Podcast Special Guest, Kyle King

Kyle King
Episode 52

In this episode, Kyle King joins host Japhet De Oliveira to explore the theme of purpose, the art of decision-making, and the meaning of service.
Libsyn Podcast
"I think when you start losing track of purpose, you should start getting closer to the people around you. Find ways to integrate yourself into their need or into the need of the community that's immediately around you, and I think purpose flows back."

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: Hey, welcome friends, to another episode of The Story & Experience Podcast, and I have a great guest for you today. This is very exciting, he is smiling very so gently, not because this guest has a similar hairstyle to me, but we are excited to be able to connect for many other reasons. So, the way it works, if you're brand new to this experience, is that we have 100 questions. The first 10, I'm going to ask, the remaining 11 to 100, our guest gets to pick them and choose which ones he would like. And they progressively become a little bit more vulnerable and open as they share stories and experiences that shape them into the leader that they are today. So, let's begin straight away with question number one, and looking at my guest right now and saying, Hey, what's your name and does anybody ever mess it up?

Kyle King: Yeah. Hey, thanks for having me, Japhet. My name's Kyle King and very few people mess that one up. It's pretty easy.

Japhet De Oliveira: It's pretty easy, that's great, that's great. And do you have any family history with the Kyle King that we should be aware of, where the king came from?

Kyle King: You know, I don't, although there are a lot of famous people that share that last name. But, probably none that people on the podcast would recognize, Montana people from the King side. And so, I've got a wonderful family, but pretty obscure,

Japhet De Oliveira: Pretty obscure. Obscure, famous family. Gotcha. All right. So, Kyle, what do you do for work?

Kyle King: I'm the president of the Portland Adventist Hospital. That's my title, but what I really do is serve people, work with people, take care of people. That actually is my job and the best part of my work.

Japhet De Oliveira: I believe that and I'm hoping that as we get into these questions, we're going to hear a few of those amazing moments of stories that you do every day over there at Adventist Health Portland. So, this is good. All right. How long have you been in your current role, Kyle?

Kyle King: A year and a half in this current role, but 10 years with Adventist Health. And they've been wonderful, all of them, an amazing organization. You know this, it's filled with people and richness and just wonderful opportunities and lots of good, hard work, as well.

Japhet De Oliveira: It is indeed, but it is a great community to be part of. Absolutely, I agree with you. So, a little practical question here. In the morning, when you wake up, Kyle, what's your drink of choice to start the day? Do you have tea, coffee? Do you have water, one of those liquid green smoothies?

Kyle King: Oh man, you're calling me out on it. I'm straight to coffee every morning, it's pretty bad. I wish I could say water and exercise, but it's coffee and to the office fast.

Japhet De Oliveira: And what kind of coffee do you get, Kyle?

Kyle King: It's just simple. No calories in my coffee, that's my rule. So, it's black coffee.

Japhet De Oliveira: Just black coffee.

Kyle King: Black coffee.

Japhet De Oliveira: Fair enough. Hey, that's good. Hey, Kyle. So, where were you born?

Kyle King: I was born in Billings, Montana.

Japhet De Oliveira: Beautiful. Been there myself.

Kyle King: Gorgeous town, little town in Montana, beautiful state. But only lived there a few years, I don't have very many memories of it. And then, my family moved to Guam right after that, which I was there all the way through most of my high school years. So, yeah, Billings.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's amazing-

Kyle King: Until I was just a few years old and then Guam.

Japhet De Oliveira: Guam and Billings, very similar, right?

Kyle King: Yes, very similar. Almost identical, yes.

Japhet De Oliveira: Almost identical. Oh my goodness. I was going to ask you actually, have you been back there, but yeah, clearly-

Kyle King: Yeah, yeah. I've been back a number of times and been back to that area of the world many times. There's some special places nearby and once they have your heart, they keep calling you back.

