How we work: Doug Bergman

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United Cerebral Palsy of Sacramento and Northern California provides services to more than 4,000 people with cerebral palsy and other developmental disabilities. The organization helps in different ways. For parents caring for children, he sends professionals home to give a well-deserved break. For adults with disabilities, volunteers help with household chores like grocery shopping, cooking, or driving to doctor’s appointments.

This is a complicated mission in the base case. Then came COVID-19. How can in-person care be delivered safely during a pandemic? “We had to pivot, rethink and revamp UCP during COVID,” says CEO Doug Bergman, who has led the organization since 2006. “Now the business model has changed.”

With so much change and complexity, Bergman finds stability in a wholesome daily ritual. This is how he realizes it.

5:40 am – The first item on the agenda is to leave Cali, her 14-year-old cockapoo, out to do her thing. Next, he heads for a 55-minute high-intensity circuit workout at Fitness MD in Roseville.

8:00 a.m. – Quick shower. Breakfast consisting of yogurt, granola and fruit.

8:30 am – UCP now has a hybrid working model: three days in the office, two remotely. So most of the time he commutes between his home in Rocklin and his office on Auburn Boulevard, listening to music (which is “everywhere” and can range from 80s alternative to catchy electro like Rüfüs Of the ground).

9:00 a.m. – Before leaving his car in the parking lot, he will quickly check his e-mails on his phone, because as soon as he enters the building…

9:03 – …he spends an hour walking the halls and catching up with the team, both friendly and tackling ad hoc issues. “I just think visibility in the office is important” because it creates an atmosphere of trust and communication.

10am – Office work. Bergman maintains an open-door policy for random pop-ins (such as an HR conversation about new recruiting efforts) and is now focused on reviewing UCP’s long-term strategic goals. Before COVID, UCP had nearly 6,600 customers and 900 employees and was aiming for growth; then the organization was forced to shift to remote and socially distanced care like virtual classes, dropping supplies at the door or even singing to clients on Zoom. “We found ways to keep in touch with them,” says Bergman, but even so, the clientele fell by more than 37% and the employees by 22%.

Bergman, who has led the UCP through many changes and reorganizations during COVID, finds stability in a healthy daily ritual.

12 p.m. – Lunch at his desk (like a Chipotle salad bowl) while knocking out emails and work.

12:30 p.m. – Board meeting of a company he founded, MRSI (Mission, Resource, Solutions, Incorporated), which develops software to modernize paper-based systems. The software is now used by UCP and licensed to other caregiver affiliates and is now a source of revenue for UCP.

2 p.m. – Before COVID, he spent afternoons visiting UCP clients as part of their day programs, and he is now trying to get back to it. “Customers inspire me and motivate me to excel in my role as CEO to continue making their lives better every day.”

4 p.m. – Conference call twice a week with his four direct reports. “The first thing we talk about is safety,” says Bergman, who is proud that “we haven’t lost any customers to COVID-19.”

4:30 p.m. – Remove follow-up calls and emails, such as helping the CFO with a billing issue.

5:45 p.m. – Walks around the building to say goodbye to those who are still there — sometimes it’s just him.

6:15 p.m. – Cooks dinner with Freda, his wife of 21 years (“We love each other to death”). If he’s lucky, his daughter and one of his four grandchildren might come to visit.

8 p.m. – Curl up on the couch with a glass of wine (he loves Lewis Cellars) and unwind watching network shows like “Law and Order” or watching a TV series like “Jack Reacher.”

9:30 p.m. – Go to bed. “I know a lot of people can work if they get two, three or four hours of sleep; I can work better if I have eight hours.

To-do list system:

Pen and paper where he constantly notes reminders, for fear of forgetting. “I don’t think it’s fair to forget something when someone asks you to do something.”

How it stays focused:

The focus is on sleep, exercise and healthy eating. “Focus, for me, is just eating well.”

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