Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Paradigm Shaft

Several years ago a wise man said something to me that really impacted my life. He was a Pharma drug rep, but prior to that, he was an accountant for a financial service company. One day, during his old career, he had an epiphany of sorts when he was conversing with an investment banker. The accountant lamented to the banker, "How come you make so many times what I make?" The banker responded, off handedly, "Because I make money and you cost money."

"Because I make money and you cost money." Wow!

Several weeks later, this accountant left his company and went into sales so he could "make money."

He told me that story over dinner one night and I had epiphany of my own. There are 2 types of people in the world: those who make money and those who cost money. People that make money will always be worth more than those who cost money. Most of us fall into the cost money category. Think about it. The dichotomy really has truth to it. Movie stars, investment bankers, top professional athletes, even top doctors and lawyers, all validate their incomes because they produce wealth for others as well. They make money. Nurses, medical assistance, accountants, teachers, police officers, fire-fighters, in fact most of the rest of us, are in more of a support role and don't really bring in the bacon. Not to say that our jobs are not important. They are. It is just that we cost money, rather than make it.

Doctors used to be in the "make money" category. Throughout the 1960's, 70's, and 80's, doctors not only made money, we were seen as having the ability to generate wealth for others. The perception was that we made money. Beginning in the 1990's--though it's roots actually started under Nixon & Reagan--physicians came to be seen as cost centers rather than revenue centers. This shift in perception, a paradigm shift really, put us in the very precarious position we sit today. In fact, to the extent that there has been the downfall of doctors, this paradigm shift led directly to it.

People that make money are always worth more than people who cost money. It is really that simple.

Again, I don't have a solution for the problem. I only have the observation. I suppose that if you are a physician, you may benefit from re-tooling your practice so that you can be seen as a revenue generator, rather than a cost center.

Remember, 2 types of people exist in the world: those that cost money and those that make money. Try to be the latter.

Good luck.

The IU.