Japhet De Oliveira: Hey, that's beautiful. Good. All right. So, when you were a child, probably in Guam more than Billings, Montana, what did you imagine you were going to be when you grew up?

Kyle King: I only wanted to do one thing and I was surf a lot, since I was like five years old. So, all things ocean and water were, were kind of my passions, still are in many ways. And so, I always envisioned that I would spend my life, most of my life, in the water, around the water in some form of occupation.

Japhet De Oliveira: Well, I'm glad you chose... Wait a second, you work in Portland.

Kyle King: Yeah. There's lot water around here, though.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah.

Kyle King: And, it is close to the ocean.

Japhet De Oliveira: It is close, it is close. Absolutely. No, I love Portland a lot. All right. So, personality, Kyle, would people describe you as an introvert or an extrovert and would you agree?

Kyle King: Yeah, I'm an introverted person, I think most people would describe me as that. I'm a bit quiet, hopefully not overly so I try hard to find the right balance. But, I'm introverted and I think most people would describe me that way.

Japhet De Oliveira: Hmm, hmm, yes. I can see what you're saying, except for, I know so much, so much good stuff. All right. This is good. That's good. No, I mean, you are a phenomenal leader and you do really care for, not only your hospital and associates, but for every patient that comes through. So, I see that in you, that's beautiful. All right, habits. Are you a late night owl or an early riser?

Kyle King: I'm an early riser, most of the time, especially on days off vacations, you can't waste any daylight hours. You better be outside and you better be playing as soon as the sun comes up. So, I prefer mornings.

Japhet De Oliveira: Prefer mornings. And when you say early riser, what, what is that for you?

Kyle King: Oh, it's not impressive, unfortunately. 6:00.

Japhet De Oliveira: Hey, that's good.

Kyle King: That's the normal get up.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's good. That's good. Daylight times. All right. This morning when you woke up, what was the very first thought that went through your mind

Kyle King: This morning?

Japhet De Oliveira: Hmm.

Kyle King: Yeah, I got up... I have this little habit of making my list of things I need to think about, for me is people I need to pray for, people or circumstances. And so, I make a little list as I'm getting prepared and ready and that's usually occupies most of my thinking. I try not to let my brain shift into the things I need to get done that day until I've kind of thought about the people I need to think about first. People first and then we tackle the tasks.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah. That's really good. I'm with you on that, I actually have to write the names down, it really does help. Absolutely. That's good. All right. Beautiful. Leadership question here and it's the last one before we hand over to you and you get to pick a number. So, are you a backseat driver?

Kyle King: No, I don't think so, but who would say they are? So, I might be guilty. I try to just go with the flow. If I don't have to drive myself, I'm happy, and so whoever's driving, I'm just along for the ride.

Japhet De Oliveira: OK. All right. That's good. That's actually a good counter of question. Who would say that they are? Well, you'll have to listen to the other episodes of the podcast to see how people take that question. All right. All right. So, the floor is yours, between 11 and 100, where would you like to go?

Kyle King: OK. So, I just pick a number is what you're telling me?

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh yeah. Yeah, you pick a number and-

Kyle King: Ten.

Japhet De Oliveira: Eleven's easy and hundred's little bit more complex.

Kyle King: Oh, they get harder as they go up.

Japhet De Oliveira: They get more vulnerable and harder, yes.

Kyle King: Well, I was going to go 77 because there's something equivocal about 77 times seven, but that's way too high and way too hard to start.

Japhet De Oliveira: No, you'll be fine.

Kyle King: I will? OK.

Japhet De Oliveira: Let's go find out what 77 is.

Kyle King: All right. Let's do it.

Japhet De Oliveira: Here we go. Look. This is actually a perfect question for you. Share one of your most cup filling experiences with us.

Kyle King: Cup filling experiences.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah, yeah.

Kyle King: OK. This is going back a little ways, but after college, I got married, and my wife and I, Candace is her name, wonderful, wonderful human being. If you haven't met her, you should.

