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From Passion to Profit: How to Launch and Grow a Successful Health Promotion/Wellness Business

At the request of Michael O’Donnell, Ted Dacko and I have agreed to deliver an AJHP “lessons learned” intensive training seminar in San Diego on April 14th and 15th. The two-day event will be held at the Manchester Grand Hyatt following the American Journal of Health Promotion’s 22nd annual Art and Science of Health Promotion conference (April 11 – 13).  Ted and I have also agreed to present a digest version during the core conference.

To find out more about this event read this blog entry and check back often for updates, including complimentary tips for entrepreneurs.  To find out more about the AJHP conference, click on the link below.

If you plan on attending our AJHP breakout session or the 2-day seminar, great; we look forward to meeting you.  If San Diego in April doesn’t fit into your travel schedule or you’d like a targeted seminar for your organization,  you may wish to consider these options:

  • A two-day onsite intensive workshop plus an ongoing support package for established companies considering the formation of a for-profit subsidiary and/or a client support division.  Ideal for health insurance companies, brokers, complimentary health providers, medical centers and private physician clinics.
  • A one or two-day onsite intrapreneurial workshop for your development and sales staff.
  • Personal consulting service (onsite and/or distance learning) packaged and priced to meet your schedule and budget.

Passion to Profit

Whether you work in a for-profit or not-for-profit world, and no matter if your role is entrepreneurial or intrapreneurial, the bottom line is the same:

 No Margin…No Mission

Many health care professionals have great ideas that can dramatically improve health.  They have a precision passion that is rarely seen in other industries.  They care about saving lives, reducing costs, improving productivity and providing better care.  But, while passion and determination are critical, they are not enough. To make a difference in the world, these entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs must show initial promise that converts to positive cash flow and meaningful ROI.  If not, and there is no financial success, investment and budget dollars dry up, the venture fizzles, the passion fades and no one benefits.

Taking advantage of the limited attendance setting, we will present field-tested guidelines, encouragement, heads-up cautions and crystal ball market projections. Our insights, anecdotes, and case histories are based on the real world challenge of merging theoretical academic models — and passion-driven dreams — into the real world demand for profit.

Who Are We?

Ted Dacko has over 35 years of experience in executive-level management and leadership, including sales, marketing, and M&A.  His first job was with GE Capital and his last job was running HealthMedia, Inc. which he sold to J&J in 2008.  So, his bookends have been massive companies.  He knows how big companies operate as well as what the end-game of a company needs to look like.  However, his in-between years were primarily spent with much smaller entities.  Beyond theory, he has proven field experience in building Founder’s dreams into successful businesses.  He knows how to grow both people and companies.

“Without Ted, I would have never moved HealthMedia beyond a science fair project. His marketing expertise, sales expertise, organizational expertise and operational expertise are the best I have ever seen. He is a brilliant business mind and it has always been a pleasure to work with him.”

—Vic Strecher, Founder, HealthMedia

To find out what others are saying about Ted’s work, visit:

As for me, my resume includes successful entrepreneur and intrapreneur, senior vice president in the health insurance industry, private sector CEO, university professor and US health policy advisor.  I’ve lectured from Brussels to Boston and Harrisburg to Havana, Cuba.  I’ve  authored five books and numerous articles on leadership and behavior change.  Over the span of 35+ years, my work  in health promotion, disease prevention and patient advocacy has been featured on the ABC News program 20/20, the CBS Morning Show, CNN and MSNBC as well as numerous national print publications.

“During his tenure at the Health & Wellness Institute Michael led a dynamic organization that successfully created awareness and advocacy for health & wellness.  Since its founding in 2007, HWI has been profitable every year.  Our thanks go to Michael for directing us all toward a future of better health.  On a personal note, I’d like to thank Michael for his steady support, energy, enthusiasm, and expertise.  Michael, you’ve made Blue Cross a better place.”

—Jim Purcell, Former President and CEO, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island

To find out what others are saying about my work, visit:

Why Should You Value What We Have to Say?

Ted and I have more than seventy collective years of demonstrated success in converting passion to profit. We have built and sold private sector companies, launched profitable public sector subsidiaries and helped move the health promotion industry from backroom “nice to have” to front room “must have.”   We have crunched the numbers, dodged the bullets, balanced work and life, convinced the internal and external investors, built the companies and brought home both mission and margin.  And, we are anxious to share what we’ve learned.

How Are We Like You?

