Don’t Shy Away from High Standards

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Ever had a manager who really pushed you? Who constantly demanded more out of you? I’m talking someone who didn’t have to say it, but expected you to push and drive for more on a daily basis? To be better. To be on point. To be on time – aka 15 minutes early. To have deliverables and commitments ready means reviewed 3 times the week before it’s needed. To be prepared – aka to have five pre socialization meetings before the actual meeting. To be proactive. To take ownership. To make the client look good. To add value. To speak with conviction. To expect more out of yourself, more than anything.

Fortunately, I had a few managers like that early on in my career. True leaders who constantly issued positive challenges to me. Direct, prescriptive and lucid directions or ideas on how I could be better, take on more responsibility, add more value to our clients, teams and organizations.

Regardless of you’re personal, communal or professional doings – what makes you better as an individual is accountability for your own: attitude, efforts, results. What makes you better in a more leadership-centric role: accountability, effort and ownership over the team’s results. And so on up to the highest levels of organization. 

Today, there’s an epidemic that’s society wide but especially impacts individuals within organizations. People avoid setting high standards for themselves…we’re all guilty of this at some point, just some more than others. Individuals, especially in large organizations, do everything they can to say they’re “innovative”, they’re “leaders”, they’re “engaging”, they’re “proactive” – but this is far from the truth. Most folks are hiding in organizations. And they run like Usain Bolt when high standards are placed on them by others. Setting high standards for other people? That’s why influencers, mentors, managers, coaches, executives, etc. who are good are in short supply, high demand. Setting high standards for other people is hard because it feels confrontational, and people avoid conflict at all costs.

Success + growth today – is predicated on seeking out and staying close to those people who set ridiculously high standards and expectations for you personally, communally and professionally. Sound familiar? Well when you hear people talk about you as the product of the 5 people you most associate with, it makes sense.

Don’t just set high standards and expectations for you personally. Seek out those who demand more of you. Finding them can be hard. Expecting and accepting their challenges is harder. So rise to the occassion, and express gratitude as you grow and learn from them.

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Not only is the story somewhat entertaining if you have experience in a corporate/consulting/team setting but it also does something for me and something for you (readers).

For me, it provides an opportunity to document and reflect on some of the more important experiences that I’ve had so I can pull from them later.

For you, if you’re into this type of thing – whether looking to have more influence, be a better coach or find yourself in a management capacity – I think there are some good lessons…

First, if you’re looking to be a more effective <manager, coach, mentor, influencer, etc.> you have to know your people before you can deploy any strategy around building and growing their capabilities. Why? Let me draw a parallel to horse racing – the jockey knows how much he can get out of his horse – i.e. how much he can drive the horse on a given day. But each horse is different. Sometimes you have a horse that knows zero bounds and would run itself into the ground if you asked it to. Other times, you might be sitting on the next secretariat, but with a sensitive demeanor, or poor attitude. People are the same so you have to learn how to drive them – and that usually takes time, getting to know them. The story below highlights how my manager tapped into my competitive nature and issued positive challenges to get more out of me. You’ll also see that positive challenges are one of the primary tools influencers and high performers use.

Second, when talking about the high level of standards required in achieving & sustaining high performance or influencing people – we have to mention details. In the story I’ll paint a picture for why the tiniest details matter. High performers have ridiculously high expectations. It’s in their DNA to almost “look down” on folks who don’t uphold these types of standards. Plus, each time you cut a corner, or let something go, you’re creating an opening for “good enough” to be acceptable.

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First, let’s level set on semantics I used in the title of this paragraph. A ‘manager’ could plausibly be anyone who oversees the responsibilities, efforts and results of a single other person or it could be anyone with a ‘management’ title – a range which could run up from a small team or division manager to a regional director or CEO.

So when I say direct manager, I’m referring to a manager in consulting. Where he was responsible for growing + building me as a consultant and ensuring that I was performing for the client. But by defenition, doing the bare minimum – i.e. making sure I delivered just enough, making sure the client was happy, making sure I didn’t fuck things up too much – that would be enough by definition as far as his management responsibilites are concerned.

