Dr. Burleson's Posts

By the Numbers.

By the Numbers.

The first half of 2020 was one for the record books. We saw an entire decade’s worth of job gains vanish in two months. Then, about a third of the 21 million lost jobs came back.  More than 1 in 7 U.S. workers lost their jobs during the economic shutdowns. Even though we’ve added jobs at a record pace in May and June, the unemployment rate remains at its highest level since the Gr... »

On Priorities and Profit.

On Priorities and Profit.

The pandemic and economic crisis have forced Disney to adapt very quickly. Without the anticipated summer blockbuster movie releases, the firm has realigned its priorities. The reopening of Disneyland in California has been postponed indefinitely. Hong Kong Disneyland has shut down again and Disney World in Florida is on shaky ground. The glue that connected blockbuster stories and characters with... »

Question Every Hand.

Question Every Hand.

Maria Konnikova holds a Ph.D. in psychology. She writes about her research on how quickly people make up their minds and how unwilling they are to change them. She’s a New York Times best-selling author and also a world-champion poker player. For her latest book, The Biggest Bluff, she trained with and then competed against some of the best poker players in the world. They taught her to ques... »

Give Yourself Space.

Give Yourself Space.

Today, when someone in Beijing gets the coronavirus again, the entire world knows about it within hours. 52 years after the Hong Kong flu, we still don’t know how many people actually died from it. The WHO says between 1 and 4 million people. That’s a pretty big range.  For the dad reading this on Father’s Day, imagine if someone asked you how many kids you have and you said, “somewhere betwe... »

The Cycle of Growth.

The Cycle of Growth.

During periods of growth, it is common to create certain complexities inside your business that, left unchecked, will stifle or even strangle growth. Consider this one of the great paradoxes of running a business. The more successful you are and the higher you reach for the stars, the more likely you are to get tripped up by the very things that brought you success. I’ve seen this with nearl... »

Memory and Measurement.

Memory and Measurement.

Barbara Kingsolver said, “Memory is a complicated thing, a relative to truth but not its twin.” In coaching clients, I often ask to see a lot of numbers. KPIs and benchmarks, historical performance and pro forma data are all important. The reason I ask for data is because our memories are not perfect. We think quarter-over-quarter growth was good, but the numbers might indicate we did ... »

Uninterrupted Time.

Uninterrupted Time.

In a recent course on passive income streams, while teaching the concept of leveraging one’s time, I quoted the author of Rework, Jason Fried, who also happens to be the co-founder of Basecamp.  Fried said, “40-hour weeks are made of 8-hour days. And 8 hours is actually a long time. It takes about 8 hours to fly direct from Chicago to London. Ever been on a transatlantic flight like tha... »

On Grit.

On Grit.

Angela Duckworth is the Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, where she studies grit and self-control. In her book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Professor Duckworth defines grit as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.” “In their work with The United States Military Academy at West Point, Duckworth and he... »

You Have Everything You Need.

You Have Everything You Need.

Scientific American describes the metamorphosis of the caterpillar into a butterfly like this: “One day, the caterpillar stops eating, hangs upside down from a twig or leaf and spins itself a silky cocoon or molts into a shiny chrysalis. Within its protective casing, the caterpillar radically transforms its body, eventually emerging as a butterfly or moth.” Recently, I listened to an i... »

Circumstance vs. Character.

Circumstance vs. Character.

In coaching, consulting and reviewing the reports from our on-site trainers, human capital challenges are at the top of the list of items we’re hired to fix. As I’ve done with most systems, challenges and opportunities in business, I help my clients and trainers develop and deploy “litmus tests,” or quick “yes/no” tools to help guide next steps. Here’s one... »

Innovation vs. Improvement.

Innovation vs. Improvement.

When Brian Carroll was laid off unexpectedly from his sales position at a car dealership in Michigan, he received a call from a past customer wanting a car.  Carroll told the buyer he no longer worked at the dealership, but the customer didn’t care. “He hired me to find the exact car he wanted and to negotiate with different dealers to get the best price.” Carroll then drive... »

Go Where the Water is Deep.

Go Where the Water is Deep.

As of November, Nike no longer sells directly on Amazon. Nike is not alone. Birkenstock, Louis Vuitton, North Face, Patagonia, Asics, Ralph Lauren, Rolex and Vans do not sell directly on Amazon either. Nestlé Nespresso dominates a huge direct-to-consumer channel and paid Starbucks $7 billion to take over the sale of coffee and capsules for Nespresso machines. The new Disney+ streaming service cut ... »

Lowering the Bar.

Lowering the Bar.

