was, that was a harder lesson coming from Wall Street where the language is quite different, a bit. It’s a bit saltier than I was used to when I first arrived in the startup world and ran into a lot more people willing to be offended to dumb stuff. And I had to decide, does that mean I need to really change? And just be super thoughtful about other people’s, you know, or do I, in my view, it was kind of little in the middle of, it may not be I mean, I dropped that bombs with every sentence, but they still they still come out, I find words are effective. When you use them. You know, at the right time, everything has an appropriate use. And that includes my old work and vocabulary.

Minter Dial  23:00

Indeed, well, I mean, in French has a saying, which is the same, which is “le verbe (ou le mot) est structurant,” the words you use are have their meaning. There’s a couple more questions I want to talk to you about leadership, before we get into the specifics of Patients Like Me. One of them is the word empathy. So, this is a big topic for me. And the Google search requests around the word empathy are off the charts. There have been over 300 books published in the last couple of years with the word empathy in the title or subtitle, it seems to be a very trendy topic, I’m wondering to what extent empathy is relevant for you in your business? And to what extent and how you practice it?

John Hervey  23:49

Such a good question, I do think it’s an overused term right now. It’s also been to be a good person you have to be empathetic is sort of how I think people are losing today. So, I’m going to, maybe I’m a bit more of a user in this sense that you do have to understand you do have to have empathy to be very effective. So, I need to understand how somebody else is taking in a situation and how somebody else is looking and hearing situation to be most effective managing them and to get the most out of them. So, if that makes me a user, yeah. Okay. So, I need to understand that you’re going to react best if I talk to you this way. And sometimes, therefore, I won’t talk to you this way because I need you to, to think of things differently. But, but so empathy, of understanding and really trying to put yourself in a position of how does this person react, think feel, can make me I think a better manager. It doesn’t necessarily make me a nicer person. Because as I said, Sometimes I want to take my understanding of how somebody is going to react to shake them up, to get them to do things differently than they’re comfortable doing. It isn’t all about, you know, feeling good and happy sometimes. Sometimes it’s feeling on edge. Sometimes it’s feeling pressure, knowing that we got to get stuff done, even if it makes you feel uncomfortable. But for me, I need to know that I’m making you feel uncomfortable, I need to understand what I’m trying to do. So, I could change tax if necessary. So, empathy is a tricky one. I think I think it’s a good as a good manager, you should understand, you should have empathy, but it isn’t just about being nice.

Minter Dial  25:47

Well, indeed, in the way I talk about it, empathy isn’t about being nice. That’s being sympathetic. It isn’t actually even about what you do afterwards, like, be nice or tend a gift, or, you know, give out some extra food. Let’s say from a compassionate standpoint. Empathy merely is about understanding. And if you use to use your word, use the empathy for better communication, I don’t think that is at all abusive.

John Hervey  26:19

Yeah, obviously I agree. But I do hear people talking to it, uh, talking about empathy is, you know, show a little empathy as well.

Minter Dial  26:34

Then yeah, indeed. And in fact, there’s, there’s a whole lot of material around that. But I bring it up, not only because I have my own personal interests on it, but in the healthcare industry, it is considered to be sort of the Valhalla of attitudes. You know, if you’re at the bedside, with some sick person about to die, you don’t go on joke about you know, how your Lamborghinis, you know, not going to sixth gear anymore. You have to consider the situation and the feelings and the thoughts of others. And the other day, I was invited by my sister to speak at three hospitals, my sister being a doctor Haley’s, to talk about empathy in the management of a hospital, as opposed to the empathy at the bedside with the patient. And at the end of the day, it has been my conviction that if you want empathy at the end, let’s say with the patient, you need to treat everybody along the chain. In other words, including the person who cleans the bedpans, including the sweeper, toilet painters, and of course, the anesthetists, the nurses, and so on, in a way that’s congruent with what you’re hoping to do at the end.