But that’s not a high performer…I’ll reiterate: a high performer is someone who sets high standards for themselves and isn’t afraid to push high standards and expectations on those around them. That’s exactly what he did.

I remember these days vividly – even missing them at times – the laughs, camaraderie and ridiculous personalities of colleagues and clients (especially). We were about three months into the most challenging engagement I had ever been on. It was in the wealth management business unit of a large investment bank – working on an initiative that had c-level visibility and lots of attention,  when I first dropped the term ‘irregardless’.

My manager – we’ll call him Andy for now – and I were debating how an array of financial account types (think retirement vs. brokerage vs. trust, etc.) would require different back-end processes to support a front end experience that collects varying types and amounts of required regulatory information from clients.

In the heat of debate, I said something along the lines of: “well, irregardless, the individual and brokerage accounts have the same reg requirements”.

Andy fired back with: “no, that’s not right”.

Perplexed, I said: “what do you mean that’s not right? I’m looking at the requirements right in front of me”.

Andy just laughs and, while jumping onto a call we were 6 minutes late for, said: “Sorry dude, I meant that first part of what you said was wrong. It’s regardless. Irregardless isn’t a word, you know that right?”

I couldn’t help but laught, knwoing he was right, and mentioned in passing that I had my mom to thank for that habit.

Over the next few months I focused big on getting rid of that word – and other poor verbal habits I had. Bad habits, straight up, are tough to rewire. And I could have chose to ignore something seemingly so miniscule. Because how much does it really help you to use the mental bandwidth, willpower or discipline to avoid tiny mistakes lke that? Ones that don’t really seem to be a driver of benefit or value. Surprisingly, it’s a tremendous value-add over time because you begin to catch even the smalles of issues in verbal + written semantics. The problem, is that it’s not measurable – which in business many times means it’s invisible – and certainly not gratifying or noticeable for your performance review.

The engagement was moving along at hyper-speed and I came to know just how detailed Andy was. I’d always prided myself on attention to detail being one of my competencies. But he was on another level, and it just came with ease for him. It was his standard.

That type of a-game standard can be one of two things: intimidating or inspiring. Either you welcome it, and embrace the positive challenge issued to you, asking you to rise to the occassion or you dismiss it and pick apart the rationale or motive behind it. Accepting the challenge is always the decision that makes you better.

About 8 months into the engagement I had grown a lot and learned a ton from Andy. I had built trust with the clients, as well as Andy, and was driving things on the ground at the client site managing stakeholders while he was overseas or working remotely from out of state.

In one of our last meetings together in New York we had a number of senior clients in a meeting where I was walking through a massive road map of our requirements, process flows and an inventory of product capabilities. Andy was sitting directly to my right at the corner of a big conference room table, and I was answering some questions about potential engagement dependencies with other initiatives when I decided again to drop the word irregardless.

Client A: “What happens if feature Y doesn’t get delivered before X as we expected?”

Adam: “Well, based on our analysis and discussion with blue team, you really don’t need Y before X, because X can piggy-back off of Z’s requirements – which has a guaranteed delivery ahead of X. So “irregardless” of Y’s delivery, we still get X as part of day one minimum viable product.”

*Almost immediately Andy slides over a little bit and I feel a nudge on my foot/ankle, so I glance over at him. He’s glaring at me with a smirk and shaking his head. We have a client who may take the cake for being the toughest we’ve worked with, and Andy can tell he picked up on my “interesting” word choice. After the meeting:

Andy: “Dude, seriously? Great job in there, but irregardless is still not a word. English is my second language. You gotta be better. Especially with ‘client A’ in there. You know how he is – he loves those <consulting firm x> guys – don’t wanna give him any ammunition against us.”

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Assuming you’ve made it this far (thanks for suffering through it), I bet some of you are saying “wow, that’s petty”. While that’s ok, my assumption is that you’re not used to setting high standards for yourself. More specifically, you’re not comfortable with someone challenging you or setting seemingly unrealistic standards for you to live up to.

