Speaker 1: Welcome to The People of Animal Health Podcast. The host of our podcast is Stacy Pursell. Stacy is the leading Executive Recruiter for the animal health industry and a veterinary professional. She’s the founder of Therio Partners and The Vet Recruiter. Stacy has placed more professionals in key positions within the animal health industry and the veterinary profession than any executive search professional. Along the way, Stacy has built relationships with some outstanding people who are doing incredible things to make a difference. The People of Animal Health Podcast features industry leaders and trailblazers who have made a significant impact, or are making an impact in the animal industry or the veterinary profession. Stacy chats with them to learn more about their lives, their careers, and the unique and interesting things that they have done to contribute to the animal health industry or veterinary profession. She’s here to share their stories with you. Now, here’s the host of our podcast, Stacy Pursell.
Stacy Pursell: Hello, everyone. On today’s show, we are talking with Dr. Michael Lucroy. Dr. Lucroy received his DVM from Purdue University and then went to the coldest place in North America, the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at USask, to do a small animal medicine and surgery internship. From there, Dr. Lucroy went to UC Davis to complete a medical oncology residency and graduate school while a post graduate researcher at the Center for Companion Animal Health. After Davis, he made his way to private specialty practice in Central Florida, followed by a stint at Oklahoma State University as an Associate Professor and Endowed Chair before returning to Purdue University as an Associate Professor and Chief of Clinical Oncology.
After leaving academics, Dr. Lucroy spent time in private specialty practice at the VCA, Veterinary Specialty Center in Indianapolis, before joining the R&D team at Elanco Animal Health. Before joining Torigen, he was Director of Clinical Studies for MedVet Medical and Cancer Center, Centers for Pets overseeing research in over 20 specialty hospitals. He is board-certified in medical oncology and the author of over 40 peer-reviewed publications. Dr. Lucroy is currently the Chief Medical Officer at Torigen Pharmaceuticals. Welcome on to The People of Animal Health Podcast. And how are you, Mike?
Dr. Michael Lucroy: Doing great and thanks so much for having me today, Stacy. I appreciate it.
Stacy Pursell: Well, we appreciate you being here and I am so excited that you’re here to share with our listeners the story of your career in veterinary medicine and also in the animal health industry. And I know that you’ve experienced much success at this point in your career. But I would love to start off at the bottom and the very beginning of your career. What was your life like growing up? And where did you grow up?
Dr. Michael Lucroy: So I was actually born in Mississippi, but spent the formative years… We moved from Mississippi when I was about 10 and I spent my formative years in Southern Indiana, growing up in Bloomington, which was a fun place because there’s a Big 10 University there with Indiana University and certainly, lots of things to do. So it was actually a toss up between going to music school or going to veterinary school as I was coming up through high school. I think my first foray into veterinary medicine, I was kind of a contender so like so many folks do, especially those of my ilk, and I want to say I’m grateful that you didn’t put all the dates associated with all those positions and the like, but certainly a lot of us started working in a kennel and that’s what I did.
There was a veterinary hospital where our dog went and so I worked in the kennel there and rode my bicycle to work during high school. And when I got a car, I was able to drive the short distance and work there. After spending time in the practice, I decided that music would be a vocation and veterinary medicine would be really the thing to do.
Since Purdue was close, and even in those days, I was so sensitive about tuition prices, so decided to follow up after working on my undergrad work in animal sciences. Applied to veterinary school and was fortunate enough to get in after three years, and completed the program in small animal clinical track. Our class actually the first class to go through the clinical tracking program at Purdue, so I concentrated all my efforts in small animal medicine and surgery at that point.
And as you noted, off to the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, and that clearly was a cold place. We had an entire month where the daytime temperature never reached more than minus 40 centigrade. So that’s pretty brutal. And there were seasons in Saskatchewan. There was early winter, mid winter, late winter, and next winter. Although it was cold, it was a great experience because they were the only emergency clinic in a town city of about 200,000 people. So it was a tremendous variation in caseload and got a lot of good experience there. And then decided to apply for residencies. And clearly just the fact that I applied for an internship, I recognized early on that I wasn’t going to be happy, necessarily repeating the free talk and heartworm prevention talk and those kinds of things and general practice. So I really wanted to focus on doing a specialty and really liked working with cancer patients. It doesn’t have those aspects of general practice where you can really form bonds with clients and get to know them over time, yet still have specialty certification.