John Hervey  27:57

It’s interesting, because I think back to my wife’s mom, my mother in law, who I was very close to, she’s a wonderful, wonderful woman, but she was very ill, she was in hospital. And we didn’t really know what was going on, and a doctor on rounds, who I didn’t know, it all had never met, came in. And as he’s talking to me out, I was getting a bit confused with what he was trying to say. And, and I pushed back by saying, you know, what you’re saying, you know, she’ll never leave this hospital. And he looked at me and just said, she won’t, I don’t think there’s any chance that this woman will leave this hospital alive. And it was so jarring. And I thought back on that moment, many times, because ultimately, it was incredibly helpful to me. Because it allowed me to change my entire mindset here, my mindset changed to I need to get my wife here, because she was out of the country at the time. I need to, I need to be here. Although, I mean, this is this is a different situation than I thought it was. And yet, he didn’t need to do that. He could have just said, you know, we’re going to do our best we, you know, she’s a fighter, she’s, you know, et cetera, et cetera, and left me with that hope. But the end was going to be the end. And in fact, she lived another I think two days. And my wife did get there. But did he show empathy? Yeah. Was it the same as having a warm and fuzzy bedside manner? No. So, again, it what he delivered to me was jarring, uncomfortable, frightening, and very helpful. Very true, and very true.

Minter Dial  29:47

As it turns out, like back at the beginning, you said, John, you were talking about this notion of being straight and being truthful, at the to the best that you can be as long as the intention of Truth is appropriate you because of course, there are white lies. And there are times when you can’t say things because it’s confidential, but at the same time, and I think it really opens up this whole other chapter, which is this idea of being courageous. And John, something I really appreciated in the interviews I was listening to reading about you before the interview to bone up on Mr. Harvey, was the fact that you believe in being courageous. How did you get to that? It’s today’s world, I feel like there’s a total lack of courage.

John Hervey  30:38

Yeah, I think there, there are a number of a number of ways to take that answer. You know, for me, I guess in thinking back on changing careers, you would have been much easier to just stay and, you know, financially lucrative, all that kind of stuff to just stay on Wall Street. So, maybe it was more courageous, to move on. But I think courage still comes in truth. And asking why, and challenging the premise. And I’m challenging the premise all throughout one, maybe a little too avant garde, but it occurred to me not too many years ago, that there is a big gap between what we actually know, and what we think we know. And in fact, most of what you know, you believe to be true. You don’t you don’t know it to be true. You believe it to be true. I believe man walked on the moon. Can I prove it? No. But yeah, obviously we did.

Minter Dial  31:51

Well, check on Google.

John Hervey  31:54

Exactly, exactly. So, I think I think we’ve gotten to a point in society where not to be controversial, but I think people have gotten very lazy in their beliefs. They must be right, because so many people agree with them. They must be right, because all of their friends think so to or at least all their people on social media

Minter Dial  32:18

Or they’re saying that they believe so….

John Hervey  32:21

I know, empirically, from the evidence that this is an unhealthy lifestyle, but people want to support it and encourage me, therefore, it’s good. If you don’t have to work too hard to start challenging these things, and maybe thinking that that easy way to go. Is not in people’s best interest. It may not be in somebody’s best interest to say, yes, you’re perfectly healthy. If you’re obese. You’re not. You’re just not. Now you may choose to be and freedom of choice. That’s okay. But, let’s not kick people into thinking that, that some decisions that are made are always good, because they make you feel good. That’s just not true. Or that that just because people agree with you, that that this is right. Sometimes you have to step back and say, Okay, let me just test this, I want to go listen to other people, I want to go check some other opinions. And then where courage comes in, is actually doing something about it. Either saying something, which is very uncomfortable these days. But then I also would say, if you’re going to say something, leave open to the fact that you’re stating your view, your opinion, what you believe to be true. Other people are allowed to have their other views, even if they seem abhorrent to you, they’re allowed to have their other views. But again, understanding that if you go that extra step, spend a little bit more time, listen, learn, come to a conclusion, then do something about it. Speak up, speak out. act differently, change your life, change your lifestyle, don’t follow that advice, you know, all of those things. There are little tiny acts of courage. But I think it builds up to bigger things. It allows you to have the mindset to make bigger decisions in your life and to do bigger things.

