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Abby Holden is Operations Director at Georgia Bone and Joint, the founding practice of Triumph Orthopedic Partners. Abby’s everyday hero story began playing golf at an early age. Little did she know, the valuable lessons she learned would accelerate her career and help her battle breast cancer.

Triumph Orthopedics (“Triumph”) is a network of orthopedic practices in the Southeast. Triumph’s partner practices offer patients comprehensive medical and surgical orthopedic services, including general orthopedics, sports medicine, fracture treatment, arthroscopic surgery, joint repair and replacement, and spine surgery services. Triumph’s mission is to empower orthopedists and their team to deliver an exceptional patient experience.

Transcript

Introduction

Abby Holden: I think it reaffirmed my appreciation for healthcare in general, that I've been on this side of healthcare, you know, the administrative side of it, but I hadn't been in need of healthcare very much.

 

So transitioning to that, having the feelings that patients have: fear, ambiguity, not understanding everything, the medicines, how they work, what you're gonna feel like, really gave me a sense of appreciation for the people administering the care. Our own team, our physical therapists, our medical assistants. We're dealing with people that are in pain and confused and upset. Usually there's been a traumatic acute injury that we're working with, so no one's expecting the situation that they're in.

Similar for me, I think it just reaffirmed how important it is what we do. We bring value, and we have a huge impact on people's lives every day.

Anderson Williams: Welcome to Everyday Heroes, a podcast from Shore Capital Partners that highlights the people who are building our companies from the inside, every day, often out of the spotlight.

With this series, we want to pull those heroes out of the shadows. We want to hear their stories. We want to share their stories. We want to understand what drives them, why they do what they do, how they might inspire and support others to become everyday heroes too.

In this episode, I talk with Abby Holden, who's the Operations Director at Georgia Bone and Joint, the founding practice of Triumph Orthopedic Partners.

Right out of the gate, Abby showed me the power of just asking people what we should know about them before we even get started with the interview. They sometimes tell you things you'll never find in a resume or on LinkedIn, but are the foundations of the person and the professional they have become.

 

Abby Holden: I am the youngest of four children.

I have an older brother and two older sisters. I grew up in, a wonderful family in South Georgia. Decided that I wanted to try to maybe get out of that town one day, so I had goals to go to college. I was the first female in my family to go to college. Played golf, started out when I was about 13 or 14.

 

Love it. It's a wonderful sport and it's been very impactful in my life overall. Leading now into being an adult, it's really helped me tremendously. The lessons I've learned there. I've been married for four and a half years. I have a golden doodle, his name is Murphy, and he is the love of my life, second to my husband.

 

Most recently am a breast cancer survivor. Two years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and so that was, we can get into that later on. Yeah, that's part of some of my story, but that's definitely something of late to note.

Abby's Background

Anderson Williams: So definitely want to come back to that. But tell me a little bit about your first generation story. Give us a little context for what it was like to be the first woman in your family to go to college.

Abby Holden: I was raised by a hardworking family. My mom stayed at home and raised us kids. My father was an entrepreneur and a small business owner. And just being a smaller family from the south at that time, it's not something that everybody did.

It was just to go to college. It wasn't an automatic, I feel like it is now. And so, very early on, my parents pushed me, encouraged me to know that I could do anything I wanted to do, and they said they would do anything they could to help me go to college if I wanted to. So they instilled that in me, that self-belief that I could do it if I wanted to. And so that's kind of how I got there.

Anderson Williams: And you started to talk a little bit earlier about some of the ways that golf has guided you or given you strength or sort of directed your life in some ways. Can you talk just a little bit more about the importance that golf has played in your journey?

Abby Holden: Absolutely. I thank my parents consistently because at the time I never knew the lessons that I was learning and how I would carry them both professionally and just to in adulthood. I would say primarily it taught me to be process oriented and to definitely, sure we all care about results and you have to get results eventually, but consistent results start with a consistent process.

And so that's enabled me as life is going to throw you curves professionally and personally, learning how to stick to your process. When your game goes to crap and you hit a couple awry shots, or you've just triple boggied a hole and now you've got 15 holes left of play, what are you going to do?

You're not going on your experience or your win right then and there. You have to fall back on your process or else you'll just walk off the golf course. I wanted to walk off the golf course more than I wanted to stay on it, but you have to find its process over results. And then being in the present, I mean, there's nothing least important than your last golf shot, and you can't be thinking about that at the time.

