103: Becoming Iron Man – What George Learned From a Life-Altering Surgery

George Leith

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If you thought that hip replacement surgery had nothing to do with sales, we have a surprise for you. In this week’s podcast, George discusses how his surgeon, Dr. Anthony King, confirmed a thing or two about sales while giving him a modern-medicine titanium upgrade. Listen in to hear how selling a ‘package’ isn’t the way to become a successful and trusted local expert, and what you should be doing instead.

Welcome to the Conquer Local Podcast. This week, I’m going to talk about why you should never ever sell a f****** package but you should be including a package in your solution for your client. That and a story about my brand-new titanium hips, coming up next on the Conquer Local Podcast.

Well, I’m sure you’re asking yourself what titanium hips has to do with sales, but I’m going to tell you a story that has occurred over the last 30 years and really came to fruition in the last 12 months. I spend a big chunk of my life tipping the Toledos at about 360, 365 at my heaviest. And let me tell you that if you’re carrying around that much weight on a set of hips that God gave us, that was supposed to carry around 180 pounds, if you believe the body mass index, it’s going to cause some problems. And where I arrived at the beginning of 2017 was I was having a hard time walking, my hips were starting to actually give out, I wasn’t sleeping very well, drinking way more than I probably should have been, and living my life in constant pain. And enough was enough. I went to Italy in the year previous, late in that year, walked around at about 40,000 steps a day. I had that Fitbit on and I was counting the steps. And that really was the beginning of the end of my hips that I had on my body for 46 years.

But thank goodness for modern medicine, I am now pain-free and living an incredible life and I wish I would have done it 10 years ago. I’ve had some people who have reached out to me on social media and they’ve been like, “Should I do it?” I’m like, “Don’t wait. Go do it right now.” It was really a game-changer. I was full of piss and vinegar before, but now I am super fired up. So I want to talk about the story and then I’m going to bring it home. Don’t worry. It’s a great story. I’m going to bring it home, how it applies to sales, and my very bold statement that I said off the top of this show.

So here’s how it goes down. My general practitioner, Dr. Van Niekerk, he sees me in an appointment and he says, “Listen, you’ve got to go to a surgeon. I’m going to refer you to a surgeon and we’re going to look at what your options are to get your hips replaced.” And he sent me to Dr. Anthony King, fantastic gentleman who I’ve gotten to know quite well and who has really changed my life and I’m very grateful to him for the work that he did. But here’s how it goes down. I walk into the Royal University Hospital to his offices. They basically send you for X-rays first, so they make you put on this gown. The interesting thing about the gown is they actually have a map on the wall on how you’re supposed to tie the gown. There really is no way that this gown should be tied the wrong way, but sure enough, somebody has probably went out with the thing on backwards. Yeah, anyways, you get the hint.

So you put the gown on, they take about 50 X-rays, and then they send you upstairs to meet the doctor. And I had been walking with a limp for a good part of my life and I just thought it was cool. And people would ask me about it all the time. It’s like, “Oh, are you okay? Are you wounded?” “Yeah. No, I have bad hips and that was my story.” And so I’m walking with the limp into Dr. King’s office and he sits me down the chair and he’s like, “So tell me why you’re here.” And he’s already looked at the X-rays or maybe he didn’t even have to look at the X-rays. So what I find out from Dr. King as the time goes on is that this gentleman replaces five sets of knees a week, and he usually does five hips a week, and he’s super good at it.

So the first thing he wants to check is are my legs the same length? So he pulls out a tape measure and he measures up the legs. And he hasn’t told me he was going to replace my hips yet. He’s doing some things and then he sets me on the table and he checks my range of motion and he makes a little bit of a face around, “Wow. I can’t believe that you’re even walking around because you can barely bend over.” And he sees me wince in pain when he moves my leg into uncomfortable situations. So he’s going through all of the things that he needs to do to make his diagnosis. And then, at the end of that diagnosis, he starts to set the stage as to what I’m going to go through over the next 12 months.

