John Inman III is the M.D. CEO at OB-GYN Associates at The Veranda. He is also one of six practicing physicians at the facility.
John Inman III, M.D., didn’t need to search far for a role model in his professional life.
His father, John Inman Jr., 90, is one of Southwest Georgia’s most notable physicians. When the younger Inman completed his medical training at Emory School of Medicine in Atlanta, he eventually made his way back to Albany and practiced medicine for decades side by side with his dad.
Today, Inman is CEO at OB-GYN Associates at The Veranda and is one of six practicing physicians at the facility.
Inman recently sat down with reporter Jim West and shared his responses to questions.
Q. What was your first job?
A. Working at Doublegate Country Club in the cart barn cleaning golf clubs. From there, I moved to a lifeguard job that I held about five years.
Q. What was the first thing you spent money on when you received your first ever paycheck?
A. I really don’t remember at that point in my life. It was either on golf clubs or 8-track tapes of some of the music I was interested in at that time.
Q. What’s the single most effective technique you found during the past two years for keeping employees motivated?
A. The most important thing to motivate is to treat them fairly and as a family. We feel strongly about that here at The Veranda. We try to have a positive attitude. I want everybody to enjoy coming to work here and let our patients know we enjoy being here.
Q. What led you to your current position?
A. Definitely for me it’s the medical part I enjoy the most. It’s an honor and a privilege to be able to take care of patients and, especially in my line of work, entrusted with the care of pregnancy and an unborn child. Then seeing these relationships turn into lifelong relationships, that’s a lot of fun for me.
Q. Do you have a role model or mentor in your career?
A. There have been several who have influenced me in many ways, but there is one who’s definitely at the head of the class — my father, who continues to come in to the office and see patients. He’s been a wonderful example of how to treat patients and enjoy relationships and yet enjoy life and have a great balance between life and work.
Q. What is the biggest lesson you as a business leader learned from the recent recession?
A. To be prepared for the unexpected. Its been a difficult time for us all and you just have to take advantage of your personnel and do the best you can do and take their talents and use them to the fullest. We’ve all expanded here into roles we didn’t think we would ever be in — some flexibility and some trusting in your employees.
Q. If you could turn the clock back on one aspect of technology – examples email, automated phone systems, cell phones, PDAs, etc. – what would you most like to see go away?
A. One of my pet peeves is the automated phone system. I enjoy picking up a telephone and talking to someone who can direct me to the right spot, so that was an easy answer for me.
Q. What is your favorite work-related gadget?
A. That’s a great question. I have several I really like. If you’re talking about a medical technology I think there are several great things that are out there now. Some are allowing us to prevent surgeries per se, and there are some procedures we’re able to do in the office now, which to me I find very valuable. It can save patients from trips to the operating room. Certainly a lot of buzz in my world over the last couple of years has been robotic surgery — taking advantage of computers and robotic technology to do minimally invasive surgery. That’s an exciting field.
Q. What is your favorite tradition?
A. I think about family and family times, and it tends to go back to the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas. I think about oyster casserole, which my mom has made for years and my wife now does a very good job. Also I think about going out and decorating Christmas trees and family times.
Q. What was the last book you read? Do you have things you read daily or regularly?
A. I try to read certain things daily for sure. In my church, there’s a daily devotional called The Forward Movement. I try to spend time, and reflect for a few minutes each day. Certainly the daily newspapers are a great source. If I have the time I like to read The Wall Street Journal. I’ve been working on some self-help books and some motivational books. “Energy Bust” was the last book I completed. I’m currently working on an older book about Douglas MacArthur called “American Caesar.”
Q. I’m up and going by and what is your morning routine?
A. I’ve got a couple of different lifestyles. When I’m not on call and available by beeper I try to be at the office by 8 a.m. I’m not a coffee drinker, so that’s not part of my morning routine. When it’s a surgery day or on call, covering things at the hospital, I’m usually out by 7 a.m.
Q. What famous person would you like to meet, and why?
A. I feel one of my weaknesses is not being the best at communicating with people. Growing up, Ronald Reagan certainly made an influence on my generation and was known as the Great Communicator. I think I would have liked to spend some time with him and picked up some tips from him.
