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Getting Back to the Center of Listening w/ Fara McLaughlin

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Today on The Sage Executive Podcast, join our host Robb Fahrion and his guest, Fara Gold McLaughlin, as they talk about service and asking questions. Fara is the founder and CEO of GoldMark Management Consulting & Advisors, helping people succeed in the senior housing industry. They talk about the vast opportunities in the industry, why leaders have to work with their people, and living a life of asking. Stay tuned!

Learn how Fara Gold McLaughlin found success in the senior living industry! Listen to the podcast now on The Sage Executive Podcast!

Baptized in a Life of Service

When you’re a leader, you can’t stay in your home office; you have to be out there in the field! Don’t be a general strategizing on the hills, go out there shoulder to shoulder with your people as you deliver your services to your customers. Leadership is about being with your team. When you’re in a business of providing care like Fara, there’s no excuse. Your employees have to know that you understand what they and your customers are going through.

Keep Asking Questions

Fara likes to take the Stephen Covey approach of asking more than telling. You have to listen more to learn more. Listening to be surprised keeps you growing as a person. Be the person that’s always open to asking people to tell you more until there’s nothing left to say. Curiosity brings out wisdom from people even when unexpected. If you adopt this mindset, you’d be surprised to understand more things than assuming you already know everything!

About GoldMark Management Consulting & Advisors:

Founder & CEO, Fara Gold McLaughlin brings decades of senior housing management and allied healthcare leadership experience to successfully advising companies.

We recognize you need an experienced team of exceptional seniors housing experts.

Our CEO Successor, Ken Claire, Founder & Publisher of Senior Living Foresight, Steve Moran is our Chief Culture & Innovation Officer, along with our Operations and Financial leader, COO, Costa Lallas, as Co-Founders of Goldmark we offer our clients the attention to the details for Pre-Development Capital, Development, ProForma and NOI budgeting, Sales “Fast Fill” to Stabilization, Niche Affinity Marketing and Culture foundations for thriving management teams. We care about you and your unique needs.

Now more than ever, investors, owners, families, and residents need timely expert advice to understand the dynamic changes in senior housing and services.

Our passion is helping you make an informed decision about where to develop, invest in, or manage your senior living community or service.

Outline of the Episode:

  • [00:16] What does Fara Gold McLaughlin do?
  • [01:00] The booming business in the senior living industry.
  • [01:42] It’s not about the transaction, but the people. Be in the front lines with your people!
  • [04:17] Listening for the sake of surprise rather than understanding.
  • [06:59] Innovators that spearhead the senior living industry.
  • [09:12] Celebrating not with money, but with a trip to the Yankee Stadium.


Connect with The Sage Executive Podcast!

fara gold mclaughlin goldmark management advisors

Robb Fahrion  00:18: Hello, everyone. This is Robb Fahrion with the Sage Executive Podcast where top executives and business leaders share their sage advice. It is six questions in nine minutes because the wise speak in few words. So let’s get right into it. In a few sentences, would you mind telling me who you are and what it is you do?

Fara Gold McLaughlin  00:36: Thank you, Rob. I’m Fara Gold McLaughlin or Fara Miller Gold McLaughlin. Recently got married over the last five years. So [inaudible], and I’m going to seniors business and I’ve been in healthcare, and ancillary services for almost 40 years. I’m a grandma. I’ll be 60 next year. I come from Texas Christian University where I was a human development specialist by training and did not go on and finish my master’s or PhD, but took a journey in healthcare. And that took me down specialty healthcare services, and then the last 20 years in senior living.

Robb Fahrion  01:14: Awesome, very cool. Thank you for that introduction. Obviously, we’re thrilled to have you on the show. Fara, what would you say is the best thing about being a business leader and being a part of business?

Fara Gold McLaughlin 01:26: Well, I would say first, the senior living industry and you know, this is a shout out to anyone that’s listening. It is a booming business. I’m getting older as we speak. As we know globally, folks over 65 will make up a quarter of the population of the entire globe right over the next 50 years the need for seasoned leadership and I don’t have an MBA. I was organically trained by HCA, Healthcare Corporation of America, National Medical Enterprises and went on to join Sunrise Senior Living Founders voluntary costs into launch my seniors housing career in 2003. And so the best opportunity for me in business is to continue to keep learning.

