Straight Talk - "Reaching for the stars"

September 19, 2013

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

The acronym of the day for the city of Naples and the state of Florida is BHAG, standing for “Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals.” At least that was the clear sense conveyed at two recent meetings, a City of Naples Workshop led by Mayor Sorey and six Council Members, and the first Sayfie Summit to "Engage Florida's Leaders and Shape Florida's Agenda,” in Orlando (

BHAGs were coined by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras in their seminal book, Built to Last, to represent goals that are emotionally-compelling, visionary, long-term, seemingly unobtainable but possible with the right innovation, having an end-point, and easy to understand.

Both meetings focused on game-changing ideas to propel prosperity. Our City of Naples Workshop started with a presentation by the Downtown Coalition represented by Michael Wynn and me on Blue Zones where people live longer, population health, and specifics helping everyone live longer, happier, and healthier lives. At the Sayfie Summit, six major areas “ripe for disruption” were explored—Energy, Education, Tourism, Health, Transportation, and Water.

Both meetings began with the premise that we have formidable attributes as a state and region.

Our state has 19 million residents and will surpass New York in population in the next few years to become the third most populous state. If Florida were a nation, we would have the 19th largest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the world; currently we have the 4th largest GDP as a state. Florida’s is growing older, making healthcare a priority as the over 65 age group uses four times the healthcare as those younger. So Florida must continue to provide national healthcare leadership.

As to our region, we have the longest life expectancy for a woman and second longest for a man (, are the fifth least obese area of the country, have a very low cardiac mortality, and over the past four years have ranked first, first, fourth and third in health of the 67 counties in Florida, according to a Robert Wood Johnson study.

The key question at both gatherings: “How to be the healthiest?”

Ideas ranged from becoming a tobacco-free state (my favorite!) to becoming the least-obese state, advocated by Florida Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong. Also included were thoughts about changing our built environment to embrace the principles of Blue Zones—regions around the world where more people than anywhere else live to be 100. Other topics included prevention, personal responsibility, access, value (quality/cost), personalized genomics, regenerative medicine, affordability, and a host of others.

Our challenge now is to execute on our own BHAGs. Pick one, educate everyone, break it into manageable pieces with metrics, set interim goals, and before you know it—success! No idea is too big. Just think about President John Kennedy’s BHAG about “landing a man on the moon and returning him safety to the earth.”

Sure, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. But the next best time is right now. So let’s start planting those BHAGs and reaching for the stars.


Allen S. Weiss, M.D., President and CEO

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