Archive for the ‘Communication’ category

BMW . . . ing

August 20th, 2014

 

If you don’t know what that abbreviation stands for, Google it!  I’m not referring to: BMW: Born Moderately Wealthy, BMW: Brought My Wife, or BMW, Bring More Worries.  In fact, I’m not thinking about anything that is directly related to a thing, okay, well, maybe I am.     

What I’m referring to is the phrase, Bi*ch, Moan, and Whine!   For whatever reason, I’ve recently been inundated with individuals who are not happy about various things impacting their lives.  I’ve been hearing about money, jobs, marriages, fees for cable TV, healthcare and college costs, the government, animal cruelty, gasoline prices, racism, city manager selections, and a dozen or so other issues.  In fact, even though Heinz just had to pull their tainted baby food off the shelves in China (Now, that’s a reversal of fortune, Mr. Buffet).  The only thing that I haven’t heard people complaining about (euphemism for bi*ching) is the “price of rice in China.”   

Ha, bet that rang a bell for you ole folks.  What ever happened to that phrase?  We used to say that all the time in the 50’s and 60’s?  When someone was babbling on about something that we thought was meaningless in our lives, we used to say, “Now what’s that have to do with the price of rice in China?” 

Guess it’s not so meaningless anymore? (If you’re interested, you can look up the “Live Rice Index” for the price of rice in China), but I digress. My philosophy has always been, if you can do something about it, then do it.  If you can’t . . . then move on, my friend.   Truthfully, in this country, we hold the power to change nearly everything, but we choose instead to join the BMW Club.  

Think about it.  We have in our hands the amazing ability to influence and to change almost anything that exists.  It’s a simple formula.  We ban together and say that famous line from the movie, Network, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore.”  

Could you imagine showing up en masse anywhere and yelling that?  It would be international news.  If we could get enough people to come together to offer alternative solutions to almost any problem that we face, the offenders, enforcers, and especially the elected law makers would be forced to pay attention, and public pressure could change everything.  

The key to this tactic is to find enough people who care about ANYTHING.  

We’ve all seen what Rosa Parks, The First Lady of Civil Rights, The Tianamen Square tank man, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, and now Pope Francis, the former night club bouncer, have done to contribute to CHANGE in our world, but we . . . you, me and tens of thousands of our closest friends, can really make a difference. 

Heck, thousands of us just threw cold water on our heads to make a statement about ALS, and before that . . . ?  Probably a lot of the participants thought ALS stood for Advanced Life Support or Apply for Disability! 

What’s the quote from Margaret Mead? “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”  (She also said, “Children must be taught how to think, not what to think,” but that’s a different column for a different day.)  

The whole idea here is to get us together, to unit, to make change!  What would you change if you could?  Want lower gas prices?  We could do that.  Want to stop dangerous, unmarked oil trains from driving through our towns and cities.  We could do that. How about big corporations not paying taxes? 

The key is to stop the BMW-ing, and get your friends together and present positive ideas to the folks who can make the changes.  It’s an American right.  

Oh, and you might want vote this year, too! 

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What is Real and What is NOT? The Truth, or Maybe NOT . . .

April 30th, 2012

Sixty two years ago, George Orwell wrote the novel, 1984.   He described a society controlled by government where the individual had no privacy, no real freedom, and was literally put into the equivalent of a drug induced state by the pabulum of mass media television.  It was an intimidating forecast.   But now the question; how much dumber can television get with shows like:  “My Big Fat, Obnoxious Boyfriend,” “Real Housewives of  Wherever,” and “Temptation Island?” 

It was Marshall McLuhan, the Canadian educator, philosopher and academician who came up with terms like, “the global village, “medium is the message,” and the concept of the “World Wide Web” almost thirty years before Al Gore said he invented it.  Marshall described the fact that the mass media was quickly taking over our ability to think independently as we rushed into the realities of Orwell’s  Big Brother.  He explained that we would be once again living in a world of tribal drums, total interdependence and superimposed terror as opposed to thought and feelings from rational analysis.  Can you say, “Weapons of Mass Destruction?” 

