Hugo Keim MD – A Tenacity Award
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Hugo Keim MD – A Tenacity Award

Hugo Keim MD – A Tenacity Award

Hugo Keim MD – A Tenacity Award

The Clients for Life® client retention process is an immensely powerful tool.  Emanating from years of observing and codifying best practices in account management, we have demonstrated over and over how effective it can be in helping our clients keep the clients they’ve worked so hard to get.

Still, one of the fundamental truths is, “Clients for Life works – but only if you work at it.”  It’s the diligent, persistent, proactive work our most successful clients exhibit (work that requires great tenacity) that inspired the name of our firm, Tenacity, Inc.  We know great tenacity when we see it – and that brings us to Tenacity Award winner (and my friend) Dr. Hugo Keim.

Hugo is pushing 80 now, and he has led a remarkable life of significance and accomplishment with no end in sight.  (Actually, as we will see, sight plays a big part in his story.)  He became one of the most accomplished and prolific orthopedic surgeons in history (acknowledged by Time Magazine) as chief of Spinal Surgery at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City.  Practicing there until 1992, he did thousands of cases, including severe scoliosis (curvature of the spine) that many surgeons wouldn’t begin to touch.  Along the way, he invented many tools and processes that greatly advanced this work and are still in use.

Incredibly, Hugo accomplished all of this with only one sighted eye, having lost the other as a young boy in a swimming accident.  The hurdles of entering and completing medical school (including one year where an infection in his good eye rendered him virtually sightless) and acceptance to a surgical residency (not surprisingly, many programs thought having depth perception would be a good thing for a surgeon) were high and difficult.  Hugo persevered tenaciously and achieved magnificently.  Despite working 80 -100 hours a week, patients queued from around the world to his operating room.

Perhaps Hugo’s greatest testimonial would be from his beautiful wife Alicia. Years ago, as a young woman suffering 90 degree scoliosis – Hugo straightened her spine, discovered to his alarm that she was about six inches taller that he, and proposed marriage.  Retiring soon afterward to Florida, this would be only the beginning of their story.  It’s a story deserving a full biography, but here are just some of the highlights:

With a new lease on life after her surgery, traditional retirement was not what Alicia was thinking.  Together, they founded The Chair Scholars Foundation, raising funds and awarding scholarships to deserving wheel chair bound and handicapped students across the country.  During the past 26 years, they have awarded over 900 scholarships providing opportunity to young people with severe physical difficulties, believing that “no physical impairment should ever deter a motivated mind.”  You can learn more about their work at: http://chairscholars.org.

Hugo is still at work, ministering to our soldiers returning from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan at the Bay Pines V.A. Hospital.  It’s pretty rare these days to find physicians who cared for newly returned veterans from these wars spanning back to Vietnam.  Hugo has the hands and the heart of a servant.

I have a feeling and a hope that much good work lies ahead for Hugo.  My first clue is that he starts each day with 365 consecutive push-ups.  He’s got really big shoulders perched on top of that even bigger heart.

Surely Malcolm Gladwell would consider Hugo to be an outlier.  In the same way, we want our clients to be outliers in their ability to effectively manage and retain their clients.  We just don’t want them to think it’s easy.

Steve