Mark Twain wondered, “whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it.“
His quote could have been written 1,000 years ago as easily as today or 1,000 years from now. This is one of many reasons I like Twain. He knew how to think accurately about human nature. He focused on things that never change.
This way of thinking is an antidote to the well-intentioned, even deeply thoughtful leaders around the world that lead our nations into pointless wars, drag our economies into and through idiotic trade negotiations, levy taxes on the core tenets of growth and prosperity and deceive themselves and, sadly, their voters.
Not because they are bad people, but because they are misinformed by scholars, ego and the status quo – promulgating nonsense.
Let’s unpack these three sources of hogwash:
Scholars have strong opinions, tightly held. We joke, cerumen deeply impacted, that the local ENT surgeon tends to be biased in the surgical outcome when the procedure is named after oneself.
Some scientists are immune to this nonsense. Many are not. Agendas are plentiful. Politics is played hard. Tenure and research grants are not taken lightly. Often, unfortunately, the science is.
Ego is perhaps the single-strongest destructive force on the planet. It blinds even the best-intentioned and most-disciplined leaders, like a dust storm blinds everything in its path. Ryan Holiday was right. Ego is the enemy.
Status Quo claims a close second place to ego in the potential to destroy truth and keep entire generations of people, scholars, leaders and industries stuck in neutral or slip-sliding in reverse.
Charlie Munger was right when he said professions and industries tend to change one funeral at a time.
What is the solution, you ask?
Great question. First, acknowledge and understand you already have everything you need to make a difference in your life, so that everyone around you thrives. The good news is that it has never been easier to take advantage of advanced economies and technology to build a great business, learn new strategies, impact change and control the sails.
The bad news: there are more distractions (more noise, more wind) tugging at your sails. There’s more out of your control and you’re more aware of it than ever before, so it seems like chaos at all time, if you allow it.
Imagine listening to 24 hours news for 30 days and then measuring your anxiety level, confusion and frustration at the “imbeciles” Twain references. Then, imaging extracting the news from your life and asking what changes. The answer: nothing, except you would have your sanity back.
Get into the habit of assessing each day before you go to bed. Review the day in your mind.
- What three things did you learn?
- Where could you improve?
- What are you thankful for right now?
- How will you make meaningful progress towards you goals tomorrow?
Twain, Benjamin Franklin, Marcus Aurelius, Munger, Buffett – any many other deep thinkers, have contributed tremendously to society because they were not ignorant to misinformation.
Smart minds know a lot of misinformation comes from “scholars” who have never tested their theories in the trenches of life and business. Smart minds know the destruction that comes from unchecked ego and make it their modus operandi to buck the status quo.
The next time you see something on the news that you think will impact you or your business, give it some time to breathe. Often, it will resolve itself, die from lack of attention, like a fish out of water, or self-destruct like a moth to a flame.
If it’s outside your control, let it do what it will. Pay it no attention.
If you feel it falls within your purview, ask what the experts and the status quo can tell you, seek how your ego might impact your decision and then ask what never changes.
Twain knew his assessment of the average leader could stand the test of time. Rank your most-recent handful of important business decisions. Can they stand the test of time?
Now rank your most-important and successful decisions in the last 10-20 years. What key components can you identify inside the decision-making process for those excellent decisions and what never changes, what scholars might have done, where your ego was at the time and what the majority would have done at the time.
This is how you become a better thinker – which is exactly what I’m tasked with doing here – helping you be the best at getting better, nudging you to continue growing. It’s an opportunity the average business owner wouldn’t fully appreciated, and so it’s the highest honor to work with you here each week.
Onward and upward!
I’ve been presenting on the power of patient gifting and marketing automation for many years. The most common question from audiences revolves around cost. I’m asked, “How much should I spend on a new patient welcome gift, shock ‘n awe package or new start ‘wow’ box?”
My answer has always been the same: whatever it takes.
Clearly, one of the top five reasons why patients don’t refer, which I review extensively in my writings, is that they aren’t welcomed to the practice in a BIG way.
I learned this principle from The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Development Center, The Disney Institute and by studying top producers in home and car sales. Everyone wants to feel special and important. Consumers want to know that you sincerely appreciate their business. They also want something to talk about.
A financial advising firm sends one of the nicest new-client welcome boxes I’ve ever seen. It’s not extravagant and it’s not that expensive, but it’s completely congruent with their avatar client and the message they want to send.
I’ve produced entire Loud and Clear marketing programs on this topic. If you’ve been hanging around for any length of time, you get it. This is all redundant. But, so are the Ten Commandments if you’ve been going to church or synagogue for any length of time. Repetition doesn’t make them any less important.
Yet, I won’t waste this entire article reminding you of the power of gifting and welcoming new patients, clients, customers or donors in a BIG way. Instead, I’ll stimulate some higher-level thinking on the dangers of cutting the small things in your business, like new-customer welcome gifts, birthday cards and marketing automation, when business slows or when the decision maker gets bored and wants to do something new.
Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist, noticed that 80% of the land was owned by 20% of the people in Italy at the time, similar to 80% of the peas which were produced by 20% of the pods in his garden, so the story goes. Most know this phenomenon as the 80/20 principle.
What most people don’t know is that Pareto was famous for another smart economic theory, clearly applicable to your practice. In it, Pareto explains, if you were on a sinking ark, you wouldn’t throw a few cats or dogs overboard to save the ship, because it would have no impact and the boat would still sink.
Instead, you would find the elephants and throw them overboard.
And so, I find myself in the frequent position of talking clients back from the edge of cutting all the things that have made them successful: convenient hours, risk-removal, putting the best team on the field, investing in the relationship with gifts, marketing automation and referral strategies, only to discover 18 months later that they’ve thrown cats and dogs overboard when they should have thrown off the elephants.
Hearing Care Providers: how many hours of underutilization occurred last quarter in your treatment department? Physicians, retailers and attorneys, what are your biggest line-item expenses and how much impact would it make if you found alternative vendors or strategic business partners that saved you 10% or 20% on those line items alone?
You might have seen in the news recently that Southwest Airlines shut down their entire operation at Newark International Airport.
Southwest said this decision was due to the grounding of the 737 Max airplanes until at least 2020. It might have something to do with landing fees, terminal conditions, union negotiations with bag handlers or any of a myriad of things. Southwest didn’t say, “No more bags fly free and no more peanuts and no more drinks for the customers.”
Nope. They threw an elephant off the ark. No more Newark.
Kill the entire operation until we can make money there. Smart, smart, smart. I didn’t get rid of my new patient gifts, shock ‘n awe mailers, welcome boxes, earmold + brain training gifts, referral campaigns and live events. Those are small cats and dogs. Thrown off an ark in times of trouble, they make no difference.
I threw off the BIG elephants of Managed Care and 3rd Party Networks.
Food for thought.
Advertisers wasted $5.8 billion last year on digital ads that were viewed by bots and fake accounts. According to the Association of National Advertisers and fraud-detection company White Ops Inc., “Ad-fraud schemes have quickly risen and been much more difficult to measure.”
No kidding. If ad fraud was easy to measure, we advertisers would fix it quickly. But it’s not, and here we are, wasting $5.8 billion (with a B) each year on fake ads. This kind of makes “fake news” seem not all that bad. At least you can see fake news. Fake ads go nowhere, to walls of phones in China, called click farms (see photo below) that visit your site and click your ads but without human accounts attached to them.
Advertising platforms get rich. You get screwed.
This brings me, quickly, to one big, hairy obstacle in your business. Whether it’s marketing, managing your employees, running your clinic, overseeing your retirement accounts, etc.:
can only measure what you can see.
If you don’t understand how the money is made in an investment opportunity (i.e., if you can’t see it) don’t invest. If you can’t oversee your employees taking cash across the counter, then don’t take cash. If you can’t accurately predict and then count how many appointments a certain case type will require for your associates to treat in your clinics, then don’t have associates or don’t treat those cases. If you can’t count the number of people who received your advertising campaign and then measure how many raised their hand and came to your office as a result of your marketing, then don’t do it.
This all sounds simple in theory but, as the $5.8 billion in waste last year illustrate, very difficult in application. You can start by insisting everyone around you count. If your web design firm can’t show you how many unique visitors you had last month, how long they stayed on your site, which ones clicked where and how many of those clicks resulted in webform submissions or phone calls to your business, then fire that firm and call my friends at Jimmy Marketing.
I just did a webinar with Jimmy Nicholas a few weeks ago where you learned how I generated 15 new case starts in two days and 9 of those came from Google. I updated his team this week to show that it wasn’t a fluke, as we just did 10 case starts last Wednesday and six of them were from Google.
Jimmy and his team are the only firm on the planet that help audiologists and hearing specialists control and count what we can see. If we can’t see it and we can’t count it, we don’t do it. We want results we can take to the bank. Everyone else in digital advertising is lying to you and it’s costing the economy billions.
I find it highly enlightening and hilarious that Google had two full-page ads as a centerfold in the main section of the New York Times last weekend. Couldn’t Google just run more Google ads to tell us how great their platform is?
Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg and Alan Eagle didn’t write an eBook or a blog post or a series of Tweets or Google hangouts to share their message. They didn’t use Instagram or SnapChat. They killed a bunch of trees and spilled a ton of ink, then they glued all the pages together into a book-book and shipped it all over the world via carbon-spewing trucks, planes, trains and ships.
Because the executives at Google like to count. They wouldn’t be caught dead wasting $5.8 billion of their own precious Silicon Valley dollars on stuff that doesn’t work, but they are more than happy to oblige if you’d like to behave poorly and waste your own dollars on their platform.
Pay attention to the irony in all of this. It’s so thick you can cut it with a knife. And, for the love of all things good, just because everyone else is wasting money online doesn’t mean you have to.