We are the same.  Like you, Ted and I have:

  • dreamed big dreams
  • faced home mortgage vs. company payroll decisions
  • slipped and got up again (with only minor pride and physical injuries)
  • suffered the frustrations of large corporate process paralysis
  • persevered in the face of adversity
  • had night sweats
  • sought out advisors
  • borrowed money
  • been distracted by the Siren song of compliment
  • been discouraged
  • felt and maintained the passion in our bellies

However, unlike many want-to-be and early start-up entrepreneurs we:

  • sought out and followed the guidance of experienced advisors
  • learned early that hubris kills
  • maintained right-brain enthusiasm while thinking like left-brain CFOs
  • knew when to call upon the pragmatist and when to conjure up the poet
  • recognized that in each sale there are many buyers…all with unique needs
  • respected and required multiple talents, personalities and perspectives
  • knew when to stop talking about the product
  • stayed out of our own way
  • nurtured and leveraged conflict
  • appreciated pleasantries but REQUIRED guts, cold facts and candor
  • listened, paid attention and took notes

What Do We Have to Say?

Like Alice, stumbling, bumbling, and learning her way through Wonderland, an entrepreneur — open minded with a child’s sense of limitless potential — often falls through a rabbit hole into a world of confusing regulations, steadfast attitudes and outdated logic.  A world where most people adhere to rules blindly, without asking themselves, “Why?” and “So What?” While adaptation is critical, assimilation can be deadly.  How do you keep your youthful energy and belief in the power of the possible when others try to drown out your thinking with shouts of, “Off with her head!”

As an entrepreneur or intrapreneur your goal should be not only to keep your head but to also enjoy the journey.  The goal is not to merely survive…the goal is physical, emotional, spiritual, social and economic THRIVAL!

Below is just a partial list of “How Tos” Ted and I will cover in San Diego during the two days.  Following the seminar we will publish a white paper on this subject.

  • Get Your Product to Market
  • Determine if You Have the Entrepreneur “Right Stuff”
  • Measure and Overcome Entrepreneur and Intrapreneur Obstacles
  • Measure and Leverage Entrepreneur and Intrapreneur Opportunities
  • Enter the Market with No Money and Few Contacts
  • Build A No Nonsense, Realistic, Business Plan
  • Forecast Revenue
  • Position Against Established Competition
  • Overcome Sideline Naysayers
  • Create a “No Jerks Allowed” Company
  • Learn to Suffer Fools without Losing Your Soul
  • Determine if Your Personal Mission Matches Your Business Mission (it better)
  • Avoid Oblique Speak
  • Create a Culture of Respect, Acceptance and Security
  • Get Internal Budget or Venture Capital Funding
  • Attract and Retain Key People
  • Keep (and enjoy) Your Head While Others are Losing Theirs
  • Scale a Business
  • Turn Clients into Advocates
  • Convert Health Care Training into Successful Marketing Initiatives
  • Think Like an Entrepreneur, a Buyer, a VC, and a CFO
  • Identify and Sell to the Various Internal and External Buyers
  • Stop Talking About Your Product and Concentrate on Listening
  • Measure and Leverage Outcomes
  • Explain Your Value
  • Become Consciously Competent and Avoid Unconscious Incompetence
  • Select and Work with a Mentor/Coach
  • Speak and Understand Investor Language
  • Succeed in This Business By REALLY Trying
  • Value of an Objective, Calm, Qualified “No” When You’re Screaming “Yes!”
  • Have a Life and Build a Business at the Same Time (Oh, yes, it can be done…)
  • More…

What Do We Want You to Do?

Absolutely nothing!  Over the course of the two days, we will suggest, inform, share experiences, tell stories and facilitate learning.  We’ll even give you a manual.  We have advice to offer but we don’t want you to do anything.  That’s all up to you.  A suggestion, however, is that you first make the decision to wake up (we will show you how).  As an entrepreneur — other than your clients — it’s time to stop asking others what they want you to do, but, instead, ask yourself, “What do I want to do?”.  One of the benefits or, for some, the downfalls of being “on your own” is that it’s no longer about mom, your first-grade teacher, Captain Kangaroo, Bert & Ernie,  your pastor, rabbi, mullah, next door neighbor, Mr. Rogers, Dr. Phil or Oprah.

Question:  Are You Ready to Wake Up and Begin/Continue the Entrepreneurial journey?

Here’s a chance for you to help shape the two days.  What’s missing from list above?  If you were to attend, what questions would you ask of two veterans who managed to survive and thrive in the risky entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial waters?  How about you, what “Ah Ha!” moments would you like to share?  Successful or unsuccessful, what are your lessons learned?

 Please send your comments, suggestions, and questions to me at: or to Ted at


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