Episode 132 – Unstoppable CICOA CEO with Tauhric Brown

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CICOA? “What”, you may ask, “is CICOA”? Stay tuned.

When I lived in Marin County in Northern California, I had the honor to be asked and chosen to be on the board of directors for an organization called The Marin Senior Coordinating Council, aka Whistlestop Wheels. During my tenure on the board, I learned a great deal about seniors, senior living and what was at that time called “the silver tsunami” or the upcoming influx of seniors as our population grows older.

This episode gives you and me the opportunity to meet Tauhric Brown, president and CEO of CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions. I got to meet Tauhric through accessiBe as his agency has chosen to use our company’s products to make its website more inclusive for all. Tauhric will describe for us not only what CICOA does, but he will delve a great deal into some of the issues our aging population faces and how his and other similar Indiana agencies are doing to assist and enhance living for our senior population.

You will learn much about the growing crisis concerning seniors in our world. Tauhric will also discuss things we all can do to help promote better and more active lives for seniors including recognizing that even as people age they should not and do not lose value in our workforce.

By the way, Tauhric also tells us that he and Cicoa staff receive regular positive feedback about how accessiBe makes for a better website experience for all. I hope you will find this episode informative, inspiring, and relevant to you and everyone you know.

About the Guest:

Tauhric Brown, president and CEO of CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions, uses his strategic vision and experience in the elderly and disability service industry to expand CICOA services and collaborative partnerships to better meet the needs of these vulnerable populations.
Before joining CICOA in 2020, Brown served as the chief operating officer for Senior Services, Inc. in Kalamazoo, Mich., and he formerly held positions as an owner/operator for a multi-carrier wireless retail company and in the U.S. Army. Inspired by his family and upbringing, he made the switch to the nonprofit world to fulfill his dream of improving the lives of others.
Brown holds a master’s degree in management and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Colorado Technical University in Colorado Springs, Colo. In his spare time, he enjoys playing golf and watching University of North Carolina basketball. He and his wife, Laura, collectively are the parents of six adult children and have three grandchildren.

Ways to connect with Tauhric:

Facebook: @CICOAIndiana


LinkedIn: CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions

(20+) Tauhric Brown | Facebook


About the Host:
Michael Hingson is a New York Times best-selling author, international lecturer, and Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe. Michael, blind since birth, survived the 9/11 attacks with the help of his guide dog Roselle. This story is the subject of his best-selling book, Thunder Dog.

Michael gives over 100 presentations around the world each year speaking to influential groups such as Exxon Mobile, AT&T, Federal Express, Scripps College, Rutgers University, Children’s Hospital, and the American Red Cross just to name a few. He is Ambassador for the National Braille Literacy Campaign for the National Federation of the Blind and also serves as Ambassador for the American Humane Association’s 2012 Hero Dog Awards.


accessiBe Links
https://www.linkedin.com/company/accessibe/mycompany/ https://www.facebook.com/accessibe/

