NIC Chats Podcast with Arnold Whitman

Arnold Whitman knows how to adapt during market disruption. As the Founder and Executive Chairman of Formation Capital, he created his business by responding to industry needs during a distressed market, finding opportunities in the challenges. Recent market disruptions are moving the industry toward greater technology interoperability, which Whitman predicts has the potential to improve quality of care and reduce overall healthcare costs. Disruptions are also causing the industry to reconsider how to attract new talent, which Whitman says requires de-stigmatizing the industry and highlighting how interesting and fulfilling it can be. “We need to attract the type of person who is focused on giving back, and recognize and reward laborers and workers at every level,” he said. “It’s going to be challenging…but our industry has always been very good at adapting.”

Beth Mace: (00:03)
Hello and welcome to the NIC Chats podcast. My name is Beth Mace and I am the chief economist and the director of research and analytics here at NIC. Thank you for joining us. The focus of the NIC Chats podcast is talking to interesting people that I have ideas that I think you’d really like to hear about. As you listen today, I hope that you’ll find some humor, insights, inspiration, and hopefully what I call an aha moment when something pithy or insightful is said, and a light bulb might go off for you. So I’m going to tell you a bit about the structure of today’s event. First, I will tell you three statements about my guest and two of those will be true. Throughout the podcast you’ll learn, which is true, and which is false. Second, there are three standard questions within each podcast for each speaker. The first is what’s the largest challenge facing our industry. Second, one thing to grow talent in our industry, and third one innovative way or idea to strengthen our industry. Now, as I say on with the show. So I’m delighted today that our NIC Chats podcast is with Arnie Whitman. Arnie is the founder and executive chairman of Formation Capital. And I’ve known Arnie for gosh 20 plus years, I think. Arnie, thank you for joining us today.

Arnold Whitman: (01:14)
Yeah, thanks for having me Beth.

Beth Mace: (01:16)
So as I mentioned, I have three statements about Arnie; two are true and one is not. And you’ll find out about these more during our interview. First, that you are a founding member of NIC. We’ll find out whether that is true or false. Second, that you have an amazing basketball proues and that you’ve been involved with many basketball games, winning gold medals. We’ll find out more about that. And the third is that you do not have cancer. So now, as I said, you’ll have to stay tuned for the entire podcast to find out which of these is true and which is false. So let’s just start. Alright, you and I, again, have been friends for a long time, and I know that you have a passion for aligning real estate operations and technology to deliver innovative senior living and care. Was this passion involved in your establishment of Formation Capital in 1999?

Arnold Whitman: (02:07)
Beth, no, it wasn’t. When we started Formation Capital in 1991, we were coming out of, or really still in a pretty severe triple storm of such where we had a capital markets breakdown in 97, 98. We had huge liability issues in our industry, especially for public companies from a cost. And we were changing our regulatory environment for reimbursement of skilled nursing. I happened to have been in the debt business before we started Formation Capital and when the credit crisis took place in 1998 I woke up one day and I realized this is going to be really challenging. Only to find out about three months later that I was really out of business. And the good news in that is that I was holding no collateral on our balance sheet at the time that happened.

Arnold Whitman: (03:09)
And if you understand real estate and securitization, oftentimes people are making loans or making investments. They’re pooling those assets or that debt in this case. And then they’re selling that debt. During 1998, if you had assets on your balance sheet that you were holding and managing, you woke up the next day and there was no market for those securities. So it took a little while to figure out what was going on. But what that did for me was I actually was the beneficiary of a market condition and opportunity that was created out of a challenge, which is sort of a theme of mine throughout my investment career. And that what happened was the markets disrupted, debt became unavailable pretty much, but there was no market for what was traditionally one year lines of credit in all these investment banks to house this debt.

Arnold Whitman: (04:05)
And then in fact, sell that debt into the secondary markets. The people who were actually holding that debt had to go through workouts, just like a bank would have to go through workouts. When they have defaults. I was fortunate enough, I didn’t realize it at the time, that what that enabled me to do was say, okay, everything is bad, right? Capital markets are bad. The nursing home industry was bad. The regulatory environment was bad and there was an opportunity that presented itself ultimately, and it wasn’t the founding of Formation Capital, but it became our strategy was we wanted to pivot into equity. So we thought to ourselves, I’m in the debt business. Now I’ve got an opportunity to create value when the markets are really, really distressed. And my feeling was the right way to invest is to change from being a debt provider, to being an equity provider.

