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Archive for December, 2007

Do what you believe you were put here to do what you do

December 26th, 2007

I was talking with a member a couple of weeks ago and he remarked that he’s quite happy with the way his life has gone he can’t help feeling that he’s not doing what he set out to do and what he knows he’s capable of doing.

I asked him what he meant and he said that when he went to college and did a business degree he found accounting both interesting and something he thoroughly enjoyed studying. He particularly liked the idea that it would offer him lots of business opportunities and he saw a future in management or as an advisor to management.

After graduating from college he accepted a position with a second tier firm and together with a bunch of other new employees found himself involved in a wide variety of engagements that gave him excellent experience and he progressed through to manager level quite rapidly.

Soon enough he was offered a senior position with a quality regional firm and the promise of partnership which eventually came and before he knew it he was caught up in the day-to-day rabble we call public practice.

Financially he’s doing well and from that point of view he has no regrets but when he looks back on his professional life to date he said he can’t help feeling that he’s allowed himself to be hijacked by a system that drives you down the same path everyone is on simply because it’s there and relatively easy. But he’s not helping people build a better business, he’s merely a service provider that businesses need. Perhaps more importantly, he’s not really getting much challenge or satisfaction from what he’s doing.

He concedes that most of the things he learned at college have been long forgotten and what he felt he had a real talent for and the potential to do, seems to be slipping further and further from his reach.

It’s so easy in these circumstances to rationalize the situation rather than take personal responsibility and control. I believe a serious challenge we face after we become owners of a professional firm is the belief that we have arrived! We find ourselves making quite a nice income so there’s no need to push ourselves to learn new skills and perfect our performance—this is pay-back time. The hard work, we think, is behind us! We reach a level of acceptable performance (perhaps mediocre is the word I should use) at which point we more or less plateau and so does our firm.

But I think there comes a time when we reflect back on what we’ve accomplished and ask ourselves the question: what could I have done if I’d exploited my full potantial? If you ask yourself that question and you feel a twinge of guilt, there is no better time than now to do something about it.

There are many people who never stop seeking to achieve what they believe they’re born to do. I find people with this inner drive very inspirational. One such person is Paul Potts, a mobile phone salesman. Take a look at this video to see what I mean then go out and do what you are capable of.

Dentistry, Business, Rugby – It’s All The Same Really

December 16th, 2007

I had the pleasure of spending a few hours with Dr. Paddi Lund last week in his extraordinary dental practice located in Brisbane, Australia.

I first met Paddi in 1990 at a Bootcamp at a beautiful resort hotel at Leura in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney. I have to confess that I did not expect to meet a dentist at a marketing Bootcamp but even more surprising, I had no idea at the time that Paddi was going to have such a profound impact on me and many thousands of other people in later years.

Some of the people who read this blog will remember that Paddi was featured in our Towards Awesome Service video training program. Since doing that he has authored several books and has become a sought after speaker around the world.

Paddi’s story is fascinating. He has crafted a concept of business management that focuses on creating a business that gives happiness to all of its stakeholders – its team members, its customers and of course, its managers and owners. His idea that business can be fun and that happiness and profitability can sit very well together has played a big role in helping us frame our own business model.

He has also profoundly impacted many other people’s success, a notable one being Clive Woodward (now Sir Clive Woodward), the celebrated rugby coach who used Paddi’s concepts to transform the English National Rugby team from a very ordinary team to World Cup Winners in 2003.

I have often recommended Paddi’s book Building the Happiness-Centred Business and I do so again. It’s not available through traditional booksellers, indeed, very little of what Paddi does is at all “traditional”.

Paddi suggests that everyone wants to be happy—that’s an over-riding high level life goal. Given that most people spend at least one third of their time involved in “making a living” it makes a lot of sense for that time to be spent doing things that make you happy while making a living. He lives out his own advice.

Paddi has created a dental business that is simply amazing.

  • He works just 22.5 hours a week.
  • There are no signs on his business premises.
  • There is no phone number listed in the phone book.
  • The front door is always locked.
  • You can only become his patient from a referral.
  • You can only refer a patient if he grants you an invitation to do so – you read that correctly, you must be given permission through invitation to be asked to refer, let alone become, a customer.

You’re probably thinking “now I understand why he only gets to work just 2.5 days a week!”

Wait … here’s a bit more information. He makes 2.5 times more than an average dentist in half the time.

My arithmetic tells me that on the “making a living” scale he’s 5 times better at it than the average dentist (and for that you can read any business person.) But there’s more, he also absolutely delights in what he does during his working hours not to mention his playing hours, so I think it’s fair to say he’s found utopia.

At the risk of over-simplifying, he achieves these extraordinary results by focusing absolutely on the little things (he calls them Critical Non-Essentials Cne’s) that together have a big impact and which enable any business to stand-out in an otherwise bland and undifferentiated market place. They’re so important to Paddi that he’s written a book about them and how to use them to create the WOW that most busineses lack.

Seth Godin talks about this sort of thing in his books “The Purple Cow” and “Free Prize Inside” in which is suggests that today it is not good enough to satisfy customers—everyone is doing that to a reasonable degree. What’s needed to be a stand-out business that people notice is to be remarkable. Typically that is not going to be “remarkable” in relation to the core product or service the business sells, it’s going to be in relation to the “non-essentials” that Paddi talks about. These are the things people actually understand, can relate to, can evaluate and do talk about.

What I find amazing is that Paddi was really 20 years ahead of his time when he started to implement the things that have enabled him to create a truly remarkable business. Although Paddi was ahead of Seth when he started to implement his business ideas I’m sure you’ll love Seth’s blog if you like “out of the box” thinking on what’s happening in contemporary marketing.