So I think in life and in work, learning to stay in the moment, and sure there's time to reflect after you finish, dissect it, figure out what went wrong and where you can do better. But in that moment when you're working on a project, when you're going through a crisis in life, you have to just sometimes stay in the present to get through it.

Anderson Williams: Abby's synopsis of golf and her hard won wisdom from the game struck me as incredibly profound, so I had to bring it back to her battle with breast cancer and see how she'd been able to apply what she'd learned from golf on that journey.

You shared that you're a breast cancer survivor. How did that play in that journey? I can't imagine anything could be more important in a journey of unknowns than presence.

Her Cancer Story

Abby Holden: Yeah, absolutely. When I was first diagnosed, it was midway through 2020, so we all went through 2020, and then we all had that one extra experience that pushed us to our limits. And for me, that was mine. And thankfully because of the medical community that I'm in, it was a very swift process.

From diagnosis to the beginning of treatment was about two and a half weeks. It was a very aggressive cancer, concerned about a lot of things. And so they looked at me and they said, we're going to hit you hard. We're gonna do everything we can to help you, you know, make sure that you're still here in the years to come.

So in those moments, those weeks, I can't describe what it's like knowing what you're about to have to go through. I was looking at about two years of treatment. I finished earlier this year.

Anderson Williams: Congratulations.

Abby Holden: Got my port taken out last week. So I was excited about that, but um, that is what I fell back on was sometimes I lived by the minute.

I think we all have experiences that we had forced us to just live by the minute. But I actually reconnected with my golf coach in the beginning of my treatment. And um, she was a good confidant for me, but just I was like all these things that we talked about in golf that she would walk alongside me when I was playing and just reminding me, you keep your head down, it's all about right now.

And that's how we did it. We did chemo one day at a time, one treatment at a time, one surgery at a time. We did everything a day at a time, and I was immensely grateful for that golf experience.

Anderson Williams: And the other side of that I imagine is also thinking about one, just the process that's happening to you, but you thinking about what part of this can I control and what part of this can't I control?

And so where do you spend what energy you have that with so much unknown and such a long treatment horizon picking which club, seems like an apt metaphor as well.

Abby Holden: Yes, absolutely. You have to, you learn to focus on exactly what you said, what you can control, which unfortunately in a lot of situations was just my attitude.

It's about the only thing I had control over was my mindset. Everything else was sort of set before me, so you definitely have to dig deep and you have to stay focused.

Her Career Journey

Anderson Williams: Attitude, mindset, focus, presence. These are powerful concepts that have clearly guided Abby through the most difficult and darkest times in her life.

But I wanted to come back and better understand how she got where she is professionally to learn about that part of her journey.

So I want to come back to your experience with Georgia Bone and Joint and your story of how you got there. You went to college, you played golf, you had some work experience prior to Georgia Bone and Joint.

Can you just tell us a little bit about that process and then how you came to be a part of the Georgia Bone and Joint team?

Abby Holden: Absolutely, um, it was a happy accident, kind of somewhat if you believe in happy accidents. So when I finished college, honestly, I had spent my time trying to make good grades and make each tournament, and I didn't think too much about what I was gonna do when I finished and then I graduated and I was like, huh.

Well, I gotta figure something out. So I got a job at State Farm working as a claims adjuster, so I don't know why anyone told me don't do that. It was a very stressful job, but I learned a lot. I did that for about a year and kind of thought I wanted to be in golf, sports marketing. So I took a job with Mizuno in the custom club department, which I enjoyed, but I really wanted to be in more of a marketing business development, something with more interaction with people.

I enjoy working with people. I enjoy business development, and I heard that Georgia Bone was hiring for kind of a marketing business development person. And I didn't have a ton of experience, but they said, you know, we'll stick up for you, we'll give you a good recommendation. I'm sure that she'll give you a chance, the administrator at the time.

And uh, so sure enough I applied and she did. I would appreciate her taking a chance on me. And, uh, I kind of started out. She said we would like to grow our relationship in the community, our business development specifically a couple different market segments for us in the industry. Good luck. So I kind of just took it from there, which was fun because I really sort of got to use my own creativity of how do I go about this?

