THE BOB JOHNSTON PODCAST
By Bob Johnston
April 28, 2020
SEASON
1
EPISODE
9
Former Tivity Health/Nutrisystem CEO – Donato Tramuto

Donato Tramuto recently retired as CEO of Tivity Health, one of the largest health improvement, nutrition, fitness and social engagement platforms in the world and parent company of Nutrisystem. Donato is one of my favorite people – he talks about compassionate leadership and lessons for CEOs, regardless of the times. He’s had his fair share of adversity (legally deaf, schedule to be on a 9/11 flight, etc.). Yet, despite all of that, he started and sold two businesses to Merck and United Health, became a public company CEO, launched several not-for-profits and was a recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Ripple of Hope Award.

Most importantly, he has led with compassion. We also discuss his theories around "Herd Kindness," giving back/legacy, and a phrase he's coined called "collab-ovation.” Donato is an all-around exceptional human being.

Donato J. Tramuto is the former CEO of Tivity Health, Inc (NASDAQ: TVTY), a leading provider of fitness and health improvement programs, with strong capabilities in developing and managing network solutions in healthcare. A recognized innovator and industry leader, he has more than 35 years of healthcare experience, with a deep commitment to global healthcare access, a steadfast focus on patient outcomes and a keen understanding of digital solutions.

In less than a year after being named Tivity Health’s CEO, Tramuto executed a turnaround of the company’s performance by harnessing the lessons he learned through various adversities and “bulldozer” moments, and engineered a creative sale of one of the company’s non-performing divisions, adding nearly $1 billion of valuation to the company. In 2008, Tramuto founded Physicians Interactive Holdings (now known as Aptus Health), a global provider of insight-driven digital engagement solutions for healthcare professionals and consumers. There he served as CEO and chairman prior to joining Tivity Health, Inc.

In 2011, Tramuto founded Health eVillages, a non-profit organization which provides state-of-the-art mobile health technology in the most challenging clinical environments. He is also the chairman and founder of the Tramuto Foundation, which helps individuals and organizations achieve their educational and healthcare goals.

Tramuto has been widely recognized for his more than three decade commitment to social change and healthcare innovation. In 2014, he was honored alongside Hillary Clinton, Robert DeNiro and Tony Bennett, with the prestigious Robert F. Kennedy Ripple of Hope Award.  He is a 2017 recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps Embracing the Legacy Award, which recognizes individuals who have worked tirelessly to better the lives of children and their families. In 2015, Tramuto received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from the College of Fine Arts at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell and in 2017, he received an honorary doctorate of science from Thomas Jefferson University.  Donato Tramuto is a three time PharmaVOICE 100 most inspirational leader honoree and a recipient of the PharmaVOICE Red Jacket Award, which recognizes individuals in the life sciences field for innovative and motivational approaches to addressing industry challenges.   He was honored in 2012 as one of the most innovative people in Massachusetts.

Tramuto serves on several executive leadership boards, including the board of the Boston University School of Public Health, the Livongo Health Foundation, the Brown University Healthcare Leadership Board, the board of directors for Sharecare, Inc.  In 2016, he was appointed to the board of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, where he serves as chairman of the Leadership Council and is leading a national initiative to address workplace dignity. Tramuto is also chairman of the board of Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights Europe.

Tramuto is the author of Life’s Bulldozer Moments: How Adversity Leads to Success in Life and Business, a Hamilton Press publication.

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, Overcast, Castbox, or your preferred podcast platform.

SELECTED QUOTES
I hope we have herd kindness and herd compassion coming out of COVID-19"
– on taking the time to reflect on what we need and want as a society and individuals
If you want real change, you have to be angry enough to want it."
– on his hero, Robert F. Kennedy, discussing basic human rights
When I leave this world, have I made it a tad better than when I was in it? – on legacy and doing something, no matter how small it may seem
EPISODE MARKERS

6:30 Minute Marker

Bulldozer Moments
Compassionate leadership based on painful moments in life

6:01
Was scheduled to be on a plane with his best friends and their child on 9/11 — he cancelled his ticket because he was sick
Life changing moment when his friends were killed

8:40
Herd Kindness and Herd Compassion coming out of COVID-19

11:30
Taking this time to reflect on what he needs and wants to give post-COVID

15:02
On executives allowing themselves to be vulnerable and even admit to loneliness

18:15
Social isolation is a different kind of isolation
As is being lonely in a crowd of 100 people

21:11
On healthcare as a basic right for everyone
Move away from sick-care and move towards health-care

23:10
“If you want real change, you have to be angry enough to want it.” – on his hero, Robert F. Kennedy, discussing basic human rights

25:05
9 million American seniors living in poverty and food insecurity

27:20
Comparing and contrasting the personal ups and downs of founding, running and selling a startup as well as running a publicly traded company

28:48
On legacy – when I leave his world, have I made it a tad better than when I was in it?
He studied the masters and learned

32:15
Be prepared for the risk and time commitment involved with running a startup

34:55
Not making payroll, passing around the hat and potentially losing his home

36:02
“Collab-ovation”
Collaborative IQ
Learn how to collaborate with others

38:32
Focusing on double bottom line is crucial for true leadership
All of us are CEO of our own legacy
It doesn’t matter how much you give back, give what you can.
This sends a compassionate current throughout your organization

GUEST FOOTNOTES
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