The Whole Veterinarian

How To Plan Your Life on the Back of a Napkin featuring Dr. Ed Kanara

September 03, 2020 Edward Kanara, DVM Season 1 Episode 11
The Whole Veterinarian
How To Plan Your Life on the Back of a Napkin featuring Dr. Ed Kanara
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The Whole Veterinarian
How To Plan Your Life on the Back of a Napkin featuring Dr. Ed Kanara
Sep 03, 2020 Season 1 Episode 11
Edward Kanara, DVM

Ed Kanara, DVM shares some easy action steps to help you define and develop your strategic life plan.  Veterinarians are pulled in so many different directions - use this episode to help clarify some goals and action steps that will improve your life (trust me, I can attest to the fact that it can happen!) 

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About Dr. Kanara

Edward W. Kanara, DVM, DABVP is a 1979 graduate of the University of Illinois, College of Veterinary Medicine and a Diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners certified in equine practice. He is currently the managing member of the Kanara Consulting Group, LLC (KCG) which he founded in 2007. His group focuses on management consulting and leadership development with a clientele that includes the human and animal health industries, research organizations, academia, veterinary medical associations and private veterinary practices.

Prior to establishing KCG, Dr. Kanara spent 17 years with Pfizer Animal Health in various senior executive positions while leading various business units and teams in both operations and research. Before joining Pfizer he was in clinical veterinary practice for 11 years and owned and operated a multi-person equine practice in the Chicago area. 

Dr. Kanara has been actively involved in organized veterinary medicine serving on the Board of Directors of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, Sponsors Council of the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues and the Deans National Advisory Committee for the U of IL CVM to name a few. In 2013 Dr. Kanara received the President’s Award from AAEP. He has also been a published author with book chapters, refereed and lay publications as well as an invited speaker at national and international meetings and at the Wharton Business School of the U of Penn.

Contact information:

Kanara Consulting Group, LLC

Ed@kanaragroup.com

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Ed's Book Recommendation: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
Stacey's Book Recommendation: Atomic Habits by James Clear

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Ways to connect with The Whole Veterinarian!
Instagram: @thewholeveterinarian
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thewholeveterinarian/
Email: thewholeveterinarian@gmail.com
www.thewholeveterinarian.com

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Music Credit: Journey of Hope by Alexander Nakarada

Show Notes Transcript

Ed Kanara, DVM shares some easy action steps to help you define and develop your strategic life plan.  Veterinarians are pulled in so many different directions - use this episode to help clarify some goals and action steps that will improve your life (trust me, I can attest to the fact that it can happen!) 

...

About Dr. Kanara

Edward W. Kanara, DVM, DABVP is a 1979 graduate of the University of Illinois, College of Veterinary Medicine and a Diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners certified in equine practice. He is currently the managing member of the Kanara Consulting Group, LLC (KCG) which he founded in 2007. His group focuses on management consulting and leadership development with a clientele that includes the human and animal health industries, research organizations, academia, veterinary medical associations and private veterinary practices.

Prior to establishing KCG, Dr. Kanara spent 17 years with Pfizer Animal Health in various senior executive positions while leading various business units and teams in both operations and research. Before joining Pfizer he was in clinical veterinary practice for 11 years and owned and operated a multi-person equine practice in the Chicago area. 

Dr. Kanara has been actively involved in organized veterinary medicine serving on the Board of Directors of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, Sponsors Council of the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues and the Deans National Advisory Committee for the U of IL CVM to name a few. In 2013 Dr. Kanara received the President’s Award from AAEP. He has also been a published author with book chapters, refereed and lay publications as well as an invited speaker at national and international meetings and at the Wharton Business School of the U of Penn.

Contact information:

Kanara Consulting Group, LLC

Ed@kanaragroup.com

...

Ed's Book Recommendation: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
Stacey's Book Recommendation: Atomic Habits by James Clear

...

