Opioids – The American Health Care Crisis: Interview with Dr. Daniel Knecht

In his current role with Aetna, Dr. Daniel Knecht leads the team who creates and executes programs which impact the unmet health needs for their members. They work with internal stakeholders and external partners to implement strategies. Currently, the opioid epidemic is at the forefront of the issues Dr. Knecht and his team are trying to help their members tackle.

The opioid epidemic is the biggest health crisis to impact American society. Although it started in the late 1990’s when there was inappropriate marketing of opioids to patients dealing with chronic pain, our society and species has been struggling with opioids for much longer. Hypocrisy, the father of medicine, warned against the duel nature of opioids. In the US, veterans struggled with opioids after the civil war. Research and data have proven opioids are not effective for treating chronic pain. There are many other alternative treatments for chronic pain other than opioids, and Dr. Knecht and his colleagues are helping to bring awareness to these additional pain management options. Dr. Knecht explains how pain started to be looked at as a vital sign, but it is important to understand it is not realistic for human beings to be pain free. The opioid epidemic has been an issue for more than a century, but the unprecedented crisis is currently worse than it has ever been.

All walks of life are effected by opioid use disorder. Dr. Knecht believes as a society we need to start treating this problem as a medical condition, and less as a mental health issue or moral shortcoming. Those who know someone struggling with opioid use disorder may not fully understand the condition or treatment. Education for families, friends and even medical professionals will be key in helping to turn this epidemic around. Over the past two years, Dr. Knecht and his team were able to travel to the areas hardest hit by the epidemic. He will continue to work with local medical professionals to train and educate them on opioid use disorder. Aetna has also implemented the Guardian Angel Program. The program utilized trained medical professionals to call Aetna members who had overdosed to discuss what had happened and how they could help. They were able to connect with, educate, and even book appointments for many members who had suffered from an overdose and were able to aid them in their recovery. Dr. Knecht is excited and hopeful these programs and others will help to increase awareness of opioids and the treatments available.

Listen for more on this epidemic including Aetna’s comprehensive approach to addressing the opioid crisis, how Dr. Knecht believes leaders in organizations can aide colleagues who may be struggling with opioid use disorder, informative understanding of opioid use disorder treatments, and more on the different treatments available to help with chronic pain.


Habits of a Champion – Coach Dana Cavalea

One warm night in Texas Dana Cavalea was a 23-year-old Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for the one of the greatest organizations in major league sports. During the 7th inning, the starting pitcher suddenly pulled his hamstring, and ended a no hitter start on the mound. The next morning, Dana had a meeting with executives that would change his life. He accepted the position to become the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for the New York Yankees.

Although he was young, Dana had been working with the organization for many years, and even as an intern, he built up relationships with the players. While working for free, Dana knew he had nothing to lose. He would approach players as they entered the weight room and knew that the worst thing someone could say is no and that eventually someone would say yes and give him a chance. Dana admits that when he was starting out, he was underqualified and did not quiet have the science background for the role. However, he built a skill set about a new conditioning concept and used that to gain valuable trust and respect from not only the players, but also other staff members. He used the internship opportunity to show his passion and potential to the organization, which eventually led him to the head role, which he had for 12 years.

Throughout his career as a strength and conditioning coach, Dana spent time with some of the world’s greatest athletes. Dana learned that champions follow a simple and consistent routine that is paramount in their success. The greatest performers were also relaxed and comfortable in their own skin and were able to always play offensive in their careers and lives. The greatest athletes knew who they were, what they were really good at and what they needed to do in order to remain really good at it. In fact, he changed his way of thinking when he realized it was not how much time you spent at the job, but the productivity level you have while there. He came to realize that everyone’s routine may be different, but those who had consistent routines generally outlasted those who were always looking for the next method to improve. To Dana, greatness is defined as showing up every day and being consistent and achieving. As time passes, and you prove that you are achieving consistently, you will be considered great. Dana has used his knowledge and insight from his work to write “Habits of a Champion: Nobody Becomes a Champion by Accident.” In the book, he shares 15 lessons of what it takes to become a champion.

Coach Dana Cavalea is now an executive leadership coach and speaker and teaches the philosophies to help make individuals successful in the many facets of their lives. To learn more about Dana, his work, ideals and background visit his website: www.danacavalea.com.


Michelle McCloskey – From Oil Fields to Boardrooms

A self-proclaimed story teller, Michelle McCloskey, shares her path to success on the podcast today. Michelle is the President of the America’s Man Group and the President of Man Group FRM. Her role is to be the senior representative for the executive committee in North America. The London based investment management firm oversees over 114 billion dollars, over 5 different investment engines.

Michelle’s story starts in Texas as the 5th generation child of the oil business. Due to her roots, she went to school for engineering and when she graduated at 22, she went to work in the oil fields in Alaska. Her colleagues there advised her that she talked too much to be an engineer, so she began trading natural gas in the physical world when the market became deregulated. The natural gas market propelled Michelle, as it did with many other women, into opportunity galore, and at 24 years old she began transferring into futures trading when it became available. Although it presented challenges, Michelle was confident to succeed in the new opportunity. Over the course of time, she developed so many close relationships with clients that the company decided Michelle’s time and energy would be better facing outward than inward. After over 20 years of sitting behind a screen trading, Michelle now spends her days interacting with other to represent the firm. She uses her skills and knowledge to communicate with clients and colleagues to find true collaboration to help them grow.

Many of the jobs that Michelle has held, she was the only woman in the room. Michelle was able to find ways to adapt to make sure she stayed in the game. She advises listeners to try not to be intimidated and not to let yourself get told no. Find a way to get yourself to the table and show that you can carry your weight and you will prove yourself and achieve. Michelle used her network of peers to learn from and relied on them for support through her challenges. Whenever a new opportunity presents itself, Michelle is not afraid to take the risk. As a calculated risk taker, when a door opens, Michelle has the confidence in herself to try something new and figure it out along the way. An inspirational leader, Michelle has the opportunity to craft and shape the team around her. She wants to ensure that the environment her staff works in was not the same cut throat environment she had worked in so many time before. She tries to truly cultivate the essence of collaboration, and uses her communication skills to reach those who may have lost the art of communication sitting behind a screen. Michelle’s leadership style is one of caring about all of those around her, and she is excited to see where her story will go next.

For more about Michelle’s work with the Man Group and the Man Group FRM, visit their website: www.man.com and to learn more about Michelle’s story, connect with her on LinkedIn.