The World Wide Web has placed us in a type of tribal unity for which none of us were prepared.  Why do you think tattoos are more in now than any time before 1500 B.C.?  Piercings and tattoos make you “part of the tribe.”  Hey, the majority of presidential candidate debate issues revolved around turning the clock back to the 1950’s, no web. 

It appears that, because of this tribal unity, many very obvious changes have become accepted by our current culture.  For example, according to columnist Rex Huppke, the fact that someone of any political party can say something that is completely false and stand by it makes facts meaningless and thus, dead. He goes on to theorize that, rumor and innuendo along with emphatic assertion are also part of this new communications standard. 

Dartmouth political scientist, Brendan Nyhan professes that, “In journalism, in health and education, we tend to take the attitude that more information is better, and so there’s been an assumption that if we put the correct information out there, the facts will prevail.”Nyhan says that, “Unfortunately, that’s not always true.”   Facts don’t seem to matter, and those who expose bogus facts are often more highly criticized than the person who misrepresented the truth in the first place.

We all know that the spin can change the view on any subject matter.  In many cases, it’s the quality and persuasiveness of the argument, not the facts which becomes the issue.   If you are on the right side of the spin, or if enough information can be put out there, the mass audience will be distracted from the facts, and confusion will reign supreme. 

Fact:  The United States has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the industrialized

Fact: Legislation has recently been proposed to take away additional funding for prenatal care. 

Fact:  The United States has fallen to “average” in international education scores and our State austerity measures include the laying off of teachers. 

Fact:  The incarceration rate in the United States of America is the highest in the world with only five percent of the world’s population, one-quarter of the world’s inmates are incarcerated in the United States. 

Fact:  Average annual cost per student for a public school education $8500; average annual cost per prisoner, $23,000. 

See, many of you will not know if you should believe these facts.  Some of you will fact check them.  Others will say, so what?   Some of you will look for my prejudices regarding this list, or you may be overwhelmed and say, “I can’t change any of this anyway.”  Most, however, will not bother to read this far. 

Twitter has become the new novelette and everything is a sound bite.   As Jimmy Kimmel said, “What’s back and white and read all over? Nothing anymore.”

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Treating People With Dignity

June 9th, 2011

As part of my continuing series of anti-bullying blog posts, this week’s post was inspired by a WDUQ/NPR interview of the authors of a book entitled: Unleashing the Power of Unconditional Respect: Transforming Law Enforcement and Police Training. It was written by Jack Colwell, a police veteran and trainer, and Chip Huth, who heads a SWAT team for the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department. The interview was inspired by the Pittsburgh police beating of CAPA (Creative and Performing Arts) student Jordan Miles, a who hadn’t done anything wrong. The interviewer stated that this beating, and the subsequent ruling regarding its legality, has seriously eroded the support of law-abiding citizens in the African American community and beyond toward the Pittsburgh Police.

CAPA student Jordan Miles and his mother, Terez

CAPA student Jordan Miles and his mother, Terez | Photo credit: Justin Merriman, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Why, in a healthcare blog, would I select this topic? It is my firm belief that treating people with respect and dignity, regardless of the situation, leads to a more harmonious environment. Chip Huth, one of the two authors interviewed by WDUQ,  commented that the he believes that the Kansas City police force’s policy of holding meetings that allow community members to express their points of view and to feel understood may open them up to understanding the police point of view. He went on to say that “after a SWAT raid…when the situation is secure, his teams sit down with the suspects and explain the terms of the search warrant, answer questions, advise of rights, etc.” Convicted felons heading off to jail have told him how much they respect the way his team treated their families.

So, read between the lines. It’s not any different from healthcare work when it comes to “Treating People With Respect and Dignity.” It is what it is, and that care and treatment must transcend all races, colors and creeds. More importantly, it crosses all professions. By analogy, think of us as the SWAT (caregiving) team. We break into your life and scare you. It’s a well known fact that those individuals who are most often sued in healthcare are those with the weakest interpersonal skills  and worst “bedside manner.” They are often mean, curt or simply uncaring in their attitude and responses. Or else they make sure that they just don’t communicate at all with the family or patient.

