Growing Others Through Mindset is Leadership with Karthik Ganesh at EmpiRx Health

Leadership is an inside-out process. All great leaders have the skill of growing others through mindset. To change someone’s thinking, you have to be able to shift the way they see their world. Today’s guest is Kathik Ganesh, CEO at EmpiRx Health. Inc Magazine ranked his company #712 on the 2020 Inc 5000 list. EmpiRx Health is built on the idea that the time has come for value-based care in the pharmacy benefits industry. Kathik shares his thoughts on growing others through mindset. We discuss what it means to lead others and to get them to expand their thinking. Growing others through mindset is one of the most powerful skills a leader can have.

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Karthik Ganesh: The Transcript

About: Karthik Ganesh is the CEO at EmpiRx Health, the industry’s only value-based PBM, with a clinically-focused and tech-enabled approach to bending the Rx cost curve. Karthik has built EmpiRx Health into an Inc. 1000 company and certified Great Place To Work, while transforming it into a high-growth and high-innovation engine.


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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

Karthik Ganesh: [00:00:00] I enjoyed coaching organizations. As much as I enjoyed coaching individual people, you can coach organizations and build a level of resiliency that fantastic, or the organization financially, while it’s also fantastic for the mindset of the employees working here.

[00:00:14] Intro: [00:00:14] Welcome to Grow Think Tank. This is the one and only place where you will get insight from the founders and the CEOs, the fastest-growing privately held companies. I am the host. My name is Gene Hammett. I hope leaders and their teams navigate the defining moments. Are you ready to grow?

[00:00:31] What does it mean to be a leader? You ever thought about that question? Being a leader is not just about getting the results done. Being a leader is about truly growing people around you. When you think about leadership, you have to get results, but you get that through the growth of others. You get that through the connection that you can. This is your executive leadership team, but this is also the direct reports, the middle managers, the frontline leaders, [00:01:00] and those that are facing the customers day in and day out. Your job as a leader is to push beyond the traditional, to create the kind of impact that is necessary. When you think about your own personal journey to becoming the best leader that you can be. I want to share with you some details. I think that would help you. Today’s special guests. It’s Karthik Ganesh.

[00:01:21] And we talk about mindset, really the power of mindset to lead others, the power of mindset, to really create a space for people to be and perform at their best. When you understand mindset is such a critical element to your own leadership, you can actually impact others by shifting their mindset. And in fact, leadership is all about shifting mindset so that they change the way they show up. They change the action, they change the results they get and how they move. Nope, this complex conversation around leadership isn’t going to require you to have a degree and brain psychology. This conversation on mindset is going to be simplified for you to give you exactly what you need. Share a few stories with you to help you become the better leader that your team. Now, when you think about becoming a leader, do you think about all of the things that you’re doing, do you think about how you surround yourself with others? Well, if you’re curious about surrounding yourself with other fast-growth leaders from the Inc 5,000, I love for you to consider hanging out with your peers, the founders and CEOs of fast-growth companies. Imagine you having conversations with them about what’s going on, the challenges. How they overcome those challenges, how they engage their executive leadership team, how they’re creating , virtual cultures and all of the elements that you have to face as a leader.

[00:02:43] Now, when you think about that, imagine yourself. Doing this on a regular basis. That’s exactly what I’ve done. I put together a fast-growth boardroom and it’s a chance for you to really explore what it would be like to hang out with and learn from and contribute [00:03:00] to the leadership of fast growth. You have to be on the Inc 5,000 to qualify. If you want to check out more information about this, go to and it’ll give you more information about you becoming a stronger leader. You creating a team of A-players and when you creating increased value for your company, those are the core promises. Just go check out and here’s the interview with Karthik. Karthik how are you?

[00:03:28] Karthik Ganesh: [00:03:28] Good. How are you?

[00:03:29] Gene Hammett: [00:03:29] Fantastic. We are going to have a great episode here on Grow Think Tank to talk about leadership, but really from the perspective of mindset. Before we dive into that, I would love for you to tell us a little bit about, , empirics health and what that really is and what the impact you guys are making in this world.

