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In this episode of Influencers, Andy is joined by Medtronic Chairman & CEO Geoff Martha as they discuss Geoff taking the reins at the height of the pandemic, how supply chain issues have hurt manufacturing, and Geoff’s experience building ventilators with Elon Musk.
ANDY SERWER: Geoff Martha is the chairman and CEO of Medtronic, one of the world's largest manufacturers of medical technology. After spending nearly 20 years at GE, Geoff joined Medtronic in 2011 and stepped in as CEO at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in April of 2020. In this episode of "Influencers," I'm joined by Geoff Martha as we discuss his time as CEO, how supply chain issues have hurt manufacturing, and Geoff's experience building ventilators with Elon Musk during the pandemic.
Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Influencers." I'm Andy Serwer. And welcome to our guest, Geoff Martha, CEO of Medtronic. Geoff, nice to see you.
GEOFF MARTHA: Yeah, you too, Andy. Good to see you again.
ANDY SERWER: So let's talk a little bit about Medtronic. Just big picture, what do you guys do? What are the lines of business? And how does it work?
GEOFF MARTHA: Sure, well, first of all, it's a company with-- we're the largest medtech company in the world. And it's got a storied past that if you just indulge me for a second. The company was founded in a garage in Minneapolis, you know, over 70 years ago. Our founder, Earl Bakken, remained close with the company up until his recent passing a few years ago.
And, you know, it was founded on a very simple premise. A cardiac surgeon working at the University of Minnesota identified an unmet medical need and asked Earl, who, at that point, our founder, Earl Bakken, was a hospital equipment repair person to-- if he could help make them a wearable-- or I'm sorry-- a portable pacemaker that didn't plug into the wall.
It was battery operated because there's power outages in Minnesota during the winter as you might suspect, especially back in the 1950s. And Earl created that device. And that was the beginning of Medtronic. And that was actually the beginning of medtech. Medtronic was really the start of medtech. And, you know, since that time, the company has grown into a $32 billion company. We're very global.
We operate in, like, 160 countries or something like that around the world and have all kinds of therapies, primarily a therapeutic company in three big areas-- cardiology, neuroscience. So neuroscience includes things like, you know, EMT procedures, brain procedures, tumor resection, neuromodulation for Parkinson's disease, spine surgery. All of that's in our neuroscience portfolio.
And then surgery. We do a lot of surgery-- open surgery, minimally-invasive surgery, and now, robotic surgery. And then the fourth area, it's a little bit smaller and more focuses are diabetes business, primarily for insulin-dependent diabetics. And that's-- that's the company.
ANDY SERWER: Yeah, so who are your clients-- hospitals, doctors, patients? How does that mix work?
GEOFF MARTHA: You know, historically, it's evolved. Right now, I'd say it's specialist physicians and hospital administrators. And there's a difference there. The physicians we work with hand in hand in hand on the products themselves. And we get a lot of our product ideas from physicians. And we're actually-- if you get like a pacemaker implanted, you'll find a Medtronic representative in the room, you know, scrubbed up, whether it's spine surgery or you're getting, you know, a pacemaker put in or something like that.
We're often in the OR. So we're very close to the patient, close to that physician. And then the other customer for us would be the hospital administration, right? We're one of their biggest vendors. And so we're dealing with them at the supply chain and at the c-suite. So we have to sell the clinical benefits of our products to the physicians, as well as the economic benefits.
But then, the hospital administration really gets into economics. And then-- but more and more recently, our consumers are now a customer, especially our diabetes business. It's a more directed consumer. And we're finding with health care information being on the internet, patients getting more engaged in their health care, consumers becoming more and more of a key customer, not just the patient.
So we have to look at people as our patients but also as consumers and think about that as well.
ANDY SERWER: You and I, Geoff, talked a few months ago about Medtronic early in the pandemic producing one third of the ventilators in the United States. And you partnered with Tesla and SpaceX to ramp up production. Tell us about those early days in any contact you had with the White House, et cetera.