Not so many years ago, I was taken to task by a group of physicians who were upset because I had written an article about those docs “who make rounds before the families are present and the patient is awake.” The good docs were indignant — and in some cases rightfully so — because they were communicators, but the “bullies” that I targeted, who were not patient centered, came at me from all directions: letters, phone calls, and attempts to have me censured by my hospital’s board. It really reminded me of the often-paraphrased Shakespearean line, “methinks he doth  protest too much.” If they were truly “caregivers,” and not technical health scientists, they would want to communicate with the patients and their families, to answer their questions, to help them understand what is happening (or about to happen) to them, and they would be sensitive so as to ensure that the fears being expressed by those involved were ameliorated about as well as could be expected under the circumstances.

If the SWAT team can kick in your door, throw in flash grenades, tie your hands behind your back, and arrest you, but take the time to heat the baby’s milk and explain to everyone involved what exactly is going on and what to expect, there will be a marked difference in response from those who are being impacted by their work. A hospital does not attain 98 or 99% patient satisfaction scores by ignoring patients and their families, treating the employees and administrators like they are minions and ignoring the kindness and respect that should be part of their jobs.

Respect - Nick Jacobs, FACHE - healthcare - anti-bullying - Healing Hospitals

Okay, I’m done. Like Aretha Franklin sang, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T / Find out what it means to me.” Look up the Jordan Miles story online, or better still, buy the Unleashing the Power of Unconditional Respect book and see what can happen when you treat people with dignity.

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Communication: It Can Make or Break You

March 8th, 2011
This might be one of those blog posts that you cut and paste to forward to your friends, family, peers or boss …or you may forget that you read it as soon as you have finished it. My experiences in healthcare leadership have placed me face to face with thousands of people who communicate in remarkably different ways. It has been my experience as a non-medical, non-scientific professional that the majority of the communication problems that exist in the workplace seem to be rooted in the nuances between only two of the four basic personality types.

We often hear statements like “He just doesn’t understand me.” “We are talking about the same thing, but she is on a totally different wavelength.” “I just don’t trust him. He embellishes the truth.” “What do you mean by the word, ‘is?’” Although we might drive the same make of car, live in somewhat similar homes, read the same newspapers (whether in print or on an LCD screen) and even enjoy Lady Gaga, we sometimes really have challenges with communication.

Bridging the communications gap - Nick Jacobs, FACHE - HealingHospitals.com
These differences can come from the styles of training, education, or upbringing that we’ve had. Whatever the case, it is real, and honestly, it can be maddening for both sides. One personality type sees the world as completely filled with opportunities. Of course they recognize that there are mountains to climb, but they also embrace the fact that there are hundreds of different paths leading to the summit, and that no one way is the absolute right way to get there. These are people who, when given all of the reasons in the world why something won’t work, can find ways to legitimately avoid those obstacles and make it work. Remember, “There’s a pony in there somewhere.”

Like the creator of the DiSC personality profile, let’s call these people the high “I’s: Initiative, influential, inspiring, impressive, interacting, and interesting.” They tend to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, and “Don’t mess with Mr. In-between.” They often do not embrace exact detail because to them it usually doesn’t matter. Theirs is a broad picture painted with pastels that blend easily into one another.

If you are a very meticulous person, both intellectually and emotionally, it is not uncommon for you to want things to be as perfect as they can be. This does not mean that neat people or conscientious people should be categorized in any way because multiple types can have these traits, but if you notice your neighbor on his stomach hand trimming the grass blade by blade with tiny scissors, be worried, my friend, be very worried. Let’s call these people the high “C’s.” They are conscientious, cautious, compliant, correct, calculating, concerned, careful and contemplative. They are the detail people. These are the folks who can discuss the use of one word in a sentence for hours. They represent the Faculty Senate, so to speak.

Without stereotyping anyone, let’s consider the person who made straight A’s all through school. They sometimes become obsessed with those A’s, and would go to almost any length short of cheating to make them. To a valedictorian, an A minus can represent a form of failure. How does this perfection addiction impact their thinking over a lifetime? Where do communication points break down with this type of “no one can do it better than me,” souls? When is enough enough as points are made and subjects are explored. If we don’t know the grading scale, we must continue to push the topic until we feel that it has been completely exhausted. This type of perfection can drive the “We live, we love, we die” people absolutely crazy.

