Aké Satia is the Chief Vision Officer at Aké Satia, a Human Capital firm in the DC area focused on strengthening organizations by bolstering the intersection of people strategy and business strategy.



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The Joy of Serving

The Mindset Series – Episode 2

To serve is to lead.

Welcome to the second piece in The Mindset Series. Today, I have a perplexingly delightful story to share. First, I have a question: When you hear someone say the word hospital, what is the first word that comes to mind? 

Ironically, with such a frequently used word, several thoughts and emotions could cycle through our minds. –  Including words such as injury, sickness, pain, health, treatment, sadness, death, and loved ones. But one word that probably does not make it to the top, middle, or bottom of most of our lists is joy. – Barring a father holding his newborn in the neonatal unit – of course!
Undeniably, hospitals are a peculiar environment. – A locale where many devote copious amounts of time, loads of energy, countless sleepless nights, and a wad of cash to get an education that qualifies them for a job where their primary responsibility is to serve. – Not to command or control, but to serve.

To top it all off, in said environment, one may not be fortunate enough to wear the Louis Vuitton shoes or Kiton cashmere suits they work so hard to afford. Instead, they may have to settle for scrubs and Snibbs. – This seems bizarre and would lead one to wonder why anyone would choose such a path.
Could it be that serving is the most honorable role one can assume?

Let us explore!

The most honorable role

Serving is an act of kind assistance. Merriam-Webster dictionary

Today, though most of us may not inquire about the meaning of serving, we freely divulge our opinions about it. We might take an intellectual angle by stating the three types of services: consumer, business, and public. Or perhaps, if we are business-minded, we might think about how our organization provides value to customers. And at a societal level, the thought of serving could conjure images of military personnel, our favorite teacher, or the president. Herein lies the beautiful irony of service. – Service is a quintessential quality of leadership. Unfailingly, all true leaders serve by meeting the needs of others, as we discussed in The Apron of Leadership – BLOG – www.akesatia.com

The business of meeting needs

In a world replete with needs, honing the mindset to serve is vital. However, today, our world is driven by the pursuit of the latest best things: phones, cars, houses, yachts, you name it! For this reason, we might think the future depends primarily on things we can see, touch, and hold. However, data proves the contrary. According to statistics, currently, in the United States, over three-quarters of employees work in services.
It seems societal development depends on the business of meeting needs more than the stuff and toys we vie for.

On this basis, I will share a mesmerizing experience.

A mesmerizing experience

Recently, I was delighted at a hospital! Yes, you heard that right! – Delight and hospital in the same sentence! 😊Last week, I checked into a medical facility, Mercy Hospital, for an outpatient surgical procedure. Notably, it was my first time at the facility. A few months prior, I met the surgeon at a satellite office and had some follow-up conversations with him and his staff. Through these interactions, I was convinced and signed on.

On a cold winter Monday morning, my caring parents offered to take me to the hospital, and we took off at the crack of dawn. Conveniently, we arrived at the hospital well before 9:00 AM for an 11:00 AM surgery appointment. Once in the facility, I met my cousin, a nurse at the hospital, and we had a warm and reassuring chat. Then, she departed. Soon after, I walked to the receptionist’s desk, and the enchantment commenced. For the next four hours, I met eleven hospital professionals, including two receptionists, a Finance professional, five nurses, a surgeon, an anesthesiologist, and a staff member who wheeled me out of the hospital.

Nuance of Serving

Now you might be thinking, Aké, why highlight every medical professional you interacted with rather than state that you encountered several? When a customer interacts with so many workers, the organization places an undue burden on them to acclimatize. – This is a valid point, as we are accustomed to defining good service in business as meeting customers’ or clients expressed and anticipated needs speedily while ensuring they have as few touchpoints with as few people as possible.

For example, when we call a service provider, if we have to talk to more than one or two professionals – tops, it is a problem! Likewise, in a medical setting, a patient may think:  All I need is a nurse and a doctor, and I am good to go! I should not have to deal with multiple people to meet my needs – especially given the cost! Unintentionally, this subtly implies that human interactions are bothersome and need to be minimal. But is the solution to avoid each other or is the opportunity to learn to communicate better.

Admittedly, like many of us, I often feel speaking to fewer people in such scenarios is a sign of refined customer service practices. However, in my most recent Healthcare experience, I developed a deep appreciation for the nuance of serving. 

Wonder why? Well, the reason is beautifully simple.

Give what you can uniquely give.

As we all know, no two people are wholly identical. Although there is comfort in uniformity, innovation, growth, and value are born of diversity and propelled when we each offer the value we possess. On that fateful day, every professional I interacted with at the hospital was compassionate, competent, and joyful. Candidly, I was impressed at how well eleven individuals with unique personalities and different skill sets displayed the same values – fluidly. In case you are wondering, they were not all biologically related! Instead, the values surfaced because the individuals embodied the ethos – of the organization.

Incidentally, though my experience was delightful, it was not perfect.
My surgery was over an hour delayed, and as directed, I had not eaten or drunk liquids for over 12 hours. But due to the attentiveness and courteousness of the staff, I was not in the least bothered by the delay. Relaxed, I trusted that if there was a delay, there was a good reason for it, and my needs would be met – at the right time. 

Delightful stopovers

As I waited for my turn in the theater, aka operating room, staff members paused as they passed by and inquired if I needed anything. One of them was the anesthesiologist, an upbeat gentleman. An hour before surgery, he walked into the private waiting room where I was sitting with a medical IV in my arm. Unsurprisingly, like everyone else, he was extremely knowledgeable and took the time to explain vital components of his piece of art, i.e., anesthesia, frequently referred to as the good stuff.

At the end of his spiel, he asked if I had any questions. Without hesitation, I responded: All sounds good! Let us go! As he laughed at my laissez-faire attitude, I said: I have a question: Your last name is a French word. Are you French? Perplexed by my question, he relaxed and grinned. Then, he proceeded to explain that he was Romanian. (An aside: his last name means brave – a fitting name for an anesthesiologist given the role!)

Once he left the room, a nurse entered, and in a whirlwind, I was on a gurney. Minutes later, I woke up in the recovery room. – It was all over before I could blink – it seemed!

The Mercy Way

After the surgery, still drowsy from anesthesia, I was wheeled out of the facility by a warm and chatty medical professional. Once at the curbside, she helped me into the vehicle and said, I hope you have a speedy recovery. In response, I thanked her for her service and extended my gratitude to the rest of the team. With a broad smile, she responded, I am so pleased you enjoyed the Mercy Way.

On the ride home, I could not stop thinking about her phrase. As it turns out, The Mercy Way is an actual thing, and employees take pride in it. It seems the organization has bottled its ethos into a figurative vial that it infuses into its employees. And they, in turn, deliver it to patients through the joy of serving. By the looks of it, the organization has accomplished an enviable feat.

Friend, I leave you with this: What can you do to promote joy by serving others in your organization? To serve is to lead. 

Be safe and stay well. Until next time!

For you and to you,



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