GEOFF MARTHA: Sure, sure. Well, yeah, I was just-- so I just was about to take over just to take it over as CEO of Medtronic in the spring of 2020. And right at that same time, the pandemic was peaking. And there was a few-- lately, a lot of talk of vaccines and all that. But back then, there's a lot of unknowns and everybody was focused on what is COVID, how deadly is it, and ventilators were a critical-- still are-- an important part of the therapy of the treatment for patients.
But, back then, we used the health care use of ventilators a lot more. We've since learned how we can treat patients without them so much, which is good. But back then, there was a huge shortage of ventilators. And it was a Sunday afternoon, in a period of an hour, I got calls, you know, blocked calls but calls from the White House and other government officials around the world, heads of state from around the world, and a lot of hospital administrators, governors in the United States, all in the span of an hour, an hour and a half, on a Sunday afternoon.
And it started with an announcement out of New York City that New York City Governor Cuomo and one of the hospital CEOs in New York City said they needed 500,000 ventilators just for New York City. Just as an order of magnitude at that time, again, we're like one third of the world's supply. And we're making 200 a week. And so, you know, it was a big moment for us.
And so we put a SWAT team together on this and met all the time, several times a day, 24 hours a day, really trying to figure out how can we ramp up, dramatically ramp up our supply of ventilators. Then, you know, in the end, we were able to get that 200 a week up to 1,000 a week in just a couple of weeks, which was pretty amazing. And then we-- as part of this, we decided to open source one of our ventilators.
So we put all the designs on the internet. For a technology company, that's fairly unusual, but it was-- you know, it was-- the decision was, hey, it was a health crisis. It was a human crisis around the world. And we wanted to be-- we didn't want to be the company that put profits before patients and public health. And so we made that decision. And it's been a great decision for us.
And from that came some of these partnerships. You know, I'd say three types of partnerships. One was like innovation related. Like, Intel came in and helped us put a new chip on the ventilator so we can operate the ventilator remotely, so nurses didn't have to go into the ICU with aerosolized COVID in the air and can monitor those patients and change the ventilator settings remotely. That was one.
Another would be supply chain related. So that's where Tesla comes or that's where SpaceX comes in is they are able to help make for us a critical part in that ventilator. It's the same part they use in their spacecraft. Because if you're thinking about it, a spacecraft has a life support system on it. A ventilator is a life support system. So there. Didn't think about that. But some engineer in SpaceX, when they saw our plans online, they made the connection.
And next thing you know, I'm on the phone with Elon Musk. And he really became a good partner of ours. And then the third type of partnership was manufacturing. We partnered with local manufacturers around the world-- Bangladesh, India, you know, places like that, Canada, the United States-- to take, you know, our production and amplify it. So I've mentioned we've got our production at 5X.
But that still wasn't enough. And that's when we were able to tap these other companies and support them in ramping up production of our ventilators. So, in the end, really proud of how we handled it. Learned a lot. And so that's the story. That's the little long answer, but that's actually the short version.
ANDY SERWER: That's an incredible narrative. I just got to ask you a quick follow up. So talking to Elon Musk on the phone about supplying your ventilators, what was that like? What did you guys talk about?
GEOFF MARTHA: Well, he just wanted to validate-- I wanted to validate they're serious because we were going to make alternative plans if they couldn't come through. And he wanted to validate that we really needed it and they could really be of assistance. But he was [COUGHS] very supportive and very easy to talk to. And I was surprised, given all the businesses he has, how much he knew about this one part.
And he told me the whole story about why-- I'm like, why are you even in this business? And he told us the whole story how he know saw the supply chain was not very reliable. And he used different description than that. But-- [CHUCKLES] and decided to insource it and-- because he didn't think he run a supply chain, which was the very issue that we were dealing with.
And so I know you read a lot about it in the press and all that. But, in this situation, he was very down to Earth, very friendly, and very deep into the details and was very helpful.
