In a Word: John Young on action vs. analysis, Blood Donor Center swag, secret passageways, more

This column spotlights the kinds of people you think about when you think about Mayo Clinic. They've answered questions, serious and otherwise, so you can know them better.

It's been nearly a quarter of a century since John Young joined Mayo Clinic as a contractor providing technical support to resolve PC hardware issues. Young knew a little bit about Mayo, having lived in the Rochester area for a few years. But it was at a friend's gentle nudging that he decided to pursue a position as a contractor, which eventually led to a full-time position in software support and development in Information Technology.

The collaborative nature of the work has kept him at Mayo since 1999.

"It is incredibly rewarding to share experiences and software solutions with other developers and teams so they can save time and build on existing knowledge," Young says. "As a software developer, I also love hyper-focusing on a challenging technical problem until it is resolved."

One of my favorite things about Mayo Clinic: The free swag at the Blood Donation Center in Hilton. I love the athletic shirts and fleece. Give blood. It's easy. The staff are super friendly and fun, and the swag is the best.

The single most important thing I did at work yesterday (or expect to do tomorrow): I meet with my small team of data warehouse developer colleagues for our weekly team touchpoint. My colleague, Anitha Prakasam, always has the best icebreaker questions, which help foster connection, and I love the brainstorming and knowledge sharing that occurs each week.

A book I would recommend, or one I want to read: I love to read, and I have so many interests. A book I would recommend from a work perspective would be "Making Sense of Strategy" by Tony Manning. Whether you have a formal leadership title or not, this book will help you think and act more strategically. There are so many great quotes and insights, such as this one: "Action is a surer way to the future than endless analysis." And this one: "There is no way to make up for the learning that takes place when people work together on important tasks." It has helped me think and act strategically — not just at Mayo Clinic — but also in other organizations and informal groups.

Mayo Clinic has taught me: Your deepest spiritual values — mine are to love God and love others — can align with the work you do each day. We do well to recognize the importance of kindness and respect for the differences among us, but we need not compartmentalize our lives. I think that is the greatest lesson I have taken away from the story of Saint Marys and the work the Sisters carried out in the name of Jesus.

Most treasured or best advice from a colleague at Mayo: The advice I have tried to apply the most (so maybe that makes it the best I have received) was the example set by a now-retired unit head I had years ago. One time in a meeting they said that, as our supervisor, they viewed part of their job as buffering our team from external distractions so we would have the time we needed to do great work. I learned that a leader's job involves creating the context in which people can succeed and do great work. Even as a technical leader without a formal leadership title, I have sought to do the same for my own colleagues who depend on me.

Most memorable Mayo moment: During my first year at Mayo Clinic, I walked all over the Rochester campus providing PC hardware and software support. I met all sorts of people and learned many shortcuts and "secret" passageways to get between buildings.

If I could choose the "hold" music for Mayo Clinic: Any of the "Lord of the Rings" theme music recordings from the YouTube channel "Ambient Worlds." What can possibly be more calming and peaceful than music that evokes visions of the Shire or Rivendell?

Favorite space on campus this month: I work remotely, so it took a family visit to the emergency room to bring me on campus this month. Sometimes the emergency room can get a bad rap because of the tremendous need for emergency care (think long waits). But the emergency room is my favorite this month because of the truly compassionate and knowledgeable staff who were there to care and serve our family during a moment of crisis.

People who inspire me: Every day the people around me inspire me. My wife, Amy, inspires me to have hope even when it feels impossible. My sister, Julie, inspires me to keep trying new things and to be bravely creative This is my sister who is learning cello, sewing ornate tutus for her youth dance studio, and cannot sit still long enough to let her foot heal properly. My sister, Jennifer, inspires me to patiently persevere and not lose heart. This is my sister who has experienced more than her fair share of challenges and yet is so full of patience, compassion and thoughtfulness.

The most fun I've had at work this year: It would probably be the three hours in a row I was able to spend digging into pages of computer system logs using Excel conditional formatting logic and visual inspection of code to identify the two causes of performance issues, which we can now address. It is so satisfying to root out the causes of a problem because you are no longer left guessing and you can now start to fix things. I know. I'm a total nerd.

Team Dr. Charlie or Team Dr. Will? Or Team Mother Alfred or Team Dr. W.W? Definitely Team Dr. Charlie. He always struck me as quiet and thoughtful. I really think we would have gotten along well. A colleague recommended the book "Quiet" to me, and it encouraged me to embrace the introvert part of me and see it as a strength.

When patients recall their visit to Mayo Clinic, I hope they remember: How much we care. I hope that compassion for them as patients is always evident in everything we do, both behind the scenes where I live and work and in the direct care they receive from our amazing clinical staff.