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7 Questions on Leadership with Ken Graves

Name: Ken Graves

Title: Executive Director

Organisation: Topaz LLC

Born and raised in the Mid-west. Full ride baseball scholarship coming out of high school. Graduated with my B.S. degree in health administration in 2001. By 24 I had run my first SNF. At 30 I decided I wanted my MBA. I completed my MBA in 18 months and shortly after begun running hospitals as the CEO. My hospitals were located in Chicago, Houston, Las Vegas and I was lucky enough to be a part of a start up hospital in Illinois. I have a 12 yo Son who I raise on my own. We both love anything to do with the outside.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Ken's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

Most recently inflation and COVID which caused staffing challenges the industry hasn't recovered from.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

I honestly fell into it. I was 6 months post-graduation with my bachelor's degree and couldn't find a job. I was working at a liquor store to make ends meat and noticed a job in the newspaper called an AIT. I had no idea what it was other than it was a management position in healthcare. After 9 months of doing my AIT I still wasn't sure what I had gotten in to.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

My days aren't near as structured as they were 20 years ago.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

I am constantly reminded by our younger workforce that they need to be thanked for everything they do on a daily basis. They also remind me what an ungrateful generation the millennials are.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

Management styles of Genghis Kahn. Serious answer. There are amazing similarities in modern team building and principals of running a fortune 500 and how Kahn ran his gangs.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

Have thick skin, listen. Listen a lot. That's 2 but both are extremely important.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

I used to work for a company that would take their residents out of town and really all over the country to attend baseball games, go sky diving etc.. The residents absolutely loved it. Not sure why more don't do things like this.

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