ANDY SERWER: That's great. I love that different description point. Shifting gears here, the company announced or acknowledged, I should say, Geoff, in its most recent earnings call in August that the Delta variant is limiting the number of medical procedures in some areas of the country. Where is that happening? How much is that impacting you guys? And what's the outlook going forward?
GEOFF MARTHA: Well, to go over the-- you know, over the past year, there's been these different waves. And when you have these different waves, it-- you know, there's a pullback on elective cases, especially-- and they weren't elective cases. It isn't really for what we do, isn't a really good descriptor. I'd more call it deferrable cases. And so you can defer certain things.
Like, if you're getting bariatric surgery or if you're getting maybe an orthopedic procedure, like you may have back pain, if you bear it a little longer, then put that procedure out. But there's certain other procedures I would argue are a good idea to defer. Like, if you have a stroke, we treat strokes and heart attacks. And these things I wouldn't-- you know, I wouldn't advise to defer.
So we have a range of these procedures. And the ones that are more deferrable we saw slow down. And so that-- and we've seen that consistently. But in every case, it's been transient. And we get a bounce back. It's just a question of how quickly it bounces back. But they're transient. And we expect the same here with the Delta variant.
We've learned, you know, things have changed. But in terms of the procedures, it's transient and we get a bounce back. But the hospitals, and us, we all learn valuable lessons that are changing health care to some degree. But you asked about the procedures.
ANDY SERWER: Yeah, is there any way to sort of quantify the level of doctors visits now versus pre-pandemic, where we are, and when you anticipate that getting back to say 100%?
GEOFF MARTHA: Well, I can't really get into that right now because we're right before our earnings, and these are questions that were in a quiet period. These are questions investors ask. But I can-- and right now, everybody-- I can tell you investors look at all of our earnings really closely to figure out where things are. And right now, a lot of our competitors are announcing their last quarter's earnings. We have a weird fiscal calendar.
So we're another an extra month away from that. But, you know, it-- our earnings, our revenue, prior to over the course of last year, our lowest quarter was 25% down in revenue. And that was a mix of some procedures went down 80% and some went down maybe 10. So it was a mix. And it was really dependent on geography and on the deferrability of the procedure.
But it was in certain procedures. It was pretty extreme in certain countries. It was pretty extreme. The timing is just different, right? China got hit first. And the United States then got hit. A couple of months later, you have a big human crisis in India. Things shut down there. So it was the timing was different. And the depth of the slowdown was also dependent on the therapy itself. But then it tends to be transient come right back.
ANDY SERWER: Right, yeah, I understand the quiet period. And I'm hoping this next couple of questions don't get too close to that. But tell me if they do. And I want to ask you about supply chains and batteries. And I'm wondering what the impact there. We read about supply chain all the time. And so how is that impacting implantable medical instruments like pacemakers and batteries?
GEOFF MARTHA: Well, we insource a lot of-- most of our batteries. It's one of our specialties actually is both what they call primary cell and rechargeable, so recharge-free batteries and rechargeable batteries. And that's a core competency of ours. Medical grade rechargeable batteries, we would argue, the best battery technology in the world. We just make it smaller.
And so we've been able to-- because we insource it, we've been able to manage through that. The area that-- like you're reading and you hear about most often that we're getting hit is like everybody else is things like semiconductors. There's definitely a shortage there. And we've been able to manage it so far, but it is difficult. Then one of the reasons we have been able to manage it is during the height of COVID, the peak of it. We kept producing our products.
I mean, like I said, people are still getting sick. There were less-- there were less procedures at certain points in time, but we kept producing and kept our commitments to our supply chain and actually doubled down. And so that helped. That helped offset this for us. So we've been able to manage it. But for sure, there's definitely stress in the supply chain in terms of certain parts, light chips in terms of incremental costs like the cost of containers across the ocean has gone way up.
Transportation times have gone way up. So it is definitely-- I think, you know, in our world, we've learned a lot of how we can change the delivery of health care and make it work more virtual during COVID. I think another lesson learned for everybody is going to be supply chain resiliency and really looking at that again.
