Value Adding or Value Giving?

I was talking with a friend recently about his business and plans he has to sell it.  He told me he hasn’t been drawing income from this business for a while (he has other streams) but has continued to work on the business to prepare it for sale.  In fact one of the reasons he has not drawn income is to decrease the wages bill to make it more attractive to a buyer.

There is no doubt that hiding expenses from the profit and loss statement makes a business look stronger.  And you could argue he is hiding nothing, as he really is not an expense to the business. Quite true. However, his input to the business is undeniable. All that has changed is he is working as a volunteer – he is donating time and expertise to keep the business looking profitable. He is not hiding expenses from a prospective buyer; he is hiding unpaid labour.

During my workshops with physiotherapists and other health providers, I walk them through an exercise in determining their actual worth to their business. Both their worth as a clinician and as a manager of the business. And we put a dollar value on both streams and calculate how much income they should be drawing if every hour of their contribution was included on a wages time sheet.  Then we compare that figure with the money they are actually taking from the business in terms of salary, drawings, dividends, superannuation top ups, vehicle use, etc.

Ideally, they should be taking more dollars from the business than they are actually entitled to based on their exertional entitlements. Money taken beyond your work value into the business is called profit. And profit is good, perhaps essential, for a business.

Many times, however, once we factor in the administrative hours worked by the owner and attribute a dollar value to those hours, we find the owner is actually drawing less money from the business than they should earn if they simply paid themselves to do their various jobs at an appropriate remuneration rate. In other words they are donating time (and expertise) to their business and not being paid for it.  They are underpaying themselves.  They own a job that doesn’t pay them what is actually earned – let alone a profit on top if it!

This figure – unpaid work by owners – doesn’t show up in the usual financial reports such as profit and loss statements or balance sheets. So there is an under estimate of the real expenses of the business making it look stronger on paper than it might be in real life. Of course a buyer will discover this later on when they find the only way to match the promised cash flow is to repeat the mistake of donating unpaid time to the business. I guess the hope is to improve the ultimate resale value to compensate them for volunteering.

Knowing if you are paying yourself (as an owner) more, less or exactly what you are entitled to based on the hours and talent you contribute to your enterprise is important. But only if you can face the possibility that not only do you not own a business (ie. it makes no profit), nor do you own a full paying job (as you are under paying yourself), but you actually donate your time and thus are fulfilling a vocation for the sheer joy of helping people.

My friend is helping improve the selling price of his business, but he has to really, given the hours of unpaid labour he is donating to keep it looking strong. I hope he isn’t confronted by a savvy purchaser who discovers the ‘hidden’ expense not reflected in the profit and loss statement.

If you want to participate in my business workshops where we do this exercise (and you get software so you can redo it as your business grows) simply enrol in any BizFizz or Red Hot Business event at the Redsok International website. If I am not coming to your area, keep a watch out for any online events which will be listed in the newsletter (to which you can of course subscribe for no cost).

Craig Allingham

Speaking – Lessons from the School of Hard Audiences

I heard recently of a conference at which speakers were banned from using PowerPoint.  The reason given was to give speakers an opportunity to show their skills at, well, speaking. 

I got thinking about the difference between a speaker and a presenter. They are both legitimate roles and I have filled them both.  I have given keynote addresses to large audiences both with and without PowerPoint, depending on what I was attempting to accomplish in terms of an outcome. Some outcomes were best achieved with a story, others were enhanced by images and text alongside the spoken word.

On occasions I use a flip chart or white board and produce the visual aids in real time as the journey is taken. Is this different from using a prepared slide presentation? Of course – it is more agile and interactive, yet infinitely less entertaining given my limited artistic skills. Unless, of course, participants find my primitive art amusing.

But enough about me; what about you? Does your job or some other interest occasionally or frequently involve making a presentation to colleagues?  If so, let me offer several hints that I have learned from bitter experience.

  • Never drink alcohol before your gig. Especially if you are nervous. No good ever comes of this and if things go well there will be a chance to celebrate later.
  • If you are speaking after a meal, eat lightly, slowly and thoroughly.
  • If you use visual aids, ensure they are relevant and simple to understand.
  • Let the visual aids make you look good, not overpower you or your message.
  • Be cautious using charts or tables if the audience is not accustomed to them.
  • Three strong and related threads braided to arrive at the conclusion you have pre-determined are usually sufficient.
  • Don’t open with an apology, unless it is part of  the bigger story.
  • Never apologise for poor quality visual aids – you prepared them

That is plenty to consider at first.  Some other hints relate to trying to control your autonomic nervous system: breathe, relax, move, pause, think, make eye contact with someone and smile. Simple really.




