I am the sum of my experiences.

We are all a product of the sum of our life’s experiences beginning with where we were raised in our formative years and the values built into our character by our parents, grandparents, community, and culture. I was blessed with a unique set of circumstances in which to grow up. I was born to a time, place, and style of life that no longer exists. Who I am and what I know today is a direct result of this experience.

Two Worlds Image Experience

A mix of two worlds

I was born and raised in Leonardtown, Maryland, on the Chesapeake Bay banks in Maryland. The community I was raised in enjoyed isolation from much of the progress, and strife, of the rest of the U.S. during my formative years. While my grandfather, father, uncles, and some cousins were judges, lawyers, and medical doctors, the community I lived in was dominated by farmers and watermen.

A valued life is based on character.

Beginning with my paternal grandfather, a lawyer and respected circuit court judge—born in the later-half of the 19th century, I was taught that our understanding of ourselves and our place in the world must be as a contributing member of the community and our success in becoming integral in our community would be based on our integrity, strength, commitment, and character. These characteristics he instilled in all of his children, who went on to become respected doctors, lawyers, devoted wives, a sister of charity, and a Xaverian brother. Each of his children dedicated their lives to serving God, country, community, and family. My father became a respected lawyer. Many of my in-laws and friends were farmers and watermen. These are people whose lives were innately close to the land and the water, who made their livings from the bounty and fertility of the surrounding area, and lived in a manner more akin to the first half of the 20th century. The 1950s and 1960s were my formative years when neighbors not only helped neighbors but when people relied on community support for survival. No one who felt they were above the hard work and support of others survived very long in this community.

Mentored by relationships between the law and the land

As some of my friends grew up the son of farmers, watermen, and business owners, I grew up the son of a lawyer. After school, I spent much of my youth either in my father and uncle’s law office or on the boat with my brother-in-law and his associates, fishing, oystering, hunting, and trapping. This ideal existence gave me a breadth of background to be uninhibited by complicated issues as one sees in legal contracts and equally at home with simpler commitments as one finds in the field or on the boat with those who live off the land. This experience gave me the best environment to learn confidence in myself and my abilities and understand that we can all do anything that we put our mind to and accomplish with diligence and perseverance, what often seems impossible, and recognizing the consequences of lack of character. Living in a historically water-based community also gave me the mobility to go almost anywhere at a very early age by boat, something that people in other communities that relied on autos could not. Boats, in those days, did not require a license, so I had a level of freedom and access at a very early age that stimulated my mind, built personal reliance, and enhanced my skills at overcoming obstacles and achieving objectives.

Law And Land Image

Benefitted by a strong foundational education

I was educated and mentored through a series of parochial schools that emphasized strong catholic or religious values, respect for others, the value of hard work, education, and the ability to learn effectively and efficiently. My military education instilled in me a strong respect for discipline, improvisation, adaptability, responsibility, the value of teamwork, dogged persistence, and leadership skill. My higher education emphasized science, biometrics, human nature and understanding, philosophy, systemic natural selection, and systems integration. All these things both directly, and in the abstract, I have applied throughout my business career.

A wide range of skills grew from the variety of occupations in my early career.

My early business career included; working in, and later managing, a dry cleaners, working in the funeral business, managing science laboratories, and teaching at the college level, operating bookstores, designing and managing the build-out of period (17th century) construction, retail sales of groceries, shoes and clothing, music equipment, computer products; wholesale distribution of computers, printers, telecommunications devices; manufacturing of software, computers, printers, wired and wireless earpieces, and other products; development of catalog sales companies, franchise sales companies, and more.

From incubators to Iron lungs — from the outhouse to the penthouse

My mid-period business career developed as the founder and head of an innovative consulting company providing integrated business solutions to many companies on many continents and eventually focusing on providing unique incubator services for start-up companies and equally innovative “iron-lung” services for companies in trouble. During this period, we developed a breadth of practice that prompted one of my associates to say to a client, “We have clients from the outhouse to the penthouse.” With clients in sanitary and wastewater management all the way to personal electronic device manufacturing and robotics, we have covered many territories. At the peak of my consulting period, spanning almost 18 years, we had clients worldwide, United States, Canada, Belgium, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden, Austria, Italy, Germany, Japan, and China.

Experienced in development, structure, and management in companies large and small

I have worked for large companies like Epson America, Stanford’s Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital, and ComputerLand Corporation. I have provided consulting services to large companies like ToshibaNECFunai Electric Corporation, and small companies like Safebridge Consultants, Sybersay Communications, Inc., Redzone Robotics, Inc., Icommm, Inc.(sold to RedZone in 2009), and many others.

