Podcast Special Guest, Judson Howe

Judson Howe
Episode 41

Don't miss this episode as Japhet De Oliveira welcomes Judson Howe for a conversation about moral imperatives, his affinity for tutorials, and the power of authentic and clear communication.
Libsyn Podcast
"I would rather work from a position of passion and calling than from ambition."

Narrator: Welcome, friends, to another episode of The Story & Experience Podcast. Join your host, Japhet De Oliveira, with his guest today and discover the moments that shape us, our families and communities.

Japhet De Oliveira: Welcome, friends, to another fantastic episode of The Story & Experience Podcast. A brand new guest today, as you would imagine, because every single episode is a brand new guest.

With this guest today, I'm really excited about this guest. I'm going to introduce you to him in a second. Before I do that, for anybody who's brand new I'm just going to explain how it works. We have 100 questions. They progressively get more difficult and more complex, and our guest is nodding right now in affirmation of this. Our guest gets to choose where they want to go in this entire equation, from the numbers 11 all the way to 100. I'm going to ask the first 10 just to kind of get it warmed up.

Without much further ado, I'm going to dive straight in and begin with question number one, could you tell us your name and does anybody ever mess it up, my friend?

Judson Howe: Yeah. So my name is Judson Howe. Every single day people mess it up, but when you have a name like Judson it instills a certain level of humility and acceptance that people are doing their best when they're repeating my name, from Justin to Jason to Hudson, all are common.

Japhet De Oliveira: All are common?

Judson Howe: Uh-huh (affirmative).

Japhet De Oliveira: I wondered how they actually mess it up. That's incredible. People must do that all the time.

Judson Howe: You know, I've never met another Judson before actually, but I have heard that they exist. They're like unicorns, you know. I hear of them, but I've never seen one.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's great. You will one day. After hearing this podcast more Judsons will come forward and say, "I too am a Judson." I'm sure of it. All right, Judson, what do you do for work?

Judson Howe: I have the privilege of serving as the president for Adventist Health's three hospitals in Mendocino County, of which we have three. We have Adventist Health Mendocino Coast, we have Adventist Health Howard Memorial, and we have Adventist Health Ukiah Valley.

Japhet De Oliveira: Brilliant. I think you guys have like a collective name for that as well?

Judson Howe: Yeah. Yeah. Adventist Health Mendocino County is one. That's the term that we generally use for that. We're on the north coast of California. There is a section of the area called The Lost Coast, which I think appropriately kind of captures who we are. We're kind of that coastal area of California between Santa Rosa and Eureka that generally people have to be intentional about coming through there. That's not to say we're not one of the most beautiful areas of California in my humble opinion.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah. It really is. It's beautiful. All right. How long have you been in this current role?

Judson Howe: Current role, almost a year now. I started officially in December of 2020.

Japhet De Oliveira: But you've working in healthcare for a long time, right?

Judson Howe: Yeah. I've actually been with Adventist Health since the fall of 2010. I actually came in as part of their residency program. There is a residency program today. There was one then, as well. Adventist Health would have one finance resident, one HR resident, one nursing resident. I had the opportunity to be the finance resident for two years, from 2010 to 2012.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's fantastic. We actually ... Yeah, I know. We actually have a fantastic crew of residents right now that are coming through.

Judson Howe: Great.

Japhet De Oliveira: It's a really great program. Brilliant. So in the morning, drink of choice? Do you begin your day with water, coffee, one of those liquid green smoothies, tea?

Judson Howe: In the last two months I have started to drink protein shakes in the morning. Yeah. I put a lot of fruit in there. The secret to these things is the fruit for the anti-oxidizing power, but beet powder is actually the secret ingredient that really takes sort of muscle fatigue away.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's fantastic. That's fantastic.

Judson Howe: That's a pro tip for you guys.

Japhet De Oliveira: Pro tip? Like it. That's good. All right, Judson, where were you born?