ANDY SERWER: Absolutely. Another hot topic-- inflation. And I'm wondering if you felt compelled to raise prices recently and what the outlook is there.
GEOFF MARTHA: No, I mean, look, I've talked to a lot of CEOs on this one. And you've got some industries where there's razor thin margins and they pass along the inflationary costs. I've talked to others that are more in the moderate and medium margins, and they pass along some of the costs. You know, right now, we have not passed along price increases where we have pretty good margins.
And we've got some cost down programs that we were hoping to actually improve margins. Now they're kind of offsetting some of the inflationary pressures. So-- but it is-- we've been talking to CEOs across different industries. The inflationary costs are real. I'm not an economist. I don't know when that's going-- what the future holds here, but we're definitely planning for higher inflation and really getting more aggressive on cost down programs to offset that. Matter of fact, we just, during the pandemic, hired a new head of global supply chain and operations.
We hired the head of-- he's from-- Greg Smith from Walmart-- and really trying to bring-- I mean, who has a more complicated supply chain than Walmart, right? And so bring some of that expertise into health care and especially in the Medtronic. I think, you know, our company, our industry, we're known for technology innovation, clinical innovation like doing clinical trials and understanding how technology can impact the physiology.
And-- and we're known at taking those new procedures, new devices, and working them into the health care systems worldwide and making a standard of care. That's our specialty. We're not necessarily known for supply chain excellence or manufacturing. So we're bringing that into our company. We're traveling around right now and visiting best in class companies in what will be operations, or manufacturing, or supply chain, integrated business planning, and learning from them, and really trying to up our game in this area.
And one of the incentives to do that is the inflationary pressures and not wanting to pass that along to health care systems, because as you know, health care is already a pretty high percentage of many government spend. And I don't see them wanting it to go any higher.
ANDY SERWER: Yeah, it's an interesting strategic initiative on your part. You mentioned hiring, Geoff. And so I want to ask you how that and retention is going? Yet another hot topic.
GEOFF MARTHA: Oh, yeah, that is-- so there are a lot of people for different reasons. And again, I'm not a psychologist, which I can't-- but I've got my own hypothesis. But I mean, people are rethinking things. You know, you heard of the great resignation and rethinking do I want to work or how hard do I want to work? Do I want to work for this company? And given that so many people are at home, that connection with the company is not as strong as it has been in the past.
And so you're seeing a lot of movement. And so we've-- our turnover is up. It's still manageable, but it's up. And I'm spending a lot of my time recruiting. And so at the same time, we're losing some talent. Some of it, regrettably. We're actually gaining a lot of talent too. A lot of people want-- we're a destination for a couple of reasons.
One is part of people rethink things. They want to contribute to society more. And so where else would you want to go other than a health care company, especially one that's on the cutting edge of technology. So there's a lot of interest. Our applications are up over 40%. Applications that are technology related are up over 50% for our company. Those are Medtronic numbers.
So, you know, there's a lot of people interested in the company. But to manage this increased turnover plus how to take some of this inbound interest is time consuming. But it is-- we're looking at it as an opportunity to bring in fresh talent, people like I mentioned, the head of supply chain, Greg Smith, and others. So it's-- but it is-- it is consuming a lot of time.
If you think about it, people talk about being stressed and all that. You know, all these supply chain issues, dealing with COVID and the whole health crisis, the vaccine debate, and then you've got this talent moving all over the place, these are things that prior to COVID we weren't dealing with nearly to this degree. So you got to run your company. Do your job plus these other things.
So that's why I think it's a one-run reason. But people are finding enough time in the day to get things done.
ANDY SERWER: Don't I know that. So you mentioned technology. Want to drill down a little bit into that, particularly AI, Geoff, because you guys have made a priority of incorporating AI into some of your products and services, including robot assisted surgery. What's the approval process for that like in the United States, and what do patients think about that?
GEOFF MARTHA: Well, patients love it. I mean-- and hospitals that have robots, they go out of their way to market that to patients. There's a strong pool from patients with robots. And I can't necessarily explain that, but they do like it. They like the idea of cutting edge technology. You know, people are always looking to get-- for better outcomes. And they associate technology with that.
