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The senior living industry has a voice. You can hear it on Bridge the Gap podcast!

Episode 86: Dustin Garis

He’s a troublemaker and a keynote speaker- Dustin Garis is shaking up the cultural perception scene.

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Lucas: Welcome to Bridge the Gap podcast, the senior living podcast with Josh and Lucas. We’re at the NRC Symposium and we’re here with their keynote speaker. We’re here with Dustin Garis. He is the Chief Troublemaker of every organization that he’s ever been involved with. I’m looking at your linkedin profile, we’re talking about Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Amex and Ericsson. I mean you’re at very, very high levels.

Dustin: I fly high. I think that’s what that means. 

Josh: You work way too hard. 

Lucas: So help give some framework to our listeners about your background, why you’re here, and then we’ll talk about the #lifeprofit. 

Dustin: Sure. So my background has been very much about helping companies go through a transformation, right? Everyone starts in a certain place and they realize that we have to change to something. And in order to change, that means you’re going to have to ruffle a few feathers, create a little bit of trouble in a sense. And my philosophy is that that’s critical to innovation as a whole because if we spend our time just as a problem solver, we are already behind. We’re solving problems that exist today versus causing the disruption of what needs to change for tomorrow. So somebody has got to come in and help shake things up to see what a different alternative future could be and how do we get it. 

Josh: Oh, that’s so exciting. That’s so exciting. So unpack this a little bit, Lucas, you are able to hear the full monty, but we have a very condensed time. So let’s talk about it.

Lucas: Well, and one of the questions there at the end, a guy stood up and said it was one of the best keynote speeches that he’s ever heard. 

Dustin: That wasn’t a plant, I was shocked. I normally have to  pay audience members for that.

Lucas: So how did you inspire the audience today? 

Dustin: I think it has to do with the fact that I didn’t want to take an approach about the business itself, but really think about why are we all here? Like what’s the point? Like, literally what’s the point of our existence? And then ladder that up to what’s the point of our role or particular companies. And when we understand that that fundamental human insight about what motivates us and what’s the point of all this work that we’re doing, that becomes the foundation on top of which we could build everything else. And so that’s where I thought it was really important to start from that or understand it, and that nugget that I went with was that universally, as humans, we aspire to live this memorable life. And yet the reality is is that we don’t, for most of us, most cases we are just going through the motions in some pretty forgettable routine.

This is just our life. And it’s getting worse the older we get typically speaking. So when we see this, I mean we could get really upset and depressed about it or we could say, wow, what a huge opportunity for businesses, for organizations, even for individuals to say how do we disrupt that? How do we break that pattern and make life more memorable? It doesn’t have to be hard to do so, that was really the focus. If I could do one thing today or just shake the audience and be like, why are we here? Like, remember this is the point. Let’s have some fun now and enjoy this.

Josh: Well, it sounds like it was memorable based on the energy of everyone coming out of there. I hate I actually missed it, Lucas got to hear it. But I think there’s like a rumble of a hashtag forming around this keynote, right?

Dustin: Hashtag life profit. Yeah. That was it. 

Josh: Yeah, absolutely. So tell, tell me a little bit more about that and the application of it. 

Dustin: Sure. So the idea of life profit was really in contrast to where our current focus is. We spend so much of our attention on these classic KPIs, what it is that we determine whether or not we’ve been successful today. If our organization has been successful and we realized that we don’t really have a good metrics, we have like sales and costs and retention and tweets and clicks, but what do we have to measure? To what degree did we increase the richness of people’s lives today? To what degree did we do we make today memorable for one of our customers or one of our patients or one of our residents. And so that’s where the term life profit came to mind is that incremental richness, life experience, not just the financial profit that we’ve got to pay attention to. Fortunately, it’s not just the right thing to do for humanity, but it’s smart business. There is a direct correlation between generating life profit and financial profit because the more that you enrich someone’s life, the more you build that more authentic connection, which is tied to that loyalty and advocacy. And how do you create these just raving fans that absolutely love you because you are demonstrating a love for them and making sure that, especially in this industry, the last of their years are the most fantastic. I love the opportunity in this particular industry, in senior living care facilities that have such an extraordinary opportunity to make these moments really remarkable. 