[00:03:43] Karthik Ganesh: [00:03:43] Absolutely. We are a, if you look at all things, healthcare and healthcare policy over the years, it’s really been this dichotomy between cost and access and health care at large healthcare services organizations. Behave more like retail than healthcare, because it’s always been about volume. And that [00:04:00] volume has what is the focus on volume is what’s driven this cost and access dichotomy. And we’re basically an organization that’s taken the perspective that it’s no cost, it’s not accessed. It’s really value. And if you pivot squarely on value, you’re going to see the right answers. Come forward. You can do the right thing. And get to the right answers. You can take a very healthcare-oriented perspective and still get to the right financial outcomes. And we’re growing at a phenomenal pace.

[00:04:26] Gene Hammett: [00:04:26] So tell me in layman’s terms, what is it you guys actually do?

[00:04:29] Karthik Ganesh: [00:04:29] We’re a pharmacy benefit manager, right? So we’re basically pharmacy insurance, right? Pharmacy benefits management. And the industry has been referred to as the middleman because it’s really been about drug pricing for the longest possible time by, for XL, for why arbitrage buys low, sell high, keep the diff and. Yet pharmacy benefits are offered to employees as a part of their healthcare benefits. It’s not a retail benefit. The industry has forgotten a long time ago that pharmacy benefits, which is now pharmacy spend are 25% of an employer’s healthcare. It’s, it’s supposed [00:05:00] to be about healthcare. It’s the fastest-growing component of healthcare and, health outcomes should be as important as financial outcomes and this can’t just be about pricing. And, so we really have, we were built to really focus on both health outcomes and financial outcomes. And what we’ve, what we’ve been able to do is just fundamentally align it. Clients where our income depends on the client’s outcome. We’ve got the same, we’ve got the same motivators. And it’s a great analogy as we talk about coaching as well. Right? You’ve got the same motivation with the people that you’re working with. And if you’re aligned, if you’re joined at the hip, I always give this example, Gene, in a three-legged race, you want both parties to be running at the exact same pace. You don’t want them to be running in the opposite direction.

[00:05:40] We found that running and running a three-legged race with our employer clients. Are looking for health outcomes and financial outcomes from a pharmacy benefit standpoint is the answer for them. So whatever, when they find that as the answer where the perfect solution. So we really, our, our, our, driver is to build a greater affinity towards [00:06:00] value in pharmacy benefits and a healthcare orientation versus a volume-based retail oriented.

[00:06:06] Gene Hammett: [00:06:06] That puts it in perspective for us. And as much as I’d love to talk to you about healthcare and re-imagining what this would be. We’re not talking about the products and the business per se, but we’re going to talk about your leadership and your journey, your understanding specifically around the words, mindset. Why do you think a lot of leaders are not as familiar with the real understanding and meaning of mindset as the work that you have done in the work that I’ve done? Why don’t you think it’s something that.

[00:06:31] Karthik Ganesh: [00:06:31] It’s because, you know, we’ve been fine-tuned, right? I mean, from the time we grow up, as we’re growing up Gene, and especially you look at a lot of successful leaders, very strong type personalities, the perspective has been about outcomes. It’s been outcomes all day long. The notion that the journey is more important than at out the notion that if you can train your mind to give whatever you’re doing day in and day out, that’s a possible shot. So there are absolutely no what if’s. And then embrace the outcome with gratitude, irrespective of what the outcome is. You can look at [00:07:00] yourself in the mirror and know that you couldn’t have done anything more. You laid it all out. The outcome is what we’re supposed to be. There are no coincidences and things are supposed to happen exactly the way they are. Right. This notion has, is foreign to most leaders because if you tell a leader, well, you know what, stop worrying about the outcome, and just focus on the journey. Completely it’s completely divorced from the way the brain has been trained, but what the beauty of what we’ve, I’ve continued to find whether it’s in the personal front, the professional front I left, I left corporate America for a little bit to go write a book, start a coaching practice, et cetera. And then I got excited about the fact that I enjoyed coaching organizations as much as I enjoyed coaching. Individual people, you can coach organizations and build a level of resiliency that fantastic, or the organization financially, while it’s also fantastic for the mindset of your employees.

[00:07:43] Gene Hammett: [00:07:43] I want to go back to the beginning of this. Cause you were saying that you’ve been on a journey for as many leaders have all. Of getting more out of life.  I know you wrote a book about inner peace, which maybe we’ll touch on that a little bit, but you were sharing with me like eight years ago, this mindset revelation and happen. [00:08:00] What, what does that revelation?