Judson Howe: I was actually born in a city called York, Pennsylvania. Not York, UK...

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah. I know of it.

Judson Howe: ...but York, Pennsylvania. And not New York, but York, just to be clear.

Japhet De Oliveira: My wife and I love York, as well, in England, but ... and so this York place that you were born, have you been back there?

Judson Howe: You know, not very often. Maybe once or twice. I actually grew up ... when I was very young, I think I was about three years old, I moved to Lancaster, Massachusetts. Hey, a quick question for you, Japhet. Is York, England, in Lancaster County, or was the Lancaster family ... Is that where the War of the Roses was?

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah. Absolutely. But I don't know about the county. I'll have to check.

Judson Howe: We'll let the history buffs look that up.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah. We will. They will have to double-check and they'll ratify it for us.

Judson Howe: Yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: Somebody will seek it and share it.

Judson Howe: I moved to a town called Lancaster, Massachusetts, which if you're trying to visualize that, it's either 30 minutes north of Worcester, Massachusetts, or an hour northwest of Boston, if you guys know where that's at. I had the chance to live there until mid-high school, and then moved to Southern California.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's good. When you were a kid growing up there, what did you imagine you were going to be?

Judson Howe: I think on my third grade yearbook I put surveyor, like road surveyor. I think I liked the detail and the equipment that I had seen those guys on the highway have, so ... I have no idea why that went on there.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's brilliant. That's brilliant.

Judson Howe: Yeah. It was either that or fireman.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah. Very similar. Very similar. That's great. I like that. Personality, if people were to describe you, Judson, would they describe you as extrovert or introvert, and would you agree with their description?

Judson Howe: I think extrovert would be a common assessment of myself, but I will say as I've transitioned from the financial world into the presidential seat it has been interesting to see different aspects of my personality come out, which may be some of my more reserved components of myself that I get to enjoy in a different way.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah. That's fantastic. That's interesting, because I've seen you walking through all the hospitals and the way that you connect with people, and they all know you and love you, and you have this pretty wonderful way to connect with all the nurses and doctors.

I remember in particular the way you connected with ... When we were going through ... Which hospital was that, where we connected with that group of people that were in the waiting room?

Judson Howe: That was actually Adventist Health Mendocino Coast. Yeah, I do remember that time.

Japhet De Oliveira: That was a great. Yeah. I was like, man, this guy is a brilliant president. Oh, you connected so well with those people. They were just astonished.

Judson Howe: That is what it's about though, Japhet...

Japhet De Oliveira: It is.

Judson Howe: ...those spontaneous connections, which I think we have opportunities for every single day. I think that is one of the main roles of a president, is to capture those moments and to be available. Absolutely.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah. I mean she was moved by that and loved it. That was a really great moment, a great moment.

Judson Howe: Uh-huh (affirmative).

Japhet De Oliveira: So, Judson, are you an early riser or a late night owl?

Judson Howe: Both. I've actually lately added in some exercise after the kids go to bed, but generally get up pretty early in the morning, start the day. If I remember correctly, you don't sleep. Is that correct?

Japhet De Oliveira: Well, you know, there is time for sleep.

Judson Howe: Not that I've seen it, but I've heard it. You mentioned it to me. Yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: So is that what the protein shakes really help with as well?

Judson Howe: If you're working out it does help with the fatigue. But, again, people not seeing me, I am not the picture of health. This is not who I'm aspiring to be. This is more of a baseline how to start where you are and get to a better place. Yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: Sure. But I've heard you're a bit of a biker, as well. Is that correct?

Judson Howe: I do enjoy biking. Yeah. Yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: Not the motorcycle, but cycling?

Judson Howe: Yeah. I do enjoy it. I'm no Greg McCulloch or Andy Jahn, but I do enjoy being on two wheels. We have good mountain biking in the area and I do partake where possible.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's great. All right. Here's a leadership question for you then. Are you a backseat driver?

Judson Howe: No.