Minter Dial  34:27

So, this idea of having the courage to say something, the how you say things is important, because they’re incendiary ways of expressing yourself. Yes, you can say exactly what you want in different ways, or what you’re trying to say. And so, the how counts back to your empathy piece, according to the receiver or receivers. And, and the other thing which strikes me, but you know, so the idea I have someone who has a health issue. And the note so I feel in your area that not only have we gotten a little bit lazy, we don’t want to take, we’re not accountable.

John Hervey  35:21

Yeah, we’ve given ourselves an easy way out of my convenience. Very, very much. So. Yeah. With many people, I believe that they may know better. They may, they may know that what they think is that convenience actually listened. But I’m not sure that’s always the case anymore. I think some people have just simply, it’s turned into, you know, a binary response. And I’ve got one answer, and you’ve got a different winner, therefore, I’m right, and you’re wrong. Or I’m going to I’m going to do this. Any other time in history, you would have known that this is wrong or dumb or foolish. But no, it’s good. I can prove it. Look, you know, and I think social media is a big part of that. I think, I think many parts of industry are part of that. We’re making it comfortable for people to not necessarily do the right things. Health for their health, or for or for society.

Minter Dial  36:29

It makes me think of a song, “Teenage Wasteland,” how we are, are operating like teenagers, when it’s black and white.

John Hervey  36:42

That’s true, which, by the way, is such a funny song because it was actually an anti-drug culture song that was then adopted by the drug culture as a as an anthem. So, it kind of fits that saying.

Minter Dial  36:54

It’s something I wanted to bring up earlier, but I didn’t, about this idea of letting go. I’ve had a wonderful interview with a guy called John Purkiss, also known as Banahasta, his Buddhist name. This idea of letting go and when you’re the CEO, you’re supposed to be the you know, the idea is, you’re the know it all, you, you have to make firm decisions, not always comfortable. But the idea of letting go and allowing for the specialisms of others in your team, to say I don’t know how to do everything I need you. Not only do I delegate, but actually I don’t even know how to do some of this stuff. And that idea of letting the mantle go of like all reposes on me. You have this niche, the idea of you need to be responsible. And you need to let go.

John Hervey  37:47

Yeah. And it goes back to something we were talking about earlier, which is, how do you how do you create that sense of congruency. Part of being able to let go and let other people do things is, is tied to understanding where you’re going, what you need to do as a group and as a company. So, I can say, we need to get to this point. I’ve got these parts figured out. I need help on these parts. But huge, we’re all getting to this point. It’s not. You know, that’s what I think in startups, especially but many CEOs get lost in financial goals. So, they’re, they’re, they’re told by the board, you need to make X revenues this year. You need to have X margin this year. And those, those are fine, but those are the outcomes of achieving goals. So, if all you’re set on is we need to have more revenues, well, gee, there are lots of ways you can do that. And everybody and they may take you very well off track of what you’re trying to achieve as a company. You have to be rational about keeping a company afloat you have to pay payroll, etc. But understanding, yes, I need to get here. I don’t know how to do this part you actually do know how to do this part helped me do that. But again, we all understand why we’re doing we’re doing it to get to this. You know, one of the one of the things I’ve had to adjust to in moving from finance to health.

Minter Dial  39:33

Well, you weren’t you weren’t you were an analyst in the space of course.

John Hervey  39:38

I started off as an oil analyst and there’s no link to healthcare. Current launder, yeah, that’s right. I then ran a company that was technology focused and we pivoted to do technology and healthcare. So, I mean, there was a progression to get to healthcare, but at every step of the way, I’ve had to get other people who knew more about something to explain it to me understand how this works to understand because it’s one of the other I think mistakes of startups is to is to think that their goal is to produce something that they think is cool, as opposed to, to produce something that the world needs or that their clients need. And they’re different. You know, if I walk into a pharma company and say, I’ve got this amazing thing, think of all the cool things you could do with this amazing thing, not going to get very far, where is if I walk in and say, you’re trying to solve this problem, I’ve got this, this will help you solve that problem. It may be just a better version of what you’re doing, and may be completely different. But it’s, it’s obvious to them what you’re trying to achieve. Same thing is true when you when you’re working with your team, we’re trying to do this or achieve this to why to support this capability that our clients need. And, and to do that, you know, here are the pieces we need to fill in, I won’t know how to do all of those pieces. In the same way that I couldn’t, you know, I couldn’t do our tax returns, it’s not my job, I assume they’re getting done appropriately, you know, I read the audit. But you do have to be able to delegate that which you, which you just need a little help with or need a lot of help with, but you but you at least understand how it fits into your journey.

