(There is only) Winning or Learning

May 23, 2022

Tom Collins

Tom Collins is a Director at MedApps as well as a healthcare nerd and marathon candidate

Time for my annual note / reflection. I’m not much of a writer but I’ve given it a crack – please enjoy, give feedback, comment and share!

Another year has rolled around for me at MedApps (that makes 4 in total) and it’s fun to look back at the lessons from the wins and losses – there have been plenty of them.

Over the past 12 months our small, dedicated and passionate Med App team have: 

  • Added another 10 facilities (taking our reach to 65 facilities globally!) including expansion into South Australia, New Zealand, UK – we hope to expand into Western Australia later this year
  • Expanded our Nursing and Allied Health users and use cases
  • Developed new features that remove administrative  burden from clinicians and administrators (read more – Surveys, CPDs, Cohorts) with more coming
  • Increased clinical users to above 26,000
  • Kicked off a partnership with Telstra Health
  • Seen usage increase by 18% each quarter

On a personal front, I put a few things in place to make sure I lived some of the guiding principles I came up with last year. You can read the 3 year check-in here. I feel like I’ve made a good go at it, learned some things and in doing so added a couple of new themes. 

1. Have (More) Fun:

‘Plan your fun first’

  • Fun with the family has evolved – pretty fun watching the boys read (Julia Donaldson is everyone’s favorite), go to the zoo, beach and hang out with their friends.
  • This has become a staple for me – each quarter I plan out and have fun booked with friends, family and the missus. Dedicated time means I can focus and be in the moment, without fear or guilt.
  • One of the big highlights was ticking off a bucket list experience and attending the Superbowl. The trip was booked well in advance and was something exciting to look forward to. Now that I am back, the memories are fond reminders of the fun that can (and should) be had – even if it means putting yourself under a bit of pressure to deliver.

2. Be Curious (about everything):

I’ve been far more open to learning and have even started looking for opportunities to learn and seeking out feedback for my blindspots.

  • At work this has manifested itself into reading more (and listening to podcasts) on sales tactics, conversations and better understanding the detailed requirements of technical documentation for building tech
  • Dr Pearlman and I have delved deeper into the world of capital raising and nuances on language, storytelling and explaining the differences between projections and results. It’s much easier to explain out performance! Also interesting to hear stories of successful tech companies like Canva talking about their experiences and sometimes recognising things we have seen as well.
  • I’ve also jumped into the deep end of healthspan. Healthspan is defined as “the period of life spent in good health, free from the chronic diseases and disabilities of aging”. My father died at a relatively young age of 65 (Average Australian male is currently 82) and with a young family I’d like to enjoy as much quality life as possible. There is a truckload of reading and exciting things to try if you’re into this space. I’ve started to dabble in:
    • Understanding my DNA
    • Preventive blood screening on heart disease, cancer and others. Along with Dexa scans.
    • Mobility – my local physio has been excellent in focusing on exercises improving my hip and lower back mobility. Simple and consistent. exercises has made a material difference in how I feel physically. 
    • Sleep – while it can be challenging with 3 young boys, tactics that maximize the time and quality of sleep I’ve played with include: sticking to the schedule, eating more than 2 hours before sleep, cooler room temp, mobility exercise before bed and again when waking up.
    • Exercise – Garmin running coach and Nike Training Club have been good self starters to get back into training hard. 
  • Google Alerts to monitor the web for interesting new content. Even though I’ve been using these for years, I recently did a refresh of topics I’m being sent – great way to stay on top of anything you are into – personal or professional. Follow the instructions to set one up here

3. (Deliver in) Balance:

Work in progress! Consistency is the key here. Fortunately at Medapps we have a flexible working environment. Some team members have moved to 4 days / week, flexibility on work location and 5 weeks of Annual Leave to name a few. For me, I’ve tried to:

  • Focus on less projects and doing them to a higher quality.
  • Start fast – use the momentum from the gym, eating well and playing with the kids in the morning to flow into a productive day at work.
  • Be conscious of what is emptying the ‘energy cup’. Weekly  journaling /  reviews have helped identify where I’m doing well or struggling. Here I find the easiest first step and try to build some momentum to address the challenges. It is also a good time to celebrate a win – no matter how small.
  • Support networks are critical – Whether it is family, friends, neighbors or talking with mentors, coaches and psychologists (check out Lysn), getting the structure and format sorted for this makes a big difference to your productivity and ability to function in high stress situations. I am fortunate to have access to all of the above. All of my support network continue to be generous with their time. Cultivating these relationships continues to be a high priority for me and the opportunity to do so is something I’m grateful for.

4. Find a win from the set back

Startup life can be brutal. 20% of businesses fail in their first year and around 60% will go bust within their first three years. Of the number that last 5+ years (e.g. MedApps) only a small percentage of these are in the super high growth where the product and landscape is changing on seemingly daily basis. 

In healthcare, and in particular healthcare B2B, things move a touch slower. Despite adding roughly 10 facilities per year at MedApp we’re considered slow going by many. With that, comes challenges in accessing capital, partners and staff who are up for the challenge and see the end vision of the product. 

The set backs that have stood out most to me:

  • Missing out on key contract wins.
  • Staff turnover.
  • Missing the mark on product releases.

With each setback we’ve found a structured and methodical approach in assessing what happened to be extremely useful. No one hits you harder than your own team mates, so being open to suggestions and improvements is critical for continuous improvement. 

I believe it’s also important to take time to be frustrated or disappointed. List out what went wrong, what you need to do to avoid it happening again and then….try again. The list of actions provides security against regression and ‘action cures fear’. There is only winning and learning, so at the very least you should’ve learned something from whatever the setback was. 

5. Your goals aren’t big enough:

During a recent trip to the US I was fortunate to meet and spend time with a number of extremely successful individuals. Define success as you like (financially secure, top athlete, or lives life to the fullest etc.) – but many of them were at the top of their game. It was interesting to notice that they were fiercely passionate, worked extremely hard, had a lot of fun and many were ‘self made’ and understood the importance of being curious learners.

They were interested in the stories of the people around them and how they might be able to help. Their vivid memories of when things weren’t always as good almost compelled them to keep improving and help others to improve their situation too.  

Pretty consistently – I heard, if your dreams / goals aren’t scaring you, they’re probably not big enough. The thinking is – if you fail big, you’ll still fail in front and the difference in how hard you have to work is very little. The process is also the same – you either win or learn. 

Wrapping it all up

Another big year at the Med App. A small and passionate team punching well above its weight. Holding each other accountable for our professional and personal wellbeing goals. We’ve only managed to get everyone together a couple of times – but we’ve had a truckload of fun when we have.

At home we’ve added another boy to the crew (Jack Collins). The new addition has changed the dynamics of the family unit and required a big adjustment of working and living arrangements. Fortunately, we’ve got complete flexibility to manage things at home so I can be present at home and at MedApps. 

Big thanks to the extended MedApps team for making it a great place to work and dedicating time, passion and energy into making a difference to the working lives of clinicians. A special thank you to my family, my wife Sarah in particular who’s resilience in the daily grind of raising 3 boys under 4 (and one over 35).  

We’ve got enough in the tank to go another round – we’ll see where it lands!

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