And what's more technological advanced technology than a robot? And so you're seeing robotics in surgery quite a bit. And so we've got actually today three robots, one we just launched in certain Latin America and just recently got approval in Europe. And it's what they call soft tissue robot. So it's not cutting into bone. It's more around your thoracic and abdominal area, so gynecology procedures, urology procedures like prostate surgery, things like that.
And there's one-- one major competitor out there, Intuitive Surgical. And so we're the second major player to launch a robot. So that's one. Lot of expectations, high expectations there. We have a spine robot that actually does back surgery, and orthopedic surgery. And then we have a cranial robot for tumor resection and other procedures in your brain. And over time, we'll have others.
And these robots can do more than one procedure. But they are purpose built for specific procedures. Like I mentioned, soft tissue versus cutting bone or hard tissue. They have different capabilities. And AI-- incorporating AI into that is a big part of it. At some point, we will have-- first, you're going to have real time feedback to surgeons. So some of the robots are surgeon-like assisted where they're-- it's like almost a joystick, if you will.
The surgeon's driving, looking at a computer screen driving the robot. And you-- well, pretty soon, you're going to see AI come in and say, look, Mr. Dr. So-and-So, you know-- you're going, Dr. Jones, your next move should be this. You should make sure you don't cut this. Make sure you stay away from that. So we're heading that way pretty quickly.
And over time, just think of a self-driving car, I think you're going to have self-driving surgical robots.
ANDY SERWER: Hey, Geoff, what is neuromodulation technology?
GEOFF MARTHA: That's a-- it's a-- we've got to name that something different.
ANDY SERWER: [LAUGHS]
GEOFF MARTHA: It's a kind of mysterious--
ANDY SERWER: Yeah.
GEOFF MARTHA: --name. You know, so it deals with your central nervous system-- so your brain, your spinal column-- which, quite frankly, medicine, we don't really understand how the brain and the central nervous system really work. We're learning a lot more. But what we do is-- neuromodulation is you're-- you're applying-- you're put-- it's basically the shape of a pacemaker that we implant.
Now it's gotten smaller and smaller and smaller that has wires coming off it that stimulates specific parts of the structures in your brain or your spinal cord to do things like mitigate Parkinson's symptoms or block pain signals. So it's used for back and leg pain. And there, we're stimulating your spinal cord. It's used for things like essential tremor and Parkinson's to get rid of the tremors.
And there, we're stimulating tiny, tiny structures in your brain. And the third area is for overactive bladder, which talking to Medtronic, I didn't realize how big of an issue it is, particularly women. You're-- after maybe giving birth to multiple kids, you know, your pelvic floor can break down and you lose control of your bladder and you find yourself being incontinent. And with a little bit of stimulation to one of your nerves called your sacral nerve, we can restore that function.
And you can go on to live the normal life. And so that business for us is growing 20% or so because we've got a small stimulator that does that. So that's what neuromodulation is. And it's going through a real revolution right now, because now, in addition to stimulating, we've learned how to sense signals in your brain and then your spinal cord and your nervous system. We can now listen.
So we stimulate and then we listen to see how your body is responding. And then we can adjust that stimulation, that energy, real time so you're getting just the right amount of stimulation. So we're basically personalizing the therapy per person. And this is brand new cutting edge things that are coming to market now.
ANDY SERWER: Your stock, ticker MDT, right--
GEOFF MARTHA: Right.
ANDY SERWER: --fell recently after an announcement of the continuation of clinical trials for renal denervation systems, lower blood sugar and hypertension. Some people hope the trial would end early and finish. Some would come earlier. What's going on there? Anything you can tell us about that?
GEOFF MARTHA: Yeah, sure. I mean, it's-- it-- you know, it's pretty-- in medical circles, it's fairly well known. It's not well known to the general population. But it will be if things go the way we anticipated. It will go-- it will be in the next year or two. And what renal denervation does is we're applying with a catheter-based procedure. So the catheter goes through your femoral artery, kind of like how you deliver a stent or something like that.
