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Today, I'm not only going to bring you some insights from somebody who has built companies, launched them and is now in the midst of the COVID epidemic launching a new business, but you're also going to hear some opera. Yeah, from La Boheme. Here at the end, make sure you stay tuned because David Cerven, the CEO of Mobile Response Diagnostics, is going to enlighten us with a little bit opera singing. He's also going to enlighten us about what it means to seize opportunity. He is a guy that looks for opportunities and then capitalizes on those opportunities. Because in that we serve the needs of people. Stay tuned for that. It's really, really interesting what he says. There's nuggets of gold inside this conversation that you need to pay attention to if you want to understand what it's like to beat uncertainty and to seize opportunity. All right? So you ready to do this? Again, don't forget the opera at the end. It's going to be good. All right. See ya.
All right. Welcome to another episode of unlocked. I've got David here with us. David is the CEO of Mobile Response Diagnostics, and this is super relevant. I thought, "Hold on a second. I just tested positive for COVID this morning," which I did, and I said, "I'm having talks with this guy today. How relevant?" The universe just brings us together, man. So super excited to talk to you today. Not only because you're a former opera singer, but because of what you're doing right now. So give me the skinny. What's going on?
Well, I've taken a really interesting path to get to where I'm at. Like you alluded, I got my degree in music and was an opera singer and realized that there were other opportunities out there. I've been somebody that's been talented at a million different things within my life and decided, what are these options out there? You're coming right out of college and you're like, "Ah, where do I go with this?" I had a lot of different things and I did the opera thing for a little bit and realized ... was at a point of different directions and it was surprisingly a decision that I wasn't really sure I wanted to be traveling for the rest of my life all the time and never be home. So I had an opportunity to start coaching basketball and coaching college basketball and I took that and I did that for several years and then spun some of that off into a non-profit, running a nonprofit.
Then that became running an athlete training company, learning a lot about business along the way, and leadership. I was really into ... You're in your late 20s, you're trying to figure out how to be a great leader. I spent a lot of time doing that stuff and learning a lot and probably making a bunch of mistakes probably along the way as well, probably being too eager to do certain things. Then I had an opportunity to strangely enough, open up a media production company because of an opportunity that existed in the market here in St. Louis and took that, built that up, did that for about a 13 years or so. Then I saw the writing on the wall that the opportunities were sort of drying up for within that market and started looking at other things. Decided to do kind of beta test of a gym concept, a yoga strength fusion gym, which ultimately wound up not moving forward with that on any significant scale.
Then I was at a point where I was getting ready to look for whatever was next, trying to find opportunities out there. Then I don't know if you guys noticed or not, but this pandemic happened and shut everything down. I thought, "You know what? This is a once in a lifetime struggle that the world is going through right now. None of us in our lifetimes have ever had to deal with something like and solutions need to be put in place and things need to be invented right now in order to take care of us during this moment." I set out trying to figure out, "All right, when things go bad, that also means there's opportunity there." I wanted to find the opportunity, take the opportunity and capitalize on being able to help people and create a new business out of it.
So started the process of figuring out what I might be able to do, what I might be able to put together and create during this. That's where the idea of Mobile Response Diagnostics has come about. Everybody that's in, I think, healthcare right now and trying to solve these problems, there's a lot of people, we're all talking about it being the wild west, because there's really ... everything is unprecedented. There's not standards and rules that were in place before right now. So we just start navigating this and our business model has changed over the past five months as we've been trying to get to a full launch of our diagnostic company. We've had to adapt with that.
We started out with a model based on what some people call surveillance testing, which is just basically screening and we were going to do that through a corporate model where we'd go into ... we'd have mobile laboratories, we'd go into a corporate client, any major employer, and test their entire company and start a regimen where we test every week or every two weeks with the idea of as people come back positive, we remove them into quarantine, or we have them removed into quarantine from the population of that company leading to an overall mitigation of COVID infections. So that was our initial model. Then we came up against a hard turn when we realized the availability of rapid tests, because our whole business model is based on rapid testing. You can't really control populations or give people results, or really act on anything when it takes four days, five days, a week, two weeks to get the results back.
