Johnny Caffaro — The Changing Face of Ortho Sales | Orthopedics This Week
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Johnny Caffaro — The Changing Face of Ortho Sales

Source: Johnny Caffaro

Johnny Caffaro is often asked how long he’s been in the ortho industry. His reply? “I always say I’ve been in the industry my whole life because I was born with a hip disease.” Caffaro came into the world with Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, a congenital condition which affects roughly four out of every 100,000 babies and limits blood supply to the femoral head. Famously depicted in the film Forrest Gump, Legg-Calve-Perthes can lead to deformity and chronic pain.

Despite Caffaro’s persistent drive to remain active as a youth, unlike in the inspirational Hollywood depiction, the condition worsened. After a church mission trip to Finland which involved lots of cool weather and walking on cobblestone roads, deterioration and hip pain led Caffaro to undergo his first hip replacement surgery at only 22 years old. After 18 months, a revision surgery was needed—and the surgeon fractured Caffaro’s hip during the surgical process. Ongoing chronic pain and femoral fracture eventually resulted in yet another revision surgery—for a grand total of three hip surgeries within five years.

Creating a Career Vision

While working for his brother’s tech company, Caffaro began to contemplate his future career path and asked himself what his true passion was. His unique personal journey of trial and perseverance led him to pursue an interest in orthopedic technology. At an interview at Stryker, Caffaro found that the novelty of his experience as a very young hip replacement surgery patient offered a unique path toward building rapport with orthopedic professionals. Caffaro did not yet know it, but his hunch to lean into this unique potential would later lead him to shake things up in the industry's relationship to social media and sales. His openness and authenticity in sharing history would prove to be a hugely effective career tool.

Who Is Johnny Caffaro?

Caffaro holds a degree from Brigham Young University. Besides his dedication to medical device sales and promoting medical systems health, positivity, connection with others and staying fit and active, as well as travel, are some of his passions. Caffaro has been Director of Sales West at Irvine, California-based United Orthopedic Corporation for the past four years. He is also a partner at Caffaro Shoes, his brother’s brainchild, and enjoys bringing men’s fashion to ortho conferences and discussions. His professional background also includes past roles at Ortho Development Corporation and Stryker.

United Orthopedic Corporation is an international leader in the design, manufacturing, distribution and sales of ortho implant technology. The company’s integrated design to production process aims to foster superior product quality and health outcomes for total knee and hip replacement. United Orthopedic was founded in 1993 by Jason Lin.

Caffaro’s Social Media Approach

“I love connecting with people and it’s not only about the business side…I love making the introductions, but I saw that in the medical field it’s taboo to talk about other people to bring people along or talk about other companies,” Caffaro told OTW. “It’s just so much fun to bring other people along,” he felt. Caffaro observed that this reluctance to discuss taboo information translated into a narrow range of social media content. Medical companies seemed to only post product info. Caffaro trusted his gut and decided to take a very different approach and to tell his own vulnerable and very human story.

The reaction has been changing the med tech social media game.

At first, Caffaro experimented with creating a successful professional Instagram account. He was able to build a 20,000-person following. Moving on, Caffaro decided to explore the professional forum LinkedIn. “I just saw that there was just a big, big hole in marketing and social networking in the medical field.”

In the past 6 months, he’s gained around 9,000 new followers. His posts have an average of 100,000 views. Gaining a following on LinkedIn is not an easy feat for anyone other than major celebrities or well-known companies. We asked him what the key to his success on the platform has been.

“My goal has been to bring others along and be able to help people and foster relationships. I’ve always stayed true to who I am because I want to be authentic and I want to be genuine and so…My success with social media is [that] I’ve been telling my story with a personal touch, to also relate to other people,” Caffaro said. Typically posting three times per week to maintain engagement and reach, Caffaro makes strategic efforts to include a mix of personal authenticity and stories, business tips, and medical industry news. His emphasis is on collaboration and networking rather than competition.

In a recent viral post, he wrote, “Always be friendly with the competition, you never know when your paths might cross” and describes meeting a more seasoned colleague, Ryan Harter, who could have been competitive a decade ago but instead kindly helped show him the ropes at Stryker as a newbie. A decade later, the post shows the two men smiling together after Caffaro brought the same man on board at United Orthopedic. Caffaro tagged both Harter and Stryker in the post. A tall order on medical LinkedIn, the post has received heavy traffic and 1.25 thousand likes.

“The difference between Instagram and LinkedIn I believe is that Instagram is ‘Hey, look at me, look at what I can do’…LinkedIn is, “Hey, look at us, look at what we can do, look at what we have’ and be able to network and collaborate,” said Caffaro. “LinkedIn is known for networking and connecting.” Medical professionals, individuals and companies are now regularly reaching out to Caffaro for interviews, podcasts and advice on how to crack the social media code in medical care topics.

Spreading Positivity and Promoting Confidence

His best advice? “Go get it. Everyone is so afraid to start.” Caffaro advises others not to overthink their first posts or care too much about how it will go. “Just find something that has happened to you in your life, tie it into what you're doing now, give it a personal touch, and then post it.”

Some of Caffaro’s personal favorite posts are those which share his personal story. In one recent post, he tells the story of how he got into the industry.

➖Personal Story➖ (This is how I got into the industry)

I was born with a rare disease, Leg Calve Perthes disease. 4 out of every 100,000 babies get it. (Not enough blood supply went to the femoral head, it grew deformed, and it would slip out of socket) It made being physically active difficult. But I was determined to still play football, basketball and baseball no matter the pain this disease caused.

I first got a PAO. (Periacetabular Osteotomy) It only lasted 18 months before I had to get a Total Hip Replacement. While getting my hip replaced during surgery my femur was fractured. We didn’t know, so I walked on a broken hip for 18 months until I finally met Seth Jerabek at Hospital for Special Surgery. In his care we found the fracture, took out the stem, and replaced it with a revision stem, and cabled the femur.

After undergoing my third hip replacement in 5 years most people would have given up. I was devastated. I DID want to give up at times. I could have quit, and thrown my hands up in the air and said this is too hard, and it’s not worth it, but I DIDNT. I kept getting up each day to push myself to succeed. I will #always give it my best no matter how hard it is or what it is…day in and day out.

I've learned you are going to go through tough times - that's life. Nothing happens TO you, it happens FOR you.'

#pushthrough #nevergiveup #overcomingadversity #keepgoing #surgery #motivational”

Others have begun to follow Caffaro’s lead, sharing his content, and tagging others in their posts. For a recent example, see a recent post by Dave Howe, VP of Sales at Osso VR, where he thanked Caffaro and went on to share one of Caffaro’s recent posts, “Enjoyed dinner with Johnny Caffaro at American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons (AAHKS) last week. I've been following him on LinkedIn, finally had a chance to ask—"I see you on social…how did you get started? What are you trying to accomplish? What tips can you share?"

A great discussion followed, and it reminded me of similar conversations I've shared with Cory Calendine, M.D. and Jameil “Jay” Pendleton.

It's interesting how most of us tend to only ask our closest mentors for advice. This limits the variety of perspectives we can learn from. If you see someone accomplishing something that you're also working on, ask them about it! Especially if you don't know them.

You'll typically find (a) that they're eager to share what they know and (b) it's a flattering question that quickly builds friendships.

Thanks to all mentioned for the perspectives, friendship, and relentless support for Osso VR!”

Sharing personal stories like these, spreading positivity, and building up others has indeed proven to be a winning formula. Perhaps we can all learn from #TheCaffaroWay.


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