The story is just one of many examples of attention to detail, professionalism and leading by example type lessons from Andy. I’ve never in my life been told that I needed to focus heavily on attention to detail until my time with him. And you know what? I needed to hear it multipel times before I owned it and got around my natural defense mechanism, which was my old narrative that I was always the most detailed person in the room.

So, take home messages. Do you want to have influence on people? Having influence requires that you expect first from yourself, and then from others. That you can issue positive challenges to people’s competence, character, contributions and connections to team or customers. Today, more than ever, setting high standards is tough because people shy away from them, don’t believe in honoring the struggle, and avoid conflict at all costs. But you can’t back down from the expectations of others, and you can’t adjust your high standards to accomodate those around you.

The highest performers, managers, coaches, mentors, etc. change the way you think. They challenge your character. Hold you to universal standards. Never say don’t sweat the details or allow you to cut even the smallest of corners personally, communally or professionally. Having influence requires you to challenge the way people think, challenge them to contribute more, and to “role model” the way it’s supposed to be done.

Andy did that for me day in and day out. Andy developed influce with me. And for that, I’m fuckin’ thankful. Hopefully this little story helps you think about how to perform better and influence people positively.

 

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Why I Started A More Personal Platform

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Before you guys dive into this post much further I’d love it for you to read the quote by Scott Galloway above, give him a quick Googley Googley Google and maybe even listen to his appearance on the Suiting Up Podcast hosted by Paul Rabil.

The reason why I’m writing this today is to dump my brain and talk a little bit about why I decided to start an online presence that captured more than just my passion for Health & Performance (remember Perform True? lol )..something that serves as a platform for all of my ideas, research, experiments, advice, tools and methods I’m working on and also share some of my skills. Essentially, I wanted a platform to create. One that wasn’t governed by any mission or brand guideline other than my own.

And my thirst to create stems largely from spending so much time in a demanding career as a management consultant, that it scared the shit out of me how much time had gone by and how little growth I’d achieved in a number of key areas of my life ranging from learning, solving my own problems instead of clients (companies), creating and thinking through my own ideas, spending time with family, paying attention to my health, building new relationships and making the most out of the ones I already have.

But my story isn’t the “fuc* corporate america” or wanna-be entrepreneur narrative that is so god damn prevalent today. I learned a ton there, and it’s the type of education you can’t come back to once you miss your chance. Mine is nearly 100% in line with what Scott talks about in his podcast and is summarized in the quote at the top of this post. My interpretation, or at least the action item(s) I laid out in front of myself, is that whatever I do with the rest of my 20’s and 30’s they better be spent learning, creating, growing and if by chance the risk looks really enticing, taking it.

[/et_pb_blurb][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row _builder_version=”3.0.92″ background_size=”initial” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat” module_alignment=”center”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″ _builder_version=”3.0.92″ parallax=”off” parallax_method=”on”][et_pb_blurb title=”A ‘Golden Rule’ or Immutable Truth in Life is That Trade-Offs Exist for Every Single Decision You Make – no matter how big or small.” content_max_width=”900px” _builder_version=”3.0.92″ header_font=”Permanent Marker|700|||||||” header_text_align=”center” header_font_size=”20px” header_text_color=”#0c71c3″ header_line_height=”1.5em” body_font=”Roboto|700|||||||” body_text_align=”center”]– I’ve Always Been Motivated By Regret Or The Fear Of Regret; This is My Rekindled Thesis Around Time Regret
[/et_pb_blurb][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row custom_padding=”25.5938px|0px|0px|0px” _builder_version=”3.0.47″ background_size=”initial” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″ _builder_version=”3.0.92″ parallax=”off” parallax_method=”on”][et_pb_blurb title=”Rekindling My Thesis” content_max_width=”900px” _builder_version=”3.0.92″ header_font=”Alef|700||on|||||” header_font_size=”20px” header_text_color=”#46db25″ body_font=”Roboto||||||||” body_font_size=”16px”]Now for those who don’t know me, in May 2017 I left behind a career that I worked tremendously hard to build. I was what you’d call a “long shot” to get a job in Finance or Management Consulting in New York. I’ll spare you the long story and details, and maybe some of you would think my career narrative is a bit dramatic, but I got to a place in my career, working for companies and with people far more educated than I, where I never thought I would be.

