August 19, 2009

Animal Care Beats Human Care

I'm glad you came to see me to get this off your chest.
Come back and see me later - next patient please.
--- Dire Straits,
Industrial Disease

A visit to your doctor can make you feel like a number. My recent Executive Physical was conducted professionally but I felt valued mainly for my wallet. Next patient please!

Is animal care any better?

We took Callie, our pet rabbit, to the Small Animal Clinic at the University of Guelph (about an hour west of Toronto). She needed a thorough examination. Callie is our first ever pet. She's been with us for five years and started facing medical issues. Regular animal doctors don't understand rabbits well.

The Clinic
Most patients in the waiting room were dogs with a few cats. That's unnerving company for rabbits and birds, but all animals were well-behaved. After a brief wait, we went to a special room used mainly for birds and exotic critters.
Strange but True: An older man blocked the entrance to the examination rooms. A doctor asked him if he'd move but he refused. Maybe he thought this was funny but no one laughed. When he started moving, he tripped over his dog's leash and fell hard on his back. This was funny but no one laughed.
Dr. Froment asked detailed questions about Callie's background. This took about 20 minutes and covered areas such as medical history, behaviour, symptoms, diet and changes. The private room away from predators helped Callie relax. Next, the doctor got his stethoscope and conducted a brief medical examination (about 10 minutes).

To help Callie feel secure, Dr. Froment put her in her travel cage and took her for a detailed examination. We returned to the waiting room were the man who fell was getting medical attention. He'd been moved to a corner so the clinic could continue functioning.

We returned to the examination room about 50 minutes later. Callie's examination took longer than expected and included at least one more doctor and surgeon. Dr. Harrison now joined Dr. Froment to explain the diagnosis. She had a rabbit with a similar medical condition. We learned that Callie had several life-threatening conditions and could not be treated. The results came as a shock. We were offered additional testing, but this was not recommended. Our options were discussed over a 30 minute period. We weren't rushed, but time wasn't wasted either.

The doctors treated Callie in a caring way. They were not focused on our wallets. Excellent "bedside manner".

Here's how the animal examination compared with my executive physical
  • doctors more caring and compassionate
  • team of specialists (at least two doctors and one surgeon)
  • valuable insights (e.g., we didn't know that rabbits are masters at hiding their symptoms)
  • clearly understood the patient
  • sensible, understandable recommendations
In this case, animal care wins. Your mileage may vary. Have you had a similar experience?


August 7, 2009


War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today.
--- John F Kennedy

Just because you're trusted doesn't mean you warrant prestige. Neither does fame or wealth. This shows in a new Harris Poll released this week. The results might surprise you.

For brevity, we'll lump the 23 professions and occupations together and call them professions.

HarrisInteractive separates Very Great Prestige from Considerable Prestige. Here we'll combine them into a single category called Prestigious. This simplification may cause the results to differ from the published poll.

The Most Prestigious Professions
Here are the five most prestigious professions, starting at the top
  1. Doctor (84%)
  2. Firefighter (83%)
  3. Scientist (79%)
  4. tie: Nurse or Military Officer (78%)
  5. Teacher (73%)
We place high value on caregivers (doctors and nurses), protectors (firefighters and military officers) and teachers (teachers). Why are scientists ranked so high? Maybe we love lab coats?

Let's now turn to the bottom of the list.

The Least Prestigious Professions

There can be no prestige without mystery, for familiarity breeds contempt.
--- Charles de Gaulle
At the bottom of the prestigious professions, we find
  1. real estate agent/broker (19%)
  2. stockbroker (24%)
  3. 4-way tie: accountant, actor, entertainer, union leader
You might be surprised to see accountants listed here. They are the most trusted financial advisors. While valuable, they have as little prestige as a union leader. Actors and entertainers can achieve great fame or great wealth but they don't save lives the way doctors and firefighters can (except in the movies).

August 1, 2009

How Seth Godin Sparks Your Flame of Insight

"I'm just here to learn."

Learning is fine. Listening is good. Consensus is natural.

But initiating is rare and valuable and essential.

