You Can’t Do Life, or Business, Without Plan B

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You know Plan B. Plan B is your go-to option when what you thought would work, didn’t.

It’s the answer to the question, “What will you do when life gets in the way?”

I was reminded of Plan B last week when, after days of internet problems due to some new construction in the area, the internet was finally stable, and I had taken a very relieved deep breath and settled into a nice big project online….

…When BAM! Down went the internet again! Only this time the outage was caused by some workers next door digging up the edge of the neighbor’s garden, and slicing our underground internet wiring in two. Poof! And it wasn’t like they could fix it! Of course not! (Not to mention how rude they were about the whole thing – another story for another day…. )

You can imagine what came next. Since the outage was caused by a crew that was digging, who had not gotten permission to dig (which I’ve since learned is against the law!), there was absolutely no hurry on the part of our internet service provider to fix it. It wasn’t their fault, and we were only one customer. They had other bigger outages affecting many more customers to attend to. When I phoned, they said they would put us on the schedule for next Wednesday…. WHAT? OMG!

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An Anniversary, Meltdowns, Blessings, and Fuel for Advocates

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Please indulge me today. I’m going to share a very personal experience I rarely think about anymore, in hopes it will propel some good advocacy.

Sometimes months go by when I barely give it any thought. Other times, like lately, it seems like everywhere I turn, I just can’t escape it. So here you go:

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Advocates Are Afraid to Do This – Until They Love to Do It

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Earlier this year we hosted one of our APHA Workshop weekends*, with about 30 individuals who are somewhere in the process of growing an advocacy practice.

The APHA Workshops were originally designed to support the BUSINESS of advocacy only. The idea was that most advocates have abundant skills and abilities to advocate – they’ve advocated for themselves and loved ones, and sometimes non-family patients for years. What they didn’t know was how to successfully start and run a sustainable business / practice to allow them to do their advocacy work.  For five years, we hosted those original workshops all over the country, and student-advocates provided feedback indicating they were worthwhile.

Until… about a year ago it became clear that there was one major piece in the teaching of the budding profession of advocacy that was missing, a piece that no one had really named yet. Those of us who are leaders in the profession could describe it, but we had trouble honing in on a concise description, or definition, or better yet, a single word that would allow us to communicate about it.

This became even clearer at this year’s first workshop, mentioned above, where we added a component to address that missing piece. Some attendees, those new to advocacy, struggled to solve the real life patient / caregiver problems we posed. Observing some of the struggle helped me figure it out….

So today I’m going to name it, describe it, and then ask YOU to provide examples.

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The Most Expensive Business to Start

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It’s entirely possible to start a new business on a shoestring. We know this, because every publication worth the paper or website it’s published on tells us so:  Forbes, USA Today, Entrepreneur, all of them.

It requires time, grit, determination, attention to detail, great word-of-mouth – oh – and money! More about this in a minute.

The truth is – the concept of starting a business on a shoestring depends on the size of your shoes and therefore, the length and strength of their laces. It certainly doesn’t hurt if they are made of solid-gold, and you can sell them for your seed money.

If you hear a sarcastic edge in this post, it’s for good reason. It’s born of frustration, the feeling that I’m shouting into an empty cave.  I’ve just heard from one more person who has closed up her advocacy practice because she can’t afford it anymore; this on the heels of a conversation last week with one of our APHA Mentors who asked me, “Why do people think they can start an advocacy practice with no investment? Why do they think they can do it for free?”

Good questions. GREAT questions. And sadly, representative of too much reality and too much failure. And, for today, it means I’m going to try to provide this reality check one more time.

Let’s look at that shoestring for a minute. 

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Are You Too Old? Take this survey.

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It happened again last week. A gentleman called me to discuss becoming a advocate. He has great experience and could be very helpful to patient-clients because he is (mostly) retired from a career in human resources where he assisted employees with their journeys through the healthcare system. He seems so very well prepared to jump in as an independent, professional, health advocate or care manager.

Yet – he said he was still hesitating because (and it took me some time to pull this one out of him) – he thinks he may be too old.

Too old? I asked him, “How old is too old?”

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