Leaving is what rekindled my thesis around time and decision making. It was not a quick decision, it was one that grinded throughout the course of a year in which I felt like I was on a treadmill; it was emotionally draining; it was downright scary – personally, financially and of course professionally. So when I look back in reflection it’s not just the sole decision of making a big change, it’s all of the small decisions about how I spent the limited time I had outside of professional settings. I’ve been asking myself things like, “Ok, so now that you’ve resurfaced a thesis that you’ve always intuitively subscribed to, but somehow got away from, how do you leverage it as input for future decisions?”

[/et_pb_blurb][et_pb_blurb title=”Pseudo Cost-Benefit-Analysis (CBA)” content_max_width=”900px” _builder_version=”3.0.92″ header_font=”Alef|700||on|||||” header_font_size=”20px” header_text_color=”#46db25″ body_font=”Roboto||||||||” body_font_size=”16px”]I’m describing my thought process here because, essentially, I’ve been doing a CBA on where and how I’ve spent my time since graduating college and how to design what I call a “time-well-spent lifestyle” for the future. The results, in a nutshell, are as follows: one one hand, I’m grateful for the professional experience, skills and network I built on some pretty cool client engagements. I had some pretty damn good times with friends and family and have some classic New York City stories. For me, grit and determination that I’d always relied on earlier in life provided vital in refusing to let anything stand between me and the goals I set. But it’s the mistakes I made that I’m most proud and thankful for, because I learned a lot about myself…personally, professionally, financially and emotionally. On the other hand, I have to reconcile with it the fact that the product of my efforts were the result of a massive time-as-capital investment. Spent researching, analyzing and trying to solve other people’s (company’s) problems. So the trade-off, or opportunity cost of my pursuits, was foregoing the freedom for self-teaching, pursuing my own interests and creating for myself.

[/et_pb_blurb][et_pb_blurb title=”A %22Time Well Spent%22 Lifestyle” content_max_width=”900px” _builder_version=”3.0.92″ header_font=”Alef|700||on|||||” header_font_size=”20px” header_text_color=”#46db25″ body_font=”Roboto||||||||” body_font_size=”16px”]Considering that same thesis about time with the desire to create for myself leads to more introspection: How do I create an optimal, time-well-spent lifestyle? As a fairly calculated planner and risk (averse) taker – I just like most people – want to balance desire for optimal lifestyle with safety and security. And by that, I’m primarily alluding to financial security. For most of us, the pursuit of the latter typically compromises the former. In other words, most people are chasing their future safety and security today. Today’s sacrifice of time is predicated on the hopes that optimal lifestyle catches up with security down the road.

The scary part is that most people put the cart before the horse. The cart is optimal lifestyle, the product, the dream, or end game. The horse is the process, the grind, the grit, the effort, the failure, the real skin in the game, and the stuff no one sees. I see a lot of folks who almost expect, or are entitled to, the cart without the horse. Society paints this intoxicating picture – helped by entitled people and successful entrepreneurs – that encourages wanderlust, removeal of attachment or commitment, dispise of “corporate america” and 4-hour work weeks for everyone. In other words, it seems like everyone wants or feels entitled to the cart, without working for it.

[/et_pb_blurb][et_pb_blurb title=”The Future” content_max_width=”900px” _builder_version=”3.0.92″ header_font=”Alef|700||on|||||” header_font_size=”20px” header_text_color=”#46db25″ body_font=”Roboto||||||||” body_font_size=”16px”]Now, I don’t have the formula figured out yet. But I have plotted out what I think is a more realistic trajectory toward optimal lifestyle with a lot of hard work and focus. When I mentioned freedom to self-teach, pursue my own interests and create for myself, that’s a core component of what I want to build around. So planning for my future means working my ass off and making the most of the time I do have to build and create “on the side”. Ideally, 60% to 70% of my professional time (career) will be spent executing and 30% to 40% (the more the better) will be dedicated to creating, learning, and working on my own ideas and development – deep work.