So my [inaudible 00:06:09] ended up matching at UC Davis, so packed up the moving truck and drove further west. And spent two years in the… At the time that residency program at Davis was two years, so you get pretty much no time off clinics. And that was a great experience in some matches that you were able to see tons of cases a day. So it’s really a vigorous case load. And that made for great learning experiences there. And then stayed on for my Master’s in Comparative Pathology. I had planned to do a PhD, but my daughter was born during that time. And it’s awfully expensive to try and raise a kid in California and a resident and graduate students [inaudible 00:06:51], so ended up going into practice at that point.
So I left California and went to another warm climate in Central Florida. We didn’t do our due diligence there, and it’s awfully humid in the Orlando area in the summertime. So we decided that wasn’t going to necessarily be a spot for us. And opportunity popped up to continue some laser research and photodynamic therapy research that I had done while in grad school. So I took the opportunity at Oklahoma State and enjoyed the time there, and then got another phone call from Purdue saying they were looking for a faculty member. And of course, having been an alum, I knew very well the community. And just so happened that my father-in-law was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease about that time. So it was a chance for us to be a little closer to family, we moved back there.
So after several years on the faculty there, I decided that maybe I like to not have to do so much committee work and like so there was an opportunity to move into a specialty practice too far away and did that for many, many years [inaudible 00:08:07], went from a privately held company into a corporate practice, went and started looking for other opportunities. And I actually applied for a position or was asking a friend of mine who worked at Elanco Animal Health about a position that they had opened with their technical services crew. And I asked them, “Well, what do you think?” And he was very honest, and he said, “You’ll hate it.” Not being totally discouraged, I said, “Well, thanks for that feedback.” But before we ended the chat, he said, “There is another position with their technology acquisitions group that you’d be perfect for.”
So he forward me the job information. I hadn’t seen that position description. So I was able to read that and apply for that and it was great, that was a very good fit. So enjoy my time in Elanco. And then, was an opportunity that opened with MedVet to do more clinical work and be not only in charge of a Clinical Oncology practice in Indianapolis, but also serve as their director of clinical studies at that time. There were about 24 hospitals, they’ve grown since then. So that was a very rewarding position. And then most recently, I get a telephone call from you and made me aware of the CMO position or at the time is a different position, but it’s morphed into the CMO position. So that’s kind of how I ended up towards in pharmaceuticals at this point.
Stacy Pursell: Yes, and going back to your transition into the animal health industry, I’m curious, what was that transition like for you?
Dr. Michael Lucroy: Honestly, very interesting because there were a few industry positions open and I had friends that were working in the animal health industry. Some had started that path straight after veterinary school or residencies, and others had, like me, come to that later on. So I did talk to them about what some of the rules were and what some of the opportunities might be. And when I was looking, with kind of at that point, kids that were in school, and not necessarily wanting a big relocation while they were in kind of the junior high, high school age, we looked at nearby opportunities and Elanco Animal Health wasn’t too far away. Eli Lilly, the time as the owner of Elanco Animal Health, and both of those companies are nearby here in Indiana. So that was a certainly a place to look.
And looking on their website, found the technical services type role, and didn’t realize I could look at some of the other areas within the company, and I was glad that I had at least a contact on the inside to help me negotiate that pathway and find I think a role that I was very well suited for. And certainly is a much different way to spend your day. On clinics, I think everybody who’s been in the trenches and practice, some days you’re just putting out fires all day, and you’re going from thing to thing to thing to thing, and no time to sit and rest and think. You’re really just running all day long, where industry, it’s a much different world being truly in the business world, where I was amazed that I actually get to have lunch on a regular schedule with other people at a table. Didn’t have to sit and eat a sandwich with one hand and write medical records with the other. So really was a nice, nice transition there. And just to kind of see a really kind of an entirely different world.
Stacy Pursell: That’s interesting that you say that about lunch. There’s a strong interest from veterinarians in clinical practice that want to get out of clinical practice and go into industry, and one of the reasons I hear most often is work life balance, being able to take a lunch and have more control over your schedule. I’m curious, what sort of advice would you give to a veterinarian in clinical practice who is thinking about opportunities in industry and is interested in making that that leap?
Dr. Michael Lucroy: Well, I think it’s a key consideration to try and get that work life balance. And I will say that within large companies, they spend a lot of time and energy to cultivate that positive work environments, and really have all the things that you could want as far as a set schedule, for many positions. I know some of the rules do have more traveling and the like, and so that scheduled a little bit less set in stone. But for many positions there is a pretty solid schedule. You have set time off, you don’t have to feel bad, at least the role I was in, whenever I put in for time off, I got approved and you were able to enjoy that time. And you get all the perks you can want as far as health insurance, and retirement savings and those kinds of programs.