Japhet De Oliveira: No?

Judson Howe: No. I am not a backseat driver. I am opinionated and I have worked hard on tact and approach. I would say I'm more of a trench warrior. I enjoy being inside the ER, as I enjoy being walking through the hospitals, and I really believe that it's those relationships that we have that affect our ability to influence change, and without that I don't know how you would do that.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah. Beautiful. Well, last question and then I'm going to hand it over to you to pick the numbers. What's the very first thought that went through your mind this morning?

Judson Howe: The first thought I had was I need to be on time to my 8:00 a.m. meeting. Meetings start on time.

Japhet De Oliveira: They do. They do. All right. That's brilliant. Hey, that's good stuff. All right. So where do you want to go from 11 to 100, and we will begin, seeing all these stories and experiences that shaped you into the great leader that you are today?

Judson Howe: 39.

Japhet De Oliveira: 39? All right. Here it is. If you ... This is funny. If you didn't need to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?

Judson Howe: I have this weird affinity for tutorials. There's a lot of things I never master, but I love tinkering and knowing that they exist and there's really smart people out there that do them.

I have a buddy in town that is quite gifted when it comes to 3D animation and the other day I was really intrigued by what he was showing me that I didn't know was possible, and I was looking at the tools that he was using, tools I didn't know existed, nevermind that my computer can't handle them.

But I was guilty of spending some time the other night sitting through some tutorials on how these things work. I find myself doing that not just recently, but over the past 10 years.

Japhet De Oliveira: And that is an entirely fascinating world, where you can create.

Judson Howe: Uh-huh (affirmative).

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah. All right. That's good. All right. So after 39, where would you like to go next?

Judson Howe: I'd like to go to 47.

Japhet De Oliveira: 47? All right. You've just met someone. What would you want them to know about you and why?

Judson Howe: I would just want them to know that I'm not a two-dimensional person. I'd want them to know that there is depth to me and I work hard to be empathetic of other people. I work hard to be empathetic in my communication and in my design, so I enjoy spending the time with people to dig deeper on who they are.

In terms of about me, I enjoy and I work hard on authentic communication and integrity is really important to me, so I work really hard on the kind of conversations with folks that both reveal that as well as instill that culture in them.

Japhet De Oliveira: I like that. I like that.

Judson Howe: Yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: Good. Where did you want to go next?

Judson Howe: Let's go to ... Were we at 47? Let's go to 43.

Japhet De Oliveira: 43? All right. Tell us about the best gift that you've ever received.

Judson Howe: I have zero clue why my mind just went here right now. This is a spontaneous moment of radio, and it may not even be that outstanding, but since we went there when I was early teenager I received a book about Benjamin Franklin's ideals. It was like late 1700s values and morals that I ended up loving, and I read it religiously for probably about a year and a half.

Now if you ask me specifically what was in there I probably couldn't tell you. I couldn't tell you, but it definitely engendered an appreciation for noble values that that book seemed to instill. It had a cool cover on it, probably what got me intrigued about it. It was a big book, and of course I'm like 12, 13 years old. It was like little short stories exemplifying how Benjamin Franklin had these noble ideas and values that instilled in who he was, so I remember reading that quite a bit. That was a gift from a guy.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's good.

Judson Howe: Yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's really good.

Judson Howe: Don't know why I went there in my mind.

Japhet De Oliveira: No, that's fantastic. I like that. It is interesting that you have these moments that just suddenly you realize that actually shapes a lot about how you are, so that's good. Great. Where did you want to go after 43?

Judson Howe: I think let's go to 62.

Japhet De Oliveira: 62? All right.

Judson Howe: I'm really curious what that one is.

Japhet De Oliveira: What does a sense of community mean to you?

