NIC Chats Podcast with John Cochrane

“The senior housing industry shouldn’t be afraid to disrupt itself,” said John Cochrane, president and CEO of HumanGood, on the latest NIC Chats podcast with Beth Mace. Listen to Cochrane share how HumanGood is embracing change by working to apply its existing operational models to lower-income middle market housing, integrating technology, and offering healthcare services to create positive long-term outcomes for residents. The old notions of aging are going away, but Cochrane has confidence that the senior housing industry can adapt as it always has. “I’ve been in this field now for almost 30 years. I have never been more excited about the future of our field, about the importance of our field, about the opportunities in our field than I am today.”



Beth Mace: (00:04)
Hello, and welcome to the NIC Chats podcast. My name is Beth Mace, and I am NIC’s chief economist. Thank you for joining us.

Beth Mace: (00:14)
The focus of the NIC Chats podcast is talking to interesting people that have ideas that I think you’d 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 the light bulb may go off for you. Let me tell you a bit about the structure of today’s event. First, I will tell you three statements about my guest, two of which 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? Followed by a question about one thing we can do to grow talent in our industry. And third, what is one innovative way or idea to strengthen our industry? Now, as they say, on with the show. So I’m delighted today that our NIC Chats podcast discussion is going to be with John Cochrane. John is the president and the CEO of HumanGood. John, thank you so much for joining us,

John Cochrane: (01:12)
Beth, it’s great to be with you today.

Beth Mace: (01:14)
As I mentioned, I have three statements about John. Two of these are true and one is not. And throughout the podcast, we’ll find out. And I want to let you know, I don’t even know which of these are true, which is false. Normally I do. So we’ll see how this plays out. So the statements include John speaks Russian, John has hiked approximately two thirds of the Appalachian Trail. My husband’s done a lot of that too, so maybe you’ve seen him along the way, if that’s true, and that you handled the sale of the Plaza Hotel to Donald Trump. So now everyone’s going to have to stay tuned a little bit for the entire podcast to see which is actually true. So John, let’s start with you and uman Good. So you’re the president and CEO of HumanGood, as I said. And that’s the nation’s sixth largest not-for-profit organization that provides housing, healthcare, and support services for older adults. Can you tell us about HumanGood and about your role as CEO and president?

John Cochrane: (02:10)
Sure. I’ve been with HumanGood for 14 years, and I came to the organization when it was Southern California Presbyterian Homes, an organization with six retirement communities, and I think 13 affordable housing communities. And now thanks to growth, both through organic development and through affiliation. We have 22 continuing care retirement communities or life plan communities, and just under a hundred affordable housing communities. So 5,000 team members. We’re spread across eight states. And in our field, we kind of represent the ends of the barbell. We do relatively high-end market rate continuing care communities, very, very typical for that business, I would say with some mix of independent living, assisted skilled and memory support. And then at the other end of the barbell, we do the affordable housing through a number of various programs subsidized through the government, through HUD. And so these are very low service communities. Typically, we do housing, we provide common spaces and then we do service coordination. We don’t do direct service provision. We connect people to service providers like Meals on Wheels if they need nutrition support, VA services, county mental health services, whatever services they may require individually to live their best lives independently.

Beth Mace: (03:42)
Well, that’s fantastic. That’s doing a lot of good in that HumanGood. So actually tell us about the…

John Cochrane: (03:47)
It is doing a lot for HumanGood. But you know, it’s interesting because you’ve probably already noticed what’s missing out of that is the big gap in the middle. And I know this has been a big focus for NIC. It’s a big focus for us. And that’s, I think the big industry challenge and opportunity is how do we get into that middle space.

Beth Mace: (04:03)
That’s great. So we’ll get to that in one minute. But first, can you tell us about the name HumanGood? You said you changed names from Southern California Presbyterian Homes. When did that happen and why HumanGood?