Of course some of you may have a better idea, opportunity, vision or hand-out if you’re entitled. And I welcome all of those. But for my plan, Izsights is a platform to document and share my ideas, thoughts, tools, skills and collaborations online to start creating. Through this personal medium I don’t have to stay true to any one brand or mission, except my own.

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6 Stress Management Strategies for the Corporate Athlete

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“…the rigor of corporate athletics is often even more demanding than that of professional athletes. In my world, one does not have the luxury of an off-season…”

– Arthur Blank, President & CEO of Home Depot

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Later this week, we’re going to be releasing Episode 1 | Part 2 of our High Performance Lab podcast. In this episode we’re going to dive deep into stress management and discuss six recommendations for managing stress. Our recommendations can be leveraged by anyone looking to be proactive and get a hold of their stress but because stress is such a broad topic we’re going to tailor these strategies towards “Corporate Athletes” and some of our friends over at Optel Group. Crucial to the topic is understanding that stress is actually healthy. Our stress response is part of our biological software or operating system that is programmed for survival. If the concept of “fight or flight” sounds familiar, you are on the right track, and we’ll sprinkle in some environmental and evolutionary context to consider. The issues with stress really start to take shape around the topic of chronic stress which impacts more than 25% of Americans.

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If you were to look up the definition of stress you’d understand why it’s a useless definition for scientists because the term is so subjective. Merriam Webster defines stress as “a constraining force or influence, such as:….” [1]

  • a force exerted when one body or body part presses on, pulls on, pushes against, or tends to compress or twist another body or body part; especially :the intensity of this mutual force commonly expressed in pounds per square inch
  • the deformation caused in a body by such a force
  • a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation
  • a state resulting from a stress; especially :one of bodily or mental tension resulting from factors that tend to alter an existent equilibrium job-related stress

The list of definitions circulating are mind boggling. But you get the point. Scientists use more informal definitions, something along the lines of, “the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change” [2]. At Perform True, we like to think of stress in terms of our species’ survival mechanism. We’re programmed to respond to certain stressors in our environments – those stressors can be:

  • physical (e.g. a phsyical force being exerted upon you, like a tree falling on your leg or a street fight);
  • mental & emotional (e.g. stressing about relationships, economic or financial concerns, etc.);
  • metabolic (e.g. stress which impacts your internal biological processes the result of things like poor nutrition, virus, disease, etc.);
  • environmental (like sensing a predator in your area – a shark in the water, or your boss hovering behind your desk). Alluded to earlier, stress in natural amounts is healthy. Chronic stress is the issue and it’s defined in simple terms as consistently elevated levels of stress and it’s associated hormonal imbalances that lead to a host of health issues and impact to our metabolic processes. We’ll dive into the more details including the common signs and symptoms of stress on the podcast. Stay tuned.

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So how do our bodies respond to stress? In summary it’s through a series of steps and interactions that start and finish within our brain’s command center: we perceive or identify a stressor, engage our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems to send signals to our adrenal cortex and pituitary glands to trigger a hormonal response, and the result is heightened senses, higher blood pressure, heart rate and lung capacity. All designed to enable us to respond to danger, or perceived danger, and survive. We’ll dive into the details later this week but for further reading check out: Harvard Health – Understanding the Stress Response [3]

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The APA conducts a few very important studies each year. One of them is “Stress in America: Coping with Change” – which highlights the impact of digital adoption and technology on America’s rising levels of stress. At Perform True, we like to refer to technology as both “the gift and the curse”. ..so without spoiling all the podcast discussion, here are a few metrics from the study [4]:

  • Percentage % of adults that own a particular device: Computers, 90% | Smartphones, 74% | Tablets, 55%
  • Increased Social Media Adoption (Adults): from 7% in 2005 to 65% in 2015
  • Increased Social Media Adoption (Young Adults, 18 to 29): from 12% in 2005 to over 90% in 2015
  • Percentage of employed Americans who are “constant checkers” of digital/social: over 46%
  • Employed Americans who admitted to constant checking cited stress levels averaging 6.0/10.0; about 36% higher than “non-constant checkers”