Arnold Whitman: (04:53)
And that was the strategy for Formation Capital, the origins. We targeted long term care specifically, not because I did have a long history in long term care, but we looked at senior housing in general. The most distress we could see was was long term care. I felt like I had the best understanding of that asset class and the idea that we could potentially raise money in an environment where there wasn’t any and take advantage of an opportunity specifically in Florida in a market where my career up to that point, over about 15 years, you could never buy anything in Florida, because they were always too highly priced. These were prized assets, nursing homes in Florida because of the demographics. So it was very hard to buy. I learned a lesson from my original mentor, Abe Gosman and he said to me, once he said, when you’re buying nursing homes, you look at the reimbursable basis and the reimbursable basis back then you had a payment system where the government was paying for Medicaid services and primarily nursing homes were designed for the indigent and there was a capital component in every dollar of reimbursement that the government would provide.

Arnold Whitman: (06:02)
And Abe Gosman used to tell me if you could get 20% above that threshold or below, that was a good target from an investment risk perspective. So I would go around and I would look for acquisitions when I worked for Metta Trust and we would look for these opportunities where the reimbursable basis for nursing homes fell into that sort of 20% premium that we felt we could fill with private pay rehabilitation or ancillary services. What transpired was that the market had become so challenged for the public companies that the cost basis had nothing to do with valuation because the liability cost had become so enormous for the public companies. So we had first Beverly Enterprises, which was our first transaction we ever did. And the idea was that we were going to go into Florida and we were going to buy in an asset purchase, a portfolio of 53 facilities, 49 skilled nursing facilities and four assisted living buildings from Beverly who was paying exorbitant amounts of insurance costs for those. When we bought them, we were buying assets. So day one, we had no legacy liabilities. It’s an important element in what evolved as a strategy for us at Formation and really what began the trajectory to where we’ve become and how far we’ve come today. Focused on long term care, focused on challenges, focused on seeing those challenges and opportunities. We don’t have time to go into it today in terms of all the ins and outs. But I will say that we put that deal under contract for 165 million. I made a commitment personally and wrote a hard check to Beverly Enterprises. We had UBS providing the debt. We had black Acre providing the mezzanine and we were putting up small amount of equity and that deal, it was only about 10 million dollars at the time. Had the whole deal committed. That was 2001 in July. And in September , 9/11 came and there was no market, right? And we had to just walk the streets of New York in pursuit of finding a way to capitalize this deal or basically I was going to lose everything I had. And we got that deal done

Beth Mace: (08:21)
Well now I believe that since then, Formation Capital has been involved with the execution of almost eight and a half billion of transactions. So that was one of the deals that stands out in your mind. Is there any other that really is top of mind when you think about what the history of Formation Capital?

Arnold Whitman: (08:39)
You know, that first deal really was such an incredible challenge and an incredible opportunity. At the end of the day, there was a lot of naysayers around that particular transaction. There was so much risk involved and you know, what we essentially really did to create value, which I think is important to point out here is that the operations didn’t change that much, but the capital markets, the cost of money started to go down as well as the element of insurance started going down dramatically. So our timing around both the capital markets and the insurance risks diminished to a point where, when I said the profitability of the sale of those assets, it was truly manufactured from hiring a good quality operator and providing quality of care and services, but no real change in the operational value.

Arnold Whitman: (09:37)
The value got created in the real estate cap rates and the reduction of insurance costs. And that to me was a very important transaction for us. I would also say in one, we actually, we didn’t win, but was incredibly engaging and exciting was we actually then later on tried to take over Beverly Enterprises as a private equity or a private investment firm that we got into a fairly contentious battle with another bidder. And again, that one. And the other one is certainly Genesis Healthcare, right. And buying Genesis Healthcare and managing through again, very, very, very challenging times and finding our way to today, a still operating and improving infrastructure for our investors and as well as for the residents.

Beth Mace: (10:33)
So if I compare like today to the times that you were talking about today, we have an inflationary environment. We have rising interest rates, capital markets are changing again. So based on today’s situation some are saying recession in the near term future. What is there a new strategy? I think of you as often being someone who can step back and see the big picture and then come in and figure out a strategy to take advantage of exogenous situations. So is there something right now that you would want to share? What you’re thinking about?