John Cochrane: (04:14)
So that happened when we did the affiliation with American Baptist Homes of the West. And when we brought the first two, we did our first big affiliation, which was Southern California Presbyterian Homes and American Baptist Homes of the West. We realized we needed a new identity, both to signal that we were a new organization, but also to get away from a denominationally associated faith-based identity. And we thought that that was probably not reflective of who we were anymore and not reflective of who we were going to be going forward. And so we embarked on… We hired a brand strategist to help us create and find an identity that would reflect both who we are, but more importantly, reflect who we needed to be going forward and reflect the positive change we wanted to have on the world.

John Cochrane: (05:04)
And so we hired this brand expert, and first thing he told us is, it’s almost impossible to find a name you can own. Every word in the dictionary is owned by somebody. And so it’s a challenge to find the right descriptor, which is why you find all these companies with made up hybrid names. And when he came to roll out the name to me, he, he had three potential identities two with made up names and then HumanGood. And he put them out there and I immediately gravitated to HumanGood. He was thrilled because he thought that was some of the best work he’d done in the branding world. And I thought it resonated with everything we’ve always been as an organization. Everything we’ve stood for, and most importantly, everything we aspired to be as we go forward.

John Cochrane: (05:51)
But you’re never sure any of these are big changes. They’re expensive changes. They’re emotional changes for organizations and for individuals. And so I prepared a fairly involved presentation for our board, as you can imagine. And I’m walking through this whole presentation around brands that work, brands that don’t work, what messages get conveyed in brands, how we use brands to advance our missions and our organizations. And then I unveiled the name of HumanGood to them. And there was, I’ve only got a seven member board, and there was silence in the room for just a moment as people looked at this. And it was kind of the moment of truth. And at the time I had an 80 year old former American Baptist missionary on the board. And I didn’t know her terribly well because this was a new affiliation and hers is the first hand to go up.

John Cochrane: (06:38)
And I think, oh gosh, now I’m going to get a lecture on how we’re moving away from our roots and why this is bad. And how am I going to handle this. She raises her hand. I call on her and bless her heart, she said, I think it is brilliant. I think this name speaks to everything we’ve tried to do as an organization. Everything we hope to be as an organization. I love it. She said, I only have one question, and this was the only question, real question the board asked about the name change. Are we willing to live up to the name of HumanGood. It’s a big bold name. And if we’re going to put that out there to the public, we got to be willing to stand behind it. And so that’s how we came to be HumanGood.

Beth Mace: (07:21)
Wow. It’s aspirational. So you said you were living up to that and that was a number of years ago. So have you aspired to what you want it to be? Or what are you excited about now as you look forward into the future?

John Cochrane: (07:34)
Well, I’m excited about a bunch of things. And I think that living up to the name is a daily challenge for us. And it’s actually something we talk about internally at HumanGood a lot. That’s a story that we retell this idea of are we willing to live up to our name? And I think it’s one of those things that it’s not a box we ever check off and say, well we, we’ve done that, now we can move on. It’s an everyday challenge. And so I think that as I look at how we’ve advanced our business, how we’ve navigated the disruption of the last decade, I think the answer is yes. I think particularly it’s a big yes in the work we do in affordable housing, for example, growing that portfolio as aggressively as we can within the very tight limitations we have around trying to develop affordable housing.

John Cochrane: (08:20)
We know the needs overwhelming, and I could not be more proud of our development teams, our operating teams, and our service coordinating teams for the work they do on a budget of almost nothing delivering high quality buildings, high quality communities, high quality services with truly just life enhancing opportunities for people to live their best lives. And so I think the answer is yes, we’re living into it, but I think there’s more work to be done. And so when you talk about what am I excited about for the future? It’s kind of everything in our field, right? This is such an exciting time to be in this field. The aging demographics are unbelievable, not just kind of locally, nationally, they’re exploding globally. And so this is going to have an enormous impact on our world.