First is he takes a pen and he draws on my leg where he is going to cut a 10-inch incision, where he is also going to cut one of the biggest muscles in my body and he’s going to separate it apart and reach in, where he can dislocate my hip. And then he is going to cut the top of the femur off and he is going to take the bone that has fused inside the hip socket out, where he can place a piece of titanium which he is actually going to hammer into the femur. And then he’s going to relocate the socket into another piece of titanium which he has attached to my body with glue and a screw. And there’s a piece of plastic in there that will start to act as the cartilage, which I am going to be really excited about because I’ve had zero cartilage for the last 10 years.

And that’s how I’m going to go about life for the next 20 some odd years. You might be able to get 25 years out of them if you’re really nice to them. He’s not even really worried about that because he says, “You know the technology has advanced so much over the last 10 years. We might even be able to yard that thing out and put something in that’s bionic.” Well, I am super excited about that because when I was a kid, “The Six Million Dollar Man” was my favorite TV show. So for me to have some sort of bionic stuff in me, that’s pretty cool. Plus, I like Iron Man. And now, not the bank account or the genius part, but I do have iron in my body, so it’s pretty cool.

But let’s talk about the process that Dr. King was taking me through. And then you may already be starting to see where I’m going with this, how it ties to the sales process that we are professing inside the Conquer Local Podcast. Dr. King, before he ever starts doing any sort of an exercise, is telling me that I need to start doing some sort of physiotherapy and he gives me a page filled with some exercises. So he’s saying to me, “There’s a whole bunch of things that I can do to help you, but there’s a bunch of things that you need to do to help yourself. And in concert, if we put these two things together, we are going to get an amazing result at the end of the day. But if any of these things aren’t happening, it may lead to a less than amazing result.”

And he wants to make sure that I’m bought in, that I am on board, that I am prepared to do the things that I’m going to do. So he really started to set the expectations for what I’m going to have to do as part of the process right at the very beginning, before he ever cut into me at all or started to do any of the procedures. Then he also laid out the fact that this isn’t an overnight fix. Even after he concludes the operation, I’m going to have to be in the hospital for up to four days. I’m going to have to work with a walker first, then crutches, then a cane. And I’m going to continue to have a limp until the physiotherapy has ran its course. And I’m only able to do one hip at a time. So the first hip is going to happen on May the 9th, and then they’re going to see how I heal, and then they’re going to try and do the next one 90 days later, at the very earliest. But he really wanted to check and see the healing.

Now, I know that I’m an amazing healer and I’m really excited to get stuff done and get on with this. So I was really fortunate that Dr. King was able to get me scheduled right away. That isn’t always the case in the amazing, Canadian health system. And by the way, yes, I know I get asked this by Americans all the time. I didn’t have to pay anything. I did have to pay for a private room at the hospital, which I highly recommend. It was worth the $240. But anyways, I arrive on May the 9th and we go into the procedure. Really cool. They don’t even knock you out. They give you the option where you can listen to the whole thing and I got a spinal tap. Now, let me tell you this surgery is more carpentry than it actually is surgery. It is pretty cool. I highly recommend it. And I remember it all. It was awesome.

So at the end of it, I’m in the recovery room and I’m going through and Dr. King comes in and he goes back over the procedure that he has done and he explains it to me again the things that he’s done. And then he warns me about things and he again sets those expectations of what I’m going to expect moving forward. So I’m happy to tell you that at the end of the day, we are here and I am now nine months post my first surgery and I’m six months post my second surgery and I’m healing at an amazing rate and he is saying that I’m going to have a full recovery. And it really has been a game-changer. I am more agile. I’m able to touch my toes. I’m able to do squats. And I hope Dr. King isn’t listening to this episode because I’m doing weighted squats, which he told me not to do, but I’m doing great. There’s a few things they don’t want you to do for a year, so I won’t be skiing and I won’t be skating and I won’t be running because there are some risks. But I will tell you that I followed to a tee the exercise program that he gave me and that the physiotherapist gave me.

