Hunter Ambrose | Celebrates 12 years – 5 Business Lessons for Success

Hunter Ambrose | Celebrates 12 years – 5 Business Lessons for Success

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When I started Hunter Ambrose in 2006 I was working  at  Aya Healthcare for Alan Braynin, CEO. Alan is not just a maverick in the industry but one of the most  dynamic leaders in America. I’d been at Aya for a year and as a solo parent with 3 school age children- Something had to give. 

John Martins, who is now SVP at Aya was instrumental in his support to “do it on my own.” I needed to create a future, (and certainly a road less traveled), where I could earn more, have a flexible work schedule and create opportunities worthy of the risk I was about to embark upon.  

Since 2006 Hunter Ambrose has completed over 5,000 retained placements in 40 states and placed thousands of candidates at Critical Access Hospitals and tertiary facilities from Hawaii to New York. We are a leader in Rural America and I’m honored by those relationships and every search we’ve been trusted to complete for the past 12 years.

Within the past few years Hunter Ambrose has created, (a healthcare job board), the TAP / RPO program, an executive coaching service and in February of 2018 we launched Rural America Roundtable–  A podcast hosted by Retired General Todd Plimpton.

In appreciation for the past 12 years- Here are the 5 Business Lessons for Success we embrace at Hunter Ambrose.

  1. Put Yourself First.

Only by putting yourself First can you serve others. I share this with every new hire and again with every team member who is experiencing low production, (before I threaten to lock them out if they don’t take 24 hours off).

Putting yourself first is the WHY behind what we do. Our team can routinely work 7 days week between 4 time zones. If we’re not taking care of ourselves (First), our families, our fitness and our finances, (the 4-F’s),  on a daily basis – We’re a crash and burn firm.

Having a team that puts themselves First has resulted in Hunter Ambrose growing every year- Even by double digits after the impact that healthcare reform and the recession had on the recruitment industry. By expecting my team to put themselves First I never have to question if they’re being pushed too hard, doing too much, sacrificing too much- They’re adults and I don’t make assumptions.

At least once a year a team member goes through crisis – A divorce, break up, illness, a move, family member in crisis, etc. And I’d rather have that person take 2 weeks off and give us a “Honey Do” list of tasks than half-ass his/her way through the quarter trying to work past whatever chaos he/she is experiencing. Put yourself First. Ask for help from your team when you need it, know when to step back and when to step up.

The result? Everyone at the firm sets their own hours and with that our Clients and Candidates get virtually 24 access to us. And with Client retention at 91% – I’d say it’s working.

  1. Be Obsessed.

Remember your high school crush?  The car you had to have that you worked two summers in a row to save for? That kind of sophomoric obsession is a baseline for success as a business owner. Business owners who don’t go to bed thinking about the firm, wake up wanting to attend to it, have anxiety separation when not working – They don’t have a business, they have a hobby. And God bless – We all need one.

Owning a business needs to be an obsession you attend to daily and certainly after 5pm. It’s not something you set aside and ignore 48-hours a week (known as a weekend). Being obsessed about your firm will push you to produce meaningful work product, read, listen, absorb, self-reflect  and make imperfect decisions on a daily basis at a higher level than your competition.

If you aren’t obsessed with what you’re doing, the services you’re providing, the satisfaction of your clients, the growth of your team, the opportunities you’re providing – Find something else to do tomorrow morning.

Of course; the challenge is finding a team that embraces your level of obsession. And, it’s fiction to believe that 100% of your team will 100% operate at level of self-sacrificing devotion.

Andrea Usher has the longest tenure of anyone at HA, three years this fall. She’s the template for OBSESSED. While her job is VP of Recruitment – She’s the one to wake me up on a Sunday morning because our CEO candidate may be backing out and she’s already read the email sent at 6am.  She takes the initiative to review quarterly projections on a Friday night and expects me to discuss Saturday am before I’ve made coffee. She never hesitates to tell me when to give her the “Honey Do” list and step back for 24 hours because I’ve clocked 10,000 frequent flyer miles in the past 10 days and I’m not sure which city I’m waking up in.

If you’re lucky enough to find team members who can sustain an OBSESSED work ethic for not just a month but for 3 years – Do EVERYTHING you can to nurture, respect, retain and reward that person. They deserve it and your firm will thrive as a result.

