MMM Hall of Femme

Denise Henry

managing director | HealthWork

What would you do if you didn't work in healthcare?

I'd be the marine biologist I was studying to be in college. But in many ways, healthcare is the same as the study of marine biology: vast ecosystems of interdependent species, constant change and upheaval, and a bigness and depth that boggles the mind. I'm drawn to big and deep things because they make me think in big ways.

Talk about the last time you experienced a truly fist-pumping victory moment.

When I coached my son Colin to overcome his pretty deep fear of public speaking and then saw him deliver a killer talk on Muhammad Ali to his fourth grade class. I thoroughly enjoy coaching people around me to unleash the greatest I can see in them. There's nothing better than watching someone's success surprise themselves.

When was the last time you endured an “agony of defeat” moment? What did you learn from it?

Every time a pitch doesn't go our way, it still rocks me to my core. There's not much worse than knowing the full team gave it their all and finding out that it didn't go our way. But what I've learned is to pick myself up quickly, because the occasional loss can be the catalyst to rethink some things and unleash a winning streak. So I've now learned to embrace a loss, because they can be great and illuminating instructors.

What are your words to live by?

Sometimes you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.

The Grateful Dead had it right. I've learned the most when I've been able to reimagine our industry conventions. True innovation doesn't lie in what's been done before.

What would you tell your 20-year-old self?

This industry is an amazing but demanding ride. Don't lose any of the passion you give every day now, but pick the right things to apply it to. Trying to make every aspect of everything go perfectly will make less go right. Be selective and learn from your losses – they are as illuminating as the wins.

What is one thing you would tell women starting their careers in healthcare marketing?

With the right application of passion, purpose, and love for your family, you can have it all. Just know that a B+ on any given day in any dimension of your happily chaotic life is pretty darn good. Don't let your desire for As cloud the joy of it all. I've learned to love a good B day.

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