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Transcription Notes

Michael Hingson  00:00
Access Cast and accessiBe Initiative presents Unstoppable Mindset. The podcast where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. Hi, I’m Michael Hingson, Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe and the author of the number one New York Times bestselling book, Thunder dog, the story of a blind man, his guide dog and the triumph of trust. Thanks for joining me on my podcast as we explore our own blinding fears of inclusion unacceptance and our resistance to change. We will discover the idea that no matter the situation, or the people we encounter, our own fears, and prejudices often are our strongest barriers to moving forward. The unstoppable mindset podcast is sponsored by accessiBe, that’s a c c e s s i  capital B e. Visit www.accessibe.com to learn how you can make your website accessible for persons with disabilities. And to help make the internet fully inclusive by the year 2025. Glad you dropped by we’re happy to meet you and to have you here with us.
Michael Hingson  01:16
Well, hi, everyone. Welcome to another episode of unstoppable mindset and to day, we get to talk with Tauhric Brown, who is the CEO of CICOA aging. I get it right yet. Aging and in home services. And there’s a lot to go over with that and we will get to it. And and tar Tauhric . Tauhric also has a great sense of humor. And he’ll yell at me for not necessarily pronouncing his name right. But that’s okay. Because it’s fair if he does that, but I agree with him. Geez, you can call him anything just not late for dinner me the same way. Right. So welcome to unstoppable mindset.
Tauhric Brown  02:12
Thank you so much, Mike. It’s a pleasure to be here with you and your audience.
Michael Hingson  02:17
Well, we’re glad you’re here. And so now I have to ask right from the outset. The CICOA, what does that mean?
Tauhric Brown  02:27
What a great question. So when we first started, so CICOA actually was it stood for Central Indiana Council on Aging. And as our agency has evolved, and the city or the central Indiana Council on Aging was no longer an item we kept sicko of, because there’s some brand equity in that. But we added aging and homes solutions behind CICOA. Yes, sir. It’s CICOA. actions is our actual name.
Michael Hingson  03:04
Right? So it’s your right the brand, although I’m I’m sure a lot of people won’t necessarily remember that. But nevertheless, you get the brand and, and it also gives you a name that people can ask about.
Tauhric Brown  03:23
Absolutely. To talk a little more about our agency, if you don’t mind, I’d love to tell the audience a little bit about who we are, how we were founded and what we do.
Michael Hingson  03:35
I’d love to do that. And I’d also love you to spend some time just telling us about you. But let’s start with the agency. And we’ll go from there.
Tauhric Brown  03:43
Very good. I always like to start with the agency. I’m not a person that oftentimes likes to talk about myself. I get a little embarrassed about that. But we’ll talk about me specifically. But our agency is a national or a nonprofit social service organization. And we’re based in Indianapolis. We were formed from a piece of legislation that President Lyndon Johnson signed in 1965 called the Older Americans Act. And what the Older Americans Act as it created did is created a framework that every county in the United States would have a planning and service agency that is developing provisioning and even delivering services in the homes of older adults that are designed to keep them living independently for as long as possible. It also provided appropriation to certain emerging needs of older adults things like nutritious meals, meal sites, transportation, face management and some other organizations. We are one of 15 Area Agencies on Aging here in Indiana. There used to be 16 of them. But But several years ago, one of the organizations combined with another area agency on aging. So that’s how you get 15 Different agencies, but 16 planning and service areas. We at sicko were founded in 1974. And we’ll be turning 50 years of age next January, which is very exciting, a little about what we do. We care for older adults and people with disabilities, again, by providing solutions, answers and services that are designed to keep them living independently. We know that about 90% of our community members want to stay in their own environment as they age, but many of them are uncertain whether their resources will hold up, or whether their health will hold out. And so, you know, our role as a convener and connecting agency is really all about putting those individuals in the best scenarios that will allow them to age in place for as long as possible. When you have the services. I’m sorry, go ahead. Go ahead. Go ahead. Yes, so some of you know some of those additional services that I maybe didn’t mention. Initially, our case management information and referral is one of the the, we call that the front door or accessed to our service areas or our services, senior meals. As I mentioned, transportation other one that I did mention home repairs and mind modifications and caregiver supports. And so we currently are doing those services through funding through our older Americans act, as I mentioned, through the Medicaid aged and disabled waiver program, through several social security block grants, the state funded Choice Program. And of course, our Sequoia foundation is our philanthropic arm that is consistently out trying to find other opportunities for us to better serve our older Hoosiers. We’ve gotten into some non traditional funding opportunities, though, since my arrival and prior to my arrival. And some of those non traditional funding partnerships exist with health insurance companies, with programs of all inclusive care for the elderly programs, affectionately known as pace. We’ve got a few hospital based contracts, we’re generating revenue with individuals who have the financial means and ability to pay for a quality service. And then we’ve got a great innovation and data and research department that is creating social enterprise concepts to help us better diversify our revenue and provide more opportunities and solutions for other community based organizations like us.
Michael Hingson  08:24
So you have clearly become well versed and are able to talk about all this, how long have you been involved with the CICOA?
Tauhric Brown  08:37
Yeah, so I began my tenure here as the president and CEO, January 6 of 2020. But I had spent the prior eight years in Michigan working for a senior and disabled service provider called Senior Services. So I’ve been in the industry and in this space, almost 11 years now, but I’ve been here it’s CICOA. Only a little over three years,
Michael Hingson  09:07
when you talk about it very well, needless to say, and, and I appreciate I appreciate the really in depth description of of what the agency does. I was on the board of an organization when I lived up in the Marin County Area in California called whistle stop, which later changed its name to VIV Alon, and I’ve never understood why they did that. They did that after I left but they left the brand behind was also the Murrin senior Coordinating Council. whistlestop was an agency that provided among other things, paratransit and so on, but that was a well known name and they just completely abandoned it’s I never did figure out why they did that. But hey, whatever. Everyone has their ways to go. Well tell us a little bit more about us. Since I brought it up, starting out and so on, where are you from originally? And all those kinds of things?
Tauhric Brown  10:07
