Learning

My Dream-Me is pretty harsh…

Angela Spang

I have embarked on the daunting journey of writing a book….or three, more accurately. Apparently I have a lot to say (who knew)…

I have always been a fan of objective viewing of self, as we tend to be either overly critical or alternatively not clear on our strengths and how we should manage them in relation to other people (and their potential shortcomings in the same area), but I have to say that I am taking it to a new level now!

The other day I woke up in the middle of a dream, and clearly the book writing challenge has made quite an impact — I am obviously pretty occupied with the idea since I was actually DREAMING about it. This is slightly concerning since I haven’t actually written a SINGLE word yet! I am worried what is to come.

Stick to Twitter

Dream-Me

I woke up offended.

My Dream-Me was telling my real me to “stick to Twitter”. Ouch. I am all for straight communication, but that is HARSH feedback to someone who hasn’t even started writing yet! Clearly Dream-Me is not wasting any time! She isn’t wrong though: I have said for years that I like Twitter — the limitation of characters is a challenge and a blessing — better be succinct and not waffle. I have seen the same tendencies in myself when it comes to writing: I struggle with filling in long blank spaces in applications for funding or similar (maybe that’s why I never applied for anything apart from an epic double failure in a Horizon2020 application a couple of years back where the second attempt was actually scored WORSE than the FIRST one. I gave up after that.).

Realise when you are not the best person for the job

One of my strengths as a leader is to put the right person in the right place. I match make well between people and roles, and sometimes I see futures for people that they may have not realised themselves. This strength is useful here….I have absolutely no plans to become a writer. Just because I have STORIES to tell doesn’t make me a writer…those are different things. People who believe that authors should only write their own stories or you aren’t a real author if you don’t do the actual writing yourself haven’t thought long enough about it, imho.

After all, Authors have editors, illustrators, designers….and they use computers 😉

I will have a writing partner

She will take the jumbled words, the blurry memories, the ugly and unsaid, the beauty and the magic…and she will use her skill and talent to turn my secrets and my scars into something that we can all learn from. I will have to trust her; I know it will require me to be brave. I will tell her things I have never told anyone, and I am already scared.

Maybe that is why my Dream-Me is saying stick to Twitter. She is not wrong.

Will you read my books?

I don’t do guilt.

I find the idea of feeling guilty utterly useless. That does not, however, mean that I don’t sometimes fall into the trap of feeling guilty. But, I try very, very hard to a) identify it and b) get out of it as quickly as I can.

Guilt is not productive.

When I went to work after my first daughter was born, I set a rule for myself to not fall into the trap of feeling guilty:

I decided that when I was at work, I needed to be okay with being there, do my best and not waste any of the time I was there on feeling guilty — that certainly would not make anything better. I also frequently reminded myself that I had made the choice to go to work; therefor I should make the most of that decision and commit to it.

Similarly, I banned myself from thinking about work when I was home. I was SO FOCUSED on what I was doing, no matter where I was, no matter which role I was in at the moment. It required enormous amounts of discipline, and of course it didn’t always work; it was a new experience for me to feel inadequate about something I was doing, but if anything, that pushed me even harder to try to manage my thoughts and feelings about being a working parent.

Impact of guilt

Guilt is an incredibly powerful emotion. There is a wide range of things to feel guilty about – from feeling guilty about eating the last piece of chocolate to feeling guilty about someone you hurt.

The feeling of guilt is unique from feeling sad or upset – guilt often combines feelings of shame, anxiety, frustration, and humiliation.

These emotions can well up inside and build over time, most especially if we never admit to ourselves that we made a choice and we are unhappy about it. Guilt can majorly affect our sense of self-worth and self-esteem.

Regardless of where the guilt comes from, the stress of the guilt itself can have a serious effect on some people. While mostly psychological, some physical effects can include insomnia, a loss of appetite, and an overall dreary feeling. Guilt happens to share a lot of symptoms with depression; and depression can develop within someone with severe guilt issues.

As you can imagine, having just started a new job, I had very little time for any of that, so I KNEW had to find a way to manage my emotions.

“Yeah yeah but HOW!?”

1. Make a list of WHEN you feel guilty. And then WHY.

If you feel guilty because you’re “not doing enough” for your kids, partner, or family, list all the things that you regularly do for them. Then, keep the list in your purse or wallet to pull out when guilt rears its head. Break the guilt thought (use CBT!)

2. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Just ASK!

Ask the people you think you’re neglecting whether they actually feel neglected. Consider whether they have a tendency to expect too much and not take enough responsibility for themselves (e.g., teenagers who expect you to pick up after them). Ask an outsider.

