It’s best to be proactive

No matter how you slice it, the past three years have been challenging on so many fronts.  Distrust everywhere, divisiveness in our communities, a pandemic, raging inflation, global unrest, the war in Ukraine.  It is a long and exhaustive list.  And for the most part, much of this is beyond our control.  It would be easy to throw up your hands, but maybe it is an opportunity to be proactive about the things you can control.  I had an opportunity to do this, that started in January.

Long time readers may remember my post from a while back about being grateful over Thanksgiving.  It was the year when I experienced my first ‘cardiac event’.  An adventure that began with a trip to the grocery store, then a ride in the back of an ambulance to the ER and ended up with heart surgery for pericarditis.  Unexpected and unplanned?  You bet. 

After meeting with my primary care physician last year, I asked a question about cardiac disease.  I really did not have any symptoms, but a bit of family history.  She suggested maybe a proactive screening called a Cardiac Calcium CT might be in order.  It would give us the chance to look down the road a bit.  It was inexpensive and easy, so I decided to take the step.

The results were not horrific, but not great either.  She suggested perhaps I might want to consult a cardiologist.  After some research and vetting, I selected one of the top doctors in Raleigh.  After an appointment and initial consultation, he suggested maybe an echo stress test might be in order.  I agreed.  I set up an appointment, did my best to follow directions while on the treadmill, and let the technician do their work.

Once again, the results were not horrific, but after discussing them, he recommended I consult with another structural cardiologist.  After reviewing the results, he recommended some additional tests to get more data.  After all, when it comes to something as critical as the heart, you don’t want to rely on speculation. 

So, I signed up for three more invasive tests including a Chest CT with contrast, a transesophageal echocardiogram, and a heart catheterization.  When all testing was done, I was referred to a cardiac surgeon to cover the results and explain in detail what they show.

I must admit that one of the side effects of being proactive, in life and in business, is that you might just end up going down a path that you did not expect.  You’ll get new information, and you may have to adjust your course.  Having had the experience of being wheeled into the Emergency Room with little to no control over the situation, I was determined not to repeat that scenario if possible.

He explained what he saw in detail.  My aortic valve was severely stenosed with a rogue bit of tissue flapping off one of the leaflets.  If I let it go, eventually my heart would become damaged, fail, and that would be that.  The alternative was to replace the valve and do any other needed repairs before things got worse.  I agreed and we scheduled the surgery about a month in advance.

Open heart surgery is a daunting prospect for anyone.  For a small business owner, there are a whole additional set of complications that go beyond the health of the patient, to the health of the business.  Fortunately, at Anna’s Gourmet Goodies we have developed some detailed and exhaustive processes and procedures.  Being proactive about my health gave us the opportunity to plan ahead, as opposed to waiting and going on another unplanned ride in the back of an ambulance.

We looked through our customer list and advanced orders, making sure that we put their needs at the top of our list.  We have a sophisticated capacity planning model that is typically used during the Holiday Gift Season to help us forecast orders.  We were able to make enough raw materials in advance to cover orders for several months.

After a minor hiccup in scheduling, I went in for the valve replacement on a Tuesday.  I meticulously followed the surgeon’s orders pre-surgery, and the procedure went perfectly.  I was discharged after only (4) days in the hospital.  I’m happy to report that my recovery has been stellar, and that Anna’s Gourmet Goodies has not missed a beat, fulfilling all our customer orders and continuing to provide the same level of care and service that we have done for the past 20+ years.

So, what does my personal health story have to do with our business?  Or your business for that matter?  For years I’ve written about the fact that while Anna’s Gourmet Goodies makes incredible cookies and brownies, we are really in the ‘experience’ business.  We have a core group of customers who choose to have Anna’s Gourmet Goodies proactively help their business by recognizing employees, thanking customers, and promoting their brand by sending gifts that are unexpected and create a lasting memory.  We have the tools and processes to plan instead of scrambling at the last minute to send something in hopes that it will be well received.  We help customers proactively connect with employees, clients, prospects, and others on an emotional level.

And of course, we help individuals recognize birthdays, anniversaries, and send gifts as a thank you and in some cases, to offer comfort after a loss.  In almost every case, we can send just the right gift at the right time.  But recently, we had to refund an order.  The customer waited until the very last minute to place the order.  Nothing short of renting a private jet would have allowed us to deliver on time – so we had to cancel their order.  Clearly, they failed to plan ahead.

Even though things are, in some ways, getting better, much of what we experience in life and in business is simply beyond our control.  I’m not throwing in the towel, but I am grateful and cognizant that one way we can continue to move forward is to focus on what we can control.  To make decisions proactively.  There is a quote you have probably heard.  It’s been attributed to many different people.

“While you cannot change the wind, you can adjust your sails”

When it comes to my health, this last experience has taught me much about the value of adjusting my sails.  About not waiting until the last minute to decide and adjust accordingly.

In your business, if there is anything Anna’s Gourmet Goodies can do to help you implement a strategy for recognizing clients, employees, prospects, etc., we are happy to share what we have learned over the past 20+ years.  And based on both personal and business experience, being proactive sure beats a ride in the back of a truck to the ER any day of the week.

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