Arnold Whitman: (11:07)
Yes, absolutely. And I appreciate the compliment and I think of myself sort of as a creative dance person.

Beth Mace: (11:14)
I do too.

Arnold Whitman: (11:15)
I also think of myself as you know, forward thinking as it relates to how is the creation of value realized? And my belief here… In the last two years for Formation Capital, I went from being really somewhat passive in the role of chairman to coming back in and actually for a period of time taking over as CEO and now as executive chairman. After going through a long period of acquisitions 2019 found us in a position where we were harvesting a lot of our transactions for our investors. So we spent a lot of time looking at opportunities that we had invested in and had improved on and then looking for liquidity. And then subsequently COVID came in 2020, which created a whole nother set of problems.

Arnold Whitman: (12:06)
But when I came back in, which was the beginning of 2020, having no idea that COVID was upon us, I bought out our equity partners and my strategy at the time was that due to my last seven or eight years experience in standing up the first venture capital firm dedicated to issues and concerns and problems with the aging population and that’s Generator Ventures. And again, we were the first venture capital firm to endeavor in that space. And if you go back seven or eight years ago, there weren’t a lot of people talking about technology in our industry. I mean, there was some but not a lot. And I think there was always a concern about how do you get adoption of technology with not only an older population that we’re serving, but a lot of providers and caregivers were fifties and sixties.

Arnold Whitman: (12:58)
The ability to adopt technology and integrate it was seen as a challenge pre COVID. It’s unfortunate that such a hardship as COVID could have done what it has done from a technology standpoint. The opportunity today to now do what the strategy has been. Which is how do I take innovation and technology and intersect it with enterprise and real estate? My belief when I started Generator Ventures was this intersection of technology innovation, real estate. And our model today, as we look to go forward is focused more on senior living. And when I say senior living, that’s wherever that senior lives. Whether it’s in their home or whether it’s in a community from an investment standpoint for Formation Capital, being more of a real estate firm, we’re focused on the senior living, whether it’s independent, CRCs. We have a model for assisted living. That’s a little bit different that we could get into as well, or even active adults. So larger communities. We have a fundamental belief that socialization is a huge driver of wellbeing and wellness. And actually, if you could measure it, you’d find that it in fact, keeps people healthier longer. I experienced that with my father and who had never wanted to go into any kind of a facility.

Beth Mace: (14:25)
Well, I think there’s studies that have shown that the socialization or lack of socialization, isolation is equivalent to smoking 10 cigarettes a day or something like that. There’s other studies like that are trying to just highlight the importance of socialization.

Arnold Whitman: (14:39)
Exactly. And I believe in that. There are people that have done research and will say, it’s interesting, socialization and movement are the two biggest drivers to wellbeing and health. And I heard that and I thought to myself, man movement. Some form of exercise, some form of movement and exercise, but that socialization piece is huge. Developing relationships and friendships is a huge driver of value in our estimation. So what we wanted to do was create… And my experience with Generator Ventures in many of the companies that we invested in brought us to a place where we saw the greatest concern or issue in our industry was and it kind of goes… I hate to jump way to the punchline because it’s kind of one of your last questions… Interoperability. In healthcare in general is really broken. I was at a meeting here about a month ago and Sema Alverma was speaking and she was talking about how interoperability is really not working.

Beth Mace: (15:47)
Can you say what you mean by interoperability?

Arnold Whitman: (15:49)
So interoperability is the ability to connect all of your technology. Integrating technology. So that you have a one system. In healthcare, people would think of it as can’t we have one EMR that everyone is working from.

Beth Mace: (16:09)
Electronic medical record.

Arnold Whitman: (16:09)
One technological infrastructure base from which everyone is utilizing to make it easier for the integration and the distribution of solutions.

Beth Mace: (16:23)
So based on your passion for technology I think you maybe want to give a little teaser to our audience of something that big might be happening at USC.

Arnold Whitman: (16:32)
Something big is going happen USC. At least if I have anything to say about

Beth Mace: (16:36)
University of Southern California.

