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About Philippa Kennealy

Philippa Kennealy MD MPH CPCC PCC is The Entrepreneurial MD Business Coach who wants to help you build your business!
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Thursday
Sep282006

One of my most effective personal management tools is...

iPod.jpg....MY iPOD!

I am often asked how I have learned about marketing, coaching, creating a blog and a website, running a business - the disparate collection of things I now know - and I realized it's time to share my secret weapon.

I treated myself to an iPod at the end of last year!

"Now how's that been helpful to you?", you may wonder. Well, I detest being locked into sitting at my computer to listen to the hundreds of hours of teleclasses I have attended and downloaded onto my desktop. I tend to distract myself with web-surfing, shopping and deleting e-mail (I am not allowed to go to bed until I have 30 or less e-mails in my Inbox!!) - and I quickly lose concentration.

As soon as I figured my iPod out, and dowloaded iTunes onto my computer, I began transferring all these hours of classes onto the iPod. I have also discovered that many of my plan-to-read-someday-when I-have-the-time books are available for download in the iTunes audiobook store.

Forget the music (which I did download as well in the break between Christmas and New Year)! My huge prize is the cache of classes and books - other people's wisdom - that I have in my purse.

At this point I have over 3 days worth (more than 72 hours) of classes and business e-books I can carry around at all times. This means several things to me:

  1. I am never bored
  2. I no longer have to carry books or magazines to entertain myself while I wait for an appointment
  3. My drives and commutes are easy as I just carry on learning, ignoring the appalling LA freeway traffic
  4. I am more motivated to take a walk in the neighborhood or on the treadmill for exercise, as I am doing my equivalent of reading at the same time
  5. If I miss a class, most teleclass hosts will now send a link to a downloadable class recording so that I don't feel left behind
  6. I can listen to the really good stuff over and over
  7. I love learning, and it is easier than ever before, even for a busy mom with a full-time job!!!

What is the one tool you can't live without in your professional life?

Monday
Sep252006

The Snow White that wasn't....

9-25-06responsive service.jpgI love bidding on e-Bay - it brings out the thrill of the chase in me and permits me to exercise my bared-teeth hunter instincts in quite civilized ways. I can even feel my heart thumping at times, while I am calculating when to place my bid seconds before the auction ends.

As my almost 4-year old daughter is obsessed with enacting the Disney princess roles, I was excited to bid successfully on a Snow White costume for her size. It arrived several days later and I stashed it away. I was saving it as one of her rewards in our "five gold stars for desireable behavior" reward system, so you can imagine her and my disappointment when we pulled out the costume as her reward and discovered that it was way too small. 

I e-mailed the seller, and promptly received this reply on a weekend day:

Dear Philippa

I am so sorry you're not happy with the costume. I have a daughter that is almost 2 and very small, still wearing 12-18 months so I know how the size they say something is doesn't always matter. I just wrote what the package said the size was and I never opened it. I don't want you to be unhappy or her not to have a dress so you can just send it back and I will refund your money because unfortunately I don't have any other sizes.  Again I am very sorry and hope your daughter finds a dress you are both happy with and I hope this has not upset her. I will send her a little gift. Thank you....

I was delighted. Not just a pleased customer - a really delighted one. All because:

  1. She addressed me by my name, not just "hi"
  2. She apologized right away
  3. She made no excuses to justify the "error" - just offered a simple explanation
  4. She used a "story-telling" technique, however brief, that I could relate to about her own daughter and her struggles with the sizing of clothes for kids
  5. She expressed her empathy for feelings I and my daughter might have had even though I had not expressed such feelings in my e-mail - I had been quite factual
  6. She offered a token of her caring by way of a small gift for my daughter to offer some form of remedy
  7. She repeated her apology
  8. She used simple language that rang with sincerity

Will I do business again with her should the opportunity arise? You bet I will! And I will send others to her online store, given a chance.

What small steps could you be taking to delight your patients, clients or customers in response to their grumbles about your services, or product?

Friday
Sep222006

Peering into the Crystal Ball to discover the future of my business

9-22-06leadingtheway.jpgI started a coaching practice almost 5 years ago, and it was only in my second year of operation that I became comfortable calling it a business. Shifting that mental model required a lot of work and quite a few "aha's".

This week, I had another "aha" that propelled me deeper into entrepreneurship, and I thought I'd share it with you.

On Monday, I had a conversation with my business coach about taking my business to the next level. Coincidentally, I attended a professional networking group meeting the next day and heard a presentation by a business attorney on the topic of preparing your business for sale.

As I am far from that stage of business development, my mind began to wander until I heard him ask the question: "What are the assets of your company that would be attractive enough to a buyer to leverage them and add value to their own business?

This question overlapped with that of my coach: "What program do you intend to offer your clients that they will find valuable enough to want to buy from you?"

