If you haven’t, be sure to read yesterday’s post introducing this series.
My previous post introduced a new series of mentoring posts to coach patients who are good speakers try to make a business out of it. Believe me, it’s not easy; effective speaking skills are only step one. This series will be about how I’ve built a business. It’s not the only way to do it; I’m just sharing what I’ve learned.
Last week I had such a mentoring call with Randi Redmond Oster, a self-described “writer, engineer and mother who is a passionate advocate for patient management reform.” She’d already been out there giving talks for free at public libraries, with strong positive feedback. Only recently did she realize she might get paid for it. She sought out experienced advice, and here we are: We talked on the phone with the agreement that she’d write it up for posting here (and on her site).
Randi’s site says she “led an engineering team in the design of the Electronic Combat System for the Stealth Fighter and delivered the multimillion-dollar program on schedule and under budget. She is not intimidated by complexity or huge egos or scare tactics.” That turned out to be useful when she spent a month in the hospital with her son, learning the many ways that medicine hasn’t yet learned to be cautious and analytical, as aviation has.
Like many experienced patients, now she’s working for change. She wrote a book about the experience, Questioning Protocol, which led to her Twitter ID @Protocol123. Generous, she’s also shared her learnings with the public in speeches in her home state.
From our first interview she took away five lessons. Here’s the start of our series. [I’ll insert comments in brackets, like this.] Thanks, Randi!
Becoming a Patient Advocate Thought Leader – Lesson 1
I have not met Dave yet, only spoke to him once on the phone and exchanged some emails, tweets and “likes” on FaceBook. But, I can tell we share the same mission. Except, I am starting my journey to become a thought leader and he has already traveled down this road. He knows the cliffs to avoid, the bumps to watch for, and the joy of reaching a destination point.
[I’d hardly say I’ve reached a destination – the plane has merely left the ground.:-)]
Our first conversation lasted 30 minutes and my education began; five lessons emerged.
Lesson #1: It takes more time than you want.
Patience and persistence are key. After three years Dave found some success. He has moved up-market and he’s working to make sure there is a succession of other leaders on the horizon.
Jane Sarasohn-Kahn of Health Populi was one of my early mentors. When I told her recently I’d reached break-even, she said “See? I told you it’d take three years.” Back then I didn’t want to believe it, but it takes time to earn a reputation.
A key factor, as we’ll see in later lessons, is that no matter how compelling your story, it ain’t about you, and it ain’t about me: it’s about understanding your audience and their concerns. That means there’s work to do. Take along a lunch.
Additional lessons to come in subsequent posts. Questions? Put ’em in the comments.