Yes. So originally, I’m from Atlanta, Georgia, when I was around seven years old, so my mom’s entire career she spent in big farm. And we shoot, we were living in Atlanta. And she got a call from pharmacy up, John, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. And that’s what took us from Atlanta, Georgia, to Kalamazoo, Michigan. At the tender age of seven, I was seven, my sister was eight. And what I really looked forward to Mike was every summer, Mama would always send my sister and I back to Atlanta, to spend six, six and a half, seven weeks with our grandmother, who happens that my oldest aunt Eunice was born disabled, so she lived with our grand life. So when people talk to me about they asked me, Tarik, where does your passion for older adults and people with disabilities come from? It started there. But right, I didn’t know that’s what was happening at that young age. But the lessons learned and the things that, you know, that I got to listen to was just fascinated by the conversations my grandmother would have with her friends and other family members. She ran the family from her recliner mic, let me tell you, she, she would sit there and direct all the aunts and uncles and the cousins and nephews and on what they needed to do and how they needed to do it. So. So I’d like to think that that passion really started in me at a very young age. When I graduated high school, I took a different path than most people do. Most of my peers ended up going straight to college, and, you know, starting their careers, four years or so after that, I went into the United States Army and served on active duty for the initial nine and a half years, or first nine and a half years when I got out of the military, or when I got out of high school. And so you know, I was a young kid, 19 years old, was married and had a son and no marketable skills. And so, you know, I really needed to find a way to provide for my family. And I had all known that, you know, I had several uncles, my grandfather served in the military. So there was that deep history of serving in our Armed Forces that I got from them. So you know, joined the United States Army right out of high school, and then kind of got my college schooling done through online platforms, and things like that throughout that nine and a half years. And so, you know, once I transitioned out of the military, the first job, I’ll say the first real job I had was in retail, and I worked in the wireless industry for several years. I owned a Verizon dealership for nine of the 15 years that I was in the wireless retail industry, and had a lot of fun, interacting with consumers selling you know, things. But I got to a point around 2010, where I thought, you know, God probably put me here to do things a little more impactful. And I started looking for perhaps some opportunities that really got to my passion of older adults and people with disabilities. And so that really is what took me from the retail world into the not for profit sector back in 2012. As I said, I moved into my role here at Sokoto a couple of months before. COVID hit us before we went through the global pandemic. And, you know, prior to departing Michigan, you know, I had served in capacities at Senior Services as a business development director, Chief Operating Officer, it was a period of time where I was kind of straddling as interim CEO and COO while the board was looking, you know, for the CEOs replacement. So it was a great time that I spent there, but I have loved being here in Indianapolis, and leading this high functioning organization known as sicko. It has been a true pleasure and honor to serve these individuals that I get to work with every day for the betterment of the consumers that we serve in our communities. I married to my lovely wife, Laura and Laura and I were highschool sweethearts, but we didn’t marry right out of high school. So Lauren, I reconnected. It’s probably been about 14 years ago now, and have been married now for 12. So we have a blended family. So there’s six total adult children, three grandchildren with the most recent one being born last New Year’s Eve, so little Emery just turned a little turn one years old, the end of December of last year, and it’s just doing really well. So that’s a little about me.
Michael Hingson  15:41
Well, you went to the military right out of school. Where did you serve? Was it mainly in the US? Or did they send you to other places to see the world?
Tauhric Brown  15:55
Yeah, I actually did. My first duty station was Stuttgart, Germany. So I was stationed in Germany from 90 to 93. And for those who may recall, that was the period where the first Desert Storm, yeah, conflict kicked off. And so I was in Germany when that happened. And then in 93, I came back to the States, and I was stationed in Maryland, at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland for three years. And then in 96, I ended up going to the Middle East, I got to spend a year in Doha, Qatar, when I think that was an interesting role. And it was an interesting environment. And it’s because my name is Arabic. They pronounce it their todich. And so they thought I was initially Middle Eastern, when they would hear my name. And so it was a really interesting experience. And I got to meet a lot of great folks. And then I came back stateside for that last year and a half, and I was stationed in Lansing, Michigan, at the Great Lakes recruiting battalion, I was kind of the personnel Sergeant overseeing 52, recruiting stations, again, I got the to have that tough job of assigning new recruiters coming in to our command to the one of the 52 stations. And then also, you know, ensuring that those who were coming off of that recruiting duty getting them successfully back to their next duty station in what we used to call mainstream army, right, because recruiting was one of those roles were the goal of the that that arm is really to drive more, more enrollments, more individuals in the service, but it wasn’t permanent. Most recruiters would serve a two to three year run before they would go back into their primary Military Occupational Specialty to do work there.
Michael Hingson  18:03
Well, you served the US Senate, I think nine and a half years in the military, that clearly was different than a lot of people did, or have done. And then you came back and you went off and did other other kinds of things. Do you think that your military experience in your career helped you? And how do you think that has benefited you? And, and and address your attitudes about life going forward?
Tauhric Brown  18:31
Yeah, I would say absolutely. Mike, it has a significant impact on who I am. You know, the first thing that the military put in me was structure and discipline. And then, you know, the next lessons learned that I’ve carried with me for forever, were the, you know, the way to lead people leading from the front. So the military taught me leadership, but it taught me leadership from the lens of leading from the front, which is to say, I’m never going to ask somebody to do something that I’m not willing to roll my sleeves up and do myself. That has helped me tremendously throughout my career in various positions and roles that I have had. But the military absolutely had a tremendous amount to do with who I am and how I go about my day to day you know, weekly, bi weekly, monthly, etc.
Michael Hingson  19:38
That is pretty cool. It’s it’s interesting. I come to the same philosophy but from a different point, as I think about it and listening to you and that is that for me, I also don’t think I should expect people to do things that I haven’t done and I shouldn’t expect people to do a job that I’m not willing to do. For me, though, it wasn’t the military that that brought that around to my point of view, because I didn’t ever get to serve in the military, but rather, for me, it’s, I won’t know about the other jobs unless I perform them, I’m not going to see other people doing. And so I don’t get a lot of that information. And being a curious soul. For me, it’s always been, I got to do it, so that I know about it, because I can’t talk intelligently to other people about what they’re doing, and so on. Unless I understand it, I won’t understand it unless I do it personally. And that has led me to the same philosophy that you have. And I am a firm believer in the fact that people should not undertake a job. Or they shouldn’t be telling other people about jobs that they haven’t experienced in some way themselves, because it’s the only way to gain empathy.
