3 Lessons We Can Learn from Howard Stern

Posted: March 27, 2012 in Uncategorized

For as long as I have had my driver’s license, I can never remember a time where I actually enjoyed being in the car. Anything longer than 10 minutes? No thanks, I’ll pass. However for about the last 8 months or so, I have suddenly found myself almost looking forward to any time I can spend alone in my white Rav-4 .Why the sudden change? Two words: Howard Stern. You see until recently, I have always driven a car only equipped with terrestrial AM/FM radio. Then, my Dad and I ‘switched’ cars and a whole new world opened. (Ok, I sort of stole his car. That’s a whole ‘nother story.) Quite frankly, my time in the morning listening to Howard Stern is often the most entertaining time of the day. And whether you agree with my super-fandom or not, I think by the end of this article, you can all at least agree that there is certainly some lessons we can all learn from ‘The King of All Media.’

So here we go….

Lesson #1. Take risks and don’t be afraid to do something different- Whether you like Howard Stern or you think he is just a creepy old man, I think we can all agree he is an innovator. In fact, he basically invented a new form of radio as well as the term “shock jock.” To think this was without much opposition would be totally off base. Over the years Stern has been fined over $2.5 million dollars for indecent radio. Why does he keep going? Simply put, he believes in his product and knows he has an audience.  Time after time, Stern has taken huge risks that only someone who is headstrong, confident, and a bit crazy could pull off. And to be honest, it seems that most successful people in this world share a little bit of all these qualities as well. The amount of times Howard and his crew have gotten fired from various radio stations would make most people quit the industry or at least give in and follow the more typical, low-key radio show format. Most people would conform because their fear of consequence outweigh their burning desire to do what they feel is right.

What’s the lesson? A few weeks ago I posted this quote on my Facebook from the blog of Mike Reinold,

“It is great to learn from others, to follow the leader so to say. But there is also something to be said about being the trendsetter. If you are opening a new PT clinic or fitness center, do you want to copy the competitors and be just another person on the block, or do you want to innovate and give the public what they NEED, not what they WANT, or to say even better, what the THINK they want.

As someone who is just months away from entering the healthcare and fitness field, this quote rings so true. It would be easy to go out into the world and give the people what they think they want. However, sometimes what they really need is not what they say they want. I’m sure this may lead to some awkward moments when I first get into practice. A patient may come in expecting treatment x,y, and z because that is what Joe Chiro down the street has done in the past. However, this person may need something totally different. This “different” may include much more active care (done by the patient) and much less passive care (patient lies on table and expects Doctor to ‘cure’ them). That’s not to say I will not do anything for them, it is just saying that I want my patients to learn how to take care of themselves so they won’t always depend on me. This is a much different model than most manual therapists and something my patient’s will certainly have to learn. To be honest, when I explain this model to some friends and family who have been to chiropractors before, they look at me like I am crazy. And while the crazy part may be true, I understand their confusion. “Copying the competitors” as Mike Reinold puts it would certainly make these conversations much easier but to be frank, is not something I believe in. All in all, I think we need to follow Howard’s lead even if that means being a so-called outcast or pariah in our field.

Lesson #2. Surround yourself with great people and find a way to keep them- For anyone that follows the history of The Howard Stern Show, you understand that the “core” of the show has been together for almost 30 years. With Robin, Fred, and Gary by his side, Howard has managed to keep the people around him who make the show go. Take a second to think about the entertainment industry, sports world, or any company for that matter. How many can say that the core has stayed together for 30 years? I would think not many. Howard realized early on that these other people made the show run just as much as he did and he fought to keep them even when his bosses said ‘no’. He made sure they got paid fairly and created an environment in which people wanted to work.

What’s the lesson? Again, this relates directly to any medical or fitness business. I was treating a local doctor a few months back who runs 3 successful clinics and we spoke about this point directly. He said that he isn’t looking to hire an associate who will leave in 6 months. He is looking to hire someone who will stay forever. In order for this to happen, he has to find the best and treat them accordingly. As he puts it, he will “overpay” for an associate and his goal is to make them a deal in which it doesn’t make sense for them to leave. He said that as soon as an associate quits, he loses about 40% of the business at that specific clinic. Even though he “owns” the clinic, the  associate had his/her own patients so once they left, the patients often follow. In reality, there is something to be said for chemistry and continuity. The Howard Stern Show has it and this certainly sets them apart from the competition.

Lesson #3. If people like what you do, they will follow you and be happy to pay for it- Until 2006, The Howard Stern Show hit the air waves on the traditional AM/FM dials. Eventually the show became so popular, it was syndicated all over the US and Canada. After many years of fighting with the FCC, Stern decided to take his show to satellite radio, a pay to listen service. Stern’s critics bashed him saying that the move was a death sentence for his career and that nobody would pay to listen to him. Well my friends, the proof is certainly in the pudding. Business analysts suggest that Stern may be responsible for about $120 million dollars in revenue per year, taking into account what he gets paid and the cost to run the show. The point is that people will pay if they perceive a value above and beyond what the competition does. Just being a tiny bit better is not good enough. Radio is free, yet over 20 million subscribers feel it is a worthwhile investment to pay for Stern and the rest of the  satellite radio team.

What’s the lesson? I have had many conversations with people discussing my goals in the future and it always comes back to one thing. People always ask why would anyone come to my office and pay for my services when I am  so young and inexperienced? My answer is always the same. I have to show them that the care and treatment they are getting or will get with me is better than the guy across the street. Or, if my treatment costs more money, I damn well better offer a service that is worth it. I always tell my classmates that there is one thing we can’t have no matter how hard we try upon graduation; experience. What we can do is offer a better product than that guy who has been doing it for 30 years. The goal is to maximize our perceived value among our customers. If we do that, people will pay if they see value in what we do. Just ask Howard.


So there it is. A few lessons from the King himself. Love him or hate him, there is certainly something to be learned. I think if there is one thing to truly take away from this it may be how similar ALL successful people are. Through my conversations and readings, I have found that no matter what the profession, people who are the leaders in their respective fields share much more similarities than differences. In the end, our ability to find what has made these people successful and translate it in to our own lives will determine how successful we are as individuals.


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