Messy

It’s time to replace the Italian espresso machine in my kitchen. I rarely spend much time researching options. I’d rather make a decision and adjust as I go, but desire quality so I feel a little obligated to replace it with something as durable.

Tasked to my personal assistant, already knee-deep in the process of replacing two other commercial coffee machines in our audiology offices, my only instruction was to make sure it’s durable. “Commercial grade,” I remember saying. Why not kill three birds with one stone?

She came back with options from the distributor that were “much less messy” than my current machine. They all looked like glorified Nespresso machines.

“Messy,” I asked. “What’s messy?”

She explained, “Well, with your current machine you have to grind the beans and then put them in that thing over there and that makes a mess.”

“Yes,” I patiently smiled, “But freshly-ground espresso doesn’t taste like dirt.”

I didn’t ask for a neat little Nespresso, all I asked for was commercial grade, as in real espresso. The options she brought back to me were cheap. The machine I’m looking for costs more than her car. The options she recommended all use cute little pods of coffee that was roasted sometime in the Nixon administration and ground months in advance. The machine I’m looking for requires a separate and very expensive grinder, which I already own, and it requires the operator to know what the hell he is doing, and yes, it can get a little messy.

Effort equals result. There is much to teach this young grasshopper.

I tried to use an analogy that she would understand. She loves to bake and is hell-bent on giving me diabetes and/or 20 extra pounds of cellulose before summer. Every time I turn around, there’s some freshly baked muffin, pie, pastry or cookie in the kitchen. She knows I throw most of it away, but that hasn’t deterred her yet.

“Listen,” I said. “Do you think the best homemade pie crusts come in little Keurig pods, pre-made months in advance in some far away factory?”

The lightbulb clicked on. “Got it,” she said. “So I still need to get fresh coffee beans each week from River Rock Roasters, correct?”

“Correct,” I replied.

She’s coming along slowly. Very slowly, but she illustrates a teaching concept that most multi-millionaires and success stories of any kind assume you know but won’t come right out and say it unless you ask them privately.

Success is cooked up in a messy kitchen.

Sure, the “4-hour-workweek-make-money-in-your-swim-trunks-sitting-on-the-beach-without-any-effort-whatsoever” gurus will have you believe you can enjoy mega success without getting your hands dirty. Just like coffee-pod brewers think you can enjoy the same experience as a well-crafted, perfectly roasted and freshly-ground espresso without getting your hands a little dirty.

As an interesting aside, when I was in Phoenix this weekend visiting a few private clients, I learned of a story about Tim Ferris when his book “4 Hour Workweek” launched and that Mr. Ferris had been sitting in a recording studio for eight hours straight without a lunch break in order to promote a book that had taken him over a year to write. Tim smiled and said, “Yeah, but this isn’t work, it’s fun, so this doesn’t count.” Smart guy, quick on his feet and a decent comeback but don’t miss the lesson:

Watch what people do to become successful, not what they say.

For every high school phenom that catapults straight to the pros, there are tens of thousands that never make it, spend years in the minor leagues or overseas, in and out of physical therapy and surgery, scraping and clawing to get to the main stage. A friend of a friend and major league ball player for nearly 20 years, now retired coach with two World Series rings, saw this up close and personal with his own son, an unbelievably-talented ball player who spent nearly a decade working his way to the top, never quite making it to the big leagues. I was told that even with a signed contract from a professional baseball team, the chances of ever seeing the light of day in the MLB is less than one in one thousand – and that’s with a signed contract. Most stay in the minors for their entire career.

For every high income earner who catapulted straight into the stratosphere based on some algorithm or invention, landing them a multi-million dollar salary or even larger buyout in Silicon Valley, there are tens of thousands who started as an assistant manager, worked their way up to regional manager, vice president and eventually into the C-suite. Bob Iger at Disney, currently one of the world’s smartest businessmen and likely to go down in history as one of the best ever unless he screws something up, started off doing the weather on a local ABC affiliate in Ithaca, NY. That was 1973.

It took 20 years for Iger to claw his way to the top of ABC and another 11 years for him to work his way to President of Walt Disney International, then Chief Operating Officer, then named as replacement for Michael Eisner in 2005. In less than a year, he orchestrated the purchase of Pixar, then Marvel Entertainment, then Lucasfilm including Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises. He became a Director on Apple’s board after Jobs’ death and last year acquired 21st Century Fox for $52.4 billion, making Disney the undisputed powerhouse of all things entertainment.

Iger wasn’t an overnight success and his path was not cooked up in a clean kitchen. Lee Cockerell, President of Walt Disney World in Orlando with over 76,000 employees under his leadership, Lee describes his own path as a bit of a roller coaster. “There are times you don’t think you’re going to survive, then there are times where you can seem to do no wrong,” he said.