So our model has been to de-centralized testing into creating testing units, testing laboratories that can do rapid testing at the point of care right where we're at. So we came to a realization that we had to switch from the corporate model because of the access to testing. The tests that we now use can only be used on people who are high risk, or they're showing symptoms and all of that. So doing it in a surveillance method doesn't work. So we switched over to our resale method, which is basically testing general public. If you feel sick, you come to us to get tested. But we have a system that we built out. It's taken a lot of work to get here, but the patient experience will be completely contactless, no papers, nothing handed back and forth. Intake happens online before you arrive on site. The moment you arrive in our parking lot to the moment you leave the parking lot after you've been tested is five minutes.
So there's no lines, there's no waiting. You don't have to sit around for whatever. You're in and out in five minutes. Then 15 minutes after you've been tested, you'll receive an email on your phone, giving you your results of that test. So from the moment you arrive on site, until you receive your result, whether you're positive or negative for COVID, 20 minutes total, and that's been something we've worked really hard to make happen, and we're right there and we're actually going to be launching on November 16th. So it's a long time coming to get to here, but we're excited to get to this point. So that's what I'm up to. That's where I've come from and where I'm at and what we're doing and trying to solve the problems.
I was about to say ... First of all, congratulations on launching yet another venture. Obviously, you have no fear. First of all-
You can't. You can't. If you have any, if you doubt yourself along the way, you're not going to be able to move forward.
Well, I don't know. Maybe that came from putting makeup on and singing opera in front of crowds and people. I don't know what it was, but going from opera to college basketball coach to running non-profits to starting gyms, that's all over the place. Usually people kind of try to stay in a sector. You didn't worry about it. You're like, "Whatever, man." But tell me about that then. So that's interesting to me. You jumped from these totally different opportunities. Talk to me about opportunity for you. So COVID, it's an opportunity, right? The gyms was an opportunity. Talk to me about your philosophy behind opportunity.
Yeah. So the deal is, is that always keeping ... I've always tried to keep my eye on the future. What's next? What opportunities are going to be out there, whether it's in a micro scale of right now within the context of COVID testing. Maybe there's an opportunity in a certain location. Maybe there's an outbreak happening someplace and we're really needed, we need to go there. There's always going to be ... If you keep your eyes looking forward out on the horizon, you're going to see things before they get there. There's a lot of things in my life. I always kind of use this mental imagery of ... Imagine you're floating out on an ocean, right? You're out there, and kind of precarious. Nobody wants to be just floating out in the middle of an ocean somewhere, right?
So you got to be ready for the things that might happen out there. If you keep your eyes out there on the horizon, you're going to see a wave coming at you when it's really small and you can swim out of the direction of that wave and that wave comes and goes. You see where it was, you know what's going on. You can make a plan for it. Whether it's positive or negative, you see things and you're prepared for it. When other people maybe aren't keeping their eyes out there, they're just focused on, "Hey, I'm here in the ocean and there's this water and I'm whatever," and all of a sudden they look up and they get hit with a wave. Or there was an opportunity to swim around the wave, but they couldn't get there fast enough, right?
It's similar, it's an idea where if you're focused so much on just all the things that are happening around you, without keeping your eyes on what could be next or what is next, you can just keep on getting inundated by those waves. You come up and then another wave hits you before you can do another thing, right? So often that happens in business and in life, where people just get in these ruts and these routines and they can't break them and they don't even know what to do. Whereas if you're always kind of looking ... I mean, you obviously have to deal with what's what's there, right? But if you keep that eye out on what's in front of you, the potentials that are there, and then you can start to see things as they're coming.
