My Story, Part 1 (Start Here!)

AUGUST 2016


Attitude is Everything has always been my mantra. It seems that the more troublesome an event or challenge I've faced, my natural defense mechanism (that I attribute to my parents, siblings and friends) is to use positive thinking as the kick starter and humor as the mechanism to power through the adversity.


I found out I had small cell lung cancer two days before I was about to move to Zurich Switzerland to accept an assignment as partner in a large private equity firm there. The first two weeks were very rocky and then 180 degrees to the positive and the two ends of the spectrum are important to understand.


I will not name names to protect the guilty, but I initially had the biopsy done by a local medical group. That group, in an attempt to keep the business local, delayed telling me the results for one whole week so that I could meet with their cancer specialists. When I did meet with their specialist (and when I found out I had small cell lung cancer) the bedside manner, outlook and demeanor could not have been more negative. It was basically "what you have can't be cured".


I left that doctor's office at 2pm, with my head held high, and immediately faxed the biopsy report to MD Anderson in Houston Tx. MD Anderson called me back at 4pm and asked if I could be there at 7:30 the next morning. Of course I said yes.....went home and packed a bag and drove to the airport.


Customer service leads to positive thinking.


MD Anderson people met me at 10:30pm IN THE HOTEL and checked me in, including doing my initial blood work, right there in the hotel. When I walked into the hospital the next morning, I was already checked in and they already had my initial blood work.


Contrast that with my local provider intentionally sitting on my biopsy results for a week in hopes of retaining my business.


Contrast my two first meetings:


The first thing the oncologist at MD Anderson said to me was "Joe, We've got this....you need to think positive."


Wow....is all I could think. Already being a student of the power of positive thinking, I was amazed at the contrast between a local provider somehow thinking it was in my best interest to tell me I was going to die versus the #1 cancer center in the world telling me "no problem, we got this Joe"


From that moment on I made three promises to myself (that I can now thankfully say are promises that I've kept):


First, I promised to be absolutely positive regardless of the short term challenges I faced, and


Second, I promised to let my prayer posse take over and believe in the power of prayer, and


Third, I promised to make at least one person in the hospital laugh every day.


That was an epiphany and a great start to an amazing adventure with many lows, offset by incredible highs.


And as a businessman, I can say that many industries and businesses could learn a thing or two from the MD Anderson customer service business model. Think about it, how many businesses are there in the world where 100% of the customers fear for their lives and are in need of hope. And they've figured out a way to incorporate "hope" into a service offering. Truly amazing.


Continue to the next part here