Tauhric Brown  20:56
That’s right, that’s 100%. Correct.
Michael Hingson  21:00
And I think it’s just the only way to do it. It’s why it makes it really fun when people and I have conversations about blindness and so on, one of the things that I get to say is, well, you know, you talk about it, but you’ve never tried it. So I understand that most people won’t, necessarily, but don’t judge what you haven’t tried or that you really don’t know about. And that, of course, is a challenge and a subject that we all get to deal with. And now of course, we’re talking with you about aging, and so on. And aging as we grow in population, but as we grow closer because of communications. And because we have such a big baby boomer era, aging is definitely more of something that’s on our mind. So you being in that that whole world. Tell us a little bit more about how you think that the whole concept of aging is kind of changing how our landscape is changing, not only here in the US, but globally. Yeah,
Tauhric Brown  22:09
no, and that’s a great question. So I’ll start out by throwing a few facts out there that people may not realize, are baby boom generation, right? It’s a global phenomenon. And closer to home every single day, 10,000 people in the United States turn 65 years of age. Next year in 2024, every member of the baby boom generation will be at least 60 years old. And by 2030, every member of the baby boom generation, least 65. This is what the industry is known as in what we call as the silver tsunami, which is basically idle wave. Yeah, the tidal wave of older adults. In 2030, there’ll be more people in America over the age of 65, than children under the age of 15. And so where does that bring us? Well, it brings us to a point of change, development, strategic thinking has to be done. And so after I had been here a year, I sat down and I wrote out a 20 year vision, a vision of where I saw our organization being able to be 31, December 2041, close of business. And much of much of this design work, Mike really was about things in our control. In other words, it wouldn’t be realistic, right to develop such a lofty plan, taking into consideration and focusing only on external factors, because external factors, as we all know, change so often. But what you can do is develop that vision and plan predicated on what’s in your control as an organization, what you can modify and maintain inside your walls. And so that 20 year vision really is to envision the COA serving as a model for manage long term services and support, launching research initiatives to give us more data that will help us make more and better business decisions based on what the data is telling us. And then finally, it’s about using innovation as a catalyst for success, and I always like to say the future will be about filling voids. In addition to connecting people to resources, the more and met needs we discover and the more services and products we can provide to get at those unmet needs, the more clients we know will gravitate to us and stick to us. Right I remember when I was in retail, I always used to say to my sales teams, don’t just sell the phone, sell the the don’t just sell the handset, sell the handset, some accessories, and some other items that will help this consumer be sticky to this product and only this product in the world we operate in here at Sekolah. It’s the same mindset, right? We know that if we can bring more solutions to the table, that we have a great chance of not only improving quality and quantity of life for the people we serve. But we also know that it makes it makes us a koa a stickier organization for them as a customer, the more items that you can address for a person, the longer they’re going to stay with you, they’re going to be loyal to you. And that is extremely key in the work that we do.
Michael Hingson  26:17
So what creates loyalty for sekolah? You’re you’re in a different environment than a profit making company where you’re selling physical items as such, but you’re still looking for loyalty. What is it that’s going to keep people loyal to sekolah? Or to any request or to any agency for that matter?
Tauhric Brown  26:41
I think in the work and the work that we do, Mike, it’s really about having a great pulse of the of your satisfaction with the populations you serve. In other words, is that customer service? Top notch Are you doing your best at at making that environment, easy for a customer to navigate the work that we do and the systems that we work in gaining access, sometimes to services or connecting with the right entity is a challenge and a struggle sometimes for boats. And so if you can reduce and eliminate that struggle or challenge, that is a way to make an individual more loyal to your agency. And then in addition to that, it’s connecting them, maybe there are things that we don’t necessarily offer or provide. But we have a connection, we’ve got a partner that does do that kind of work. And so it’s connecting that individual to the additional collaborative partner that you’ve got to help them address the need that they that they have. And that needs to be addressed. So I think it really starts with developing and delivering a great customer service experience, one that as that client saying, you know, sekolah really provided a wow, customer experience for me, they’ve been able to provide me with so many solutions and answers and services that have kept me living in my home for as long as possible. So that’s really what it looks like for me when I say how do you make that consumer loyal to you. And then you know, you hope that over time you start to believe or you start to develop more connections from those interactions you have with customers. In other words, we see clients who’ve had a great experience telling a few of their friends about that experience. And then before long, we’ve got those folks reaching in and leaning into us for that trusted and dependable guidance, solutions, answers and provisioning of services so that they can remain independently at home as well.
Michael Hingson  29:16
How many people do you serve today? So
Tauhric Brown  29:20
we we are interacting with roughly I’ll say on any given year, we probably have contact with about 30,000 Plus community members. And that and that could be a host of different things, Mike, it might be an information and referral call where someone might have needed access to a resource in the community but didn’t know where to turn to get access to it. It might be these are consumers that are direct recipients of services that we have provisioned with a a subgrantee partner or it’s a service we You provide directly. And so that’s how we go about that piece of our agency and business.
Michael Hingson  30:09
You know, it’s interesting, listening to you and thinking about all of this, the world’s changing, you know, we’re getting a lot more technology and medical sciences, doing so much to help people and make people more durable and help people live longer, and so on. What, how are the priorities that are seeing your population changing? I’m sure that it’s different now in terms of what people want, or what they’re they’re doing or capable of doing, than it was 20 and 30 years ago, and that also is going to evolve. So how are the priorities changing?
Tauhric Brown  30:52
