Senior Living is an interesting niche business. What drew you to it?
TF: In my early career, I spent 12 years in ministry working with teenagers. In my mid-30’s, I was ready for a change and having grown up in an entrepreneurial family, I had a desire to pursue my business interests but in a field that still utilized those ministry skills and my seminary degree. It was at about this time that I met John Erickson, founder of Erickson Retirement Communities, who recruited me to develop the Pastoral Ministries model for their future campuses which I did in my first year before transitioning to an Organizational Development role and then, ultimately, to Operations. It was quickly apparent that this work was truly about caring for people and enhancing their lifestyles.
25+ years is a long tenure. What’s kept you in this business so long?
TF: I think what we do is important work that impacts people at a point in their lives where they have unique needs. Having lost my mother, mother-in-law, and aunt to Alzheimer’s, I have a deep appreciation for the importance of this work. But additionally, I realized through my transition from ministry with teens to ministry with seniors, that my true professional passion, and lifelong mission is what I call The Leadership Challenge. This concept broadly includes three elements: 1) identifying aspiring and natural leaders early in their careers; 2) providing training, access to resources, and coaching to those leaders as they move into organizational leadership roles; and 3) challenging organizational leaders to be strategic, innovative, and courageous in their leadership. In order to continue to do great work in this field of Aging Services that was begun in its current form by mostly faith-based groups back in the 1950’s and 60’s, and to continue to innovate and evolve to meet the increasingly complex needs of seniors in the future, it is critical that we take the Leadership Challenge seriously and today, not tomorrow! While I think I could enjoy working with leaders in many fields, developing and coaching leaders and organizations that are making this kind of meaningful impact on people is a privilege. And – to finally answer the original question – getting to watch some of today’s change-agent leaders whose development I participated in when they were grad student interns or high school students serving in our dining rooms – both of which I’ve witnessed several times – is a rare privilege, and richly gratifying.
Tell us a little bit about what Trilogy does
TF: Trilogy was started by Scott Townsley and his focus throughout much of his career has been on strategy, governance, innovation and research. We do a lot of strategic planning with boards and executive teams, helping our partners to stay relevant through innovation, thoughtful strategy, and entrepreneurship. Joining Trilogy, I know I will learn a great deal more about strategic planning and governance work from Scott – that’s essentially the third piece of The Leadership Challenge. And, what I can add is a focus on the first two aspects of the Leadership Challenge – identifying, developing, and coaching our current and future leaders and assisting organizations with successful executive transitions, wherein succession planning is a critical component of strategic planning.
Are there any key emerging trends in senior living that we should be paying attention to?
TF: Sure – this isn’t necessarily new, but it is big and far-reaching, and that is the movement of our industry to providing coordinated, seamless care at home, which by the way, is where most Baby Boomers and Silent Generation-ers say that they prefer to age.
And then technology for the aging population is going to be huge. In the next ten years we’ll see so many significant advancements in technology designed to support seniors – technologies in their homes, in their cars, in their communications, and in their healthcare delivery systems. There is a term that’s been coined by AARP that encompasses this phenomenon called the “Longevity Economy” that refers to the enormous impact to all areas of our economy due to the shifting focus on the population bubble as it moves up the age spectrum and commands the attention of every industry.
Tell us about joining forces with Solutions Advisors Group
TF: I think a lot of consulting groups serving this field have realized that they are better off diversifying, so when they invest significantly in building client relationships, they can introduce additional expertise within those relationships of understanding and trust. In the case of Solutions Advisors Group, they begin with the strengths of marketing, branding and advertising, and once that relationship has been established why not be able to say, “Hey, our partners in Trilogy can also bring leadership development, coaching, strategic planning, governance, etc.”
For me, it feels like a great advantage to have a team of committed creative people in the field for collaboration and idea-generation. We can draw upon the vast experience, resources, and network that come from joining forces with a team like Solutions Advisors Group.