But it was a lot of learning by trial and error, which I think is the best way to learn. And so that's what I primarily did for the first five years. But towards the end of those five years, Because of the work I was doing in the field, I started to become more involved in working in the different departments, working with the managers to maybe try to improve some processes when I would get maybe negative feedback in the field, hey, these are the things I think we maybe could start doing a little bit better.

So it just kind of instinctively started to work more with the managers and I enjoyed it. I was curious about it. I enjoyed seeing the inner workings and the more my knowledge grew, the more you can be creative and start to think on your own about processes. So that really started towards that five year mark, I kind of felt like I wanted sort of a new challenge, the next step to start working more in the day-to-day operations, more on the business side than just marketing.

And then 2020 hit and healthcare, which just put all bets off. So then I really came more internal. No one was marketing, no one was doing business development at that time, and it was just all hands on deck here in the office to keep things going and to keep things a float. And then with my diagnosis in late 2020, I kind of continued more staying in the office, working with the managers on special projects, figuring out what I could do internally and kind of set me up for where I am now.

 

So it's really been just a transition.  

Testimonials from Triumph

Anderson Williams: This is Nate Bard, the CEO of Triumph Orthopedic Partners.

Nate Bard: Abby's been a tremendous team member for Georgia Bone and Joint and for Triumph as we've grown and learned. Early days of our partnership, we had an opportunity to promote Abby into the Director of Operations role at Georgia Bone and Joint, and basically be the lead person on the ground at the practice.

Abby historically had been in business development and community liaison, physician liaison roles with Georgia Bone and Joint, and knew the practice inside and out, and she knew the market and knew all the players. She'd been there a long time, high performer, and somebody with a lot of potential. And so when we look to fill that role, Abby was the logical choice for us.

Anderson Williams: Matt Westcott is the Vice President of Operations at Triumph and has worked closely with Abby since she took on her current role.

Matt Westcott: It's a big change just to step into her role as practice administrator, let alone stepping into one with so much change happening. There's a lot to learn, just to learn the role and then to understand, you know, what does this mean to have this partnership with Triumph and where are we going?

I think that's challenging. And so she, I think, has taken that totally in stride. She's had a very open and honest approach to it, trying to learn, but also being there to add value. And I think when somebody has gone through something as involved as what she's gone through with her cancer diagnosis, it just develops a depth of character and of endurance, and there's a sense of like, look, if I can get through that, I can get through this next board meeting or this busy season of our practice. And so maybe going back to the idea of presence, right? Like I can deal with all these details and the challenges of managing a busy practice day to day, but I also don't, you know, it's not what defined me.

 

I've got a little bit of a deeper well of my own identity and what's important to me, and I think it's imperative that everybody has that. Otherwise, probably just gonna get kind of thrown from side to side when things are going well or poorly in your practice.

And so I can see that in her and I, I would imagine that some of that has, you know, she probably had some of that before she's gone through these health issues, just knowing her a little bit more. But I would imagine that that process has developed it further in her.  

Dealing with Change

Anderson Williams: Matt talks about the massive amount of change Abby's gone through, not just in her life, but in her role and at the company. So I asked her to talk a little bit more about all of that change and her perspective on it, and specifically how it's impacted her.

You had been a part of Georgia Bone and Joint for a number of years, and obviously had a good impact on the growth and success of that company, and then this idea of Georgia Bone and Joint becoming the founding platform of Triumph.

What was that experience like? Were you excited, concerned? Was there a bunch of unknowns? Tell me a little bit about how that process unfolded for you.

Abby Holden: I was thrilled. I think in my time here, I always felt like there were areas that we could improve upon and maybe didn't have resources or access to some of the things that these maybe larger companies have.

So I always sort of had that in the back of my mind as like, gosh, I wish we could take a deep dive on X, Y, Z or learn more. This or that. So when I first, the news first started circulating, I was excited. I tend to gravitate towards change because I think that we're all on a road of continuous improvement.

 

And so to me, this transaction represented growth. And change, yes, but change in a good way. So I was very excited about it.

Anderson Williams: Well, and change is inevitable, right? So you might as well be present with it, right?

 

Abby Holden: Yeah. And learn how to make it work for you.

Anderson Williams: Has the transition for you changed your thoughts on your career growth or where you think you can go next?

As you look at being an early leader and player and everyday hero in this platform? Has it changed how you look forward to your next five years or next eight years, whatever that might be?