It struck me yet again that no-one can purchase my brain power or intellectual property while it resides in my head or as a series of coversations between me and my clients. That gets sold in real-time and is not an enduring or transferrable asset of the company.

However, a proven reproducible Program or System that guides physicians from business neophyte to an accomplished entrepreneur with a growing thriving business is a real transferrable asset.

So......I am putting myself out there and committing to making that my next Big Hairy Audacious Goal. To create such a program. And I will be listening very closely to all you aspiring physician entrepreneurs, to discover what your needs are and how my program can best respond to them.

Please let me know what your biggest questions are about starting or growing your business, and how such a program could be useful to you!

Wednesday
Sep202006

How well do you use your time?

quick news tidbits.jpgDon't you often wish you had a 26-hour day to get more accomplished? I do.

My clients often express frustration about their tendencies to procrastinate and waste time. So, together, we brainstorm ways to complete tasks that might match their preferred working styles, and then they go away and practice for a week or two. Sometimes the new techniques click right away --- more often, it takes quite a bit of experimentation to find a work method that really suits each of them.

I'm always on the lookout for different ways to use time more effectively, so I enjoyed coming across this blog post today about the The Power of 48 Minutes.  In it, blogger John Richardson describes a technique of setting a timer (he gets fancy and recommends an on-line timer, but I think a good old kitchen timer works as well) for 48 minutes, focusing intently on the task at hand without permitting interruptions, and then taking the last 12 minutes of the hour to take any kind of break you want - finish that Soduku, Sunday crossword puzzle, answer e-mails, get a cup of coffee etc.

Curiously, I had suggested something similar to many clients but I'd settled arbitrarily on 45 minutes of work followed by 15 minutes of self-care, reading e-mails (and valuable blog posts like this <smile>) or just goofing off! This method yields an extra 3 minutes an hour which I am sure adds up over time. So I defer to the power of 48 instead, and plan to try this technique for at least a week. I'll let you know how I go!

If any of you have good suggestions for managing time, I'd love to  hear them. Just post your reply by clicking on the blue link at the top of this post.

 

Tuesday
Sep192006

What does the word "marketing" conjure up for you?

9-19-06usedcarsalesman.jpgYesterday I asked a physician client "What do you think of when you think of marketing?"

I wasn't surprised at her response of "used car salesman, someone full of hype, sleazy, fast-talking, obnoxious". I might have even replied that way myself, early on in my business!

My physician client was embarking on a new and different non-clinical business and she was encountering, for the first time, the challenge of selling her services.

She was taken aback when I asked her to consider that she had been in full marketing and even "selling" mode for years as a physician. Whenever she had recommended a treatment or surgery for a patient, she was "selling" her expertise to someone who was relying on her to provide a solution for her problem. In her white coat, surrounded by the tools and trappings of her profession, with her attentive listening and probing and thoughtful recommendations, she was a master-marketer without even realizing it.

I  heard it said that marketing is everything you have to do to make the sale easier. Going back to my client, let's look at how she was unintentionally marketing herself.

  • She used her white coat, stethoscope, examining room and medical paraphernalia to brand herself - done well, all of these items led the patient to perceive and believe that she was a competent medical professional.
  • She made the patient the focus of her questioning, to elicit information that would help her recommend a specific set of options to address and resolve the patient's problem. She didn't jump in with a "sales pitch" about a recommended surgery or treatment UNTIL she had a clearer understanding of the appropriateness of her recommendations.
  • She engaged in a trust-building conversation, educating the patient about her problem. This resulted in my client recommending treatment options that she could either deliver herself or refer the patient to get elsewhere. The patient was now primed to make an informed decision!

Imagine my client's relief when she caught a glimpse, however brief, of herself as a capable, competent marketer who regularly "closed deals" with patients.

To take the "ugly" out of marketing, here are some ideas to consider, drawn from your experience as a good physician. This applies no matter what your business is:

  • Figure out your brand. What do you wish to convey to your potential buyers? What symbols, artefacts, logos, taglines, or personal presence will you deploy, to begin the process of convincing others of your legitimacy and value? Remember, people form an impression of you and your company in a couple of seconds.
  • Understand the needs, desires, fears and concerns of your prospective customers or clients. Take the diagnostic approach - ask good, polite, probing questions first, before feeling the pressure to come up with a recommended solution!
  • Propose your solution as a legitimate offer of help, if their needs match your ability to deliver the "treatment". If not, then refer them to the correct person who can help them. This will do wonders to enhance your image as a caring professional who has the client's best interest at heart. That's quite a reversal of the used car salesman image, isn't it?

Having been marketing-phobic when I first started my coaching business, I empathize with the fear and discomfort new physician entrepreneurs feel when they realize they have to take pro-active steps to actually get clients or sell products or ideas.

I can, however, offer the reassurance that a) learning to market yourself and promote your services is a lot easier than getting through an internship, and b) it can become a most enjoyable way to engage in a conversation and learn about people who might be eager for your expertise, help and solutions.