Arnold Whitman: (16:38)
University of Southern California launched the first accredited school of gerontology. It’s called the Davis School Gerontology. Hasi Cohen is the dean there. Hasi and I have developed a deep friendship over the years and we’ve consistently talked about you know, the importance of again, integrating innovation and technology into their school. And so we have, and are in discussions to literally stand up a center for innovation and technology for aging. And I’m really proud to be a part of that. And looking forward to hopefully in the fall making some announcements, but underdevelopment. But I think from an education standpoint, from a training standpoint when you think about the stigmas that have been created in senior living, and even the word gerontology to me has kind of strange image. If you talk about addressing the largest population that expends the most amount of dollars and has the most chronic illness, it’s the senior aging population. People are waking up.

Arnold Whitman: (17:49)
And I say people, the rest of the healthcare system, which used to look down at senior living and senior care. Has now woken up to the fact that there’s a parody that’s here and hopefully going to continue to manifest itself. And what I can see as a huge opportunity, which is the fact that the senior population is spending the majority of the dollars in the healthcare system. And we as an industry sit in this really unique position, where how do you gain trust and engagement better than when you are seeing someone on a daily basis, you’re providing them with services, you’re providing them with activities, you’re providing them with healthcare. So I see this enormous opportunity evolving again, where the interoperability strategy is sort of a three-legged stool.

Arnold Whitman: (18:43)
We have a relationship with a company called Sky Point Cloud. Which is a technology infrastructure play. Just fundamental. It’s kind of what I call picks and axis, which is the integration of the existing technology. And it could be as simple as the benefit of a provider that runs 50 assisted living or senior care facilities. And they just want a dashboard of insights as to how their business is doing on a timely daily basis. Our goal is to not only integrate that technology, but to drive that to the point where you have what we call a 360 view of every resident that they have in all of their communities, to be able to not only engage with them, create a better quality experience, but through that trust and engagement, get adoption of certain benefits that would be provided through what we call centered care.

Arnold Whitman: (19:42)
And we look at this model and so centered care becomes that aggregator of solutions. And that’s everything from you got an iPad in your room, you’ve got connectivity to your family and your grandchildren, to your doctor. You use telehealth, you can order your meds. All of these elements of both social and clinical, we anticipate delivering in a bundle that makes it easier to utilize so that instead of in today’s world, where I see it as everything being siloed. Post COVID, it is astounding how much development there’s been now around this fact that the aging population is where all the dollars getting spent. So we’re seeing a lot of innovation. There’s a lot coming, but it’s specifically focused at falls, transportation, nutrition, fitness, communication. Whatever it might be, there are these sort of disparate solutions. What we envision is the ability to integrate a technology that enables you to create a simple dashboard approach for not only the caregiver, but for the resident and their family as well, to get both transparency and access to these benefits.

Arnold Whitman: (21:00)
One more important piece of value. If you were to go to Aetna, United health, Blue Cross Blue Shield, their MA plans. I think, I’m not making a proclamation here, that one of the biggest challenges that these MA plans have, which is obviously in high growth these days, and I believe will continue that way, is engagement in their benefits. They have these wonderful benefits, but they don’t get engagement. Well, guess what, the senior living or active adult provider, they’re going have the benefit of having a personal relationship, that gain trust that is get engagement. In my opinion, that now becomes valuable to that payer.

Beth Mace: (21:45)
Like eyes on them for 24/7 type things.

Arnold Whitman: (21:49)
Correct. Then you create an experience and the clinical support and the care support. So that 24/7 that person feels safe. That person has access. And if something happens, some event takes place, the first move is not 911.

Beth Mace: (22:09)
Right. Which will save a lot of money by not going to the ER.

Arnold Whitman: (22:13)
Not going to the ER. We all know that the 80 plus year old person with shortness of breath, goes to the ER. It’s eight to one they’re going into the hospital. By the way, it costs $3,000 to transfer.

Beth Mace: (22:31)
I want to get to know the topic if you can.

Arnold Whitman: (22:37)
Slow, you have to slow down. I’ll just keep going.

Beth Mace: (22:40)
So we’re have so long. So I want to ask you, so you’re a pretty busy guy. You’re executive chair for mission capital. You already talked about Generator Ventures. You also currently serve on the board of Genesis HC1 in the UK, Asha, VICA, chronic care management. You’ve been very involved as an active partner in Aging 2.0. So how do you do that? This is sort of a personal question in the sense of our listeners are trying to figure out how you can manage and balance all these things. Plus you love your family. You’re involved with your family. You’re involved in basketball, which you’ll get into a little bit more. So how do you possibly manage all that?

Arnold Whitman: (23:16)
Well let’s just add one of the truths. OK. I don’t have cancer.

