[Note #1: So I’m considering creating and giving away a free product for you… IF you’re interested in applying it in your business to 1.) gain greater freedom to be who you were meant to be, 2.) contribute to people and the planet in increasingly meaningful ways, and 3) expand your personal experience of prosperity and share it with others.
It’s going to take significant time and energy to put together. But before I go crazy making this thing, I want to make sure you actually want it (so I don’t waste my time and feel foolish if the response rate isn’t as high as I think it will be). More details near the bottom of the article.]
[Note #2: In case you are wondering, this post is a FOLLOW UP to THIS POST which received mentions on Twitter and responses from the US to Argentina.]
The Story of How I Went from Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon to the “Ambassador of Business Freedom”
I remember the EXACT MOMENT that I decided I was going to become a plastic surgeon…
I was a senior in high school, visiting my brother who was in training at the time as a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. I was sitting in one of the hospital libraries, waiting while he made his patient rounds. From across the table, a giant oversized book found me.
I had never seen a book so large before in my life. So naturally, I slid the book over and leafed through the pages. Mesmerized, my eyes and mind were riveted by the dramatic reconstructive “before and after” photos. One in particular was of a woman who had been in a car accident and her entire face had been almost entirely shaved off when she hit the car windshield, exposing the frontal lobe of her brain. Though she later died from her brain injury, I was amazed at how she looked after the plastic surgeons put her back together.
While paging through that book, I made the conscious decision right then and there that I was going to become a plastic surgeon. It was the perfect blend: I figured that I could blend the artistic eye I was developing from learning photography (instead of girls, tennis and photography were my main interests in high school) with my desire to become a physician.
For better or for worse, little did I know that it would take 15 years from that point to complete the demanding education and training required become a plastic surgeon. If you count up four years of college, four years of medical school, five years of training in General Surgery, and two years of training in Plastic Surgery, well that adds up to 15 years (some longer than others)! I still don’t know if being on-call every other night, or frequently being up all night operating and taking care of patients, made the time go by faster or not. But all I can say is I’m glad I did it, but I wouldn’t do it again if I was given the chance!
I dedicated my entire early adult life toward becoming the best plastic surgeon I could possibly be. And at the ripe age of 32, I was officially a plastic surgeon (board-certified by the age of 34, for those of you who are counting).
The Business Side of Medicine Was A Bitter Pill to Swallow
And that’s where the story of my real education in the business side of medicine really began. Prior to going into private practice, I thought I’d done the hard work. I had arrived. I had my dream job. And by my calculations, I figured I’d either die at the age of 150 in the operating room, working on a patient, or on the tennis court. Either one would have been fine with me.
And I thought the practice of medicine would be just like it was for my brother: just open up your office and patients come streaming in. My brother made it look easy in his practice as a neurologist. I figured my life as a doctor would be just as easy.
But he started in a different era, well before insurance carriers came to control reimbursements and dictate the direction of health care. His specialty was different. And, he’s in a different geographic region of the country.
Within months of starting my practice, I quickly realized I had a problem: I didn’t know a thing about running a business. I didn’t know anything about hiring staff, office operations, billing, or managing finances. They didn’t teach us that stuff in medical school. Plus, as a solo practitioner, I was the business, so if I wasn’t there working, I didn’t make any money…but my office bills kept coming in, regardless of whether I was there or not . And patients weren’t streaming in, either.
I had trained to become a technician of sorts for all those years and yet knew nothing about the business side of medicine.
Plus, now, I had to learn how to promote myself and my practice. That’s when I was diagnosed with a serious condition: a common, but frequently lethal form of allergy to marketing.
I remember telling a surgical instrument company rep that I needed to find a way to get out of medicine by the time I was 40. At the age of 32, I had been in practice for all of 4 months.
How My “Dream Job” Turned Into A Nightmare
Things got so bad, that within two years of starting my practice, my professional advisors suggested that I declare bankruptcy. What? The job of my dreams had quickly turned into a nightmare.
