Meet Our Founder and Chief Executive Officer: Interview with Harmony Healthcare’s Christian HG Brown
Tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up?
We relocated several times before I was 12. I lived till I was ten in and around Boston starting in inner city Boston, a place called Medford where Tufts University is based, then moved to the suburbs of Burlington. Then we moved to Connecticut just outside Hartford and then back to Boston again. When I was 12, we made the monumental move to Fort Lauderdale due to my Dad’s promotion, my Dad worked out of Miami International Airport. I moved to Tampa to go to University of South Florida and here I am years later.
What do you do at Harmony?
Originally when the company started, I did every single job which gives me a unique perspective as I know how to do every single role. As the company grew, I was able to hire very capable people that were much more proficient in those areas. As CEO, I oversee the direction of the company, from both a philosophical perspective, as well as physical.
What are great skills for a founder or founding team to have?
I think the first thing is perseverance. You must understand that success is due largely to those that hang on while others have let go. You don’t have to be the smartest person, but you have to have perseverance. You must be tough. You have to hold on. You must truly have a belief that what you are doing is right. And you must hold on to those beliefs and not allow others, non-believers, to shake you from that.
Which core value do you identify with most? Why?
I think honor and integrity go very much, hand in hand for me. I had a bad experience with a past organization where we grew very quickly. The rapid rise to wealth led to an overall moral decay within the company. So, I vowed that at my next company I would work to establish a moral backbone. I chose John Wooden, famed UCLA men’s basketball coach, for his writings, his reasonings, his character, his integrity, honor and his faith. And I used him as the poster child of what I expected. I’ve known a lot of companies that had terrific people, yet the company wasn’t successful. The reason they weren’t successful was because of a lack of character and integrity within the organization. If they aren’t the building blocks of an organization, you might be around for a day, but you won’t be around for a lifetime.
Tell us a story from when you were a child. It can be funny, silly, warm and fuzzy…
One of the tough things about losing your grandparents or family members, is that you lose stories of yourself that they used to tell. The one I’ll bring up is the one my grandfather told to everyone which describes well my personality and who I was as a seven-year-old.
Though we didn’t have much money Dad always made sure we got to go on a family summer vacation and we always went to a beach in Maine called Wells Beach. My Mom’s family had been going there since the 1890’s and we would go up for a month every summer. As the story goes, one day, I decided to go down to the docks at the end of the beach where fishing boats came in on a regular basis with their catch. I wasn’t really allowed to walk by myself, but I decided to do it anyway. I started walking towards the docks, and my grandfather as he tells the story, decided to follow me. So, I go down to the docks and he witnesses me talking to the fishermen. Though he couldn’t hear what we were talking about, they were engaged, and I was engaged. Finally, they pull these three huge striped bass out that according to my grandfather were as big as I am, and they gave me these three fish. My grandfather saw that, and he said, “you know this guy is just a silver-tongued devil and boy he can talk anybody into anything and now he’s going to bring home fish for everyone to eat for dinner.” And I slung the fish over my shoulders, and they dragged on the ground they were so big. He’s expecting me to bring them home and we’re going to cook fish for dinner and Chris is going to be the hero of the family. So, he followed me, and I walked right past our cottage and kept right on walking. And he watches me as I start to bang on doors. Next thing you know I sell all three fish in different places. They give me the cash and I immediately head to the top of the beach to the arcade where all the pinball, Skee-ball and video games are, and I blew all my money at the arcade.
Growing up, what did you want to be?
I wanted to be an astronaut. I was infatuated with Captain Kirk and Star Trek having dreams that I would be an astronaut and by the time I was thirty years old we’d be driving star ships to other planets. As I look out over my 50 people here and my 400 plus employees, I always think that I became exactly as I had hoped I would be—an explorer driving them through vision.
What do you do for fun?
I really enjoy working out. I’ve found that the gym has become my center for the most difficult times of my life and the best. I really enjoy the physicality. It’s a very simple thing. Its you against gravity, you against the metal, there’s no thought, there’s no wisdom, there’s no interference, there’s no noise, its just you either do it or you don’t. And it’s a clarity that I’ve always enjoyed.
Name one completely useless thing you’re good at.
That’s easy, Trivia. My wife says if she ever sees Cash Cab on our TV again, she’s going to delete the channel, so we can never watch it again. My dream is to be on Cash Cab. I tend to be very good at completely innocuous and unimportant facts.
Of all the cities you’ve been to, which did you connect with most? Why?
I think I still connect with Boston. I still see it as home, I still see its uniqueness, its pride, its beauty. But of all the places I’ve travelled that I found the most alluring, I would have to say Lake Como in Italy—it’s where the mountains crash into the lakes.
Favorite movie of all time.
If we go by genre and we go romantic, it would probably be Doctor Zhivago. I saw it when I was a teenager. It blends romance and war, realities of life and history, and led me to an entire genre of films filled with interesting characters, history and epic clashes.