Ways to connect with The Whole Veterinarian!
Instagram: @thewholeveterinarian
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thewholeveterinarian/
Email: thewholeveterinarian@gmail.com
www.thewholeveterinarian.com

....
Music Credit: Journey of Hope by Alexander Nakarada

Stacey Cordivano :

Hey guys, welcome to the whole veterinarian. My name is Dr. Stacey Cordivano. And you know we've got some stuff going on in this profession of ours. On this podcast I will speak with outside of the box thinkers to hear new ideas on ways to improve our day to day life. I want veterinarians to learn to be happier, healthier, wealthier and more grateful for the life that we've created. Now, let's get started. My guest today is Dr. Ed Kanara. Dr. Kanara is a 1979, graduate of the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine and a diplomat of the American Board of veterinary practitioners in Equine Medicine. He's currently the managing member of the Kanara Consulting Group, which was founded in 2007. You might be wondering why I have an equine vet here with me to discuss strategic planning, but I think you'll soon learn that because of his wide and diverse veterinary career, Dr. Kanara is well versed in the subject from his start and racetrack practice to a leadership role in the development and implementation of a new strategic plan for the companion animal business at Pfizer animal health to now consulting and coaching executives in the highest level of academia and industry, Ed has years of experience moving people and companies toward growth and innovation. Dr. Kanara, thank you so much for spending some time with me today.

Ed Kanara :

It's my pleasure, Stacey. It's really an honor to participate today. I'm looking forward to it.

Stacey Cordivano :

Me too. But before we get into the nuts and bolts about strategic plans, I was actually hoping you could elaborate a little bit on the transitions that I glossed over in your career earlier. I know. I mean, heading up half a billion dollar pharmaceutical department or redesigning the Pfizer Discovery Research program seems vastly different than clinical practice. And while I'm not sure that industry work is everyone's goal, I do think that the situation you faced earlier on in your clinical practice is actually pretty relatable. So I was hoping you could give people a little bit more background about yourself.

Ed Kanara :

Sure, I can tell you that when I was in veterinary school, I never envisioned myself doing anything other than working on racehorses. And I loved my clinical career. But after about 13 years, I decided that because of my own life plan, I wanted to improve the quality of life that I had with my family. And so I took a decision to sell my practice and accepted a role with Pfizer animal health. They gave me lots of opportunity, as you talked about, and then again, after 17 years of being in a very fulfilling corporate environment, my life took a turn and for again, for personal reasons, I decided that I was going to leave Pfizer and started my consulting group. And I've done that for the last 12 years. And that's been exciting for different reasons.

Stacey Cordivano :

You know, I have some friends going through similar decisions, whether or leaving clinical practice or changing roles. Can you elaborate a little bit on how you emotionally made that decision? Because I mean, we're pretty invested in this career, most of us anyway.

Ed Kanara :

To be honest, it was really difficult for me. I have always identified as a clinician, and I don't know that I'm totally over it even today, because when I'm on an airplane and somebody says, what do you do? I say, I'm a horse doctor. And I haven't done clinical work on horses in several decades. So. But you know, what really helped me in this end to be serious for a moment. I read the veterinarians oath at one point, and it's really a powerful statement. And there are so many things that veterinarians can do, and be true to our oath. And at every career change, or even changes within those different components of my career. That's how I got my head around it. I really felt like I was doing what I went to school to do, but in in different ways. And I think the other important message for any veterinarians out there considering a different role for themselves within veterinary medicine, or even a more significant career change is that we have skill sets as veterinarians that we don't even realize, and you're able to do so much more than you may think you can do with the training that you've you've already had.

Stacey Cordivano :

Taking a broader look at the veterinarians oath is really good advice. So yeah, that's great. Thank you. I wanted to transition a little bit back to strategic planning. And in the time that we spent working together, you helped me develop a strategic plan for my work and personal life. And it's made a huge difference in the past year for me. This podcast project would definitely not be happening had we not worked together and gotten my life a little bit more organized and focused. So I'm hoping over the next little bit of time that we can share some of the ideas and strategies that you helped me with, and help listeners create that same sort of clarification for themselves. So I was really hoping that we could start with basically what is a strategic plan because I know that when we started, I thought it was really just a tool used for like large corporations, I had no idea that it could be applicable to a solo veterinarian or just people in general.