3. P.R.I.O.R.I.T.I.S.E

Prioritise. Be ruthless. What are the things someone else can do? For me, it is cleaning the house. Not just because someone else CAN do it…but also because it is cheaper than couples therapy, and as much as I love my partner, I have NEVER met two people who wake up and realise that it is cleaning time at the same moment….thus cleaning will inevitably cause friction in a household!

4. Realize it’s okay to take care of your own needs.

Big or small things is less important, but you have to make sure you also look after yourself. Plan it, execute it, and acknowledge it. The simple act of reading a few pages in your new book every night can works wonders — if recognised and appreciated as an act of self care.

Summarize me and JUNE: Attempt 1

I have tried to summarize me in a few words for the Goldman Sachs 10k I am just about to embark on. How do you think I did?

Here is what I wrote:

Making healthcare better for the women and girls you love.

Multi award-winning innovator and serial entrepreneur. (thats from LinkedIn, true but braggy sounding on here.)

I don’t like Brexit

I am Swedish, living in the UK since 12 years, still struggling to not translate and try to explain swedish expressions (eg “There is no danger on the roof”) during business conversations.

Useless education

Trained ballerina, rocks parallel parking but can’t cook. Once burnt boiling eggs.

It’s complicated

Like talking strategy, change and people. Enthusiastic introvert who has to do the hakka before networking. Residential will take all my energy, but I am really looking forward to learning from everyone on the programme.

JUNE Medical

June was a code name from the beginning, but it got stuck so I kept it. We focus on surgical women’s health, anything that is in the operating theatre and give women the opportunity to get back on their feet faster, back to the life they want to live. We distribute medical devices for some of the largest companies in healthcare, as well as making our own solutions when we don’t find good products (Galaxy II is such a project).
I have been supporting The Fistula Foundation with surgical equipment for many years, and my GalaxyII project is an important cornerstone in that goal.
I am on the programme to ensure I make the best choices and optimise where and how we can contribute to improving healthcare for women and girls.

Why simplicity is important in innovation

It is so easy to fall into the trap of ego. You know you have a great idea, and you want to show the world how clever it is…well, it is easy to also want to show the world how proud you are of having thought of it!

And being proud is a good thing.

…Just not so proud that it derails your innovation. Let me give you a good example, witnessed often in previous roles in large corporations:

Clever person solves a problem. Clever person then tries to share solution with other clever people, but makes the pitch lopsided, and the OTHER clever people end up offering to help with THEIR solutions to the problem. Clever person leaves feeling devalued, demotivated and misunderstood.

So what went wrong?

The mistake was made to make the PROBLEM bigger than the SOLUTION. (We tend to do this when we want to build suspense, to really milk out the praise we think we deserve for our brilliant solution.) It then back fires, because we focus too much on the stage before the solution, and once everyone’s brain is in help and solution mode, it is very challenging to present a solution. Intelligent creative people love problem solving and are so eager to help, they can’t stop!

Try this next time

Instead of building up the problem too big and subsequently losing your moment to shine, try summarizing the discussion you want to have up front. Try starting with saying something along the lines of : “You know that x we have been mulling over? I have a solution I want to share with you today, and I am really proud of it!”

Be honest, know yourself and use your strengths. Innovation is only beautiful when it is simple, and everyone gets it.

(Just like a good joke is only funny if you don’t have to explain it.)

Leadership struggles

As a leader, one of the hardest things is to figure out when to push your employees, and when to back off. Finding the balance, different for each person you lead, is hugely challenging.

Sometimes leaders get fed up too, because in the end of the day, we all have rough days when we just want to roll over and pull the covers over our head. But as the leader of a team or a company, that simply isn’t an option. Your actions would impact too many, and for a long time. You need to stay professional, at all times. Moping has to be done at home, hidden away from those your emotions will influence, worry or offend.

Supportive leaders are great

But how do you make the decision to just stop helping and stop coaching? When do you say “enough is enough” and draw a line in the sand? For example, how much of our personal life’s should we bring into the office? When should we tell our teams to be professional and just get on with it? Is it right to have team members not pulling their weight because they are going through a tough time at home? Should a boss be a mentor, a coach or a psychologist? Or all of it?

Lead with kindness

I always advocate empathy and understanding and believe leading with kindness is right. But….here is a thought for consideration: Is it right to spend extra time and resources on the ones who aren’t performing? Is it fair to the other ones in the team, those who are doing well, even great? Shouldn’t THEY be the ones who get the time, the coaching, the support and the help?

If you want to lead a team of high performers, is it strategic to spend most of your time worrying about the low performers? Or is it time to just ditch the deadweight and go with the stars?

Pondering continues.