I know that's a super basic, not practical thing for me to just kind of give this ideological way to go about it. But I'm always looking for those opportunities. I mean, people that know me, it's like, I'm not somebody that's going to start off with being like, "Yeah, it's just not going to work." I'll do the, "Yeah, it's not going to work," because of experience, but the idea of, "Ooh, that might be a possibility." And then, "All right, so how do we make that work?" Or, "Let me do some analysis, let me break it down and see how good of an idea that is and then let me come up with something." For me, it's exciting to invent something out of nothing.
I've done that for everything. No one's ever told me how to do all these different things. I've just seen that. I've seen maybe there's an opportunity there, and then just dive in. I'm somebody that ... There's a lot of people that are like, "I'm a lifelong learner," and whatever. I think that if you're constantly on a high learning curve, you're going to be more effective at anything you're doing. Right? But people always talk about if you're standing still, you're moving backwards, right? So no matter how good things are going for you, always pushing, always go into the next thing, always finding those opportunities and evolving along the way. It just so happens this pandemic hit, and so many things that are required to combat this situation that we're in were either not in existence beforehand, or they weren't being implemented for whatever that means. Right?
So it was an opportunity to say, "Hey, there's a lot of need right now, so there's some opportunity to create something that really is effective, is needed in the market, and there's not a lot of competition for it at the moment because everybody that's going to try to do these things has to create something out of nothing," and I love creating something out of nothing.
There's a lot of uncertainty in that, right? Which scares a lot of people. People want a concrete outcome, an understanding, a thing that they can hold on to say, "This is what I'm going to get and this is what I want and this is what I'm purchasing and this is what I'm going to do." You have dealt with uncertainty your entire life, right? Well, post college career, right? We don't know what's going to happen. We don't know what's going to happen when we get out on that stage. We don't know what's going to happen when we get onto that court. We don't know what's going to happen when we launch this new business. Uncertainty has been something that you've swam in four years. So when we talk about uncertainty and navigating uncertainty in business, talk to me about that. How do you navigate uncertainty?
Well, first of all, it's recognizing that uncertainty isn't something ... it's not unique. Everything is uncertain. The idea of thinking that this X, Y or Z is stable or certain or assured, that's a fallacy. That's something that we're telling ourselves because of whatever. We might have a lot of proof and a lot of data to back up our security in something, but nothing is really that certain. If you don't believe that, look at the past year, several years, whatever. There's a lot of things that maybe a lot of people thought was pretty much certain and set in stone. All of a sudden we realize it's maybe not quite so certain. So number one is not fooling ... I'm trying to not fool myself into thinking that something is certain and I can just sit back and feel, "well, things are stable and I'll just keep doing this," and whatever.
The idea of uncertainty, I guess I've embraced that. Embraced it early, and then I've gotten really comfortable with risk. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose at any given thing, but it kind of goes back to sort of keeping the big picture and keeping your eyes focused on what's ahead, is sometimes things are good, sometimes things were bad on a micro scale, but overall, the aggregate, the idea is to keep moving toward your goals. So, for me, this uncertainty is for everything that's uncertain, there exists great potential. Because if something moves against you, there's an opportunity to transform what you're doing into something that works more effectively or more efficiently or more profitably or in a way that brings greater good. Right?
I think that as far as any kind of specific method for dealing with any uncertain potential outcomes, I really feel like it's just understanding that everything is uncertain. When I break down potential outcomes for decisions that I'm making, my thought process is to evaluate those decisions, but not just evaluate them in a narrow way, but evaluate those decisions with all the uncertainty they come with in a more broad way. Whether they're going to go in your favor or not, there's always a transition to make on that next thing. In a specific way, the past six months or so for me, in developing our business model, I thought we were locked down on a great idea and we're moving forward with it.
Then all of a sudden something comes out of left field that says, "Nope, you're not going to be able to do that now." And okay. You have to roll with that and then say, "Well, now there's an opportunity somewhere else in here, and so let's modify what we're doing and find that sweet spot within the new normal of what's allowed now." People get paralyzed all the time by the what ifs and looking at the negatives of what is out there. To me, how can you fully worry about something you can't completely get your head around in that you don't know if that's going to happen or not. Uncertainty works both ways. It can be uncertain in your favor as well. So that's probably a long description of that question, but there's always great potential out there as far as I've always seen. I get excited about what could happen in a given situation and then seek to pursue it.