John Cochrane: (09:11)
And so that’s an area of real opportunity. I think attitudes around aging are changing fairly dramatically. And that’s really exciting for me because I think that change is overdue as we’ve added this extra 30, 40 years of life. And increasingly, those are quality years of life. I think we’re recognizing that the old notions of retirement need to go away. They’re antiquated, they’re outdated, they’re unattractive to people. And so I think that our field is helping to lead some of those conversations and address some of those changes. And then, as I mentioned earlier about the middle market, I think our field is great at both ends of the barbell. We are really good at high end market rate communities, and that’s terrific. I think we at HumanGood and others are great at serving the very low end through subsidized housing with services, but it leaves an enormous gap in the middle. And I think that’s both the challenge and the tremendous opportunity we have as a field.

Beth Mace: (10:11)
Yeah, I totally agree. And for those who might not know, NIC did a, I’d say seminal study in 2019 called “The Forgotten Middle.” And we define that forgotten middle as those individuals who are unlikely to qualify for Medicaid and may not have enough resources to pay for a private senior housing as it exists today. So it’s a big gap. NIC estimates added over 14 million people in the year 2029. And it’s the school teachers and the firefighters and sort of the people who support all of us all the time. So it’s a big challenge. What are you doing on that front in middle market, or what are you thinking about?

John Cochrane: (10:51)
Well, so that front is I, again, I think it’s tremendously exciting because the need is there and it’s going to get more acute. So the need is there today. But if you look at the demographics in the next 10, 20 years, both with respect to the growing middle population, but also with the shift that’s coming in labor and the shrinking labor force, all these forces are conspiring to say, we’ve got to get this figured out relatively quickly of how to efficiently address and meaningfully address successful aging for this middle market. And so what I see happening in our field is a lot of providers on the CCRC or life plan side, kind of working their way down and looking at how they can rejigger their portfolios and their programs to make their offerings attractive to a larger group of people.

John Cochrane: (11:40)
And that’s fine, but maybe that takes from the 80th percentile down to the 70th. So I don’t think we’re going to get terribly far into the middle market doing that alone. So I don’t want to denigrate anyone’s efforts on those fronts. I think they’re important. I think they’re needed. I think we need more of them. It’s just not enough. And so what we’re trying to do is something a little bit different. And that is, I referenced earlier how impressed I am with the folks on our team who do affordable housing, the development, the maintenance of those buildings, the operations of those buildings and the services that we provide and the impact that we have is tremendous on a shoestring budget. And so we’re trying to look at can we take that model and leverage it up into the lower middle income market?

John Cochrane: (12:29)
And while that’s our desire, I will say it’s our ambition. We’re still working on that and we are not giving up on it. I’ve not yet found the path to do that in a way that is replicable or scalable. Particularly in the markets we serve now we’re concentrated heavily on the west coast and in Philadelphia. Philadelphia not quite so much, but you look at our markets of Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, they’re tremendously expensive real estate markets. And by the time we get done modeling out building an affordable housing program and trying to make it a market rate program geared towards the lower middle income folks we just haven’t found a way to get past the development barriers there and make it affordable. We’re not giving up. But that’s, I think, the big challenge. But I think that’s also what makes some of us in the not-for-profit space unique. I think that we have the opportunity and probably more than that, the obligation to try to step in and fill that need.

Beth Mace: (13:29)
Yeah. So you’re talking about the real estate being expensive on the middle market. It’s also the healthcare and the, just the care activities of daily living care that’s also expensive because that’s so labor intensive. So and we’re seeing more and more of the integration of healthcare into our industry. What are some of the ways that you’re approaching that in general across your portfolio, but then if you have any ideas for middle market as well?