Judson Howe: I believe that hospitals have a moral imperative to connect with the communities and elevate the health of the community. So it's especially true, or maybe it's not especially true, but uniquely true in rural California, where we are the largest employer, we're twice the size of the county in terms of employees, we are the biggest economic engine of the small communities that we serve, and we also, in our situation we are the three hospitals and the only acute providers of medicine in the community, and so with that comes this moral imperative to be thought leaders, to be financially proactive, to reinvest in our communities, to create jobs, and to create the ecosystems that we want to practice medicine inside of.

So when I think of community I don't have the luxury of thinking about the four walls of the hospital. I have the moral responsibility to think about the entire county and the 100,000 lives that are inside that county and how are we addressing the ... We talk about the COVID-19 pandemic, but what about the opioid pandemic? What about the under-housing crisis that exists in northern California? What about the housing crisis that exists?

What are we doing to not just be in the back seat of community development, but really in that driver's seat, and I know the community responds well to? In our community we have done everything we can do to be long-term partners in the long-term vision for the community.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's really good, and you're absolutely right. There are so many other streams that have come together that makes this river really, really heavy and there is a moral responsibility in how you shape that entire river.

Judson Howe: Right. I'll give you an example, Japhet.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah.

Judson Howe: Back in January we had a freezer that had 400 Moderna vials in it and 400 of the County's vials in it. The County did not have the equipment that they needed to store these things, so we had the responsibility to care for these. The freezer failed, Japhet. You might know the story a little bit, but many people probably don't know the story.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yes.

Judson Howe: But it's that surreal moment that the community is counting on us to be operationally excellent and to deliver. That a whole other story we can go into later, but that's the role that we play in the communities that we serve in rural California.

I think it's true everywhere we serve, but just I'm speaking for ourselves, is we are the professional organization that brings excellence to the community.

Japhet De Oliveira: That was actually ... For all our listeners, I mean it's a global podcast, and that was actually an epic moment in the history and in your community, because things didn't work out as well as they were supposed to work out and you had to make some pretty radical quick decisions on the moment, right?

Judson Howe: Yeah. I'll spend a second on that if you want?

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah. No, do. Do please. I think that was like a leadership moment, right?

Judson Howe: Yeah. It was an Adventist Health moment. So, again, we were told that we had two hours to administer 850 vaccines.

Japhet De Oliveira: Because they would expire, right?

Judson Howe: I can't remember the shelf life of them at room temperature, but, again, two hours for the listener.

Japhet De Oliveira: The early days.

Judson Howe: January 4, right?

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah. Just give these out?

Judson Howe: Yeah. A guy in the upper midwest had intentionally destroyed 800. That hit national news. France had administered 57 to date.

Japhet De Oliveira: Wow. Wow.

Judson Howe: And we had 850 that we had two hours to administer. So I think, you know, for the listener this is important to understand who we are as a community. We have cellphone numbers. That's how we operate. We don't operate on emails or public press releases. We operate on cellphones.

So I called the County CEO. I said, "Carmel, have a second? Are you sitting down?" She said, "What's going on, Judson?" I said, "We got two hours to administer 850 vaccines. What do you want to do?" She says, "I want them in arms." So I says, "OK. I'll get back to you." I was like, "Do I have your support to do what needs to get done?" She said, "Yeah. Go get it done. Go get it done."

So we ended up ... They took 100 of them, so now we're down to 750. You would think that we would distribute them to our other two communities of Willits and the Coast, but the 101 had a semi trailer that was blocking the northbound route out of the Ukiah Valley.

So we've got to administer, it's now 750 inside the Ukiah Valley, so we set up three locations of mass vaccine clinics and we had our communications leader send out a social media blast on our Facebook page and Instagram, I believe. So within an hour and 45 minutes we were able to administer the 750 remaining vaccines. Big kudos to our CMO, our leadership team, for getting it done. I have nursing leaders that are gifted when it comes to crisis.

So unfortunately for Mendocino County, and many of you see this on the news or live it every single year, is we have fires, we have power outages, we have tsunamis. Actually, we haven't had tsunamis lately, but we are unfortunately used to time-sensitive crises, and from this it's almost like a battle-hardened way of operations. We have a lot of people that have the ability to calmly handle time-sensitive crises in a rational manner, so that's really the skill that went into getting that done.

