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By now y’all know I love reading. I also love getting free books. So when I was contacted and given an opportunity to read another book and write a review on it, I jumped at the chance. Thus, I got this book free, no strings attached as to what I might say; that’s always appreciated.


In this case the book is titled 50 Billion Dollar Bossicon, and it’s a compilation of biographies of black women (African-American is too long to keep writing or saying lol) who have achieved business success and added to the nearly $50 billion a year in revenue generated by black female entrepreneurs every year. That’s just the first astounding figure reported in the book, and definitely outside the belief of many who believe that black people in general, and women in particular, don’t have the skills, acumen or temerity to not only create their own businesses but become successful at it.

A few more stats from the book show that the fastest growing segment of business owners since 1997 are black women, up 296% since then. Also, out of 2.9 million firms owned by women of color, black women account for 1.28 million of them; that’s a pretty fantastic number. The firms might be smaller than many others, but the financial impact is much greater.

Why the growth? Two main reasons cropped up over and over in the book. The first was finding traditional companies not marketing themselves to the needs and wishes of either black women or women “like them”.

For instance, in reading the biography of Monif Clarke, the founder of Monif C Plus Sizes, her complaint was there were no stylish clothes for plus sized women. Every store she tried to interact with kept telling her plus sized women didn’t care about looking stylish; how does one tell someone who’s in the demographic what she doesn’t want? So she became the designer and marketer of those clothes, using plus sized models to show them off. Even after showing how big the market was, consultants and other businesses kept trying to tell her to give it up. It showed her that she had to be the champion for her brand, that one has to believe in their vision and persevere.

Someone else highlighted in the book is actually someone I’ve talked to on Twitter named Melinda Emerson. She’s known as the Small Biz Lady, has been on many national TV shows and travels all over the country giving speeches and training on how to run a small business. She had a larger business, found that when she was bedridden by a pregnancy others didn’t pick up the slack to keep it running well, and realized that not only did she want to downsize but she wanted to help others achieve their dreams of business ownership.

I love reading stories about people who found a way to become successful when others were telling them what they were doing was a waste of their time. The book highlights 12 black women, all very intelligent, all of whom decided to take chances in their lives and were able to overcome challenges. At the end of each biography there a list of words of wisdom that each entrepreneur gives, based on their experiences, that they believe are important for anyone to know, and not just women.

Truthfully, I think that’s the best part of this book for me. Although it highlighted successful black women, it wasn’t geared towards only them. I’ve read books like that and, though I might have gotten value out of it, was sometimes put off by it being geared towards only one audience. I understand in business it’s all about finding a niche market as opposed to trying to sell to everyone, yet I’ve also been one of those people who believes that if something you’re teaching isn’t something that only one market needs to know that it behooves the writer to be a bit more expansive.

The last chapter of the book offers many resources to get business information and assistance and information as a minority or woman owned business, as well resources specifically for women. It’s the smallest chapter in the book, yet will prove valuable to anyone who needs it.

The other ladies featured in the book are:

Dr. Lisa Williams, EPI & Positively Perfect
Yolanda H. Caraway, The Caraway Group
Dana Hill, Cocotique
Twyla Garrett, IME Inc
Ricki Fairley, Dove Marketing
Lola C West, WestFuller Advisors LLC
Dr. Michele Hoskins, Michele Foods
Laura Weidman-Powers, CODE2040
Joy Rohadfox, Rohadfox Construction
Lisa Lambert, Intel Capital

The two women who put this book together, Kathey Porter and Andrea Hoffman, did a good job. If there’s a gripe with the book, and it’s a small one, is that it’s not edited as tightly as one might hope. There were many sentences with words left out or extra words added that, luckily, didn’t take away from the ease of reading the book. However, at its price point, I hope that when they go into second or more printings of it that they catch those errors.

I can easily recommend this book to anyone, and I do mean anyone, who likes stories of successful business owners, what they went through to succeed, and the recommendations they give to help keep you on a positive course of action. They also have a Facebook page you can check out.

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A few days ago I posted an article titled 10 Hospital Revenue Cycle Tips In 3 Minutes. That was specifically for patient accounting people, although my hope was that other departments in hospitals might find it illuminating.

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One of those positions I hoped might see it were hospital chief financial officers. However, I realize how few of them read blogs, and if something wasn’t specifically directed towards them they might never know it was something they should be interested in.

Thus, I’ve not only linked to that one, but I’ve created a top 10 just for them. Hopefully, even with this preamble it only take 3 minutes to read, but it could stretch into 4. By the way, for more tips please check out this article I wrote for MiraMed titled 5 Tips Towards Finding Missing Revenue.

