My Friend Bill

July 4th 2017

I met Bill Esslinger through our mutual involvement with EMR systems. He was VP and Chief Counsel at Greenway Health. I worked as an EMR consultant. We were friendly competitors, mainly interacting through Twitter, for over twelve years.

In 2015, Bill reached out via DM and said, “Hey, I think it’s time we finally meet in real life. I’d love to take you for coffee one morning”. We met outside the fray of Las Vegas, at HIMSS15, in the lobby of the hotel coffee shop. What I didn’t realize at the time, was that Bill had pneumonia. He was still in Vegas, making connections, meeting new people, talking and laughing, but sick as hell.

Traditional approaches to leadership are sometimes detached from strategy, and focus on skill rather than on value and mindset. Bill focuses on people, and this was obvious as he said, “My doctor told me to go home and rest, but this took twelve years and I wanted to meet you before leaving the conference”.

Leadership presents the opportunity to demonstrate the best of who we are, yet it also exposes our limitations. Bill reminded me of this yesterday, as I read his text which stated, “I had a little dirt bike accident yesterday and broke my right leg in four places. Surgery tomorrow morning”. He was not only joking about having a rod and screw placed in his leg this morning, he tweeted out the above photo of his good leg, with #pinksocks, and left foot neatly encased in his new wing tips.

THIS is my friend, Bill Esslinger, CEO at Fogo Data Centers. He can solve problems, take advantage of opportunities, and resolve conflict with an air of calm and a minimum of fuss, while any external issues are hardly noticeable.

Bill is responsible for the vision and mission of Fogo Data Centers, and for being the group’s representative to the rest of the world. He does this through knowledge and skill yet what comes through is his passion. He doesn’t just try to seem enthusiastic, he is enthusiastic, whether it's presenting a company overview to prospective clients, or riding dirt bikes with his son. Bill handles external challenges the same way he handles life. He rises to the occasion, tests himself and improves in the process. He is a living breathing example of leadership.

Few people really know the person behind the #pinksocks. The guy with the upside-down Einstein portrait in his office, which reminds him to “UnThink” daily. He is the same respectful, kind and honest person in private, that he is when leading an organization. He greets everyone with a smile. He genuinely listens to others. He exudes confidence in his pink shorts, royal blue blazer, #pinksocks and old-school wing tips.

Bill Esslinger always puts a positive spin on things, even when he breaks his leg in four places on July 4th weekend. Through tough times and personal challenges, he’s the same person. Whether its leading new companies, transforming HIPAA compliance, motivating others or riding dirt bikes, Bill Esslinger is a leader in every sense of the word, and someone I am honored to call a friend.