So really did help you to really manage that much better. When I think back to practice you’d easily pull a 10 hour day, if not a 12 hour day, depending on writing records and calls that need to be made and those sorts of things. And it’s true when owners were to ask, “Oh, when are you going to go have lunch?” It’s like I have lunch on my days off, I don’t ever hardly get to eat when I’m at clinics. So I think that is a nicety of [inaudible 00:14:18]. Also, noise and things like that you can encounter in a veterinary hospital and depending on again, in your role, if you’re traveling, then you might be in airports or in a car, things like that. But, again, it’s just a much different day to day environment.
Stacy Pursell: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yes, it is a much different day to day environment. And Mike, looking over your career, I mean, you’ve had increasing roles of responsibility. I mean, you’ve gone from practice to industry. Was there a point in time, looking back over your career, when you felt like you were truly beginning to gain traction with your career?
Dr. Michael Lucroy: Well, it’s been always different and changing. And so I think one, just being… I don’t know if it’s a personality trait or defect or whatever, but I’m always looking at what’s the next thing I could do. And so from veterinary school just to [inaudible 00:15:21], seeing the next target I was looking at was an internship and residency. And initially, I had the idea of practice, which I did, but returned to academics and did that for a while. So certainly getting I guess, more well known or whatever. The university had the luxury there of time off to work on research and writing and those sorts of things. As far as industry goes, making that second to previous job transition to Elanco, that really marked a turn in my career where it was away from the classic veterinary path that most people are doing in practice, and to some extent, academics and really working in industry.
And that really was actually a lot of fun, making that transition. And it’s one of the things that if I had to go back in a time machine and talk to my earlier self, I’d say, “Hey, do this earlier,” because I think for me, personally, that was a great career decision to proceed with the industry. But trying to keep the family in one spot, that limits opportunities a little bit, but these days, especially post pandemic, there are more and more rules that can be done, or at least have shown that they can be done remotely. So I think that’s something that folks can think about as well, as in a lot of roles these days in industry almost certainly can be done remotely.
Stacy Pursell: Yes, yes. Pandemic has showed us that some of these positions that historically were in office setting some people have been very successful being able to do them remote. Mike, I know that you have experienced massive success and maybe even some low points in your career. Walk us through the highest high and the lowest low of your career?
Dr. Michael Lucroy: Well, I think as far as the lows go, I’d say that probably the worst day I can think about was when I set out to take my board exams. For oncology as part of the internal medicine boards, you have to take the general exam, and then the next year, you can take your certified exams. And I was quite disappointed to see that I had missed passing the exam by one question. And so that was pretty deflating. But you learn perseverance from that, and you think it’s going to wreck everything. And at the end of the day, it really didn’t make that much of a difference. Same thing, but I think some of my classmates knew, but certainly talking to students and things. They’re always amazed to learn that, “No, I didn’t have a 4.0 GPA. Did a bunch of other things that probably distracted me from getting super high grades.”
And so yeah, they’re surprised at, “Oh, you got low grades in anatomy and things like that?” I say, “Yeah.” And I still know stuff, it’s just that I didn’t necessarily get great grades until I hit clinics. So I think those kinds of experiences you always worry that it’s going to wreck your career or whatever. And yeah, it turns out those things don’t really make that much of a difference at all. So you just hang in there, and you get through it. Got through school, got through boards, and you just kind of develop that stick to it. And this how our people colloquially refer to that, but I think that’s one of things you think about. And then there’s been several high points, and I think just kind of moving along getting more and more responsibility, and moving up that ladder that’s been kind of an equal high point because we go along, and certainly I’m having a blast where I am now with Torigen.
Stacy Pursell: You said a key word that I really honed in on there, and it was your perseverance. And that’s a word that I hear from many hiring managers that there’s just not enough of that today in the workforce perseverance. I’m curious, how important has perseverance been to your career?
Dr. Michael Lucroy: Well, I think quite important. One, because even just getting through veterinary schools is no small task and so just the ability to say, “All right, I’m going to study again today. I’m going to study and today.” I think it’s either that and also some discipline as far as that goes, especially when you’re in college and your buddies want to go out and do things on the weekends or whatnot, you have to say, “Yeah, I got to take a pass on that because I’ve got a test coming up,” or things like that. So I think that’s just part of it, and whether that’s something that’s learned or something that you just kind of have, but you just have to keep on keeping on.
And I think if you recognize that… There’s been a lot of interesting psychology studies that suggest that people over interpret events, and so they think things are going to be worse than they really are. They think things are going to make them happier than they really do. And so just the ability to just keep at it, and just understand that if you don’t make it this time, that you’ll get it next time, and that’s okay.
