Expertise and passion

From Seth Godin’s blog which is essential reading for all who either own or work in businesses. Subscribe here.

Should the person who runs the customer service operations at a ski school also be required to love skiing?

Can the CFO of a large church be an atheist?

Does the head of marketing at Kodak have to have a passion for chemicals?

It’s true, “write what you know, write what you love.” The commitment comes through. But does that mean that boring products shouldn’t be marketed? Does it mean that the community theater must limit the list it considers for any job only to people who are ‘in’ the theater, who have paid their dues?

How many worthy causes have lousy operations teams? How many hobbies and sports are staffed by fans, not professionals?

I think if the work is important, it should be done with passion and skill and flair. But the work of balancing the books, or running Google adwords or making sure that customers are treated well at the ski school often has nothing to do with the product or service itself.

It’s more important that you be passionate about what you do all day than it is to be passionate about the product that is being sold.

Give me someone with domain expertise and the passion to do great work any time. Belief in the mission matters (a lot!), but it doesn’t replace skill.

Best of both worlds: someone who has passion (and skill and insight) about their task and passion about the mission. The latter can never replace the former. Organizations staffed with sports fans or true believers worry me, because they often use their passion as an excuse for poor performance. What worries me more are the employees who have neither expertise nor passion.

(All that said, I’ve never met a great marketer who wasn’t passionate about what she sold. In the case of marketing, it’s not just a nice combination, it’s a requirement.)


The Monday Morning Quote #21

Hopefully most people are still in reflective / holiday mode enjoying the tail end of Christmas whilst contemplating the coming year, this poem should be compulsive reading.

W.H. Davies was a native of Newport in South Wales and was a popular poet of his time who never quite fitted into a style or genre. His life was interesting to say the least, having left school in disgrace aged 15 he travelled through the United States and Canada where he lost part of a leg in a railway accident. He was insistent on becoming a published poet and this determination was eventually repaid.

His description of his early life, the Autobigraphy of a Supertramp celebrates its centenary this year and is a great read.

This is his most famous poem:


WHAT is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?—

No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

The Monday Morning Quote #20

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the most responsive to change.”Charles Darwin

The Weekend Read 15 – Aubrey & Maturin by Patrick O’Brian

I have spent the best part of the last 48 hours in bed, suffering from the chest & throat virus that seems to have afflicted so many people.

I attribute the reduction in my resistance to

  • working 4 clinical days in a week for the first time in 3 years
  • several Christmas & other celebrations with a corresponding increase in alcohol intake.
  • not taking my cytoplan multivitamins & supplements regularly

With the holiday period upon us may I point you in the direction of these excellent books, you may be familiar with the film “Master and Commander – The Far Side of the World” which was adapted from a couple of them.

I first started to read the Aubrey & Maturin novels by the enigmatic Patrick O’Brian ten years ago or so and read all twenty back to back and periodically will immerse myself in these wonderful tales of the Royal Navy in and around the times of the Napoleonic wars. They are full of rich coaching material and metaphor.

I recently named Stephen Maturin, surgeon and intelligence agent, as one of my heroes alongside Bruce Springsteen – praise indeed!

Understanding Flow Charts

This comes from xkcd and brought a smile.

James Watson’s “Tips for Success”

Jim Watson is most famous for winning the Nobel prize with Francis Crick for their work in discovering the structure of DNA. Watson went on to do many other things and has retired only recently.

Never a stranger to controversy here are his “Tips for Success”

  • Always make necessary decisions before you have to.
  • Be the first to tell a good story.
  • Don’t back schemes that demand miracles.
  • Never be the brightest person in the room.
  • Only ask for advice that you will later accept.

NHS agenda for General (Medical) Practice

A couple of years ago I had an interesting conversation with a friend who has since become a consultant physician in Scotland. It was her belief that she, and most of her contemporaries, saw themselves as ‘medical civil servants’. It seems that successive government policies have eroded not only the real value of doctors & dentists to the country and with repeated attacks on their competence, not to mention the imposition of targets, their perceived worth by the population but also their self worth.

In dentistry the 2006 contract imposition saw the effective removal of many practices’ goodwill value and the dentists become target chasers on a fixed income; fixed that is unless they missed their targets in which case the only change was downwards. So we have two years of new graduates who having seen the NHS from their VT years may well believe that ‘this is how it works’ and accept the new way of working without complaint.

These couple of links to “Pulse” magazine for doctors shows exactly where the government are heading in order to gain complete control of the supply of health services. I suppose that’s what happens when you let a postman run the NHS.

First up the newly opened salaried (and therefore inefficient compared with the self-employed) general practice polyclinic. Here

Next another knife in the ribs from the secretary of state on the subject of single-handed practitioners, it really is despicable the way a holder of high public office, in a government that has been in power for more than 11 years, can make a statement that “many solo practitioners do not even meet 1948 standards”.

Have your spin doctors just thought that one up because it will be easier to hive multiple surgeries off to the medical equivalent of ADP? By damning one man bands means that the others are much better? It hasn’t worked in dentistry where the opening of a polyclinic results in the growth of independent practitioners’ businesses.

Does this have a familiar ring to anyone involved in dentistry?

Awards Night in Leicester

Friday 12th December. The Athena in Leicester. The Dentistry Awards. Host – Kris Akabusi.

My first visit to one of these award ceremonies and what a good night it was. Congratulations to all the winners and consolation to those who were runners up, at least they had made the effort to put themselves in the firing line to be judged by their peers and that takes courage.

I was at a table with the team from Aesthetics in Hatfield who won Best Team in the South East. Congratulations to Harry, Smita, Marion and Jenna. Thanks for your company it was a great night.


The Monday Morning Quote #19

“Confidence is a habit that can be developed by acting as if you already had the confidence you desire to have.”

Brian Tracy

Simple elegant idea.

This is a great idea for storing vital medical information, thought up by an ex-SAS soldier and reported in The Guardian.




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