Ed Kanara :

Yeah, that's a very common reaction to somebody when they hear the word strategic plan. And you know, one of our goals today is to make this really easy. I couldn't be more serious when you know, I've talked about the concept of creating your strategic plan or your life plan on the back of a napkin. And hopefully by the time we're done, people will understand why they can do that. But I want to get back to answering your question, what is a strategic plan? First, I would say, don't be intimidated by the word strategic plan, which, in the context of what we're going to do today is going to evolve then into your life plan. The simplest way to think about what a strategic plan is that it's a written roadmap to success or a written roadmap to achieving your goals. And if it's a business, those goals will eventually evolve into a business plan and for an individual, they're going to involve evolve into a life plan. But what's really fascinating about strategic planning is that the key elements and the principles for developing a strategic plan, they're exactly the same whether we're talking about a multi billion dollar corporation, small business or a veterinary practice, a University Research Institute, a division one college athletic team, or an individual. And I can say that because I've developed strategic plans for each of those different types of organizations or individuals that I mentioned there. Okay. Because I like to approach things in a simple way that we, you know, we don't need volumes of understanding or research to talk about strategic planning. Think about the key elements or components of a strategic plan in four areas, and those are the vision, the mission goals and objectives and action planning. Let me talk about that in a little bit more detail. So our vision is our aspiration. And oftentimes vision statements are so aspirational, that they may not even be achievable with the current environment or the current science. For example, my favorite vision statement is President Kennedy in 1961, saying that the US would land a man on the moon and bring him back safely by the end of the decade, and in 1969, we did that. And in 1961, it was almost absolutely total consensus that that could never be achieved, and yet it was so I love vision statements, but we're actually not even going to do a vision statement today, but you could do one yourself. The second key component is the mission. And I like to think about your mission as it's, it's what you get up and do every day. I love the phrase raison d'etre - reason for being. That's your mission, whether it be your mission for your business, or your life. That third area that we talked about was goals and objectives. Pretty self explanatory, but achieving your goals and objectives are what is necessary to achieve your mission and your vision. We're going to talk in the context today have goals and objectives as they relate to what we're going to call our buckets of focus that we're actually going to work on in our plans. And then the fourth component of all strategic plans are the action plans that you put together to achieve your objectives and your goals. We're going to have action plans as a part of our life plan. So when you hear that now, Stacey, and it's broken up into those smaller pieces. And and today we're only going to focus on goals and objectives. And we're going to talk about in the context of our buckets of focus, and then the action plans that support them. Does it seem a little bit easier to understand than like your first reaction to strategic planning? And maybe do you have any thoughts on kind of how your thinking has evolved in that way?

Stacey Cordivano :

Yeah, for sure. I think breaking it up in those four categories makes it a lot more clear. And then I also think that trying to just focus on the latter two; objectives and goals and action plan. It definitely seems less daunting that way. And certainly having done it now, I realized that it is not very intimidating. It just sounds intimidating. But having gone through the process and using the plan now, it seems like how can anyone get through life without one and that's what I said to you, you know, When we first started working together was I feel like I'm barely keeping my head above water here just like getting through each day. And that's not a great way to feel each day. It was some work, but it wasn't an a massive amount of work. That pushed me in a direction that made this all seems so much clearer.

Ed Kanara :

Yeah, you know, I want to expound a little bit on that last point you made because even now, more than ever, when you and I were first talking about your plan, I think all of us are feeling more out of control today than we did six months ago. For sure, for good reason. Okay. And for me, this type of planning adds stability to my life. It makes me feel a little bit more in control. Ultimately, this plan is about thoughtful behavior change, because if we didn't need to change some behaviors over what we're currently doing, there wouldn't be any need for a plan right? Write this allows us to do it in a more controlled manner. And right now all of us have ideas floating around in our head of some things that we're going to do or things we're going to do differently. And I always like to say that until your goals or plans are written down on a piece of paper or on the computer, they're just ideas and dreams. This plan will actually make you feel more in control of your life.

Stacey Cordivano :

I think I feel on a daily basis like I have an intentional purpose for where I'm going. And I don't think I would have that if I didn't have the plan to come back to and check in with so I totally agree with you that it creates stability. So if someone wanted to start creating some more stability in their life, or intentionality, what's the first step?