There's a lot of ... I guess what you're talking about, I hear hurdles that come and play. So you saw an opportunity and you're like, "Hey, let's on this." People keep asking me, "Well, Skot, like, how'd you get it twice?" And, "Oh, Skot, how long are you supposed to quarantine?" It's like, I don't know, it changes all the time. The guidelines are changing. Things are changing. Tests are changing. All this stuff is changing all the time. Do we have antibodies? Do they work? It's all this that's changing all the time. That is uncertainty, right? Some of these things may change over the course of time. They may say, "Hey, you guys can't do this anymore." I call that a hurdle, right?
Yeah, you bet.
Some people treat it as a, "Oh, well, I guess we're done." You say, "I don't focus on the hurdles. I focus on the race." So that's how you unlock the potential of your people, right, is through that. Talk to me about that philosophy.
Yeah. Well, okay. So I'm 6'8, right? So I'm-
You are probably the tallest guy I know. So, yes. [crosstalk 00:24:44] Are you sitting on the floor right now?
No, I dug a hole in the floor and I'm sitting in that. That's the thing, right? So let's say that you're thinking small, right? That hurdle looks like a wall to you, right? I'm a tall guy. I think big, I see longterm, I look toward the potential of what's ahead. I look over the top of that hurdle and I see it's a hurdle. Eh, it's a hurdle, you got to get over it somehow. Right? It's going to be challenging, but there's potential on the other side of that. There's reward on the other side of that, and there's opportunity that exists beyond this hurdle. So you either stop at that hurdle because you think it's a wall or you jump over it. Right? So that's my mindset in that.
So for me, I'm really big on communication in bringing people along, getting them to see something that they don't see because along the way I've found that I think I'm unique for just the average person. Right? That most people don't see the world the way I see it. They don't see challenges the way that I see them. So for me, maybe it's taking the people that see a wall and, "Hey, jump on my back for a minute, look over this wall, see what I see, get excited about it and let's all ... kind of everybody jump on, right, and let's altogether jump at once and we can maybe get over this hurdle here." Right? So, for me, if I can effectively communicate what I'm excited about in this to my teams, to the people that I'm working with, to everyone involved in whatever I'm doing at that point, if I can effectively bring them on, and it's not just like, "Hey, I'm going to share this vision with you and you're going to really get into it, or I'm going to pep talk you like crazy," but literally there's reasons that I'm doing ...
Everything I've done, there's a reason why I'm doing it. Deep down inside, there's a reason for it. If that little spark can be dropped into everybody in a team or everybody in an organization, and they can see that, you're going to help them actually become more vested in whatever that challenge is to get over that hurdle. Everyone's going to get on board and do it together. Does that happen perfectly? No. I mean, a lot of times it doesn't happen. People fall off trying to get over, they can't make it over or whatever. Along the way within even this process, the past six months, I've had several people come and go in this process.
I mean, a lot of people come and go because they were uniquely equipped for a certain phase of where we were at that point, and then maybe they couldn't make that next jump. There was a bridge too far for them to kind of go on the next thing, whether it was, "We're taking on another big risk," or, "I don't think that we can accomplish that", or, "I'm just not well suited for the transition that this company has made toward, let's say, the retail model." There's changes that happen along the way and people can kind of come and go in it, but kind of continuing to communicate not just the nuts and bolts of, "This is what's happening, this is what needs to happen, these are the KPIs that we have and let's all work together for it," but it's actually like, "This is why we're doing it and this is how we can succeed in this, and then this is actually what it's on the other side of this. Here's the reward for us getting over that hurdle."
