Yesterday’s post closed with “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.”
Soon we’ll get into specifics of how to present yourself to your market (the people who might hire you). But first, it’s essential to understand the world those people live in. This post continues the notes Randi Oster took from our call last week.
Again, my comments are indented italics, like this. (The picture at right is explained below.)
Lesson #2: The healthcare “ocean” is huge and diverse. Learn what matters to each audience.
Dave says, “As I started to learn about the industry, for a while I started to feel oriented. But then I kept discovering entire new communities with their own thoughts, concerns, and culture, and practically no connection to things I’d learned and people I’d met.
“I realized that this industry is as vast as the Pacific Ocean: you can be an expert about the climate and ecosystem around the Great Barrier Reef, but then you discover you know nothing about what it’s like around Japan or Seattle.”
The image that came to mind was a vast reed island floating in the Pacific, like a giant version of the floating island above (from Lake Titicaca in Peru). It’s strange compared to dry land, but you learn your way around – then, over the horizon comes another island, with a whole different culture.
As you learn about the industry, some of what you know will transfer to other areas, other cultures, other specialties. But to navigate in any new territory, knowing someone familiar with that space will help immensely. Always be humble, be honest about what you don’t know, ask lots of questions and ask why it matters to them.
Dave says he’ll go as far as to ask “Why, of all the people you might have hired to speak, did you ask me?? What about my work seems to be valuable for your audience?”
The purpose is to understand how they see you, so you can speak in a context that make sense to them.
This is important for three reasons.
- First, if you want to be paid to serve an audience and have them end up happy, you need to understand what’s important to them.
- Second, it’s vital to understand that hardly any medical person’s training has involved seeing things from the patient perspective, and you’re there to shed light – to help them see things as you do. To do that you need empathy: it’s as important for you to see their view as it is for them to see yours. You can only do that by asking.
- Third, as you talk with different people – even if they don’t hire you – you’ll broaden how much you do know. In later calls you’ll be able to say things like this: “When I spoke with XYZ a while ago, they said they’re facing ABC. Is that true for you, or not so much?” And you’ll learn.
We’re starting to see one of my fundamental principles:
Two thirds of successful speaking is good listening.