Beth Mace: (23:21)
Oh you don’t have cancer. OK. Well, let’s talk about that too.

Arnold Whitman: (23:24)
It’s important in your question here because it’s important for what my perception is. What my answer to your question is a little different today than it would’ve been maybe five, 10 years ago. I’ve now given away one of the truths that’s which is just miraculous. I had stage four cancer one year ago and a 50/50 shot of survival. And I sit here today, cancer free. And that’s just amazing. I will admit that one of my flaws in life and in business has been, I just love what I do. I love putting things on my plate, but I’m not sure I really thought through how do you resolve all of these things you’re putting on your plate when it becomes time to start thinking about slowing down in life and looking at life a little bit differently?

Arnold Whitman: (24:25)
My answer though, to the fundamentals is why I engage with all of these things is to me, engagement is an incredibly important part of my being and my wellbeing. Important things in my life. My family comes first. My health is right there. I can’t do much for my family if my health isn’t good, but then it became so apparent to me even going through this illness, that engagement in with people that you care about people you love, things you love to do is just so powerful in terms of giving one purpose. And for me, looking at these things, I love people. I love being involved in these different activities that sometimes is a little overwhelming, but it’s also a chance for additional engagement and putting different pieces together.

Arnold Whitman: (25:21)
My career has been about identifying people, opportunities and situations and figuring out how to put these things together, to create value. And again, the beauty of our business is that unlike almost anything else and especially our society today, don’t want to go down the political rabbit hole.

Beth Mace: (25:42)
No, let’s not do that.

Arnold Whitman: (25:42)
The creation of value both socially and economically is a really powerful thing. And senior living has that ability to do that. And it’s interesting because if you provide a good quality of life experience, a good quality of life for people, you’re actually providing healthcare without even knowing it. I guarantee you, if we actually could collect the data that the health of people who are just in communities, whether it’s just daily activities or activities of daily living and nutrition and activities and socialization, they are going fare better than the individual that’s isolated and is alone.

Arnold Whitman: (26:24)
Obviously there are cases where people are home with their family and have that support and that’s going to be a different situation. But I think engagement in all of these different boards and activities and businesses gives me a chance at a somewhat high level to be a bit of an orchestrator rather than a grinder, right. There are different types of people and different skill sets. For me, I think it is actually conducive to where my strengths are and that’s why it manifested itself the way it did.

Beth Mace: (26:56)
Wow. Well, I for one am thrilled that you’re doing so well and that you’re cancer free, so that’s fantastic. That’s great. So we have some standard questions that we usually asked during the podcast, and one of the big ones in the industry is labor and talent. You’re exposed to a lot of operators. You talk at a lot of panels. What’s one way that you think we can grow talent in our industry?

Arnold Whitman: (27:22)
We talked about developing innovation technology center at USC. I think destigmatizing our industry is not like you can just flip a switch and change. I think we we’ll always struggle with it to a certain extent, but I think the more compelling that we can make our industry as to it being a really interesting and fulfilling opportunity for not just working and providing services and care, but literally growing into real value creation. And it serves that type of person that is focused on giving back, right? I used used to make this correlation between, or I used to ask the question, what’s the correlation between capital and care, right? It’s like, those are like strange bedfellows.

Arnold Whitman: (28:17)
When you think about it, the capitalist who wants to make money, and the care giver that cares about people. The importance is the alignment, right. That alignment to me is the solution. And it’s interesting because to me, even in our economy, why we can’t bring economics and social value in an integrated way, culturally, it seems to make sense. Nobody seems to talk about it. In our industry, it is a truth. From a labor perspective, we have challenges, and challenges are going to remain. I do think there are shifts today that are going to bifurcate both our industry and the labor dynamic. I think better incentives and alignment where people are able to realize… Laborers today when they see the CEO making billions, and they’re making $15 an hour or $20 an hour there’s a disconnect there.

Arnold Whitman: (29:23)
Right? So, and I don’t think there’s a lot of that in our industry, but it’s an exaggerated example of the importance of the creation of value, if perceived appropriately around that social piece and how important it is for caregivers and recognizing and rewarding those laborers and those workers at any level. Whether it’s at the bedside or whether it’s in corporate or whether it’s investors, the more you can get alignment of incentives and value. The more I think you can overcome issues around labor challenges. You don’t do it overnight. Again, there’s been this move toward labor having so many more options, I don’t believe will last. And I also believe that we are so innovative and the last piece will be technology is a way, and is already demonstrating to me ways in which we can be more efficient with paperwork. I mean, it’s hard to believe that we still have communities that don’t have wifi.