Stacy Pursell: Yeah. Try again, keep on on keeping on. I’m sure that you have seen some changes throughout the animal health industry, as well as the veterinary profession during your career. I’m curious, what are some of the changes that you’ve seen in both the veterinary profession as well as in the animal health industry?
Dr. Michael Lucroy: Yeah, I guess your listeners can’t see all the gray hair or lack thereof that I’ve accumulated. But yeah, one of the key things, at least in the practice setting has just been the notion of practice consolidators. And that’s really gained momentum even in the last 10 years. When I was first [inaudible 00:21:47] notion of practice, there weren’t that many corporately owned practices, or at least in the kind of sense if you think about the business part of things, most independent practices R&D are organized as a corporation, but you don’t really have those kind of large corporations that have dozens and dozens, if not hundreds of practices in their group. And so with that, we’ve seen that those groups are getting bigger and bigger, and more and more entrances have come into the marketplace.
And so I think on the plus side, that’s allowed for practices to offer better insurance, and better benefits as far as that goes. But I think on the downside, it may offer fewer opportunities for those people that either don’t like that that type of business organization or a large organization like that, because certainly, there are different skills that you need to negotiate your privately owned practice and the boss is in a corner office, who’s also the owner and the like, where in larger corporation, there’s the hierarchy of your local and regional and national management. So this certainly gives a different flavor to things. Yeah, I guess one could argue that might have some effect on competition, things like that. But I think it’s a double edged sword, where there are some positives and some negatives about that.
And then on the industry side, I think the same kind of thing is going to really happen, where you look at the number of acquisitions and the like that have happened during my career, and the small companies that were once around that you got certain drugs from, no longer exists. They were purchased by larger companies. And the human health parents, if you will, of these companies have spun them off. So now [inaudible 00:23:39] is a very large independent animal health company and [inaudible 00:23:44], lack of animal health. And BI is the other big player, and [inaudible 00:23:51] is part of Elanco. So it just goes on and on and on as far as that goes. So there are fewer large animal health companies. So that does somewhat sees consolidation of companies. That does displace a fair number of people from the workforce. So that makes it maybe a little bit harder for some folks in the health industry when those kinds of things happen. You might have some challenges as far as does your position get reallocated, you have to find another spot.
And depending on your experience and your role, there may not be as many opportunities out there. But fortunately, there’s a lot of small animal health companies that are coming along that people are flexible and willing to give those a try that can be a lot of fun as well. So I think that’s some of the changes that I’ve seen over the last 20 plus years.
Stacy Pursell: Yeah, and I think that that will continue with more mergers and acquisitions. And like you said, when a company buys another company, they don’t necessarily need two marketing departments or two tech services department. So unfortunately, there is that factor with consolidation that people do lose their jobs in those situations, but like you said, there’s always new companies starting up and those create opportunities. Looking out into the future of the animal health industry as well as the veterinary profession, what is your crystal ball say about the future?
Dr. Michael Lucroy: Well, I actually read an interesting article this morning. So maybe I’ll use that as the crystal ball instead of my own. But this article was actually more optimistic than I would have been. And certainly was a written by banking organization. So they definitely put some mental horsepower and statistical modeling behind it, but seeing this, even in the midst of a pandemic, that the animal health market has continued to grow. And the pandemic has strain and stress other segments of the economy. But we’ve seen that animal health sector has been quite strong. And it’s been interesting, because I think people are at home, they aren’t traveling as much. So their disposable income isn’t going to those kinds of things. So it’s getting the best in their paths. And so we’ve seen that grow, but this particular article predicted that the animal health marketplace was going to triple by 2030, to be north of $300 billion.
So I think that’s very encouraging, because that suggests that there’s going to have to be room for more and more practice opportunities to come along, perhaps different things. And then just the development of new technologies for animal health. So that suggests that they’re going to be growth, and in the major animal health players, but also kind of the small and mid sized animal health companies to grow and get their slice of the pie as well.
Stacy Pursell: I saw that same stat too recently, the stat about it to tripling. And your right too, I mean, there’s so much new technology coming into the industry all the time, and that’s exciting. Our industry is a great place to be right now. I mean, unfortunately, some other industries, in the last year hospitality, aviation, some of those industries haven’t fared so well. But fortunately for animal health and veterinary industry, the veterinary profession, it’s done quite well. So we’re in a good spot as an industry. Mike, I’d love for you to share with our listening audience about the kinds of projects that you’re up to right now.
