Born: Toledo, Ohio
Education: B.S. in business from Villanova University; MBA from the University of Miami, Florida; graduate of the Duke Endowment program in hospital administration
What was your first job, and what did you learn from it?
I was a salesman for a large company, and I learned that I’m not a very good salesman. I learned a lot about corporate politics, what I liked and didn’t like. That was my last sales job, although I think we all sell every day.
Whom do you admire most and why?
It would have to be my parents. How they raised eight kids where we lived is a miracle to me. Honesty and integrity were hallmarks of growing up with my parents.
What’s your definition of success?
I don’t know that I ever (feel) that I’ve been successful. I think that drive is always there to continue to improve. So I don’t know that I have an end definition for it. I never feel like I’m done.
What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?
It’s from my first boss when I got into hospital business, and it was: Listen. If you don’t listen, you will never make the right decisions. He made a comment to me one day, ‘If your client doesn’t think you’re listening to them, you’ve lost them.’
Sometimes if you get in an argument with somebody, you don’t tend to listen very well because you’re already formulating your counterpoint. Really try to listen to what they have to say, because what they have to say may be very important.
Your workday is off to a bad start. How do you turn it around?
You’ve got to look back at your successes and what’s working right and just continue to build on that. There are a lot of tough days, but at the end of the day, it’s just work. And if you go home every night knowing that you did the best you could, then you shouldn’t be too worried about it.
Comte on work-life balance:
Keep a decent balance between family and work. A lot of people, all they do is work, and then, all of a sudden, their kids are grown up and gone and you wonder what the heck happened. Maybe because of my earlier life, I missed a lot of dinners at home, but I’m pretty insistent that our folks make sure they don’t miss important events in their kids’ lives. If you’re happy at home, I think you’re going to be happy at work. If things are tough at home, I think it does take away from your ability to do your job.