In order for things to make sense to the “Cs,” everything must be linear; your sentences, your thought patterns, your decision making must all be orderly and logical. Black and white and perfection are usually the only things that will bring them comfort. Even with that, they many times will revisit the issue, question it again and again, and then let the person with whom they are attempting to communicate know that they are at fault because their communication techniques don’t match their C needs.

Another trait of these individuals is that they are usually risk averse, and, if you don’t answer them based on their detailed perfection level, some will consider you foolish or untruthful. So, how do we find the common ground?

Let’s face it. Communication can make or break a company, can ignite relationships …or end them. Neither group are bad people, we are just different, and goodness can and does come from both personality types. So, what is the answer to these communication problems?

First, we must recognize and then celebrate these differences. It is absolutely critical for us to find comfort zones and then to celebrate them. An “I” personality answer like, “We’ll figure it out,” may not be what the detailer is seeking, but it certainly is a valid answer. On the other hand the I’s could go that extra step to try to provide the “C’s” with what they feel will meet their needs (in as complete detail as possible).

And if you’re on the other team, make a solemn vow not to avoid the dreamers because a lot of science emanated from science fiction, and they are often times our creators, our artists, and our miracle workers.

So, as we “embrace the differences,” remember that it does “Take Two to Tango,” and that one of you can be creative while the other can strive for perfection. A team like that will never be caught short. As Steve Jobs said, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

In closing, it was Einstein who said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge…” So, let’s all imagine a better world, a world that is not run and controlled by the economists, but one that embraces the passions of our hearts and our emotions.

We really can have it both ways.

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NickJacobs.org???

April 2nd, 2009

Let me open this blog with a little housekeeping chore. Because I’ve retired from being a hospital president (Yes, they replaced me with two great people, count ‘em, two.) , I’d like to change the name of this thing. It’s not that I’ve established a P-Diddy-type Twitter following where 100,000 human beings are waiting with baited breath to see what my next move will be, it just doesn’t seem right to keep calling myself a hospital president. We know who reads this thing, and we are grateful to our loyal, talented, and brilliant followers. We also know that we can link the old blog names to get you here. So, regardless of what you typed, or what gets Googled, our genius social media maven & webmaster, Michael Russell, can help to bring you home to this site.

Okay, so as a transformational advisor, a broker of sorts, most people with whom we have consulted have described me as a person who can fix things that are broken before they actually break. Maybe we should call it the “Break it if it’s not already fixed” blog. I’d love it if it was a name that would generate millions of hits and companies would fight to advertise on it.

My first thought was to use nickjacobs in the title because there is a Nick Jacobs on Facebook who teaches Aboriginal people in Australia, and he seems popular. There is another Nick Jacobs who is a professional organist, and one who is an athlete. There’s a Nick Jacobs who is a consultant and another a paramedic in London, one who had a blog who is a yachtsman, there’s my son, the commercial real estate broker, and finally, there’s a Nick Jacobs who does pornographic movies who is not my son. Actually, that Nick Jacobs’ followers would probably be the most disappointed by this blog.

Since the .com version of nick jacobs was already taken by some guy in England, we captured nickjacobs.org, and that will work for right now.

If you have any ideas, however, that you think would really rock the blogspere, let us know and we’ll check with our domain registrar to see if it is available. In fact, if you are the winner of a Name Nick’s Blog Contest, I’d be happy to consult for free BY PHONE for at least one hour of brainstorming with you about the topic of your choice: music, healthcare, proteomics, teaching, PR/Marketing, the travel business, or even physician recruitment.

Remember, Hospital Impact is already taken, and, because my last three consulting jobs have been with a newspaper, a nonprofit arts oragnization, and a chain of hotels, we don’t want to think too restrictively. Gotta earn a little money, too.

When we ran the breast center, we found that the website got more hits than anyone could imagine. The problem was that the readers were mostly thirteen-year-old boys who probably weren’t too interested in running a hospital. After Miss America had visited us, the hits went up exponentially when those two searches were combined. Somehow, I don’t think that Nick Jacobs’ Breast Center for Miss America would probably get me the type of following I’m currently hoping to attract. On the other hand?

