In late June, Doody Consulting held a Luncheon of Gratitude for Chicago-area clients and friends from the 15 years Dan Doody and I have worked as a consulting practice. In addition to thanking these people for their support, the occasion offered a chance for me reflect on my 48 years in medical publishing. The title of the talk was “Where We’ve Been, Where We Are, and Where We’re Going”.  This post, the second of three adapted from that talk, discusses three big lessons I’ve learned over my long career.

 

  1. We are incredibly lucky to be in this business: We’re not selling cigarettes or yoga mats or hedge funds, we’re facilitating the efforts of people who are aiming to cure or comfort their fellow human beings. And those who work for professional societies are doubly lucky because their volunteers are the cream of the crop.
  2. You’d be surprised how much stuff doesn’t matter: When I first went to work at the W.B. Saunders Company in Philadelphia, then the largest medical publisher in the business, the company was run by a grand total of five executives – a president and four vice presidents. Four of the five executives generally knocked down three martinis apiece at lunch, so they spent a lot of the afternoon dozing at their desks rather than holding strategy meetings or digging into spreadsheets. Yet the company was the best in the business, and it invariably made a ton of money. The lesson is that you can’t easily resist all the committee meetings and email chains, but everyone should try to use the needs of your society’s members or customers as your North Star. The other stuff will either wait, or it will just go away because it never mattered in the first place.
  3. Never pass up a chance to say “thank you”: After a couple of years as a consultant, I was wondering why the work felt so much more satisfying than the genuinely interesting work I’d left behind from my corporate career. Then I realized that just about every client I’d worked with had made a point of saying, literally, “thank you.” That’s not a phrase that I heard very often when I was a corporate guy – nor, to my sorrow, did I say it very often. Saying “thank you” is cost-efficient – it never subtracts from the bottom line, and in the long run, it probably adds to it. And you’ll enjoy saying it.