“Toast Rules”

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Remove barriers, offer solutions and give people permission to buy.

This is an essential maxim all successful businesses adopt and excel at putting into place.  It is also a simple and powerful rule with an important place in our industry.

As I write, I’m reminded of a speech I heard while attending a conference this spring.  Patti Digh, author of Life is a Verb, was discussing her book and sharing her six “simple practices” for achieving a more meaningful life.   The first of these is the idea of “Saying Yes”.   In an effort to explain this practice, Patti shared an amusing story about a time when she went to a café and ordered toast.  At first glance it seemed like a reasonable request, but the clerk did not agree.  “I don’t think that’s possible,” he said.  “It’s past toast time.”

I’m certainly no stranger to “toast rules”.  Some of them are self-imposed while others are set upon me as I go about my day.   And while we may, for a moment, look upon the clerk with a touch of self righteous indignation we should be careful not to cast too many stones.

For Patti Digh, “toast rules” are a metaphor for closing oneself off to possibility.  For myself, they also serve as a warning – be careful not to close yourself off to your client or customer.

It’s easy to find our own “toast rule” experiences. But what about those individuals and organizations who have broken free from these rules?

The rise of Urgent Care out from under a highly restrictive health care system is one such example.  How many of you have gone to the doctor’s or visited an Emergency Room only to receive care that was less than satisfactory?  How many of you spent days anxiously awaiting your test results?  You wait, but cannot bear it any longer.   So you call your physician only to be greeted with, “Sorry, we cannot get the results back until later in the week.  We’ll call you when they come in.”

Thankfully, there are better choices for my family.  Nason Medical Center, an urgent care company started by a physician in Charleston, SC, is one shining example.  If my child has a serious medical problem we go to the Nason Medical Center where “Saying Yes” is seen as a standard of practice.  For starters, Nason appears to care about the needs of their patients.  The waiting room doesn’t look like a scary place to my child, our family is offered beverages and snacks, my children get to play games, and the wait is minimal.  It defies the rules and guidelines of what health care “should be”.  If testing is required, Nason acts quickly.  They take labs on the spot and within 15 minutes we have the results of the blood work for the doctor to review so a plan of care can be put in place.  And when we leave the center we receive a call the very next day from the nurse who helped treat my child, asking how things were going and how they did in terms of offering care to my family.

We walk away from the experience knowing “toast time” is all of the time.



  1. terry lord  April 6, 2010

    Loved the toast example. ARe you going to continue in later emailings? I am particularly interested in giving people permission to buy.

  2. Tamarisk  April 7, 2010

    I like that metaphor of the toast! In Britain were I am, it’s exactly the same. Health providers seem obsessed with following procedure rather than providing care for patients. Form filling is rife and it just seems to get in the way of doing what we’re meant to do – provide help and care for people who are experiencing a desperate need for it.

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