Robb Fahrion  02:09: I love that. I’m with you there, too. I’m not an MBA, but yeah, I’m always the get your hands dirty type, and learn by mistakes and all those things. So that’s great advice. Perfect. Okay, moving on to question three. So we hear a lot of times from others in business and executives that acquiring new business and growing business is very tough because there’s so much competition and so much noise. So I’m just curious, you know, what kind your strategy is in terms of developing new business and growing new businesses?

Fara Gold McLaughlin 02:38: I love that question, Robb. I mean, it’s a great question and I was seasoned, really baptized in the acquisition by Sunrise Senior Living of Marriott Senior Living, and I was one of the only regions out of the west coast in San Francisco that successfully grew year over year revenue beyond 17%. And so we went, I want to say $62 million to $74 million year over year for my portfolio. And when people ask me this question, it’s not about the transaction. So if you hear me talk, it’s all about the people. And there was a key incident that occurred where in that integration, we missed the first payroll. Now, we only missed it by 12 hours. But when you’re a caregiver that’s at the the level where your paycheck to paycheck [inaudible] everything and I was able to ask for permission, but more forgiveness and cut checks on site. And that bought a lot of trust and credibility. So when I think about acquisition and development, if you’re a leader, you need to be not in your home office, you’ve got to be in the field. You have to be shoulder to shoulder belly to belly with the very folks that are delivering the service to the customer and actually right there serving them. So often I would be considered a general that… most of the generals are on the hill. I like to use military analogies. My father passed away as a colonel in the Air Force. So I was sort of baptized in my life about service. What does it mean? My father embodied what it meant even at the end of his life when he died as a colonel in the field. So while I am today, a strategist and it’s hard for me if I can’t be in the field, because I want to be shoulder to shoulder. Now, at the end of the day, leadership is really about being with your team, whose your customer, they’re paying your salary and leadership.

Robb Fahrion  04:37: I love that. Yeah. Being down on the front lines and, and I think you get a good pulse to write of how people are feeling what’s working, what’s not working. That’s awesome. So to kind of piggyback on that, and Question number four, if you had one piece of sage advice that you would like to give to other business leaders, what would that advice be?

Fara Gold McLaughlin 04:59: Thank you it’s a great question as I enter my 60th year, my mentor almost 20 years ago, actually, she was a mentor in my early career as well and in hospitals… Listen, listen, listen. You know, in order to really listen though I do take the Stephen Covey approach, I need to ask versus tell. So if I could be my younger self, when I thought I knew a lot, or I thought I was smart. I wish that I had asked more. And I and I do believe people would still say fear is Socratic fear asks a lot of questions. Sometimes when we ask questions, people think gosh, is that Columbo? Is she a private detective? And when I use the Covey approac, ask versus tell, I take the second, listen to learn. If I’m listening to be surprised, my coach out of Indianapolis way back in 2005, I hired my own servant leader Covey coach that said “Stop listening to understand, but listen to be surprised with your heart.” Even today, I’m with you, Rob, and we’re having an experience. So I want to listen to really be surprised. So I would say that that to me by reminding myself getting back to the center of listening in my own life, career, practicing with my family, my children, my grandchildren, then I can stay in wonderment and surprise and say, “Oh, really? Tell me more.” “Really? Tell me more.” “Tell me more,” till someone else on the other side of the ask, has exhausted whatever it is. Right. And usually, especially if people are trying to sell something, they jump into features versus spending all of that time asking someone “Tell me more about your problem or about your need.” Again, tell me more.

Robb Fahrion  06:56: Yep. No, I completely agree. Yeah, we find that where that initial conversation is question, question, question, question, question, right? Where we start to uncover those layers and identify sometimes the problem that they think they have is not the actual problem, right? Or you start to discover that over time. That’s great advice. So thank you for that. Fifth question now. So what other business leaders like yourself, would you like to acknowledge as other leaders, either in your space or another space that you think would be a great guest for our podcast to provide more value to our viewers?