Prevention is OK – if within budget

I was reading a very interesting article on Medscape this week which makes the point that preventative medicine is quite likely the only healthcare area in which cost is the prime driver.

Holding preventative medicine to a cost standard is something not practiced in disease care where a cure is the prime driver irrespective of price. Hence there are many government subsidised medical procedures, pharmaceuticals, screening programs and so on of questionable evidence base or cost/benefit value but are based in the disease care model so are less questioned.

Any suggestion of a preventative program is immediately costed and if not meeting budget targets, discarded. This may be a bit strong, but you get the idea.

I am reminded of a meeting I attended at the local private hospital some ten years ago where the Director was outlining their increase in medical specialists based at their brand spanking new specialist centre attached to the hospital. ‘Four cardiologists, two orthopaedic surgeons, two ENT, three physicians…’ and on he went proudly.

Later I sidled up and asked how many preventative medicine specialists they had recruited? He look at me incredulous and said ‘None, of course – they keep people out of hospital. We want doctors who admit patients.’ The business model of private hospitals is based on people getting ill or injured, and while they can’t actually promote this, they can certainly pave the way to their admission desk.

It makes you think.

Operational Breakdown

I recently picked up a brochure on relationship breakdown (planning to pass it to a mate who is going through some tough times) and took a moment to read it.

There was a list of  ’10 Sure Ways to Breakdown’ and I realised much of the list applies to managing people in the workplace.  So, borrowing from Shirley Cornish in Maroochydore, I offer the:

7 Sure Ways to Mismanage Your Staff

  1. Think ‘It’s my way, or no way’
  2. Blame or criticise the other
  3. Be intolerant or inflexible
  4. Behave in a hurtful manner
  5. React before you think
  6. Dismiss or oppose the others viewpoint
  7. Give up

These 7 items are pretty obvious when you read them now while your emotions and ego are in check.  Avoiding them in the heat of battle when dealing with situations or pe0ple is indicative of a strong leader. Managing others always begins with managing ourselves, this list might help you identify where to focus your improvements.

Diseases of Lifestyle – choosing to be sick

At a UN gathering of NGOs and Public Health Organizations a consensus ‘Statement of Concern’ has been released asking the United Nations (UN), to hold accountable those in the food and beverage industry “whose products and marketing contribute substantially to the development of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) that kill 36 million people every year.” They are talking about lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, obesity, many cancers, cardiovascular disease and other diseases predisposed by consumption of alcohol, tobacco and foods high in salt, sugar and/or fat.
This is a fantastic idea but only strikes at the supply side of the market.  Until individuals are held accountable for the actual consumption of these products and prepared to foot their bills for healthcare costs and the lost social capital due to illness and death of parents, breadwinners and producers little will change.
Excessive consumption of these products, combined with an inactive lifestyle, often results in disease and associated costs of care.  The decisions made and actions taken on a daily basis by individuals exert market pressure on suppliers – we just need a critical mass of people changing the way they think, shop, consume and live to back up the Statement of Concern.
It starts with each of us.

Health – Taking It For Granted

Once again I am reminded of how our personal productivity is determined by our energy and health status.  Just prior to boarding a long haul international flight home recently, I got an upper respiratory tract infection.  Almost forty hours of transit (complete with two delays) is not a tonic for recovery.  Once home I deteriorated further and it has taken another ten days to start to feel well again. 

During this time I tried to continue some level of productivity but both the quality and quantity were very ordinary.  Household chores, gardening duties, errands and shopping for food were all just too difficult.  Let alone any activity requiring brain power.  Sleep was poor quality and appetite was likewise.  The only plus was managing to lose about 2kg in body weight, but not a healthy strategy to achieve this.

Two take home messages for self:

  1. be more proactive in health management when my immune system is under threat due to stress (travel, sleep deprivation, poor nutrition, whatever);
  2. be more reactive in terms of recovery strategies (turn off computer and emails, give permission to sleep more, don’t deplete energy reserves and accept any help and advice from those around you).

Message for all of us:

  • make sure your personal productivity goals have inbuilt contingency or reserve capacity in case of illness or some other factor. Packing you schedule with expectations and tasks will result in a cascade of complications when things don’t go so well, let alone being one of the reasons you get crook in the first place!

Now, must make a recurring diary note to self about this idea as when you are well it just seems logical that you will continue to be well – a default state we tend to take for granted until fate intervenes.

How Many Hats?

My fabulous and usually tolerant wife Mary has declared ‘no more hats’.  She is referring to my proclivity to wearing, and therefore acquiring, hats. I just love hats.  I believe it is time men reclaimed the hat as a personal statement of masculine fashion.  I am talking about proper hats – trilbies, fedoras, snappy brims, wide brims, stingy brim jazz hats, even pork pie and cloth caps.  Pretty much anything except baseball type hats.

