Marc Harrison: Hi, I'm Dr. Marc Harrison, CEO of Intermountain Healthcare. Today I’m with Koffi Adzitso, who works in materials management at Logan Regional Hospital. Koffi, thank you for taking the time to join me, I'm looking forward to our conversation.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do up at Logan Regional?
Yeah, I started working for Intermountain six years ago at Homecare and Hospice down in Salt Lake. I worked there for five years and last year I transferred to Logan, to work here and I'm just loving it up here. I mean Logan is a beautiful area. It's great, a lot of activities you can do up here. It's really nice up here.
Marc Harrison: It's very beautiful. I think the only bad part about Logan is Sardine Canyon in the wintertime is one of the scariest places I've ever been. What do you think?
Koffi Adzitso: It is awful! I mean it's bad. Yeah, in the winter time I try not to go to Salt Lake at all, just to avoid that.
Marc Harrison: But it sure is beautiful. Now, in addition to your work at Intermountain, you also own a gym and you're a competitive grappler. Can you tell us a little bit about that part of your life?
My gym is open now. It's been a year since I've opened the gym and I've been grappling since... thirteen plus years now. I just love grappling, I've been fighting professionally, I retired two years ago, so I can slowly focus on grappling. Two years ago, when I retired, I made the world team to Azerbaijan to represent USA and I mean it was an awesome opportunity to represent team USA. Went up there, did a great job, but did not do a good enough job to get the gold medal and now I have another opportunity this year to represent USA in Kazakhstan, so I'm just really looking forward to that.
Marc Harrison: Boy, that's a place where the grappling is excellent. So, for our listeners who don't know what grappling is, you know they may be familiar with like U.S. high school wrestling. Can you tell them what is grappling?
Koffi Adzitso: Yeah, so grappling is called Brazilian Ju-Jitsu. Grappling is wrestling with a submission. You know you kind of hold your opponent in a position where they verbally tap or just give up. That's what grappling is. It's a fun martial art, it's awesome.
Marc Harrison: So, sports are valuable in life and they teach us how to be good teammates and to work hard at things, and also how to win and how to lose. Can you talk about how your sports help you be better at work and at home? At Intermountain and in your personal life?
Absolutely. I've been wrestling since high school. Whenever I train really hard, it helps me in my personal life to be calm and relax. I feel like when I go to the gym that's my get-away time, to kind of just let off things, to let things go and kind of hangout with friends and just grapple and have a great time. When it comes to work, we have amazing people that work here and to be able to use what I do at training and implement that at work is awesome. Just like the personal relationship that I have with people, that I can create with people at training, I can also do the same thing here with the people I work with, with all the caregivers I work with and with the patients. I think it's amazing.
I understand that the early part of your life was pretty complicated and that you came to the United States as a... maybe a ten or eleven-year-old. Can you talk about what it took to leave West Africa and to come to the U.S. and a little bit about your personal story?
Absolutely. We left Africa as refugees and came to America when I was eleven years old. Coming to America was tough for me personally because I didn't speak English at all. I didn't know anybody. We didn't really know anybody here. Coming to America it was just a whole different world for me. Going to junior high and high school, I got into a lot of fights in high school because I didn't speak English. I didn't know anybody. I looked different. I dressed like an African, so I really stood out in high school and junior high. I got bullied a lot in high school and one thing that saved me was wrestling. When I joined the wrestling team, it kind of kept me away from getting into fights after high school. I owe a lot to wrestling because it really saved me. Some of my friends got into fights after high school and some of them are in prison or in jail right now, but what saved me was wrestling.
I owe a lot to wrestling and after that, going into MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) was pretty much a life saver, because after graduating high school I saw some of my friends getting in trouble, joining gangs, stuff like that. So fighting, joining MMA, kind of saved me from that and kind of took me away from that. Instead of fighting on the street, I'm now fighting in the cage, and on top of that to make money too was a bonus to me. That was great.
People describe wrestlers often as people who show up every day and work really, really hard in the wrestling room, and it sounds like you have that characteristic and it's helped you a lot in your life. Can you give some advice to your fellow caregivers about how to face adversity and what it takes to get through some of these tough situations?
Absolutely. Dan Gable was the greatest wrestler that ever lived and he said, “Once you wrestle, everything else in life is easy,” which is probably true. After wrestling, getting out of high school, everything else became kind of easier.
I lost my first fight ever, and nobody wants to lose their first fight, but I did and that taught me a lot of stuff. I kind of had to make a decision to continue fighting, if it was for me or not. I stuck to it and it was for me. I've seen some of my friends that were undefeated from the beginning and once they end up losing their first fight they don't know how to continue after that. But in my case losing my first fight kind of taught me a lot. Kind of opened my eyes to the real world. One thing I will say is if you have a setback in life or anything like that, that's not the end of it at all. That's just an opportunity to look into things and to open your eyes to what's going on.
That setback is not like a bad thing at all, in my case it's not. A setback for me is actually like a motivation to push even harder. People that struggle with setbacks… I say no, it's not a bad thing. It's a great opportunity to step even further forward.
Marc Harrison: I love that attitude and we all fail at times and I think the question is, do you have the guts to get back up and get back after it again?
Koffi Adzitso: Absolutely, absolutely.
Marc Harrison: Just one final question, we're all caregivers at Intermountain and your work is really important and you help your community and I guess I'm wondering how it feels to you, to in addition to your grappling and your gym and your professional fighting career, what's it like to be a caregiver who makes other people’s lives better?
To have the opportunity to work for Intermountain, I think it's awesome. When it comes to work, we all work hard to give the best care we can. All my coworkers, we come here, we work hard, and see how we can go above and beyond to take care of our patients. I see people come here every day and work so hard and just go above and beyond to take care of patients, and I think it's amazing. It's amazing what people in the company are doing, my coworkers and the people I'm around.
Koffi, we have the best people and I think you're one of them. And I will say I am just so pleased and proud that the state of Utah is a pro-refugee state…
Koffi Adzitso: Oh yeah, absolutely.
Marc Harrison: …And that there was a home for you here and that you're making our society better. Thank you, Koffi.
Koffi Adzitso: Thank you guys, thank you guys so much. Thank you for the opportunity to work for such a great company.
Marc Harrison: You're welcome. Can you send me a link of your gold medal match?
Koffi Adzitso: Oh, absolutely! I can send you that.
Marc Harrison: Maybe we can even include that on our internet so that our other caregivers could see one of their colleagues winning a world championship, would you like that?
Koffi Adzitso: I think that would be an honor, thank you.
Marc Harrison: Okay, we’ll work on it.
Hey Koffi, have a good day all right?
Koffi Adzitso: All right, thank you Mr. Marc, thank you so much.
Marc Harrison: Okay, see you later.