Yeah, I think the priorities are, are changing both inside our environment, and outside our environment, right. And I’ll start with inside the environment, things are changing inside the environment, where as an organization, we have to teach each other how to do more with less. In other words, what that means is an organization like ours, I mentioned earlier, we have many of our revenue streams are state and federal resources. And so while those state and federal resources, they do increase a little bit year over year, sometimes though, it is not enough to meet that consumer demand. And so we have to teach ourselves how to do more with less building and redundancies into our roles, cross training our staff to be able to handle not just the things that they’re used to doing day in and day out. But really getting them to embrace that mindset of we must be able to cross train across functions, so that in the event, someone needs help, we can tap you on the shoulder and say, Hey, we need your help here. So internally, things are changing quite rapidly in that space. And then externally, it really is more about the changing in the systems that we operate in. One great example that I’ll talk about is here in Indiana, our Medicaid waiver program is not a two day a managed care program. It is a fee for service model. But Indiana has designed a Medicaid long term services and supports managed care program that we’ll implement middle of next year calendar year 2024. And so that that shifts that change from a fee for service model to a managed care model creates significant shifts in how our work will be done, and what our role will be. And so you have to have vision on the external environment, and what’s happening there. And as long as your internal environment aligns to those changes and shifts that are externally happening around you, you should be able to be a trusted and continued resource for funders, external stakeholders and consumers that you’re serving, as well as keeping your staff thriving and happy in doing the work that they do for the community members. We have a ability to serve day in and day out.
Michael Hingson  33:53
Sure, but briefly, so what is the difference between case management model and a fee for service model? So how, how is all that going to change?
Tauhric Brown  34:04
Yeah, so a fee for service model with a Medicaid waiver program. It generally means this, the state is the overseer of that program. And there aren’t necessarily paths in spending for services that the state is is looking at, in a managed care environment for Medicaid. In a managed care model, it is a capitated model. So that means that there will be a cap on the amount of resource that a member can utilize or can have in services each and every month. It also means that the state is shifting the risk from the state State of Indiana, two health insurance or health plans, managed care organizations. And so the managed care organization arm, the org the entities that are at risk for adjusting or more I’ll say monitoring and auditing the spend for these members to ensure that members are not receiving more services than what that per member per month monthly allocation is. And so that’s really the primary differences in a Medicaid fee for service product and a Medicaid managed care product. Okay, it’s about risk shifting. And it’s about oversight.
Michael Hingson  35:48
To does that mean that services in one sense might decline or become less because now, less funds will be available to spend, or any given individual?
Tauhric Brown  36:02
So I would say I don’t know that I would coin it exactly that way. Mike, I think the way that I would explain that it is with capitation in place, and understanding that, you know, you can’t go above that and be reimbursed by a funding source. So in a fee for service model, you can be reimbursed no matter what level of service that you provide, right a managed care environment, you can go over that capitated amount. But understand there aren’t additional reimbursements coming into that managed care organization to offset those extra services that are being rendered. So I say that to say, there could be some scenarios where a member or a participant, their service plan exceeds that per member per month rate, they’re going to be some of those very high cost high acuity consumers, they’re gonna be those very low cost consumers in a managed care environment, what you’re really trying to do is making sure that the majority of your Census is within that capitated amount, so that you’re not absorbing more financial risks as a as an insurance company. So the best way to answer your question is, could there be services that might be reduced? That’s a possibility. But we don’t know that to be 100%. Accurate. And then we also know that there could be some scenarios where an individual service plan is much more costly than what that per member per month allocation is.
Michael Hingson  37:59
What do you do in those cases? So what well, what what what does what does somebody do in those cases?
Tauhric Brown  38:08
Yeah, the in that scenario, Mike, the health plan or the managed care organization is at risk, they have to cover that amount. Okay, what has to cover that amount and not expect any additional resources from the state to reimburse those agencies delivering those services in the home.
Michael Hingson  38:30
And what I was really getting at it was was kind of that very thing. So now the insurance industry is going to have to recommend recognize they don’t have a blank tech check to just charge whatever they want, which means that they need to be a little bit more responsible, perhaps in terms of figuring out what, what they’re going to charge and how that’s going to work. So it’s making it a little bit more of a maybe responsible or responsive process.
Tauhric Brown  39:02
It absolutely does. And, you know, for me, Mike, what’s really been interesting and eye opening for me is I’ve been through a managed care implementation in Michigan. So when I first came here to Indiana, managed care was not, excuse me manage care in this program. Hadn’t been talked about a whole lot. We started hearing about it in December of 2020. And so for me, I like to think I had a little more of a unique perspective into what might be happening or what that design might look like here because of that lived experience in Michigan.
Michael Hingson  39:45
Yeah, experience always helps. No question about that. No question. I want to come back a little bit to something I asked about earlier talking about priorities. The whole system but for seeing years for the aging population? How are their demands and priorities changing? And by that, I mean, I understand that people want to stay in their home as long as possible, and so on. But our people as they’re getting older, wanting to, for example, stay in the workforce, do other kinds of active things be contributors, as opposed to just being at home? And how do you help companies, for example, recognize that there really is a lot of value in people who have a lot of experience rather than just always trying to get the young person because you can pay them less, but you then lose all the tribal knowledge, if you will, an experience that a more senior or aging population might bring to what they do.
Tauhric Brown  40:53
