February 6, 2017

The patient sees the symptom, not the disease

An interesting question came up in my coaching Slack room yesterday:

> If you were giving a live presentation to conference audience, would you take a minute to explain WHY they should care? I think I’ve seen you do that with your “ditch hourly billing” stuff. There’s a brief amount of time spent explaining why hourly billing is madness.

Yes, I try to always begin presentations by explicitly stating the problem to be solved.

Perhaps more importantly, I believe that it’s important to put the problem in their terms.

For example:

Lots of credit unions have an atrocious on-boarding experience on mobile and I do presentations explaining what to do about it.

So, you might think I’d lead off a talk like this with something like:

“Your on-boarding experience on mobile stinks and it’s killing your business.”


In their opinion, they’re proud of their mobile experience because they’ve spent (i.e., wasted) a lot of money on it.

Therefore, this opening would completely close them down to anything further I had to say.

The patient doesn’t see the disease, they see the symptom.

The symptom that credit union leadership sees is that they’re not attracting younger members.


I’d start a talk to this group by leading with something like:

“Your membership is aging and you can’t figure out what to do about it.”

This opening will perk them up because they recognize the problem and are wondering (hopeful, even) that I’ll offer a possible solution.

To paraphrase Dale Carnegie:

Don’t bait your hook with food you like. Bait your hook with food fish like.