As part of my series about the “How Business Leaders Plan To Rebuild In The Post COVID Economy,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Alexander Cardona.
Alex Cardona is the Chief Executive Officer of OneShare Health, an ACA-exempt, non-profit Christian Health Care Sharing Ministry. He is an accomplished industry professional with over 21 years in key leadership roles at Fortune 500 companies in sales, business development, organizational management, and operations, possessing experience that spans the insurance, regulatory compliance, and auditing sector industries. As the Founder and CEO of OneShare Health, he is passionate about finding creative and inspiring ways to facilitate the cost of health care to his fellow Ministry Members. Cardona has dedicated his professional career to breaking the mold in all aspects of the health care industry and alleviating the burden of rising health care costs through medical cost-sharing.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I was born in New Jersey in 1974. My parents and older sister had just emigrated from Colombia, South America to the United States; I was born shortly after, so I guess you could call me an “anchor child.” I was raised in a very strict, 100-percent Colombian Catholic household. But, in spite of my humble beginnings and very rough upbringing, I’m very proud of who I am.
After moving back to South America for some time, I finished the remainder of my secondary education at Christiansen Academy — a small school for children of missionary families in the Venezuelan Andes Mountains. Going to school at Christiansen Academy was definitely a struggling point, but also a growing point in my life. The missionary families I encountered along the way taught me that there is goodness in the world. I think that’s what drew me to pursuing my faith more.
Eventually, I moved back to the States and completed my college education at Indiana University South Bend. Professionally, I’ve worked in the insurance, regulatory compliance, and auditing sector industries. In 2018, after an extensive career in the health care industry, I founded OneShare Health and, other than my wife and kids, it’s probably one of the things I’m most proud of. I got to make a career out of showing love and compassion to God’s people, and I can’t think of anything else I’d rather do.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
That’s a tough one. Honestly, I still make mistakes to this day, but the one I remember pretty clearly was the most recent one in which I was sitting in a video conference call and didn’t realize that I was speaking with a judge. So, the whole time we were talking, I hadn’t been referring to her as “your honor.” I was mortified when I found out and sent her an apology right away. That’s a little one, but I learned a big lesson from it which is to always know exactly who you’re speaking to. But like I said, I still make mistakes and that’s how you learn. I’m still learning every day.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to, that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
I’ve read The Best Question Ever by Andy Stanley multiple times. In it, he asks, “In light of your past experiences, your current circumstances, and your future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing for you to do?” which I believe is extremely applicable to both life and business. If you ask yourself that question before you do anything in life, you’re setting yourself up for success. And I love that it talks about what is the “wise” decision because we are called to seek wisdom not only as Christians, but also as thought leaders.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven business” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
When I founded OneShare Health with my colleagues, my vision for this new health share ministry was to create the ‘gold standard’ in the health sharing industry, to create a vehicle that would inspire healthier communities on the path of life. By offering straightforward, affordable, and flexible solutions to traditional health insurance, OneShare Health has been able to help thousands of members and charities within our faith community access the compassionate care and unconditional love that Jesus inspired through his ministry. Our mission is to help the Members we serve not only with their health needs, but also with their everyday needs.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
I have quite a few, but one I always go back to is Colossians 3:23 and reminding myself who I am working for. I am working for a King, and my work ethic should be one of excellence and passion.
Thank you for all that. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. For the benefit of empowering our readers, can you share with our readers a few of the personal and family related challenges you faced during this crisis? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
We’ve all had challenges with this pandemic, but ultimately, I think there are two ways to approach this crisis: you can either make it limiting and proceed to feel confined and get tired of each other, or you can learn to embrace each other in a way that you hadn’t before or you’d forgotten you could. My family and I have chosen to look at the positive and appreciate the opportunities we’ve been afforded. We’re doing our best to see the good in this normally unfortunate and unprecedented situation. Because of COVID-19, we’ve had the opportunity to spend more time together that we wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.
Can you share a few of the biggest work-related challenges you are facing during this pandemic? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
Obviously, ensuring the health and safety of our employees was our number one priority. Moving over 300 employees to working remotely did pose its challenges. We learned a lot, especially early on, but our goal was to always set our employees up for success when working from home. We made sure they had access to all the programs and equipment they needed to do their jobs effectively and to continue serving our Members faithfully. It also taught us that many of our departments can achieve great productivity while working from home.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. What are a few ideas that you have used to offer support to your family and loved ones who were feeling anxious? Can you explain?
For anyone who is feeling anxious, I’d remind them of who we are as a country and as a people. We’re fighters — we have always persevered in the face of challenges and adversity. There is no reason we can’t do that again. And I always encourage everyone to revert back to God as He is our ultimate source of power and strength to make it through this.
Obviously, we can’t know for certain what the Post-Covid economy will look like. But we can of course try our best to be prepared. We can reasonably assume that the Post-Covid economy will be a trying time for many people across the globe. Yet at the same time the Post-Covid growth can be a time of opportunity. Can you share a few of the opportunities that you anticipate in the Post-Covid economy?
I think the appeal for health care will be a huge opportunity in the Post-COVID economy. An affordable alternative will be very important for a lot of people who are struggling to rebuild in the midst of recession and nationwide furloughs.
How do you think the COVID pandemic might permanently change the way we behave, act or live?
The way we interact will be permanently changed. Social distancing, I think, will continue after this and there will be a continued heightened sense of awareness in public settings. I’ve always been a bit of a germaphobe myself, so maybe some of the things that used to make me uneasy won’t happen anymore. I think everyone is going to be much more aware of their health in public settings from now on.
Considering the potential challenges and opportunities in the Post-Covid economy, what do you personally plan to do to rebuild and grow your business or organization in the Post-Covid Economy?
At OneShare Health, we plan to stay the course. We’re going to keep offering programs that have real value to the consumer and building brand awareness since many consumers will likely be considering alternative health care options in light of these unprecedented circumstances. We’re also going to enhance our programs to not only attract members, but to also retain them as long-term partners If we continue on that path, I think we’ll be pretty strong Post-COVID.
Similarly, what would you encourage others to do?
I’d encourage others to really take this time and let creativity flow. Creativity yields best practices and results in case something like this were to happen again. You should always take what you’ve learned and use it to be better in the future. I’d encourage everyone to do that.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
This quote from Jim Elliot has always been one of my favorites: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.” To me, it’s a “step-back” type of quote that forces you to acknowledge the realities of life and how you should go about pursuing it. In my life, that is surrendering everything to God and remembering that God takes good care of His people and what you give to Him.
How can our readers further follow your work?
They can follow me on Twitter at @Acard_2020, on LinkedIn (Alexander Cardona), and I’m in the process of launching my personal blog — www.alexandercardona.com, so stay tuned for that! And for everything related to OneShare Health and our work as a Christian Health Care Sharing Ministry, you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and through our website onesharehealth.com.