Anyway, Mary has suggested (wife speak for ‘this is really important, pay attention and no one will be harmed’) I purchase no further hats until I have another hat rack to accommodate them.  Yes, another hat rack.  I have filled the first one.  Fair enough, I thought, these hats deserve their own position and care. So no more hats unless I retire one. 

We blokes wear a lot of hats.  Not necessarily the actual hats of which I speak, but the many ‘hats’ associated with our many roles.  Husband, son, uncle, father, sports coach, employee, boss and so on.  The idea of ‘putting on a hat’ in regards of assuming a particular role to play.  The way you conduct yourself changes according to the hat you are wearing at the time.  Your Dad hat makes you a different bloke to your Sports Coach hat, or your boss hat.  Same person, different role to play.

I wonder if Mary was hinting in a cunning subliminal female way that I had too many of these other hats.  Too many roles in my life that may be diluting my effectiveness in all of them.  I have my Dad and wife hats of course, but also my professional speaking hat, my author hat, my chamber of commerce board member hat, my business coaching hat and quite a few others.  Perhaps she was suggesting (see above) that I should not take on any further roles, tasks, jobs or projects until I have cleared some space on my ‘hat rack’. 

It is very easy to add stuff to your life, to find corners of time and enthusiasm to tackle a new project or activity.  Obviously the time must come from somewhere else and your current hat collection may suffer.  Pretty good advice, really. 

So when a new opportunity to get busy, to take on a new project or activity appears or is thrust upon you – before putting on the new hat take a good hard look at the hats you already have on the rack decide if there is space on the rack.  If not, retire one hat before you put on the new one.  Then all your hats will get a chance to be worn with style and success.

How Passive is Passive?

Passive shouder movement is a common early rehab option for patients who have undergone recent rotator cuff repair surgery.  This treatment is to maintain joint mobility while avoiding active loading of the repaired tendon.  However recent research suggests passive may not be as passive as we thought. 

In research published by Uhl, Muir and Lawson (2010) they found that when performing passive range of motion there was still slight electrical EMG activity in the rotator cuff muscles.  They also found that the transition from passive movement to active-assisted exercises involved only ‘insignificant increases’ in EMG activity in the muscles measured. The increase in activity rose from below 10% of MVC to around 20% of MVC.  

My take on this is two-fold – firstly be very cautious with ‘passive’ range of motion exercises because there is still some active assistance being offered by the musculo-tendinous unit.  Secondly, the transition to active-assisted exercise could probably be made earlier in rehab depending on the fragility of the repair, the number of tendons repaired, the pain levels reported and the confidence of both physio and patient. 

Ref: Uhl TL, Muir TA, Lawson L. 2010. Electromyographical assessment of passive, active assistive and active shoulder rehabilitation exercises. Phys Med & Rehab Feb 2(2):132.41.

Frozen Shoulder – Sick not Injured

 When I graduated I knew everything about treating every condition.  I was on fire!  Three days into my new career I had crisis of confidence – not only did I not know everything, I pretty much knew 10% of very little.  And this was in the days when there wasn’t much to actually know!
One thing I was pretty sure about was that if a joint was stiff it was my job to make it move.  To jiggle it, lean on it, twist it and then do all three at once.  And reassess. There are many women out there who now believe physiotherapy is a satanic pain ritual practiced by young men with more muscle than brains.  These are the women who came to see me with a Frozen Shoulder – Stage II.  Let me now apologise to them: ‘I am so sorry that I caused you immense pain in the pursuit of a five degree gain in shoulder flexion or a zillionth of a degree of external rotation’.  Why you returned for futher appointments speaks more for my postive attitude rather than any actual improvement.

Yet, they DID improve.  If I treated them long enough they all responded to my brilliant therapy skills.  Sometimes it took three or four months, sometimes a year or more.  But they all got better.

So did the clients who stopped treatment – they also got better.  Some took three or four months, others a year or more.  But they all got better.
So I rethought my approach to treating frozen shoulders (adhesive capsulitis).  This condition is thought to be an auto-immune disorder where the lining of the shoulder joint becomes acutely inflamed (capsulitis) with lots of pain, then goes haywire and starts to weld up it’s collagen fibres (adhesion) and become incredibly stiff.  These two stages (I and II) I call ‘freezing’ and ‘frozen’.  Then later the shoulder goes into stage III – thawing – and the movement starts to return without the previous pain.

