Tim Donnelly, Co-Founder and CEO of SeniorVu has often been described as a servant leader. His entrepreneurial spirit sparked back in 1999 when the company he was working for was purchased by Xerox. He built his first technology company in the mortgage industry called SoftVu. It later became Volly. Then, his next venture led him to develop another technology company with a purpose and passion that is near and dear to his heart: senior living.
When his aging parents needed care, it was all hands-on deck for Tim and his five older siblings. As the youngest, and the owner of tech company he turned to Google for answers and that’s when he discovered how broken the senior living industry was for families like his looking for answers. That drove Tim to create a better experience for seniors and families searching for care. With a background in marketing and over 20 years of sales and lead generation experience Donnelly strives to bring this knowledge to the senior living industry in order to simplify these processes so that senior living operators and providers can focus on what really matters: caring for seniors.
“The industry we are serving consists of some of the most frail and marginalized citizens in our society. It’s one of the fastest growing populations in the U.S. and will be for the next 30 years,” Donnelly said.
With five older brothers and sisters, Donnelly knows there’s a chance that he could eventually spend time as a caregiver to one of his siblings.
In this brief conversation with Tim, we wanted to hear about his leadership style, his vision for the industry and what he values most.
Name someone who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader.
I’m not sure there is just one person who has helped shape my leadership style. Two role models that have shown unconditional love for serving in a leadership role have been my father-in-law, Jim Wolf and a church friend, Mark Stukel. On the business front there are others. David Perry, a fraternity brother and well-known entrepreneur; Toby Rush, a local entrepreneur; Mary Lucas, my first client as an entrepreneur and author of Lunchmeat and Life Lessons; and Tom Goldman, a career-long mentor of mine and former COO of SeniorVu. They have all guided me and challenged me in different ways. Some of my most valuable advice I received from them: lead as you would want to be led; lead your people to the high road; lead by example; hire people smarter than you; learn something from every person you meet; find the like (with the person you are having a hard time serving); the most valuable benefit of being a leader is the sincere relationship you can form; trust is the foundation of a successful working relationship.
What do you believe the senior living industry will look like in 10 years?
I believe the industry will be consolidated, because it is SO fragmented today. The average senior living brand uses 30 different software systems to manage their business, and that’s just at the community level. I also believe it will be more integrated, because the way it is now, it is the farthest thing from connected compared to other industries. Technology will be used to improve care outcomes and deliver the best possible journey for all the key stakeholders within the senior care continuum. And lastly, I believe that someone will create a movement with a purpose that transforms the industry. If this does not happen the silver tsunami will be unmanageable for the industry.
In order to make this possible, industry leaders need to be able to take more risks and trust innovation to move forward. Innovation isn’t possible without the people. I believe it’s the people that are any company’s biggest asset. The people are what fuels innovation and transformation.
Where did SeniorVu’s Mantra come from?
SeniorVu’s Mantra, “Work to Live & Live to Serve for the Greater Good,” actually came from a difficult time during the mortgage industry crisis, before SeniorVu existed. I felt this tremendous stress on our team during that time. We knew we had to get through this unexpected challenge and we knew we needed to help our banking clients. I saw how that stressful timeframe was impacting our team members, who were working so hard for our clients, and I wanted to encourage them to persevere through life’s challenges. I felt a statement of balance and purpose was needed.
We don’t live to work. We work to live our lives for a greater purpose, like our faith, our family, time with friends, taking care of our communities and for anyone who needs our love, really. It’s important to me that our team works in a culture that feels fulfilling which, no doubt, includes providing a great experience to our clients. It’s also important that they remember to find purpose beyond their day-to-day work.
What would you say is your purpose beyond your day-to-day work?
That’s pretty easy. Faith and family. Spending time with both keeps me grounded. On the family side, my older siblings and their children and grandchildren to my wife’s family and our immediate family of three wonderful children – we cheer each other on, we provide support to one another when we need it and we challenge each other to be better, to do better. And we’re highly competitive! So, game night at our house is always fun and very loud.
Over the next several weeks, we will focus on the people who lead our technology company– The SeniorVu Leadership Team. Each week a new blog will be released to highlight a different member of the team and their specialties including client services, software development, digital marketing and more. Stay tuned!