Without integrity, you do not have anything despite your skill or experience level. The same goes for health. Without health, everything else fails.
Building a transformative business starts with finding a gap in the market. Entrepreneurs who implement the right systems and culture — who imbue their businesses with their dedication, energy, and expertise — have the potential to create organizations that change lives for the better.
Rick DeStefane kickstarted his first entrepreneurial efforts at the age of ten when he began cutting grass in his small hometown of Benld, Illinois. The experience of creating a positive venture from the ground up stuck with DeStefane into adulthood; driven by his entrepreneurial interest in solving unmet needs and a passion for helping underserved populations, Rick has since built a highly successful career in healthcare management.
Today, Rick DeStefane stands as a leading executive in the Midwestern long-term care industry. He owns numerous businesses in the field, including the Reliant Care Management Company and Reliant Care Group, LLC. Both of the latter businesses take DeStefane’s drive to help underserved groups as a guiding principle; many of the over 2,500 residents served by the Reliant Network struggle with severe mental, physical and behavorial health conditions or disabilities that other healthcare institutions are either ill-equipped or too hesitant to treat.
Committed as they are to empowering residents to live happier, healthier, and more well-adjusted lives, Rick DeStefane and his team make maximizing patient freedoms and optimizing care services a priority. Reliant’s care centers are dedicated to supporting those they treat in any way that they can and creating a positive change in patients’ lives as a whole. All told, the Reliant Network cares for over 2,500 residents, employs more than 4,000 workers, and generates nearly $200 million in annual revenue.
As an experienced entrepreneur and employer, Rick DeStefane understands how vital a strong business foundation is to finding success overall. He focuses on building a “we” culture: one that unites teams in the pursuit of a common vision. Rick accomplishes this by consistently finding ways to boost morale, empowering team members and treating everyone with dignity and gratitude. His leadership skills, combined with his motivation to aid underserved citizens and ability to uncover untapped opportunities, are precisely what has fueled Reliant’s fast-paced growth since 1990.
Though leading Reliant Care Management as the company’s CEO and owner has been a major part of Rick DeStefane’s career in healthcare management, it has by no mean been his only contribution to the field. He currently serves as the President of the Missouri Health Care Organization and on the board at St. Alexius Hospital; previously DeStefane also spent a decade as the chairman of the board at the Surgery Center of North Central Missouri.
An MBA graduate of Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, Rick also has undergraduate degrees in business management and political science. His educational background, when taken in combination with his early entrepreneurial experience and passion for helping people, formed a sturdy foundation for launching his endeavors in healthcare management.
When Rick DeStefane isn’t striving to improve the lives of vulnerable populations in the healthcare industry, he’s ensuring that everything is running smoothly for the Hannibal Hoots, a Prospect League baseball team in Missouri, and spending time with his children.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
When I was 10 years old, I always wanted to be the President of the United States or become the President of a large organization, hence the degrees in Political Science and Business, a MBA and a CPA. I also knew that if I would go the private route that I would have to be diversified and to structure the holding company, if you will, to encompass all areas of a corporate structure organizationally. I needed a name. Cardinal Care and Webster Care both were taken. Reliant was not taken though and I thought that this name gave credence to the service and business.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
First of all, I believe that one must be of top physical and mental stature to have a productive day. So, I start out with prayer and meditation, then exercise each day. Then I go to my weekly list of items to address and tackle. I do this while keeping flexible with my family and with the organization, however family always comes first. I also address all emails and phone calls early in the day, so that I make sure that I do not have anyone waiting on me from a family or a business perspective. As CEO, I have to clear some hurdles for my staff. It’s my job to make sure that they have the tools and the necessities to perform at a high level. In a sense, you could say I work for them.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I think it is a travesty to make “false promises” on ideas. I make them happen…PERIOD. I write them down and place them on the wall and look at them each and every day. If it takes organizational support, I start planting seeds to get feedback immediately from the team. I’m always careful not to allow my comments to telegraph my plans so that I can get truly honest feedback.
What’s one trend that excites you?
There are discussions taking place with the Center of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) concerning the Institutional for Mental Illness (IMD) rules and regulations. Current regulations, which were drafted in the 1960’s, restrict nursing facilities to only 50% of their population to be treated to those with mental diseases, i.e. Axis 1-2 diagnosis. Trending thinking is to scrap the IMD rules and allow nursing homes to admit those with mental illness without any restrictions. This would be a blessing.
In addition, one trend that we have adopted is a mentorship program to empower employees more.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Health in mind and in body. Meditation and prayer every day to start my day is very important to me. Also, I do not miss exercising every day.
What advice would you give your younger self?
People are the most important asset in life and in any organization, Additionally, integrity is everything. Without integrity, you do not have anything despite your skill or experience level. The same goes for health. Without health, everything else fails.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
The importance of trusting people and having forgiveness.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Trust people and don’t ever give up on them.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
As mentioned earlier, trusting people and making sure your support them is huge. People want to be trusted and I find that most people do not truly understand human behavior. If one person reacts in a negative way, then they’re written off. Many people make the same mistakes over and over again. It comes down to trusting your staff and allowing them to make mistakes, but to make sure they’re not deleterious mistakes to the organization. When someone makes a mistake, simply be kind to them. Discuss with them what happened and what the reasons were that surrounded the mistake. You want them to learn from it and help them grow to be a better person and a better professional in the future.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Once I started a business and the two key employees stole money from me to the level where I had to shut the business down. I overcame this failure by making sure that I always have as many internal controls in place as possible without affecting trust levels. Secondly, you cannot stop fraud, so if someone is going to steal then they are going to steal. You will catch them within time. You must move on from something like this because this type of thing is part of life.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Thinking about hiring excellent Filipino nurses and related health care professionals. I would pay for their transportation to the US to start a staffing agency for nurses. There is such a huge shortage of healthcare staff in the US. This would help solve the problem.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I just gave $200 to a young Personal Trainer at gym that I periodically visit to exercise. He did not have the money to go to the lake for the weekend because he makes very little in his current job. He just started out and he is such a good young adult. I wanted to see him enjoy his weekend. He is the type of person who will help people in life. He has that strong desire and goodness about him.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Notes. I use it frequently for personal and business matters. Whether it is writing speeches, kids Christmas gifts, workout summaries and exercises, stats, etc.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
There are so many. However, I would say The Road Less Traveled. The book gives a sense of the fullness of life. People must understand that “life is difficult” and one must understand that from the start. It is a very good foundational book. I believe to be successful in any aspects of life, one must love themselves first and be comfortable with who they are as a person. This book is very helpful and distinguishes dependency from true love.
What is your favorite quote?
I have many, but I would say my favorite is “You only fail when you quit trying.”
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.