Yeah, no, that’s a great question. workforce is always near and dear to my heart, particularly with our older adults. And so you know, for me, I, I’ve been intentional, we at succo have been intentional about developing great relationships with workforce development partners, who are out there kind of working on behalf of individuals, maybe 55. And better to get them back to work. And what I’ve always said is, listen, our older adults have a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience, that we certainly want to continue to be a part of learning and growing with them. Sometimes we’ve got individuals who are, you know, been through that first career but still have some desire in the pepper to, to really continue to work and we find value in employing them at Sekolah. We have some individuals who have retired and have taken more of a volunteer role with the CICOA as either a community member or a committee member board member, volunteers that are consistently helping with telephone reassurance calls to other older adults to check on them. So from my perspective, I always like to preach, hire older, older adults hire those individuals who have the knowledge, expertise, and that passion still burning within them. Gotta hire those folks and keep them striving and working. Because that institutional knowledge and what they bring to the table, Mike, you can’t put a price on. So I encourage other leaders in my space in the nonprofit space and in the for profit sector. So really focus more intentionally on developing some great relationships with workforce development partners, who are seeking to replace older adults that are still out here looking for jobs. I think one of the things that, you know, that I constantly think about in that space is, you know, we we do what we call a community assessment survey of older adults every four years. And on the most recent one that concluded last year, one of the key findings was that older adults, by and large, still feel that they have a ton to contribute in the workforce, but they feel that they’re underemployed or unemployed. And so though, that that tells thought leaders like myself and others, we can address that we can make that situation a little bit better by being more intentional, and being having the courage to offer that position to someone who may not be young or someone who might have a ton of experience for those roles that they have an interest in applying for and working in, in our respective agencies.
Michael Hingson  44:15
And again, isn’t the number of people who fit into that category going to do nothing but increase because we’re helping to keep people healthier, longer, thriving actively longer. And through organizations somewhat at least like AARP, talking consistently about that, although AARP hasn’t done a lot it seems to me with disabilities, whether they’re disabilities with people who have had them for a long time, or who are seeing their bodies change in one way or another, but nevertheless, in General Medical Sciences working to keep people working and air well Active longer and so on, which means that the number of people who are going to fit into this category is going to grow.
Tauhric Brown  45:06
That’s right. That’s right. There will be a, I’ll say there won’t be a shortage of talent, Mike. And US leaders have to do our jobs and have the courage to put those individuals to work, get them back in that workforce, providing and sharing of their times and talents.
Michael Hingson  45:27
How do we do that? How do we get companies, especially with lots of young people to recognize the value that experience brings? Because so often, it seems to me, we tend to forget that we forget that it isn’t just about what the innovators at a younger age know. But the experience that more of our aging population, bring the can stabilize and help enhance the organization? How do we get people to understand that?
Tauhric Brown  46:02
Yeah, I think, elevate our voices and continue to do that work. You know, there’s, there’s this whole that I used to say, education and awareness, and I still use that terminology today, I find the more organizations, the more people hear it, the more it becomes committed to memory. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned through all my travels, it’s that the average person has to hear something at least five times before it’s committed to memory. And so it’s not just to say at once, Mike, but to continue to reinforce that message, utilizing the various communication vehicles that you have at your disposal. It could be email, it could be a video, it could be a phone call, but it’s to continue to pepper our communities with knowledge so that they’re very aware that there is this population out here that continues to have a lot to give, and that we should really be connecting with those kinds of organizations like AARP or others, that are helping place individuals into the workforce or back into the workforce. And being intentional about that. Right. It’s, it’s, it’s really continue to reinforce the message. But ultimately, Mike, as as leaders, we have to say, I am going to be intentional, my organization is going to be intentional about this particular thing. And so you know, that it’s, it may sound simple, it’s not an easy task, because it’s just it’s that consistent reinforcement that oftentimes people forget about,
Michael Hingson  47:55
well, emotionally, we have to change our mindset. You know, we’re used to the image of people get older, and they just sit around because they can’t do anything. And we’ve got to change our emotional mindset to recognize that isn’t the way it is anymore. And it’s been changing right along.
Tauhric Brown  48:15
Well, and I and I started out, you know, when we started this podcast, I said, I used to watch my grandma run the family from her recliner, let let let me say she was doing that at 90. Okay, so this is not, you know, so So to your point, Mike up. Yeah, I mean, people still have that passion and desire. You’re talking to someone who watched a 90 year old woman, run the family from her recliner. So it’s very true what you say that, that the folks out there do still have a lot to give. But again, I always go back to organizations and leaders have to say we are intentional about this. And not just say it but do it.
Michael Hingson  49:05
Tell me about the the venture studio at Sequoia in terms of how it’s dealing with business problems and so on.
Tauhric Brown  49:14
Yeah, I’m not thank you for that question. So our venture studio Oh,
Michael Hingson  49:17
that’s just because you gave it to me?
Tauhric Brown  49:23
No, I bet your studio, our venture studio really was created to build scalable revenue generating hitting enterprises. But the way we do this is we have a vice president of innovation, who’s walking alongside staff members, we call those staff members enterpreneurs, not entrepreneurs. Intrapreneurs. And what happens is that intrapreneur will approach Jonathan and talk through a concept that they have and that concept we want it to be The aligned to succos mission right, providing those needed answers solutions innovations to older adults in the communities we serve. And so Jonathan walks alongside those staff members and collaborates partners to ideate. prototype and launch these new solutions to better meet the needs of the vulnerable populations we serve. It allows us to leverage that 50 plus years of experience in the elderly and disability services industry with today’s vision to design and build the future of home and community based care. And so we’re designing these products and services buy in for not typically represented by venture capital initiatives. We have a few companies in our portfolio. The first one that I’ll share and talk about is do wet. Do wet is a for profit. SAS company, it is a subscription service as a subscription. Tech spin off that has created a platform for connecting clients with home health care agencies, home care aides and nurses. It provides the fastest way for care coordinators and care managers to identify providers that can take a new care plan. It’s the easiest way for providers to grow their business big, because there’s some data. There’s some business intelligence as part of that platform that a homecare agency might decide, you know, based on the number of referrals in this zip code, we want to expand into that zip code. So they have great opportunity to grow their business. And it’s the best way for individual clients to choose who they want to provide care in their homes. In 2021, duet received an aging Achievement Award from us aging, which is the National Trade Association mission that the area agencies on aging across the country belong to. The second venture that we created and launched is called post book. And post book is our newest product that launched