You see them everywhere. Celebrity health gurus making a big impact with popular programs and brands. They have millions of Facebook fans, New York Times best sellers, and speak on every stage and health summit on the planet. The same faces, over and over again.
It’s easy to look at them and feel discouraged. After all, you have the same level of experience, passion, and training (maybe even more), so why aren’t you doing as well as them? Must you do what they’re doing to financially prosper in the functional medicine space? Especially the things you find tacky and flat-out annoying?
The answer – thanks heavens – is no.
Yesterday, two practitioners shared this concern with me. These experts, brilliant and powerful functional medicine docs, felt betrayed that even with all the years of devotion to their work, they struggle… while others who they feel use unsavory tactics are winning big. They expressed worry about not being part of an inner circle or “club” and fear being left out and considered irrelevant.
Why this worry is completely unfounded
The internet adds a fascinating dimension to the reality we now live in.
Social media and search engines are driven by complex algorithms that “serve up” the most valuable stories of the day. How do these systems decide what is valuable? In part, by tracking items that have the highest level of engagement, e.g. likes, clicks and shares. Big celebs have built large lists and naturally receive rapid engagement on their posts. Algorithms reward engagement by pushing these stories higher up on our newsfeeds and search results, which gives them greater visibility and become shared even more.
More sharing = higher ranking = more sharing. These online systems are constructed to reward viral behavior. This results in an endless cycle of you and I seeing the same people and the same stories over and over and over again.
People are wired to engage in this viral manner. Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, discusses this concept, called “social proof,” a phenomenon sometimes referred to as herd behavior. Learn more about this somewhat troubling behavior here.
I’m not saying that people are sheep! I’m simply saying that what you consistently see is merely an online sleight of hand and that objects on the ‘net may actually appear larger than they are. It’s only natural to think that the people we see all over the place all the time are the only guys and gals who are kicking butt and taking names. But they’re not.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t condemn the health gurus or their value to our community one bit. What I am saying is to avoid the tendency to view their way of doing things as the only way to win in this profession. You can absolutely have what they have in your own way on your own terms… and with great joy. You do not have to be a celebrity to have ridiculous success.
Last winter, Julia Zaslow and I created The Prosperous Practitioner Summit and offered stories of practitioners who are winning big without celebrity status. MDs, NDs, nutritionists, and other healers are building their dream practices: from small towns to mountain homes to sailboats. They are living their ideal lifestyle and earning great money. Their success came from doing a few key things exceptionally well:
- Building a practice based on their core beliefs
- Focusing efforts on a targeted client or market
- Delivering an exceptional patient experience
- Establishing powerful partnerships in the community
These things do not require guru status.
Focus on yourself first
Model the work of the celebrities where it makes sense for you. Ask yourself whether doing what they do will let you take your practice one step closer to your goal. But never forget your purpose and avoid anything that doesn’t feel right simply because the big dogs are doing it that way.
Do it your way instead. You will attract an abundance of patients through your warmth and integrity. The stage is always there for you if you want to climb up onto it. But you don’t have to, ever, in order to make a bundle doing the most important work on the planet. Trust me: you got this.