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Judith R. Faulkner Quotes

Judy Faulkner Epic

Judith R. Faulkner quotes: matter-of-fact messages from the Midwest billionaire.

“What you put up with is what you stand for.”

“‘Yes, if…’ rather than, ‘No, because…’  I am not good with, ‘No, because…’  Come up with a way to figure it out and work on the, ‘Yes, if…’  We get magic done at Epic because we come to it with a ‘Yes, if…’ approach.”

“Don’t be a champion of the mediocre.  If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.  Be an enabler, not an inhibitor.”

“If you see a snake, kill it; don’t form a committee on snakes.”

“If you would come to my office at Epic, you would see maybe 20 times the quotes we have here all around my office.  It’s wallpapered with quotes.  I change them every few months – not all of them, I leave my favorites up.”

“[On talking to the media now] It has to do with our growth in the industry.  When we were smaller, it was fairly easy just to stay below the radar and concentrate simply on, ‘Are we developing good software?  And are we doing a good job with our customers?’  That’s how life was.”

“Offering a good product, good service and a good relationship with customers is the best way to compete.  Or at least it used to be.  Even though in my mind that’s a wonderful way to compete, I think what it has become is more of a media battle than a quality-of-products and quality-of-services and support battle.”

“We are not close to perfect, we’re in the middle… somewhere between perfect and abysmal.  We try to listen to our users and develop products they need.”

“One person can’t do everything.  There needs to be a team with a strategy.”

“I was an undergrad math major and a grad student in computer science.  I’m hugely introverted, not atypical of math majors.  I took a class in computers and medicine, and one of my professors asked me to work with them.  That got me started working with health care.”

“I had an English minor.  At work, I’m the grammaritician.  I say sometimes to people, ‘Just because we’re programmers, don’t assume we’re not literate.'”

“One of the things that made Epic strong when I wrote the original code was that it never occurred to me to do anything other than put the patient at the center.  I developed a clinical system at a time when the health care world had pretty much only billing and lab systems available.”

“My wealth heiress outsmarted the competition and leapfrogged to the front of the industry.  Eventually, my tenacity, intelligence, and ingenuity paid off.”

“I have spent my entire adult life in Wisconsin after founding the healthcare records management company Epic in 1979.  Eleven years after its founding, I still had only 30 employees.  The turning point was when my Windows-based medical records software stunned the industry and became the standard.  Today Epic has 9,000 employees and I have a net worth of $2.6 billion according to Forbes.  I became one of America’s wealthiest self-made women in tech.”

“So sometimes it is better to be lucky than good.”

“I have never had any personal desire to live lavishly.  I’m probably among the billionaires who are indifferent to the lifestyle that great wealth can buy.  There is no apartment in New York or Paris.  There is no ranch in Aspen.  There are no private or even corporate jets.”

“I would say if I have one driving force, it is to keep commitments to our customers.  When I have corporate philosophy class with all the new folks who come into Epic, we go over the philosophies behind Epic.  That is the central message: to keep commitments to customers.  In general, that means customers trust us to make them successful.  Whether or not they know how to do their side of the job, we still have the obligation to make them successful and make them the heroes that they are in trying to transform healthcare.  It means the bigger picture: your job is to help them take care of their patients and do everything you can to make them be as successful as possible.”

“I was a programmer, I thought it was fun.  I’m not sure in the beginning I felt that I’m here to save lives.  Why do you come to work?  For the paycheck?  For something interesting to do?  For customers?  For the competition?  For the mission?  If I had to circle one reason, it’s for my customers.”

“[Her proudest achievement to date] Probably when people say what great staff we have.  It’s been the ability to figure out how to hire, how to orient and how to keep the culture so we are consistent in the delivery of what we need to do for all of our customers.”

“A key part of this has been to create a physical environment in its Verona, Wisconsin campus that enables developers to flourish, be creative and do good work.  This includes a treehouse meeting room – everyone needs a corporate tree house.”

“Epic has to compete with Apple, Google, Facebook, etc., to hire developers, so we want an environment where people feel, ‘I want to work here,’ and be absolutely as productive as possible.”

“When a company is private, you don’t have to have the tyranny of the quarter.  When you’re public, you can never forget your fiduciary duty is to increase shareholder value.  When you’re private, your shareholders are your employees and you will want to do the best you can, but you look at it a different way.”

“Programming is a mix of language, math and art, and I remain a software developer at heart.  And I have no plans to retire or even slow down.”

“The key thing to our culture is the sense of keeping our commitments.”

“[On living in Wisconsin] The first thing you’ve got to like is the people.  It’s the Midwest work ethic, the Midwest nice.  I was just in an area with gated communities.  I do like the Midwest where there is much more a feeling of… we trust each other.”

“I get so many requests for interviews.  If I talk to everyone, we can’t do our job with our customers and work on our software.  It would be hard to stay focused.”

“One of our staff members told me people ask her regularly to describe me as a boss.  So I’ll take what she says.  Now, the thing is, who is going to tell me bad things?  She says she tells people I’m smart, nice, ethical and honest in that I tell you what I think.  If I had to guess, people would say I’m hard-working, demanding of good work from others, visionary and outspoken.”

“I think it’s very interesting, the difference between ‘thank you’ and ‘congratulations.’  To me, ‘thank you’ makes it a personal thing, like you did it for me, and I don’t like to take that from a person unless it was something they did for me.  So, I prefer to congratulate them on a job well done if that was something they did themselves.”

“I will speak up.  When I go to a meeting, I may be one of the people who is comfortable speaking up.  But then it also goes with the honesty: I might ask the hard questions.”

“I like to go around, and people not knowing who I am.  I like to keep some privacy, be a normal person.”

“I took the route of higher education and took a risk starting a business.  My success didn’t happen overnight, but over time with steady improvement.”

“Many years ago I asked my young children what two things they needed from their parents.  They said ‘food and money.’  I told them ‘roots and wings.’  My goal in pledging 99% of my assets to philanthropy is to help others with roots – food, warmth, shelter, health care, education – so they too can have wings.”

“Our children’s inheritance will come from wealth created through our income, not our stock.”

“One, I didn’t want the money, personally, or for my family.  What would you want with all that money?  It doesn’t seem right and I can’t tell you why.  We’re putting it into a trust that can be used for the benefit of healthcare organizations, other exempt organizations and our communities.  We can use it to help other charitable organizations that have contributed to our success.  Because that’s where it came from.”

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