Minter Dial  41:30

And just riffing off that. My mind walked into the Grateful Dead and, and you’re a guitar, when you’re a guitarist, you need to let the keyboard play the keyboard and you need to get the drummer to pay the drummer, I wanted to go into one of the I want to save the last few moments talking about patient like me, but it just layer into that this notion of kill it or killing death, or ending aging. And this idea of immortality, there’s about $600 billion flowing into it next couple of years into making us live longer and get rid of aging and death. So, that’s, that’s what the investors are thinking. And they’re the rich people they get to do cryogenics do invest in ridiculous plasma transplants, whatever. Not only do I think that is not what people want, I certainly don’t think it’s what people need.

John Hervey  42:30

It also seems to be very out of step with a country experiencing declining lifespans in America in curiously Yeah, exactly. And, and yet, you know, we’re trying to find the ticket to, to internality. And, and maybe that’s a good thing, but it’s certainly not top of mind of most people who are trying to deal with severe or not severe health issues,

Minter Dial  43:06

you know, mental health issues, by the way, as well.

John Hervey  43:10

Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, everybody is a patient at some level, you may not think of yourself as a patient, but everybody’s a patient at some level. And, and yeah, living forever. Maybe somebody will figure it out, and then figured out what to do with population along the way. But you know,

Minter Dial  43:29

I have a sneaking suspicion they haven’t at all, even scratched the surface of actually what that means. And my specific viewpoint I’ve written about this as this is a very unhealthy, unreal, objective and speaks to our issue of lack of acceptance of reality. So, let’s talk about I know, I hope we can talk about that. I’m sure John, for a few hours. Let’s talk about Patients Like Me just for the last few moments that we have together. Because I, you know, I basically every country I’ve ever lived in has an issue with health care. And in the NHS in England, you get to have eight-minute meetings with your doctor, you’re allowed to talk about one issue. And your GP general practitioner dog can’t possibly know everything about you the collective information, the MRI that you might have taken plus the CAT scan, plus, you know, the fact that you have a mother who might be sick in hospital, and you might be sleeping badly, and you know, and you might be eating poorly. Oh, but my blood sugars are bad, or whatever, because I’m a type one diabetic. So, every country seems to have problems. It seems to me with patients like me, maybe what you’re trying to do is, is render more responsible, the patients that’s my initial reading. What are you trying to do with Patients Like Me and how can I help you?

John Hervey  45:01

So, at the at the simplest form, this isn’t the financial model, but it is the foundation that then allows us to achieve our financial goals. We’re trying to empower patients to better understand and to, to an extent, better control their health journey. That better understanding is difficult because different parties in the health system have different interests in telling you things, or trying to push your behavior one way or another. Whether it’s because they don’t have time to talk to you anymore in the doctor’s office, or whether it’s because they really think it’s better that you take this drug for the rest of your life, rather than change a lifestyle or try something else. All of those things are realities of our health system today. But if you can put the patient in the middle of it, allow them to have peer to peer conversations that are based on data, it’s not just hey, I think this but it’s, here’s my chart, and my charts a lot like these charts. And these people are saying this and can tell me that that’s a patient’s like me experience at its at its core, it is It was named appropriately of I want to interact with patients who are like me, we’ve taken it, though, to not just be about meeting and sharing data with other patients, which is kind of how it started. To also having these formal connections to my pharmacy, my diagnostics, companies like quest, and, and let’s get checked, or to, to have connections to my health insurance company, or to have these formal things. So, I can I can go on to Patients Like Me, let’s just say in nine months, you’ll be able to go into Patients Like Me and say this is this is my health coverage, if I have any. These are this is my health situation. And now have a better understanding of well, do you want to make a doctor’s appointment? Okay, we’ve got this service to make your doctor’s appointment, oh, I’m not feeling well, there’s a symptom checker do to check this, but you have this diagnosis, you know, a genomic test would actually tell you a lot more and these are covered by your health plan. And by the way, so is this genomic counseling that goes with your health plan, bring all of that in, and then be able to import that data to again, enhance that comparison to be able to say, Now, I know even more about this individual on the platform, and can surface more things that may make their life better. So, it’s, I want to be careful to not say it’s empowering the patient. And because in some ways that that may suggest that they’re going to do things that they otherwise wouldn’t do, we’re trying to make it easier for them to do the things that they should be doing. Without having to open 50 different apps and into, into try to remember where they wrote down that number, you know, et cetera, et cetera.