[00:08:00]Karthik Ganesh: [00:08:00] A couple of little different things, Gene,  one significant personal event that a little over eight years ago and all the things that I would have looked at as, you know, what I would call as anchors in our lives. Every one of those anchors, when you look at them closely, whether you. From the standpoint of family, you look at it financially, whatever the anchor might be, every one of those anchors is artificial. You realize that the only anchor that truly exists is on the inside because that’s what you can hold on to really tight. And that anchor it’s more important to recognize that anchor more so than anything else. And that recognizing of that anchor is a, is the mindset on struck, right? So then you take a step forward and you really. Every facet of our lives. If you chase money, as an example, you’re always going to feel like you don’t have enough of it, but once you pivot and you say, I am just thankful for what I have magically, you’ve got enough of it.

[00:08:49] And this, this, the ability to essentially. That your mind controls the way you feel your mind controls, the way you experience that is so profound, [00:09:00] because it allows you to then from that point onwards, you realize the mind, the only thing standing between you and success is your mind. The only thing standing between you and, happiness and inner peace. It’s your mind. And at the end of the day, I mean, the definition of success depends on what you want to define it to be. And the mind controls that,

[00:09:17] Gene Hammett: [00:09:17] You know, one thing I was thinking about this is how do I get not only my employees to think this way, but also my 13-year-old child, it’s so foundational to who we are when we show up and connect to a mindset of gratitude and, and, and truly understanding that journey. So thank you for sharing that with us. I know you mentioned the word anchor, and I don’t want to lose anyone with this word because. They may not really understand this. Give us a kind of in layman’s terms, what you mean by an anchor, right?

[00:09:43] Karthik Ganesh: [00:09:43] It used the word anchor in a multitude of different ways, right? I would say anchor, some people may call it fate. Some people may call that anchor goddess. Some people may call that anchor the universe, understanding that everything that drives your ups and downs, your ups, your downs life is filled with [00:10:00] duality. Happiness sadness, wealth, poverty, strength, weakness, the whole notion of equanimity. Being able to go through life, realizing that, you know, it’s, it’s the Rudyard Kipling. My favorite poem, one of my favorite poems is Rudyard Kipling’s if’s where he says, where he talks about the dualities of life. Right? I mean, it’s actually plastered on one of the player entrances at Wimbledon. If you can look at the tree and defeat and treat both imposters, just the same, right. Understanding that. That this, the only thing that is real is within you and you control whether you choose to embrace victory and defeat differently, whether you can, it’s a choice. Every single thing is a choice. And that is the anchor from good.

[00:10:38] Commentary: [00:10:38] Yeah. I want to add my perspective on anchors because I use a different word inside my coaching. The anchors that Karthik was talking about really, as something I refer to as what grounds you, and when you think about the grounding things in your life, they really do center you around what’s most. And he’s absolutely right. We think that they’re often external, we’re grounded and the results we get. We’re [00:11:00] grounded in the things that we’ve created. We’re grounded in, you know, what we’re able to do, but I want to invite you to look at it differently. What if you’re grounded in how you’re showing up, how you connect to who you are at the. What if you’re grounded in thinking about who you are, your identity, all of those things can have a chance to ground you. If you really do understand what it takes for you to be the best version of yourself, the most confident unshakable version, the most resilient, the one that can actually overcome the failures in front of you, the challenges you have, and most grateful when you have that level of grounding or that anchor, you really do have a powerful foundation to live your life. Serve. And make an impact in this world or your product, the back to Karthik

[00:11:40] Gene Hammett: [00:11:40] Beautiful, when you are stepping into leadership of this new company, you know, you’ve, you’ve had tremendous success. Probably a lot of uphill uphill battles. The resilience that you talked about earlier, how do you use this when you actually are leading the people inside your company?

[00:11:54] Karthik Ganesh: [00:11:54] So a number of different things, Jean, what I would say is one, people need to know exactly where you [00:12:00] stand. Resiliency comes from. It comes from mutual. That resilience, resiliency within an organization comes from the fact that people understand it has to come top-down. People have to see you embrace the journey more so than you embrace outcomes. When people slip and fall, the only thing you’re asking them is what can you learn? Something from that? It’s okay to fall. We’re going to keep getting up and running forward. Did you give it your all? If that is the only question, if that is your only ask of your employees, you’re building resilience because you’re asking your ask of your employees at that point is. To be the best version of themselves. I’ll give you an example, Gene we’re, you know, we’re going through,  our, our, our learning program this year, a training program for the employees this year, you know, we could have done a bunch of checking the box programs. We could have had a bunch of online things everyone’s working from home right now.

