The Olson file Featured

10:33am EDT December 28, 2005
Born: 1959, Minneapolis

Education: Bachelor’s degree, business, University of Minnesota; master’s degree, St. Thomas University, Minnesota

What is the greatest business lesson you’ve learned?
Never underestimate your own abilities. The same applies to the team because it is amazing what people can accomplish when you give them the opportunity to do that.

What is the greatest business challenge you’ve faced, and how did you overcome it?
It was when I was an ex-pat, living in a foreign country, and I didn’t speak the language or know the culture. I was asked to lead a team of people in an area that didn’t exist before, with individuals from all over the world, with definite communication styles.

Pulling that team together, accepting each others’ differences, learning from one another and eventually becoming a successful high-functioning team [was a challenge].

Whom do you admire most in business and why?
I have tremendous respect for Steve Jobs as a visionary and a leader. He is a master at analyzing and understanding the market and creating a need from absolutely nothing.

Take a look at what he did with the music business. He saw that file-sharing technology was going to be very disruptive and possibly lead to the demise of the tradition of music retailers. He asked the question, ‘How can I change the old model?’ His answer was the iPod.

We face some of those same types of issues and the same question: ‘How can we change the model of health care as it exists today?’

It’s the pursuit of that answer that inspires and motivates me to come to work every day. That helps us with our innovative culture.