Like Learning to Ride Your Bike…

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In an email conversation with one of our APHA mentors last week, a point that is so often lacking in the understanding of an independent advocacy practice was made:  That it usually takes 3 to 5 years to know if someone will be a successful business owner, advocacy included.

That so many advocates quit before they get there, never giving themselves a chance, really. They start out thinking it will be easy because, afterall, many been advocates for decades in previous careers…  just a simple switch to self-employment, right?

When they finally understand that the first few years are more about business than advocacy, it’s a rude awakening. When that lightbulb goes off, when they begin to understand it’s about running a business, they begin to panic.  That’s when I hear:

But I’ve never done this before!

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Where Survivor (TV) Meets a New Advocacy Practice

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Survivor – Jeff Probst and Company (and company and company and company!)  Currently in its 37th season, I’ve watched probably 30 of those seasons. I’m more about the psychology, head games, and strategy. My husband is more about the physical endurance. In total we usually disagree on who we think should win any given season (the one person who never gets voted off the island!) but we both agree that the person who wins deserves to because they have gone into the game with a strategy, implemented it, and as a result, “survived.”

As I watched last week’s Survivor episode (Season 37, Episode 6) I realized that there are at least two strategic aspects of the game of Survivor that become lessons for starting an advocacy practice, both of which I could share with you to help you better understand how they work for launching and growing an advocacy practice:

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When Granny Doesn’t Want to Cross the Street

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You have probably heard that old joke about a Boy Scout who was determined to help a little old lady cross the street. After a number of attempts and iterations, he finally picked her up and carried her to the other side of the street, set her down on the sidewalk, and left, having completed his good deed.

But the joke was really on him – because the lady had no interest in getting to the other side. She had wanted to stay right where she was.

We frequently receive requests to take Granny across the street. They come in the form of Unmet Needs requests from well-meaning friends and family who want an advocate to help someone they care about.

Too many of those patients are just like the little old lady, and too many advocates are trying to play the role of the Boy Scout.

How?

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To Gain a New Client, You’ll Have to Break 2 Bad Habits

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The phone rings. It’s a new, potential client calling. You answer, “This is Joan Advocate. May I help you?”

The client, Juanita, is relieved to hear your friendly voice. She launches into her story about the doctor not listening to her, and that she can’t fill her prescription because it’s too expensive. Then she asks if you can help her.

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