No, I didn’t fire him Donald Trump style, but basically, he justified my lack of confidence in his ability to both diagnose symptoms and treat them for the last time.
So, he is gone.
Frankly, the guy is a menace. Several years ago, I came in with what I thought might be a fractured rib. (Rainy day + slick railroad tracks + bicycle racing = bad combination.) Dr. Donothing checked me out for ten minutes and told me I probably had a bruised rib and started to send me home.
I insisted that I didn’t think it was just a bruised rib. This felt worse. (And as an athlete, I ought to know.) I wanted an X-Ray to know for a fact whether or not I had a fracture. Why? First, because I wanted to know. Second, because a fracture means 6 weeks of recovery instead of just 2 weeks, and my racing schedule woud be affected. Third, because I wanted to have an accurate record of the injury to go into my medical file. Call me anal, but I like to be accurate whenever possible.
Anyway, Dr. Donothing resisted, assuring me that I did not in fact have a broken rib, but he finally caved in, either to prove me wrong or to shut me up or just to get me out of his office.
The verdict: Not one, but two fractured ribs.
Way to go, Doc.
This was not the first such incident. Sadly, it wasn’t the last either.
Two weks ago, I came down with a fever that knocked me out for three days. On the third day, I went to his office, and he misdiagnosed me again. I wanted a throat culture done to rule out Strep throat. He told me it was unnecessary. He prescribed a POS antibiotic that wouldn’t clear a sinus infection, much less an aggressive strain of strep. At the time, I didn’t know any better, so I believed him.
Well, a week later, the fever was gone but I was still not 100%. A few more days later, the bug started attacking my skin. Nasty stuff. At about the same time, my daughter came down with strep herself. Her pediatrician laughed when he heard that my doctor had prescribed the POS antibiotic medication. Upon finding this out, I asked several of my physician friends what they thought about my prescription, and their reactions were all the same: That prescription isn’t likely to do much against strep… or anything, for that matter.
The other question they asked was this: Why didn’t Dr. Donothing do a strep culture in the first place?
Indeed. Why not rule out the possibility of strep? Why not spend the thirty seconds it would have taken to be thorough?
Long story short, I got one of his colleagues to prescribe me something that will take care of the problem, but not before having to threaten their practice with a little nastiness.
Less that 24 hours after getting on the new antibiotic, my condition took a turn for the best, and I seem to now be backto my good old self. Finally.
Why am I telling you all this?
Because my ex-doctor’s lackluster mindset can exist in the world of business and marketing as well. So instead of writing a ten page essay on the subject, let me condense what I want to say in this short list of things I learned from this little experience:
1. Make sure the people you work with or hire to do a job are good at what they do. Degrees from the best universities, diplomas on the walls, business licenses and all of the “years in business” in the world don’t mean jack. Make sure they’re actually good at what they do. Interview them. Test them. Make sure they are right for the job.
2. Never trust someone who opts to ASSUME when they could just as easily FIND OUT. Being lazy (intellectually or otherwise) has no place in the business world. It doesn’t matter if you’re a physician, a Marketing VP, or a copywriter. Period.
3. Never trust someone whose assumptions or gut feelings are ALWAYS wrong. It means they suck at their job. I don’t know how else to say it. Everyone makes mistakes, everyone is wrong sometimes, but when someone is ALWAYS wrong (even about simple things), and they still refuse to take extra steps to make absolutely sure they have all of their bases covered, they’re just dumb. And dangerous.
4. Don’t assign projects to people you know will drop the ball. Not unless you like throwing your money down the drain and enjoy hurting your brand in the process. (This may seem like basic common sense, but I still see it happen on a regular basis.)
5. This may be just a paraphrase of #2, but it is worth repeating: When someone in any position, job or industry – whether that person is a lawyer, doctor, military officer, businesss trategist, financial advisor, design engineer or marketing manager – doesn’t take the time to be thorough, ask the right questions, and make sure all of his/her ducks are in a row, that person is a liability. Pure and simple.
The impact that someone like this can have on the life or well-being of a person, community or company they have been hired to “serve” can be… well, dire.
The thing about all of this is that being thorough doesn’t require talent. It just requires a certain frame of mind. It requires a commitment to always making sure that all angles are covered. That no stone is left unturned. That no question is left unanswered. That even when everything goes wrong, some sort of plan is in place to respond to the emergency.
It isn’t rocket science.
My experience has always been this: Every successful project is 80% preparation and 20% execution.
Adequate preparation before anything – a product launch, a race, a presentation, an interview, a photo shoot, a surgery, a project kickoff or a military operation – can make the difference between suffering a cripling disaster and achieving complete success.
It may not seem like it sometimes, but getting it right the first time is a heck of a lot cheaper than cutting corners upfront, and trying to fix things later.
Not everyone operates this way, however, and that’s the rub.
So my advice today is this: When hiring a lawyer, doctor, project manager, salesperson or marketing exec., make sure to ask them about their process. Throw hypotheticals at them. Ask them how they start a project. Ask them how they set goals. Ask them how they manage their time. Ask them how they respond to unexpected problems.
Find out if they have the work ethic to be thorough… or if they don’t.
Find out upfront rather than… later.
Have a great Wednesday, everyone.