How often do you or your brand initiate rather than react? How often do you tweet instead of retweet? Invent rather than exploit?

--- The Initiator Seth Godin's blog July 31, 2009

What you do and know you may assume others do and know. Take Seth Godin for example. He's become an important part of my life yet I keep meeting people who haven't heard of him. Yet.

Seth Who?
Seth helps us market better. Since we're all in marketing, we can all benefit. You may have heard of his books, which include Purple Cow, All Marketers are Liars, Small Is The New Big, Free Prize Inside and Permission Marketing.

You can learn marketing by reading, courses, seminars and doing. That's not enough. We need ongoing reminders and up-to-date ideas. Otherwise, the helium escapes from our balloons and we crash back into our comfort zones.

Seth uses an unusual mechanism to help us soar: blogging. He has over 3,000 posts. Not tweets, but actual blog posts. He's currently ranked ranked #9 on Technorati but teams write all the blogs with more readers. Seth writes everything himself (just like me). No guest writers or collaborators. Since he grew up in Buffalo, New York, he's even heard of Canada.

Why Does A Blog Matter?
I've listened to most of Seth's audiobooks (most recently, Meatball Sundae twice) and have read several too (most recently, The Dip).

However, I only subscribed to Seth's blog a few months ago. You'll find a new email daily including weekends. At first, this was too much. Now it's not enough because each post packs insights to help you improve. The length varies. Most posts are short and easy to understand. They generally arrive early in the morning.

The Subtle Effect
You can blow out a candle,
But you can't blow out a fire.
Once the flames begin to catch,
The wind will blow it higher.
--- Peter Gabriel, Biko
At first, reading a daily blog post feels like work. You're behind with yesterday's and there's another one waiting in your inbox. I saw the ideas at the wrong time of day, generally when getting ready to do something else. Now, I read the posts when I have time to reflect or need a jolt of inspiration. This works well. Like coffee without the caffeine. Or a vitamin-infused fruit smoothie without the calories.

Leading By Example
As you read Seth, you see how remarkable he is. He could easily earn more money but doesn't. Why? I've pondered this often and concluded this: he feels he has more than enough and isn't out to take all he can get. His blog has no advertising. He doesn't do paid endorsements. When he links to specific products any revenue goes to charity.

You end up feeling that Seth shares the best of what he knows for free. This makes him authentic. You don't feel he's conniving to squeeze you for money. He's certainly building his reputation, which gets him requests for keynote presentations and consulting assignments. He sells books, which is the main way he can earn money directly from us. He could easily have a paid monthly newsletter but doesn't. He could easily tour the speaker circuit but doesn't. He could easily conduct regular seminars but doesn't. Instead, he blogs, which helps more people in ways he can never truly know.

When I have an idea, my brain automatically asks two questions:
  1. What would Seth do?
  2. What would Seth say?
I've been offered rewards worth hundreds of dollars as thanks for posts I voluntarily wrote. The money would help offset my costs (books and audiobooks aren't free). I've declined to avoid the appearance of self-interest but recently introduced Google Ads.

Having Seth as another conscience gets annoying but in a good way.

How You Benefit
Do you want to improve as a person? Do you want to advance in your career? Do you want to grow your business? Do you want to motivate others to change? You get valuable insights from Seth in these areas and many more. You feel empowered and energized.

How Do You Help A Mentor?
They say you can't take it with you,
but I think that they're wrong.
'Cause all I know is I woke up this morning,
and something big was gone.
--- Bruce Springsteen, Terry's Song
When someone helps you, you want to help them (unless you're a mooch). What can you do to help Seth? I puzzled over this.
  1. Give Seth's books away or encourage others to get them (buy or borrow from the library)
  2. Use Squidoo, a free site Seth started for us to share information with others (you create your own web pages)
  3. Participate more on Triiibes, the free closed community related to the Tribes book
For reasons I can't explain, the answer came from listening to Terry's Song yesterday. I'm telling you about Seth, someone you may not know about. Yet. Why not check out his blog and subscribe? See if you improve and feel compelled to help others the way only you can. Once the initiatives start, the flame takes hold and you can't stop.