The Year Ahead – Continuing To Relentlessly Improve
By Jeff Greenstein
The Jewish High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur just concluded and I thought more about their essence this year than ever before. I believe the holiday’s impact on me was a combination of my general sadness about the current state of the world and its inequities, and more specifically, the realities that revolve around a new professional role which involved replacing my friend, my co-founder and a great startup CEO.
My simple interpretation of these two days is that Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is about examining ourselves and understanding our potential, then committing to try and live to that potential, not just for the year ahead but for the rest of our lives. An ancient rams horn – the “shofar” is blown as a wake up call to renew our commitment to living our best life. Yom Kippur is more about reflection, looking back. As the late Sir Rabbi Jonathan Sacks said, on the holiest of days, all we are asked to do is “acknowledge our mistakes, learn from them, grow through them, and make amends where we can.”
In the spirit of the holidays, I’m both self reflective of my own path and filled with optimism about my new role as interim CEO for an exciting virtual health care company, 98point6. I co-founded the company in 2015 and and have served as Chairman of the Board from inception. Since assuming this role two weeks ago, my head is brimming with ideas and excitement for how we will continue growing in pursuit of an audacious mission: to make high quality primary care available and affordable to every human on Earth. The company has an amazing culture built on the foundation of a shared set of core values. While they are all important, for me, the value I think about daily is Relentless Improvement. I approach everyday with the goal of being a better person than I was the day before. I want to live up to my potential but I know it won’t be without mistakes along the way. It struck me that 98point6’s core value of Relentless Improvement is the embodiment of what the Jewish High Holidays are all about.
Like everyone, I have made mistakes big and small in life and my business career that I regret. I have accepted the consequences and tried to grow from those experiences. All I can do is work hard, with integrity and the highest ethical standards and try my best, but even that is no guarantee of success. There will be times when these best efforts result in something not going as planned. That’s when being resilient and believing in Relentless Improvement are so important. Isn’t that what being human and growing is all about? Amazing how the ancient sages espoused this a millenia ago.
While old news, I have personally experienced extreme examples of this human experience. Over a decade ago the investment firm I co-founded and led as CEO had a division that worked with clients on complex tax related matters. My involvement and oversight of this area ultimately resulted in me having to spend time in a minimum security federal prison camp. While that period of time was unimaginable and beyond unpleasant, it was also a time of extraordinary personal growth.
During those years, I deepened personal and business relationships to levels I never thought possible and learned so much about myself. I used this time to grow by literally asking myself every morning how I could be better and get closer to those that mattered in my life. It is especially rewarding and humbling that many of these relationships are partnering with us at 98point6 as investors and board members, to build an amazing business that is endeavoring to make the world a better place. While the experience was miserable on so many levels, it was also the epitome of Relentless Improvement.
As I look to the New Year as a husband, father, friend, community member and colleague in a new, albeit temporary, role, I am energized with the goal of striving to reach my potential and create new opportunities for others to do the same. I know there will be speed bumps along the way and I hope to use those as learning experiences. This pursuit, done with Uncompromising Integrity, yet another 98point6 core value, is all anyone can ask of themselves or others. I don’t know what’s in store for the year ahead, but next year during the High Holidays I want to reflect back knowing I tried my best and continued learning and growing from my mistakes. Whether as a CEO or a father, that is all that can be asked.
To a wonderful and healthy year ahead…