Japhet De Oliveira: No, I haven't yet. One day.

Kyle King: We decided that we were going to spend the first year of our marriage as missionaries serving, giving it away, giving it to other people. And so, we moved back out to the Pacific, to Micronesia, to a little island and we both taught school and she taught, I think, fifth grade, sixth grade it was, and I taught high school classes. And, I don't think ever before had I felt the sense that my job was so filled with purpose, that every day I knew what I was doing and why I was doing it and work had meaning. Even though teachings hard work, teachers, they put it in, they deal with the hard stuff. And, it was so fulfilling and it filled me, but it taught me so much about how important purpose is and a deep connection to purposes in the work that we do.

And, I've never forgotten that. And, I promised myself, I'll never work a job that I'm not connected to fully and wholly, that I'll never put my time in to something that I'm just count down the hours to get out or the ways to escape. So, that experience filled my cup. But it also, I think, framed the way I think about work and about life in so many ways for so long. That was in 2004, It's a long time removed.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah.

Kyle King: But it still is my reference point for so many things and so profoundly impactful to me. That was a really formative time in my life. I think, that I'm still carrying forward. And it was just a beautiful island and my goodness, the water, the waves, the ocean, the people, the culture. Oh, man. Beautiful place.

Japhet De Oliveira: That is beautiful. And, I mean also very bonding for both of you. I mean, first year marriage, as well, whole new world, whole new way. So, that's fantastic. I've got to ask you, though, 77A, which is not on the list.

Kyle King: OK.

Japhet De Oliveira: So, I'm with you. I agree. Having great purpose is the only way we should actually work. What if somebody finds themself in a place where they do not feel they're aligned with the purpose? What would you recommend they do?

Kyle King: Yeah. I think that purposes is chosen or findable.

Japhet De Oliveira: Wow.

Kyle King: In almost anywhere at almost any time. And, it's not easy, I don't profess that any of this is easy work and sometimes even in jobs or in circumstances that finding purposes, it just flows naturally, it's intentional. It has to be something that's high on your mind. But, I think when you start losing track of purpose, you should start getting closer to the people around you, find ways to integrate yourself into their need or into the need and the community that's immediately around you. I think purpose flows back really easy. I think when we get too much about ourselves, and forget that our life is really about the person next to us, purpose also drifts away a little bit. That's my experience. So, so for me, my tricks and my tactics are always find a need of an individual, of one individual, right around me in my community, in my work wherever, whatever it is and dive into that a little bit and purpose comes screaming back in some way.

Japhet De Oliveira: That is one of those little soundbites, that's a tweetable purpose flows back. I like that. And, I'm with you, absolutely. Reinvest, find someone else and God will bring it back to you. Hey, that's beautiful. Thank you, Kyle. All right. So, there was 77A, bonus questions. So, where do you want to go now? Between 11 and 100.

Kyle King: All right. Well, let's take it down a notch. Let's go to 50.

Japhet De Oliveira: 50.

Kyle King: Let's see what happens at 50.

Japhet De Oliveira: All right. Share about who has influenced you professionally.

Kyle King: Oh, man. I've got a long list of people. I started working in healthcare for a lady that was, I think, one of the smartest people I've ever worked for. I actually was working in the state of Washington's Department of Corrections.

Japhet De Oliveira: OK.

Kyle King: In the prison system, doing healthcare and my boss, she hired me into that role and then I got to work with her for about five years. Her name was Pat Rhima, I don't know if I can say names on this podcast.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yes, you can. Yes, you can. Especially if you got something great about them, absolutely, yeah.

