There aren’t many classes that one takes in graduate school that is worthy of a book, especially at a marginally known program such as the M.B.A. program at the University of Kansas. But that is exactly what came out of the best course I ever took: Applied Portfolio Management. I was in the inaugural class taught by a young man fresh from the financial wars of the 1980s and early ‘90s who had given the University several hundred thousand dollars of his own money so that his portfolio management class could invest real money vs playing a riskless simulation. It was Kent’s money and you darn better not lose it. I didn’t and my group came in first in that inaugural class. There were four of us in the group; two Americans, a Taiwanese, and a Russian. After that first semester no one could imagine the success of the class. The profits from the course went to fund a basketball scholarship. Then Roy Williams left for the University of North Carolina.
During lectures Kent McCarthy spoke at length on what it took to be a successful fund manager. Based on the west coast he would be up by 4am watching the markets as he readied for work then remaining in the office late in the evening until the Japanese markets opened. When I first met Kent as you might imagine he didn’t yet have time for marriage. One statement by a guest speaker stood out. “If you’re not willing to go on vacation with a stack of prospectuses and read through ten or twenty a day while sunning on the beach, find another job.” I didn’t go into the market.
However, now twenty years on, it is interesting how like Kent’s life is mine. Those who know me understand they can call me any time after 5am any day of the week and I will probably be up working. As I head out for a week in Mexico the first thing I thought to bring for reading material was the June 2010 MedPac report and the newest MedPac Databook. Challenged with a 5am flight I forgot the darn thing. Thank goodness for PDFs and the ease at which the Nook can read them. So I will still be able to sit in the sand with a good book. It will just be from MedPac. Vacation just means I get to blog more often.
Which brings me to colleagues who might read this blog. I am constantly amazed at the peripheral grasp of baseline knowledge of our industry held by many physicians and administrators. Their approach to running a medical practice, hospital department, or product line is to “run it like a business” but never reaching far enough down into the guts of the business to understand the likely reaction from certain actions taken in the health care market place. So we continue to shoot ourselves in the foot and remain often our worst enemy.
Part of the reason I started this blog was to try and separate the real issues of concern from the routine angry howling at the moon we hear each time a new Proposed Rule is published. Reaction to Proposed Rules often remind me of one of my favorite cartoons. It is a Far Side of two cowboys protecting their circled wagon train from attacking Native Americans. As the arrows fly overhead one cowboy is heard to say, “FLAMING arrows? Can they DO that?” Just as we learn from Medicare every year, “ Yes they can, and they will.”
But the basis for Proposed Rules are often messaged months if not years before in MedPc reports. That is why I read them. They are free. As my dad said many times, “Free is cheap.”