Lucas: That’s a great parlay into a big initiative that Josh and I are a part of and that is changing public perception about what senior living is. You have been a part of a massively viral campaign with Procter & Gamble around the stigma or the idea of, I think it was hashtag or ‘like a girl’. Are there some takeaways that the senior living industry can learn from that campaign to use to change public perception about what senior living is? 

Dustin: Indeed. There’s such this to some degree, I’d say it’s a fallacy that the millennials are all about this experiential generation. And sure they might be the most loud about it, let’s say or the most visible about it. But that mindset has spread to all generations, whether it’s baby boomers and beyond. Where especially people as they get older in life, they realize how valuable our time as the most valuable asset in the world and also the most scarce resource in the world. So they start to treasure it more and they want opportunities to make these days more significant. And the reality is, is that someone even later in their years has an opportunity to live even more than a younger person, a millenial per say. Can they have more memorable days as proportion to the overall days that they’re living. And so I think that there’s a huge opportunity to recognize that in this generation those that are using senior care facilities, they want something special and they are willing to, to go for it, if that makes sense. 

So sometimes they may need help and need inspiration for some ideas, or they may need someone to help facilitate and to bring them along. We all had friends like this. Even growing up, those that always brought us along, hey, let’s go do this. Or hey, what about this idea? And in many cases we are like, ah, no, what’s the point? Why do that? And now we look back and be like, that was so special. Like thank you so much. So how can we within these facilities, how can we play that role? How could we be that character, that friend in these people’s lives, in these residents’ lives, that do create those moments that they want to be apart of? And I tell you, once you get them started, the residents will take to it. They’re going to feel like, oh my gosh, we have such, such abilities to do fantastic things. And it doesn’t have to be extraordinary. I’m not talking about jumping out of an airplane. It can be what do we do for lunch that’s special. You know I’ll give you a quick story. I think it might be… So there was this one weekend I had gone back home to visit my family and we had a family dinner. My grandparents were there, and just after the food got to the table and we’re about to start eating. My grandfather says, Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, hold up here. What’s going on Pops? Everyone pick up your forks. Ah okay so we pick up our forks. Now put it in your left hand. Okay. We’re having life profit, left-handed family dinner night. And so we ate dinner left-handed and it was hilarious. 

Josh: I can imagine, food everywhere. 

Dustin: Food everywhere. It was a mess. You, you’re missing your face and everything. And we had so much fun and that dinner stood out from all the others. And my grandfather actually died two months after.  This was one of the last memories I had, I was so thankful. It was so easy to do. 

Josh: Yeah. And it didn’t cost any extra. It was easy, but it was rather intentional on his part. So that’s so, so cool. What an awesome and totally relevant conversation for our space. And thanks for sharing that to our audience. That’s so awesome.

Lucas: Yeah. Dustin, we’re grateful that you’re here giving your thought leadership to a huge audience, over five hundred people were able to partake in your keynote. And there were still hands being raised to get some questions answered at the end. So very robust conversation. Thank you for what you’re doing. And for our listeners, if they want to learn more and want to hear more, what’s the best way for them to connect with you? 

Dustin: Sure. They could go to

Josh: I love that. I love that. Yeah. 

Lucas: Sounds very intentional. 

Dustin: Yeah, indeed. We do have to be a bit more intentional to make sure that we turn left instead of turning right all the time.


Lucas: Right. Excellent. Well, we will make sure that we connect with you and your website into our show notes and we’re just so grateful that you’ve taken the time to sit down with us and inspire our audience to revolt against routine and life profit. So we definitely really appreciate that. 

Josh: Thanks so much.

Dustin: Thank you guys so much and I’m so excited to see what you and others in the industry come up with, so definitely keep me informed. And I’d love to even go visit and can see all the life profit that your residents are gaining. 

Josh: We’re going to hold you to it. All right. 

Dustin: Let’s put it out there. 

Lucas: I mean, let’s do it. Let’s be the bridge and thank you for listening to another great episode of Bridge the Gap. 

Sara: The podcast team wants to hear from you. If you’re on Instagram, let us know your takeaways. Take a screenshot of the show you just listened to tag BTG voice and we might just share your thoughts. Thanks for listening to Bridge the Gap.

Thank you to our supporting partners NHI, RCare, NRC Health, TSOLife, ERDMAN, TIS, and Sherpa.

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Episode 86: Dustin Garis