Bob Truog is the founder and CEO of PhysEmp.com—a leading online physician job board and one of the very first in existence. For the past 20 years, he’s woken up each morning with one question: how to make it easier for recruiters and hospitals to connect with qualified physicians? It’s a rapidly changing industry, and PhysEmp.com continues to evolve and expand along with it.
Bob’s path to founding Physicians Employment was a long and winding one. He went from general contractor to commodity broker, to print magazine publisher (PhysEmp began in 1990 as a print magazine), to online job board CEO. If there’s one thing he’s learned from his career, it’s this: keep moving forward, no matter what.
His chief inspiration is his father, who had a long and successful career in multiple industries, from manufacturing to construction and mining, with hits and misses along the way. He was a man of complete integrity and great intelligence who was highly respected and very successful.
Where did the idea for PhysEmp.com come from?
It actually came from a friend who asked me to consult with him on his physician recruitment business. I saw the chaos in that marketplace—this was back in 1990. All you could advertise was in specialty medical journals, which came out monthly or quarterly. They were very expensive and terribly inefficient as a means of showing ads that need to change constantly.
When the internet came along I saw an interesting opportunity to provide a more efficient, flexible solution for job postings in the physician space. You could immediately see why the internet was a far more appropriate venue for job position posting and career seeking.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
It has to start with a cup of coffee. After that, I’m following up with my team to make sure everything’s working well with our projects.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I get ideas from a variety of places. I’m inquisitive, and I think that really helps when you’re looking to bring ideas to life. I talk to people from different areas to get their perspective and then I bring that to our business to see what it will take to make that reality — for example, our map feature.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Google has a stated mission to provide the best response to any given query. They want the highest quality site, best written content. They are working on making search engines recognize this. They have an astounding amount of data on traffic and how it responds to every site they drive traffic to.
What they presented on Day 1, when they came out, was truly transformative.
They are upping the game as far as wanting more content. When it comes to our industry, they are rewarding job postings that have more information: from salary to city to address.
We have been talking about this for over a year. In fact, we created a report to convince clients they need to make these changes. They’ve realized they need to be more transparent and we’re starting to have that conversation. That excites me that they understand the importance of transparency in job postings.
We want to make it as easy as possible for people to apply.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
A habit that I’ve nurtured over the years: Learning from my mistakes. As an entrepreneur, you have to have an idea you believe will work. Your job is to always figure out how to improve your idea and make it work–which includes learning from mistakes along the way.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would have told my younger self to get started even earlier online! We were early pioneers in online job posting, which has helped us. While we started with a print publication advertising physician positions, transitioning to an online job site was essential for us to progress and move forward.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I can pass for 60 years old!
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Having been an entrepreneur for years, I can tell you the one thing that will happen over and over again: You will make mistakes. Things won’t work out. The key? Always, always have a Plan B. You don’t learn from immediate success. If you don’t have a Plan B. Learn when and how to pivot is something entrepreneurs need to do over and over again.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Crowdsourcing your ideas. I get ideas from a variety of places. I’m inquisitive, and I think that really helps when you’re looking to bring ideas to life. I talk to people from different areas to get their perspective and then I bring that to our business to see what it will take to make that reality — for example, our new map feature when searching/posting physician jobs.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I would have hired top programmers early on to help our vision come to life. I’ve overcome it by finding a great team, but it is such an important part of building a business like ours.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
The needs and demands of locum tenens—also known as temporary physicians—are underserved. A better recruiting site for locum tenens workers, something more focused on their needs, would greatly be appreciated by the market.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
A tank of gas. I need it to get around.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I have several:
— I like Ahrefs – it’s a great tool for analyzing the SEO status of your site.
— Slack – It’s more efficient and orderly than email. You’re able to deal with subgroups dealing with an issue. It helps us organize people and topics.
— Quickbooks – When I started out 30 years ago, I had a software called Accounting Inc. The problem is you couldn’t delete a mistake. Quickbooks made things so much easier for me.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I do not read any business books. I’m more interested in history books. Books outside of business have brought me unique perspectives. Here are a few I really like:
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
What is your favorite quote?
“We have met the enemy and he is us.” Pogo
- Crowdsource ideas. Be inquisitive at all times
- Always have a Plan B as an entrepreneur
- Hire top programmers early on when building out tech
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.