Get in touch with Jimmy or get to one of my masterminds as a “fly on the wall” where we can teach you how we count and how we’re quickly doubling and tripling the size of most hearing and audiology practices very quickly.
We’ll show you how to count and control what you can see. Everything else is a mirage.
Join me and Jimmy Nicholas in Boston on Saturday, November 16, 2019 for a small-group mastermind where I will show you all of the latest consumer marketing funnels and online ads that can help you double or triple your new patient numbers this year. Seating is limited.
Adam Phillips is a brilliant writer, psychologist and regular contributor to The London Review of Books. The closest I can come to the kind of people who think at this level, is that they let me subscribe to The London Review of Books. Barely.
Although I don’t agree with Phillips on a lot of issues, I take particular delight in his assessment of couples who come to him with a desire to change something about their partner. He says, “It is not unusual for each member of a couple to know exactly what is missing in their partner; and to know, by the same token, how their lives would be different, that is, so much better, if their partner would change in particular ways.”
I see this with clients and the relationship they have with their businesses. They live as if they know more about the experiences they haven’t had, than they do about the experiences they have had.
They speak in great detail and with great longing about more new patients, employees who perform better, patients and colleagues that respect their work; how life would be easier and how it would make them happier. And yet, when I ask about the existing data in the practice, they can’t provide it. Think about that for a moment.
Smart doctors sit across the table from me and pay me tens of thousands of dollars for the privilege to do so and for my assistance in helping them achieve what they want to achieve, but they are completely disconnected from the reality of the situation, while simultaneously recounting to me in vivid detail all the benefits and pleasure they will derive from something that has not yet happened and might never happen.
Listen. There’s nothing wrong with looking forward. We can’t help ourselves. Simply realize that when you do, something in the present moment is always being overridden.
Make your list tonight. Where in your practice and in your personal life are you overriding something important in the present, so that you can day dream about what might happen in the future? Freud might label many of the things on your list as “repression,” or the burying in oneself of what one prefers not to know or feel.
In 2013, when I met my current business coaches, I knew I needed to come to terms with the fact that I couldn’t rely on the industry insiders to grow my specialty practice. Yet, it had taken me nearly three years to come to that realization.
I was burying in myself the fact that I wasn’t the best at positioning, marketing, managing a business. I just wanted to be in charge. My coaches told me there was a simple solution: to get out of business and go work for someone who knew how to do the things that really mattered. Wow. That stung but he was absolutely right.
Some doctors are pissed off at the fact that their future hasn’t arrived by now, but I think they deserve everything in their lives, both good and bad. Harsh but true.
A powerful solution is to bridge the gap between what you’re looking forward to and what you’re burying in yourself that needs to be known and felt.
Get to work.
Most small business owners have scores of reports they check each month to help them manage their money. Expenses and revenue are tracked meticulously. Budgets are set and regularly reviewed before new investments are made in technology or human capital.
Even the average business owner has some idea of their production, collections and expenses this week or this month and how they compare to the same period last year or last month. The more engaged business owner receives these reports daily or even twice a day, like I do. Yet, almost no small business owner manages their time with the same care and consistency. Time in most businesses goes largely unmanaged.
Think about the number of phone calls, text messages, emails, meetings and unscheduled interruptions throughout your day. Very few doctors have grasped the huge amount of waste they allow into their day because they have failed to set clear rules on how they govern their time.
Leaders at The Disney Institute state it very simply: if you want better results, raise your expectations. Is there a clear understanding in your business about how you and your employees are to spend their time?
Do you allow your team to squander away your scarcest resource through ineffective use of email, unproductive meetings and constant interruptions? What would your practice look like if you could spend more time with patients and less time on activities that do not produce results? What would your overhead look like if you took time management as seriously as financial management?
A recent report from researchers at Bain & Company looked at the time management of 17 of the world’s top companies. What they found should not be surprising. Companies are drowning in digital communication. Leaders deal with hundreds of emails per day and spend way too much time in meetings. There is not enough formal control and employees are awash in dysfunctional meetings. There are few consequences for wasting time, less work is getting done and these firms are not as productive as they could be.
Your first job as the leader in your organization is to set the focus for the coming year. Steve Jobs was known for taking his top 100 leaders off-site each year to focus on the company’s 10 priorities in the coming year. After intense competition amongst the leaders to get their priorities on the board, Jobs would take a marker and cross out the bottom seven. “We can only do three,” he would announce. Jobs would not allow Apple to waste time on things he knew the company shouldn’t be doing. This allowed the firm to innovate much faster than their competitors.
Before your next meeting, ask how you can standardize the data you need in order to quickly set strategy and review performance. Do not allow new meeting time to show up on your calendar. Focus your team so they know the rhythm of the company is set and that they will be forced to operate within it, producing results and reducing wasted time. It’s possible but it takes discipline and your effort and attention in this area of your practice will produce big dividends. No amount of skill or money can buy you 25 hour days. If you want to beat the competition, start making the most of this precious resource.