People Create Culture. Know your People.

Diane Avila
Diane Avila, Future Advanced Retina Care Office Manager.

When I told a friend, “I’m going to open my own practice” I was struck by his words of advice that followed the usual congratulatory and supportive ones. “Your first hires will be critical. You’ve got to get the culture right day one.” My mind paused and then segued into a prolonged contemplation of why those words felt right. On the one hand it seemed so common sense. On the other hand, other goals vied for attention in the hectic business of starting up a medical practice…finding the right office location, working on the minutiae of credentialing with the insurance plans, figuring out the rules and regulations of electronic health records.

Coincidentally, another trusted colleague and dear friend echoes like-minded advice by sending me a blog post from Brian Chesky, co-founder and CEO of Airbnb, an online hospitality exchange business that receives venture capital funding from the likes of Peter Thiel, cofounder of PayPal. Thiel’s advice to Chesky was “Don’t f*ck up the culture.” Chesky expounds with “Culture is a thousand things, a thousand times. It’s living the core values when you hire; when you write an email; when you are working on a project; when you are walking in the hall. We have the power, by living the values, to build the culture. We also have the power, by breaking the values, to f*ck up the culture. Each one of us has this opportunity, this burden.”


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Welcome to Advanced Retina Care

Dr. Kim with her father Dr. Kim.  "Will the Real Dr. Kim Please Stand Up?..."
Dr. Kim with her father Dr. Kim
“Will the Real Dr. Kim Please Stand Up?…”

I can remember driving into Fresno on the 41 freeway with a few belongings stashed in the backseat and trunk of my black Volvo sedan. Fresno, California was an unknown to me. No family, no friends here. The only thing I knew for sure was that I was going to be working for a group of ophthalmologists that I clicked with immediately and that resonated with how I wanted to practice medicine. I started providing retina services for the patients of Vision Care Center of Central California which 5 years later was to become EYE- Q Vision Care.

During my tenure there, EYE-Q became a household name under the brilliant marketing and leadership of Scott Bridgeman, its former CEO. In 10 years, EYE-Q doubled its number of employees, doubled the number of partners and almost tripled revenues. They earned 2008 Best Company to Work For in Central California and invested in the community.

“Why Fresno?”

What are some of my favorite memories? It starts when I interviewed for the retina position and was “abducted” by one of my former partners to his house to perform an impromptu piano concert. I pulled the “Rach 2” out of the hat…or should I say fingers. (I was a classical concert pianist prior to my medical school days.) One question I was constantly asked was “Why Fresno?” Growing up in Connecticut and finishing my retina fellowship in Boston, I was a long way from home. The question would surprise me because I loved my life in Fresno— the weather, the cherry blossoms, the fig trees, the lack of traffic, the easy parking, and the people. I spent 80% of my waking hours centered on my work. I learned Spanish from my patients….enough so I could finally conduct an eye exam completely in Spanish. I was dancing a jig in the hallways with a 90 year old adorable and spry patient. He may have had some eye issues but nothing was wrong with his legs! I accumulated a repertoire of jokes told to me by patients that I still draw on for party jokes. “Why did the chicken cross the road?…to get to the other side!” I’m kidding. The jokes were funnier than this. (more…)

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