[00:12:43] Right. We could run a bunch of online things versus that. What we decided to do was we wanted to give our employees the ultimate gift that you could give them, and that is knowing themselves better. So we actually have every single employee. Who is going to go through the Clifton strengths exercise this year and going to get an hour of [00:13:00] dedicated time with a coach and to really help them understand what their strengths are because all we’re asking of them is to show up as the best version of yourself, evolve towards the best version of yourself. If you can do that for yourself, what you do for the company will take you good of itself.

[00:13:14] Gene Hammett: [00:13:14] Yeah. I want to go back to that because you said, did you give it your all very powerful question? And if that’s what you really had a conversation around with employees,  it changes everything. What do you do when they say, you know, I didn’t give it my all.

[00:13:26] Karthik Ganesh: [00:13:26] It is a choice Gene. That is a choice. Well, everything in life is a choice. One of the things I found is if you can appeal, you know, if you make things about the company, if you make things about the greater good, it gets lost on people. Everyone doesn’t think that way, what everyone does zero in on. The eye is more powerful. Every which way you can, you can talk about the wheat all day long. The eye is more powerful than anything else. So if you make it about themselves, you tell them I am, you know, as an organization, we are going to give you the tools really be the best version of you. This is about you. I literally will have [00:14:00] , employees put together in some cases what the you resume is going to look like at the end of the year. I tell them, don’t worry about the company. Well, are you trying to get us out of the company? Not really. If you can very selfishly look at what you want to accomplish that year, and then as an organization, if we can build the right structure around you for you to deliver on that, and you’re going to do right by the company, because you will, you will do what needs to be done. While you’re taking care of yourself. So by, by appealing to them as individuals, the whole gets taken care of.

[00:14:28] Commentary: [00:14:28] No, hold on for a second. I want to take a moment and put a spotlight on something Karthik just said, he says, make it for themselves. He’s talking about the employees. Really. It is about how they are showing up in your job as a leader is not just to get the work done. To create a place for them to be the best version of themselves. In fact, I love a quote that Reed Hastings shared about, you know, a lot of people think that your journey as a leader is about others making you a hero. And I want you to think about this differently and I’m paraphrasing his quote here, but it’s, it’s not about them making them a hero, but it’s about how [00:15:00] you can make them a hero inside their own story now, if you really think about what that means inside leadership, you are doing that. Everything you can to help them see themselves, to help them grow, help them evolve, help them focus on their strength, help them really improve their confidence and courage to be the best version of themselves and how they perform the work they do at that level allows for limitless results. Karthik is a really. It puts a spotlight on this. And I wanted to make sure that you understood exactly what is meant here by this, making it about themselves back to Karthik.

[00:15:32] Gene Hammett: [00:15:32] One of the things I’m noticing here, Karthik is because you’ve done this work and reflection on what your mindset is and your journey. You’ve been able to connect with your people around their own mindset, but here’s the real reality behind this. You could not do that. If you hadn’t done this work yourself,

[00:15:49] Karthik Ganesh: [00:15:49] I would absolutely agree with that.

[00:15:50] Gene Hammett: [00:15:50] And when you think about that opportunity ahead of you, I mean, it’s, it’s kind of like playing at a disadvantage, right? Because what most leaders do is they show up, put their head down and get the [00:16:00] work done and they ask the same of their employees and all it matters is the outcome. And that’s where we kind of started today, but you realize there’s more to it. There’s, there’s the inner person, there’s the inner, the journey of this. Give me another example of how this has really allowed someone to play at their highest level and become, maybe may make a shift from the employee that was okay. Or mediocre employee to someone who’s kind of a rock star. You have one of those stories in your you’re back,