I started reading business books, attending workshops, and learning from people who were already successful in business. I voraciously learned everything I could about marketing, financial management, office systems, and staffing.
The good news is that I did not declare bankruptcy. I turned the practice around sufficiently enough that I was able to sell my practice to a medical center. I practiced as a “shareholder-employee” (that’s the official name for a physician who invested money in the medical center with little chance of a significant return-on-investment) for several years before I finally found and pulled the eject handle.
I dedicated my life and made a lot of sacrifices to become a plastic surgeon. As proud as I was of realizing my lifelong dream, the reality was that practicing as a plastic surgeon was mercilessly eating away at me. Insurance reimbursements were such that it was virtually impossible to survive financially by performing reconstructive surgery alone. But that’s why I went into the field. I had fantasized as a high school kid that I would save the world by reconstructing mangled faces, scalps, trunks, and limbs.
So I started doing more and more cosmetic surgery: facelifts, browlifts, eyelid lifts, ear pinning, (no nosejobs; I couldn’t stand doing them), necklifts, skin resurfacing, breast augmentation, breast lifts, tummy tucks, butt lifts, thigh lifts, liposuction, and more.
Death By Plastic Surgery Took On a Different Meaning
I noticed a curious phenomenon: The more cosmetic surgery I did, the more money I made. And, the more cosmetic surgery I did, the more unhappy, unfulfilled, disillusioned, and disgruntled I became with being a plastic surgeon.
One night, I was particularly frustrated, probably having to leave my family to tend to a patient in the emergency room. At one point, my wife looked me squarely in the eyes and said, “At the rate you’re going, you’re going to die an early death.” That’s how unhappy I was. And she was right.
There’s no freedom in doing work that leads to unhappiness. That’s a formula for depression, chronic illness, disease, and despair. I have a motto: “If it ain’t fun, I ain’t doing it.” So shortly after our second son was born, the forces of the Universe conspired to assist me in exiting the medical field for good. Remember what I said to the surgical instrument rep, about needing to find a way out of medicine by the time I was 40? Well, I was 40 years old when I bailed out of plastic surgery.
I had spoken with other physicians and surgeons who lamented missing out on their children’s milestones and special events. My dad was in his laboratory all the time; though I have fond memories of him taking me fishing and the family playing badminton and croquet on muggy summer nights in the Deep South (yeah, imagine being a rare Asian family down there in the ‘60s!), I’ve always thought of my Dad as being distant. I vowed that when I had kids, I’d be a different kind of father.
I vowed to become the father that is involved in his kids’ education, who makes it to all the major school events, who becomes a human mountain that both boys can climb up-at the same time. To fulfill on that vow, I had to dig deep down inside and challenge my beliefs about my identity. I had to challenge the false constructs of my ego that associated my value and worth with what I did for a living.
I intuitively knew that there was no freedom in living life based on compromising my values and ideals. Only pain and suffering lies behind that door.
Freedom comes only from living true to ones’ values, from pursuing one’s ideals and dreams with gusto.
Touched By A Business Angel
For the first 18 months after leaving plastic surgery, I wandered about, struggling to figure out what I was going to do next. I started three business endeavors, none of which amounted to anything.
Curiously, around the time I was leaving plastic surgery, I signed up for a book publishing mentorship. Even though I had no idea what a physician had to say about business, I told the publisher that I was supposed to be in the book. One of the benefits of the program was that I wrote a section in a book called Create the Business Breakthrough You Want. The book was published about a year after my escape from plastic surgery. I vividly remember the day that a semi-trailer pulled up to deliver the books and how excited my wife and I were! Funny thing is, I had no clue about what I was going to do with the books. Shortly after its release, I told a couple of local business owners about the book and they asked me if could coach them in their businesses. Very interesting, since I figured I didn’t have the credentials or qualifications to do it. But I agreed, while I said to myself under my breath: “I’ll do this for a little while, until I figure out what I’m going to do when I grow up.”
