“Silence is the presence of time undisturbed.”
In a world savaged by noise, distraction and heedless entertainment, it has become more and more difficult to locate and protect our ability to be silent.
It’s fascinating to consider the amount of creativity produced during a day in which one is silent.
Taking long walks in nature, spending time near the water, carving out a reading nook or reflective space in one’s home – these are common strategies amongst my most successful and happiest clients and friends.
Some practical tips:
Kill the digital brain stimulation before bed. Most Americans watch television or scroll through the social feeds on their smartphones and then hop into bed. Your brain is too active to sleep restfully. Instead, turn all your digital devices off a few hours before bedtime. Lull yourself into a great night’s sleep by reading a book, praying or meditating after stretching and thinking about what you learned today, what you want to do tomorrow, etc. You’ll discover that you’ll wake up easier too. I haven’t used an alarm clock for over a decade. This was impossible until I faithfully adopted the strategy of easing myself into bed, not flying feet-first after a full-day of digital stimulation.
Kill the television. You are unlikely to achieve all of your goals in life if you watch 38 hours of television per week, like the average American. Instead, get outside. Take up gardening, golf, hiking or sailing. Put your brain to more constructive use during times of leisure and it will be better-prepared to serve you when you really need it in the business and throughout the rest of your life.
Do not wake up with the morning news or your smartphone. Waking to someone else’s agenda is a perfect way to derail your best-laid plans and intentions. I recommend you avoid email, texting, news or social media of any kind until after lunch, when you’ve had at least 4-5 hours of solid work invested in your own agenda for the day, not someone else’s.
It is said that Senator Ben Sassee buys his interns old-fashioned alarm clocks.
He doesn’t want them staying up at all hours of the night, checking in on their smartphones to any of the thousands of news outlets throughout the world that pump them full of distraction and sap their ability to rest and recharge their bodies and brains. “
You’re going to need them both in the morning, after all,” he reminds his team.
Learning to be silent, in order to produce the most creative ideas for your life and your business, is a skill that you can learn. No one is born knowing how to live in “undisturbed time,” but if you pay attention to the happiest and most-successful people on the planet, you’ll observe their uncanny ability to be silent in a world savaged by noise.
It’s Q4 2019 and time to start planning for next year. According to Definitive Healthcare and McKinsey and Company, here are the top healthcare trends for the coming year:
Consolidation – Over 803 mergers and acquisitions took place in the last 12 months, in addition to 858 affiliation and partnership announcements. This trend brings newer technology to smaller clinics and hospitals, as they join larger groups, driving down costs. Consolidation is predicted to accelerate over the next 2-3 years. It also decreases competition and creates mega-hospitals, with regulators watching closely.
Convenience – 65 percent of consumers buying commercial insurance select cost as the top factor when choosing where to seek care. Today, 24 percent of consumers reported using retail clinics like CVS Minute Clinics, compared to only 9 percent only four years ago. To go around this trend, you must get really good at marketing to the 35 percent who don’t list cost as a top factor and/or serve fee-for-service patients.
Telehealth – Over 70 percent of consumers would rather use video than visit their primary care provider in person. Telehealth is expected to reach $94 billion in care by 2026. State board and malpractice carriers will need to catch up. Consumers are now setting the standard of care, whether we like it or not.
Artificial Intelligence – is expected to continue growing with the tremendous amount of data being generated by hospitals each day. AI will help us utilize and understand all these data, driving down costs and improving care. This presents the biggest opportunity for private equity investment and staying power.
Staffing Shortages – will continue as the nursing and primary care workforce continues to age. Currently 55 percent of all registered nurses are 50 years old or older and 52 percent of the active physician workforce is 55 or older. Combined with an aging population, there is a higher demand for nurses and primary care physicians…AND Hearing Health Care providers! Effective hiring will continue to be a critical area of practice in addition to offering the best benefits packages, so that you can attract top talent.
Data Security – will continue to consume more time and attention, forcing more regulators to step in, as last year saw many data breaches that exploited healthcare records; eight of which exposed over 500,000 records and three exposed over a million. You must factor higher IT and cybersecurity costs into your budgets, moving forward.
