Let’s Make It A Date

Too many people are all talk.  It’s difficult to deal with people sometimes because of this.  Are they actually going to follow through?  Or are they just another one of those people who just like to talk about “someday”.

Here’s a quick tip; Set a date.

Do you want to start something?  Want to make sure someone else gets the work done?  Planning on achieving a metric?  Then set a date.

Setting an actual date on something makes it real.  And if it’s not real then all you have left is a wish.


Boss, Can I?

Here’s your typical employee mentality in a sentence:

“Boss I’ve got this great idea, please can I start a project?”

Often this question is followed by a quick “No”.

I’ve seen a lot doctors/nurses/admin staff etc rant and whine about being told “no” by their boss.  What I find baffling though is that I haven’t met a single one of them that really turns around and thinks about why they were told no.  They often go down the path of “blaming the system” or how their genius isn’t “appreciated”.

This is a classic case of Ignoratio Elenchi.

Here’s what your boss actually hears when you ask permission to do a project:

“Boss, I’ve got this great idea!  If it works then I get all the fame and glory.  If it doesn’t work then you’ll get all the blame for wasting time and money.”

Probably the main reason employees don’t ever come to realise that this is what their boss actually hears is because they can’t face the reality – that no one’s going to hold their hand.  After all, most employees have had their hand held through school, then university and then well into their professional lives.

The fact is that if you want to do something big in your life, then there has to be a moment where you take the leap and accept full responsibility for what happens.  You cannot demand authority, but you can accept responsibility.

If you’re in an organisation (not necessarily just healthcare) your options are to either just do your project and not let your boss know, or leave the organisation to do it.

Not willing to take the leap?  Then stop whining.

Be Selfish

What little I have accomplished in life is borne out of being completely selfish.

When I went to medical school, strangers would say what a good person I was for choosing such a noble career.  Similarly when I picked a specialty, people would go on to say what a good person I was for choosing such a selfless career.  When I used to throw rock concerts at my school for charity, I would get awards and local recognition for my work.

In business I often hear the phrases; “don’t do it for money” or “don’t be selfish”.

However this is quite an odd outlook to have if you actually have a business.  A business has to focus on sales and get some revenue coming in, or it will inevitably die.  Also, If money represents the value that the market is willing to pay you for your work, then it stands to reason that you should focus on money as one of the key metrics.  If you can figure out a way to make even more money, then by definition you are making something more valuable for the market.

So why such a disconnect between normal life where you can be selfish and business, where people actively tell you to stop being selfish?  Why is it that in your personal life people tell you to “follow your passion” and “do what you love”, but the opposite is true in business and making money?

I think that there are two reasons for this.  The first reason is that people confuse money with “value”.  People don’t realise that you can’t chase money, because it is merely a representation of “value”. So what people should be chasing is creating more “value”.

The second reason is that some people seem to lose their reasoning skills when trying to make more money.  In the same way that alcohol can be quite intoxicating, so too can money blunt people’s judgement if one is not careful.

To expand: In normal life, people generally aren’t actively looking to harm others for their own selfish gains.  When I chose medicine as a career, I was being selfish insofar as wanting to learn more about science, the art of medicine and how to help people.  But I was also acutely aware that the pay would be very good.  With my rock concerts I wanted to play music, get recognition in my community but also help others by raising money.  I could have chosen to not raise money for charity and I could have also chosen to do work which was (in my opinion) unethical in the private sector earlier on in my medical career.  I think most people in life choose a career and do work for the greater good of society rather than try to make easy money – which often does not result in the best outcomes in the long run.

Business is the same.  You can go down the route of an easy pay out in certain circumstances, which will likely be to the detriment of your company in the long run.  This may be very tempting.  If someone comes and dangles millions of pounds in front of you, your reasoning skills may go out the window.    However it is often better to take an alternative approach and consider the greater good.

When it comes to money-making decisions a lot of people think: “If I do X now, then perhaps I can get a few million very soon”, however the logical person would think: “If I do X, then I may get a few easy million now, but in the long run the business will be worse off, also the employees and customers will suffer.  It’s actually better to do Y instead of X”.

It surprises me how many people choose to take a course of action which belittles others, causes friction and as a result causes a worse outcome for everyone involved.  From what I have experienced and seen in life so far, there is pretty much always an option or opportunity to take a course of action which will make it win-win for all parties concerned.  This applies to life in general, but also in business.

My conclusion is that life is not a zero sum game.  You can be as selfish as you want because if you win, it doesn’t mean that others have to automatically lose.  As long as you take a course of action where everyone involved wins, whether that be your customers, friends, family members, employees etc then it’s OK to focus on making more money.

When people say “don’t do it for money”, what they mean to say is; “don’t let money blind you from the greater good”.  A much more apposite phrase in my opinion.

Flame Vs Fire

Some people have a little flame that goes off from time to time:  A moment of inspiration or a burst of enthusiasm.  However, these flames are often too fragile and the smallest breath of wind ends up extinguishing their flame.