Dr. Michael Lucroy: Well, as I mentioned earlier I’m working for a small company, and we’ve actually grown quite a bit, even during the pandemic. So I think when I joined the company, we were about 10 people strong, and now we’re a little over 30. So we’ve tripled in our size in the last year. But what we’re working on now is our company makes an individualized form of cancer immunotherapy for dogs, cats and horses. And I have to wear a lot of hats, and in a small company, everybody does. And so we’re working on meeting our regulatory milestones and getting this through the USDA. And then today, for example, we had a meeting with the company that we’re discussing some licensing opportunities for a new cancer therapeutics. So we’re really working on not only advancing our current technology, but looking at new things that we could bring in, because I believe that immunotherapy is going to become the fourth pillar of cancer management on the veterinary side.
In human medicine and human oncology, that’s been the case for a while now, where immunotherapy has been part of how cancer is managed and makes that process I think, more successful and certainly easier on the patients. So like every thing else, it seems like veterinarians lag a little bit behind, and there’s a lot of reasons for that. We could probably have another podcast on why that is. But we’re working very hard to advance immuno oncology so that there are more opportunities for veterinarians to treat patients with cancer successfully.
Stacy Pursell: I’m curious, in your role there at Torigen, what is a typical day like for you?
Dr. Michael Lucroy: Well, I would say no two days are the same. And so some days, like the last several days have been a lot of writing. And so we’ve been working on getting manuscripts submitted, and we got that through the review process, and we had to answer a couple of questions for from the reviewers. So yesterday I got that all wrapped up and resubmitted, so hopefully we’ll get decision on that manuscript soon. And then like I mentioned this morning, I had a meeting with the company about potentially some collaborations in the likes. So some days it’s a little bit of scientific and academic work with writing or looking at datasets. Other days, it’s a business development type things, like this morning. I do spend a fair amount on time on the phone with veterinarians.
So I do some capacity as some technical services work. So I support veterinarians in the field and also our sales team, they have questions and I try and help them out as well. So really no two days are the same. So I like that, because I swear I have undiagnosed attention deficit disorder, so that plays into that nicely. And certainly, just doing the same thing day in and day out can be a bit of a grind. So it’s nice that no two days seem to be the same.
Stacy Pursell: Yes. And you’ve had the opportunity to work in a large corporation, a land co. And then also you’ve had the opportunity to work in a small company now toward Jan. I’m curious about the differences that you experienced as far as working in a big company and in a small company. Tell me about that, if you will.
Dr. Michael Lucroy: Well, I think there are pros and cons to both. For me personally, I like the idea that there’s just less of the bureaucracies to happen, negotiate. So in a smaller company, you get to do various things. And I wouldn’t say dabble, but we all have to pull our weight to get various things done. Large company, there’s that bureaucracy, but as my boss there explained to me, the bureaucracy is in place so that I can make sure I stay out of jail and do everything by the book. And so you have teams of people in regulatory affairs, you’ve got teams of people in R&D and you’ve got an army of chemists, and all those kinds of things that a large pharma company where in a small company, you don’t have that. So you have to go out and figure it out.
So that’s kind of fun because I like figuring out things. So I think that’s been quite nice. I would say that when I was at Elanco, we had a small team and we were really an external R&D arm. And so we function like a small business but then a larger business. So that part was certainly fun. So I think there are pros to both deals and certainly in industry there’s no such thing as a tenure, guaranteed job, are the same thing, is true in a small company. But as long as you’re willing to say yes to various opportunities, you can have fun in whatever you do.
Stacy Pursell: Yes. And that’s true. And one of the things that I’ve noticed about people that are successful is they have daily habits that they do, that allow them to achieve success. And I’m curious, Mike, with you, what are some of the daily habits that you have that have helped you to achieve success in your career?
Dr. Michael Lucroy: So I’m a list maker. So as much as I like to plan, and it’s rare that I get through the to-do list, but just that whole idea of having the list. And then, I don’t know, it was a year or two ago, I came across the description of the bullet journal. And it’s the idea that your to-do list can actually be a very helpful tool to help you to keep track of things so that too, if you actually go back and reflect and look at things on your list. What things get done quickly, what things took a little longer, or you can start to look at why is that, or any patterns emerge. And you should set goals for the week and the month, your to-do list is all the things that you need to accomplish that day.
You can look back and see, “Well, how am I doing? Am I keeping up with the timelines and things like that.” So for me, just to have that little notebook is my internal project manager that keeps me on task. And I think that it help during school to get through things and during residency, to just make sure I was getting a project done and things like that. So I think that, for me, seems to be very helpful.
Stacy Pursell: Mm-hmm (affirmative). And we also find that successful people often have good mentors and I’m sure that you’ve had some good mentors throughout your career. What mentor has made the biggest impact on your career so far?
