RIP Freddie

Our family pet Freddie the yellow labrador has left us for wherever dog heaven is. We were fortunate to enjoy his company and love for 5 years since the Labrador Rescue Trust brought him to us as a mere 10 year old.  A big dog, even after our regime of exercise and diet, he tended to alarm people by his size but always won them round with his good nature.

During the last couple of years he had gone deaf, lost a great deal of his sight, was diagnosed with a form of dementia and lost a lot of mobility through arthritis in his hips.

He never complained or showed any change in temperament. Even during our last visit to Cork before Easter he was game for a slow wander around the perimeter of the garden.

Cheerio Freddie & thanks for the memories.

Save our Souls

I regularly refer to General Medical Practice not only because I feel affinity to GMPs but also because I fear that in the future some PCTs and service commissioners will learn to apply the worst of each system. In order to control health professionals they will drive down costs, encourage a dumbed down service and bring about a short term approach.

The points raised are starting to apply to new dental graduates.

The Orwellian phrase “World Class Commissioning” comes to mind.

My brother sent me this piece from a recent BMJ

Published 7 April 2009, doi:10.1136/bmj.b1420
Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b1420

Views & Reviews

From the Frontline

Save our souls

Des Spence, general practitioner, Glasgow

Let’s dispense with the normal pleasantries: what the hell is going to happen to all our recently qualified general practitioners? Locum work is drying up, out of hours rota sessions are full, the only permanent jobs are salaried positions, and GP partnerships seem to be coming to an end. Why is all this happening?

The reasons are several. In the mid-1990s a shortage of doctors led to an expansion of medical schools’ intake; this expanded cohort of doctors is now completing specialist training. Furthermore, after the Modernising Medical Careers (MMC) debacle in 2007 a large number of hospital doctors moved sideways into general practice. So more GPs were produced. But just as this is happening, the employment changes resulting from the 2004 GP contract arenow being felt. At one time there were no salaried positions, with regulations stipulating it was to be partnerships or nothing. And there were large financial incentives to take on new partners.

But now practice finance is completely deregulated, with just one big tempting pot of cash. So, for instance, why not make savings on reception staff and keep the money? If the practice needs additional clinical time, why not employ a lower cost salaried doctor or, better still, a specialist nurse and pocket the difference? Why retire? Or you could drop the pain of clinical commitment and “manage” a salaried horde. Few partnerships are being offered, because the current partners would be financially stupid to do so.

The result is an increasingly resentful group of new GPs who are offered no career progression, are effectively disenfranchised from the GP community, and are left scrabbling for shrinking amounts of locum and out of hours work. Add in the recession’s squeezing effects on use of locums, and the law of supply and demand will see locums’ pay rates fall and the financial situation of new GPs become ever more dire. This is not a crisis yet, but it will be. What should we do: appeal to the benevolence of the currently encumbered partners? This will not work.

I propose a solution to which I am willing to put my energies. We all know that the quality and outcomes framework (QOF) is stupid, paper shuffling nonsense. So half of QOF payments should be used to encourage new partnerships, as real quality of care is born of continuity and access to well trained, committeddoctors. Secondly, salaried contracts should be a “partnership with a view,” with a defined run in of a year, giving proper career progression. Without young partners, traditional general practice in the United Kingdom will die.

GPs are becoming salaried zombies enduring an eternity of centralisedpolyclinic hell. This situation is wrong, and the time has come to protest. Picketing the conference of local medical committees in June might be a start.

Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b1420

The Monday Morning Quote #36

Most of us work all day doing jobs we don’t like to earn money to buy stuff we don’t need”

Fight Club

You Must Sing Your Song

Amongst the things that my clients have difficulties two stand out.

Firstly is the concept of “Ethical Selling” which seems like an oxymoron to many professionals, that’s for another day.

Second is the “blow your own trumpet” talk; whether that be asking for a referral from an existing patient or telling a total stranger what it is you do for a living (aka the elevator speech). Most people initially find the thought far too “cheesey” or “American” until we have examined the reasons for the talk and decided on words with which they are comfortable.

Another of my favourite people, Molly Gordon has blogged about the elevator speech this week and I would like to share her thoughts. Her website is here 

What is the ickiest thing you can do when you meet a prospective client or referral source?

Hint: It’s something you don’t want to do, but do anyway, because the marketing experts say you’re supposed to.

Yup. It’s giving an elevator speech.
Ickiness in Action

It’s lunch break at the annual conference for your professional association, alumni group, or what-have-you.

You head to your room for a few moments of blissful silence.