If you haven’t scheduled your annual planning day, now is the time to get it on the calendar. My team likes to take a day or two out of the office and go somewhere fun and relaxing. Sometimes we go down to the country club and other times we simply rent out a cabin and get away from the office so we can think about a bigger future, outside the constraints of the physical workplace. We speak about trends like these and constantly ask how we can do things better for our patients.
All six of these trends will affect your practice, both now and in the future. The offices that are prepared to deliver more value than the competition and do so inside a convenient delivery model are the practices that will enjoy tremendous success moving forward.
* Every year or two, I take a day with top-level clients to talk about the future of the profession. It’s certainly not too early to plan the next date. If you have an interest and want to join me for a discovery day, where you can see what me and my top clients are doing to leverage these trends (surfing the wave instead of fighting it), then express your interest to one of our certified trainers and coaches at email@example.com and let’s make next year your strongest yet.
The latest online shopping craze has a unique twist. Instead of sitting in front of a web browser or flipping through items on a smartphone, millions of Chinese consumers are obsessed with live-stream shopping.
ShopShops employs real people to go into real stores, like a T.J. Maxx in New York City, and stream their visit to as many as 10,000 people live watching from China. These shopping trips are some what of a cross between live home shopping network and game show, where buyers race to get great deals on items that are unavailable in China or often counterfeit.
Buyers can interact with the hosts, asking them questions or making requests to hold up items or model them at a “selfie” distance to see what they might look like in person. The company streams about 220 live shows each month, with an average of $6,000 in sales per session.
ShopShops has employees in multiple cities throughout the U.S., Dubai and London. Easily generating $1.2 to $1.5 million per month, this is a brilliant example of selling it differently.
Skin cream, perfume, popular items and vintage products all sell quickly and buyers often stay for the entire duration of the live streams, unable to resist the fear of missing out.
What might the live-streaming shopper or her assistants find next?
One jewelry store owner in Manhattan paid attention to this interesting trend when a live-stream shopper came into his store. Now he opens early one Saturday and one Sunday per month, so he can live-stream at 9pm local-time in China. In three hours, the jewelry store does more than 10% of their sales for the entire month.
There’s nothing new under the sun, but combining popular elements from existing media channels or techniques can often produce tremendous results.
Wrap your SUV and take a tent to every live event in your town. If you don’t schedule an extra 50 patients this year from those efforts, I’ll eat my shorts.
Find a local high-quality restaurant or jewelry store that will do an endorsed mailing to their house list, promoting your office and a special offer to their customers if you’ll do the same for them. Often you only need to place a small coupon or offer in your new patient welcome bag.
There’s nothing new about live-streaming, personal shoppers or exclusivity and scarcity, but a very smart company has combined them and is quietly churning $15-20 million per year in online sales. They aren’t even selling their own products. They are simply selling them differently.
In the 1980s, Ross and Lepper published the seminal work on the perseverance of beliefs. This is the tendency for people to continue to believe something is true even when it is revealed to be false or disproved.
In one study, students took an aptitude test and were told they scored poorly. Later, when they learned the exam was miss-scored, most participants were unable to erase the experience. They continued to persevere in their beliefs.
What faulty beliefs do you have about your practice and what faulty beliefs does the marketplace have about you and the profession of hearing health care? These are million-dollar questions that you must answer.
If I had a dollar for each time an audiologist or specialist told me direct mail doesn’t work in their market or that they are doing a good job answering their phones, I’d be a lot richer than I already am.
Somewhere in the course of their career, most doctors have convinced themselves about something and they continue to believe it, even when it is proven to be false.
It’s OK, I don’t coach and consult for my health. I do it to feed my Sound of Life Foundation. I make my money in my clinics, and in real estate. So, I’ve stopped taking irrational disbelief from audiologists and practice owners as a personal insult. I’ve started calling it willful ignorance.
Listen. If you’re honest with yourself, this isn’t a question about how often we commit this sin of perseverance of belief, but rather why is this tendency so prevalent?