John Cochrane: (13:53)
Yeah, you bring up a really great point, which is it’s not just the housing, which is out of reach for people. It is the healthcare piece and that piece nobody’s yet figured out. I think this is where technology is going to play an absolutely key role in helping us access these people with affordable services that produce desired outcomes. And I think that’s we’re deploying clinics into our communities. We’re looking at deploying mobile clinics that will access our affordable housing. So we’re looking at can we use our life plan or continuing care communities as medical hubs and send services into our adjacent affordable housing communities, which can’t support a full-time clinic, for example. And can we marry that kind of mobile in-person interaction with technology that will allow us to assess and intervene with, again, desired impact on people before health issues present themselves.

Beth Mace: (14:53)
Is that a telehealth program?

John Cochrane: (14:55)
It’s more than that because I think telehealth is still a reactionary technology in many respects. It’s, I’m sick and I can connect with my doctor. Now the good news is it still gives people much better, quicker access to medical care than they would otherwise perhaps have. But I think what we’re looking for is that and the addition of can we bring in predictive technologies that will assess where we are today, allow us to design personalized interventions to prevent bad outcomes down the road, or delay those outcomes or speed recoveries in ways that are good for the market and good for the individual. And that’s where I’m so excited about technology having a really positive and powerful impact on healthcare, particularly for the middle market.

Beth Mace: (15:46)
Can you give us an example of that? What would be a predictive technology that might do something like that or preventative?

John Cochrane: (15:53)
There are a couple of things. One is we’re working with a technology company that uses a platform to assess stability. So you and I would hop on this platform and within 15 seconds of just standing there, it can kind of read how our body is working to maintain stability. Why does that matter? Well, false are our number one source of insured loss as a company. And it is an industry. They’re seniors, number one, fear as they age. Because we all know nothing bad, nothing good comes from from a fall, right? And their family’s number one source of concern for their relatives. And so this technology will allow us to go in and put John Cochran on this platform and say, Hey, you’re low risk of a fall. Your stability is looking really good.

John Cochrane: (16:44)
And we measure that over time so we can track over time is my stability maintaining or am I losing ground. If I’m losing ground even a little bit, it now allows us to go in with a personalized intervention designed to reverse that trend while it’s easily done with, again, measurable impact. So that’s one example. I think there are other examples around mental health and depression and dementia that can detect early signs of these conditions before they clinically manifest. Why is that important? Because the earlier we can intervene, the more positive sustained outcome we can have at the other end. So just two small examples of where I think technology can be deployed easily to have an almost outsized impact on quality of life, quality of healthcare and social cost.

Beth Mace: (17:38)
And are those affordable? Can you, like the one that you were describing of sort of measuring your balance, is that something that’s affordable? Because I hear a lot of technology is out there, but I hear a lot of operators say, well, yeah, but I can’t really afford it.

John Cochrane: (17:52)
Yeah, I think there’s always the question of how we give people e economic access to these things, how we scale them appropriately. I think the short answer is yes, they are affordable, they’re not terrifically expensive technologies at scale. I think the challenge as I see it, is we have to prove, and this comes back to why data I think is going to be so important to our future as a field. We have to prove what we know intuitively, which is if I can go in and assess my stability and maintain that stability longer, I’m going to utilize fewer health resources down the road. I’m going to delay a hip replacement, delay a knee replacement, avoid a fall, avoid a hospitalization, avoid skilled nursing care and rehab, or at least delay that potentially for decades. Intuitively we know there’s economic value tied to these interventions.

John Cochrane: (18:49)
What we have to do is prove that economic value and then go to the source of who’s otherwise going to be on the hook for paying for that intervention and get support to prevent it. And so it’s a complicated process. It’s not easy. We’re not there yet. I think our healthcare system is still struggling with how to make the shift from reactionary. You know, you break it, we fix it, care to, let’s not break it in the first place. But I think we’re stumbling our way there. And I think the demographic changes that we’ve alluded to earlier are going to force that change in a really significant way. We are not going to be able to afford to staff or intervene when we’re doing work that’s, i’ll I’ll say unnecessary because it could otherwise have been prevented.