The other thing that I want to tell that’s really interesting about this entire solution that Dr. King offered to me on my body: it was a team effort. There was a bunch of people that came along and fulfilled their parts of that solution. And he used a bunch of tools, but he never once showed me the saw that he used and he never really once told me what brand of painkiller that they used. He never really told me what the make of the mask was that he put over my face when they were giving me oxygen. He didn’t really tell me what the name of the bed was that I slept in or what the manufacturer of the titanium hip product was.

So what I’m telling you is Dr. King, when he did this entire procedure and offered the solution that has changed my life, he used the insights that he had. He used the X-ray. He used his experience that he has had in performing this surgery over and over and over again for 30 years. By the way, I did ask him how long that he’s been doing it because that was really important to me to see the experience because I was going to Dr. King because he was the trusted local expert for providing hip surgeries in my marketplace and I wanted to make sure that this wasn’t his first rodeo. I wanted to make sure that he had some experience.

Now, I don’t know this for a fact, but I want to dig into this and I want to go back to my statement out of the gate. And my mom doesn’t want me to swear, so I’m not going to swear a second time. Don’t ever sell a package, but you should be including a package into your solution. I’m pretty sure that the products and the things that Dr. King prescribed along the way to solve my problem are the same things that he uses for the other four people the week or the other 20 people the month before or the other 240 people in the last 12 months. The other thing is I don’t think he really needed to look at the X-ray. I think that he could just tell by me walking into the room what my problem was, because he has this level of experience. He’s been doing it for so long that he’s just able to map out that if there’s a problem with the knee, “I need to do this and I need to prescribe this and I need to set this expectation.” He knows what the package is that he should be offering to the Georges and to the Marthas and to the Berthas and the Williams that come in to see him on a weekly basis.

He is a prescribing a solution, though. He doesn’t get caught in the weeds about what the products are. Now, if I happen to know that there are 14 different types of hip solutions, hip products rather, that he could put in my body and ask him a question and say “Which hip are you going to use? This one over here, this titanium, or this one over here that’s made out of God only knows what?” he’d be able to tell me about it. But it’s not what he offered. He just offered me the solution and he set the expectation based upon his knowledge and based upon the insights that he had gathered. He gave me a strategy that I had to follow as a human to get to the result that I wanted, the same way that I’m trying to teach you folks in the podcast, that you have to take the insights from your research and from your needs analysis, and you have to provide it with a strategy to help the client to get to where they want to be.

Then you have to set that expectation and deliver the proof of performance right out of the gate. “Here’s the things that you can expect. Here’s the measurements that we’re going to have that this thing is working or not working.” And then he gave me the ability to ask more questions if I wanted to. He provided me with a document that had all sorts of research and documents inside it. Now, those of you who know me very well that are listening to this broadcast, that can hear the sound of my voice, know that I just looked at one thing: how long it’s going to take me to get to the result that I wanted. I didn’t dig into all the minutia. But there are people that do. Guaranteed there’s people. That’s why they built that package. They need the minutia, need to go through the items.

So my story today about how I was dealing with my severe osteoarthritis from being significantly, they call it, obese. Morbidly obese, by the way. It’s actually a horrible thing when you think about it. I don’t know how I did that. From those decisions that I made, Dr. King solved those problems. And what I’m telling you is the exact same way that he solved those problems are what you need to take into your day to day to solve your customers’ problems. And if you take that kind of a tactic where you use insights, you deliver a strategy, you have tactics underneath that are products or solutions that you’re using, and you don’t walk in and just sell the package for your benefit, not for the benefit of the client, you’re going to come out of this with the results that the client is looking for and then ultimately the results that you’re looking for as the trusted local expert. That is the Conquer Local Podcast for this week. I’m George Leith. I’ll see you when I see you.