On the Health Record - Interview with Lyndsay Donhoff, VP of People

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In one of our recent podcast interviews, we talk with DrChrono’s VP of People, Lyndsay Donhoff, to learn about cultivating company culture, the challenges and rewards of the hiring process and being an early member of the team. Listen to the full episode here.

How did you get your start at DrChrono?

I got hired to do a catch-all of things. I was brought in to help with recruiting, and I worked closely with Michael and Daniel [CEO and COO, respectively] on some executive project organization. I also got to help with building out our hiring processes and organization, and we started to grow our company quite fast. When I was hired, there were only about 20 people in total, and now we’re quite a bit more than that! It’s been really exciting to see the company continue to grow and still maintain this very unique culture that existed organically when I first joined.

One of our cultural values has always been around keeping an entrepreneurial spirit. In 2015, we were invited to the White House to talk about an open healthcare system in the United States and the importance of interoperability, which hasn’t historically been a part of our healthcare system. So it was a really big milestone moment getting invited to the center of our government to talk about it. What were your thoughts on all that was happening at the time?

I recall speaking with Daniel about just how important that meeting was for the healthcare industry as a whole, and I know that there were plenty of other giant companies in the industry that were sitting at a table with Daniel Kivatinos, our COO and co-founder. These other giant companies are behemoths in the industry, and I recognized some interesting differences between those big companies who have tons of resources and people at their fingertips who can make big changes. However, being probably the smallest company representing the healthcare industry in attendance at the meeting, we had that underdog spirit flowing through our company, and it’s allowed us to be powerful in our continued innovation in this space. The moment Daniel came back from his meeting at the White House, I remember vividly feeling how our small size was an incredible advantage to us as we are continuing to grow and develop within the healthcare space.

I want to dig in to some of our values that we have here at DrChrono. Let’s start with mentorship and growth. What does this mean to you, and why is it important to the company?

I feel so strongly about the fact that we are continuing and committed to mentoring, developing, and growing our team within DrChrono. I see the breadcrumbs of how this came to be especially with both Michael and Daniel being a big part of the Y Combinator program. They have received a ton of mentorship and support which was also imbued in me as well as soon as I joined the company. Since we have grown the company so much, we’ve also continued to invest in this value in particular as we have a couple of amazing partnerships that we work closely with to continue to give mentorship to our team.

We have an awesome partnership with a company called Plato that offers specific mentorship to our engineers and product team members. We also partner with a program called Torch which pairs up each one of our leaders within the company with an executive coach that continues to develop them in their careers. These investments were made in our people in the hopes that all of our leaders and the people who are working closely with others will continue to mentor and grow the people around them. We’ve seen both of these programs make an amazing impact on our culture as a whole and it’s something that I’ve also personally grown from. Mentorship and growth are again very important to Michael and Daniel especially since they got a lot of support to get where they are today.

You’ve mentioned that when you’re hiring, you look for someone whose values align with the company. Is there anything else about the qualities of a person that you’re looking for in a candidate?

Any time I speak with somebody who has a curiosity that they bring to the conversation, it’s always a person that I’m very excited about. It’s important that the people who join us have a sense of excitement about the things that they’re doing, curiosity for problem-solving, and are passionate about leaving no stone unturned in their work. I would say curiosity holds big importance in the type of qualities that we look for in a person.

Also any time I can sense that somebody has a really strong entrepreneurial spirit and feels that they might thrive in an environment where they’re going to be imbued with a lot of autonomy and ownership over the work that they’re doing indicates to me that they’re going to be a great fit as well. Of course, there are all sorts of differences in different roles, but those are the two most common things that I see run through the veins of our organization- curiosity and entrepreneurial spirit.

The third thing that is important to me and the People Ops team is that we bring on people who are passionate about what they do. You often find when people speak about their hobbies and their work, there is an overall excitement that they have talking about things that they’re interested in. When it comes to our team, it’s awesome to see a diversity in terms of the different types of passions that people have whether it be rock climbing, painting, jiu-jitsu fighting and other hobbies as well.

What’s one of the most difficult things about hiring people?

I think one of the hardest things about hiring people is the fact that there are so many talented, very well-qualified folks out there, and at the end of the day, we’re people. We’re not computers, so assessing any person is naturally difficult, and we only have so much information to decide whether or not you want to move somebody to the next stage of the interview process and ultimately whether or not we’d want to bring them on board our team.

It can be tricky, but we do have some of the core tent poles for our hiring methodologies, one of which is around making sure that everyone who joins is a fantastic fit for our values. Daniel mentored me on this as soon as I joined the company - that it is better to hire slowly and make sure that we are finding the right fit than to hire fast and then have to coach them or fire them which would risk turning our very carefully cultivated culture into something that’s not very positive. It’s super important that we bring in the right people and say no to people who may not fit into the core values that we have.

I think what makes it all worth it is the fact that together, everyone who participates in the hiring process gets to have a place at the table in terms of building their teams and bringing on people who are going to balance the teams out overall. It’s really fun to think back on many of those initial conversations with people who have continued to thrive and be successful within our overall organization. The fact that there are so many folks within the company who have joined since I’ve been a part of the company, and seeing how the people we bring in make and cultivate a culture that is so passionate, solutions-oriented, and mission-driven, makes it all worthwhile.

What is your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part is the people, and I recognize the bias in that statement. I believe that when you’re surrounded by incredible people who are just as, if not more, passionate about what they do, it’s contagious, and it makes me want to be a better person everyday at work. It’s hard to be stagnant when you’re surrounded by people who are setting an example of growth, being an anti-asshole activist, and using data to constantly experiment and innovate within their teams. So brushing shoulder to shoulder with hires that I had interviewed is probably my favorite part of this job.

Listen and subscribe to the podcast here.