As part of my series about the “How Business Leaders Plan To Rebuild In The Post COVID Economy,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Geoffrey Mount Varner. Dr. Geoffrey, is a best-selling author, international speaker, ER physician, and executive. Dr. Geoffrey, Harvard educated, has 25 years of making split-second decisions that were indeed life and death. He also holds degrees and medical training from schools that include Hampton, Harvard, Wayne State, George Washington, University of Maryland — Shock Trauma, and John’s Hopkins. Dr. Geoffrey’s proudest accomplishment is he coached his daughter’s basketball team to the championship three years on a row. And she is now being recruited by D1 softball schools. He has also coached his son’s basketball and football teams too- no championships. Dr. Geoffrey is lives in Maryland with his wife and seventeen-year-old and fourteen-year-old sons.
Thank you so much for your time Dr. Geoffrey! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I have been a stutter since I was born. It was not until I was chief resident and 33 years old that I could speak a complete sentence without other noticing that I was a stutterer. I often include the pain of being a childhood stutter in my presentations to facilitate the audience to reflect on their own pain points. I share how kids can be so cruel.
Amazingly, a few times after I told the stuttering story there were times that someone would come up after the training or talk and would start off purposely stuttering to get me to laugh. I did not find it funny.
But there have been 10x as many people who would come up to share how the story helped them in some way. In the spirit of we must all do our part I continue to share the story.
IN short, my stutter turned out to be a huge asset to my success.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
Yes, I was invited to give a talk in Ghana. I gave the best talk I had ever given. I was on such a roll that I did not take questions until the end.
As it turned out, the audience spoke English but my accent was so heavy to them that they could not understand well. I did not realize until the end that all I needed to do was slow down. And ask questions as I went.
What I learned is, no matter how good your talk is, if you did not communicate well with the audience, it was not a good talk. It is not about you. It is about impacting the audience.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to, that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
Yes reading Jim Collins, Good to Great and all the Malcolm Gladwell books, What the Dog Saw, Blink, David and Goliath, Tipping Point, Talking to Strangers.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven business” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
The vision was to teach leaders how to identify their most important decisions, which are split-second decisions. And then to help them improve their split-second decisions.
We make about 35,000 decisions every day. Most of them are mundane and do not amount to much — what color shoes? What to wear? What to eat? etc. But about 1–2 percent of those decisions are life changing and/or life altering and most of those are split-second decisions.
Hence, if you improve your split-second decisions you improve your decision-making IQ.
As a result of:
- being on the front lines of Hurricane Katrina while deployed with the Maryland National Guard as a physician in 2005.
- Served as the chief and chair of a large urban ER during the H1N1 pandemic in 2009.
- Appointed by the Mayor as Emergency Services Medical Director and Assistant Chief for Washington, D.C. to lead during the Ebola crisis of 2014.
Combined with the above-mentioned experiences and 25 years of making life and death decisions, I created the TLC framework for making split-second decisions. You know are making a split-second decision when there is a:
T — Time constraint
L — Lack of Information
C — Critical Consequence
I learned that executives, leaders and first responders needed a framework on how to make the most important decisions. The TLC framework is a training that changes the lives of leaders.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
Yes. Always leave someone feeling encouraged. And when you do not know what do, lean towards doing what is kind.
Thank you for all that. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. For the benefit of empowering our readers, can you share with our readers a few of the personal and family related challenges you faced during this crisis? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
I was working on the frontlines of Covid treating patients. As an ER physician coming home after evaluating COVID patients created tension at home. My wife wanted me to home isolate for two weeks after each shift. But in the end, we agreed that if had a known exposure or developed symptoms then I would isolate away from the family.
But after every shift I had to:
- Spray all my bags with Lysol and leave them in the garage.
- I had to get completely undressed in the garage and go straight to the shower.
- And I had to leave my scrubs in the garage for 48 hours before I could wash them in the house.
Can you share a few of the biggest work-related challenges you are facing during this pandemic? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
Biggest work-related challenge is the companies that I trained are working from home. Therefore, there are not any trainings and definitely not any new business.
I started to Live into companies’ groups and give updates on Covid-19. Combined with all radio shows and Lives I speak to about 500k people per week. I am sowing a lot of seed.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. What are a few ideas that you have used to offer support to your family and loved ones who were feeling anxious? Can you explain?
I have sponsored live videos where I had a psychologist give tips. And then I hosted one where a John’s Hopkins trained psychiatrist was interviewed and gave many tips.
And finally, I reminded people that 97% of people who are infected with COVID do just fine.
Obviously we can’t know for certain what the Post-Covid economy will look like. But we can of course try our best to be prepared. We can reasonably assume that the Post-Covid economy will be a trying time for many people across the globe. Yet at the same time the Post-Covid growth can be a time of opportunity. Can you share a few of the opportunities that you anticipate in the Post-Covid economy?
- There will be a new normal which means there should be a new you. Being able to take your business virtual will be essential.
- Teaching others the ability to manage virtual teams will be industry will see a lot of growth.
How do you think the COVID pandemic might permanently change the way we behave, act or live?
Yes, we will wear masks for the next several years. And social distancing will be here in some form for a while.
Considering the potential challenges and opportunities in the Post-Covid economy, what do you personally plan to do to rebuild and grow your business or organization in the Post-Covid Economy?
I plan to have virtual training. But the new opportunity will be if you want me and my team to come and do in person training it will be a VIP service and charge.
And I am adding a book and a work book to the experience.
Similarly, what would you encourage others to do?
I would encourage others to be prepared for another home quarantine and be positioned to maximize the opportunities that come along with a home quarantine.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
No decision is a decision. Therefore, you must always decide. But decide fast so that if you are wrong you can get to the right decision sooner.
How can our readers further follow your work?
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow me on Youtube — DRGEOFFREY
LinkedIN — Geoffrey Mount Varner
Facebook — Geoffrey Mount Varner