Beth Mace: (19:37)
Right. So what I’m hearing is it’s also a common theme. We just had our spring conference and we talked a lot about social determinants of health and what you’re referring to right here and also the importance of data. So that’s a definitely a theme that NIC has been pushing for a while. So let me go back to your statements of true and false and is it true that you have hiked approximately two thirds of the Appalachian Trail

John Cochrane: (20:02)
Now, I’m curious why you chose that one as your first question..

Beth Mace: (20:06)
I don’t know, it just came to me.

John Cochrane: (20:10)
So it’s funny, I use that one because I love to hike and people who know me know that we’re outside hiking all the time. I love to be outdoors and I live in Los Angeles, so around Los Angeles we have all kinds of hiking. The Malibu mountains, I mean, just spectacular hiking. But no, I have yet to set foot on the Appalachian Trail.

Beth Mace: (20:32)
Is that true? Well, okay, well I’m going to tell you, my husband’s done a lot of it and it’s fantastic. I think it’s different hiking on the west coast. It’s much more rocky. You need like hands and feet as you do a lot of it because you’re climbing up and down. So we’ll come back to the other two in a moment then. So

John Cochrane: (20:51)
No, I’ve not hiked any of the Appalachian trail. It’s funny cause that’s usually the one that people guess I have done.

Beth Mace: (20:58)
Well, so we’ll come back to the other comments. So let’s talk a little bit about you and your career path and how you ended up where you are today of all the different occupations and careers that you could have. Why did you choose this one that you’re in today?

John Cochrane: (21:15)
Well, I chose it by accident. Like so many people in our field. I never, ever expected to be in this field at all. Had no attraction for me, no pull, no interest. And it’s frankly a field I never looked at. So after college, I went to law school in Chicago. Went to work at a law firm in downtown Chicago and was happily practicing law by which I will admit, I was just miserable, but everyone was miserable. So I was just right in there with everybody else, and I was practicing real estate zoning and land use law. And one night on vacation in Florida, my wife and I were on vacation at her parents’ home in Florida. They were hosting a meal for a group they supported at the Boca Raton Club in Boca Raton. And invited Lisa and I to join them for dinner. And I thought, well, free dinner at the Boca Club, why not? And so I said, sure. So I went and my father-in-law said, well, I want to introduce you to somebody that I think you’ll like and could be a potential client for you. His name’s John Erickson.

John Cochrane: (22:25)
So I sat next to John and Nancy and I was mesmerized by his vision of what was true kind of middle market at the time, middle market housing large scale communities, active, vibrant. And I thought, wow, what a great guy to get as a client. So I went to Baltimore to get him as a client for my law practice. And we took a tour of what was in his one community, Charlestown in Baltimore. Yeah. And as I walked through this community with 2000 independent living residents, I was blown away. I’d never seen anything like this. It was like a human ant farm. People were going to clubs, choirs and engagements. And I was struck by the size and the activity. I was struck by the relationship John had with his residents and with his team members and with the family members who happened to be there. And at lunch he said to me, because he knew I was out there to pitch him as a client, he said John, I can find lawyers on any street corner. You guys are a dime a dozen. I don’t need more lawyers. He said my challenge in growing my business is finding people to carry the mission and vision forward. And at that point I shocked myself by saying if you’ve got a place for me here, I’d love to come work for you. And to this day, I almost can’t believe I did that. And sure enough, six weeks later we had our apartment for sale in Chicago. I had moved into John’s spare bedroom in his home in Maryland. I was commuting to work in a new field. And in 30 years in this business, I can look back and say, I have never, I’ve had plenty of days that didn’t go according to any kind of plan I would’ve rolled out, but I’ve never had a day that I didn’t wake up eager and happy and excited about doing this work. And I’ve realized particularly as I’ve aged and grown in my career, very few people get to say that in life. And I think you hear that a lot from people in our field. Yeah. And so I stumbled into this purely by accident, and I couldn’t be happier that I did.

