David Samadi – Chief of Robotic Surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital

I try to make everyone around me feel better about themselves. I treat my team like my I treat own family.

Dr. David B. Samadi is a world renowned medical expert and the current Chairman of Urology and Chief of Robotic Surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, NY. As a board-certified urologist, his specialties include the diagnosis and treatment of urologic diseases, prostate cancer, kidney cancer and bladder cancer. He has performed thousands of minimally invasive treatments for prostate cancer such as laparoscopic radical prostatectomy and laparoscopic robotic radical prostatectomy.

Dr. Samadi obtained a degree in biochemistry from Stony Brook University before pursuing his M.D at the Stony Brook School of Medicine, from which he graduated in 1994. The doctor then undertook postgraduate training at Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine. After completing a fellowship in proctology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in 2001, he began a robotic radical prostatectomy fellowship at Henri Mondor Hospital Creteil in France.

In addition to performing operations in more than 45 countries, Dr. David Samadi has practiced at several prestigious institutions in the U.S. including Columbia Presbyterian Hospital and Mt. Sinai School of Medicine where he became the Vice Chair of the Department of Urology in 2007. He has since moved his team to Lenox Hill Hospital and become a Professor of Urology at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine. Dr. Samadi is a member of the American Urological Association as well as the American Medical Association.

While Dr. Samadi has dedicated his career to the early detection, diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer, his expertise doesn’t end there. From 2011-2016, Dr. Samadi was the host of “Sunday Housecall,” a medical advice TV show on the Fox News Channel. In 2015, he started a radio program and launched a website, SamadiMD.com, to share health related news and information with the world. He is particularly interested in research regarding alternative medicines, new medical technologies, heart disease and other men’s health issues.

What is a recent idea that you brought to life?

I’m currently developing a new technique for prostate removal called the Samadi Modified Advanced Robotic Technique, or SMART, surgery. Most surgeons use a procedure called “nerve sparing prostate surgery” to peel off the nerves before removing the prostate, which can cause serious side effects like incontinence and impotence. For this reason, many men postpone surgery for as long as they can.

My approach aims to separate the prostate from the surrounding nerves with microscopic precision to avoid damage to the nerves and sphincter. Once the results of my technique have been proven and published, men won’t have to carry around such anxieties.

My center’s comprehensive approach to men’s health is also unique. It’s a “one-stop” center for men to make sure their colon, heart, prostate, lungs, fertility and testosterone levels are all in good condition.

What does your typical day look like, and how do you make it productive?

I wake up at 4:30 AM, and I’m in my office by 6. I get a lot done between 6-7:30 while other people are just waking up. After that, I’m on my feet all day. I perform operations two to three times a week, so on those days I usually perform multiple surgeries. Before I leave work, I check on all of my patients, which can take a while because we have a lot.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I have a very strong photographic memory, so I work through problems by drawing. The minute an idea comes to my mind, I illustrate it. Sometimes these ideas can come at 3 AM while I’m sleeping, so I’ll get up and start making diagrams. I might forget about the idea later, but I always have my drawings. Once I plan how to implement an idea, the next step is finding the right team to make it work.

For example, one of my most successful endeavors was creating the most efficient operating room team in America. My hospital is one of the few places where a single robot can perform up to five robotic prostate surgeries per day. My team always prioritizes efficiency over speed. Since they have been working with me for close to two decades, I feel like I have my own baseball team. Everyone knows their position in the operating room, and each person has a special role.

I was actually inspired by a television interview with the former CEO of JetBlue that I saw 18 years ago. He was discussing what made JetBlue more efficient than its competitors, and he emphasized the importance of having a crew that could quickly clean the planes and ensure that they were ready for the next takeoff. That way, pilots are able to land and walk right on to another full plane without having to wait for passengers to board. A pilot’s job is flying, so that’s how they should spend most of their time.

