John Starcher Jr. shares important lessons with BGSU degree candidates

Class of 1993 alumnus is president, CEO of Bon Secours Mercy

Bowling Green State University alumnus John Starcher Jr. shared stories — and their lessons — with degree candidates of the Graduate College and the colleges of Business and Health and Human Services on May 17 at the Stroh Center. 

Today, Starcher, who earned a Bachelor of Science in business administration in 1993, is president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Bon Secours Mercy Health, one of the largest health care systems in the country. He oversees the development of system strategies and operations for 43 Mercy Health and Bon Secours hospitals and more than 1,000 health care facilities across Ohio, Kentucky, New York, Maryland, Virginia, South Carolina and Florida. Bon Secours Mercy Health employs more than 57,000 people, including 2,100 employed providers, and has net operating revenue of more than $8 billion.

“It is an honor to be here with the Class of 2019,” told the packed arena. “To the Class of 2019 and their families: Congratulations!”

Starcher told the crowd that he had prepared “a laundry list of tips” that they might find useful as they embark on their careers. 

First, he tasked his audience to not worry about trying to please everyone. It’s a fool’s errand.

Figure out what’s important to you, what you love.

“If you try to please everyone around you, you’ll please no one,” Starcher said. “Seriously, it’s impossible to please everyone, so don’t even try. Have the facts, know your mind. Have the courage of your convictions. Do what you know is right and stick with it.

“Everyone wants to belong, but don't be afraid to take the road less traveled. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. If you don't make some notable mistakes in your career, it's quite likely you're not taking enough chances. On the flip side, as Eleanor Roosevelt said, ‘You should also learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself.’"

Every problem has a solution, he said, no matter how difficult.

Starcher offered some problem-solving techniques: “Think outside the box — necessity is the mother of invention. Encourage creativity and innovation. Fear acts of omission greater than acts of commission.” 

His final advice to the Class of 2019: Figure out what you love.

“There are important lessons I learned as a kid from my mom: say please and thank you; be kind; earn your way; stand on your own two feet,” Starcher said. “Don't expect anything to be handed to you. You cannot demand respect; you must command it. Know the difference between efficiency and effectiveness.

“Understand the power of servant leadership. By the time I graduated from BGSU, experience had also shown me that if I worked hard and adhered to these principles, I could succeed at whatever I put my mind to. 

“This is a great nation. We’re free to succeed — or not. It’s up to each of us. Figure out what’s important to you, what you love. Work hard and go for it!”