When you believe in yourself and shoot for the sun, the worst you will get are the stars. Never be afraid to try, to try and fail, and then get up and try again.
Elan Katz earned his pharmacy degree from Long Island University in 1996 and has over twenty years of healthcare leadership excellence. Elan serves as the innovative force behind Specialty Infusion’s groundbreaking progression and rapid growth. His commitment to improving patient care has transcended to the Specialty Infusion team, while his achievements in the healthcare industry are demonstrated in his other ventures: QuickRx Specialty Pharmacy and Cure Urgent Care.
Where did the idea for QuickRx come from?
QuickRx: With many years in the pharmacy business and many pharmacy locations, when it came to branding and unifying my vision of a pharmacy chain – it was integral to zoom into one of the key aspects that customers found to be useful and effective. As we put ourselves into their shoes, it was clear that one of the most important aspects, especially for the running New Yorkers, was time. The name QuickRx became synonymous with just that. We focus on our customers and what they need most when they are waiting for their scrips vs the mega chain’s idea of having them walk around the isles and shop while they wait, sometimes for quite a while.
Cure was born out of numerous possibilities of catchy and easy branding ideas for an urgent care center chain. Our team wanted to show our core competency – we put our patients first and we are here to cure them of whatever aliments they may be suffering from. The idea was that you go to Cure, to get cured.
Specialty Infusion was not a cleverly creative name, but one that strikes right to the point of what we do. We provide our patients with a quality, caring and necessary infusions for their medical needs.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I usually wake up with the rooster at the crack of dawn, around 5am. I try to start my day with a heavy dose of adrenaline from an intense workout (such as spinning or weight training,) that drives my heart rate and energy and hopefully lets me run on it throughout the day. I then try to grab a healthy breakfast at home and head out for the day around 8am. There is no set schedule as I have two offices and even more appointments daily, but the bulk of the day can entail anything planned and often unplanned such as interviews, company and client meetings, strategy calls, talent sourcing and outside events. The exciting part about my day is that it’s never the same as the one before, or even the one last week, but I do try to make it productive by still planning out the day and the week and setting goals ahead of time. I also read a lot of literature on business strategy, which has been very useful in implanting things like the hiring process or daily operations management.
Similarly, I find it important to have the right team and go above and beyond to find the best talent.
I tend to get home in the evenings around 7-8pm and sometimes can even catch a dinner and a bed time story with the kids, although it is something that I am working to do more of. I do however focus my weekends on the quality time with the children, as I realize every day they growing up so quickly and there is no way to turn the time and do it over again.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I usually have creative ideas on the “off times” that my mind is not running during the day, though sometimes they may start forming then as well. I noticed that in the evenings and at nights, a lot of these brilliant ideas start coming together all of a sudden. I have started keeping a journal next to my bed and find that writing my ideas down and revisiting them again has been useful. I bring ideas to life via various means – from hiring people to help with implantation, to brainstorming with my team and family. The next step is finalizing the strategy and steps to get the business on the track to fruition.
What’s one trend that excites you?