 

Care Costs Too MuchA keen focus on health policy, particularly efficient systems to better serve the underserved.

In my latest incarnation, I have been focused on the critical need area of healthcare for the last eight years, primarily on the underserved community segment. I served as the Chief Operating Officer of a corporation focused on providing efficient systems to help providers and sponsors address the needs of various underserved communities like those of mental health, HIV/AIDS, prisons, and patient assistant programs. During this period, I also worked quite a bit in building two non-profit organizations and focused on serving the underserved’s needs and helping take care of the most fragile among us. Through this service and advocacy, I became active in Helena, Montana, Sacramento, California, and Washington D.C., advising and influencing the legislatures and Congress on how best to serve the needs of the underserved, and developed my political voice.

 

Significant experience in influencing government policy

This latest experience led to my focused effort in the past four years, first advocating specific policies directed at the Affordable Care Act and now advising on how to amend and correct the act to better address our health care system’s needs. Along the way, unconsciously, for the most part, I began a journey to try to understand how we arrived at where we are today with a fractious and inefficient healthcare system that, despite its expense and shortcomings, is still one of the most respected in the world. I began to understand why it does not work, what the impediments are, and what fundamentally we can do to fix it. I have often heard how working with congress is like making sausage. Growing up where I did, at an early age, I actually learned how to make sausage. I can tell you from my own experience that to call what happens in Washington D.C. akin to sausage making is an insult to hard-working sausage makers everywhere!

 

Books ImageRecognized resource and respected author

This quest led me to write a whitepaper called “Road-Map to Sanity: A Proposal to Repeal/Revise the Affordable Care Act for America” in October 2010. With a lot of encouragement from others, this effort led me to understand the existing problems to a whole new level. This culminated in the researching writing of my new book, “The History and Evolution of Healthcare in America: The untold backstory of where we’ve been, where we are, and why healthcare needs more reform.” Along this journey, I have read every page of almost every piece of legislation and offered constructive comments to almost every suggested bill from all the committees that were actively offering proposals on health care reform; including those from Senator Kennedy’s HELP committee (the first bill offered), the ways and means committee, the finance committee, and most of the others as well. In the various drafts alone, I estimate this to be more than 10,000 pages of legislation. After the process, I am likely one of the few who has read every final legislation page. Further, as I was preparing to write the book, I also researched and read over 12,000 pages of information covering the various historical periods and prior laws and legislation that now affect our current system.

 

Driven to make a difference

This work has kindled a strong passion for trying to make a difference, just as my father and grandfather taught me. While I am clearly now in a much larger community, I believe that it is my life’s experience that has given me the perspective to apply what I have learned and gave me the initiative to accept a request from the mayor of Oakland, Jerry Brown, to join the board of directors, and later to become president of the board, of his charter school the Oakland School for the Arts. This further expressed my interest in helping underserved communities and to understand how to use technology to build delivery systems for the values that I gained from my parents; beyond just business and hard work; I think it is also important to include programs that support the elevation of people through an appreciation for art, literature, music, and philosophy.

The essence of our humanity is to give something back— we need to help each other.

We all need to give something back. Giving back should not just be about writing a check to assuage guilt. In pursuit of my own effort to make a difference to others in addition to ad hoc volunteer work, I also serve on the board of the Staphylococcus Education Leadership Foundation (SELF), a non-profit 501C3 organization dedicated to research and education on the recognition, treatment, and prevention of gram-positive infections with a particular interest in community-associated infections. This need is another area I have realized; through my collective experiences over the past fifteen years, it is a huge risk to us as people and as a species. I now believe that this is perhaps one of the future’s greatest threats to healthcare, and this is one of the problems discussed extensively in my upcoming book.

Latest ventures and adventures

I am currently focused on finding business opportunities to share my knowledge, expertise, resources, and guidance through consulting, board memberships, writing, and public speaking.

Having recently retired from my role as COO at my last company and I am once again involved in consulting to a variety of companies, participating as part of angel investment groups including, The Keiretsu Forum, working with strong leadership groups like The Global Leaders, and looking for the next adventure to capture my interests. I am also invited to speak widely about healthcare and the economy. I continue to write articles for California Political ReviewSalon.com’s OpenSalon Blog, and my own, HealthReform 2.0 Youtube Channel.

Tom Loker
Author: Tom Loker

Businessman, Author, Artist, Entrepreneur, Mentor, Advisor, Consultant

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