Dr. Michael Lucroy: Well, I’d say there’ve been a couple of influential people through the years. And so one was actually a high school English teacher. And at the time, we all thought that he was the biggest… I won’t say anything here that you’ll have to believe or edit out later, but we certainly had strong opinions about him because he was a very hard nose. But he told us at the outset of his class, is that he was going to prepare us for college, whether we wanted that or not. And during the whole year of the English with him, during the first part of the year, if you got something marked incorrectly, you could sit with him one-on-one and explain to him what the error was and get the error corrected, and you get all your points back.
Then the middle third of the year, you’d have to sit with him one-on-one and he would correct the error and he would give you half the points back. Then at the end of the year, you would have to sit with him to go over the errors that you made on your writing and to get any points at all, you would have to do this exercise, but you get none of the points back. And his assertion was that if you went through this exercise, it was painful. You’d actually be very good at writing and editing and not have to spend a lot of time correcting things. And that was actually true. And so that gave me a great skill set to carry forward. And then when I was a resident and in grad school, my mentor there, Bruce Madewell, is a veterinary oncologist, he gave me some key points that served me well in all sorts of settings.
And I think one of the most valuable things he told me, which is true universally, is that in order to get the attention of administrators, you have to either discuss and bring up things in terms of finance and income and liability. And with those two things, you’ll have the undivided attention of any administrator you’d face. And so that was a certainly Sage advice and that’s proven true time and time again. And then he also said that you should always have a project ongoing so that you can wrap it up and get it out the door if you need it and then have something else coming along right behind it. So the idea of having multiple things going at the same time. And for an academic career, certainly trying to get things published, that was a very helpful bit of advice. So I think he certainly had a lot of impact and influence on me that way.
Stacy Pursell: Yes. And I wanted to ask you too about the relationships in networking. How important has networking been throughout your career?
Dr. Michael Lucroy: Well, I think it serves, depending on the time, it’s been of big important. Certainly, just the idea, when I was a faculty member and working with students and they would express the other desire to go places to do off-campus rotations and have those kinds of experiences. And just depending on the age of your listeners, having that big role that acts with a lot of people you know. It was nice to be able to pick up the phone or send an email and say, “Hey, I have a student here that would like to come and experience this sort of equine surgery or whatever,” and it’d be able to help them out that way. So I think that’s been very helpful in those situations.
And then as I alluded to earlier, when I was picking up the phone and talking to a friend of mine who worked at Elanco and just to ask him about a job, it’s like, “Well,” he just suaded me actively from the job I was thinking about and steered me right into the role where I was before. So I think that’s really very important. And it’s one of those things where it doesn’t cost you anything to be nice to somebody and get to know them a little bit, because you never know when you’re going to cross paths with him again. So I think that’s an important thing, to have that network out there.
Stacy Pursell: Well, true. And going back to something you said, I mean, you mentioned two of the jobs that you got from networking, the one that you got from networking with the person that you knew at Elanco. And then also you mentioned earlier on that I reached out to you about the position in Torigen, and you and I already knew each other before that. So that was two relationships that you have that help connect you with some job opportunities. All of us have experienced adversity in our careers. And I’m curious, what’s been the biggest adversity that you’ve had to fight through during your career so far?
Dr. Michael Lucroy: Well, I think it’s just really maintaining mental health while on practice. I mean, it’s tough enough just being in practice, in an oncology practice, that’s particularly true because you really are dealing with patients at the end of their life and you have the family needs and those kinds of things. And that’s really a challenge. And I think that was one of the things, just trying to protect myself, my mental health, to just get out of that situation. It’s certainly professionally rewarding and you get to help a lot of families and those sorts of things, but it definitely could take your toll or take a toll on you. So that was at least, for me, one of the driving factors, to get out of practice.
Stacy Pursell: Yes. Yes. And there’s so much more focus on that importance now, that it’s not just that we keep our physical selves in shape, but also our mental health, that is very important. I’m curious, what advice would you give the younger version of yourself?
Dr. Michael Lucroy: Well, I think I would think about doing the the industry career sooner. And actually it’s funny because it took me a long time to get to that point. But early on, I actually considered a pathology residency with the idea of going into industry, but decided, “Oh, I like the clinics and that was really fun.” And so when that route was done, I was certainly doing research and things like that while in the clinics. But yeah, I actually had that thought early on, “Hey, I do pathology, toxicology, something like that.” But I was just a little bit concerned, working with mice all the time, or looking at mouse tumors and things like that. It might not be exactly what I wanted to do.
