How Can I Help?

How Can I Help? –

A few months back I started watching a series on Amazon Prime. As you do you quickly read the blurb and if it tickles your fancy you give it the five- or ten-minute test. Can it hold my attention for the first five minutes? If not, switch it off and continue the never-ending search/ scroll through the millions of titles available for the next binge watch series.

I clicked on a series ‘New Amsterdam’ which seemed like a run of the mill hospital drama set in a public hospital in the US. Not being an expert on US medical processes (other than what I have seen on TV) it was quite interesting to try to understand the premise of the show. What I like about this show is that it is a continuous series of problem solving.

The first episode starts with the introduction of a new radical Medical Director whose first task is to gather all of his department heads together and fire them. Well, that’s a bit dramatic you might think. But this appealed to me. I was given a maxim for people management many years ago, which although quite old, is still kind of relevant – but in a completely different way. You see, in managing people – especially when taking on an existing team, you often find the incoming boss ‘removing’ the obstacles, getting rid of the ‘dead wood’ and introducing their own people. This makes it easier to facilitate the changes they want to make and takes away the need for any of those fuzzy-wuzzy people changing skills! The maxim? “If you can’t change them, then change them.”

When I was introduced to this thought process, I was an ambitious, focussed Sales Manager with one goal in mind. To make my career, to be successful, to achieve over and above. What I didn’t know at that time was what did success actually mean? We’ll come onto that in a later blog.

Back to The Story

Making his point that up until now the department heads and senior Consultants/ Doctors had been focussed on, as the industry dictates, billings. How much revenue can they generate in the course of their duties. Revenue is of course key to the successful running of any business, but as pointed out by Max (new Medical Director) their primary goal is to provide for their patients, for every patient.

Now, here’s the good part, the part that really got my attention, the part that I want MY business to be about. He underlined his actions by stating that for them to be able to provide for all their patients without focusing on billable hours and services, they would need his support and his door is always open. He looked directly at his audience and said four key words in a very powerful way that not only made the show highly watchable for me, but also has led to changes in my own business, my own paradigm and the way in which I want to achieve my own personal success.

“How can I help?”

Why are these words so powerful for me? Simply we all need help at some point. Maybe that help is in the form of a conversation, some advice, small actions, financial support and aid, introductions or just a connection that lets you know you’re not alone.

I have worked for businesses, customers, clients and suppliers in the past whom, without little inconvenience to themselves or their business, could have boosted mine considerably. Being on different paths, in different markets or at different stages on the journey, they could have offered support without affecting their position or performance. I have always delivered more than expected to my clients. We have spent over 15 years working 90 + hours a week, often on a very tight income, travelling hundreds of thousands of miles for meetings and to deliver our services. And I look back and value every single experience I have been lucky enough to have gone through. What I don’t want to be is the guy that didn’t help.

“You either win or you learn”

Why so powerful? Well, I come from a sales background and have always been focused on generating business, making money. I started my own business over 15 years ago and have survived, good times and bad and I wouldn’t change any of them because each experience from bankruptcy to winning new contracts and delivering great quality and highly appreciated products and services has given me something.

In my free time I have always practiced martials arts. I had 2 blackbelts by my early twenties and started on my third (and hardest yet) journey in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu around 8 years ago. Now Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is slightly different from most martial arts around today. Although most martial arts start out as hardened, tested battlefield systems, they soon – through the adoption of sporting principles, rule sets and public liability issues – soften. They become untested and transform into something else. Grappling arts, on the other hand continued to be based on testing. Don’t tell me what you ‘would’ do in that situation, show me. If you can’t apply it or use it then it either isn’t any good or you aren’t. This approach, though sometimes harsh, is essential in maintaining a functioning martial art. The same goes for business. When the recession hit in the early 2000’s we saw the demise of lots of businesses that simply weren’t tested. They didn’t have the foundation to sustain any hardship and folded. The underlying principle in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is ‘weather the storm’ – if you can maintain your defence when under attack, you can at some point when the pressure of attack subsides, find an advantage and press your attack.

So, I have weathered the storm and it looks like I’ll be doing that again for the next few months at least due to the current global pandemic. However, I feel prepared for this and know that whatever comes for me or my business, I will keep moving forward. Maybe though, the direction will change.

I am no longer concerned by the revenue I can generate, the contracts I can win and service or the applauds I receive. I am now concerned about what can I give. What can I add to the business community that I work amongst? How can I stand out through the value I offer? “How can I help?”

We often see examples of ‘paying it forward’, usually as a Facebook meme and not always done for the right reason. For me, the reason is simple. I have experienced many things on my travels, faced many challenges and overcome most of them. I have a network of great people around me and am able to solve most problems. Every problem that is thrown up will have a solution. Sometimes that solution is just some good advice, some technical support, some information or small actions that enable you or anyone else to view the problem and find the solution.

How can I help has made me reassess my business, we have worked hard and are continuing to do so in order to change our billing model and the way in which we generate revenue, in order to make us more flexible for our customers, provide a better service and create truly profitable relationships.


Thank you for reading

– Alan


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