Beth Mace: (30:25)

Arnold Whitman: (30:26)
Really? As we start to adopt means in which we can do things from a digital standpoint and from a more efficient way of delivering services and take caregivers away from the administrative elements and really be focused on the caregiving. I think it enriches their job. And I think it brings more people and more options available and creates a better environment. So there’s no silver bullet here. In my mind it’s a challenge it’s going to be challenging, but I think we are we always adapt. Our industry’s always been very good at adapting. And I think what one of the things we will see is this almost merging of some of the technologies that have been utilized in staffing companies that may be viewed as pariahs today. Oh these staffing companies are taking advantage. That think about integrating the staffing technology into the operations where they’re utilizing tools to better identify the right people, the right positions, knowing in advance where there may be a need. Where the efficiency is in the labor. So I think there’s different elements that we can address the labor issues.

Beth Mace: (31:43)
Flexibility is one of those examples. So if you work in a temp agency, you have much more control of your own schedule. Surveys are increasingly showing that staff want flexibility. So that’s one of the lessons that could be learned from there.

Arnold Whitman: (31:56)
I agree with that, Beth.

Beth Mace: (31:58)
So let’s go back to the other statements that we started at the beginning, and I’m going to start with tell us a little bit about basketball. Basketball in your life. And I think you’ve won a few medals on that. Is that

Arnold Whitman: (32:11)
True? Yeah. I am a gym rat at heart.

Beth Mace: (32:16)
You’re a marathon runner.

Arnold Whitman: (32:17)
I’ve been a marathon runner. I’m not any longer, but I ran 46 marathons. Little obsessive compulsive, I think. Might be a type A. Basketball has always been, first of all, I love the game of basketball. Basketball is a beautiful thing to me. I mean it’s one of those things where when you go play basketball, I almost think of it almost like a dance form or a meditation where you can’t be thinking of what’s happening tomorrow, or what happened to me last week, you have to be present. You’re getting exercise, you’re working with others. The elements of how the game works and then strategy and then performance and fitness. All of these things I think are fascinating and have always been attractive to me.

Arnold Whitman: (33:04)
I was an Allstate basketball player in high school in Massachusetts. And I went on a full athletic scholarship for basketball in college and played division one college basketball. And then I stopped for a long period of time. Literally till I, gosh, probably my mid thirties. I went from probably when I was 28 to 35, where I just stopped and I got outta shape. And I woke up one day and decided I was going to get in shape. I was going to stop drinking beer and I was going to run a marathon. And I dropped 40 pounds over a period of time. And of course one was not enough. So I then continued pursuing that. And I started a strategy with marathons where I ran three months on three months off and I ran two a year for 20 years. And at the same time when my three months were off, I played basketball. So I was always doing something. And then when I turned 50 I found out about what was an organization called the National Senior Games. And the National Senior Games has held every two years in some city. And it is a Olympic platform for people over 50 and every five years is a different age group, a different division. I put a team together in Atlanta and we proceeded to enter into this national championship and low and behold, we won the first time we put the team in. We won the championship and I think over, let’s see, I think it’s every two years since I turned 50, I am now 70.

Arnold Whitman: (34:44)
So over 20 years, 10/11 tournaments. We’ve probably won seven. We are five time defending gold champions in the National Senior Games. And just to put a little cherry on top, I was the first person three years ago at Albuquerque to win two gold medals in two different divisions. So the 60 year old division and the 65 year old division. The last one is I was fortunate enough to play on the USA master’s team organization called the Federation of International Masters Basketball. I played on the U.S. over 60 team. This goes back about six, seven years ago. 16 countries competed and I was fortunate again to win the gold game. Love the game.

Beth Mace: (35:34)
That’s a great story for how it’s affected your entire life. Last question of the true and false statements is, were you a founding member of NIC? Is that true?

Arnold Whitman: (35:45)
You know, it’s funny you ask that. I was thinking about the question two nights ago and I was sitting with my wife and I said to her, “I think I got an idea for the false statement.” I’m going to say I was a founder of NIC. And my wife by the way, was 14 years at HCPI before they became Peak. And she’s an industry professional.