1. Look at days in unbilled receivables with your HIM director to see if the problem is the coders or physicians. Getting these claims out faster brings your cash in faster.

2. Marking up low cost items at a higher percentage rate is smart business. Marking up items over $5,000 more than 50% or items over $10,000 more than 25%, though legal, hurts your bottom line more than helping your overall revenue.

3. Periodically, you should review your 20 highest cost supply items to see if they’re priced fairly or if there’s a lower cost yet equal alternative. You should also review your highest used items to verify that they’re truly billable, especially since most of them will be your lower priced supplies.

4. Always look to increase revenue before cutting expenses. Most hospitals aren’t capturing around 35% of the revenue they should be.

5. If you decide you still need to cut staff, the last place you look is patient accounting. True, they don’t generate revenue, but without them you’re not going to bring in all the cash you need and this is the last group you want to try to get more out of with fewer bodies.

6. The reason your charge master is so important in today’s world is that most of your procedures are outpatient. More surgeries are outpatient, and this needs to become more important to the revenue and budgeting process than inpatient services.

7. Low volume areas can’t be measured by the same yardstick. For instance, neurology might not be a big department in some hospitals but it’s definitely more patient-critical than cardiac rehab and reimburses better.

8. Before finalizing contracts with payers, any processes that specifically involve any departments within your hospital should be given the opportunity to give feedback. This is especially critical when the discussion centers around authorizations and non-covered services.

9. Leave your office every once in a while and visit all the departments that report to you… not just finance! Let the employees see you and know that you care; it’s great leadership.

10. At least once a quarter set up a meeting with the leadership principles of all the departments that report to you. Ask them these 3 questions: What are the 3 biggest negative issues you’re facing? Is the staff fully trained, and if not what do they need? What kind of support do you need from me to be successful?

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Normally when I write a quick tips list, I write it so it can be read in 2 minutes. However, this is health care, and a lot of one liners just won’t get it done. So, this time around it’s 3 minutes that this should take, with not a lot of details. If there are any questions… that’s what this type of post is supposed to generate.

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1. Correcting your top 3 errors will eliminate 50% of all errors. The same goes for denial codes. Correcting your top 10 usually takes care of 80% for each as well.

2. Working your 20 highest outstanding claims over 45 days old weekly can bring a nice boost in cash and reducing your receivables. This doesn’t include self pay; hopefully those were addressed in some way before they entered receivables.

3. If you have fewer than 7 billing personnel, each person should be taught how to do everything. If you have more than 20 then there should always be at least 5 people who work on inpatient claims.

4. Every member of the patient accounting department should know how to read a CPT-4 manual the proper way. I’ve met so many people who didn’t realize that if there’s a semicolon after a description it means the next numbers in line use the beginning and then default.

5. All patient accounting staff that works any insurance claims needs to be taught proper investigative phone skills so they know how to ask follow up questions to responses they’re given when needed. This eliminates multiple phone calls and helps them get a better working relationship with those insurance companies.

6. Whether they report to the same director or not, at least twice a year patient accounting staff and registration staff should have meetings with each other to understand each other’s pressure and learn why things might be going wrong. Registration needs to know why good information is crucial and patient accounting needs to understand how easy it can be to make mistakes.

7. Patient accounting staff needs to understand the meaning of all denials because they need to know who to go to depending on what the denial is. All denials do NOT go to medical records, which is often the belief of a lot of patient accounting personnel.

8. The director of patient accounting needs to have a good working relationship with the director of every ancillary department, HIM, Purchasing, IT, Finance and Corporate Compliance. This means getting out of the office and pressing the flesh. You can’t correct everything by yourself.

9. Procedure manuals are the only proof that management has offered training and a great resource for employees to get most of their questions answered. As procedures change, change the manual.

10. Work those credit balance reports, and if people are owed money send it back to them. If the balances can be applied to other claims, do it. It’s the ethical thing to do.

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I remember at one of the hospital I worked at when I was an every day director how, at least once a week, there was this one employee who used to stop by my office and tell me everything that she had done during that week. I always complimented her and I think it made her feel good, but every time she left I would wonder why she was stopping by to tell me some of these things because often they weren’t all that big a deal.

Let Mitchell Handle It
Let me handle it 😉

The longer I work for myself, the more I start to understand what her purpose was and why she was doing it. One of the realities of independent consulting is that you’re always having to find new ways to promote yourself so that people can find you, hopefully evaluate you and talk to you, and if all goes well hires you. It’s one of those things where we have to forget what we were told as children about not bragging about our accomplishments.

