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Episode 15 of 19

Joann Schaefer, M.D. — Looking in the Mirror

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This podcast shares the habits and practices of peak performers and top leaders, from many walks of life; physicians, senior executives, entrepreneurs, and academics. And from every season, from the seasoned and sage to those emerging leaders and rising rock stars. All who are blazing trails and shining a light for others. Told on the last day of her medical school residency that she had a chronic liver disease and would need a liver transplant, Joann Schaefer, M.D., decided to take her new life as a physician one day at a time and never dreamed she’d transition into executive administration in the insurance industry. But transition she did. Following work as a tenured associate professor and stints practicing medicine, Dr. Schaefer became Nebraska’s chief medical officer and has progressed to her current role as executive vice president at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska. Noting that she is driven by the desire to diagnose and fix problems, Dr. Schaefer acknowledges how important it is that leaders be able to consider issues from multiple perspectives, an awareness that her time being on the patient end of a liver transplant has deepened. Just as important is the humbling realization that you don’t know everything, she says, but can leverage your self-awareness and your position as a leader to tap the knowledge of others. Dr. Schaefer credits much of her success as a physician-leader to this habit of tapping the knowledge of others and having a “personal board of directors.” Although Dr. Schaefer firmly believes in the value of mentorship, she feels personal habits are just as essential, especially honing a deep self-awareness -- something she learned as a child from her stepfather, who taught her to take time each night to look in the mirror and reflect on both the successes and failures of that day and then, just as important, to let them go. Equally key, investing in your own wellbeing and continually cultivating your personal and professional development play an important role in helping you be the best version of yourself and the best leader that you can be.