A very good friend recently asked me to write a brief bio about what my new life is like, and it struck me that it is very much like my old life but without any restrictions. This is what I wrote:

While teaching junior high school instrumental music in the early 1970’s, Nick Jacobs made an extraordinary discovery. He learned that, by empowering his students and surrounding them with positive influences, he no longer was providing a service or even an experience for them.

What this entirely unique teaching style resulted in was a method for helping to transform students. By providing with both passion and commitment the tools needed by them to undertake their journey, his involvement with the students became a means of dramatically helping them to make whatever positive life changes they were seeking.

It was during that early period in his career that he also discovered that this formula could work to positively change lives in almost any aspect of living as he ran an arts organization, a convention bureau, and finally a hospital and research institute.

Since that time he has dedicated his personal work to helping others make their lives better, and that is exactly what he is doing in his position as an international executive consultant with SunStone Consulting, LLC.

Maybe that will give you something to chew on? Okay, something on which to chew.

SunStone Consulting. With more than 20 years experience in executive hospital leadership, Nick has an acknowledged reputation for innovation and patient-centered care approaches to health and healing.

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TED and “me?”

March 20th, 2009

Okay, I’ll admit it. I’ve been obsessing over TED. If you aren’t sure what TED stands for, it is an abbreviation for (Technology, Entertainment, Design) and TED is an invitation-only event where the world’s leading thinkers and doers gather to find inspiration. It’s in California, of course.

While spending an absolutely delightful weekend a few months ago with several people who were creative, inventive, entrepreneurial, and fun, one of the most highly respected innovators in the world turned to me and said, “You should be on the agenda at TED.” You may wonder what qualifies one to be considered to be one of the most highly respected innovators in the world, but take my word for it, he is. He’s on the faculty of about eight universities, has offices in a couple of dozen countries, and is one of the most sought after creators of innovation anywhere.

Well, little did he know how much that comment meant to me. It shook me up, inspired me, and filled me with excitement. Why? Read that line above again, “an invitation-only event where the world’s leading thinkers and doers gather to find inspiration.” Okay, I’ve been called a futurist, a creative, a right-brained whatever, and several of the things that we’ve done over the years have literally rocked the house (like this blog), but . . . in the world? It always seemed to me that my primary claim to fame was my ability to keep trying when some people not only wanted us to fail, but would probably have like to have seen me personally run over by a cement truck. I was persistent.

I’m not sure where I would fall into that description of the world’s leading anything, but it surely was flattering to have someone of that caliber say that to me. It’s funny, because every time I begin to allow the little ghosts come out of the sewers to pull at my pants cuffs with their negativity, I simply smile and think about our collective accomplishments.

This week alone, our consulting practice has taken me to a publishing company to help their employees begin to create what they would like to have for their future; then to a chain of hotels in New York City where the owner fully comprehends the merits of wellness for his employees; to a biomedical informatics startup company specializing in neuroscience; a nonprofit music group struggling to re-invent itself; and finally to an executive recruitment firm seeking a new business niche.

So, back to TED. If you have ANY interest at all in what goes on there, what gets said there, who speaks there, you probably would be surprised, or not. People like Dr. Dean Ornish, Bono, Bill Gates, Jane Goodal, and former President Bill Clinton have spoken there, but so too has Dr. Alan Russell from the University of Pittsburgh and a hundred other people who have simply made a difference –with extraordinary results. The good news is that, should you have any interest in seeing and hearing any of these speakers, just go to TED Talks on the web, and they’re all there for your inspiration.

For example, in a presentation by Scott McCloud, the cartoonist and comic book artist, we heard: “Learn from everyone. Follow no one. Watch for patterns. And “Work like hell.” Stefen Sagmeister has made his mark by creating public art with sayings displayed in public places like, “Everybody thinks they’re right,” and “Money does not make me happy.” My favorite, however, is “Complaining is silly. Either act or forget it.”

Jill Tarter, astronomer and a world-renowned expert on extraterrestrial life made this comment, “If we are alone, it is an awful waste of space.”

Seriously, take a look at TED and its companion, TEDMED, dedicated exclusively to healthcare innovation. Maybe, in my dreams, I’ll be giving my speech on kindness in the workplace, my 18 minute presentation on life, love, and a kinder more co-operative future.

Hey, we all need a dream. And I, too, have a dream.

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