Then that enables us to not look at that other ... can you guys see that other hurdle down there? That's going to come up, but man, what a great situation that would be to have to try to get over that next hurdle, because that's a cool thing to get over over there." You know what I mean? So for me, I believe that the communication, not just of the practical things but of the roots of why and how is how you kind of bring those people together to overcome those uncertainties, those challenges, maybe those fears even.
Yeah. So good. I heard you talking a lot about vision, right? Having vision, anticipating challenges, seeing opportunities, but you can't do it without other people getting on board. So I'm really grateful for you sharing that and enlightening us with a little bit of that information. Because I think we all need to hear it. I think some people, they fear the unknown, right? But it's also the insecurity that comes with that. Right? The uncertainties of the outcomes of what's going to happen and there's something that they need to embrace there, right? Because in that there's opportunity and in that there's growth. So is there anything anybody ... How can people get in ... Oh, actually, let me ask you this. If people want to hear you sing opera, so I'll give you the opportunity right now to sing opera on the show, or you can at least point to people to where they can go to [inaudible 00:30:49].
Let's see. I can give you a ... I got to think of something good.
There's a little bit from La Boheme.
Oh my gosh. I definitely know nobody else is going to be able to match that as far as-
I'm a bit rusty, it's been about 20 years or so since I've really sang any real opera.
I could tell David. I was about to say, man, you sound a little rusty. I'm just kidding.
Thank you. Thank you. It's rough right now.
Gosh, that's amazing. Thank you for that. My wife will be happy to hear that La Boheme was sung on my show today. That's amazing. I really appreciate it. How can somebody get in touch with you? If they want to find out more about what you're doing, connect with you, what's the best way to do that?
Yeah. Probably reaching out on email is the best way to do it. My email address, I'll just give you my email address. It's dcerven. So it's D-C-E-R-V-E-N at mobileresponsediagnostics.com. I don't know if you post that anywhere. That's a lot of letters and a lot of things in that email address. But yeah, people can get ahold of me and right now, if you're listening to this and you're involved in healthcare in some way, or even if you're a phlebotomist or medical assistant and you're out of work right now, we are hiring. We're hiring a lot of people in that area. If you are in the diagnostic space or public health or anything like that, and you're looking for opportunities, reach out to me. We are growing like crazy.
We're about to launch, but we're going to go from just a couple locations to a few hundred testing locations within the next probably six months or so. So we are going to be exploding our business model. The idea of rapid experience at the time of getting tested and then rapid results, and all of it being contactless and automated is a game changer that we'll be able to do an extremely high volume of testing between now and all the way through the end of next year. Our goal is to get to 8 million tests administered by the end of next year. So we need people to help us do that. So if you're hearing this and this pandemic has been a little hard on you, reach out to me. Let's have a conversation.
Love it, David. You're awesome, man. Good luck.
Hey, thanks for doing this. This is great.
Yeah. Enjoy, man. Take care, okay? Have a good day.
All right. You bet.
So how do you like that? Yeah. You're never going to hear me singing opera on the show, but that was awesome. I'm really grateful to David for those insights. One of the things he says is when things go bad, there's opportunity. Now, when things go bad for us, a lot of times we just shut down, right? We sit there and say woe is me and complain, but inside of opportunity, inside of those things going bad, there's opportunity. That's where I think we need to get from this. We have to be able to see the future. There's people that are really good at that and there's people that are really good at just staying in the present. There's different gifts that we have, but the gift of seeing the future will help us grab onto what that opportunity is and how to capitalize on that for growth, how to capitalize on that for learning opportunities and to understand what it means to beat uncertainty.
Uncertainty exists in every day, right? David said it, it's there, we can't escape it. How do you embrace uncertainty to make sure you're capitalizing on opportunity in the future? Thank you, David. I appreciate it. For all of you out there, if you want to find out more, you can subscribe on my YouTube channel. You can also find more of my interviews at skotwaldron.com. There's a lot of free resources there for you as well. Again, this is Unlocked. It's all about unlocking the potential of people, unlocking the potential of our organizations and unlocking the potential of you. So thank you. I will see you next time.
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