Japhet De Oliveira: Incredible. That was actually just a brilliant moment in history. Fantastic.

Judson Howe: Yeah. We were going to hit the news either way. It was either going to be small hospital can't manage 850 vaccines or small hospital gets 850 vaccines administered, and we chose the latter. Yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah. No, it was good. It was great news, a beautiful, beautiful story, beautiful moment as well. Yeah. Good. All right. So that was 62 A, B, C, D. It was brilliant. All right. Where do you want to go next?

Judson Howe: I want to go back down to 12.

Japhet De Oliveira: All right. 12? Here we go. What is your favorite movie or book of all time and why?

Judson Howe: Is this where you edit out?

Japhet De Oliveira: One take only.

Judson Howe: Oh, I think one of the most ... And this kind of shows what I was as a teenager, probably Usual Suspects, where you have that character of Keyser Söze. It was probably one of the most frequently watched movies that I watched through my teenage years. It was either better than Zoolander, depending which one you want to choose, but both great films.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah. Very, very similar movies.

Judson Howe: Yeah. Same genre. Watch them.

Japhet De Oliveira: Same genre? Yeah. Back to back. I sense that. I appreciate that. All right. After 12, where next?

Judson Howe: Let's jump up to 76.

Japhet De Oliveira: 76? All right. Here we go. Tell us about where you feel the safest and why.

Judson Howe: Safest is interesting. You didn't say like most special or sacred? You said safe?

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah.

Judson Howe: I have spent a lot of time in the mountains and in the snow. I don't necessarily mean I was one of these affluent kids that spent a lot of time downhill skiing, although the latter part of that might be true. I enjoy being in the backcountry, away from people. Back to your earlier question about extroversion, I actually just enjoy being in the mountains, especially in the winter.

I find there's a sense of calm, a sense of rawness in a moment of connection both with the earth and with God. That's kind of probably counterintuitively where I feel safest or what comes to mind when you ask that question.

Japhet De Oliveira: I like that. I like that. I can see that and I can sense it, as well. Beautiful.

Judson Howe: There's a lot stripped away from the earth in the winter and there's a lot of simplicity to that space for me.

Japhet De Oliveira: There is something about the air, right, that's a little bit different, and the stillness?

Judson Howe: Exactly.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah. I'm with you. I'm placing myself there right now. That's good. All right. Where after 76?

Judson Howe: I'm kind of curious what 99 is.

Japhet De Oliveira: All right. All right.

Judson Howe: What's the highest number?

Japhet De Oliveira: 100.

Judson Howe: Oh, let's do 99. Yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: All right. 99? Judson, what is the most difficult truth you've ever told.

Judson Howe: Oh, I don't necessarily know how to answer that. I think I'll speak it more generically, and that is one of the hardest/most productive components of my role is having to learn how to have crucial conversations in a timely fashion, often in the moment.

I have had great mentorship around this, but I've had to learn to detriangulate conversations when people are coming to me on very hard issues, often about other people, and to have the courage to bring those conversations together.

That's one thing, I just did it this morning. Maybe that's why it's on my mind. I had a very critical issue come up to me from a person I really respect about another person I really respect, and they were coming to me with reticence about bringing this forward.

As difficult as it was, I think I thought the best thing to do was to bring the three of us together and have one conversation right now, and it's hard. It's hard, but also if you don't do that the consequences are great.

So I kind of want to go back to the initial question in case I didn't honor the intent of the question, and that is I think about like the vaccine mandate. That was one of the hardest things I've had to do. I am so pro-vaccine, I am so high on choice. If you want to know anything about me, some people say that my empathy is low. I don't really think it is. I think my empathy is really high, but I'm so high accountability in choice and in ownership that I think it can kind of mask my empathy.