Identifying a client in Stage I is difficult. Often they have been through the doctor/X-ray/Blood Test/Specialist visit cycle during which the shoulder moved into Stage II and arrived at physiotherapy ready for rehab.  Too late.  Here are a couple of ideas for identifying shoulders that may be in Stage I:

  • Pain is out of proportion to any recent trauma
  • Significant loss of external rotation first, then later elevation
  • Investigations for structural pathology are negative
  • Pain is not direction specific when testing movement or strength
  • Look for signs of immune system stress, for example recent illness or surgery (not necessarily shoulder), big life events (moving, parent or partner death/illness, family or financial troubles)
  • Over the age of 40
  • Left shoulder
  • Diabetes or it’s precursor Metabolic Syndrome
  • Female

None of these is diagnostic in it’s own right, but when they co-exist my index of suspicion zooms up and I can better navigate the optimal care plan

If you believe a shoulder is freezing, there may still be a chance to prevent it progressing to frozen.  Pain control is vital as is inflammatory control   Mild cases may respond to oral pharmacology, others may need intra-articular cortisone.  Non-stressful joint mobilising to adhesions and modification of aggravating activity will help.  As will a clear explanation to the client. A supportive physician or rheumatologist is a great partner in the care of these clients.

In fact, I find the education aspect of the treatment to be the most important.  I am careful with my words and tell them their shoulder is sick, not injured.  Patients understand ‘sickness’ has a course to run, and are more likely to ride with the slow progress if they get the difference.  You can then put the ‘sick shoulder’ into the context of their general health issues, the immune system struggling to cope and the internal battle now being waged.

For those patients in Stage II (frozen), I believe it is critical to keep them active and healthy.  The ongoing pain is distressing and combined with the lack of short term improvement can predispose to depression and anxiety.  Which doesn’t help their immune system resilience.  I try to keep them active (total body) with walking, cycling or modified aquarobics.  This is a positive approach mentally and may help prevent weight gain during this period of restricted activity.  I also try to reduce sources of inflammation (activity, stress, nutrition) and check them every four to six weeks to monitor their maintenance exercises, encourage them to stay active and patient,  and to identify when Stage III begins.  This is the stage when I can enhance their recovery with more frequent joint therapy, massage, exercise and functional activities within the limits of their inflammation threshold.

And I get the credit!

This is the secret to getting all the credit for the patient’s recovery:  make sure you are treating them when they get to Stage III.  Because whoever is treating them at this time gets ALL the credit!  Physio, Chiro, masseur, astrologer, aura therapist – it doesn’t matter because it is all in the timing!


The Conquest of Space

Have you ever had trouble getting started on a project?  A project that you really want to do, one that gets you excited whenever you talk about it at a Chamber meeting or out to dinner with real friends, a project that pushes all your buttons: but you just can’t get it started.  This is my story…..

My project is to turn my speaking topics on productivity, longevity and fun for men (also known as men’s health) into an absolutely riveting, entertaining and useful book for men.   I intend to write the first ever book on men’s health that men actually read, and maybe even act on.  But I haven’t.  And more importantly I couldn’t work out what was stopping me. 

I finally realised it was space.  I had some, but it was the wrong type.  It was my ‘busy’ space – the desk where phones rang, emails demanded action, payments were made, meetings were arranged, business correspondence written and financial records were processed.  Whenever I sat down to start my project any attempts at creativity and planning were invaded by all this busy work.  And so was my mind: I was trying to do creative work in my admin space, but my mind would not be tricked.  It promptly switched from right side activity to left side activity and I got busy.  So there was my barrier: my external and internal spaces were neither suitable nor ready for the task at hand.

I realised progress depended on a different quality of physical space and discipline of my mental space.  So I did the unthinkable: I sought help! This goes against all the programming of the male mind and was quite a breakthrough.  I did a ‘paper flow workshop’ (Kikki K, Maroochydore) to learn how to manage all the pits of paper, bills, invoices, letters, notes, appointments, etc that come over my desk. Then amazingly, I actually implemented the plan and noticed an immediate change in the appearance of my workspace and the feel of sitting down to a clear work top instead of a clutter of horizontally filed paper where priority had been overwhelmed by arrival date. 

Next was my head space.  No convenient workshop for that one!  It required some coaching from a fellow speaker and author to help me identify what my ideal head space should be, and how to retain it against constant invasions from external and internal sources. 

Now I am ready – title done. Web domain? Done.  Chapter concepts? Done.  Outlines? Next.  But that’s me, what is the message for you?  Who cares?  I’m underway!  No, that’s a bit harsh – the questions I would like to pass on are simple: what is stopping you from your next leap to greatness?  What simple steps can you take that will allow you to achieve your next success in business or life?  And are you prepared to ask for help?  Is your workspace or headspace holding you back, because if it is and you can conquer it, the universe beyond is beckoning.

 Cheers for now,