THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

Protection

Sometimes it’s necessary to protect yourself from the outside world – so that you will be best able to fulfil your roles and responsibilities when they are genuinely required. It’s Friday, it’s my buffer day – and I am completely burned out after a week of back to back meetings and travel (yes, I know, coaching clients on work/life balance). There was no 05:00 alarm call this morning – arriving back late last night after a 335-mile drive put paid to the 5th early start of the week. I “do” burned out now and then – it happens no matter how well organised or supported you are. The secret is to keep it to maybe 2 or 3 times a year – and not every week – and that’s what the “balance” thing is about – not trying to be some kind of super-hero but retaining your humanity as well as more good habits then bad. I set myself up for this – as well as 4 days of early morning emails, 4 days of meetings and presentations – I also agreed to 3 successive evenings of working dinners. The three over-dinner conversations were immensely enjoyable and informative – but I know there’s something not quite right when I don’t see the news all week – and I take my current novel in the suitcase on Monday morning and it’s still there, unread, on Thursday night. “You’re overdoing it” my Mum used to say. Why am I doing that? I’m supposed to know this stuff. Answer…. Because I’m having more fun at work than I have had for 10 years. I’m not commercially lonely. I’m making good money. I see opportunity wherever I look. I’m superbly supported. I work with people I trust, respect and like. The “journey” right now is an absolute blast. Although, by choice, I don’t write much about my IDH experience, I’d love you to know that I’m revelling in the challenge and respectful of the people I meet. Remember all that well-poisoning about corporates full of people who don’t give a damn? The opposite is the reality as far as IDH is concerned. IDH is a great company. Don’t get me wrong – there are challenges in influencing 3000 team members and 900 dentists – real challenges – but that’s the job. I’m inspired by the quality of the Board and the head office team. By their willingness to allow someone like me to invest the last 9 months in getting to know what makes the place tick and experiment with ways to move the business forward. What has impressed me the most about IDH has been the quality of the team members out there in the market-place wherever I go – really committed people who want to make the company a success. In the Private & Specialist Division we now lead and manage almost 50 practices with sales in excess of £30m and we are innovating in marketing, in customer service and in leadership & management. A project I have always wanted to get involved with – I’m loving it. And then there is the freelance work that I still do. What can I say? Again, wonderful principals and team members who are innovating at the leading edge of private dentistry. Probably another 50 practices, directly or indirectly – with perhaps £50m in collective sales. Practices re-branding, re-locating and reviving their sales and profitability. New practices lifting off the runway with remark-able retailing. Perhaps the simplest explanation is the appreciative emails from the clients, many of whom are reporting record sales in June. I’m sometimes asked whether there is a confict of interest between my work with IDH and in the independent sector. Its a question always asked by people who:

  1. never hire me and

  2. live in scarcity mentality

Competition stimulates demand and I’ve realised that although my priviledged position requires confidentiality and integrity, at the same time bringing the business knowledge of corporates to the independent and equally from the independent to the corporate is a genuine “win-win” for patients, suppliers, teams and the owners. Yes – best ever months. What recession? All of this PLUS invitations to conferences and meetings with product and service suppliers who realise how much harder they have to work to win customers – and are just getting on with it. Thought leadership around:

  1. hygiene-based assessments

  2. therapy-led maintenance

  3. web attraction

  4. branding and marketing

  5. retail sales

  6. branded experiences

  7. financial modelling

Goodness me – this is a good! But I’m burned out. So I’m protecting myself today, in my metaphoric castle, my fortress of solitude – keeping contact with clients to a minimum and only doing the work that is absolutely necessary – because I have emptied my batteries this week. When I get like this, the most important things to do for me (especially after days on the road) are:

  1. unpack

  2. get the washer going

  3. take my suits to the dry cleaners (and my shoes to the cobblers)

  4. clean my car

  5. open all the envelopes

  6. put all the paper in my beloved clear plastic folders

  7. make a list – a big list – of absolutely everything that needs doing

  8. A, B, C the list

  9. delegate

  10. time activate the projects

and then

  1. walk away from it all and

  2. chill

Which is what I’m doing – sat in The Shed in Falmouth and just playing around with the Macbook Pro, catching up on RSS feeds, messing around on the web, Facebooking, thinking, cappuccino and soup, before a couple of meetings later this afternoon. But I do so with an enormous smile on my face and in my heart and soul. Business is great – and there’s room for more. As if all that wasn’t enough – just you wait until later this year………….

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