From the first Netflix earnings call of 2020 and MarketWatch:  “What does it mean to “watch” a show on a streaming service? For Netflix Inc., it now means viewing at least two minutes. The streaming service noted in its first quarterly earnings report of 2020 on Tuesday that it has changed the definition of viewership — while Netflix used to consider any customer that streamed 70% or mo... »

Expectation.

Expectation.

Indian spiritual leader, Sri Chinmoy, explains that peace begins when expectation ends. Perhaps the most dangerous trait I see in perfectionist doctors and business owners is the attachment to their expectations on how things should be; how a certain result should be achieved. They are attached to a very specific outcome. You know this sets you up for disappointment, frustration and failure. Inste... »

On Ego and Change.

On Ego and Change.

There’s a great article in the Wall Street Journal today about NFL coach Andy Reid, who is taking the Kansas City Chiefs to Super Bowl LIV in Miami this weekend. The author, Andrew Beaton, focuses on two of Coach Reid’s unique abilities. He thinks like an outsider and he doesn’t have an ego. He’s been a head coach in the NFL for 21 years and made the playoffs 15 times. Thos... »

It’s Not Where You Left It.

It’s Not Where You Left It.

I’m back from a whirlwind trip to Las Vegas, where we hosted 50+ TC Boot Camp attendees, three private coaching clients, a quarterly planning meeting for two of my companies and a scouting trip for a few long-shot investments. In two of the three private coaching meetings, a common theme we discussed was systems management. In a recent Look Over My Shoulder program, I reviewed business syste... »

Strategic vs. Reactive.

Strategic vs. Reactive.

Dwight D. Eisenhower was a brilliant general. In the Second World War, he devised the “Eisenhower Box.” This is a matrix that ranks priorities according to importance and urgency. Eisenhower didn’t want unimportant things coming to him in an urgent manner. He also didn’t want important decisions to be made urgently if time wasn’t a factor. Many business schools actual... »

The Cost of Free.

The Cost of Free.

The internet once promised complete information equality. Children in poor countries would have access to the same knowledge as a child in California. But, it hasn’t turned out that way. Different countries have different ideas about the internet. China and Turkey censor their internet aggressively, while America allows disinformation, extremists, hate speech and pornography to infiltrate ev... »

On Narratives.

On Narratives.

Five years ago, Nir Eyal wrote a book called Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, which helped startup tech firms understand user psychology. He discussed the research on slot machines, which use variable rewards and pleasures that come at unpredictable intervals. If you haven’t read, Addiction by Design, it is both amazing and alarming. In response to pressure from psychologists and... »

Nothing New.

Nothing New.

Mark Twain wondered, “whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it.“ His quote could have been written 1,000 years ago as easily as today or 1,000 years from now. This is one of many reasons I like Twain. He knew how to think accurately about human nature. He focused on things that never change. This way of thinking is an anti... »

Savaged by Noise.

Savaged by Noise.

“Silence is the presence of time undisturbed.” In a world savaged by noise, distraction and heedless entertainment, it has become more and more difficult to locate and protect our ability to be silent. It’s fascinating to consider the amount of creativity produced during a day in which one is silent. Taking long walks in nature, spending time near the water, carving out a reading nook or ref... »

Throwing Elephants Overboard.

Throwing Elephants Overboard.

I’ve been presenting on the power of patient gifting and marketing automation for many years. The most common question from audiences revolves around cost. I’m asked, “How much should I spend on a new patient welcome gift, shock ‘n awe package or new start ‘wow’ box?” My answer has always been the same: whatever it takes. Clearly, one of the top five reaso... »

Healthcare Trends.

Healthcare Trends.

It’s Q4 2019 and time to start planning for next year. According to Definitive Healthcare and McKinsey and Company, here are the top healthcare trends for the coming year: Consolidation – Over 803 mergers and acquisitions took place in the last 12 months, in addition to 858 affiliation and partnership announcements. This trend brings newer technology to smaller clinics and hospitals, as they... »

Gravity.

Gravity.

Three months after its public debut, Uber posted a $5.2 billion loss that’s “impressively vast” even for a company whose business model is based on outspending the competition, said The Economist. Since its inception, Uber has lost a total of $14 billion. A few weeks ago it laid off 400 people from its marketing department, representing a third of the entire division, and has pla... »

Emotion for Thought.

Emotion for Thought.

From T.S. Eliot’s essay, The Perfect Critic, for the literary journal Athenaeum in 1920: “The vast accumulations of knowledge – or at least of information – deposited by the nineteenth century have been responsible for an equally vast ignorance. When there is so much to be known, when there are so many fields of knowledge in which the same words are used with different meanings, when e... »

On Influence.

On Influence.