Sometimes we make false correlations between events or we stay the course due to sunk costs. For example, our collections and production are up right after hiring a new treatment coordinator, so we assume a potentially false correlation between the new hire and our success in the treatment room.
Even if I show you proof that your TC is screwing up the new patient process, you’re likely to drag your feet on replacing or moving this employee to a different position due to false correlation and sunk cost bias.
Finally, consider the power of your beliefs and past experiences and their ability to limit your problem-solving skills. Most small business owners go to battle with important problems and challenges in the marketplace with little more than their own limited experience and false beliefs. This is dangerous and if you run a business where your past strategy is the only thing you have to deploy against new challenges, you put everyone around you at risk as well.
In my book I list critical core competencies I see missing in most audiology and hearing health care practices, not based on my own past experience and belief but on the secret shopper data from over 1,000 new patients.
You see, there are things you and I might believe about our practices and about our patients and their desires, but it’s hard to argue with the transcripts and video tape from a thousand new patients.
Solving problems for patients and delivering more value than everyone else in your market and in your price-tier isn’t rocket science, but it’s so powerful to get outside your own head and shed the biases, false beliefs and erroneous correlations in our industry that doing so will make you appear as smart as a rocket scientist.
It’s no secret that I am not a fan of social media and Facebook groups. Particularly for pathologic perfectionists (i.e., audiologists), this method of communication is dangerous for several reasons:
First, those who post in these forums assume they assert unique views and ideas, imagining themselves as individuals. Yet, to a great extent, the views espoused are heavily influenced by colleagues, friends in the group, childhood upbringing and society at large. If you could track the views and opinions of the average member inside these groups, as a function of time, you would see them bend towards the average, the longer the member operates and communicates within the group.
This is only one reason why you’ll never catch me dead inside a Facebook group for audiologists. It’s also why you’ll never see a user group with this type of communication created for CEOs of publicly-traded companies. One of my friends and business mentors travels to New York City at the end of next month to ring the bell on the New York Stock Exchange, as the company in which he is heavily invested is finally going public and they invited him and a small handful of leaders to be present for the big day.
At dinner this weekend, I asked him why he thought people operating at his level (i.e., above $100 million in net worth) don’t waste their time on social media, and in particular, inside private Facebook groups, as more and more doctors seem to be wasting countless hours in these potentially destructive environments. His answer was pretty shocking: “Many people look for validation in groups because they are insecure. They flock together and succumb to the pressure to fit in and blend in because they are uncertain about their self-worth.”
I nodded in agreement because I’ve seen the damage of groupthink firsthand. You might be subconsciously unaware of the grip it has on you. If you participate in Facebook groups for audiologists or dentists, ask yourself how many times in the last year you’ve intentionally entertained an idea that is the very opposite of the group or conventional wisdom in our profession. Were you able to hold onto that view, and, if so, how long?
Only through awareness of the areas in which you conform, can you start to strengthen your ability to reason on your own. Take the opposite approach to your peers. Start with the assumption that you are not as much of an individual as you think you are. Deeply examine where your thoughts, beliefs, and assumptions are impacted by everything around you. Be brutally honest with yourself.
It’s one of many reasons why doctors fly from all over the world to meet with me and ask me to fix their practices. They’re really asking me to unlock them from the chains of groupthink, confirmation bias and inaccurate opinions about our profession and its place in society and free markets. Only then can doctors truly grow.
Business school gave me an entirely different view on elective healthcare. It challenged everything I thought I knew about management, strategy, finance, and marketing for health care facilities and procedures. One of the big reasons why I think it had such a profound impact on my ability to help doctors grow their practices quickly is that I was the only audiology practice owner in my business school class. Everyone else had entirely unique perspectives on both simple and complex issues in the business world. Because my professors and classmates weren’t entrenched in audiology groupthink, they helped me see clearly what could be done in our industry. I didn’t need the validation or attention of any other audiologists in order to create massive breakthroughs for my own practices, my clients and now for the profession at-large.
If you rely on your goals, outcomes, and progress to elevate your self-image, you won’t be held hostage to the ideas, attention and approval of others either. If you want to kill the groupthink in your life, this is a great place to start.