So early on, I had the idea of industry and thought that that was what it was limited to. And it took me a little bit later. I mean, I’m a slow learner, I wasn’t aware of things, but there are a lot of things that veterinarians can do an industry and not necessarily the veterinary industry, there are other roles that veterinarians can, with human health companies and the like, there are certainly plenty of things that one could do.
Stacy Pursell: Yes. And so the next question is one that I’ve been I’ve been known to ask and our listeners find interesting. We find that most successful people tend to have idiosyncrasies that are actually their super powers. I’m curious, Mike, what idiosyncrasy do you have that’s actually helped you in your career?
Dr. Michael Lucroy: Oh, I’m quirky. I’m full, lots of courses whereas that goes, but I think that the one thing is that I always want to know stuff about either how something works or why it’s that way. And so just that constant questioning, or you want to call it a passion for learning, I don’t know, that probably sounds better. But it’s just the idea of always wanting to discover what’s underlying whatever you see or encounter or the like. And so I’ve always tried to maintain that curiosity, I guess, about things. And so in the local community college, I’ve taken some computer programming classes just because I wanted to learn how websites work. I’m not going to do anything with that, but now I know, so I can, I guess, sleep better at night.
I discovered the online platform Coursera. So I actually just signed up for a photography class and just always doing things like that that helps you not only just maintain that curiosity that can help you solve problems, but as you learn things about different disciplines, veterinarians go through school and you’re narrowly focused on animal health and then when you get to med school, then you know you’re tracking and you’re just getting more and more specialized. And then like me, end up dealing with cancer and now I’m just cancer immunotherapy, and that just gets narrower and narrower and narrower. But you forget that there’s a big world out there and there’s lots of things. And the stuff you learned from other arenas can help your day-to-day job. It’s one of the things where you start reading. For example, I was curious because when I traveled in Monroe, and you end up at Marriott. And I’m a huge fan of the Marriott chain because everywhere you go, it’s always a good experience and if it’s not, they just fix it instantly.
No questions asked, they just do it. And so you get 200, it’s like, “Why is that?” It’s like, “Well, you learn their management style as the every employee at every Marriott is empowered to fix your problem.” So they don’t have to go and ask a manager then how to do this, because you’re empowered to fix it. So if you think about, “Well, gee, how can we make the experience for your clients at your hospital better?” Well, gee, you look at places like the hospitality industry, like Marriott, where they have a very good culture of empowerment. So it’s just random things like that, that you wouldn’t necessarily think about, but those connections I think can help you in the bigger picture as you look for solutions to sometimes complicated problems.
Stacy Pursell: Yes. Yes. That makes that make sense. What message or principle do you wish you could teach everyone?
Dr. Michael Lucroy: Well, I think it’s one of the keys that maybe I learned in veterinary school, I think. I learned from one of our internists who would just drill into us, “More is missed by not looking the not knowing.” And I think that’s true, is that you don’t have to know everything, but you just have to observe and then figure out what you don’t know and then go on and learn about it. So I guess that would be the thing that would be the take home message. If I could give that to everybody, it’s just remember more is missed by not looking than not knowing.
Stacy Pursell: I like that. And it goes back to what you were previously saying. I mean, you said that you have an intellectual curiosity. Learning photography and how websites work, and it just makes you well-rounded, as you are getting some experiences outside of your day-to-day work life. You’re very successful, I’m curious, what do you struggle with the most? What is your weakness? What is your kryptonite?
Dr. Michael Lucroy: So I think it’s just focusing. So I think in some cases Gracie, to have brought things like that, but sometimes that is the detriment where I probably should be spending more time focused on a given task. And so I think that that represents a struggle. That’s where the to-do list really comes in. To say, “Okay, buddy, you got to get these things done today. And then you can pick up [inaudible 00:46:47] and work on your next core changes.” So I think that’s been the thing, is that I can’t get certainly easily distracted and doing some of the side projects maybe is not as important, at a given time, is working on the main project at hand. So that’s the thing that I’ve always struggled with, is just maintaining that. And so that’s I think the weakness or the biggest struggle on a day-to-day basis.
Stacy Pursell: Yes. Yes. Mike, what are a couple of books that you would recommend that all of our listeners read? Are there any books that you’ve read throughout your career or life? Doesn’t have to be a business book, but what are some books that you would recommend to our listening audience today?
Dr. Michael Lucroy: So I do read a lot. And I think recently the ones that have probably had the biggest impact on how I viewed things and the like. One is a book, I saw the documentary I think on Netflix, because I consume way too much media. Maybe I should put that on my struggle, is limiting my media consumption, but between Netflix and Discovery Plus and TikTok, there’s plenty of things to spend time on. But one that I read recently, but I think it was impactful, was the book called Minimalism. And they have the minimalists, are a couple of guys where talked about their personal struggles and the idea that really less is more and that we, as a society, have grown into having all these things. And there are plenty of studies that show that, although materially, we are certainly much better off than previous generations. But then happiness and wellbeing or survey were the dumper. And the previous generations of Americans are also relative to other cultures around the world.