Karin Krog is a too little appreciated Norwegian jazz singer. Her album with Dexter Gordon, Some Other Spring, was produced in 1970 but sounds as rich and energetic as anything being produced today or in the heyday of Kansas City Swing or 1940s bebop. The album has earned its rightful place in the top jazz albums of all time and I recently rediscovered Krog while reading through The Penguin Jazz G... »

Solve Practical Problems.

Solve Practical Problems.

There’s so much talk about algorithms, digital disruption, artificial intelligence and the future of everything, it’s hard to focus on anything, let alone what consumers really want. Hardly a day goes by where I don’t read an article about some group of people who might lose their jobs to robots. Think tanks, policy pundits and regulators all agree that 40% of American workers wi... »

Ask Better Questions.

Ask Better Questions.

Most small business owners are used to giving answers, not asking questions. If you followed around some of the world’s top CEOs and leaders, you would find the exact opposite is true. The best leaders are great at asking questions, so that the best ideas win and the best answers quickly become evident, even if they arise from the least-expected team members. Management expert Peter Drucker ... »

What You Can See.

What You Can See.

Advertisers wasted $5.8 billion last year on digital ads that were viewed by bots and fake accounts. According to the Association of National Advertisers and fraud-detection company White Ops Inc., “Ad-fraud schemes have quickly risen and been much more difficult to measure.” No kidding. If ad fraud was easy to measure, we advertisers would fix it quickly. But it’s not, and here ... »

Sell It Differently.

Sell It Differently.

The latest online shopping craze has a unique twist. Instead of sitting in front of a web browser or flipping through items on a smartphone, millions of Chinese consumers are obsessed with live-stream shopping. ShopShops employs real people to go into real stores, like a T.J. Maxx in New York City, and stream their visit to as many as 10,000 people live watching from China. These shopping trips ar... »

The Ritz-Carlton Customer Service Standards

The Ritz-Carlton Customer Service Standards

If you’ve been hanging around me for very long, you know that I like to read. A lot. As a rule of thumb, even though I read nearly every new business book that comes out, I read them quickly and scan for common principles that I might be able to apply to my businesses or to help my employees, business partners or coaching clients. I much prefer to read classic books that have stood the test ... »

Driven by Emotion.

Driven by Emotion.

From a recent Kiplinger editorial survey, “On Valentine’s Day, one in five die-hard sports fans turns down romance to watch a game. A good chunk of men, 31%, want their lovers to be bigger fans; 18% would take a pay cut to change their partners’ interest level. and both sexes would gain weight or add to their commutes to alter their lovers’ interest level in sports. A full ... »

What We Don’t Know.

What We Don’t Know.

During the American Civil War, morphine was widely used to treat pain, dysentery and malaria. Many farmers and citizens grew opium poppies to help support the war effort, rushing morphine to the front lines. So many soldiers were addicted to morphine during the war, that they had to be given syringes and taught how to self-administer the drug after the war ended. With an epidemic of morphine addic... »

Why Smile Direct is One of the Best Things That Has Happened to Orthodontics.

Why Smile Direct is One of the Best Things That Has Happened to Orthodontics.

Recently, Smile Direct Club (SDC) launched a new ad campaign and celebrity endorsement from Shawn Mendes, the pop star and Canadian singer-songwriter. I have no idea if their expansion into Canada and the timing of this endorsement are intentional or lucky happenstance, but I know this is smart marketing and PR. Combined with their huge win in arbitration against Align Technology, SDC recently ann... »

The Life Unlived.

The Life Unlived.

Adam Phillips is a brilliant writer, psychologist and regular contributor to The London Review of Books. The closest I can come to the kind of people who think at this level, is that they let me subscribe to The London Review of Books. Barely. Although I don’t agree with Phillips on a lot of issues, I take particular delight in his assessment of couples who come to him with a desire to chang... »

Perseverance of Beliefs.

Perseverance of Beliefs.

In the 1980s, Ross and Lepper published the seminal work on the perseverance of beliefs. This is the tendency for people to continue to believe something is true even when it is revealed to be false or disproved. In one study, students took an aptitude test and were told they scored poorly. Later, when they learned the exam was miss-scored, most participants were unable to erase the experience. Th... »

What They Want.

What They Want.

I returned from a great meeting with clients recently and met my assistant to go over our plans for the coming week. If I’m in one of our offices, I like to go walking around and say hello, let people know I’m still alive and, occasionally, like I observed today, I get to see a new employee or two in training. At our departure desk today, there was a new smiling face in training and a ... »

Tact and the Sycophant.

Tact and the Sycophant.