Kyle King: Pat Rhima, really, really, really, really wise, really smart, and gave me, as a pretty young person in the role, opportunities to make a lot of mistakes and then eld me pretty accountable to them, but kindly. And, what gifts that she gave me to just let me have the opportunity to mess up, to learn, to grow, to do it different next time and then to work with me as I grew in my role. So, an unbelievable leader, really smart person. And then, I got the opportunity to come work for Adventist Health. There's so many, so many. But, a short list for me, Bob Beehler was a mentor of mine in Walla Walla, I learned so many things from him and the way his mind thinks about problems is so interesting and unique and just an amazing time. Rick Bockmann, I got to work with him in Walla Walla a little bit, amazing person.

Kyle King:

Monty Knittel, the way he interacts with people and the way he cares deeply about relationships. And then Joyce Newmyer has been a long-term mentor of mine for the past six or seven years since I've known her. And, my goodness, Joyce has been just an amazing person to learn from, understands the cultural context of decisions in ways that are really inspiring and gets... The thing I love about Joyce, so connected to the heart of people.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yes.

Kyle King: Yes. And to be an amazing business leader and have that ability to connect with people's needs and heart like Joyce can. Man. Awesome, awesome, awesome. I've had no lack of amazing mentors and leaders in this company. I'm too lucky, just too blessed.

Japhet De Oliveira: Hey, that's beautiful and beautiful credit to call out the names. Well, thanks for doing that. Beautiful. All right. So after 50, sir, where next?

Kyle King: Well, let's crank it up. Let's go to 85. I'm not getting near a hundred, though, but 85 is good.

Japhet De Oliveira: All right. Describe a role model you aspire to be like.

Kyle King: I'm going to back into this one a little bit.

Japhet De Oliveira: OK. All right.

Kyle King: There's really only one, Jesus. But that's too much, too hard, so I'm going to give you another example, I'll get back there. So, when I was actually living overseas and I described this place that my wife and I went as missionary, there was an individual named Mr. Benjamin.

Japhet De Oliveira: OK.

Kyle King: His first name's actually Mylar Benjamin, he's local to the island and I've never met another person that kind of held the character of Christ, to me, on this earth. Humble to the core, kind to the core, give away anything, possessions mean nothing, people mean everything. And loved to smile and laugh more than anyone I've ever met. And, he was such a unique example, to me, of kindness and gentleness, still with lots of ambition, accomplished a lot in his life, but just a deep love for people and a deep love for the ocean and for nature and a very strong connection to God.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's good.

Kyle King: And to me, he's like I would've imagined Christ being. His whole life was about people, about other people, about his community. And so, I want to be like Mr. Benjamin a lot, because if I do that, I think that I'm close, as best I can be, in my flawed state and in this world, close to the example of Christ.

Japhet De Oliveira: Hmm. So I've got to ask you 85A. Mr. Benjamin, does he know that you feel this way about him?

Kyle King: You know, I don't know. Good question, I don't know.

Japhet De Oliveira: Well, then hopefully from this podcast and you reaching out to him, I mean, yeah.

Kyle King: I don't even know if there's a way for me to connect with him, but maybe he'll hear this podcast somehow. He still lives in Pohnpei, out on the island.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah. That's beautiful. Hey, I'm the same way. There's so many people in my own life, as well, that I've never been able to say it to them, but they left a great imprint. So, I'm with you. Hey, that's beautiful. All right. So, that was 85. Kyle, you said you want to avoid 100, but I think you're doing extremely well. So, where would you like to go next?

Kyle King: 90, here we go.

Japhet De Oliveira: 90. OK. All right. Tell us about how you overcame a seemingly insurmountable obstacle.

Kyle King: OK. I probably should have gone down, that's pretty tough.

Japhet De Oliveira: This question is not that insurmountable obstacle.

Kyle King: Yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah. Yeah.

Kyle King: So, I'm going to talk about how my general philosophy for overcoming obstacles. I'm going to do it in a story. Is that OK?

Japhet De Oliveira: OK.

Kyle King: Do we have time.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yes, we do. And I love it. Go for it, yeah.