One exciting trend that is very fast paced and crucial, is the technological growth in the healthcare industry. We have seen a stagnant time in the treatment of diseases and the medicine that was used to help the people, versus now, a new dawn of preventive care and tailored solutions for the traditional problems (such as infusion cocktails to treat the previously untreatable diseases). The time of looking at how we can aid each individual and also how to possibly prevent them from getting sick in the first place is finally here.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
One habit as an entrepreneur that makes me productive is the ability to see an opportunity almost in every situation. However, it sometimes is something that can also take focus away and something I need to work on myself from pursuing more often than I should. For example, my wife laughs at me when I mention that I can run a better dry cleaning business than any that we have ever used. There is just too many business that people are not running effectively and efficiently, but not enough juice or time for it all.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell my younger self to enjoy life more, to read more and spend time with my loved ones. I would even tell my younger self to stop skipping school and try to get more out of education. As Mark Twain cleverly said “my schooling got in the way of my education.” I sometimes feel that it is a challenge to balance the ever running brain and everything that we need to do. We need to find the ability to stop and learn and to just enjoy the moment.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
The kids need to fail in school and life to learn their own lessons. My wife is adamant in micromanaging the kids and preventing them from falling off the wagon, whereby I think it’s a crucial lesson in life to make your own way. There at least has to be some letting go to create an independent thinker and a successful person. I think I’m a perfect example of just that, with my single mom being so focused on work and survival that I was left to my own devices- sometimes good and sometimes not so good, but certainly something that made me the way I am today.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I often tell people that your employees and your management team are the most important assets in your business. You often hear that people say, the customer is always right and always should be the main focus, but I believe they are wrong. I believe that the your company and your employees are the most valuable and most important, because if they are and you treat them as such, they will do on their own the right things that need to keep the customers satisfied and loyal.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
One strategy that helped me grow my business has been focusing on hiring the right senior positions or training the internal candidates for growth. As such, they have been able to build the solid teams needed to expand. Once again, going back to the previous trend of my answers, your people are everything. Any vision you may have, will never see the light of day if you don’t have the right people on your bus. Allowing our team to make their own decisions even though they can make mistakes is another means for that pattern of growing and improving.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
One failure that I can think of was trying to go after too many opportunities, as mentioned before. I would take on more than I can handle and would constantly feel stressed and unsatisfied. I have realized over the years that businesses that failed should be shut down. For example, about 15 years ago, I had a brilliant idea to open up a Subway fast food joint. I went to Subway university and opened a location which for 3 weeks was the busiest franchise in Brooklyn. Though it was a failure and was shut down in less than a year, it was a big lesson for me to stick to my core competency – healthcare, where I have stayed ever since.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I’m baffled at the fact that health care is the only industry that has no cost transparency. It’s mostly due to insurance company non-disclosure regulations, which I would want to resolve by creating a patient-based database website, which will allow consumers to add their insurance information add the type of service they are interested in (i.e. dentistry, pharmacy, urgent care, etc.) and compare fees between all of the providers in their insurance network. This would allow the consumer to make savvy decisions based on quality and price. It is pretty clear that if the consumer would be more responsible for the amount of money they spend on their own healthcare, we would all benefit with lower healthcare costs.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I just ordered an air quality monitor for the home so we can monitor the air around us. Particularly the PM 2.5 levels. These are extremely dangerous and the most vulnerable particle affecting the family. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that all is not as bad as it seems in NY and we are borderline ok with the pollution, or at least in our house. Though I would add that having a good air filter is always a plus.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I may actually surprise you by not saying LinkedIn or email, but the app called Headspace. I have started using it for meditation and rave enough of the value it has added to me and my family. My oldest son, who has some anxiety issues with the onset of middle school, has been using it as well. I have found that it is so dearly needed for most of us in New York, in business and in life. Meditation is one of the most difficult practices, both in stilling your mind and finding the time, but one most needed in our endlessly stimulating and overstimulating culture. I highly recommend it to all – even a few minutes a day.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I have recently read a brilliant book on the hiring processes, as I keep mentioning that the people are the most valuable part of any business. This book is called the Who, by Geoff Smart and Randy Street. I have had my HR team and managers all read it and follow it religiously with good results.
What is your favorite quote?
“What is it I don’t see” by Phil Cunningham.
- To sum up, I believe that the most important part of life is your relationships with people. Similarly it is also incredibly important to believe in yourself and be able to be flexible, yet persistent and not get discouraged along the way.
- At the end of this crazy journey we call life, we are mainly left with memories and moments that we shared and made with our families, friends and co-workers. It is incredibly important to have positive and meaningful stories to tell our future generations, not only in our accomplishments, but also in the everyday situations.
- When you believe in yourself and shoot for the sun, the worst you will get are the stars. Never be afraid to try, to try and fail, and then get up and try again. There will be many ups and downs, but it is your attitude and drive that will keep you going and let you reinvent yourself.
- I realized it is equally important to also take care of your health and do it early on- eat well, exercise, enjoy nature, travel and have some quality time with your mind and your favorite books. Lastly, never expect anything from anyone and you will never be disappointed. No one owes you anything and all you can do is be your best self and teach your children to follow in your steps.
- Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.
— FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.