So it's minimally invasive. You're not cutting big cuts, just a little incision in your femoral artery. We weave that catheter to, of all places, your renal nerves or your kidney there. And we're applying about a little bit of energy to basically block signals from your brain to your kidney there that have an impact on blood pressure. And this is a permanent-- what we found in our trials-- we have a lot of data on this-- that it lowers your blood pressure meaningfully.
And that meaningful reduction your blood pressure permanently here leads to 30% less strokes, 20% less heart attacks. I mean, that's the data that we have and we're in the-- it's been a long journey. And we're on the second part of a long trial. And there was some optimism because the data would be so good that we can end it early. And it's based on statistical-- it's something called Bayesian statistics, which I couldn't explain to you if I tried.
And we just didn't hit that endpoint. We're still confident in the procedure. We're still confident this is going to work. Matter of fact, I'm out on the road today talking to some of our leading physicians that are conducting the trial to get an update from them. But very optimistic. But unfortunately, there was some enthusiasm it would end early. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case.
We don't get a look at the data so I can't give any more. But we're-- based on the data we have, we're very confident that we're going to ultimately hit the endpoints and get approval. And this has a potential to be a blockbuster because hypertension is the leading cause of death or leading contributor to death, I should say, in the world.
And this is a solution that has shown a pristine safety and doesn't have the side effects of the drugs.
ANDY SERWER: Let's shift gears a little bit, Geoff, and ask you some newsy questions about taxes. Number one, is a proposed corporate tax, 15% tax, on companies a kind of a minimum tax for corporations, and then also, a global minimum tax? You guys are actually headquartered in Ireland. And I wonder what your reaction is to both of those proposed changes in the tax code.
GEOFF MARTHA: Well, you know, when it comes to taxes, I mean, you know, for us, we're a tech, as you mentioned, innovation company and we like to invest in R&D. We have obligations to our shareholders. So as-- as taxes had gone down-- and a lot of our R&D, almost all of it is done in the United States. Let me give you some context. Medtech is a US-- from an R&D perspective-- is a US jewel.
A lot of the R&D is conducted here, it provides a lot of high paying jobs. We pay our engineers very well, us and our competitors, and it's been a really great industry for driving the United States economy. It's really done in the Massachusetts area, in Minneapolis, and in the Bay Area. And when-- as taxes have come down in the prior administration, our R&D goes up.
And our R&D is at the-- we made a 10% increase in our R&D. It's the largest R&D increase in our company's history. We're spending about $2.6 billion a year on R&D, which is technology innovation. It's in clinical trials and advancing medicine. And look, the more-- the lower the taxes, the more we're able to spend on R&D and invest in R&D. So, for us, we'd like to see a competitive tax because so much of our R&D is here, here in the United States.
We'd like to see a competitive tax system. And that's all we're asking for, fair and competitive tax system. And I hope that at the end of this, these proposals don't make, you know-- even though we're technically headquartered in Ireland, all of our R&D is here. And so the US tax code means a lot. And hopefully, it'll be a competitive proposal at the end of the day,
ANDY SERWER: I want to ask you a couple of personal questions, Geoff. You grew up in Pittsburgh. Your father ran a small business tie to the steel industry. And then that business went under when you were young. You talked about that being a big moment in your life. How did that experience shape you when it comes to working and business?
GEOFF MARTHA: Well, I'll tell you, when you go through something like that-- I was a teenager, and at that point in time, you know, we weren't wealthy, but we weren't-- you know, we were comfortable. And then you go through a bankruptcy, where you have a business bankruptcy that results in a family bankruptcy and all the stress that leads to your-- you know, it's pretty traumatic.
And so, I'd say, [CHUCKLES] I've worked pretty hard, I'll say that, to-- it was a lesson learned that you have to-- you know, sometimes, you know, you have to work hard and do your best to put yourself into a situation because sometimes you need-- environmental factors can go against you. So I've been very careful to also go into areas and industries that I thought were growth industries and just work hard.
