These 8 Yard Sale Lessons May Improve Your Advocacy Practice

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We’ve made the decision. My husband and I have decided to leave cold Northeastern winters behind, and in just a few weeks we’ll be moving south.  We’ve sold our home in Upstate NY. We’ve purchased a home in Florida. We’ve put together the details for the actual move itself…

The only continuing challenge is one that will sound familiar to many of you. We have too much stuff.

When we moved into our current home in 2007, we were newly married. We jammed two entire households worth of stuff into this home – most of it simply moved to the basement. Then parents passed away and we collected even more stuff. Over the years our kids have removed their stuff, we’ve sold a few things, we’ve given a lot away… From holiday decorations, tools, and hobby supplies to old tax records, books, grandkids’ toys, games, and luggage. Family, sentimental, nostalgic, even historical. It’s the stuff accumulated throughout two lifetimes and those of our loved ones and… well, overwhelming, really.

But in Florida there are no basements!  Therein lies our problem….

The solution?  A yard sale, of course. So Saturday’s sale was round one.

Throughout the day I haggled, chatted, rearranged and sold stuff. But I also spent time just observing shoppers, and by the end of the day, I had put together a list of relevant customer service lessons for private, professional patient advocates.

Granted, there are some major differences between yard sale shoppers and patients who need advocates. But I hope you’ll be able to use this list to improve how you conduct business with the general public – most of whom will need to hire a private advocate sometime in the future.

Here are the customer service lessons that may be helpful to you:

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Physicians Buying In – Bring on the Patient Advocates!

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Posted in the APHA Discussion Forum by one of our member advocates,

In the last week I have received calls from 2 potential clients whose physicians actually advised them to get a Patient Advocate! One was for medical insurance denials and the other was for patient navigation. It makes me really happy that physicians in my area are recognizing that we exist and can help their patients.

Followed shortly thereafter by another advocate who observed,

I know the clinicians I encounter learn to deeply appreciate my role-and, except for those who are dismissed, become more deeply engaged with my clients, who are their patients. MDs seem to be relieved with the presence of another pair of eyes scrutinizing the medical history, reviewing the pharmaceuticals (and my invariable submission of corrections to the medication record residing within the EHR), researching clinical guidelines, finding ways to better coordinate care, and averting potential catastrophes.

And still another who added,

We get lots of referrals from physicians. We just did a webinar for a group of physicians in our area. It’s a great way to get the word out. Glad to hear others are experiencing the same!

So why is all this news, and why does it belong in this blog?

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Breaking the Rules

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If you think about it for a minute, rule-breaking plays an enormous role in the life of a patient advocate.

Rule breaking – is one reason (even if it’s not the only reasons) we exist – a problem we fight. One reason we are hired.

Rule breaking – can be a success tactic – one way to win the fight.

Rule breaking – is one of the major factors that separates private, individual professional advocates from our hospital and insurance counterparts – the distinction that often makes the difference to patient-clients’ outcomes.

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Are You an Impostor?

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See if this sounds familiar:

When it comes time to help a client, or discuss your work, or promote your practice… you hesitate. Sometimes just a little, sometimes more, sometimes you balk all together.

You ask yourself, “What it they figure out I don’t really know what I’m talking about?” or “What if I don’t know enough?” or “What if mess up because I’m not really worthy? or “What if they find me out?”

Do you ever feel like a fraud, an impostor?

Studies show that at times, you probably do. In fact, that feeling is so prevalent that it has a name: “Impostor Syndrome.” In our hearts, most of us think we are frauds. 

We’re in good company! Maya Angelou, Tina Fey, Tom Hanks, Kate Winslett, Michelle Pfeifer, Seth Godin, Sonia Sotomayor…. From celebrities, to politicians, authors, and musicians, the feeling that we aren’t quite worthy of respect or simple appreciation, much less adulation or acclaim, is just as commonplace as feeling hungry or sleepy. For most of us, it’s just part of our DNA.

I’m not here to tell you to forget about it, or even to just get over it. If it’s in our DNA, we can’t get past it any easier than we can change our hair color or eye color…. but…. wait…. we CAN change those things, right? Even if it’s temporary, we can dye our hair or wear color-changing contact lenses.  It may not be easy, and it may be uncomfortable, but if it’s important, we can do it…

We can mask these other parts of what our DNA has produced…. So why not work to mask some of our impostor syndrome, too?

As business owners, learning to mask some of our feelings of not being worthy is a must. In fact, I believe that if you can’t cover up your impostor syndrome, you won’t succeed in self-employment. Period.


Getting past that feeling of being unworthy is required for many aspects of our work:  discussing contracts, asking for money, public speaking, media interviews, sticking up for our clients in the faces of roadblocks and difficult people; these tasks and requirements, and others, require chutzpah and confidence regardless of how you feel inside.

The key is that we need to learn to fake it till we make it. Just as we might wear colored contact lenses, or dye our hair (no one has seen my real hair color since I yanked out the first gray ones 20 years ago!), we can cover up some of our feelings of inferiority, too – and move forward.

So I’ve poked around, talked to a few folks, read MUCH, and I’ve come up with a list of resources and ideas to help all of us who feel like the frauds we aren’t, to cover it up – even if it’s only an occasional “get over it.”  I hope you find some help in here:

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