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Humanism is a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value of humans over all other organisms and species. To a certain extent we all ascribe to this belief wheter directly or indirectly. Over time our species has developed the habit of trying to play god, and we’ve seeked to control or play a part in everything on our planet. And then some. The human push for control is always superceded, though, by nature and the environments we inhabit. Our environments will always be an omnipotent force that we cannot fully can control even if to a certain extent we can manipulate it.

Our hard-coded biological responses to stress have remained the same for thousands of years. The same response programmed to save us during periods of starvation, tribal attacks or when being stalked by a sabre tooth tigether is the same operating system we have to put us on high alert we perceive or identify stress today. Even at home, the office, in a social setting or in these new digital playgrounds we inhabit so often, we are not fully in control of our biological response to these environments.

So as our environments have continued to dictate and our stress response is still in OS 1.0, our new cultural and social constructs create environments that actually trigger our stress and survival response much more often than thousands of years ago; to the point where chronic stress is the #2 contributor to chronic disease in our country, second only to high sugar and insulin resistance.

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Here is a preview of the 6 stress managemnet strategies we’re going to discuss later this week on the High Performance Lab podcast…

  • (6) Managing Workplace Expectations Effectively
  • (5) Disconnecting From Digital
  • (4) Overhauling Your Nutrition
  • (3) Getting Going: Movement
  • (2) Developing a Mindfulness Practice
  • (1) The Importance of Intention and Routine: “Failing to Prepare is Prepairing to Fail”

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Healthcare Reimagined | Part 1

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“Nanotechnology experts are developing a bionic immune system composed of millions of nano-robots, who would inhabit our bodies, open blocked blood vessels, fight viruses and bacteria, eliminate cancerous cells and even reverse aging processes. A few serious scholars suggest that by 2050, some humans will become a-mortal (not immortal, because they could still die of some accident, but a-mortal, meaning that in the absence of fatal trauma their lives could be extended indefinitely).”

-Excerpt from Sapiens by Noah Yuval Harari

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Back when I decided to change my career path (the first time) and shift academically from exercise science to finance my initial intent was to go into healthcare management. I’ve always had an inkling to be close to the field, business or general discipline of health in some way. Lately I’ve been really pondering the concept of human enhancement; particularly the notion being popularized by companies like HVMN (pronounced “human”) who are advocating for the humans as a platform movement.

When you think about the discipline of engineering – whether it’s specializing in software, electrical or industrial – it’s all about understanding foundational truths and then researching and analyzing the most logical inputs that will (to some degree of probability) achieve a desired output (within a certain margin of error). The concepts that get designed are constantly refined and reengineered for optimal performance. The easiest way to draw a parallel is to think about software engineers and computer scientists who are constantly reassessing and rewriting lines of code to operate faster, more efficiently, require less processing power, etc. to ultimately achieve higher performance.

The human body is not only the most fascinating and nearly perfectly engineered set of systems out there but it’s also the most complex. Although science, medicine and technology have come a long way the belief is that there is still so much more ground to break! Today there is a cohort of people who you’ve heard referred to as “bio-hackers” (I personally dislike the term because it gives off a connotation that one can beat not only “the system” but your own damn system) that are really pushing boundaries when it comes to viewing humans as the next platform…

I’m a huge proponent of this movement because it’s paving the way for innovation in health & performance as a whole. Quite possibly even more important, it’s getting more people to consider thinking with a “First Principles Approach” which basically means starting any logic based approach with the basic facts and truths and reasoning upward from there. Why is First Principles important? Well, you can check in with the homie Elon Musk here: How Elon Musk Thinks.