For the next two weeks, I stayed up late, burning the midnight oil, scrambling to put together material I could use to coach these two businesses. It finally dawned on me that I actually knew A LOT about entrepreneurship: marketing, selling, systemization, leadership, and so forth.
So I Finally Accepted An Idea That I Had Been Resisting For Quite Some Time: Why not make a living helping entrepreneurs to grow their businesses?
Hmmm… what a concept! Long story short (well, it has really been a long story, hasn’t it?!?), within 73 days of scheduling my first live seminar to introduce what I was offering, I created an annualized six-figure revenue stream. And I’ve sustained and grown this stream ever since.
In retrospect, I had become the business guide and mentor that I wish I had had when I was starting out in my plastic surgery practice.
So Here’s What I’m Coming To… Here’s What I Feel Is Calling Me… And Here’s What I Feel Compelled to Do…
Here’s the thing…
When I work with fellow entrepreneurs and small business owners, I cover a broad range of areas that are critical to business success: Leadership, Strategic Planning, Marketing, Selling, Technology, Business Financial Management, Upgrading Mindsets and Changing Limiting Beliefs.
So when it comes to writing articles and creating trainings, sometimes it’s been hard for me to figure out what topics to focus on.
Just the other week, I was reflecting on my personal journey of learning how to promote the value I have to offer and connecting with the right buyers. After I recognized in horror that I needed to learn how to market and sell when I was a young plastic surgeon, it became a monumental struggle to shift my mindset, disbelief, and resistance to marketing and selling. I think that’s in great part why I enjoy sharing my challenging experiences and hard-won wisdom with my clients, so they don’t have to struggle as mightily as I did.
Nevertheless, it occurred to me that I’m one of a bijillion and a half people out there teaching marketing for entrepreneurs and small business owners. And that doesn’t even include all their grandmothers, who are purported to be marketing experts as well.
But marketing is all for nothing if it doesn’t result in more profit, better cash flow, and a sustainable return-on-investment of your time, energy, and money. And the risks you take.
So why is it that there aren’t a bijillion and a half people out there teaching small business financial management? What about teaching pricing strategies? What about marketing and financial management?
- Not sexy enough.
- Not “hip and cool” enough.
- Not cutting-edge enough.
But you know what, I think more than anything, it’s because so few people understand small business financial management AND have the ability to translate what can seem like “gobbledy gook” into key principles and “best practices” that the non-financial entrepreneur can understand. AND APPLY TO THEIR BUSINESS!!!
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for good education and training in marketing, but what good is “good marketing” if you don’t understand what your financial results are telling you about what you need to do next?
And you know, it’s very possible to actually “grow a business out of business.” How? The business grows too fast and outstrips its ability to honor its financial and operational commitments, that’s how.
Worse yet, in my experience and observation, most entrepreneurs and small business owners struggle to charge and get what their products, services, and programs are really worth.
Let’s see here…
Lousy Pricing Strategies + Allergy to Marketing + Business Financial Ignorance = ???
You tell me, is that a formula for success?
So It Dawned On Me That The Time Has Come For A Training Program That Blends Effective Pricing Strategies, Based On Value, With Business Financial Principles And “Best Practices” AND Effective Business Development Strategies.
It’s time for entrepreneurs and business owners to become financially savvy. And it’s time to end the practice of business management, pricing, and marketing by Braille!
Now, I’m on a mission to empower fellow entrepreneurs and business owners to take command and control of the destiny of their businesses.
If you read my journey that I laid out above, you know where and why my heart is where it is: I paid a huge price for being financially illiterate and business ignorant as a young plastic surgeon; not only did it cost me a lot of money; those experiences eroded my confidence and enthusiasm for being a doctor.