At lunch this weekend, my 10-year-old son told me “at mom’s house, we keep our opinions to ourselves.” I didn’t even finish swallowing my food before I said, “I completely disagree,” quickly stopping all conversation at the table. I asked, “When should you freely share your opinion, even if it isn’t well-received?” All three of my boys had good... »

Time is Money.

Time is Money.

Most small business owners have scores of reports they check each month to help them manage their money. Expenses and revenue are tracked meticulously. Budgets are set and regularly reviewed before new investments are made in technology or human capital. Even the average business owner has some idea of their production, collections and expenses this week or this month and how they compare to the s... »

Groupthink.

Groupthink.

It’s no secret that I am not a fan of social media and Facebook groups. Particularly for pathologic perfectionists (i.e., orthodontists), this method of communication is dangerous for several reasons: First, those who post in these forums assume they assert unique views and ideas, imagining themselves as individuals. Yet, to a great extent, the views espoused are heavily influenced by colleagues, ... »

Belief and Doubt.

Belief and Doubt.

One of the best television commercials in history only aired one time. In it, a young girl is shown in a field, picking pedals from a flower she holds in her hand. As she pulls off each pedal, she counts and then drops them to the ground. The commercial starts off warm and makes viewers smile, but just before she reaches the final count, she looks up at the camera with a suddenly worried expressio... »

Know Thyself.

Know Thyself.

One of the most difficult tasks I face as a coach and consultant is helping doctors better understand what it is they want and who they want to become. It’s also the most rewarding part of my job. Erich Fromm said, “Man’s main task in life is to give birth to himself, to become who he potentially is.” I’ve spent private coaching days with hundreds and hundreds of doctors and small business owners ... »

Some Things Never Change.

Some Things Never Change.

The Smithsonian magazine reported recently that archaeologists uncovered an ancient Roman bathroom, decorated with suggestive mosaics, meaning dirty jokes were built right into the walls. Just like bathroom humor has been around since the dawn of time, there are many things that never change, even in today’s fast-paced, always-on, hyper-connected society. For example, your patients will alwa... »

Different, Not Better.

Different, Not Better.

For many years now, I’ve taught doctors it’s best to position their practices as different not better. Consumers cannot judge whether your treatment is better or not until after the fact, so you might as well get on with the task of showing them how your office is different and solves problems that others are either unwilling or unable to solve. Consumers assume you’re going to provide great quali... »

Carry More Tools.

Carry More Tools.

You’ve probably heard me repeat the following proverb many times: “To a man with only a hammer, every problem tends to look pretty much like a nail.” Unfortunately, orthodontics is a narrow professional doctrine and liable to suffer from man-with-hammer thinking. I’ve witnessed this in my own practices and in those of the orthodontists I coach. The most-successful orthodontists study broadly outsi... »

Perspective.

Perspective.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Ted Williams, one of the greatest hitters to ever play professional baseball. PBS and Major League Baseball recently aired a special documentary about Williams and his last four plate appearances at Fenway Park. For the last six decades, every single frame of film documenting Williams and his last at bat ever, where he hit his final of 521 home... »

On Competition and Circumvention.

On Competition and Circumvention.

This weekend on the way home from one of our satellite locations, I listened to an interesting segment on NPR about competition in healthcare. Two economists were quoting Milton Friedman. That’s a quick way to get my attention. If you haven’t read Friedman, you’re doing yourself a disservice. One of the economists has made it his life mission to take down the California Medical Association and the... »

Perception and Reality.

Perception and Reality.

Geraint Thomas won the 2018 Tour de France, becoming the first Welshman to take the top prize. I stopped watching the Tour several years ago, for the most part, because of the doping scandals that continue to reappear and the wide disparity in the funding of the top one or two teams and everyone else. Chris Froome, last year’s winner and Sky teammate of this year’s winner, tested positive for exce... »

The Way Forward.

The Way Forward.

On a recent monthly coaching call, an exceptionally bright client and successful orthodontist in California asked me what are the key characteristics of my top students. It’s a smart question. One I imagine Munger or Buffett might ask of a leader in any worthwhile organization. At the top of my list, resting on four or five other characteristics, was the fact that the most successful members of Bu... »

Choice.

Choice.

In his book Free Market Madness, Peter Ubel illustrates the risk many parents took in the 1970s by choosing not to vaccinate their children for polio. The main reason in deciding not to vaccinate was that 1 in 2.4 million could actually contract the disease from the vaccine. Parents overlooked the fact that the risk of contracting the disease, without the vaccination, was exponentially higher than... »

Adapt.

Adapt.