We have chosen to be in healthcare around some of the most weakest people of our community. This is a choice that we have made, and yet we had this resistance to this vaccine that reduces the risk between us and our patients, or us and our family members, and us and that community that you mentioned a moment ago.

So this choice is so important to me for those of us who choose to work in healthcare, and I hit that message very hard, and that's 100% what I believe. When I sit down with someone who I really, really respect, who was listening a little bit more than I was and I realize that the most powerful message in any of this is love, and we can be so right and we can convince ourselves that we're so right, and we may be 100% right, but we have to give each other the oxygen of love to breathe and to disagree.

If we don't do that you're always going to lose a percentage of your family, right? So I think that was a truth that I had to come to terms with very recently, and I don't think my tone ever changed, but it's that sub-tone, that cynicism, that arrogance that can come across that was really the truth that I had to deal with, which is you have to come across with a humility or else you're going to wrench your culture apart.

So that was something I dealt with there in mid-August, just a couple months ago, and I think the results would have been catastrophic if I hadn't had that critical conversation, if someone hadn't come to me with a critical conversation, so that's something I had to grow through.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's actually present, it's real and it's honest, and it's a really difficult...

Judson Howe: It was.

Japhet De Oliveira: It's very divisive and difficult, and I agree. I agree that love actually has to pull us through it and to guide us through it.

Judson Howe: Absolutely.

Japhet De Oliveira: So good for you, Judson.

Judson Howe: Thank you.

Japhet De Oliveira: Brilliant for you. All right, after 99, sir, where would you like to go?

Judson Howe: 87 is a good number.

Japhet De Oliveira: 87? All right. Here it is. When you're under incredible stress what helps to ground you?

Judson Howe: I think the one thing that I do when work stress is highest is I walk through the hospital, that's the only thing. I love every department equally, but for me the emergency room fills my cup so fast, so if I need that quick hit it's the ER. Always high energy, always hustling, no one's in crisis mode, the house is never on fire.

Everything is under control in chaos, and so that is my quick hit. That's my legal drug that I do when I'm stressed out to cope with stress. That's primarily the way inside of the work environment.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah. They are incredible people, right, what they give and the way that they think and the way they handle everything?

Judson Howe: Yeah. Yeah. Like I said, ambulatory is hustling, med-surg of course is there building those deep relationships with staff, ICU is doing two-to-one care, especially through the pandemic. The moral injury was so high inside of our ICUs, and of course our physicians and our nurses. In fact, I heard ... I sent out someone from Spiritual Care recently. I said, "Hey, I'm one person. I've got geographically disbursed hospitals. I need help getting a pulse of this moral injury."

So I heard something that really resonated with me inside the feedback from them, and that is the surge is so strong right now that one person is dying, they're being sent out of the hospital, and the next person is coming in to die, and there's no break between the patients.

They said we've never gone through this before. We've never gone through this before, where it's death to next patient without any pause. And the visitation rules are so restrictive that we're not capturing this transition of life like we should be doing, and so the toll is so strong.

I had RTs in tears inside the hallway. I said, "Your work is so valuable, so beneficial. You're helping the patients with your therapy," and they'd say, "No, we're not. Much of what we're doing with the coronavirus is making it worse, but we're doing because we have hope that it might help somebody."

I'll leave it to the clinicians to explain all of that. I'm just focusing on the moral injury. I think we're going to be dealing with this PTSD for quite some time.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, absolutely there's repercussions to all of this, not only to our communities but to all those who serve, for a long time. A long time for sure.

Judson Howe: Yes.

Japhet De Oliveira: Well, Judson, we have time for two final ones, two final numbers, my friend. Where would you like to go for your final numbers?

Judson Howe: I think 56 would be a good one, and then let's jump up to ... Heck, let's do 100 at the end.

Japhet De Oliveira: All right. All right. 56 and 100? Here we go. So 56, share an activity that makes you lose track of time.