Abby Holden: Oh, absolutely. I think it's widened it for me, most days I feel like this isn't real, like I'm having too much fun for this to be real and just having too many great experiences.

I was able to join the strategy session that Triumph had was Shore, and that was an experience of a lifetime, and so I'm very grateful. I feel like I'm in a very unique situation to just experience all of these resources and all of these opportunities. So it's accelerated and broadened my sense of what I could possibly do for myself more than I've ever thought possible.

Her Drive

Anderson Williams: Abby's been through a lot and she's done a lot, and she's obviously still eager to grow and looking to seize on the opportunities that are in front of her, and she just seems so positive. I needed to know beneath all of that and behind all of that, what was really driving her.

When you think about where you are having been an athlete, a cancer survivor, you've been a part of building Georgia Bone and Joint and now you're at this early stage of the Triumph platform. What drives you get back down to the core and say, this is the thing that drives Abby Holden?

Abby Holden: That's a great question. I would say it's a combination of winning. I like to win and I didn't get to win a lot in golf.

You have to know that I didn't get to. That's not a sport that you really win a lot in unless you're great. So I was always sort of middle of the road, but I like to win and to define that to me, winning is working collectively with a group of people to achieve a common goal. And so I've always tried to do that with our, you know, the management team and the people here at Georgia Bone and Joint.

To me, winning was delivering exceptional patient care, going above and beyond all those miniature goals that we've set in place. And now being a part of the Triumph and Shore family, we're setting out on one big adventure together. So I really, I enjoy winning and working, collaborating with other people.

I just think there's nothing better than that.

Anderson Williams: I love this answer. It helps articulate a sort of ferocity behind Abby's kind, smile and soft demeanor. You don't do what she's done, survive what she's survived without that fire. She has a competitive will that has clearly served her well in golf and beyond. And Matt had another perspective and another way of looking at Abby's drive to win and her value to Triumph.

Matt Westcott: Golf is a huge piece of the world of orthopedic surgery. And when you've got an administrator who could probably smoke any of the doctors in her practice and probably many of the ones we're gonna partner with in the future, it's just a nice little a in the hole for us too.

Anderson Williams: She didn't mention that.

That's fantastic. Yeah, I hadn't thought about that. Yeah, with her kindness and her big smile and unassuming nature, and then go out and kick your ass on the golf course probably.

While Abby can clearly compete and win on the golf course, I wanted to bring it back to her two year competition against cancer and her recent milestone of completing treatment to understand what this harrowing experience had taught her.

So you're through treatment at this point, which is a huge celebration. Where are you now having gone through that process? As you think about your work, your colleagues, your husband, your dog, the world that you see on the other side of this long stretch of treatment, how has it changed your perspective?

Abby Holden: I think it's changed my perspective. I think it's reminded me. It's been a blessed reminder of the things that I hold dear and I value. Generally speaking, I have a pretty positive outlook on life. I'm a problem solver. Try to bring solutions. I always try to carry gratitude in my heart each day for work, family, friends, but this was just a loud flashing reminder that life is delicate. It's short, it's a blessing.

And so it's really reinvigorated, I think creativity, for life in general, but especially in my work and we spend so much time working, learning how to incorporate it into your life so that it's artistic and it's authentic and it's productive. It's just reminded me to be mindful of that.

Anderson Williams: Abby Holden is an everyday hero whose superpower is her presence. She learned it playing college level golf, which taught her how to forget the last stroke and to not look ahead to the next ones to come. Surviving two years of intensive cancer treatment called on her presence in ways that I'm sure she could have never imagined, but presence is what got her through and is that focus on today, on the variables in life she can control.

Relishing the moment and the learning of now, that has set her up for a brighter future than perhaps she'd ever thought possible.

This podcast was produced by Shore Capital Partners with story and narration by Anderson Williams. Recording and editing by Andrew Malone. Editing by Reel Audiobooks. Sound design, mixing and mastering by Mark Galup of Reel Audiobooks.

Special thanks to Abby Holden, Nate Bard and Matt Westcott.

This podcast is The Property of Shore Capital Partners, LLC. None of the content herein is investment advice, an offer of investment advisory services nor a recommendation or offer relating to any security. See the terms of use page on the Shore Capital website for other important information.

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