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Saturday, February 16, 2013

What I learned on the road to the Shorty’s

January 26th was my son Isaac’s 7th birthday. Our small apartment filled with laughter as we crammed 7 children and 12 adults into our living room.  It was a great day and I always enjoy such moments because they unite every aspect of our lives.  Friends from Isaac’s old pre-school were there, as well elementary school friends, friends from the toy store Child’s Play, my husband Fred’s co-worker from years ago, patient advocates, neighbors and family.

During this crazy fun-filled day I got a tweet from LisaFields

She suggested voting for me in the #activism category of the shorty awards.  (The Shorty Awards are like the Oscars in Social Media.) Now, what Lisa did not know was I was working on a really huge painting for Alex Drane. I was painting my interpretation of the spirit of the Eliza Corporation.  So, for the next 10 days I somewhat ignored her nomination. 

I finally (mostly) finished the Eliza painting and received a request from The Hilgos Foundation focused on the arts within patient populations coping with dementia.  They were competing in the #charity category of the Shorty Awards.  I love their program, so I voted for them immediately.  Then I guiltily remembered Lisa’s nomination. 

So, I filled out my profile page and began the incredibly hard steps of a twitter campaign.

I have learned so much from experiences like this one.  My friend Ted Eytan has suggested I stretch my wings and try my hand at challenges several times.  He suggested I compete in the Sunlight Foundation Community Health Data Initiative in the spring of 2010.  I entered a painting focused on comparing hospitals into a competition filled with apps or website design. I lost; well I got an honorable mention… but in the traditional sense I lost.

But what did I win?  I learned a great deal about before it existed. I learned about HCAHPS scores before folks we even talking about Value Based Purchasing. Roni Zeiger wore an “Art Jacket” on stage before there was a gallery.

I think that is a win!

In the fall of 2010, Ted also introduced me to the Ashoka Changemaker Competition and I entered 73 Cents and the concept of painting about data and patient rights on walls.  Once again I lost.  But what did I learn?  I learned about so many amazing activists around the world and the great projects they were working on.  I supported others on their journey. 

I think that is a win!

Next Ted told me to enter “Body Shock the Future” from the Institute for the Future.  I entered a painting focused on the unhygienic use of the patient bedside tray table as both a changing table and feeding tray.  It is also one of my favorite paintings because I captured my late husband’s expression perfectly.  Once again I lost.  But I learned how to campaign more effectively this time.  The painting did get shown to a wider audience and a couple of years later  I would meet the designer Michael Graves at TedMed; I talked with him about it.

I think that is a win!

So last fall when I decided to crowd-fund the Partnershipwith Patients Summit in Kansas City, I had plenty of practice doing an online campaign.  We would need to raise 20k to barely break even.  If I failed at this campaign, I would let down so many patients, not to mention my friends at Cerner who put trust in me.  I would do two different campaigns simultaneously one at Medstartr and one at Healthtechhatch.

This time we won.  We made our goal!  Partnership with Patients happened.

I think that is a win!

Lisa Fields nominated me on January 26 for the Shorty Award in #activism.  I have been campaigning diligently on twitter since February 5th.  I currently have 378 votes and need about 100 more to finish in the top 6.  Those in the top six will be judged to decide the winner.  Based on the high level of difficulty getting just 378 votes in 11 days, I think it improbable that I will finish in the top six.

I probably will fail in my attempt in the #activism category for the Shorty Awards.

But what did I win? 

I was on twitter often enough that I engaged in far more chats than I normally do.  So I was there to support Lisa Fields when she hosted the @TedMed chat #GreatChallenges on end of life. I joined the conversation and mentioned the concept that Hallmark needed to create hospice cards.  I have been suggesting this idea for almost a year on my blog and to Hallmark directly through customer service.  I think it would help normalize conversations with those who are dying.  But the #greatchallenges conversation was so inspiring; I built a petition on immediately.  Members of the tweet chat began signing it, and now I had two campaigns underway!

Now, some folks would think twice about taking on another campaign in the midst a current one.  Some folks would wonder, “How will this make me look?  Will people think I am doing this for added exposure?”  I admit I paused for a couple minutes with precisely that worry.  And I was not wrong, as I was accused on twitter days later of exactly that motive.

So I want to make something very clear. 

Everything I do is to improve the patient experience.

The Walking Gallery, conference painting, speaking, live-tweeting, blogging, entering competitions like this one, all these things I do so we can spread our vision of truly participatory medicine in which patients will not have to suffer.  In so doing I have met amazing people who would do just the same, like Ted and Lisa.  When I am offered an opportunity that could grow our network of friends, I say yes.  I call these moments “God moments.”   Sometimes when opportunity or providence knocks it does so in the guise of a tweet.

As these dual campaigns continued the web of friends spread, until Miriam Cutelis a fellow parent posted a notice about our work in advocacy in my son’s elementary school online forum.  She encouraged parents to sign the petition for Hallmark to createHospice Cards, take the Partnership With Patients Survey and to vote for me for the Shorty Award.  Soon I was greeting local parents on my twitter feed.  I love it when worlds collide!

In November, I delivered a speech with Ted.  It was entitled Bouncing a ball alone: Grokking Failure. We presented it at TEDx Detroit.  It was a very unorthodox speech.

We literally bounced a ball onstage :) and spoke of things often not spoken of.

Ted was willing to stand on stage with me, fail or win in the name of better communication for all.

We were embracing failure.

I want to thank everyone who voted for me in The Shorty Award competition for Activism.   I know it might have been a bit uncomfortable logging in and voting.  I appreciate all you have done.

shorty thank you

(Oh, in case you wondered it is bowtie shaped on purpose, because bowties are cool.)