  1. Earn.

Maybe it’s my Italian sensibilities but everyone at the firm needs to Earn. You’re either making money for the firm or you’re saving money for the firm. Any company under 10 million a year needs to have a team 100% dedicated to the bottom line. We don’t have the luxury of not being as efficient as possible. Any business owner / CEO who isn’t working the business, (EARNING),  at least 4 hours a day is doomed and will never be taken seriously by their team.

I’ve had amazing, highly credentialed people join the firm (with the false promises of being a relationship builder and closer) and their hesitation to ask for new business, to pick up the phone, to close a deal left me irritated and disappointed.

Building the business relationships required for any business to thrive is hard work. You get rejected, people can be rude, entitled and it’s a thankless task; until you get the right person on the phone at the right time.

If you believe in what you’re doing, if you’re obsessed with your firm; building a business relationship and asking for the business / contract should come naturally. Anyone hired as a Consultant in your firm who can’t or won’t do BD is a liability – Not an asset.  They’ll be full of good ideas and little to no results. I’ve learned that I need to be a better coach to transition the low performers to BD superstar’s – It’s my firm, therefore it’s not them, it’s me if they don’t succeed.

And while our Admin Team is not BD focused; they’re always looking for ways to save money, reduce waste and duplication of services.

Everyone Earns. Period.

  1. Build a Team that Challenges You.

When I look back at the team members I’ve worked with over the past 12 years – Over 75% of them received more education and more professional experience than I pursued. Former and current team members include physicians, attorneys fresh out of law school and hospital CEO’s.

Why? I know what I don’t know. And I gravitate towards people who challenge me, occasionally piss me off, engage in meaningful conversations with complex questions and can bring more to the table for our Clients and Candidates than I can alone.

In 2017 I received a phone call from  Todd Plimpton, an attorney in Northern Nevada seeking a CEO search for his Client, a Critical Access Hospital. After 5 minutes of pleasantries the conversation pivoted to discussing what we believed to be unlimited possibilities in Rural Healthcare across the country. We had mutual agreement that there was nothing but OPPORTUNITY in Rural America with the right leadership. He was full of statistics and insight that I was unaware of and I found myself taking copious notes.

What should have been an 11-minute conversation lasted over an hour. From that search he joined the firm for key projects, (to include CEO searches, strategic planning and board coaching), much to the benefit of CAH’s in several states. And in February of this year we launched the Rural America Roundtable podcast.

Your best collaborators, team members, advisers and partners are the people who challenge you, annoy you and teach you something every time you talk to them. They should be the smartest people in the room- Not you. If you want the best team you can build, check your ego, stop talking, stop having the last word, listen and surround yourself with the leaders you respect.

In short – Be open to the unexpected conversations, opportunities and people who are the game changers. Engage in conversation outside of your current walls. And, if they make you uncomfortable (if they don’t have immediate or even long term buy-in of your stakeholders); pivot and embrace the opportunity regardless. Those are the “open door” moments we need to walk through  to avoid complacency and propel us towards success.

  1. Be Prepared.

The Boy Scout motto is one to live by for any  firm in America. As a business owner I know there will never be enough money, clients, resources or opportunities. And the moments we have had, “enough” and I exhaled for more than an hour- Reality knocked down the door with a mighty kick. It’s just business.

If you want to be the competition, if you want to have a business in this country for one year much less a decade;  You have to constantly be prepared to lose your best clients, lose the resources or people you can’t live without. You have to see your choices through a lens of opportunity and unavoidable failure (why you need people who think differently than you and are smarter than you) on a daily basis.

And more importantly, you have to strategically innovate and create better products and processes to better serve your clients. You need to anticipate what they need before they need it. You need to create the white space to hear about their bad days, what’s working and not working in their professional lives to learn how to create and innovate.

One of the recurring themes we’ve been hearing from potential and existing clients is that they’re losing candidates repeatedly before the offer stage. The Why? HR is an 8-5 business and the recruitment cycle and healthcare industry is 24/7.

Our solution? Effective Monday Hunter Ambrose recruits 7-days-a-week, 7am- 9pm PST. We need to connect with Candidates on their schedule in order to present to our Clients tomorrow and for the next 12 years.

Thank you to the Hunter Ambrose team, our Clients and Candidates for the past 12 years. And with enormous gratitude to  to John Martins, SVP Aya Healthcare, Gabi Collins of the Whole Person, Leslie Mahoney, RN, Founder of, Andrea Usher, MBA and Todd Plimpton, JD.

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