niche case study: the happy MD

DikeBlueSmile niche case study: the happy MDI met Dike Drummond (pictured here) in 2011 at a marketing workshop and loved him warm, positive attitude. I liked him instantly. He just started a new project that is so very on point around niching and a beautiful example of how our own wounds can be doorways to our truest niches. 
 
What is the name of your project?
The Happy MD
 
What’s the story of how this came about? What was the need you saw in the community that it emerged from?
 
I am a doctor (Family Practice) who burned out at the age of 40 – 14 years ago now – and quit my medical practice.
 
I have been a life and business coach and trainer in several non-healthcare niches since then and my heart has always been looking for a time and place to reach out to the people in the same situation I faced in 1998 — those who love taking care of patients and hate “the system” and its unsustainable expectations. 
 
I did some research to see if the landscape of personal development for physicians had changed and found a perfect storm.

1) The research shows 1 in 3 physicians are suffering from symptomatic burnout on any given office day – worldwide — regardless of specialty. And there is no reason to think burnout is any less prevalent in nurses or hospital administrators and others in the system.

2) Researchers have also proven a number of techniques effective in preventing and treating burnout – all of which I have either incorporated into my life or coached others on. These include Mindfulness, Work-Life Balance and Appreciative Inquiry … to name a few.

3) Even though these techniques are proven in the research – no one is teaching them on the internet. 

I created TheHappyMD.com and its evolving line of trainings and coaching to put the tools that work into the front line physicians who need them most. 

I realized that the person I have become here in 2012 is the exact person I would have so loved to meet back in 1998 … and if we had met, I am pretty sure I would still be practicing medicine in some fashion today. Once I realized this and saw the amount of burnout – and suffering – out there … the purpose of these last 12 years of my life became crystal clear. 

Your recent post about figuring out your niche poses a great question and for those of us who have some water under our bridge (it’s not the age, it’s the mileage) I believe it is THE question to build your “right livelihood” around. I resisted asking this BIG question for 2 decades and have only now done so. Changed my life drastically at a time when I needed it most.

I can now see that turning point clearly:

- At the time I had no answers to what I was feeling – couldn’t even formulate the questions
- Since then my life trajectory has taught me what I most needed to know back then … in first person experience … just like Anf in the comments below !
- And … lo and behold … there are tens of thousands of other people out there who are where I was back in the day – now 14 years ago – wondering what to do when burnout has taken away the drive to keep practicing medicine. 
- And … now I can help. THIS me has some answers that THAT 14 year ago me was missing.

As I plan my business to serve my people … it is clear that it is about something MUCH bigger than me. I am in service. It is completely different than any other business I have created or worked in. I hear angels singing a LOT. Amazing.

What’s the response been so far? 

Universally positive.
 
I have generated about 3500 hits a month to the site – we launched in January of 2012. I have nearly 500 people on my list … almost all of them doctors … and my coaching practice has 12 physician clients at the moment. I have my first corporate client and just delivered my first all staff speaking engagement to a hospital system in Alabama (I live in Washington state). I have also been picked up by a Healthcare Industry Speaker’s Bureau.
 
Can you share a few examples of how your project works?
 
Visitors to my site can download a couple of free reports. One teaches Appreciative Inquiry – a research proven method of personal growth where instead of working on problems, you focus on doing more of what is going right in your life. This is a way of seeing the world that is totally foreign to most docs and can change your outlook in a heartbeat.

The second is a single breath release technique they can use to recenter and get present during the office day – something we all need and docs have never been taught.

Once on my mailing list they get a weekly newsletter with burnout prevention tips and an invitation to a free, one hour “Discovery Session”.

I am also nearing the final stages of my Work Life Balance and Boundaries Mastery Training for Physicians. This will be a 6 week very practical course on creating more work life balance delivered via the internet.

How did you promote this in the beginning? What were the top three most successful approaches at the start of it?
 
Find the biggest sites/blogs and groups on the web and LinkedIn and pitch them good content.

What are the top three most effective ways you’ve found to market this?

Guest blogging and posting my articles in Physician Groups on the internet and LinkedIn and SEO for search engine traffic. I guest blog at KevinMD.com and their facebook page. That generates a significant portion of my inbound traffic. I am also a HuffPost blogger. In healthcare this does not generate a lot of inbound traffic, but it does give a number of very high powered backlinks to my site.

There are several large MD groups on LinkedIn and on the web (Sermo.com is one) where I post my articles and generate traffic

And I am compulsive about SEO on every blog post and that pays off. I know my niche search terms by heart and use the wordpress plugin SEOPressor to optimize to 90% or more on each term. 

Now I am adding offline promotion with speaking engagements. And I am in the midst of product development and writing a Kindle book on Burnout Prevention

What are the three biggest lessons you’ve learned along the way?

Find a big problem and talk about it in a way that no one else does

Go where your people already are … the big blogs and groups in your niche. The bigger the site … the more they need your content.

Offer quick tools that work right away and a free consult to the folks who need more than that.

At its heart, what is this project/business really about for you? (beyond money, status and such).

It is about healing the healers.
 
In no other profession is the health and presence of the provider so important as in healthcare. If the doctor or nurse or the person drawing your blood is not getting their needs met – they can’t be there for you … can’t listen, empathize, touch or care. We have all been to doctors or hospitals where we have had this experience. And doctors are trained to ignore their own needs and the system is set up to treat them as disposable tools. It does not have to be this way. 

There are research proven tools to prevent and treat burnout.

There are ways to create organizations where the health and wellbeing of the providers is as important as that of the patient AND these things – when implemented – will result in happier, healthier doctors, nurses and patients and more profitable healthcare organizations.

What’s the next level for your project? What are you most excited about that’s coming up?

Live training – especially in an All Staff setting where we can get nurses, doctors and administrators all together to talk about stress and burnout and be more human with each other.

Internet delivered products to teach mindfulness and work-life balance to anyone anywhere in the world who could use it.

If people want to find out more about your project, support it or get involved – what should they do?

Come to www.thehappymd.com and grab the Satisfaction Mind Flip free report and get on the mailing list. 

Tell all your stressed out friends in healthcare about the site – doctors, nurses, adminstrators …. everyone.

Anything else you’d like to add?

It is easy to have a bad experience with a doctor and blame them … and they can’t give what they haven’t got. That doctor was most likely over stressed and burned out on that day. The first thing I would suggest you do is ask them how their day is going and help them take a deep breath. Doesn’t sound like much AND it would make a huge difference to them. Then give them this website address www.TheHappyMD.com 

 

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Want Help? If you’d like some more direct guidance and hand holding on figuring out your niche then go and check out my Niching for Hippies coaching program http://marketingforhippies.com/niching-for-hippies/