My biggest business failure (so far…)

It seemed like a slam dunk, and I was convinced it would be an easy win. After all, it was an under-served market, a simple product that required no training to switch to, and I knew we could make it for half the cost as the market leader, who had no competition. Slam dunk by far, right?

Wrong. 2 years later, our Galaxy retractor is not even in 20 hospitals in the UK market. I don’t get it. How can this not be the EASIEST SELL IN THE WORLD?! (You can tell I am frustrated by this!)

Procurement sell?

If my job was to save NHS money and still maintaining similar quality, I would want to freakin’ MARRY Galaxy. No re-training needed, British company and almost -50% cost. If all of the current product was switched out, the NHS would save half a million pounds…..ANNUALLY. Without ANY work.

How messed up is it what this discussion must happen surgeon by surgeon, hospital by hospital? And how frustrating is it, that a British company could create 5 more jobs, save the NHS millions of pounds AND do better for the environment (yeah, 10% less plastic waste too) and STILL not be the number one provider?

My Top Endorsed Skills

So, as a reasonably good (well…) business leader and someone whose Top Endorsed Skill on LinkedIn is Product Launch and Marketing Strategy from my career in medical device, I am considering this to be my greatest failure. We are doing something wrong, and I just can’t seem to figure out how to fix it.

It is taking too long: 2 years and we are nowhere close to where we should be. 2 years, 500k annually. A million pounds in wasted tax money, and in addition, money that is leaving the UK to an American company.

I want to save money for the NHS, keep the funding in the UK and grow our business so we can employ more people in Buckinghamshire instead of Connecticut. But I can’t for the life of me make it work.

That must be my biggest failure: it seems so OBVIOUS and SIMPLE, and yet I can’t crack it.

Any idea what I am doing wrong??

 

 

 

Product development and Launch – the JUNE MEDICAL way

I’ve done The Big

Because I have had the pleasure of working with larger corporations (I spend 10 years with JNJ, 3 with Allergan and 3 with American Medical Systems ENDO) I have quite a lot of experience of new product development and taking new things to market. I have had my finger in design, development, research, early stage testing, pre-launch and launch, as well as training and port market evaluations.

Long process, not always for the right reasons

Usually in one of the large corporates, a new product development idea goes through many rounds of iterations, with a lot of people who don’t have the faintest idea of what the patient symptoms are, what the available solutions are, what the surgeon need is or what the possible outcomes should be.

That’s where JUNE MEDICAL is different. Let me give you the example of this month’s launch: The GOKit.

I was sitting with Maria, nurse at St Marys Hospital, when she got yet another call from the consultant asking her to run upstairs and fetch something from Theatres (she works in Outpatient). When she came back, I asked about what I just observed, and it turns out that she quite frequently must run upstairs to collect a piece of equipment that is missing from the resterilizable trays they use in Outpatient. (Which also means she opens a complete sterile tray just for one or two missing pieces!)

Digging deeper

I asked her more questions, and then suggested a product we could make for her that would solve her problem of missing, broken or incomplete trays. She laughed and said “A new product will take years to be put together and approved!”.

I winked and reminded her that we are JUNE MEDICAL (!), and asked her to give me 3 months. She laughed and said the challenge was on. I was pretty pleased with myself when I casually strolled in just before Christmas and presented her with the first sterile sample kit of the new outpatient Gynae Tray, and she was absolutely over the moon – blown away with the quality and the low cost, saving the trust money.

In summary:

  • Know your stuff
  • Watch your customers and solve their problems
  • Work fast

 

Oh, and GOKit? See for yourself! www.junemedical.com/gokit/

 

Mentoring Questions Part 3: EXIT STRATEGY

My goodness, I had more to say on this than I thought!

Thanks for coming back to read this third part. 

I got a letter in the mail a couple of weeks ago, from a company who asked if they could sell my company for me. As one of the things they wanted to discuss with me, they had listed my exit strategy for when I wanted to sell my company. I told them I would #neversell , but I would be happy to hear what they thought the company would be worth. They didn’t respond. 

Anyway, it reminded me about something I always used to try to install in my teams when we embarked on large projects in the corporate world: Exit strategy. 

I have observed, as well as been a part of, teams or projects that keep going long after any sane and remotely objective person would have called it quits. Why? Because it is hard to say “I give up”. And it is even harder to do it in a corporate environment where nobody wants to be pegged as being negative or pessimistic. 

So what is the responsible and strategic way to go? Make an exit plan. (And then hope you never have to implement it!)

Helping just because we can…Hana Lee’s Story!