Even if I fail, we win.  Go Patients!!!


In the final hours Ted Eytan suggested tweeting nominations in a new way:

'I nominate  for a Shorty Award in  category because her work creates a healthier, more caring society."

And the race is on...


  1. Regina,

    I have many observations.

    I remember to this day what Sunlight Foundation said about your painting, I went back to look it up and here are their words;

    "While it won nothing, a special honorable mention has to go to Regina Holliday. She took to the streets and painted great art with the Community health data. A real, actual, wonderful painting. While the judges didn't select it, it deserves special mention. It's beautiful and inspiring."

    I was incensed for a microsecond by their "while it won nothing" and then I realized what they were saying was, "We don't understand the world around us fully, we'll do better next time."

    Which brings me to my next observation that's as much about me, as it is about you, is there a contest like this that you really want to win? Do you really want to be so understandable and in the flow of people's thinking that they stop learning when they are around you?

    I am not a fan of awards, and I'll be honest, I'm not a fan of this award. When I saw what its goal is, "These Shorty Industry Awards categories are open to brands and agencies, to recognize the best campaigns and social media leaders of 2012," I thought, "this is winning?" How does this award translate into the number of thinkers, leaders, transformers who come up to me and say, "Wait, you KNOW Regina Holliday?"

    That, plus the authentication requirement (twitter handle harvesting), makes me feel that these are not awards for people. That's 1 and 2, #3 is that I am supposed to reduce someone's to 140 characters? Did you sit in the front of the bus because your feet were tired, or was it for something bigger? (rhetorical question, i know)

    Not saying this because the grapes are sour. Saying this because I'm non-compliant.

    Oh, and PS, I was thinking that you should be nominated in the #art category rather than #activism, anyway - you only need 174 votes to place 3rd there :). If we're going to ride the crazy life ride, at least be in the front car :),

    Let me know how I can help, I can turn this into a post on my own blog if you want but thought I'd float it to you, just between us here first...


    1. Dear Ted,

      Perhaps my late-evening rambling blog did not make is much sense as I thought it did.

      The road itself is the prize.

      The experience learned along the way is a far greater gift than the award itself. All the things that I have been encouraged to do thus far far, give me the knowledge and skill to complete the next hurdle.

      The shorty's were a step out of our comfortable pond of Health care social media; where we are fairly big ducks. But that great wide world is a pretty amazing and scary place, and sad say, most of it is not aware of terms like e-patient, participatory medicine, patient centered care, palliative care or patient advocacy.

      This was a new ascent on the crazy life ride, and it made me stretch and think and regardless of the
      intent of the Shorty's; that is good for me and the cause. As far as the authentication, people could just tweet to vote. That was an element I did not understand initially. That is the beauty of new experience: we grow and learn more.

      As for the art category, I thought that myself after realizing how hard it was to garner votes. But I realized I use art for the purpose of patient activism, not the other way around. So I think Lisa picked the category that best defines my method.

      I hope that makes my post clearer. It was somewhat inspired by your tweet the other night, to just do what Regina asks. I have a similar philosophy. I just do what Ted asks. You have never steered me wrong. I just thought I would say yes to Lisa this time.

      Remember four years ago, I did not know how to create a power point, make a screen grab, write a blog, embed a code, build a profile, upload a photo or send a tweet. Yet, I just ran a good campaign for a social media Oscar. That is a pretty good learning curve and it helps us all.

      Your dear friend,

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  3. Regina,

    I get it now, you mean "I lost by someone else's standards" - yes let's keep losing in that case!

    I would separate that from which category, I think you are an amazing artist and should consider a pivot to the #art category. Talk about learning curve, to change approach on the last day and maybe win (by someone else's standards) would be another win, right?


  4. Yes!!! Let's fail splendidly together!

    Could I jump ship and go for artist? I could, but I don't think I will. I know how hard those artists must have worked to get those votes to be in the top 6. They deserve the chance to win for their efforts.

    I think we have already won the more important race. Onwards and Upwards!

    1. Update: We are trying a new tweet "I nominate @ReginaHolliday for a Shorty Award in #art #activism category because her work creates a healthier, more caring society." It clarifies things :)

  5. Regina, I get exhausted just reading your blog posts, never mind the other 95% of your life's work. Yes, I voted again...but also looking for big pharma to do something really useful, like bottle that relentless energy of yours so others can partake. Good luck; I'll be watching!

  6. Thanks Pat!!! I really could not do all that I do without the help of friends such as you!

  7. Regina,

    You don't need a Shorty Award.

    You've done so much to help others, others - who maybe you've never heard from - *reward* you every day with gratitude.

    Never forget that.

  8. Not much more that I can add to what our friends in healthcare innovation have said before. You are an inspiration to us all Regina. Thanks for being you.

    1. As you inspire me! #hccf can be a great circle affirmation...

  9. Hey look. It's official my Jacket isnt just art, it's a "fashion statement"

  10. I ditto Alex, Ted et al, as well as the 'constraints' in Shorty process, ergo I authored the following:

    I nominate @ReginaHolliday for a Shorty Award in #activism because…

  11. Wow Regina!! Standing O for you!!! You hit the nail right on the head. It IS about every step of the journey and those who have joined you along the way. With all the ups and downs and lessons along the way, somehow you continue to lift us up, make us stronger and help us grow. Again I thank you.....we will NEVER give up!!

  12. Regina, you are already a winner! Your efforts have reached so many. Your petition to Hallmark went viral so fast. Keep up the great work!!!