Quincy Jones has been nominated for more Grammy Awards than any other person and has won a total of twenty-seven times in ten different fields. From Children’s to Pop, Rap, Jazz, R&B, and more. He has worked with Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Ray Charles, Miles Davis and the list goes on. He produced the best-selling album of all time: Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Q, as ... »

Training

Training

In a large study of over 5,000 workers in Spain, the University of Madeira discovered that employer-provided training has the same effect on job satisfaction as a 17.7% net wage increase. I’ve been teaching for years that your employees don’t always want more money in order to increase their engagement and overall job satisfaction with your company. The ability to learn something new or achieve ma... »

Fox vs. Rabbit.

Fox vs. Rabbit.

John Gribbin illustrates a point in one of his books that should smack readers into attention, like a 2×4 to the forehead: “A rabbit who runs away from a fox is not competing with the fox, in evolutionary terms. It is competing with the other rabbits. The ones who run fastest and zigzag most unpredictably, will survive and breed; the ones who don’t will get eaten. The fox, of course, is in co... »

What They Believe.

What They Believe.

My friend, Dan Kennedy, shared some great inside baseball at The Advanced Trust and Authority-Building Academy with Burleson Seminars in Cleveland recently. If you missed it, I’m not going to give you all of his pearls, but I will share a BIG one with you below. When practically applied to your business, the marketing principle can transform your business. If you look around, you’ll find ver... »

Messy.

Messy.

It’s time to replace the Italian espresso machine in my upstairs kitchen. I rarely spend much time researching options. I’d rather make a decision and adjust as I go, but the current machine served faithfully for 10 years so I feel a little obligated to replace it with something as durable. Tasked to my personal assistant, already knee-deep in the process of replacing two other commercial coffee m... »

Productivity Gains.

Productivity Gains.

Paul Krugman is a Nobel Prize-winning economist. I don’t agree with everything he says, but he hit the nail on the head when he said, “Productivity isn’t everything, but in the long run it’s almost everything.” U.S. productivity gains over the last decade are 50% lower than they were, on average, from World War II until 2006. Economists and government leaders are worr... »

2018 U.S. Marketing Spending Forecast

2018 U.S. Marketing Spending Forecast

According to AdAge and Zenith, the estimated U.S. spending in media nd marketing services is $446 billion. In the US, internet ad spending surpassed TV for the first time ever. Market share will increase 13% year-over-year with $1,354 spent per person on marketing and advertising this year. As more big dumb companies rush into online advertising and pull out of traditional media, a window of oppor... »

Find Your Why: A Practical Guide for Discovering Purpose for You and Your Team

Find Your Why: A Practical Guide for Discovering Purpose for You and Your Team

Simon Sinek rose to business fame with his TED Talk, “Start with Why.” His book of the same name is a brilliant look at how most companies know what they do, some can tell you how they do it, but very few have a compelling reason why. It’s a great book to help business owners think about why they exist in the marketplace. I’ve long taught doctors, “You must have a more profound reason why you exis... »

Standing in Your Own Way.

Standing in Your Own Way.

Marcus Aurelius said, “Our actions may be impeded… but there can be no impeding our intentions or dispositions. Because we can accommodate and adapt. The mind adapts and converts to its own purposes the obstacle to our acting. The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” This simple but profound maxim became Ryan Holiday’s impetus for writing The Obstacl... »

End the Search Quickly.

End the Search Quickly.

In training over 1,500 orthodontists and their treatment coordinators how to ethically help more new patients say “yes” to treatment, I’ve discovered several sacred-cow biases or status-quo biases that need to be killed. At the top of the list, is the excuse, “I have to go talk to mom or dad.” When consumers tell you they have to “talk to their spouse before making a decision,” they are really say... »

Never Enough.

Never Enough.

Jay Papasan, coach to fortune 500 CEOs instructs, “financially wealthy people are those who have enough money coming in without having to work to finance their true purpose in life.” If you haven’t found your true purpose in life, there is no amount of money that will satisfy you. You’ll never know if you have enough money. You can never technically be financially wealthy without purpose. Try find... »

An Age of Distraction

An Age of Distraction

Today, Millennials spend 93.5 hours per month inside an app. Years ago, I made a bold claim that “those who are unable to control their attention will have it bought and sold by those who can.” Facebook has become one of the biggest media companies on the planet, selling billions of dollars of advertising to its user base each quarter. My prediction was correct, but it is not limited to technology... »

Something for Nothing.

Something for Nothing.