[00:16:23] Karthik Ganesh: [00:16:23] Literally. I mean, we’ve, when we look back on our careers, I mean, I’m a firm believer whether it’s our professional lives or our personal lives, Gene our successes are always going to be about the people whose lives. We impacted them. And the before and the, after in those people, I’ve got so many examples within this organization, Gene, where I could look at them and, you know, being able to tell the roles that their strengths being able to coach them in terms of, you know, I will tell you one of the strongest successes we’ve had in the organization. You know, we have a lot of millennials in the company. You have a 27-year-old. I want to say three years ago, he felt completely beaten up. He felt, you know, he continually felt like he was, it was, you know, he was trying to fly against his [00:17:00] headwinds and every single thing wasn’t working out for him, you’ve got that same person right now. He is an avid reader. He sees a tailwind as an opportunity for him to turn his back to it and become, and make it. He sees the headwind as an opportunity for him to turn his back to it and make it a tailwind. Arguably, one of our strongest performances in the company unlimited at the ceiling, really no ceiling in terms of his performance. But when folks are continually focused on the. We create these artificial ceilings for ourselves. Imagine a feeling. And you notice because you’ve obviously seen this in your own personal life, a feeling where you realize there’s no ceiling there’s, there are no barriers, any, and all barriers are self-inflicted. You could show up every single day and just have a fantastic day. You could. I drive 65 miles to work each way I leave home. I could get hit by a truck. I might not make it back home. I am very confident that I can tell myself that I leave home each day, perfectly comfortable. And if that day were my last I’m okay with that. And there are so many employees in the organization, Gene, who I will tell you just fundamentally, there is an employee who [00:18:00] sent me a three-page email, right? A month and a half ago, again, another millennial and millennials cabin fever dealer, struggling with assaulting scope, a three-page email, basically saying she started the email off saying, I’m going to send you a Karthik, like email, but it’s for me. And all the things that she was grateful for in her life and all the, all the opportunities she has had to reflect on how blessed she is coming out of this year. First order of business. I mean, she had such a fantastic year with that mindset. She just got a promotion.

[00:18:27] Gene Hammett: [00:18:27] Love that story.

[00:18:28] Karthik Ganesh: [00:18:28] Okay.

[00:18:29] Gene Hammett: [00:18:29] I know we’re wrapping up here, but I want to give you a chance. Eight years ago you wrote a book or maybe even before that. Cause it took me a couple of years to get my book published.  But you wrote,  happiness model roadmap and I know some of the elements are in there. If we, if we said we left one thing out of this conversation that you really wanted to bring to light from that. But what would you say that one?

[00:18:48] Karthik Ganesh: [00:18:48] I would say the three most. So I wrote the book in 2017, which is when I decided to get off the treadmill. I had a very significant life event in 2012.  Really begun. I started my inner journey [00:19:00] from, you know, after that, if you will, I wrote the book in 2017 because I felt I really had something to share. It’s called the happiness model. It really talks about three things. You know, the guts of it are really three things. One when you’re doing anything, give it your all, leave, nothing left, leave nothing off the table. Just lay it all out there. Second, whatever life throws at, you accept it with attitude, embrace that attitude of gratitude. And then the third is all you control is the journey and not the outcome. If we can embrace these three things, the level of equanimity, we can feel all things in our lives, personal professional, interpersonal relationships, or relationship with money, whatever the case might be. You really can’t go

[00:19:36] Gene Hammett: [00:19:36] Love those three things. And I appreciate you being here on the show, sharing your journey of leadership because of what you’ve been through and what you’ve shared. It really is a very powerful way to look at leadership that is different than what most people do. Again, showing up, just getting the work done focused on the outcome is what most people do, but you’re giving us a kind of a formula to look at beyond what most people do to create something extraordinary and be a kind of leader that [00:20:00] people crave. So I appreciate you being here.

[00:20:02] Karthik Ganesh: [00:20:02] Appreciate your time. Gene,

[00:20:03] Gene Hammett: [00:20:03] I want to wrap up today’s episode because it’s very powerful. If you are evolving as a leader, if you’re looking at how do you go further than you are now? Well, you might not just look at the outcomes and the things that are on your to-do list. You might really reflect on who you are and who you’re becoming. And if you really want to get clear about. I have conversations with leaders and founders all the time to help them get really clear about their personal core values that allow them to show up maybe aspirationally at first, but really fully engaged with their own leadership, their own journey as a leader, how they impact others. If you want to have that conversation, when they make sure you reach out, we run mastermind groups with founder, CEOs love to help you grow as a leader. Nope, your company, they on the path for growth as always lead with courage. We’ll see you next time.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.




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