Stuart Archer is the CEO of Oceans Healthcare, a growing behavioral health provider focused on healing and long-term recovery.
Since stepping into this role in late 2014, he has worked ceaselessly to improve access to and delivery of care for Oceans’ patients while supporting and empowering their loved ones. Mr. Archer oversees a network of 33 outpatient and inpatient clinical facilities across the Southeast. He has set an ambitious vision for Oceans’ expansion into underserved markets across the south-central and southeastern United States.
Mr. Archer has more than two decades of experience in multisite hospital operations. From his early days as a nurse’s aide to his current role at the helm of one of the fastest-growing health-care providers in the southeastern United States, he has spent the bulk of his career in long-term acute care and post-acute care settings.
Prior to serving as CEO of Oceans Healthcare, Mr. Archer was chief operating officer of LifeCare Management Services, a pioneer in long-term acute care with 24 hospitals across nine states.
Mr. Archer began his executive career in the health-care industry as senior vice president of market development for Louisiana-based LHC Group, a leading provider of post-acute care services. Over the course of 10-plus years at LHC, Mr. Archer was instrumental in expanding the company’s footprint to cover more than 350 locations in about 30 states.
Mr. Archer is a tireless advocate for individuals living with mental health and substance use disorders. As a member of the Board of Trustees of the National Association of Behavioral Healthcare, he supports sensible public policy changes to improve the lives of vulnerable Americans and their loved ones.
Mr. Archer enjoys spending his free time with his family.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
My professional journey was not a straight line. I started my career in an entirely different arena as a college football coach. Like many young coaches, I had a second job to make ends meet and worked as a nursing aid in a long-term acute care hospital. Through that experience, I felt a calling that health care was where I was supposed to be. I left coaching and was able to join a growing organization early in my career, and from there I’ve been able to contribute to the lives of others and make a difference.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I have four kids, so my mornings are usually a blur. The rest of the day is filled with meetings and video calls, but I try as much as possible to carve out time to ensure I eat well and accomplish at least one thing I have on my to-do list.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Cultivating new ideas in health care, and specifically behavioral health, often means finding new or better ways to deliver care to people who can’t access it or for whom accessing it is a financial or logistical burden. There’s a lot at stake. Fortunately, I’ve been lucky enough to surround myself with some of the best minds in the behavioral health industry and together we plan, triage, problem solve, execute and constantly adjust strategy to achieve results for our patients.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Technology and the advancement of telehealth capabilities in our industry is exciting and, frankly, something that was only slowly gaining traction prior to COVID-19. Because the pandemic really forced us to think differently about how we deliver care, telehealth became a vital tool. In addition, I’m extremely excited to see the slow but steady progress we’re making collectively in destigmatizing mental illness and treating it like other medical conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
For good or bad, I tend to be very hands-on with all aspects of our company. That lets me see our strategy and tactics holistically and at the micro-level. I believe this allows me the perspective to anticipate challenges sooner and coordinate resources across our teams to impact change quicker.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would remind myself of the power words can have on an individual and the way they feel about their value to the team. There’s a place for tough love and coaching but I don’t think I understood the weight a leader’s words can carry – positively and negatively – until I was older.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I believe each of us can do more than we’re capable of. We settle into our comfort zone, and though cliché, sometimes we have to step out of the comfort zone to realize our potential. I like to push people to that point and watch as they recognize they have “more gas in the tank.” That’s when innovation and progress truly happen.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Ask questions. Don’t accept what the “experts” recommended at face value. It’s so important to understand the why and make decisions that are right for your business and the people you serve.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I feel a sincere calling to do the work that I do and to help people find better ways to receive behavioral health treatment. I believe that sincerity and compassion are visible to the teams I work with, and was as I grew throughout my career to tackle leadership roles with increasing responsibility and accountability.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Early in my career, I didn’t understand the impact words had on the people around me. I don’t necessarily consider it a failure, but a lesson well learned that I began to see how my choice of words could really build people up or hurt their self-confidence.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Our headquarters is in Texas and there are several local tequila distilleries with long histories in the state. The best $100 dollars I spent recently was on a bottle of tequila.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I don’t think this is unique, especially as we continue to manage the challenges of COVID-19, but video conferencing services have become invaluable. I lead a company with more than 30 different facilities across the Southeast, and we’re growing. Being able to connect with teams in different cities is crucial to the health of our business and to the growth of our companywide quality and safety initiatives.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I’d recommend “The Splendid and the Vile” by Erik Larson. It’s truly an eye-opening read and a unique look at Winston Churchill’s inner circle during the Battle of Britain.
What is your favorite quote?
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” — Theodore Roosevelt
- Ask questions. Don’t accept what the “experts” recommended at face value. It’s so important to understand the why and make decisions that are right for your business and the people you serve.
- Understand the power that words can have on an individual and the way they feel about their value to the team. There’s a place for tough love and coaching, but always keep in mind the power that a leader’s words can carry – positively and negatively.
- Each of us can do more than we’re capable of. We settle into our comfort zone, and though cliché, sometimes we have to step out of the comfort zone to realize our potential. That’s when innovation and progress truly happen.
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.