Q. Favorite hobbies or activity outside work?
A. I really enjoy playing golf and spending time with my son, who is back in town now. He really gets me out and going. It’s interesting, you find yourself doing activities that your family and children like. Growing up, I was not a big hunter, although in the fall and winter I tend to find myself migrating to the woods a good bit more.
Q. If you could take back one business decision you made in your career, what would it be?
A. I feel I’ve been blessed with what medicine has allowed me to do, and I really don’t know if I have one particular incident or episode I’d like to correct. As I alluded to earlier, I think there are times I could communicate to folks a little better and with some better clarity and specificity.
Q. Best thing about your job?
A. No question — the people. Not only the patients but certainly all the ladies and gentlemen I work with here at The Veranda. We’re just truly blessed to be in a wonderful environment with wonderful patients to take care of.
Q. Worst thing about your job?
A. Those that know me know I really don’t like conflict very well. And if anything, I try to be a diplomat and work things out. So I guess having really difficult conversations with people and trying to be more forceful in some of my opinions is difficult for me. Certainly one thing about medicine I do enjoy is the taking care of patient’s aspect. The dollars and cents of the business of medicine is not quite as much fun.
Q. The most beneficial course I took in school was?
A. There were several that were real helpful to me, and all of them really stretched my brain. From calculus to organic chemistry that made you think really abstract. I don’t have one particular course, but if I think back on all of them, those that really stretched me and made me a little uncomfortable in my thought processes were the best.
Q. What would be your dream job if you were able to pick a position outside your current career path?
A. I really enjoy what I’m doing, and I’ll be able to continue it for a long time. I think there are several things I could see myself doing, but it would be a totally different twist for me and I would need some more education. I’m fascinated by some of the investment bankers in these big deals that are done around the country. For better or worse, it’s part of American business. I wouldn’t mind being a fly on the wall and seeing how some of this went down. I always dream of walking down the beach and collecting sea shells.
Q. Finish this thought: “On the first anniversary of my retirement, I see myself …”
A. Daddy’s over 90 years old now and comes to work still, so retirement’s a difficult concept in my family right now. I think whatever I’m doing when I’m retired I want to be able to be with my family and participating in their lives.
Q. What is the one trait a strong business leader cannot afford to be without?
A. I believe you’ve got to be able to communicate with whatever situation you’re in, whether it be employees or patients, and I think you need a strong, positive attitude on whatever the issue is. So you’ve got to have a decisive tone but be willing to learn from mistakes.
Q. Crystal ball time: What’s your call on when the economic recovery for our area will be in full swing?
A. I kind of look at my world and my patients. A lot of people are still struggling, there’s no question about that. I would hope it would not be very far off in the future, but I don’t have a definite time.
Q. What kind of music might I find on your list of most played on your iPod?
A. You’d find some Eagles there and Jimmy Buffet. Interestingly, Buffett was not very well-known when I was young, and certainly he’s in his heyday now. That’s my type of music. I certainly enjoyed the Beatles, also.
Q. What do you think is the biggest change Albany will see in the next 10 years?
A. I’m very hopeful that our education system will improve rapidly for all of us, and I’m not necessarily talking about the public school system that has been in the news of late. I’m talking about the colleges and universities in this town, and hopefully we can continue to see significant growth there. And also the technical programs and the medical health sciences seem to be really expanding. I’m very optimistic that can take Albany to the next level.
Q. What was the best vacation you’ve ever taken? Why?
A. Other than my honeymoon, the one that really sticks in my mind was right after Vicki and I had married, she picked me up on a Friday afternoon at Grady Hospital after working. Vicki had an absolutely fantastic job in those days. She worked for Delta Airlines. She picked me up and we made our way to the airport, got on an airplane and went to Paris, France, and spent about five days over there.
Q. What are the biggest changes you have seen in your specific line of business over the past few years?
A. There’s no question medicine has grown up. Unfortunately — or fortunately, the Marcus Welby era is passing. The computerization, the digitalization, the technology has really caught up with us. And also the legislative issues we all have to deal under now present many challenges. With the computerization of medical records, which is a wonderful thing, there are a lot of issues that go along with that which we’re all having to learn about and spend a good bit of time boning up on.