And when the elevator door closes, the only other person in the car says brightly, “Hi, I’m Anna. I coach mid-life women to experience their brilliance, connect with their passion, and live their dreams.”

You say, “Wow. Nice to meet you. I’m Molly.” (I know you’re not Molly, but play with me here.)

Anna chirps, “And what’s your niche?”

That’s Icky

Let me be clear. Anna is a peach. In any other context you’d be new best friends.

But her well-intentioned, highly polished elevator speech turned you from a person into a prospect.

And if you manage to answer her question, you do the same thing to her.

You’re looking at each other and moving your mouths, but nothing meaningful is happening.

Elevator speeches don’t work because they feel icky. And they feel icky because they sound like communication, but they’re not.

Because communication requires two parties, both present, both connecting.

Presence and Connection Go Together

When you’re really present, you see and hear the other person, and vice versa. At that point, communication can happen.

But what happens with most elevator speeches preempts presence and connection. Instead, the elevator speech is a well-intended substitute.

That’s why you don’t like to give elevator speeches and why you feel diminished when you hear one.

Allow Me to Contradict Myself

There’s an important exception to the principle of Icky Elevator Speeches, and it has to do with practice.

If you practice your elevator speech until you can say it backwards in your sleep, it can be a powerful means of connecting with others as people, not prospects.

The paradox of memorizing an elevator speech is that when you have it down cold, the motivation for speaking them can arise from the space between you. Because you don’t have to think of what to say, you discover anew the meaning in your words every time you say them.

And if you don’t find them meaningful, you don’t say them.

That’s as authentic as it gets. And it takes heaps of practice.

Time to Choose

If you want to truly connect and communicate about your work with a human being and not a prospect, you have a choice to make.

Face those elevators with so much presence and interest in the other that you can spontaneously speak simply and compellingly about your work.

Or face them with a speech so well memorized that every time you deliver it you discover new reasons for speaking it and new ways that it is true.

Whatever your choice, the ickiest thing you can do is exactly what you thought: give an elevator speech that feels false.

The Last Word, and It’s Good News

Here’s the deal. If you concentrate on being present and connecting with other people as people, not prospects, you will get better at speaking about your work.

It might not happen overnight (though it can and has), but it will happen.

So make a choice and start practicing. And let me know what happens.

You can do this.

Marketing with Attraction – Philip Humbert

This is from this week’s newsletter written by Philip Humbert. I subscribe to many newsletters but Philip’s homily is one I look forward to reading every Sunday morning.

Take a look at his website and subscribe.

Strictly Business:  Marketing With Attraction

This week, I was reminded of a quote from one of my mentors, Thomas Leonard, who observed that, “People love to buy things, but almost no one wants to be sold.”

Thousands of people are eager to buy what you sell. They want the benefits, the convenience, the comfort or prestige that you can provide. Human beings are an “acquisitive” bunch. We want stuff!

Of course, consumerism can be abused, but buying and selling is the process that creates the life (and the lifestyle) we all want. The “desire to acquire” goes deep, and it’s a good thing.

So, if you aren’t making as many sales as you would like, let me suggest that the problem is not with your customers, but with you. The problem is likely one of the following:

1. Not enough potential customers know about you or that your product could enrich their lives. This is a marketing problem, and as a business leader it is your job to solve it. Let people know! Get out there and get in the game!

2. Or, the other possibility, is that you’re trying too hard to “sell.” 

Personally, I have a deep-seated aversion to being “sold” anything. I see websites that seem manipulative or dishonest. I see sales techniques that fail to build trust or credibility, and definitely do not attract me. That’s one reason I’ve turned down the repeated suggestions to use high-pressure conference calls to sell my World Class Life Conference. Calls can be good, but I’ve never liked the sense that they are used to “drive” sales. People don’t like being sold.

But people are eager to buy benefits! They buy solutions to their problems. They buy things that make their lives better, easier, simpler, healthier or more comfortable. They buy stuff that makes them happy. And they buy from people they know and like and trust.

If enough people “know and like and trust” you, they will listen when you offer a product or service that will make their lives better. If they “know and like and trust” you, they will flock to your door and you’ll make all the sales you need.

The Monday Morning Quote #35

I sit in my makeshift study in Cork catching up on emails and other administration.

I’m slightly distracted by the arrival of the first swifts of the year and reflect on the choices that have taken me to this happy place in my life.

First published in 1916, Robert Frost’s poem has always appealed to me. It has two interpretations, literal and ironic, I can identify with both.

The Road Less Travelled

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Is this where Seth Godin has his lunch?

Cottingham East Yorkshire

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