Beth Mace: (24:36)
So we have a lot of people that listen to this podcast. So if there’s a younger person, maybe you’ve just inspired them, but what enticed you about that other than John’s personality?

John Cochrane: (24:48)
You know, I think what enticed me as I looked at John and walked through the community, I realized the complexity of the work he was doing and that actually attracted me the idea that this is not easy work. There’s just a lot of puzzle pieces to put together. And so intellectually that appealed to me. But more than that, I think I looked at the nexus between that complicated work and the outsized impact that John was able to have both on the residents and you could just see the relationship with the residents. They were thrilled to be living in this community. They would’ve told you they’re living better here than they would’ve been living in their homes. So their life had measurably improved and the same thing was true for his team members. And I looked at that and thought, I’ve never realized you could marry kind of complex business and purpose in such a powerful and lasting way.

Beth Mace: (25:46)
Wow. Well, I sort of feel the same thing. I would say my person like that wasn’t John Erickson, but would be Bob Kramer. Yeah. We know Bob. He could get you to walk off a bridge. Right. Pretty easily. But he’s so passionate about our industry too, so yeah.

John Cochrane: (26:02)
We need more people like him telling those stories because I suspect Bob has brought more people along in our field than almost anyone else whether it’s the future leaders council or just the public speaking work he’s done. But I think for many of us, you included, we’re senior leaders in our field, we get out and talk about what we do in our jobs. I think people listening understand, wow, these are big jobs. They’re complex jobs. They’re challenging jobs, they’re interesting jobs. And when all said and done, they’re important jobs. We’re all doing something that matters. To people, matters to families, matters to our team members. And that’s just gratifying in a way that I’m not sure I could’ve even understood as a 22 year old. Yeah.

Beth Mace: (26:49)
I think that’s your new tagline. It matters.

John Cochrane: (26:52)
It matters.

Beth Mace: (26:53)
It absolutely matters. There you go.

Beth Mace: (26:59)
Let’s step back a little bit to talk more about the industry. So you made mentioned earlier on that it’s been a number of years where we’ve had significant challenges from the lack of labor to labor expenses to inflation, to COVID of course. which we’re still feeling. Inflation, higher interest rates. So where are we with all that? Because you’re still enthusiastic about the industry, so how do you offset some of the challenges with some of the optimism that you also have?

John Cochrane: (27:33)
Well, I think as I look through and look at the challenges today, and they’re daunting and they’re real, right? And they’re varied and there seems to be so much coming over the bow and you just articulated a number of the labor inflation, economic uncertainty,

John Cochrane: (27:52)
I guess none of those worry me very much. if you look back at a longer arc of 50 years in our field, we’ve navigated inflation before, we’ve navigated recessions before, we’ve navigated wars before. We’ve navigated these challenges and disruptions. And so I think it’s helpful whenever you’re encountering challenge and disruption to put that in some long-term perspective and remind ourselves that we know how to get through this. That we’ve gotten through this kind of stuff before. And so this is not new. It may be new for us, but it’s not new for folks in business. We know how to navigate these kinds of challenges. And in a curious way, I would look back at the experience of the last few years navigating COVID. And as tough as that has been for all of us personally and professionally and corporately, what I would say is it should also give us a real boost to say we’ve navigated the biggest disruption the world has seen in 50 years.

John Cochrane: (28:53)
Nobody has seen anything like this on such a sustained basis in our lifetimes. And well, I would say we certainly didn’t navigate it perfectly. We navigated it successfully. And so I don’t think HumanGood is alone in a curious way of coming through this and being stronger than when we went into this. And part of it as we learned new skills, we’ve been agile in ways that we wouldn’t have guessed we would’ve been successful at five years ago. We’ve had to learn to pivot. We’ve had to learn to take on more work, push off more work. And so those skills will help us navigate the disruption you just mentioned. Labor’s going to be a huge disruption. We need to get on it. I think we are focused on it. I think we’re aware of it and we’ll find solutions to that over time.