There’s a fine line between informing people what it is you do and how well you can do it and bragging, and yet I have found that the fine line depends on who’s doing the reading. On a blog post I wrote on my other blog yesterday, I mentioned that one of the things I discovered while doing a brief bit of research is that there are people who will say that you are bragging only because you happen to be talking about yourself, or talking about something that you thought was a pretty good accomplishment.

I have to admit being surprised that one of the people was upset that the author of a book that I happen to like was bragging about the fact that she had lost 100 pounds. I’m thinking that’s something to be proud of, not castigate a person about because they happen to talk about it.

The fine line thing is something that we all deal with to some degree. One of the problems I have is that in the two main industries in which I do business, one has a lot of independent people who are out there trying to get the same clients that I am, while in the other there are not as many people who I’m trying to reach that are all that versed in social media.

It’s a pretty insular group, to the extent that I spend a lot of time trying to reach out to people that I can almost never get through to. When I do, sometimes they’re not sure what I’m telling them because, even though they’re in the position to hire, they don’t have the background most of the time to understand how much value I can bring to them.

At that point I’m stuck with throwing out numbers to highlight my accomplishments, that will either look like I’m bragging or that I must be making it up because the numbers can seem a bit incredible. Even though the numbers are real, it’s sometimes hard for people who aren’t used to seeing such things to actually believe they are possible.

It’s an interesting line that I have to figure out because there are times when I believe I’m over promoting and there are times when I know that I’m under promoting.

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For instance, I have every post from this blog automatically go to LinkedIn; it also automatically goes to Twitter. When I check my statistics on both of these after the face, I can see where it shows me there were at least 100 people on Linkedin who saw my post there, and another 75 to 100 people who shared my posts on Twitter. However, since I also know that the entire article isn’t on Linkedin or Twitter, I check Google Analytics to see how many of those people actually came to the blog to read the post.

There’s very few people who ever follow through on either platform. The same goes for twitter, where I may have anywhere from 50 to 100 people free sharing my link, but few of those people actually ever click on the link and come to read the posts.

This is distressing because, being someone who likes to believe I’m pretty well versed in social media and social media marketing, I realize that I’m failing to a major degree because people seem the love the headlines but don’t necessarily have the interest on going any further to check out the article. Also, since I’m putting out a whole bunch of articles on a bunch of blogs, including articles here on Linkedin, the idea that people may be seeing a headline that’s appealing but not reading anything doesn’t do me a lot of good because that will never translate into anything that’s monetarily positive for me, let alone helping me with my publicity or influence.

This doesn’t mean that I stop doing what I’m doing. What it means is that what I have been considering as my fine line may not actually be a fine line at all. It may be that my perception of how much I might be bothering people isn’t even close to what it should be.

Last week I read a quote from Guy Kawasaki who said that if you’re not irritating enough people on social media you’re not doing it right. Well, I don’t want to get to the point of irritating anybody either on social media or in the business world, but without a big name behind me and having to totally rely on myself for my income, it does mean that I might have to step up in my efforts to make myself better known for my own sustainability.

My thinking is that if I have to do this for my own survival, how many other people who are either independent consultants or employees working at a company and hoping to rise up the ranks need to do the same type of thing for their sustainability. As a leader, are you actually paying real attention and taking notes whenever possible so that you can remember who the potential qualified next leaders of your company might be? For that matter, are you making sure that you’re documenting your own successes in case that’s one of your goals?

It’s just something to think about. In the meantime, if you start seeing more of me than you thought you were seeing before… Well, I’ll apologize for that now. :-)

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I was reading an article in a site called IMD titled How To Measure And Develop Great Leaders. It was a pretty interesting, though short, article that talked about the need to help potential leaders, once you assess them, to learn how leadership actually works so that when they’re ready they won’t have to go through the challenges that most new managers have to deal with.

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Of course it was also a sales piece to promote their own assessment tool, but there’s nothing wrong with selling on your own site. The premise was still sound, that being once an assessment has identified potential leaders, the real work has to begin in training them.

At that point the article ends; I did say it was short. So, we’re left with having to come up with our own rules for how to train people to be leaders. Luckily, I’m here to help fill the gap. As always, I’m not here to give it all away, but I will mention 7 things companies need to consider doing once they identify candidates.

1. Talk to the potential leader

This is probably the most critical step, yet most companies don’t actually do this. It’s fine to identify someone as a leader; it’s another to assume they want the responsibility. In talking to some younger people, I’ve found that many of them don’t want the responsibility of being a leader for many reasons. This means competency isn’t enough; don’t ever force anyone to become a leader.

