Our quarterly Director Spotlight is with Michael Gorton. An author, advisor, CEO, and serial entrepreneur, Michael has founded several companies, including Teladoc and Recuro Health. Michael was recently awarded EY’s Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2022 Central Plains Award. We spoke with Michael about his entrepreneurial journey and the future of telemedicine.
You have founded 14 businesses in several very different sectors, more recently finding success in the telemedicine and digital health space. What is it about that industry that piqued your interest?
I love disruption, and healthcare lacks efficiency at every corner. This should make it an open field for innovation. Unfortunately, bureaucracy and resistance to change most often prevails. Ultimately finding success in the early years at Teladoc came after some epic and hard-fought battles against the status quo. I cannot even tell you how many times I was told I would go to prison if I built that company. Now, of course, it seems like such an obvious pathway for care delivery.
How do you build successful companies in so many different sectors?
I have been in telecom, energy, music, tech, adventure, space and healthcare. In a few (rare) cases, I have been the expert, but in most, I am surrounded by experts. Companies are built from ideas by people. My job has always been to find the right people, trust their skills, inspire their inner dreams, and find the tools they need to succeed. That formula works in any industry, in sports, and in life.
Recuro Health was recently awarded as a “Technology Pioneer” by the World Economic Forum. Can you share what Recuro is doing to revolutionize this space and how its approach to healthcare differs from the current industry standard?
Healthcare today operates on a reactive model. You get sick, you call a provider, and care is delivered. It seems simple, but costs are increasing double-digit percentages every year, and our friends and family are still being diagnosed with dangerous things that kill people. The next great trend in healthcare will be finding ways to be proactive and preemptive. Recuro has developed a platform that is designed to keep people healthy and to catch things before they become dangerous and expensive. In the early days of Teladoc, we envisioned a time when doctors would respond to patients in minutes for a fraction of the cost of an in-office visit. On that front, we succeeded. Now we envision a new plateau where we keep people healthy and catch things before they become life changing, or worse, fatal. Interestingly, those things, which we are now implementing, will have a similarly profound impact on longevity. In the next ten years, I hope to deliver a new healthcare engine which will make age 100 the new 30.
What trait or attribute do you think has benefited you the most in your career?
I still remember the first day of engineering school. The Dean said look left, look right; only one of you will be here at graduation. I graduated #32 in my class and was sandwiched between a valedictorian and a salutatorian. I survived the years of engineering school by working harder than everyone else, and being more creative. It turns out that those things work in life and business as well.
One of TBHF’s core values is community. You serve on the board and as an advisor to several organizations in the Dallas / Fort Worth area. In your experience, how does community leadership go hand in hand with business leadership?
One of my first business mentors told me that he was helping me, in part because he liked me and what I was working on, but also because he understood the impact of those who had helped him. There is no way I would have reached the summits I have achieved without mentorship and support. About ten years ago, I began helping a young entrepreneur who has grown into a better entrepreneur than me. Making the world a better place should be at the top of everyone’s list. The value of giving back is so much greater that the accomplishments we garner as an individual.
How do you define “excellence” in business?
I am addicted to finding ways to change the world. To do so requires a great team that holds similar perspectives. Businesses and companies are people. When we trust and inspire the people around us, there are no impossible tasks, and excellence becomes the norm.