Others have a fire.  A raging fire that can’t be controlled or hampered in any way.  If anything gets in their way, then just like an out of control forest fire, the obstacle becomes their fuel.

The obstacle isn’t there to stop you, it’s actually showing you the way forward.


Maybe She’s Born With It?

It’s interesting how many people limit their own capabilities due to their own self beliefs.  The majority of people believe they’re born a certain way and there’s nothing that they can do about it.

Most of the things people believe are inherent characteristics from birth are actually just skills that they can work on.

Here’s a list of stuff that people generally think are inherent characteristics that they can’t improve upon:

  • Being fat
  • Not being funny
  • Being bad at attracting the opposite sex
  • Being a bad leader
  • Being academically poor
  • Being a poor public speaker
  • Being shy
  • Being socially awkward

Here’s a thought: If there is a single human being in the world that has managed to get better at anything then by definition that thing is not an inherent talent, but a skill.   

The fact is that most things in life worth improving are skills that we can learn if we worked at it.

The reason most people don’t accept this notion is because the reality of looking at yourself in the mirror and understanding that you have full control over the state of your life is too difficult to bear for most.

Maybe she’s born with it?  Maybe it’s Maybelline?  It’s neither:  It’s working at it.

Whose Rooting For You?

I think that this is something people really underestimate:  There are tons of people out there who are rooting for you to win!

I’ve had so many meetings about my startup with a lot of influential people in the past few months.  I know what a lot of them are thinking: “Who the hell is this guy that just won’t stop calling me to talk about this random startup he’s got?!”.

The surprising thing is how a lot of these people are actually willing to listen to you and then as a result, do business with you.  They can see that you’ve put your heart and soul into something and have the balls to put yourself on the line.  They know you’re the underdog and want you to succeed.  If they can be a part of that success then even better!

Too many people get a “no” from some random person and then decide the world is against them and life isn’t fair.  Well, it is fair and it’s likely others have succeeded where you are quitting.  Find the people who will root for you so you can win too!



How To Make More Money

I have noticed that a lot of people get confused with regards to how to actually make money.  I’d say the majority of people either aren’t interested or just don’t have a clue where money comes from or what it is.  There seems to be a basic misunderstanding of why people get paid what they get paid and how to go about changing that.

I’ve said it before, but markets are actually very fair, because if you can indicate that you have something people want then you will be remunerated in a fair way.  You can make something people want by creating “value”.

An interesting thought experiment would be to imagine a world with no money.  If we were to live in this world and we wanted to “buy” a product or a service from someone what would we do?  We’d probably either trade something that we perceived to be of equal value whether that be a physical object or our time and effort.

Profit happens when a consumer pays relatively more for a product or service than the actual cost of making the product or providing the service.  Basically in this scenario value was created: X amount of value was created and the person selling their product or service captured Y% of X.  This is all businesses do.

The mistake people make is thinking that money is value.  This is completely wrong.  Money is merely a means of trading value in a form society has agreed upon.

If you have a job, your pay cheque is a reflection of how much value you bring to the world.  You may believe you are worth more, but generally speaking you are getting paid your fair market rate for someone with your skill set.  There are artificially low wages in certain industries; For example doctors in the NHS get paid below their true value, however, everyone (including doctors) are aware of this and is part and parcel of having a socialised healthcare system.

The thing is that having a regular job as part of a large homogeneous mass (such as a group of doctors) inherently means that the value you are bringing to the world has been lowered.  The main reason here is because you’ve lost “leverage” over your contribution to the outcomes which are considered valuable.  If you are merely just another cog in the system which can be interchanged and replaced, then you have not brought enough value to be remunerated in an exceptional way.

This is why doctors continue to develop their skills, get more degrees and recognised qualifications, so that they can demonstrate that they bring more value to the world, but also because they can then leverage those qualifications to do things that other people can’t and produce outcomes which they are directly responsible for.

People ask why GPs get paid so much (locum GPs can earn £125K + a year with six weeks of holiday if they are smart) – but it’s because they bring a lot of value to the world (primary care saves a lot of money which has been proven in many studies) and they are able to leverage their work directly to themselves (GPs see patients by themselves, with no other healthcare provider involved and usually if a partner is off ill then there isn’t a replacement “cog” available).

So essentially the two variables that you have to play with when thinking about making money are: “value” and “leverage”.  These are the two things you can play with if you want to make more money.

The way entrepreneurs get rich is by maximising both of these things.  They create something which is valuable to the market – usually by solving a problem which a lot of people are experiencing and are willing to pay for.  They then create a system – aka a business – where they get all the credit / leverage for solving the problem.

The interesting thing for me is how much control we have over both of these variables.  I disagree with people when they talk about rich people who got “lucky”.  If you make something a lot of people want and are able to leverage that yourself, then you will make money.  The world isn’t yet that crazy for this to not happen.