I’ll let you in on two little secrets that have forever shaped my life. They were taught to me by my parents, which were taught to them by their parents. I’ve been teaching them to my kids ever since they were old enough to listen and pay attention: You are of no good to yourself, let alone to anyone else, if you are not prosperous. You are prosperous to the degree you are experiencing peace, heal... »

Perception vs. Reality

Perception vs. Reality

Paco Underhill, author of several books on why consumers buy and consultant to large retailers, knows as much as any author I’ve read about where to place items on shelves, how consumers make buying decisions and specifically what drives female consumer choices. His work warrants your study and this weekly fax does not offer enough real estate to properly review the body of evidence his research h... »

How to Test Your Assumptions

How to Test Your Assumptions

Jon Fjeld is the executive director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. He’s a professor of strategy and philosophy and used to work at Align Technology, where he helped the company prevent some serious cash burn in the 1990s. His latest article in the MIT Sloan Management Review looks at the best ways to test your assumptions. He kicks ... »

The Typewriter Revolution

The Typewriter Revolution

Some clients know I use a 1941 Royal Quiet Deluxe typewriter for personal communication and for many of my book drafts. It was Hemingway’s favorite typewriter and the same one my grandfather kept in his office. There’s something truly different about sitting down with a mechanical typewriter and watching your thoughts fly onto the page. On a computer, I can’t write in any of the ... »

A Century of Wealth in America

A Century of Wealth in America

Weighing in at 880 pages, Edward Wolff’s A Century of Wealth in America is no light read for the beach. Like Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” the book is dense, packed with equations and statistics, citing more references than ten books in the same category. Yet, it is important and timely. Any smart business owner who wants to understand the economic trends that shape our w... »

Understanding Your Customers.

Understanding Your Customers.

Born on a Missouri farm in 1875, James Cash Penney started in the retail business in 1898 as a store clerk in Colorado. He quickly moved up the ranks and in 1902, he was offered a partnership in the Golden Rule store. He soon bought the entire operation and by 1914 he moved the company headquarters to New York City and had built the largest department-store chain in the United States by 1917. At t... »

Shorten the Curve.

Shorten the Curve.

Amazon will add 120,000 new seasonal employees this year, up 20%. (Source: Wall Street Journal) What could be more impressive than Amazon’s seasonal growth data? Consider this: Amazon has reduced the on-boarding time for new warehouse employees from 6 weeks to 2 days. Automation has been implemented in every nook and cranny of their business. Something we started back in 2009 with InfusionSoft. It... »

Your Fake News or Mine?

Your Fake News or Mine?

I read five newspapers per day. I quickly go through a system I developed years ago, asking “Does this apply to me, my market, my patients, my clients, any stakeholder in one of my companies?” I look for trends and actionable data. Most of the articles talk about things that are out of my control. Unless I’m betting on corn futures, I don’t really care about the weather. So, 90% of the stuff I rea... »

Leadership.

Leadership.

In a recent article published in The Harvard Business Review, Jesse Sostrin points out the leadership paradox: “You need to be more essential and less involved. When you justify your hold on work, you’re confusing being involved with being essential.” This was the biggest leap in my transition from a solo-practitioner with one location to a business leader with multiple offices and scores of team ... »

The Death of Expertise.

The Death of Expertise.

The Death of Expertise is a fascinating book I’m re-reading this year by Tom Nichols, a professor at the Naval War College and Harvard. With so much information at our fingertips, anyone can know anything at the swipe of a finger on their smartphone. Yet, there is a lot of misguided information as the news has transformed into a 24/7 entertainment machine. Nichols argues that “an increasingly demo... »

Tireless.

Tireless.

I don’t watch much television unless I have a specific objective in mind, like reviewing the two-part biography on Walt Disney produced and aired by PBS last year or the production and writing lessons demonstrated by really good scriptwriters. One such show is House of Cards, produced by Beau Willimon, a tireless playwright. In a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal, Willimon admitted to ... »

Embracing Facts.

Embracing Facts.

“The vast accumulations of knowledge – or at least of information – deposited by this century have been responsible for an equally vast ignorance. When there is so much to be known, when there are so many fields of knowledge in which the same words are used with different meanings, when every one knows a little about a great many things, it becomes increasingly difficult for anyone to ... »

Break a Little Glass.

Break a Little Glass.

Kevin Kelly, the co-founder of Wired Magazine, gave one of the best definitions of the word progress that I’ve ever heard. In an interview, he said, “Ever since the Enlightenment and the invention of science, we’ve managed to create a tiny bit more than we’ve destroyed each year.” He went on to explain that the problems of today were caused by yesterday’s technological successes. It doesn’t take a... »

Progress.

Progress.

John Stuart Mill wrote this in the Principles of Political Economy (1848): “Hitherto it is questionable if all the mechanical inventions yet made have lightened the day’s toil of any human being.” Film and television critic, Nathan Heller, writes in a recent New Yorker column: “A measure of industrial progress is the speed with which inventions grow insufferable. The elevator, once a marvel of eff... »

Push it Upside Down.