Kyle King: OK. So, I'm tying this all back to Mr. Benjamin here. So Mr. Benjamin and I were actually on a boat, we had motor problems, adrift in the sea. And I think I'm going to die for sure, it's just tiny boat, motor's quitting, there's seemingly no way we get back to this little island we're going to, which, by the way, we can't see anymore. No cell phone, no electronics, no one knows where we are, we're just going to drift forever. And, I'm pretty prone to sunburn to be out there that long. This is not good.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah. Yeah.

Kyle King: This is really not good. And here's a lesson he taught me or the words he said to me, kind of, we have some language barrier, is you solve difficult problems by making a decision with everything that's in front of you and then you do that. You take action on the decision you made until there's a point that a better decision is available, then you shift and you make that decision and then you take action and you just keep doing that, as long as it takes. Years later, I read a book it's called Deep Survival, it's pretty popular, it's all over the place now. I think this author, he's a Navy psychologist, really interesting book about why people survive really difficult circumstances or things that you wouldn't think a person could survive.

Japhet De Oliveira: Right.

Kyle King: He kind of has a similar premise that those that overcome insurmountable issues are that make decisions and then take action. It doesn't really even matter if they're the wrong decision, it's the decision process and action. And then, when you have new information available, you're willing to change a shift and take action on that. And if you do that in a cycle over and over and over, you have the best chances finding your way to success. Versus, if you get stuck in worry or in action, you're almost certainly going to fail or nothing will change. Maybe you don't fail, just nothing changes or it doesn't change rapidly enough to lead you to success. So, I try really hard, and this is hard for any leader or any person, to not get stuck in the middle, but to take in information, to make a decision, to understand it could be wrong.

In my professional life, I do this with a team. I don't do this in a vacuum or a silo, you do it together, make the best decision you can and then you take action. And as soon as you have new information, you better be interpreting that and then taking action again. So, in all of the difficult work things, that's my philosophy is decision, action, decision action, decision, action, until you find your way to success. Hmm. And, the hope and the prayer is that through a lot of smart people and some divine intervention that you find your way through or over these obstacles, they seem impossible. And, we've all had them personally, we've all had them professionally.

Japhet De Oliveira: So, how'd you get back?

Kyle King: I don't know if that's the wisest response,

Japhet De Oliveira: No, no, that was great. That was great. But, how did you get to the island with the motor cutting out? I need to know how the story ends, other than you took action.

Kyle King: Yeah. So, the problem that we ran into was that it was a two cylinder motor, one of the cylinders quit, which Means it burned the same amount of gas, but only half the power.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah.

Kyle King: And there's no way we were going to make it. So, we just decided... We tried to fix a motor, but we had no tools. It was, I'm sure, just a spark plug, it was something simple, but no tools. So, we decided that we just motor as far towards island as we can and then hope that when we got close, somebody would find us or we found a way. And what actually turned out happening is the wind picked up from our back, pushing us to the island.

Japhet De Oliveira: Wow. OK, OK.

Kyle King: And so, we ran out of gas before we hit the island, but then the ocean swollen waves actually pushed us into the island over the reef into the island atoll and it all worked out.

Japhet De Oliveira: My, my, my.

Kyle King: Yeah, yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: Decision, action.

Kyle King: I would call that some divine intervention.

Japhet De Oliveira: And some divine intervention.

Kyle King: I said a lot of prayers, that's for sure.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, yeah. Hey, that's fantastic.

Kyle King: But, Mr. Benjamin, not even worried, not even fazed. I was trying to be cool, but it was all over my face, I was terrified.

Japhet De Oliveira: It is interesting, though, because you're right. You are right, that it can be very paralyzing to be in that space and nothing gets done, but the courage take decision and action is really good.

Kyle King: Yeah. Well, and sometimes decisions are terrifying, because they have consequences, too.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah.

Kyle King: I understand the desire to not have to make any hard choices and to kind of see how things work out. And, I don't think it plays best, most of the time.

