Chris Cohn | Crain's Phoenix

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Chris Cohn


Scottsdale Recovery Center is a drug and alcohol rehab facility, offering treatment for substance abuse addictions.

The Mistake:

The mistake was not hiring people that were smarter than me, that knew more about the addiction-and-treatment industry than me. We hired based on experience and, often, how many years they had in their own recovery or sobriety.

We found out quickly that, although it’s an asset to the organization to have someone who’s gone through treatment and who’s now sober for many years, unfortunately, this disease is bafflingly powerful and even the strongest ones in recovery relapse.

Obviously, that seriously affects our business.

I had to take my ego out of the equation and let that sort of person in here.​

The Lesson:

I’ve now got some employees around me that know the industry better than me and I trust them to make the decisions they need to make.

I think back to the days before I grew as a businessman, and trust was a big factor for me. You know, letting someone come in and make decisions based on the business’ best interest.

Now, I’m kind of guided by intuition. I trust that everyone around me is not just smarter than me, but in the industry for the right reason – and that’s to help people get sober for the long term, and how that can help families heal and grow.

I realize now that I need people who are smarter than me to grow a successful organization, especially in the rehab industry. 

The point of having good employees is that they’re around you making decisions that have the company’s best interests. When you hire people smarter than you to make these decisions, it usually works out well.

I had to take my ego out of the equation and let that sort of person in here – because I built this business and it’s kind of like my baby. So, to allow someone to come in here and make decisions based on their experience, knowledge and success in this industry is ultimately going to lead to a good outcome.

Follow Scottsdale Recovery Center on Twitter at @scottsdalerecov

Photo courtesy of Chris Cohn

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