2. Establish who will be the main mentor

Hopefully, if the person works under you then you’ll be ready to accept the role. However, sometimes companies use tools to identify leaders, and it’s possible that those employees don’t report to managers who are that good at it. This means companies will have to walk the tightrope between possibly moving an employee to work with someone they consider a good leader while mollifying the manager they have who doesn’t have the skills and will probably resist the change without their input.

3. Give the person responsibility tests

The way most companies decide to test leaders is to see how well they can complete projects. That’s not a bad way to go if you’re looking to see what someone’s technical competency is, but it won’t get you anywhere towards finding out if they have what it takes to be a leader.

4. Be willing to pay to send them to seminars

There are lots of seminars on leadership (I sometimes put some on) that will give your potential leaders information they can use to learn how to be better leaders. Don’t stop at leadership though; seminars on communications, diversity, motivation and compassion (let that one sink in) should also be a major part of their training.

5. Give them reading assignments and test them

There are also a lot of leadership and motivational books that can give candidates a lot of information. If you’re a good leader, you’ve probably read a few of them. If you have them read something you’ve read, you should be able to ascertain whether they understand the concepts in those books based on your own knowledge. Don’t overdo it though; a chapter here and there should be enough.

6. Motivate, motivate, motivate

As a leader, you know that sometimes it can feel like a pretty lonely place. Always let your prospects know whether or not they’re doing a good job, but always give them positive motivation to keep going and see the bright side of being leaders.

7. Set them up to talk to other leaders and potential leaders

Allowing potential leaders to see multiple styles lets them figure out their own style of leadership that they can live with. We all have our own personalities, and though there are some leadership concepts that are absolute, it doesn’t do anyone any good to do everything that someone else has done if they’re not comfortable with it. We wouldn’t want to develop a company filled with phonies now would we? :-)

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“We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.” – Sirius Black, Harry Potter

On my best days, I like thinking of myself as the ultimate good guy. I like to believe that when a hero is needed, it’ll turn out to be me. When a job needs to get done people will turn to me. If someone needs comforting… well, you get the picture.

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On days when I’m not so strong… luckily, I’m still a pretty good guy. However, there are times when I hear of something bad that’s happened and the evil me comes out. Actually, the evil in me gets stirred and thinks about coming out, but I suppress it for the most part. Sometimes it’s not all that evil; it’s just an opinion I have that might shock someone who thought they knew a different me; they should know better. :-)

Like everyone else, I tend to believe I have both traditional and non-traditional values, based on how I grew up. Whereas the liberal in me wants more gun control, the military kid in me wants more and better weapons in the hands of those who are supposed to protect our country. The liberal in me hates the death penalty while the military kid in me believes there are some people who commit crimes to heinous, and without a doubt that they did it, that they don’t deserve to take any more unnecessary breaths on this earth.

The historian in me can look at people who are admired by a lot of people and know that they had their evil sides, and people who are looked at as evil who had their good side. Naming names:

* Churchill led his country through one of the roughest patches of World War II yet was one of the worst racists in history where it concerned India;

* Gandhi led his country to independence from England while treating his wife and family like second class citizens;

* Dr Martin Luther King Jr led the way for black people to have more freedom and independence in America while cheating on his wife;

* Nelson Mandela led his people out of apartheid and was the first black president of his country while being seen as a terrorist who tried to overthrow the government by violent means;

* Adolf Hitler actually led Germany to economic recovery and drastically reduced unemployment which led to the German people believing him to be more than they could ask for… well, we know what he turned out to be;

* John Wayne Gacy was known as a volunteer for multiple charities around his hometown area which included dressing up as a clown and entertaining thousands of kids and ended up being given the death penalty for committing more than 33 murders of teenage boys and young men

You’re probably asking why the history lesson… I’ll tell you why. History is always the best way to evaluate how people and events can impact our lives as we move into the future and offers many lessons on how people actually are.

It’s a good drawing board in figuring out why people might act as they do because, believe it or not, there’s really nothing new when it comes to behavior. There were serial killers in the past just like there are now. There were flawed and great leaders like there are now.

There are both good and evil men and women around us that we run into every day, and most of us hope the person we interact with is always going to manifest their best side. Unfortunately, things happen that makes them look bad and makes the rest of us cast aspersions on them and their character who might not be as evil as they seem. Is a drunk driver who drives into a crowd of people inherently evil? Is a person who’s mentally ill and kills a lot of people inherently evil?

Often on this blog I say there are good and bad leaders, and that I’ve seen a lot of good leadership and bad leadership actions. What I have never done is talked about people as being good or evil; as a matter of fact, it seems I’ve only mentioned the word “evil” 14 times in over 10 years and almost 1,250 articles on this blog, and never in the context of people (I’ve almost always talked about the lesser of two evils).

