Johnny Carson, Game Shows, and a Lesson about Trust

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Back in the 1950s, into the 1960s, a game show called Who Do You Trust? aired where couples were asked questions, and one had to “trust” the other to answer it (or not!). If you remember the show (some of us do) you may also remember that Edgar Bergen (yes, Candace Bergen’s father) was the MC for the show.

However, what you may not remember is that a year or two into the show, Bergen was replaced by Johnny Carson – who often “helped” the couples get the right answers. He helped them – well – TRUST.

The irony of this particular game show, one with TRUST in the title, is that it aired during the years of the game show scandals – yes – scandals! The game show scandals were all about cheating, and giving answers to pre-determined winners, and money changing hands in ways it shouldn’t.

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What Do You Want to Learn?

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While many independent advocates and care managers spent their holiday time either celebrating, spending time with their families, and/or putting out fires for clients…  I’ve been right here at my desk during the holidays, preparing for THE LAUNCH.

It’s been SUCH a long time coming…many years, really. Certainly not because the will wasn’t there, nor because the technology wasn’t available.

I plead only the lack of enough hours in my days along with a few conflicting priorities (like completing the launch of patient advocate certification, and rebuilding the AdvoConnection profiles site, and moving 1200 miles!)  Those aren’t excuses. They were realities.

But now these new efforts have (finally!) moved to the TOP of my to-do list…  all to the benefit of advocates and care managers who want to improve their knowledge and skills in the many areas of building successful practices…

So what required so much effort?

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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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Independent Advocacy’s Three-Legged Stool of Success

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In response to one of the most frequently asked questions I get as the director of The Alliance of Professional Health Advocates – I might be providing an answer you don’t expect.

That’s OK! Because if you don’t expect it, then you may hear it even more clearly than you otherwise would. And that can only be good.

I hear the basic questions in a number of formats:

  • Do I need to get a degree or certificate to be a patient advocate?  Followed by, “what degree” or “what courses do I need to take?”
  • Do I need to be certified to be a patient advocate?  or   Do I need a license to be a patient advocate?
  • I already have a degree in ______  (healthcare management, or nursing, or other system-related credentials) – so do I need to study anything else?

The answer that may surprise you is this:

You aren’t asking the right questions.

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Polishing Our Advocacy Rocks

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I’ve just returned from Newark where we held the second of our 2018 APHA Summits Networking Events. About 30 advocates attended, with backgrounds ranging from leaders (long-time advocates who have built successful advocacy businesses) through a handful of folks who are just getting started and who arrived as sponges intending to absorb everything they could.

The experience was, in a word, magical. The energy in the room was electric.There was a constant buzz and hum of shared ideas and experiences. There were the usual words of advice that everyone has read or heard in the past, mixed with some surprises when the leaders were asked, “What do you wish you had known when you started your new practice that you didn’t know then?”

There was laughter, there were stories, there was joy, there were “on no!” moments, and there were “aha!” moments, and there was, as attendees departed, a sense of companionship, collaboration, and growing confidence, as in “I got this.”

I came away from this experience as I did from the networking experience in San Diego last month, with a stronger belief than before that private, independent advocacy is maturing, and that the phrase “paying it forward” is alive and well.

This is a change, by the way. A huge one, worth noting here, because I haven’t always been confident in that notion.

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