The next day, I modified my entire operating room. My operating room is like a plane, and I am the pilot. The anesthesiologist is the copilot, and my nurses are the crew. Half-an-hour before a case ends, my crew starts cleaning so that the room will be ready for the next surgery within ten minutes. That way, when I am done with one surgery, I can walk next door and start on the next one. My model has been an example for other surgeons.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

I’m very results-driven. I’m not a chairman that likes long meetings. I thrive on positive energy and avoid negativity. I think envy and jealousy are worse than cancer, so I try to stay away from them as much as possible.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I manage my stress through deep breathing. I keep people around me that I can trust. I spend time with family and friends. I play sports, especially tennis. Breaking into a sweat helps me to relax and ultimately be more productive.

I also play tons of Backgammon. Even if you really understand the game, it can still be very challenging, which reminds me of life. My love for the game partly comes from being part of a Persian community.

What was the worst job you ever had, and what did you learn from it?

I consider myself very lucky because I’ve never been in a situation where I didn’t want to go to work. It’s true that working for major hospitals can be challenging on occasions, but at the same time it is very rewarding. Training residents and leading a department also has its challenges, but I still find it to be highly satisfying. Working in an academic environment is very intriguing because you always have to keep up with scientific discoveries.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I’m not sure if I would change anything. I would have held onto my dark hair for longer because it turned gray very fast, but other than that, I always happened to be at the right place at the right time.

For example, I was doing open surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in 2000 when I heard that French doctors were exploring laparoscopic surgery for prostate cancer.

At the time, it was a novel idea, and I was fortunate enough to go spend a full year in France to help with the pioneering work.

Then came the robots. The team I worked with in France performed some of the first robotic prostate surgeries in the world. My career really took off after that because no one else in America had three specialties.

My next job was at Columbia Presbyterian where I built one of the most successful minimally invasive programs for prostate, kidney and bladder surgery in the country. Five years later, I was recruited to be the Vice Chair of Urology at Mount Sinai Medical Center. In that role, I performed thousands of robotic prostate surgeries in over 45 different countries.

Finally, I was chosen to be the Chair of Urology at Lenox Hill Hospital. I have since transformed the department. Not only do we now have a higher volume of patients, but our expertise in robotics is unparalleled. Thanks to the reputation I helped build, I was eventually offered my own television show on Fox News where I gave medical advice to viewers. When I look back at my life, I always have a smile on my face, so I would not change anything about it.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I actually stick to a very strict schedule every day, and I never change it. By doing the same thing over and over, it becomes routine. Some people think that’s boring, but I actually find it to be very efficient.

Aside from that, I try to make everyone around me feel better about themselves. I treat my team like my I treat own family. I laugh with them, I cry with them, I eat with them and I travel with them to do missionary jobs.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

Word-of-mouth has been effective for me because I give 200 percent to each patient. My patients have my cellphone number and full access to me and at all hours. The special floor I designed for my patients was recently ranked highest in Manhattan on Press Ganey’s patient satisfaction survey with a score of 94 percent. The trust that patients have in me is the reason why I became so successful, so I always cherish that.

The quality of the care I provide is more important to me than the quantity of patients I have. Everyone knows that I am a busy surgeon, but I never compromise on quality. I have been a big critic of centers that run multiple robotic rooms, which is why I always run one robotic room at a time, and I perform each case from beginning to end.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

At the beginning of my career when I started working for a major institution, I felt like all of our processes for managing patients were very slow. Maybe I was too eager, but I’ve learned to be more patient over the years. Sometimes, I still have to step back and realize that things will get done, but perhaps not at the speed that I always want.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

The field of robotics is going to improve, so my advice is to invest in technologies like telemedicine and telesurgery, which allow doctors to treat patients and perform surgeries remotely.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I recently bought a necklace for my daughter Jasmine, and seeing her reaction was worth every dollar. She wears it as a reminder that I am always with her.

In my professional life, I just gave $100 as a gift to one of our nurses who just retired from the hospital. No doctor can stand strong without the support of nurses. They are the main pillar of healthcare in this country.

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

I use Google all the time, but otherwise I’m not online often. I worry that there is too much misinformation on the web because I constantly see patients who come in very confused. I do, however, love apps that help me find good red wine, resorts and vacation opportunities.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Anything is Possible” by Elizabeth Strout is an inspiring collection of stories about individuals who have overcome great adversity. I recommend it to anyone coping with loss or trauma.

What is your favorite quote?

“The love of a family is life’s greatest blessings”