Japhet De Oliveira: No. Hey, that was really beautiful. Thank you for sharing the story, as well. I pretty appreciate that. So, time for two more, where do you want to go? That was only 90. That was so easy.

Kyle King: Yeah. I don't know. How about 75?

Japhet De Oliveira: 75. All right, all right, here we go. Do you remember the very first item that you purchased with your own money, and if so, what was it and why, Kyle, did you buy that?

Kyle King: I think if I'm not mistaken, it was a bicycle. As a kid, I don't know, I loved riding bikes. I have an older brother who, as a tike, I wanted to be like him so bad and he was a great bike rider in my estimation. So I had this old, kind of beat up, hand me down bike, but you want your own bike.

Japhet De Oliveira: Of course you do.

Kyle King: You don't want your brother's old bike because he outgrew that thing, you don't want that. So, I think I saved and bought, or I probably only chipped in for part, of a new bicycle is my guess. Although, I don't actually remember that, but yeah, I think that's what it was and I can remember it was white.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah.

Kyle King: And had red wheels, I think, which seemed strange saying that.

Japhet De Oliveira: No, it would've been cool back in the day.

Kyle King: Yeah, it was pretty awesome. I washed it three times a day or something, it was the best.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's so precious.

Kyle King: Yeah. And, I rode that thing until the wheels fell off.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, yeah, I bet, I bet. Yeah. That's beautiful. All right then. So, for our last one, which where would you like to go?

Kyle King: 95.

Japhet De Oliveira: 95. All right. Oh, we couldn't have ended on a better question for you. All right. So, could you tell us about how you see your faith and life intersecting?

Kyle King: Hmm, hmm. My hope and prayer is that they're no different, that my faith is my life and my life is a reflection of my faith. I fall way, way short of that way too often, but I don't think they can be too separated and have very much fulfillment for me. I know every kind of has different beliefs and in a different way of approaching their faith and God or their beliefs. But to me, I think they better be pretty intertwined. And I think this kind of back to me talking about purpose in work, I think that faith in work and that kind of where faith in life meet need to be really consistent really often in order for me to have a fulfilling life. My actual job title matters very little, but the work I get to do with people matters a whole lot and service to me matters a lot. I think it's really important and I think the way I think about the life of Christ in my faith is mostly expressed through service.

Japhet De Oliveira: Well, Kyle, I have to share a little secret with all of our listeners. I also know your pastor, Paddy McCoy.

Kyle King: Yes. Yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: And, in passing, he has just talked so much beauty about you and Candace, just how both of you are committed to guard and committed to action and to service in the community through some very difficult times, through COVID, through the pandemic, through isolation and yet incredibly resilient. And so, you are not a person to go and kind of tell everybody, Hey, I've done this and this and this, but I want you to know that I've just heard great stories from Paddy, I've heard great stories from Joyce and from so many other people, as well, of amazing things that you've done and been part of because I really do believe that you have your faith and your life are one, as you said, but you also have tremendous purpose and you're settled in that. So, thank you for sharing today so many of these stories and experiences have shaped your life into the great leader that you are, but thank you for also leading by example, as well. Appreciate that a lot.

Kyle King: Thank you. Those are kind words.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh well, they're true. They're true, Kyle, they mean a lot to. And I think people need to know this about you, as well. I know they would, if they knew you personally, but for anybody's listening, they need to know this about you. So, it's great. Hey, I just want to everybody's listening as well, just to remind them that just like Kyle and I just shared right now, hearing stories, sharing your stories, it really does make a difference to your own life. It grows you, as I've grown today, myself, to listen to these, it challenges us and I want to encourage you to do the same, as well. Take some time, connect with someone, ask them good questions, listen to their stories and together, you will grow and become better people and change this world for a better place. So, with that, God bless everybody, have an amazing day where every day is. May you live the purpose that God has called you to. And if not, go and invest in it. Thanks, Kyle.

Kyle King: 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 bought to you by Adventist Health, through the Office of Culture.