John Cochrane: (29:45)
I think the bigger challenge that I see for the field, and it concerns me for our organization and for most organizations is I think many of us are operating on a somewhat outdated business and programmatic model that’s no longer as attractive or compelling to the market. It’s simply a need driven decision. And I think we’ve lost that balance between this being an aspirational move and a reactionary desperation move. We need to disrupt ourselves a little bit again, programmatically, financially to understand the market has shifted and we need to shift a little bit more than we have to position ourselves for long-term success. And the willingness to disrupt yourself, the ability to see the need for that disruption, the ability to see around the corner about what that disruption means in terms of how we position ourselves, what we let go of, what we take on, being willing to try things, being willing to fail.

John Cochrane: (30:49)
I think those are skills that we still need to hone to make this turn. And I think that’s the bigger concern I have is I look around our field and I still see, I guess more resistance to that kind of change. It’s hard to disrupt yourself. It’s hard to disrupt a current model that’s working, even if you know it’s not going to work in five or 10 years. It’s hard to disrupt that model. And we’ve seen it with all kinds of industries. I mean, you can go to Kodak, you can look in a bunch of companies and ask why did they fail to disrupt themselves? Well, it’s not always because they didn’t see change coming, it’s because they couldn’t let go of their operating model. They were so invested in what they were doing, they couldn’t invest in where the market was going. And I think that’s our biggest challenge as a field.

Beth Mace: (31:34)
Yeah. So to stop, sit back and see what’s going on. So I think the language that I’ve been using for that is sort of need-based versus choice-based. And I think increasing our industry has become more need-based. Whereas when you were talking earlier about John Erickson and when I first started industry, there’s a lot of choice-based associated with it too.

John Cochrane: (31:51)
Exactly. Absolutely. And that’s what is so interesting about Ericsson because the people who were moving into his community 25 years ago were coming in at an average age of 75. They were healthy with some kind of health concern, but not necessarily a health break. So they may have had a couple of health setbacks or parts failures that told them, Hey, I’m not 50 anymore. Maybe I should be thinking about the future. Maybe I can be in an environment that that’s better suited to my thriving. But it was not just a, wow, I can’t live in my home anymore. I need to make a move. It’s, yeah, maybe my home isn’t my best solution anymore. And I think our field has largely lost that, as you call it, choice-based decision making.

Beth Mace: (32:38)
Yeah, I totally agree. And to me, I think one of the secret sauces going forward is sort of wellness and the benefits of wellness and comradery and socialization to combat isolation would be… I’ve been adding that now to my value proposition of living in senior housing because you get the room and board, you get the security, you get safety, you get all that. But this is another dimension, and I think that will really play to the baby boomers.

John Cochrane: (33:06)
I think you will too. Provided we give them what they’re looking for with those things. And that’s where I think that craft’s class, for example, is probably not going to appeal to you or me as we, as we look at congregate living. But there are aspects of congregate living that probably do appeal to many of us. And fortunately now we have research on our side that shows the real value of congregate living and deep connection with others. And it’s interesting because this is not a new concept. You know, I’ll go back to one of the things that John talked about quite a bit when I started with him, is that the biggest health threat that seniors face wasn’t disease, it wasn’t diabetes, it wasn’t heart disease, it wasn’t stroke, it was social isolation and depression.

John Cochrane: (33:52)
Yeah. And I think that is still true today. So the core driver hasn’t changed The tools that we bring to address that I think still need to change to be attractive to a new generation of consumer. And that’s where the opportunity is. And I think wellness, you’re exactly right, I think folks like us are looking for, how do I maintain my health? I don’t want to wait until I break something. How do I assess where I am today? Take some reasonable interventions and get a desired outcome. And I think for folks who deliver on that brand promise, in addition to the connection and you know, kind of human component of this, I think will be in a golden place. I think that’s what most of our generation is going to be looking for.

