“Have Confidence In Results And A Conviction To Build The Future” Words Of Wisdom With Steven Auerbach, CEO Of Alegeus
I had the pleasure of speaking with Steven Auerbach, CEO of Alegeus, the leading consumer healthcare funding platform, about how he’s helping empower consumers to manage their ever-growing responsibility for their healthcare finances. According to data from Aite Group, consumers will spend about $477B in out of pocket medical expenses in 2018. I therefore checked in with Steven to hear how he and his team at Alegeus are helping alleviate this problem via engagement and education.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
Growing up an only child in an adopted family had its challenges and benefits. Looking back, the healthcare system wasn’t as helpful as it could have been due to its poor positioning and design. Through my experience and that of my family, I became fascinated in understanding how to make something work better and passionate about supporting consumers within the healthcare system. The intersection of these two personality traits drove my career to work in this space, and now I am at the pinnacle of my career helping consumers confront the most common challenge in healthcare today — affording medical costs.
So what exactly does your company do?
Alegeus empowers consumers to better manage their healthcare finances. We are the market leader in consumer-directed healthcare (CDH) solutions, powering more than 30 million consumers and 225,000 employer groups. We offer the most comprehensive platform for the administration of healthcare benefit accounts (including FSAs, HSAs, HRAs, etc.) and the industry’s most widely-used benefit debit card, accounting for $9.1 billion in consumer healthcare payments annually. The platform also offers powerful engagement solutions that help consumers get the most value out of their healthcare dollars.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Growing internal talent is a passion. Our ACEs program is a yearlong mentorship program for the company’s most talented and promising employees. Each participant works alongside an executive to develop and execute a project that moves the business forward. One such graduate implemented a business strategy to increase adoption and usage of account-based products within the company’s existing client base, resulting in a promotion and new offering on our platform.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
We celebrate success at Alegeus. When we landed a major new logo, we had a Luau Day across our offices with hula dancers, leis, Hawaiian print shirts — the works. The senior management team thought it would be a good idea to replicate the hula dance, and let’s just say that staying on beat isn’t their strong suit.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
There are three people that come to mind when I reflect on who has made the greatest impact on my career:
1. Katherine Booker: At ChannelPoint, Katherine asked me to manage 120 people, and I couldn’t picture myself in this type of role. She said “You can handle this; you will be great. Call me if you need help, but you won’t need to.” Her words validated that she had more confidence in me than I had in myself. Following her advice, I took the position, pivoted my career, and uncovered my passion to impact employee talent.
2. Dave Astar: I worked with Dave at United Healthcare. He is by far one of the smartest business executive I’ve interacted with. He has an unparalleled passion for data and accuracy and only tolerates the most efficient and scalable processes. This taught me the value of using analytics to steer a company in the right direction.
3. Tom Erikson: I worked with Tom at a private equity firm, and he taught me a key to success that sticks with me to this day. As a CEO many-times-over, Tom said “the person in the market wins, and the person in the office loses. Get close to the market and your competitors and you will always make right decisions.” As a result, I spend a substantial amount of my time out in the field.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Outside of empowering consumers to take a more active role in their healthcare, I try to help bring goodness to the world by grooming the amazing talent at Alegeus. We hope to empower our employees to be more successful than they can imagine.
Because Alegeus is growing rapidly, associates can rise to director and VP levels quickly. Individuals are taking advantage of this and living up to their potential. In Q3 of 2017, we promoted 40 people.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO” and why?
1. Get the right team in place, fast: Having the right people in the right role is the #1 indicator of success. We use a “fast fail” approach at Alegeus. Without this, the business stalls and both the company and our clients feel it.
2. Have confidence in results and a conviction to build the future: Many times, businesses must take a leap — build a new facility, invest in a different product — before revenue is recognized. To see the opportunity come to fruition, it takes confidence and conviction. We opened our Orlando office in January of 2016, and I wanted to start with a large facility. There were concerns about the size of the space and the time it would take to expand to fill the space. I trusted my decision, and I’m proud to say that as of the first of this month, we have doubled the size of our Orlando office.
3. Trust but validate: As CEO, employees often tell you what they think you want to hear. While I trust my employees, I still check behind the scenes to confirm we operate with our eyes wide open. I do this by pressure-testing the business, such as calling clients direct, listening to support calls, going to client visits, or rotating through our product experience.
4. Everyone is in sales: Associates across Alegeus understand that revenue supports the business. Regardless of the specific role, we are all here to service our customers and do it exceptionally well. When clients are happy, revenue flows.
5. Blur the lines of business and family: Being the CEO of a growing company, I get to know every employee on a personal level. It feels like I have adopted a family. These relationships help build trust and loyalty amongst the Alegeus family and it gives me a deepened level of empathy and understanding
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this :-)
Hands-down, Richard Branson. I admire his fascinating career as a successful risk-taker with numerous marquee brands and even some unsuccessful ones. He is not only a great business person but also a great human being. He understands marketing, sales and entrepreneurism, and he has the confidence to create amazing brands and experiences.