And just never take anything for granted. And the other thing that it taught me is just empathy because, you know, I looked at my dad. He worked really hard. He was a smart guy and just got caught up in an environmental thing when the steel industry kind of left the United States. And he was in that supply chain, impacted his company. And-- but it didn't make him a bad person.
So I learned empathy and not to judge people in these situations and to help people out when they get in that situation because people came and helped out our family, helped out me. And I got-- I was able-- I got scholarships to Penn State. Otherwise, I wouldn't have been able to afford to go there. So my wife and I give back to universities and things like that. So it taught me a lot of things.
It was, like you said, a big moment in my life.
ANDY SERWER: And you worked at GE also. Some good times there and then some bad times at the end, right?
GEOFF MARTHA: Yeah, so it's 20 years. And look, the first 10 that I was there in the '90s was just great years under Jack Welch's leadership. Things were-- it was so-- we were so proud of what we did. And the company was growing. And my experiences grew with it. It was great. And then, the next 10 years, things started to slow down a bit. I wasn't there.
I left for Medtronic before things really got-- went downhill. But I had a great 20 years there, great leaders that I was exposed to, and just learned so much. And it's a shame to see what happened. But look, I spent some time with their new CEO, Larry Paul, who's got a great track record of Danaher. And, you know, I think-- I'm pulling for him and GE to make a comeback here because it's been a wonderful company.
ANDY SERWER: And final question, Geoff, you talked about going to Penn State. And I know you played hockey there. I don't know if you watched "ted Lasso." Do you ever watch that show?
GEOFF MARTHA: Oh, yeah. Yeah, we watched it.
ANDY SERWER: Right, the character, he goes football is life, right? And so a little bit for you. Hockey is life, right? What is that all about? You're a big hockey as a teaching kind of experience, right?
GEOFF MARTHA: Well, again, it was formidable for me. I mean, I played from when I was four years old all the way till I was graduated college. And I still play. I play on the weekends when I'm in Minneapolis, and I try to play at least once a week. It doesn't always work out that way. But it is just-- it-- like I said, it was formidable. I spent a lot of time with my parents.
They traveled with me to these games. So that father-- and the father-son bond, in particular, was strengthened through that. I had great teammates. I had several fathers, you know, because we would travel so far that your dad couldn't go every weekend. So your dad would take four kids, and then the next weekend, another dad would take four kids. And so you learned a lot of lessons.
You had a lot of parents, you know, if you will. And I think it made me better. But the teamwork is what I really learned and how to be a team player and the importance of team, team dynamic. And it's really translated to business if you ask me. Medtronic's a big global complicated company. You can't know everything. And so having the right team, and not just the right players and the diversity of background, diversity of thought of the team, but the right mindset, and each puzzle piece each player contributes something different.
And it all has to work together. So at the same time, you want diversity, you know, not just ethnic and gender diversity, but diversity of thought and background. But then, you also want harmony. The team has to work together in harmony. And I really learned that through hockey and team sports and what to watch out for. So when there's disharmony in the team, you sense it quickly, and your instincts are to really lean in and fix that.
And no matter what you have to do, in some cases, your best player has to go because the chemistry is bad. Like in "Ted Lasso," if you remember, they had to kick off Jamie, I think his name was. They brought him back, but they had to kick him off the team because he was a cancer to the team at that time. And the same is true in business. Sometimes, your high performers, it's not worth it.
And those lessons I learned early. And also, I learned humility in hockey. You know, you can have a couple of good games and then a bad game. You can be the captain one year and then you're cut the next year. And that humility is also helped me.
ANDY SERWER: So we got medical devices and hockey is life. So that's some great stuff. Geoff Martha, CEO of Medtronic, thank you so much for your time.
GEOFF MARTHA: Thank you, Andy. It's been a lot of fun.
ANDY SERWER: You've been watching "Influencers." I'm Andy Serwer. We'll see you next time.