NHS Health Startup – Part Two

A late installment written in retrospect.  I fear that this blog will be more of a rant at the NHS than anything else.

I am struck by the kindness and openness of people who work in the healthcare system in England.  The people who toil every day and are doing the important work – taking care of patients – have amazing, valuable insights into what needs to change and what differences would have a big positive impact.

However, trying to make change happen in the NHS is a nightmare.

It’s almost as if it’s designed to suppress innovation and deter insights.

Right now I am trying to talk with existing software companies who provide services to the NHS to supply us with information (which is meant to be available according to law) we need to build our piece of software.

Every avenue we are exploring to do this has been coming to a dead end so far.

This is an obstacle, but I must find a way through.



The Why, The What & The How

What’s your Why?

It doesn’t matter what it is.  It could be that you want to help others, be the richest person in town, be the most knowledgeable, most caring, most outrageous…

If you don’t have a good Why, one that you are attached to deeply, you will use the What and the How as an excuse to not get work done.

If you have a good Why the rest takes care of itself.

Are You Ready?

I taught myself how to play the guitar from the age of 11 – the hard way – mainly by ear.  There was simply no other way to learn back then.  When I was 11, the internet still felt like a baby.  But, soon people were uploading music notation/tablature, lessons on how to play the guitar, video tips, slowed down videos showing you how to play the most amazing guitar solos of all time note by note.

By the time I was 16 I was a guitar teacher.  I feared the Internet.  I thought to myself that “all my secrets are out there already.  Anyone can become great at playing the guitar, it’s so easy now.”

Not surprisingly most people suck at playing the guitar!

I was wrong in my thoughts.

The fact is that there’s one thing between you and achieving mastery.  That thing is 10,000 hours of hard work and careful practice.

The secrets are all out there.  The real question is whether you are prepared to put in the 10,000 hours of practice.

Are you ready?

Influence & Yes! by Robert Cialdini


Influence or be influenced

Double book review today!

Both of these books will change your life!  These two books should be taught in all schools across the world.  Why?  Because they teach the basics of human interaction.

Influencing people is something we do all day everyday.  You may disagree with the premise of the book and frown about wanting to learn more about influencing others but, know this – if you are not aware of how to influence others, then it is likely that you are the one being influenced.

These books are not “woo-woo” or esoteric in nature.  They are both grounded in science and reference an immensely huge number of studies throughout.

How easily we are influenced is quite startling and will make you reflect on your own life a whole lot.  One of the funniest things I read in the book was that people tend to live in cities or choose careers which sound similar to their own names!  For example dentists are 82% more likely to be named Dennis than you’d expect if name similarity had absolutely no effect on career choice.  Imagine my shock when I realised that I lived in Leeds (England) and my friends all call me by the nickname Keeb!



Yes! is the sequel to Influence and has some amazing insights

So, you’re probably thinking how you can use these techniques to your own ends.  Well, as it turns out there are six concrete laws to influence.

  1. Reciprocity – Ever wonder why that salesman gave you a cup of tea/coffee before starting negotiations?  It’s because they know that once you give someone something, they feel it is incumbent on them to repay the favour.
  2. Authority – When you visit your doctor and they have their degrees and certifications hanging on the wall, you are much more likely to believe what they are saying.  In fact there was a study which showed that medication compliance increased greatly when doctors displayed their diplomas in their offices for patients to see, than when they did not!
  3. Commitment – Imagine if a friend bumps into you one day and asks you if you support cancer research.  You are likely to say yes, unless you’re a douche bag.  Say that the friend then bumps into you a week down the line.  “Hey, I thought you’d be interested.  I’m running a marathon for cancer research.  I remember you were interested in this.  Would you like to sponsor me?”.  You are much much more likely to say yes and give a larger amount of money than if you did not make your initial commitment.
  4. Scarcity – If you are the only guy at the part, the girls are much more likely to find you attractive and want to get to know you than if you were one of a hundred dudes there.
  5. Liking – The more we like people, the more we want to say yes to them!
  6. Social Proof – If everyone at work has an iPhone, you want one.  If someone recommends your services then you are more likely to get more business.  If friends at a party sing you praises, then the people you don’t know at the party will want to get to meet you.

Of course you can use all of this information for your own needs, but using these techniques unethically will backfire in the long run.  If you come from a place of authenticity and use these techniques to enrich your relationships then knowing these rules can be incredibly powerful!

Buy these books to get a much deeper understanding – I’ve only just scratched the surface here.

Innovation Vs Entrepreneurship

Innovation = doing something new

James Wright reacted boric acid with silicone oil in 1943.  This resulted in a rubbery substance which bounced when dropped, but was also stretchy and gooey.  Unfortunately, the substance would not hold it’s shape.  As hard as Mr Wright tried to stabilise the substance to replace traditional rubber he couldn’t.

Entrepreneurship = bringing innovations to the masses

In 1949 Peter Hodgson was in $12,000 debt and borrowed a further $147 to buy a batch of this unusual rubber type material.

He branded the rubber “Silly Putty”.

He then sold 250,000 units of Silly Putty in three days.


So many people get confused between the two terms.  People think of starting a business, but they don’t do it, because they’re waiting for that magic idea.

There is no magic idea!  The best products we use out there are not innovative!  Think of the iPhone and how it revolutionised how we use phones.  I remember when it first came out and people were complaining that Apple did not invent touch screen technology and how there were other phones out there with touch screens already.  Apple’s magic is that they made touchscreen use work really really well.

McDonalds did not invent the burger.

Facebook came after Myspace.

Being an entrepreneur is not the same as making something new.

The One Secret to Getting Good At Anything

Beethoven’s 23rd Sonata, Third Movement

I was playing the guitar the other day and found myself playing Beethoven’s 23rd Sonata.  I hadn’t played it in a very long time and memories of learning how to play it came flooding back.  I remembered recording a video of me playing a part of it a few years ago (posted above).

Before I went to medical school I was a guitar teacher for a while.  I remember getting all sorts of students walk through the door.  But you could easily tell the students who were gonna’ make good guitarists and were going to progress super quick.

There’s one secret to getting good at anything.  Whether it’s fitness, playing a musical instrument or getting good grades.


When I gave students a piece of music to learn the bad students would go home, learn the music and put their guitar away.  Mission accomplished.

When I gave good students the same piece of music to learn, they would not only learn it, but they would ask the questions.  Why did Beethoven use a 13 note motif as the introduction?  Why did Beethoven use that chord substitution?  What would happen if I used another chord substitution?  What’s up with these chromatic notes that don’t make sense, but sound amazing?

Some questions can be answered.  Beethoven used a 13 note motif with chromatic notes so that the important chord tones would be heard on the downbeat which are naturally accentuated to the listener making it sound awesome.

Some questions can’t be answered.  Why did he use that chord substitution?  That was Beethoven’s genius.  You will likely never be able to answer that question.

But the journey!

The journey that the unanswerable questions will lead you to are key.

It’s the journey you go on when you are curious and ask the questions others do not ask that make you great.

Do you think it’s the medical student who sits all day with his or her books, memorising everything in sight, ready for regurgitation, that will make the good doctor?  Or do you think it’s the medical student who is genuinely curious about the subject, that asks the questions others haven’t asked that will make the good doctor?