As strange as this might seem, I think that’s a pretty important distinction to make. I believe that bad leaders are inherently good people who are trying to do the best they can but might not have all the skills necessary to be good leaders. Sure, there are some leaders who are mean people but I’m not sure it reaches the level of evil all that often. This means that bad leaders can learn to be good leaders if they wish to.

Because, when all is said and done, no one is all bad… and most probably they’re not evil. If they’re not evil, they can become great leaders… or at least pretty good leaders. History shows us that no one is always who they might seem to be; and that’s mostly a good thing.

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There’s something I say often that’s not quite true. Yup, you’re hearing it from me, the guy who says that truth and honesty is one of my top moral disciplines. In this case it’s not a bad thing though; in actuality, it’s a bit of a clarification of a position of mine.

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I’m often saying that I don’t do a lot of forgiving; I don’t offer forgiveness towards those who have wronged me, or have perpetrated bad behavior that’s inexcusable, whether it’s towards me or not. Overall, that’s a pretty true statement; no lie so far.

Where the “lie” comes into play is that, whereas I don’t forgive egregious behavior, or a violation of my own principles, I’m actually a pretty easy going person who, in normal circumstances, will give people a lot of chances to get things right. I don’t know that many people who, in work situations or many personal situations, gives others more chances than me. As a matter of fact, my wife is always telling me I’m too nice; point of fact.

There are a few things I don’t excuse though. If someone is intentionally racist or hateful and I feel they should know better, I’ll probably cut them off and never deal with them again. As for forgiveness; nope, not happening.

If someone is proven to be a child molester, nope, no forgiveness there either. Sorry Jared, sorry Gary Glitter, no redemption for either of you, or others who’ve been where you are or are you to come.

This subject came up in a discussion on Sunday with a friend of mine. She was talking about a singer whose name I’m not going to mention, but who most people know assaulted another singer some years ago, doing significant damage to her. His excuse later was that’s what he grew up around and that it was a freak moment, and that he’d never do anything like that again.

At the time he said the right things and said he was going to do what was necessary, accept his punishment, and work to never be someone who couldn’t be trusted again. I’ll admit I was doubtful because, though I don’t know the percentage, it’s acknowledged that more often than not, when a person is used to abusing someone they’ll probably do it again, either towards the same person or someone else.

In this case I’d have to say he hasn’t abused any other woman as far as I know and that’s something positive. However, he’s always popping up in the news for other bad behavior. He was given a major chance to become a positive force for change and redemption; instead, he’s got a track record that keeps building up, to the point that there are countries who won’t allow him in; that’s pretty hard stuff.

In my mind it doesn’t matter how many albums this guy puts out, or how much the younger people might be willing to let him off the hook time and time again. I’m just not interested; luckily, I’m not in his demographic so he won’t care. He doesn’t need my forgiveness or money to be a success; life is good.

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The work world is a little different though. Every day, in every business in the world, someone makes a mistake that someone else thinks is critical. Sometimes they’re right in thinking those mistakes are critical; sometimes they’re not. Those types of things need to be evaluated to determine how bad they might be. At the same time, the evaluation has consider whether a type of forgiveness can be given or not.

I specially used “type” because I don’t consider overlooking a mistake as being anything that needs to be forgiven. For that matter, in many cases people can make a lot of mistakes and it’s just that, a mistake.

However, as with everything else, sometimes certain mistakes that happen over and over need to be addressed; that’s what management is about. If an employee is always 15 minutes late and it’s critical for that person to be on time based on what they do, you can only allow it to happen so many times before you probably have to let the person go. It comes down to making sure that everyone in the department is held to the same standard so you don’t have anarchy, as well as a reflection of what kind of leader you are.

There are some violations that can’t be forgiven even after just one time. Physical or verbal assault on a customer, theft… as a manager you can’t ever allow a person to have another chance at harming the company, no matter what they say. You can’t make excuses for those folks, no matter their circumstances; that’s just how it is.

For a lot of us, it’s in our nature to want to believe that every person we meet is good, and every person we work with is dedicated. When we think we’ve gone above and beyond with training, motivating, counseling, and complimenting, we tend to believe that all will be perfect.

But it won’t be. So in that moment when you realize that a person has failed you, failed the company or failed themselves while you’re paying them… you have to be ready to make a decision. It shouldn’t be a personal decision; it should be for the good of the company, the department, and you as the leader.

In that moment there is no forgiveness to give; it’s the job and the duty of the person in charge. If you’ve given chances on those things that could be corrected, you’ve done your job. If you’ve taken swift action on those things that can’t be corrected, you’ve done your job.

That’s all that matters.

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