Ed Kanara :

Let's talk about creating that plan. Step one, maybe before I even get to step one, let me kind of frame the entire process of it. And then we'll come back and talk about step one in more detail, because what I want to talk about regarding creating the plan is the nuts and bolts of how to do it. And we're going to focus on identifying those what we're calling buckets of focus. But I also just want to give you a little philosophy on executing the plan itself. And that is that I always say planning is easy, implementation is the challenge. We are going to put some upfront effort in the plan, but then the real area of focus is an implementation. The other thing that I want everyone to keep in mind is that this is truly about progress and not perfection. I wouldn't even want to know the percentage of veterinarians that are listening to this right now that are perfectionist, because it's probably around 99.9%.

Stacey Cordivano :

That would be my guess. Yeah.

Ed Kanara :

So it's going to be okay, if you take two steps forward and one step back, as long as you take two steps forward again, and don't beat yourself up, because you've taken that one step back. All right. Now, what may sound a little bit counterintuitive to this, I'm also going to tell you though, that if this plan is going to be successful, you have to hold yourself accountable to it. And I'm going to use the word that you've introduced to me Stacey that I love, and that's intentionality. You know, that's really about when you're working on your plan. You're being deliberate. You're doing it with purpose. Even if you're making a commitment to come back to it once a week, do it with intentionality. So step one is identifying those areas that we're going to work on. And if you only write down one thing, if you're listening to this podcast, I'm going to tell you how to organize The categories that we're gonna work on here, first one is sources of stress in your life. Second one is unmet goals that you may have. Category three is kind of a big one, all things work related, that in itself can be a huge source of stress. And then category four is yourself.

Stacey Cordivano :

Always a hard one.

Ed Kanara :

Yeah, exactly. But such an important one. I love the analogy, you know, of the flight attendants, the beginning of flight when they tell you that, you know, if we lose cabin pressure and the mask come down, put your mask on first before you try to help others. You know, I think we all know that intellectually, but sometimes it's hard for us to actually live that and having a plan around it helps helps us do that. Yeah. So I'll quickly kind of run through some of these with examples, you know, sources of stress. Again, don't overthink this. What are the things right now that are causing you stress you No Is that not spending enough quality time with your partner is trying to do homeschooling with your kids and issue? Do you have financial sources of stress? You know what they are right out that category. And then we're going to come back, we're going to talk about how we put a plan against that unmet goals. Now, again, you know, this is something that you've wanted to do, but you've procrastinated, and it could be something as ambitious as getting board certified. And it may be as simple as cleaning up the garage, but it is creating a source of stress and uncertainty in your life. And you're saying to yourself, I've been wanting to do that. And only you know what an unmet goal for you is and what is that priority goal that you'd really like to now say, you know what, I'm going to take a run at it. All things work great. related. I mean, this can be a huge category. And it's going to be different if you're a practice owner or a non owner. And what I'm going to say here is don't try to eat the entire elephant here. What are the one or two areas that are work related stress for you? So as an owner, is it an employee issue that you have been refusing to deal with? Is it an area of your practice that you want to grow, but you just haven't taken the time to do it? Because other things have gotten in the way this is a way to say I'm making this a priority in the next six months. If you're a non practice owner, maybe it's an issue that is time to address with the practice owner that has really been bugging you. Maybe you've been saying to yourself, I'm unhappy and I'm going to change jobs. I'm going to change the practice I work for Well, okay. You're really going to do that. And if you're going to do that put a plan together to make it happen. Maybe it's even bigger, maybe you're not sure if if what you're doing entirely makes you happy, and you're going to explore some other career options. I mean, I'm not I'm not encouraging that, but let's face it, you know, we all face these kind of career forks in the road sometimes. So, if that's what you're thinking about, take a step back and start to think about what are the very specific actions that you need to take to explore that. So Stacey, when you and I started, and I introduced the concept of identifying your sources of stress, tell me now that we look back on it, you know, we can do it with a smile because you you've been so successful and how you have I like to say, you know, eaten the elephant, you know, which was one one bite at a time and you also recognize that this is like, your life plan is going to go on for a lifetime. Because you're gonna be constantly readjusting it. Yeah. Maybe you can share with everybody just kind of how you felt as you started to get your head around this.