Minter Dial  48:24

I have a friend in London, who is working on the same type of issue actually with the NHS. And because when you go to do an MRI, they will actually give you the results. It stays in some black box and the issue I see John, and I’m wondering whether how you would react to this maybe the last question, which is, I’m different. No, my situation is different. And so, you have nearly a million members at Patients Like Me. How was the critical mass that allows me to say that I have enough Patients Like Me, so I’m a type one diabetic, my wife has multiple sclerosis. To take Ms. Which has, or even Type One Diabetics, which have typed five different there are five different types of diabetics. Do Are we are we splitting hairs? Are we able to get enough type one B’s versus one A’s? With MS with all the different mutations with Alzheimer’s and all this? There’s so many different variations. Well, I have Alzheimer’s and cancer. Oh my gosh, you know, that makes you special. So, how are you trying to deal with that beginning critical mass for appropriate returns?

John Hervey  49:44

Such a good question, because from a very practical standpoint, I can start by saying Well, everybody’s different. Every situation is unique. Well, in that case, what’s the point in comparing yourself to anybody because a federal attorney. So, you do need large populations. It’s difficult for a company like ours to say we’re going to immediately get large populations across every disease. So, we’ll pick our places. And that, by the way, comes into some of the commercial option, where we where we know we have commercial opportunities is, is where we may put more of a concentration initially to build up our, our patient populations. And the way we’ve gone about that, and are going about that now is to partner with, with companies that may bring very large populations to us. So, for instance, we’re working with a company in Renal Care, that that that has trouble activating the patients that are on their list, they’ve been given a list by the insurance company saying these are all the people who may qualify for your plan 160,000. And they send out letter through the mail. And not shockingly, they have about a half a percent follow, right? Right, then they send an email, and they’ve got about a 1% fall rate, alright, so engagement is something we’re very good at is initial activation, and then keeping them engaged in it, because those are so for that company, if we can engage far more of the 160,000 we now start to build up a very large population in, in kidney care. And with that, we’re then able to show more similarities and more commonalities in where they are in their health journey. You know, some of the big things are staying on your meds. And understanding when you maybe, yeah, when you may be coming up for dialysis, and to understand the difference between home dialysis and non-home dialysis. So, how do you get large groups for me, it makes much more sense to partner with people who bring large groups in, then we engage them and give them a platform that keeps them on board. And you’re more likely to stay on board. By the way, if you’re not just there to learn some things or to meet some people, you’re there to do stuff you I need to get my prescription renewed, I need to make a new home dialysis, appointment, et cetera, you know, you can so for us, bringing in these very large populations is, is how I think we will be going from you know, that million. So, the million we reach about 5 million or members, we reach about 5 million, who so large numbers are not members. But we’re looking at through our partnerships today being getting that number to over 50 million in the next nine months. And over the next several years to have something well over 200 million.

Minter Dial  52:58

So, let’s, let’s call that critical mass.

John Hervey  53:00

Yeah, exactly, and so, you need critical mass, you need to do it step by step. And for us, the approach is to partner with those who bring in very large populations not to just do it organically.

Minter Dial  53:13

So, for anyone listening, what I, as I explored, as I signed up, it seems to be a US based or maybe North American based, if you are a person that has a lot of different people in your database, that would be a key person to contact you, John, or anyone on your team, of course, at Patients Like Me. And any lead, just to finish Who would you like to follow up? What call to action? To whom? And how would you like to propose?