Push it Upside Down.

In his classic text, M.R. Kopmeyer teaches, “push your wheelbarrow upside down.” Walking through life with your wheelbarrow right side up allows anyone to dump their burdens, worries and issues into your wheelbarrow, making your load heavier to carry. When people see that there is a man going around collecting problems, they will easily add their problems to his load. Kopmeyer wasn’t teachin... »

Stop Becoming. Start Being.

Stop Becoming. Start Being.

Edward Kramer tells the story of three brick layers building a wall on a warm summer day. A stranger passes by for a moment to watch. He asks the first brick layer, “What are you doing?” Without looking up, the man replies, “I’m laying brick.” The stranger continued walking by the wall and stopped at the second brick layer. He asked, “What are you doing?” The second man slapped on some mortar and ... »

The Need to Learn.

The Need to Learn.

Johann Goethe wrote in Maxims and Reflections, “There is nothing so terrible as activity without insight.” To build a private practice with sustainable growth, you need an understanding of everything the business world can throw at you. Demographic analysis and site selection, marketing and positioning, recruitment, management and motivation of employees, clinical and administrative systems, leade... »

Delusion.

Delusion.

Why do so many business owners fail to hit their goals? Why do your employees often fail to reach their targets and projects on time and under budget? Researchers in something as innocuous as the sport of golf have published some new insights on an old concept that we’ve covered here and in the Look Over My Shoulder Monthly Marketing Program, called cognitive bias. David Dunning, a psychology prof... »

You Set the Expectations

You Set the Expectations

Ask Paul Abbot, the Executive Vice President of Commercial Payments at American Express what he thinks separates AmEx from the competition and he will give you three simple differentiators: trust, service and relationships. In an interview with CEO magazine, he said, “Service is very much the heart and soul of the company… Our customers expect exceptional service every day because that is the stan... »

Your Thoughts Are Things

Your Thoughts Are Things

After I published a recent Burleson Report: A Weekend Update for Orthodontists, a private client whom I consider a friend and mentor to many of the younger members in my coaching groups, Dr. Ron Barnett, wrote me a kind note, thanking me for the insight in the articles and echoing something he’s taught his employees for years: “Your thoughts are things.” I couldn’t possibly... »

Your Brain and Information Overload

Your Brain and Information Overload

In his book, Tinker Dabble Doodle Try: Unlock the Power of the Unfocused Mind, Dr. Srini Pillay reminds us that often more focus is not the solution to achieving our goals. As a Harvard-trained and practicing psychiatrist, he lectures around the world on the power of the untrained mind. Pillay says, “Every experience contributes to brain development. Deviations from the straight and narrow path ca... »

Knowing Your Own Brand of Crazy

Knowing Your Own Brand of Crazy

A quick, fun read by Bryant McBride in Worth magazine recently reminded me of the story of so many of my top clients… and my own story. In 1982, after being notified by their landlord that their rent would go up from $2,000 per month to $10,000 per month in less than 60 days, Tim and Dagny DuVal scrambled to find new space in a city that didn’t have a whole lot of what they wanted. In a bad part o... »

Chaos and the Creative Process

Chaos and the Creative Process

When any company leads their field for over 25 years and then gets invited to showcase their work in the permanent collection at the Smithsonian, I pay attention. House Industries has been the leader in American graphic design for decades. Starting in the summer of 2017, their work will also be featured at the Henry Ford Museum. In their new book, House Industries: The Process Is the Inspiration, ... »

The Most Underrated Skill in Management

The Most Underrated Skill in Management

Gavin Pretor-Pinney, founder of one of my favorite magazines, The Idler, said, “To solve the right problems for your patients, customers, clients or donors, you just need to step outside and pay attention to what is so commonplace, so everyday, so mundane that everyone else misses it.” He’s right, but how can orthodontists pay better attention to what their competition misses? First, through clari... »

Returning to Your Roots

Returning to Your Roots

Recently, McDonald’s announced it is switching to fresh beef after nearly 40 years of using frozen meat for their hamburgers. (Source: New York Times) The company will start with the quarter pounder, then gradually shift the entire burger menu to fresh, never-frozen beef, as they refocus on “returning to their roots” as a burger joint. Several failed attempts to introduce healthier items like smoo... »

The Wisdom of Insecurity

The Wisdom of Insecurity

British Philsopher, Alan Watts, said the only way to make sense out of change is to “plunge into it, move with it and join the dance.” In my favorite book of his, The Wisdom of Insecurity, Watts tells a story about his childhood desire to send someone a parcel of water in the mail: “The recipient unties the string, releasing the deluge in his lap. But the game would never work, since it is irritat... »