Beth Mace: (36:08)
Yeah. She knows the industry.

Arnold Whitman: (36:09)
She knows the industry and she turns to me, she goes, you weren’t.

Arnold Whitman: (36:15)
And I get a lot of times people will say that to me, they’ll say, well, you were a founder of NIC, right? And the truth is no, I wasn’t. There was kind of a transitional period from 1990 where Al Holbrook and Bob Aranian started an event in Atlanta that evolved the next year, 1991 into the formalization of the launching of NIC and the four founders at that point were Bob Kramer, Tony Mullen, God rest his soul, Al Holbrook. And did I say Tony Mullen? I did. And Bob Aranian

Beth Mace: (36:55)
You’ve attended how many of the NIC conferences?

Arnold Whitman: (37:00)
You know, I didn’t miss one until I got sick, unfortunately. And you know, I think I made the first 27 and I think I missed the 28th.

Beth Mace: (37:10)
And you’ve been on the board at NIC, you and I overlapped on the board for a while.

Arnold Whitman: (37:14)
Yeah. I’ve been on the board twice and I’ve been chairman of the board once.

Beth Mace: (37:18)
So you’ve been very involved.

Arnold Whitman: (37:20)
The launching of NIC really paralleled with, even though I’ve been in the business for a bit, that transformation of creating an asset class, which NIC provided research and infrastructure for the stimulation of capital, or as they would say, capital formation, which is not lost on me. I like that word. Why don’t, how about formation capital

Beth Mace: (37:48)

Arnold Whitman: (37:49)
That dynamic of the founding of that really coincided with the escalation of the opportunities that are present today and the evolution of what NIC has done for the industry and what it does now is just unbelievable, outstanding. Hats off to Bob Kramer and the work he’s done and the work you’ve done, the work the whole, the whole organization has done is just it’s remarkable

Beth Mace: (38:13)
So well on behalf of NIC, thank you for all your input and insights and very good ideas that you’ve shared with us over the years. So it’s been really helpful.

Arnold Whitman: (38:22)
Thank you.

Beth Mace: (38:23)
So I could talk to you for a very long time and I’m looking at the time and I think we’re almost at the end of our time right now together. So is there any closing comment you want to make to our audience?

Arnold Whitman: (38:36)
We talk about technology. The human element is really what the creation of value proposition has in my mind is, is all about. We can’t lose sight of the fact that no matter what we do from advancing or integrating technology or different types of care plans or management over populations or whatever it might be, but the human element of what our population is now, not only needs, but wants. If you ever do anything in this business and lose sight of the fact that it’s all about the value of an individual’s life, and then being able to scale that in some kind of way to community. When I talk about the intersection of innovation technology and senior housing, which by the way my belief is that there’s an ability here to create this third party solution, both social and clinical, that drives real estate value.

Arnold Whitman: (39:48)
That’s a big thing that I’m not so sure too many people are really focused on, is this is an operating business inside of real estate. And if we can drive additional value through additional services and reduce costs at the same time, but improve quality, which is really the goal. And again, develop that experience. There’s so much to me in terms of value of engagement and experience of your residents and that population. That impact and that value driver is just, there’s so much opportunity for us as an industry today to bring ourselves… I talked about parody before. We are now at a point where the rest of the industry, when I say rest of the industry, whether that’s health systems, whether that’s payers. Historically they’ve made all the demand, pharmaceutical companies they’ve made all had all the leverage and all the prep. Data is currency, right.

Beth Mace: (40:52)

Arnold Whitman: (40:53)
Data and the ability to integrate with that human element, as an industry we sit in a remarkable, remarkable position. Do not give up your data. If you do make sure there’s alignment, right? So because what happens in my opinion is the big boys, they know exactly what they’re doing when they come to you and say, “Hey, we’ll partner with you, but we’ve gotta control the data.” There’s a reason, there’s a reason why you hear that.

Beth Mace: (41:32)
I like to say that our podcast focuses on talking to somebody who’s going to bring some humor and some insights and a lot of authenticity. And I would say for me, a light, bulb’s gone off a few times with some of the comments that you’ve shared today. So I really appreciate it so much. And again, congratulations on your victory statement of being a year past cancer. It’s fantastic.

Arnold Whitman: (41:57)
Thank you so much.

Beth Mace: (41:59)
All right. Take care.

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