Yet those difficult experiences continue to fuel my motivation for making it easier and more practical for others to learn to apply sound financial management principles and “best practices.” And do it in a way that integrates all the other “moving parts” that are critical to one’s success.
Ultimately, I want this information to be widely available, to give others a fighting chance to experience greater freedom to build the business of their dreams, make a lasting, meaningful contribution to people and the world, and expand prosperity (beyond merely profit alone.)
Given the economic crises we’re experiencing locally and globally, there’s no question that this kind of training and application of knowledge is well overdue.
But The Task Of Reaching Out To The Millions Who Could Benefit From This Training CANNOT Be Done Alone.
There are millions of entrepreneurs and small business owners who are confused about how to set their fees and prices based on value. So instead they set their fees based on what they mistakenly fear that “the market will bear.”
A large percentage of these millions also lack mastery of basic business financial management skills – applying those principles and the “best practices” that make the difference between surviving and thriving.
I’m Thinking About Putting Together a Free Resource Kit For You, IF You’re Interested in Eradicating Business Financial Illiteracy.
I’ve been encouraged by the comments on the blog and direct emails that I’ve received. Thank you for your feedback!
I’ve been especially humbled by the show of support for me to go in whatever direction my heart tells me to. Problem is, there are many directions my heart says to pursue!
So to test the waters…I’m thinking about creating a value-packed, 100% free “Value Pricing for Prosperity Resource Kit” for you.
IF you’re serious about increasing the profitability, cash flow, and impact of your business, while enjoying greater freedom of being in business, I’m willing to build this Resource Kit specifically with you in mind.
So Far, This Is What I Think The Free “Value Pricing For Prosperity” Resource Kit Should Include:
- Value Pricing for Prosperity Training: How to Charge (And Get Paid) For What Your Products and Services Are Worth. I envision this to be a self-guided training in video, mp3 audio, and PDF format which will cover key principles of pricing, such as the surprising effects of price decreases and increases, how to figure out who your best and worst customers are, and how to decide on the best strategies for increasing your revenue and profit.
- Demonstration scenario calculators. I don’t know about you, but I don’t really “get” numbers or any mathematical calculations, no matter how simple, until I get to play with the numbers myself. So I’m planning to create easy-to-use, quick-to-understand calculators that support your understanding of value-based pricing principles and strategies.
- An exclusive “Pricing for Prosperity” Q&A session. During this 60-minute conference call session, you’ll be able to ask me any questions you have about pricing your services, products, and programs.
But Here’s the Catch
Because I should really become a member of “Perfectionists Anonymous” (I wonder, does this group really exist?) and will inevitably invest several hundred hours in this project and make it into a much bigger deal than it needs to be (or you even want)…
…I want to get a list of everyone who is interested in “Value Pricing for Prosperity” and having this “Value Pricing for Prosperity” Resource Kit.
So Here’s What I Want You to Do
I’m making a list of everyone who is potentially interested in getting my free resource kit AND applying what you learn.
Anyway, if you’re interested, then:
1) Enter your email address below, and if I end up making it, I’ll send it to you at the email address you list below (leaving a comment with any suggestions on what you’d like to get from the kit would also help).
If enough people get on this “interest list” (I’m thinking 125 or more), then I’ll make this free thing and send it to EVERYONE on the interest list.
But if I get, say 25, then I’ll simply reconsider whether I should direct my time and energy elsewhere.
Maybe that will tell me why not many people are out there effectively teaching value-based pricing, along with the sound business financial “best practices” and principles to support it: Perhaps no one cares enough about pricing based on value to do anything about it.
So…if no one wants me to make a “Value Pricing for Prosperity” Resource Kit, then no worries. Or maybe I’m wrong and people do care about it, but the timing just isn’t right for everyone.
But, if this sounds like something you would readily embrace to help you grow your business, then let me know you want this thing with your “vote!” (And if you really, really want it, get other people you know to vote, too!)
To freedom, contribution, and prosperity,