From Angela & JUNE MEDICAL… 

16 year old student Hana Lee met JUNE MEDICAL Managing Director Angela Spang on the 11th July 2017, when Angela was delivering a talk at Hana’s School in Amersham.  Hana got in touch with Angela after hearing her speak at Amersham school with an interest in the Apprenticeships that JUNE MEDICAL had to offer.

As Hana planned to go back to school to study for her A-levels it was decided that an apprenticeship wasn’t for her at this time, however JUNE MEDICAL who are always happy to help and encourage new talent, offered Hana some work experience over her summer holiday period.

Hana carried out some key market research for our sister company LMEDAC, which will help determine the next direction for the business to take.  Hence Hana was instrumental in some extremely valuable work and proved a worthwhile contribution to the company in the weeks that she worked with us.

Hana fitted straight in within our team environment, she had her head down working hard but also joined in with office discussions, team meetings and brainstorm sessions – she even took the initiative to clean the office without anyone asking her.

Hana’s time with the JUNE MEDICAL team proved to be mutually beneficial and she was a pleasure to have onboard.  This is another fine example of Angela Spang and her team giving back and developing future prospects. 

After only a couple of days into Hana’s work experience she expressed the wish to continue working with us.  This is something we hope we can make happen for her.  Angela and her team wish Hana the very best of luck with her future career development. 

From Hana’s Perspective…

Why did you want to come and work with us: I attended my schools induction day and Angela was there giving a talk which was mainly about body language and how people acted/reacted in certain situations.  I knew I wanted to do some sort of work experience during the summer but at the time I hadn’t found anything.

After hearing Angela talk about the apprenticeships her company ran, I took the opportunity to get her email address at the end of the session to see if I would be able to get some work experience with her.

Since both June Medical and London Medical Education Academy (LMEDAC) deal in the medical industry, I found that this would be the perfect work experience to ‘get my foot in the door’ and gain experience in the general field of the industry I am currently planning to work in.

Why would you like to continue working with us?: I would love to continue to broaden my current knowledge further with both June Medical and London Medical Education Academy.  In the summer I learnt things I had no prior knowledge of and the work continued to interest me.

I didn’t have a dull day especially as everyone in the office was so kind and friendly

What have you learnt so far?: I learnt a lot about medical procedures in a range of different specialities due to the market research I did and I gained a new insight into the use of cadavers for medical training.  Also, thanks to Liz (Thornber) of LMEDAC, I was also given a quick overview at the marketing side of the company and how to use SalesForce and MailChimp.  I came to the realisation as to how important social media is to a constantly growing business.

What are you ambitions for the future?: Currently, I want to study Psychology at University but before that I am planning to take a gap year to travel and volunteer or work – I know I won’t have the time to do this otherwise.

Long term, at the moment I feel I would like to be a Psychologist or a Psychiatrist.

Keeping In Touch…

True to our word, the team at JUNE MEDICAL and LMEDAC have kept in touch with Hana and we are following her progress with genuine interest.  After a recent follow up we were delighted to hear of how Hana’s time with us has made an impact on her ability moving forwards…

How did you do in your GCSE exams?:  got two 8’s, one 7, four A’s, two B’s and one C whilst at the Amersham School.

Has working with us over the summer changed anything for you going back to school?: The work I did has helped me prepare for my A-Levels as I learned how to become more independent in my research.  This has definitely been helping me so far as additional research into my subjects has been a lot easier than it would have been, had I not had the chance to work with you.

Are you hoping to come back and spend any more time with us?: I would love the opportunity to come back and work again!  At the moment I’m focusing on my new school Dr Challoner’s High School and A-Level courses, but if I got the chance in the future I would definitely accept.

Were you inspired by working with us and has it helped you in anyway?: Working with June Medical and the London Medical Education Academy has really helped me to decide to carry on doing my A-Level subjects and it will definitely help me in the future as it’s helped me focus on what I really enjoy and want to do.

Would you recommend work experience to fellow students and why?: This work experience was an amazing opportunity and I would definitely recommend it to fellow students, especially those at my school as many are aspiring to work in the medical field in the future.

Any advice that you can offer following your experience with us?: The opportunity was great!  I fully expected to be doing filing and the ‘coffee & tea runs’, but you got me straight into researching.  I don’t have any advice to offer as the experience went beyond what I envisaged.

GUEST BLOG: Ali Arif

When Angela had messaged me asking if I could write an article for her blog, I took the opportunity and was immensely excited.  The experience of her teaching is something I can write about for hours and hours.

Angela came to my school to teach us about the art of body language:

How it can promote leadership, learning, development, entrepreneurship and growth. From the first time I spoke to her, I knew that me and her would get along because she did the best thing possible, which was offering me crisps. Continue reading…