Stacey Cordivano :

Yeah. So listing the stressors was pretty easy. Yeah, I mean to be specific, I put four categories down, I put work, I put family, I put community because I felt that was an area that was really lacking in my life. And then I put self and I decided, after thinking about it further, that I just didn't have the mental space to deal with community yet. So I really focused on myself and my family. I'm still focusing on myself. That's always the area that I dropped the ball in most. So I added a house category, which mostly meant organization. So all the things to make my house seem less cluttered and annoying on a daily basis. Yeah, I adjusted them constantly. We haven't gotten there yet but one of the things underneath my family bucket was an hour date with each son per week, and that quickly did not happen. And so I adjusted to 30 minutes. And that was doable most weeks. Even just categorizing them and seeing them on paper allowed my brain to kind of process them differently and not seem so overwhelming. I think that was the biggest thing was that you just saw it laid out. They're like, Okay, well, I've done really well in this category this week. I need to focus on me next week. I don't know, maybe that's the clinician in me. I just really needed to check off boxes that I saw in front of me on a list,

Ed Kanara :

but that's okay. Because, you know, that's the process that works best for you. I even say that, you know, there's even value in how you put your plan together, especially if other people need to be involved. If you go to your partner, your spouse, and you say, you know, I'm recognizing I'm not giving you enough quality time. What are you thinking? Questions? How can we maybe put some specific plans together to try to tackle that? I mean, just the fact that you're coming to them, and having that discussion is already a positive part of your plan, right? Yeah. Even if you've decided you are going to do you know, a date night, every other week with your spouse, and it doesn't happen every other week, it's gonna happen sometimes. And just the fact that you prioritize this in your life plan sends a very strong message

Stacey Cordivano :

For sure. And that is definitely applicable to me. I mean, my husband, I discussed all this with him, and that was a big one for him to try to get something on the calendar and it did not happen. I mean, it happened less often than it happened, but he was appreciative that I was trying and another example of something easy that I didn't even realize for him, but me just taking a quick glance over our credit card each month. He so much appreciated that I was at least involved in our financial plan. That's a whole other topic, but just three minutes of showing interest in that was a huge benefit to him. And I wouldn't have realized that if we hadn't discussed the partner bucket.

Ed Kanara :

Good. So we've got everybody that has identified their buckets, their areas of focus. So now we're going to put action plans behind them. And, again, don't overthink this, okay. your action plan is just what are you going to do to relieve this stress or achieve that goal? Who's going to be accountable? In most cases, it's you. What does success look like? Again, it doesn't have to be perfect, but in six months, what are you going to feel good about doing differently in this area that you've talked about? And then you need to put a timeline against it? When are you going to complete it? Again, it's the accountability part.

Stacey Cordivano :

Yes, definitely.

Ed Kanara :

And then step three is do it. Alright. I just started. There's no time like yesterday to start this.

Stacey Cordivano :

Yeah. And as far as the timeline goes, when we were working together, hearing you say that big things could change in six months was really helpful to me. Should there be different timelines for different buckets? Or should you in six months or like reasonable timeline for people to set?

Ed Kanara :

I think it, you know, purely depends upon what success looks like. I think that it's perfectly reasonable to expect in six months, that if you're saying, I'm going to improve quality time with my partner or my kids, that should have happened within six months now, perhaps not to the degree that you aspired it to happen, but certainly we should see progress, right. If we've got a broader career goal, you know, I just used board certification as an example, perhaps you want to become practitioner board it, you know, maybe you're going to set a two year goal for that. So it's really dependent upon what your goal is, but Don't be afraid to readjust your goals and readjust your timelines. And in fact, it's bigger than that. It's not about not being afraid to do it, it's essential to do it. Right, not just to revisit the implementation component of the plan, but to revisit the fundamental components of the plan on perhaps a six month basis as well.