So their ideas, really be thoughtful about the things that you bring into your life and have around you, because that impacts how things go. And then the companion to that, that I read, I think on the heels of Minimalism, which has had a huge positive impact, is the book called Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport. And he’s a professor, I can’t remember now where he’s in the east coast. But his whole thesis is that social media is bit insidious. They have legions of programmers and psychologists that are really trying to capture what’s now been described as the tension market. Because the longer you stay in a page, the more ads you can see and the more ads you can see, then the more revenue that page gets.
And so if you really are conscious about your consumption of social media, that that has a positive impact on your wellbeing. And there’ve been some studies that have looked at the idea of social media becomes the reference point to how well you think you are doing, and nobody puts all the crappy stuff that happens to them on Facebook. They put all the look at the bell curve. They put that last couple of sigmas out there. We’ll past the standard deviation of all the great stuff that happens and you think, “Hey, everything they’re doing is great. Why is my life so crappy?” So just really trying to cultivate carefully what social media do you plan to use and how much time you spend on there, I think it’s an impactful thing. So those two books, recently, they’ve been a very thought-provoking.
Stacy Pursell: Yes. And I think that the social media can be a real time sucker too. And the last year with COVID has certainly taught us, I think, when you were talking about minimalism, just what’s most important. And I know that it’s really the people and the relationships and not the stuff. So I really like that, great suggestions. Well, Mike, you’ve got the mic. And so what is one thing that you want to share with our listeners, of the people of animal health podcast today before you dropped the mic?
Dr. Michael Lucroy: Well, I think if you’ve got listeners who are really just exploring the whole idea of leaving practice and going the industry side of things, you’ve got way more skills and you kind of think about initially. And so working with people who write resumes and career coaches and the like, and recruiters like yourself, they help you to just take all the things you know how to do and put it in terms that line up with some of these really cool opportunities and industry. And just by the training you’ve had, you’ll be really good at it. So that you don’t have to worry about. And so I’d say that would be certainly something that you shouldn’t worry about that.
You’ve got lots of skills and sometimes it is a little bit daunting to make that first leap, but once you’re there, it becomes easier to then move within an industry, once you get a little bit of experience there. Then the other thing I would say is that as opportunities pop up, say yes, you never know what would happen. And it’s always like the debate when I was thinking about music school versus going into veterinary school. It was always the thing where it’s like, “Well, if you’re going to do music, you need to have something to fall back on.”
And so I look at the idea that if you go into industry and you don’t like it, well, Hey, you can always go back to practice, or if all of a sudden your industry job is not there because of the merger or acquisition and things like that, you can still go back to and practice. And I think you can verify that these days, that’s not all that difficult to find a job in private practice that everybody’s scrambling just for the increased workload. So that part, I think at least for awhile, it’s going to be there for you.
Stacy Pursell: Yes. And that’s some good wisdom. You talked about opportunities and being open to opportunities. And in my experience, opportunities don’t necessarily come along when you’re looking for them or when you’re expecting them. I mean, sometimes I’ve learned opportunities come along at the time when you’re not really expecting them. Would you agree with that?
Dr. Michael Lucroy: Yeah, I think that’s true. Although like my current, I was looking at that. As you recall, I certainly did say no to a couple of them, but once you’ve done things long enough, I’ve been out in the workforce and been alive long enough, then you really start to refine, these are clearly the metrics and the parameters with which I’m willing to do something different. And I think it was funny because you would call me I think for a few in a row and I said, “Nope, Nope, Nope.” Because I believe at the time, every time you would approach me, I would just ask before the hearing much more, “Is it remote?” And I think when you called me you told me, the first words out of your mouth were, “This one’s remote.” So that worked out very well.
Stacy Pursell: Yes, I do remember that. I think the key is to be open to opportunities. When you’re looking or when you’re not looking, opportunities can come along and it’s good to listen and in here, what else is out there, because you never know. Mike, you’ve had a very interesting career and I greatly appreciate your being here today on our podcast, to share your experiences and your stories with us. I really enjoyed having you here. So thank you again.
Dr. Michael Lucroy: Well, thanks for having me, Stacy. It’s been fun to have a relaxed conversation to wrap up the week. So that’s been great. So I hope you have a great weekend.
Stacy Pursell: You too. Thank you so much.