Fara Gold McLaughlin 07:30: Well, certainly a colleague that I’ve worked with now for almost 10 years, I was a reference for his channel. He has a senior living marketing channel on a daily [inaudible] Steve Moran with Senior Living Forsight and what I love about him, he started as a blogger, and that blog as you can imagine, created great value and he also decided he’s not an advertising platform. So I really love that if you’re in a niche market, know find this channel So Steve Martin Another advisor that I’m working with today and as an advisor to Sean DeVore, a nationally recognized healthcare, seniors housing, skilled nursing, executive placement and recruiter. So when you think about a business that’s aggressively growing like Senior Living, workforce is always a challenge and certainly skilled folks that are nurses, and caregivers, and leaders that know how to caregive, I would step into a place where I have two incredible tech companies that I advise [inaudible], I’m going to mess up his name so he’s going to be mad, pap-I want to say Papadopoulos, but he’s got to be mad, of Elder Life Financial. I just call him [inaudible] like shared. Most people know him and now he’s got Second [inaudible] Financial. Okay, think about what solutions are innovators coming up with to meet existing needs. Today, more than ever, retired seniors have limited access to capital once they retire, no matter how much money they have in investments, [inaubible] and then I love- and again, Sheree [inaudible] is the founder of a cloud base, only HIPAA compliant storage locker called Clocker. And so again, being able to, you know, be an advisor to investors, operators, and technology companies that can help solve the problems of seniors, their families, their loved ones, their operators. To me, that’s where I get really excited.

Robb Fahrion  09:32: Perfect. Those are all great, great guests to- we’ll have to reach out to them and see if they love it. I appreciate you giving us those great names. Okay to wrap up. Last question. You’re doing amazing. Fun one here. After a win and it could be any win, right? Business win, personal win. What do you like to do? Give us a little bit of your personality. What do you like to do to celebrate?

Fara Gold McLaughlin 09:57: Well, it goes back to my collaboration. I have a great story and I would add Ken Claire asset manager for Steadfast Companies. I would love for him to tell this story, but huge win. In the last global recession, Brookdale Senior Living needed us to have a significant net gain in my region. Ten thousand residents, we needed to net a significant million dollars in a quarter. And so five regional directors I gave them the challenge. They said they had to collaborate and they had just have the same win. What was the win? It wasn’t money. They wanted to all go to Yankee Stadium. Last season that the old Yankees.

Robb Fahrion  10:36: Oh wow, I’m a baseball fan. So…

Fara Gold McLaughlin 10:38: Oh, you would have loved it! And then they said of the five regionals for that significant amount of revenue over 350 million dollars in revenue annually I was responsible for. In the global economic Holocaust, that $42 a share for Brookdale went to $2.25. I didn’t get a bonus but our staff did. Those five regionals hit that goal, not in 12 weeks, they hit it in eight weeks. Then they had to hold it through the end of that Q3. So I would say to you, when they asked me please come with us to the Yankee Stadium game, you know what I said? No, this is your party. This is your chance to celebrate. You’re going to do a little bit of business. You’re going to do a lot of fun and they brought me back a Yankees jersey. It was about collaborating, sharing and so for me, it’s all about let’s have some fun. I don’t drink anymore. But it’s really about how do I get all the team that got us there because really there’s no I for me in this, right? There’s no I in team and it’s true. So I would say as long as the folks that row my boat and I’m with them as a Coxon doing the timing, they should have the reward.

Robb Fahrion  11:52: There you go. Wow. I love that. It’s a great story. Yeah, without baseball right now, I’m a little struggling but yeah, that’s a great one. Thank you,

Fara Gold McLaughlin  12:01: I love baseball too.

Robb Fahrion  12:04: Well, Fara, thank you so much for being on and just from asking you some of these questions I know I’ve learned a lot, and I’m sure many other people will as well. Just kind of to shout out, how can people find you or if they want to get in touch with you, what would be the best way for them to do so?

Fara Gold McLaughlin s12:20: As an advisor I always say go to my website goldmarkseniors.com but Fara F A R A and I know when most people hear it, they think “That’s Sarah,” but my mother did name me this out of a little book she read as a girl, so F A R A at goldmarksenior because I’m the senior dot com or i 503-877-8280 as an advisor, most of my advice is referrals. So I often identify that I might not be able to meet your needs, but I’m going to connect to you to some folks that I think will do even a better job so as a connector, I love to give referrals as well. So please reach out to me. No question is too big or too small because I will be candid and honest about what I can and can’t do.

Robb Fahrion  13:03: Perfect. All right, yeah, we’ll be sure to get that information out to everyone. This is Robb Fahrion with a another episode of the Sage Executive Podcast. For more insights and to check out more episodes of our show, visit our website at flyingvgroup.com/podcast. And Fara, thanks so much again for being a part of the show.

Fara Gold McLaughlin  13:24: Thank you.


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October 3, 2020



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