Stacey Cordivano :

I know for me, a lot of the house things got checked off. And then that's when I was able to progress into bigger picture thinking about ways to give back and was that in my immediate local community, or, in my case, I chose this podcast project to give back to the veterinary community, which I feel very strongly connected with. So yeah, definitely adjusting the buckets and the plan is imperative I've found so I again want to thank you so much for the help and instruction that you've given me, and I hope people have been able to take away some stuff starter steps here. Before we wrap up, I do ask all my guests. What is one small thing that has brought you joy this past week?

Ed Kanara :

Wow.

Stacey Cordivano :

I know that you're super emotionally fuzzy, warm, and this is definitely on the top of the list.

Ed Kanara :

Yeah, I have to tell you, Stacey that you know, thinking about joy does not usually as you know, it's not usually on my to do list for the day. But I appreciate you inserting that thought because actually, there's two things that have given me a lot of joy this week. One is that I talked to one of my granddaughters last night and she has been feeling incredible angst over the COVID situation with going back to school on the start stops of thinking that she was going to see her classmates and not in her mom took a decision to enroll her in a cyber school and she had her first day yesterday, and she called me and she was beyond ecstatic. She's so happy with now what she's going to do for school. So that caused a lot of joy. And then preparing this week for the podcast gave me incredible joy because I can tell you nothing makes me feel better. When I see somebody do a life plan. You had decided that in order to give back to the community, one of your buckets was community and you wanted to give back to the veterinary community. And one of your plans to do it was with these podcasts to see all of this come to life since you had no you had no background knowledge on podcasts. And now you have successful podcasts going on. Gave me tremendous joy.

Stacey Cordivano :

Thank you. I appreciate that. And I'm happy for your granddaughter because I'm in a boat with them. This is crazy times. Yeah. So okay, speaking of crazy times, people got a good overview on what a strategic plan is. How they can start. Do you have any homework to leave listeners with?

Ed Kanara :

I absolutely have homework for everybody because I am going to so strongly encourage you within the next 48 hours to start your strategic plan. All right, get a cup of coffee in the next 48 hours,

Stacey Cordivano :

or in my case, it would be a glass of wine at 10pm at night.

Ed Kanara :

All right, yeah, even better yet. And take an extra napkin from the coffee shop or an extra napkin out of the kitchen and sit down and literally identify your buckets of focus, and a few key bullets under each of those in terms of some specific actions that you know you want to take. Maybe you've got to lock yourself in the bathroom and negotiate with your spouse that for 15 minutes, they're going to watch the kids but you're going to write down that First rough outline of your life plan and do it.

Stacey Cordivano :

15 minutes

Ed Kanara :

You can make an incredible amount of progress in 15 minutes, because I'm going to go back to this perfectionism again, I'm going to tell you to get it roughly right, not precisely wrong.

Stacey Cordivano :

Yeah, I love that.

Ed Kanara :

You know what your big stressors are, you know what some of those unmet goals are. It doesn't have to be totally comprehensive at this point. We want to get started. Now, within the next week of listening to this podcast, I want you to take that napkin or scrap of paper, and I want you to start refine that plan in a notebook and actually put a little bit more substance behind it. And then I want you to commit to reviewing it at least weekly to start to work on things. And then, you know, along the way, you're going to figure out where you need to adjust the plan accordingly, but if you don't Get Started in the next 48 hours, it's unlikely you're going to do this on it. And you only need 15 minutes to really get the meat of this down on a napkin or a scrap of paper. Stacey, maybe you can, I don't know what words of wisdom you might have for everybody in terms of encouraging them the importance of actually getting started and actually writing something down on a piece of paper.

Stacey Cordivano :

I, my first start was probably 10 lines of writing. And I think once you put that down, you just start thinking about it in a different way. And it just flows from there. So the hardest part is just the first 15 minutes, I think, and like you said, we all know what stresses us out. If that's not the hard part, it's putting it into category and putting it down.

Ed Kanara :

Good.

Stacey Cordivano :

Okay, well, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and expertise. It's been so interesting to chat with you and I hope everyone learned as much as I have and I really really appreciate your time.

Ed Kanara :

My pleasure. Thanks very much for inviting me, Stacey. Transcribed by https://otter.ai