November 16, of 2022. And what this says is it’s a postcard exchange with writing prompts. And at the end of the years writing, you have a keepsake journal that you can put on your bookshelf for generations to look at family members to see, etc. Post book was created by one of our staff members again, one of those intrapreneurs at the start of COVID. When all the schools shut down and businesses closed, and people were working remotely, one of our leaders, that’s Nicola was trying to find something to fill the time of her kids when they were out of school. And so what she had them start doing was she had them start writing postcards to grandma and grandpa in Pennsylvania, grandma and grandpa would then send, you know, write back and send it back to them. And the entrepreneur had an aha moment. What if we created and designed a product where we wrote the prompts, it’s a beautiful sunny day outside, write to your pen pal about what what you’re feeling today, or how that makes you feel, and send that postcard off. And so post book was born out of that interaction. So just a very cool story of how post books started or how it came to be. And then the Coming Soon, is Twain health. And Twain health will be our second SAS product. And what tween health is, is it’s a closed loop referral platform that is really designed to integrate clinical care and social care entities so that you can ensure on discharge from hospital or from physician’s office or, you know, rehab facility, that when that individual goes back home, not only are there medically needed clinical services in place, but also those social determinants of health services are in place as well. So we’re really excited about this product also.
Michael Hingson  54:33
Are any of these programs, hiring people in the aging population to run coordinate or be involved with them? Are they are they also serving as mechanisms for employing seniors? They are
Tauhric Brown  54:50
serving as mechanisms for employment, but not at this particular point, Mike, so I’ll say that as post book is a very new Who company do what has it sits on the outside of sekolah. So it has its own CEO and its own staff, that team is hiring individuals to work. Some of them may be older, older individuals, some may be younger. Post book really is not we don’t have specific employees in that entity just yet. We’re trying to scale it up a little bit more through some business to business sales opportunities we have before building out our cadre of staff that will be working directly in post book. And then Twain health hasn’t even launched yet. It is something that will most likely be legally formed by the end of this month, and ready to launch, I’d say early April. And so again, that the same kind of thing, we really want to have some, some pre sale, I’ll say pre pre sales success before launching so that as we begin to hire staff to begin having conversations with potential business to business suitors of this brought up, that we can have squarely in mind, we want to offer these kinds of opportunities to all agents, not just to this population or that population to all ages. But yes, one of our interest is and our older adults, absolutely
Michael Hingson  56:40
any opportunities down the line as you’re expanding and progressing to actually explore creating services and mechanisms to truly bring more of the aging population, to into the workforce to to actually create jobs or go out and seek lots of jobs?
Tauhric Brown  57:06
Yeah, I think I think you know, what you’re referring to is we’re doing quite a bit in that space of creating some stronger communities through effective outreach and things of that nature. I think, you know, you can’t I’ll start out by saying, you know, we can’t access what we don’t know, right. So there’s a lot of information out there that we’re really trying to pull together. And I always love to look at the data. And as I shared with you, Mike, the data indicates that, you know, from from a more recent survey done of our older adult population, that many older adults are, are interested in still working and and you know, being in the workforce. And so I think making yourself available as an organization that really is out there leading the charge, leading from the front, letting individuals know, right, having relationships with senior centers, again, with any kind of organization that is moving down that road of employing older adults, or employing individuals with disabilities, because that’s another area that we have an interest in our workforce, just so you’re aware, we do have a large percentage of our workforce are considered or our age 55 and above. So that’s a great thing to be in the space that we’re in and have a workforce that that’s got a nice percentage of individuals that I would consider, you know, our older population or older workforce. But but but that, that that’s not enough, you have to continue to do that work and continue, as I said, being intentional about wanting to to be in a position to hire our older adults and people with disabilities in our workforce. So I think the things that organizations have really got to start thinking about is is your organ or is your physical location, is it isn’t it accessible? Right? Because that that will determine how much interest you garner from those populations. So are you assessable you know, does does the environment meet ADA standards, all those things have to be looked at and checked into before you can really do your level best of re employing or employing people in your organization. It’s going to be very difficult to do that kind of work. If a company is not ATA compliant or they’re not viewed as accessible by the populations that you’re trying to reach. Bruton higher, I think with us having great relationships and faith based communities is a great recruiter recruiting, stream or angle, if you will, to help hire, I’ll say our older populations for working. And so we we’ve gotten great relationships with some wonderful faith based partners, that that help us in that space. I think where we recruit, or where we put our openings has expanded quite a lot. In the last three years, I remember when I first started the the primary place where we would post our jobs would be indeed, and now we’ve seen that expand to multiple vehicles, right, that do by and large talk to different segments of our populations. So that we are again, able to receive talent across the spectrum, and not just from one source that we might have posted open roles in before.
Michael Hingson  1:01:09
Yeah, and it’s, it’s an ever expanding world. And, you know, one of the things I was just thinking is that GNP interesting to start offering a service that seniors could fill, the service would be as consultants to help companies determine and how accessible or what they need to do to create more accessibility or inclusive and welcoming environments, that’d be a good thing to do full idea, Mike,
Tauhric Brown  1:01:38
I thought about that, thank you for giving that one to me, I’m writing that one down,
Michael Hingson  1:01:43
it’s yours. And it just seems like it would be interesting, you know, to bring people in and create a mechanism. And it could be a way to bring some money to, to pay people but also into the organization to actually consult and get the experts that is the people who deal with it every day to to be able to go in and look at companies if and I would think that we’re seeing a growing population of companies who also do care about access and accessibility. There are lots that don’t, which is part of what we have to deal with. But I would think that it is a growing population. And if you created an environment and that kind of have a class of people and a kind of a mechanism in the agency to do that, that might be a really exciting thing that could be very visible and very helpful all around.
Tauhric Brown  1:02:37
I agree with you. And that’s why I say I love that you said that I wrote that down.
