What if you had a staring contest with Death… and he blinked first? But in order to survive the encounter, you had to sacrifice a dream that you spent more than half your life working on. How would that change your personality? How would that change your life? How would you reinvent yourself?

These questions are difficult, and many of us are fortunate that we have not had to face them. But today’s guest is very familiar with not only facing obstacles and illness, but rising above them.

Dr. Herman Williams is the Chief Clinical Officer and Executive Vice President at RCCH Hospital Care Partners. He received his MD at Boston University, MPH from Harvard University, and MBA from the University of Washington. He is also an author and recently published the acclaimed book “Clear! Living the Life You Didn’t Dream Of.”

Dr. Williams exemplifies compassionate servant leadership and his extraordinary example can teach us all how to overcome life’s challenges with grace and humility.

Show notes
  • (00:02:16): Take us to where the entire story began on April 28, 1991.
  • (00:08:27): What was the process like moving from doctor to patient?
  • (00:10:15): How did the defibrillator change your life?
  • (00:15:00): How did you manage to get through such a difficult time?
  • (00:18:00): What advice do you have for others who might not have ever faced this?
  • (00:21:17): Do you have a routine or a technique to stay calm under pressure?
  • (00:27:17): In 2017, you had another cardiac event at Nashville Airport. What happened?
  • (00:31:11): Having survived two heart attacks, how does this influence your philosophy on life?
  • (00:32:49): What was the process like to write your book?
  • (00:35:00): What is a self-help memoir and how does your book fall under this category?
  • (00:36:50): What is the Kindness Scale?
  • (00:40:08): What advice would you give physicians about writing their own book?
  • (00:42:10): Having to give up clinical medicine, how did you reinvent yourself?
  • (00:46:20): What should health professionals consider when it comes to getting a second degree?
  • (00:47:38): Do you consider your ascent through healthcare leadership rapid?
  • (00:48:54): What characteristics did you have that made you successful?
  • (00:53:19): What is your philosophy on leadership?
  • (00:54:47): What do you think you can do to help address the shortage of African American males in medicine?
  • (01:00:42): What books have made the most impact on your life?
  • (01:05:18): Where can people find you?
  • (01:05:57): Can you talk about why dreaming big is important?
Selected Links

Dr. Herman Williams – “CLEAR”! from Detroit Medical Center on Vimeo.


Music by Lee Rosevere – Sad Marimba Planet from freemusicarchive.org

“I began to realize that coming in such close contact with my own mortality had changed nothing and everything. Before my cancer was diagnosed, I knew that someday I would die, but I didn’t know when. After the diagnosis, I knew that someday I would die, but I didn’t know when. But now I knew it acutely. The problem wasn’t really a scientific one. The fact of death is unsettling. Yet there is no other way to live.”

– Paul Kalanithi (When Breath Becomes Air)