What penalty shootouts can teach us about ourselves

I watched the UEFA European Championship Football (Soccer) final yesterday. The match was decided by a penalty shootout, as was one of the semi-finals. So exciting! If you don’t know, a penalty shootout happens when two teams are tied after a standard amount of time, followed by an extended time period. Teams will take 5 penalty shots each, and the team with the most goals at that point is the winner.

Ignoring the challenge of goalie versus shooter, shot placement, and shooter tendencies, I think nerve is the most interesting aspect of the shootout. At the UEFA Championship level, every player is physically capable of burying an unstoppable shot. Goalies are fantastic athletes, but a full-speed shot to either upper corner of the net is simply unstoppable. Yet, being able to perform in the moment, with ample time to be in ones own head, separates the best shooters from the worst. The best shooters bury an unstoppable ball or are able to fake out the goalie and kick it to an open area. However, shooters often miss or kick it within reach of the goalie. The commentators said a few really interesting things leading to the shootout, but the most interesting was,

“You pick the players who can live with missing.”

Thinking about the hierarchy of needs, the players who can live with missing are the players who feel safe in who they are if they miss. Life will not end. Their kids will not stop loving them. Their partner will not leave them. (If they do, are they really the right partner?) It’s so amazing how being a shot taker at the highest level requires letting go and being able to life with the outcome either way. It’s also an awesome life lesson.

Being aware that mental health is an essential aspect of performance and that actively improving our mental health is a normal and good thing, is part of the normalization and elevation of the discussion. Mental health and the psychological safety to make mistakes and recover are themes of the best business books. They are values that will continue to prove themselves in the coming years.

Congratulations to England on a fantastic tournament! Congratulations to Italy on coming back to force the shootout and then coming back to win!

One way you pay more for healthcare if you don’t have insurance

Unfortunately, my son didn’t have the best luck recently with his teeth. He had 4 cavities and a painful abscess in 2019 and 3 cavities in 2021. (1) The procedures to fix them were stress free, done by a fantastic children’s dentist. The main difference in the experience was that in 2019, my work insurance paid. In 2021, I paid directly. When I went to look at the recent bill, for $2100, I was really surprised at the price. $200 for a filling, $50 for dental sealant, times 3. Also, over two sessions, nitrous oxide for both sessions at $130 each.

I was curious.

I went back and looked at my insurance statement from 2019. The fillings were charged at around $200, but the insurance company only paid about $130. The dental sealant also wasn’t on it. Overall, googling the billing codes like 02392, I was able to find an insurance table from Joint Benefits Trust, that showed what JBT pays. Again, $200 reduced to $130, about a 50% up-charge for the unwitting.

Now, this is old news for the indoctrinated in the insurance industry. For me, a 20 year health IT leader, with some time spent at a giant medical coding company, I’ve only experienced this tangentially, and it still is a charge I put on a credit card before I went looking. I can imagine if I was disadvantaged and had less time or education to inspire and allow me to do such a search. I might pay it or I might not take my kids to the dentist.

Theres a philosophical argument that will come up at this point in US politics. Is this just a case of “buyer beware” or “personal choice,” “freedom,” or “personal responsibility?”

First I think dental care is essential, not a luxury. (2)

Second, In my case, I can say my situation was “buyer beware.” Yet, I have every advantage, including time, education, and financial security to ask the questions. I would not project that onto other parents who don’t have insurance, who don’t have the advantages.

Third, I fully intend to engage my dentist and discuss this. I strongly assert, healthcare and business in general, work best when based on a foundation of trust. (3) I need to trust that my dentist is thinking about my situation, without insurance, and giving me the same treatment he is giving an insurance company.

If I were financially stressed and unaware of medical billing codes, I would want someone helping me. As I tend to believe in the golden rule and that society doesn’t work if we don’t trust and help each other, I am willing to pay a little extra or live under a law, not to help a dentist buy a Porsche, but to help a poor family take care of their kid’s teeth.

  1. Luckily all the work was on baby teeth. Thanks for asking.
  2. I won’t argue this here, but am willing to discuss with anyone who thinks otherwise
  3. Again, this assertion is beyond the scope of this, but if you read any of the top business books, this is a core theme (4.)
  4. I’m not going to really defend this either. I may be full of it… But the business books I’ve read are definitely pro-trust.

Product Management: How Vanguard looks at Net Promoters and KPIs

As a human being, I’m constantly skipping surveys. As a product nerd, I find it really interesting to review them. They can tell you what the surveyor really values.

Let’s look at one from Vanguard and try to figure out who they are and think through the value of their survey.

Will you recommend us? If you will, you are a net promoter. If not, you are either neutral, or worse, a net detractor. This is the most important question because it provides a general feeling about the company, service, or product. It’s very intentional that it’s the lead-in question and that even if you disregard the rest of the survey, it’s critical information for the service/product provider.

I think these are the most interesting questions. Vanguard knows I have pressure on my time and I’m ready to bail in a few moments. They only asked one additional page of 8 questions. So what do they ask: “how are we doing on things we value?”

The questions very likely get to the heart of the surveyor’s key performance indicators, KPI’s. These, in turn can be distilled into the surveyor’s values.

  • Easy to do business with
  • Necessary guidance based on an understanding of my goals
  • A leader in advice and cost
  • Is respected

When I finished the survey I thought, “They really respected my time, and kept it short.” I felt really positive. This goes a step further in that they really understand who they are and what they are doing. They are focused.

This is a great example from a great company.

Top 1000 Calvin and Hobbes of All Time… #3

Original Post: Feb 14, 2009

Simply, brilliant. There’s something about this coming from a young boy that makes it hilarious. Thank you, Calvin. … Unfortunately, I have heard this often enough in the real world with high enough stakes that it is funny.

There is no dichotomy between thinking and doing. Thoughts are lost to time without doing, whether it be communication or some other action. Doing is often ineffectual or destructive without thought. Thought brings instinct together with the lessons of experience. Maybe the right way to put it is: Thinking allows us to do good (and well).