Michael Hingson  1:02:44
Well, we’ve been doing this a while but there is one more question. Probably the most probing question of the day and you’re going to have to answer it. You all like University of North Carolina basketball, and I haven’t heard you once say that you live in North Carolina lower lived in North Carolina. So let’s get to the meat of that.
Tauhric Brown  1:03:04
So yes, I am a tried and true love my Tar Heel. Yeah. The love started when I was I think I might have been nine or 10 years old. And I was watching a basketball game. And I and I always say the first thing that caught my eye was the baby blue colored uniforms that that was the first thing that caught my eye. But what I really gravitated to was this four corners offense that coach Dean Smith, right. He’s the long standing coach of the Tar Heels that he was running back then in the 80s and early 90s. And so I started watching North Carolina then and never stopped. I watched them through the Michael Jordan era, the James worthy era. But after I graduated high school, and right before I left to go to the military, my mother did leave Kalamazoo, Michigan right after, right after high school, and she relocated initially to Greenville, North Carolina. So there was about a two year period a year year and a half period where I did physically live in Greenville, North Carolina with my mom. And then of course when I would come home on leave from overseas, I would always go to North Carolina to see her. So while I’m not from there while I didn’t attend that university, I have always loved watching the North Carolina Tar Heels. They’re not having a great year this year, but but there’s still my team out there you
Michael Hingson  1:04:50
can and should be. I my favorite my favorite North Carolina basketball story is there used to be a TV show on CBS called without a trace, the FBI oriented kind of show and I flew into North Carolina one Thursday night to do a speech the next day. And I got to the hotel and I figure, okay, I’m going to unpack what am I going to do while I unpack and I figure I’ll turn on the TV and watch without a trace what the heck. Turn on the TV just before eight o’clock. Eight o’clock comes along and the announcer comes on and says without a trace will not be seen tonight at its regular time because we’re going to provide the broadcast of the North Carolina State University of North Carolina basketball game because it was right time getting close to March Madness, right. Yeah. And if you want to see without a trace you can tune in Sunday morning at 2am. Not doing that. But but North Carolina loves its basketball counties. They’ve got three major teams Duke NC State and UNC. And it is it is so incredible. And to to have done that I saw I watched the game I do have to say I don’t even remember who won that game that year. But but it was it was fun and just kind of entertaining had these great expectations and all of a sudden crashing down. It’s the basketball game. They love basketball like Kentucky loves football. Yeah, well. It’s okay. It’s kind of fun. Well, this, Tauhric , this has really been fun. And I really appreciate all the information. We haven’t even talked about the fact of you all got introduced to us through accessiBe.
Tauhric Brown  1:06:47
That’s right. Yes, we did. Yeah, we didn’t get it. We didn’t talk about that. No, we did.
Michael Hingson  1:06:53
So you guys are using it. And it’s working? Well.
Tauhric Brown  1:06:57
It is working beautifully. Again, it’s just another opportunity to be more accessible to individuals that need us, Mike. So you know, when when we first found out or when Dana first talked to me about this, someone, this is a wonderful idea. I love that we’re doing this. And we’ve gotten some really positive feedback. And you know, for us, we always think about so what’s next? But right, what’s that next? Next thing that we need to be thinking about to further enhance our accessibility to individuals in that digital social world? So but but so far, I’ve been extremely pleased with our relationship with accessiBe.
Michael Hingson  1:07:46
Well, we were all here to provide whatever support you need. And we appreciate that. Well, I want to thank you, again for being here. If people want to reach out and learn more about sekolah, and maybe reach out to you, and, and so on, how do they do that?
Tauhric Brown  1:08:04
Yep, so I think the best way for individuals to connect with us, they can visit our website, and that is www dot CICOA. C I C O A.org. And they’ll be able to access our website there, or they can contact us at our aging and disability resource center. And that number, I’ll give the toll free number 1-800-432-2422. And then, if someone has an interest and would love to connect with me directly, they can send me an email that email addresses T Brown T B R O W N@cicoa.org.
Michael Hingson  1:08:53
And CICOA is again is spelled
Tauhric Brown  1:09:01
C i C O A.
Michael Hingson  1:09:04
Perfect. Well, I really appreciate you taking so much time to talk with all of us. I think this has absolutely been educational and it has also been fun. And I’ve been a great guest and I love it and hopefully one of these days we’ll get a chance to be back there and meet you in person. I hope love that Mike, we’ll have to do it. And yes, sir. You listening appreciate you listening to us today. Please give us a five star rating wherever you hear our podcast. You’re also welcome to go to www dot Michael hingson h i n g s o n.com. That’s m i c h a e l h i n g s o n.com/podcast. And hear all of our episodes and wherever you go and listen to us. Please give us a five star rating. We’d appreciate it if you know and Tauhric  is you as well. Anyone knows anyone who ought to be a guest or you think would be a good guest on unstoppable mindset. Please reach out. You can also email me at Michaelhi M I C H A E L H I at accessiBe,  A C C E S S I B E.com. And as Tauhric  would tell you, if you go to accessibe.com, there is a link that you can click on and where you can actually do an audit of your website or any website to see how accessible it is. That’s free. So go check it out, see what what it will tell you about how usable your website is by persons with disabilities. Again, Tauhric , one more time, thanks very much for being with us. We really appreciate it. And we’ll have to do more of this in the future.
Tauhric Brown  1:10:45
It’s my pleasure, and I’m looking forward to it. Thank you so much.
Michael Hingson  1:10:53
You have been listening to the Unstoppable Mindset podcast. Thanks for dropping by. I hope that you’ll join us again next week, and in future weeks for upcoming episodes. To subscribe to our podcast and to learn about upcoming episodes, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com slash podcast. Michael Hingson is spelled m i c h a e l h i n g s o n. While you’re on the site., please use the form there to recommend people who we ought to interview in upcoming editions of the show. And also, we ask you and urge you to invite your friends to join us in the future. If you know of any one or any organization needing a speaker for an event, please email me at speaker at Michael hingson.com. I appreciate it very much. To learn more about the concept of blinded by fear, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com forward slash blinded by fear and while you’re there, feel free to pick up a copy of my free eBook entitled blinded by fear. The unstoppable mindset podcast is provided by access cast an initiative of accessiBe and is sponsored by accessiBe. Please visit www.accessibe.com. accessiBe is spelled a c c e s s i b e. There you can learn all about how you can make your website inclusive for all persons with disabilities and how you can help make the internet fully inclusive by 2025. Thanks again for listening. Please come back and visit us again next week.

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