The Strange Persistence of Guilt

The Strange Persistence of Guilt

From another brilliant opinion piece in the New York Times by David Brooks: “American life has secularized and grand political ideologies have fallen away, but moral conflict has only grown. In fact, it’s the people who go to church least — like the members of the alt-right — who seem the most fervent moral crusaders. We’re living in an age of great moral pressure, even if we lack the words ... »

Two Simple Strategies for Better Leadership

Two Simple Strategies for Better Leadership

In a recent Strategy+Business article, adapted from his book, 63 Innovation Nuggets, Professor George Barbee shares two simple leadership concepts. First, he teaches to “pilot simultaneously at 30,000 feet and at ground level.” The best leaders can see the big picture but are also aware of the facts and details on the ground. I’ve done both separately and they will destroy trust and accountability... »

How Customers Think: Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market

How Customers Think: Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market

Gerry Zaltman is a distinguished professor at the Harvard Business School. I first discovered him in my own MBA studies where he was a guest lecturer and it’s obvious why large clients like Coca-Cola and Proctor & Gamble hire his consulting firm to better understand how consumers think. When I watched Gerry’s team go through an interview process that analyzes a consumer’s deep metaphors and li... »

Traditional TV’s Surprising Staying Power

Traditional TV’s Surprising Staying Power

A special report in The Economist examines the extremely slow changes in television viewing habits and why, as I’ve been teaching for years, it takes media decades to really change. On-line marketers have predicted the death of direct mail, email, cold-calling, radio, television and everything else that was supposed to be completed replaced by the web. Yet, here we are with television approaching ... »

Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction

Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction

Derek Thompson, senior editor of the Atlantic, is one of my favorite writers. Although I frequently disagree with his views and politics, I appreciate any writer who can make me think and Thompson does a great job. I also appreciate his broad knowledge base and thorough research on any topic he investigates. His first book, Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction, does not d... »

Employee Engagement vs. Productivity

Employee Engagement vs. Productivity

A sign on the wall of my employee break room reads, “Are you being BUSY or are you being PRODUCTIVE?” If you’ve been following me for long, the most-recent employee engagement survey by Gallup should not be surprising to you. Only 33% of U.S. employees are engaged on the job. Internationally, the number is worse: only 13% of employees are engaged at work. Two researchers in the Harvard Business Re... »

Execution Is a People Problem, Not a Strategy Problem

Execution Is a People Problem, Not a Strategy Problem

From Peter Bregman’s article in the Harvard Business Review comes a great reminder to orthodontists: your problems implementing new strategies or following-through on the tried-and-true is not a strategy problem, but a people problem. Doctors from all over the globe fly to Kansas City to spend a consulting day with me and, without fail, the topic of “getting my team to do what I ask... »

The Necessity of Self-Help Lit

The Necessity of Self-Help Lit

Joseph Davis takes a unique stand against the contempt dished out by his fellow journalists and intellectuals towards self-help books and journals. Granted, there are a lot of self-help books that are peddled by “snakeoil salesmen,” as some of Davis’ colleagues demonstrate. Yet, there is a deeper lesson to be learned by the long-standing use and wide range of books and articles that have our atten... »

The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter

The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter

I was fortunate enough to hear David Sax speak at the Kansas City Public Library about his new book, The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter. In it he shares how tangible things have experienced a resurgence of popularity. When the digital book reader became popular, people proclaimed the end of the book, yet physical book sales are up significantly in the last few years. When exper... »

Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations

Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations

I don’t always agree with Thomas Friedman, but it’s hard to argue with someone who has won 3 Pulitzer prizes and countless journalistic accolades in a respected career. In his latest book, “Thank You for Being Late,” he gets far more right than in any of his previous works and gives society a powerful and timely assessment of our current world and its rapidly-accelerating pace, change and technolo... »

Mobile Advertising Trends

Mobile Advertising Trends

According to ComScore Mobile Metrix, the average 18-24 year old spends 93.5 hours per month using smartphone apps. That’s 28 forty-hour work weeks per year. Time spent on desktop and traditional media is holding steady or going down while time on mobile continues to increase. By 2018, AdAge predicts the share of internet advertising going to mobile platforms will be 53%. As of 2016, mobile represe... »

Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton

If you or your parents grew up when the popular opinion in Congress, the news media and universities aligned with Roosevelt’s New Deal and the idea of redistribution of wealth, you’ve seen things come a long way from that ideal to Regan, who brought back the old Federalist lines of argument. These aligned closely to Alexander Hamilton, who has garnered much current interest and is the subject of a... »