Beth Mace: (34:41)
Yep. Yep. So I did want to also bring up that especially since you’re do a lot of CCRCs, NIC just released a study that was done by NORC at the University of Chicago, that showed that during the COVID period, post vaccines, that individuals that actually lived in CCRCs did better, had fewer excess deaths than those who were in the community at large. And that doesn’t even speak to the added benefits you get from living in a community setting. So for those who want to know more about that, check out our website NIC.org because it was an exciting study that showed that that we actually did pretty well and even better in CCRCs than they would’ve done.

John Cochrane: (35:20)
So that point though just proves what we talked about earlier, which is this idea that anecdotally, I think all of us in this field would’ve known that, or guessed at that result. I don’t think, like, that’s not a surprise to me. Proving it is absolutely necessary. That’s where we need the data, and now we got the data, right? So we got one slice of data. We need more of that to convince people, this is real. This isn’t a marketing ploy, this is real. You want your best life. Your best life is is most likely to happen over here with these resources, with these connections, with these friendships.

Beth Mace: (35:54)
Absolutely. So when I started out, I said we were going to talk about ways to grow talent, largest challenges in our industry and innovative ideas. And I think we’ve touched upon all those, although not in the sequence we were necessarily thinking. So let me go back to the initial questions. So I guess you do speak Russian, and I guess you did handle the sale of the Plaza Hotel with Donald Trump. So tell us about both of those for a minute.

John Cochrane: (36:18)
(speaks in Russian) I studied Russian language and culture in college. Now you have to remember, this was the height of the Cold War. It looked like things could have gone either way. So I was hedging my bets there a little bit. But it was a fascinating culture to try to understand in a time of the height of the Cold War. Understanding that culture and understanding we may need to relate to that in some way really was attractive to me. I don’t speak much Russian anymore.

Beth Mace: (36:44)
Oh, you don’t? I was going to say right now, this is Cold Warish again here, right?

John Cochrane: (36:49)
Well, It is. And so, you know what’s old is new again, and yeah, the same drivers, are there the same fascination as there? I still have not yet been to Russia, so I would love to go at some point. I have to burn up on my Russian a little bit. Probably not now. It’s going to be a while. And then yes, I did, while I was working as a lawyer in Chicago our client was selling the Plaza Hotel to Donald Trump.

Beth Mace: (37:18)
What year? The eighties, I think, right?

John Cochrane: (37:25)
Yeah, I think late eighties is is when it, when I was there.

Beth Mace: (37:29)
He bought and sold and bought, I think, that hotel. So interesting.

John Cochrane: (37:34)
Yeah, so I didn’t get to meet him, so I’ll leave it at that, but I did handle the sale to his organization.

Beth Mace: (37:42)
Well, my big claim to fame is that I worked on a study that actually got the NFL into Jacksonville. So it was called Touchdown Jacksonville. And it was one of the persuasive arguments, like they got the NFL to choose Jacksonville FOR their NFL home. So that’s the one deal my husband was really proud that I worked on. So you have the Plaza Hotel? I have touchdown Jacksonville.

John Cochrane: (38:10)
Well, I think you win.

Beth Mace: (38:14)
So this is great. Is there anything wrapping up that you want to share with our audience?

John Cochrane: (38:20)
I’ll just go back to something you said earlier, which is maybe we have younger people who are listening as part of our field and what I hope they take away from this and your other conversations is what a terrific field this is and what a terrific time this is. I can’t, and again, I’ve been in this field now for almost 30 years. I have never been more excited about the future of our field, about the importance of our field, about the opportunities in our field than I am today. This is just a golden hour in the field of well aging and this is an exciting time to be doing what we’re doing.

Beth Mace: (38:55)
Thanks so much. Appreciate it so much.

John Cochrane: (38:57)
Thank you, Beth. Bye now.



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