So the other day I was pondering whether or not, if I had the money, I would install a continuous blood glucose monitor. I had doubled back to an old video or article about folks doing this who were engaged in intermittent fasting and the ketogenic diet for optimal performance and it triggered a real trip down memory lane for me. Before I left EY, I was making a big push to move from advising financial institutions to getting into healthcare consulting. I had a number of conversations with experts in the space and read a ton of industry-specific research that really got the wheels turning. What I’m about to share is a collection of ideas or thoughts that are 100% my own which I’ve been mulling over for some time and recently unearthed a few weeks ago when reading Sapiens. It’s highly likely that individual components of what I’m going to be share are already major topics of discussion elsewhere and areas that are far outside of my expertise. Nonetheless, in the series of posts to come I plan to lay out my own thought process and how it’s developed, and ultimately tie it back to health & performance while sparking some conversation with those who are smarter than me: you guys.

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Probably the most profound realization I had when consulting for financial institutions was as I began to truly understand the competitive landscape our clientele did business in…and I say this not because it was life-changing but because it provided grounds to form opinions on other industries and other examples of competitive dynamics. If you’ve read any Michael Porter you may very well think what I’m about to say is obvious – but it’s worth noting for the parallel I want to draw to the current state of how healthcare is delivered. At first glance the competitors in any given industry have a few distinct advantages or disadvantages unlesss it’s purely a blue ocean (very few competitors) or red ocean (a lot of sharks in the water). Over time spent in financial services I really began to see that the massive incumbents (think Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan, Bank of America, etc.) were like massive freightliners in choppy, maybe even iceberg-laden waters. Very difficult to change course…

So who does everyone pay attention to in an industry with a competitive dynamic as boring as a bunch of big freightliners lurching around? For many years the only exciting aspect to finance was mergers and acquisitions and sales & trading. Enter the cigarette boats of financial services: fin-tech disruptors and startups like robo-advisors (Betterment, WealthFront), peer to peer services (lending, fund-raising, transfers) and groundbreaking technology like machine learning and distributed ledger with a laundry list of use cases. Startup companies are inherently more nimble, more agile and more innovative so they have a unique ability to move quickly and capitalize on technological advancements. Eventually, even the most dominant incumbent players with massive “moats” surrounding their competitive advantages start to take notice and begin of the slow process of course-correction and promoting “agents of change”.

What I realized very quickly was that technology (“gift and the curse”) is the great equalizer when thinking about consumer:provider dynamics in business or economics. Innovation helps companies do things more efficiently and effectively internally and produce amazing products and services. But it also drives the development of increasingly sophisticated customers. The more sophisticated a customer, the less cookie-cutter the product & service offering can be, and ultimately, the more the power (elasticity of demand) goes back to the customer. So the customers of my clients demanded the same world-class, industry leading experiences that they were getting with products & services far removed from financial services: the experiences defined by the Apples, Googles and Amazons of the world.

Considering how long and how much (2008 financial crisis) it took for financial services to consider changing, what industry will be next? When I look at the construct of healthcare from a “user:servicer” or “patient”provider” perspective, I can’t help but wonder when, and at what pace, will healthcare start to respond to the world class experiences, accessibility and self-service that you and I expect (or will very soon) as sophisticated consumers? I think I can answer the first part and remind everyone that it already has started, but I do believe it’s very early on…

Now I’ll reiterate this again: I’m not even remotely close to an expert in the healthcare industry. Quite frankly there is a lot of politics and legislative considerations that I’m hardly interested in but that I do believe create a bit more complexity as far as how quickly and how much the experiences will change. I do however, strongly believe that it’s an area we must pay attention to at Perform True because some of the underlying change we’re trying to preach here is going to drive change in healthcare…maybe not by us, but by some of the many other disruptors that are out there…

For now, I’m going to leave you to enjoy a sensational picasso of a whiteboard brain dump from yours truly. As part of the coming posts in the Health Reimagined series, I’m going to provide a detailed explanation of the visual below, some thoughts on how embedded chips (nanotechnology) and wearables can facilitate the depicted experience, whether or not this is even possible and if it is (which I do believe it is), how far off are we? And of course, how does this impact how we think about health & performance now and in the future.

So stay tuned, bromigos, over and out…

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