John Hervey  53:53

Who would I like to call to action?

Minter Dial  53:54

Well, who would you like to after this listening to this? Would you like to sign up, go to a certain URL? Who are you looking for? And where should they go?

John Hervey  54:08

If you’re if you’re just simply a consumer or a patient come to Patients Like Me at Sign up, it’s going to grow a lot over the next year based on the plans that I’ve just started to lay out. But if you are perhaps involved with a care provider, an insurance company, we have very close relationships with United Healthcare right now. And, and if you’re working to build up what you think is an important piece to somebody’s health journey, but you’re trying to link into that flow of patients, give me a call. In the last couple of days I’ve talked to counseling companies, generics companies, other testing former companies and a company that is in pain management, all of them are likely partners of ours in the next in the next few months. So, there’s an opportunity to, to be part of this. As I said, galaxy of partners.

Minter Dial  55:20

I wish that we could talk about 23andme, because I’m very sad to see that they’ve gone or are about to go. But, John, lovely to have you and have this great exchange. This has been rich for me. Really appreciate it. And wish you tremendous luck. with this PatientsLikeMe. In the end of the day, it feels like it’s an opportunity for people like me to take responsibility for their health.

John Hervey  55:48

I think that’s right, and to be again at the center of it. They make courageous decisions.

Minter Dial  55:57

Beautiful. Thank you, John.


So, a really heartfelt thanks for listening to this episode of The Minter Dialogue podcast. If you liked the show, please remember to subscribe on your favourite podcast service. As ever, rating and reviews are the real currency of podcasts. And if you’re really inspired, I’m accepting donations on You’ll find the show notes with over 2100 blog posts on on topics ranging from leadership to branding, tech and marketing tips. Check out my documentary film and books including my last one, the second edition of “Heartificial Empathy, Putting Heart into Business and Artificial Intelligence” that came out in April 2023. And to finish here’s a song I wrote with Stephanie Singer, “A Convinced Man.”


I like the feel of a stranger

Tucked around me

Precipitating the danger

To feel free

Trust is the reason

Still I won’t toe the line.

I sit here passively

Hope for your respect

Anticipating the thrill of your intellect

Maybe I tell myself

There’s no use in me lying.

I’m a convinced man,

Building an urge

A convinced man,

To live and die submerged.

A convinced man,

In the arms of a woman

I’m a convinced man

Challenge my fate

I’m a convinced man

Competition’s innate

A convinced man

In the arms of a woman.

Despise revenges

And struggle to see

Live for the challenge

So, life’s not incomplete

What’s wrong with challenge

I know soon we all die

I’m a convinced man

Practicing my lines

I’m a convinced man

Here in these confines

A convinced man

In the arms of a woman.

I’m a convinced man

Put me to the test

I’m a convinced man

I’m ready for an arrest

I’m a convinced man

In the arms of a woman.

I’m a convinced man… so convinced

You convince me, yeah baby,

I’m a convinced man

In the arms of a woman…

Minter Dial

Minter Dial is an international professional speaker, author & consultant on Leadership, Branding and Transformation. After a successful international career at L’Oréal, Minter Dial returned to his entrepreneurial roots and has spent the last twelve years helping senior management teams and Boards to adapt to the new exigencies of the digitally enhanced marketplace. He has worked with world-class organisations to help activate their brand strategies, and figure out how best to integrate new technologies, digital tools, devices and platforms. Above all, Minter works to catalyse a change in mindset and dial up transformation. Minter received his BA in Trilingual Literature from Yale University (1987) and gained his MBA at INSEAD, Fontainebleau (1993). He’s author of four award-winning books, including Heartificial Empathy, Putting Heart into Business and Artificial Intelligence (2nd edition) (2023); You Lead, How Being Yourself Makes You A Better Leader (Kogan Page 2021); co-author of Futureproof, How To Get Your Business Ready For The Next Disruption (Pearson 2017); and author of The Last Ring Home (Myndset Press 2016), a book and documentary film, both of which have won awards and critical acclaim.

👉🏼 It’s easy to inquire about booking Minter Dial here.

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