A friend of one of my personal coaches, started off as an assistant manager at Wendy’s hamburgers, making less than ten bucks an hour. He clawed, scraped and fought his way to purchase his first franchise. He now owns over 45 Wendy’s restaurants and a dozen Buffalo Wild Wings and other franchises to boot. He has over 900 employees. From the surface, his wild success story might look like a fairytale. I can tell you the countless hours, blood, sweat and tears that went into building that empire.

Here’s the lesson, if you haven’t gleaned it already.

Stop wishing for things to be easy. Stop insisting there be no mess in your life.

I realize you were probably at the top of your class in school. I realize you have been a lifetime student and failure is scary to you. I know you have a big heart. That you are a perfectionist. Think about it. You care for patients everyday. You’re wound tight, don’t like it when things don’t go your way, have a place for everything and everything in its place. Fine. I’m not sure I’d want my grandmother treated by someone who didn’t have most or all of these tendencies. But stop pretending like everything is going to be perfect from today forward.

If you want a mega success story of your own. If you want endless referrals, respect in your community, a net income that puts you in the 0.1% and an exit strategy that leaves you with over $10 million cash in the bank, you must be prepared to get your hands a little dirty. There is no Keurig pod for instant success. Embrace the mess.

 

What They Believe.

My friend, Dan Kennedy, shared some great inside baseball at at conference in Cleveland recently. If you missed it, I’m not going to give you all of his pearls, but I will share a BIG one with you below.

 

When practically applied to your business, the marketing principle can transform your business. If you look around, you’ll find very few businesses that think and operate this way.

Most businesses stop at what people need to KNOW:

  • We’re a car dealership
  • We sell this kind of car
  • We’re open these hours
  • We’re having the sale of the century
  • You can have a low credit score and we’ll still get you financed

 

Almost no businesses go all the way to what people need to BELIEVE.

 

For example, most weight loss companies look the same. They start with the program, how it works, why it is better than the other programs in terms of cost or features, benefits, competitive superiority. But, the smartest weight loss companies start with what their prospect must BELIEVE. Specifically, “Why this time is going to be different?”

 

After a consumer has tried 16 diets and they’ve all failed, it’s not about the diet or the program or the cost. It’s really about answering the question “Why will this time be any different than the other 16 times I tried to lose weight?”

This best marketing goes beyond what people must KNOW and connects with what they must BELIEVE.

 

The spouses of your patients already know their husband/wife needs hearing aids. They already know what their options are in your town. Many have already visited those offices and shopped around. They know what the prices are. They know how the hearing aids are fitted and what the difference between a behind the ear and in the ear. They can learn everything they need to know before they ever leave their house. Heck, with enough YouTube and the right equipment (or the manufacturers new iPhone compatible hearing aids), most patients could can treat their own hearing loss without your help.

 

What they need to believe is that you are the best choice for their spouse. Start learning how, when and where to address that fundamental emotional need in the consumer and you’ll be on your way to 10X in your practice, just like I did with my practice.

 

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Fox vs Rabbit

John Gribbin illustrates a point in one of his books that should smack readers into attention, like a 2×4 to the forehead: “A rabbit who runs away from a fox is not competing with the fox, in evolutionary terms. It is competing with the other rabbits. The ones who run fastest and zigzag most unpredictably, will survive and breed; the ones who don’t will get eaten. The fox, of course, is in competition with the other foxes.”

 

How often in your business do you think you’re competing with the fox? When you see a large group audiology practice or corporate hearing care chain offering hearing aids, do you think, “Those are my patients going to the competition.”

 

I see a lot of audiologists and hearing specialists doing this with direct-to-consumer hearing aids, retail stores and pharmacies offering hearing aid amplifiers. They think these foxes are their competition. They aren’t.

 

It might sound condescending but it’s true: you only have to run faster and more successfully than the other rabbits. If you get really good at this, you can build yourself a little concrete rabbit house with a fox fence and fox alarm; even put a moat around it and fill it with hungry alligators, preferably ones with an appetite for fox.

 

I haven’t focused on anything but ‘premium’ treatments since January 2017. Most practice owners think that’s insane. In reality, it lets me focus better on my true ‘A’ patient. I only compete with a few rabbits in this area. When I was treating everyone with a pulse, I competed with every rabbit in town.

 

Audiologists who are really good at treating with high end technology or who have hours, locations, services or prices that differentiate their practices are wisely competing with fewer rabbits. They’ve installed moats that most don’t even realize they have.

The list here is long and requires more time and space than this column allows, but suffice it to say, the most powerful way to out-compete the other rabbits and to leave the foxes scratching their heads is to be the best at building relationships in your market. Deliver so much value and have such a strong connection with your patients that they never leave.

 

We do this in my offices by removing all the risk, guaranteeing satisfaction, crawling through broken glass for our patients, and by staying open late, arriving early and putting physical employees in our offices on the weekends to handle patient requests and repairs. We’re always open and patients know it.

 

When you play your game in an entirely different field, it’s easy to let the other rabbits get chased by the fox.