Judson Howe: Lose track of time? I think for me you hit it earlier. It's being on a bike. It gives me some of the endorphin release that some runners talk about. I could be out there for hours. It's interesting nowadays though with having responsibilities at work, and of course I'm also a parent of two young children, ages six and eight... It's funny, you have guilt with everything you do. There's a compromise on the other side, so I'm learning how to deal with that, but I'm ending up recharging my cup currently, it's been being on the bike.

And I will say for the listeners while I used to mountain bike when I was younger, this is actually new, and I think it's germane to the conversation, the renaissance for me is recent, and it was actually one of our lead hospitalists in Ukiah who saw that I was struggling early pandemic. He could just see it in my effect, my composure, and he says, "Judson, let's go ride." I hadn't mountain biked in 10 years.

He took me somewhere and he said, "Let's go ride," and so I was really hooked at the beginning of the pandemic, so this has been my pandemic stress relief for sure.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's beautiful. That's good. That's good. All right. So look, question 100 is complex, so take your time. This is what it is. Tell us about one question, just one question, that you just don't want to answer.

Judson Howe: When I think of value, what I think is vulnerable, is while I have high self-assurance, my question I struggle to answer is, "Am I where God wants me to be?" It's not that the answer I fear is no. It's just, am I serving to my highest purpose?

I remember when I took this role ... Adventist Health does a great job of doing assessments of folks to take these roles to make sure they fit, and the feedback I got was that I'm actually really low ambition, and it was surprising for the profile of a president.

Honestly, I was offended, because ambition to me has a negative connotation. Ambition to me, and this could be wrong. I'm not saying it's right. Ambition often has a self-serving connotation to it, and for me, I do my best to work from a different place in my heart than myself.

I'm relatively young. I believe I have options. I could be wrong. I've never tested the waters. But I would rather work from a position of passion and calling than from ambition.

But going back to the question, I think that's it, is am I in the right place? It could be I think where I'm settling is there are seasons to life and it's OK to have different seasons in your life and to do our best to enjoy that journey and to go from season to season, so hopefully that helps.

Japhet De Oliveira: That actually does, Judson, and I appreciate you answering that and sharing that. I actually believe that that's actually a question that we should all ask ourselves often and return back to it, right?

Judson Howe: I think ... Let me just say this. The way it manifests itself for me is there are really, really hard questions that we have to deal with in our daily life and even in the presidency, and some of them are ethical, some of them are even financial or programmatic or cultural, and it's so easy to think about ourselves in our own career growth, but how much more valuable is it to think about the mission of the organization and what's the right decision for the organization versus yourself?

So what if we all just took the opportunity to align with the mission and make those tough decisions that might be career-limiting but mission-aligned and the best for the communities that we serve?

Japhet De Oliveira: I think that's great. I think that's great. I think that's really good, and I think that actually that takes all the courage and a lot of clarity to get yourself into that space, so it's a good process to do, something that actually be done in communities, as well, with good people that can be trusted with you.

Judson Howe: Right.

Japhet De Oliveira: Judson, thank you so much.

Judson Howe: You bet.

Japhet De Oliveira: Thank you for taking the time. Thank you for sharing and for being honest and for the unedited moments of The Story & Experience Podcast that's taken place here today.

Judson Howe: Really fun. The pleasure is mine, Japhet. Thank you.

Japhet De Oliveira: No, it was great. It was great. So, look, for all of you who have been listening, I just want to encourage you to continue to do the same, as well. Share your own stories and experiences with your friends and your community, because by sharing not only do you grow, but you grow others, as well.

Listen well. Ask good questions. You will change not only yourself, but you'll change the world. Be an incredible force for good. Look after each other. God bless and thank you for being a part of this.

Judson Howe: Thank you.

Narrator: Thank you for joining us for The Story & Experience Podcast. We invite you to read, watch and submit your story and experience at AdventistHealth.org/Story. The Story & Experience Podcast was brought to you by Adventist Health through the Office of Culture.