Q&A with a keynote: Dave Nicol, BVMS, Cert Mgmt, MRCVS

Kansas City

Now that we are less than 48 hours from his keynote address, check out what you can expect to learn if you attend Dr Nicol’s session

Veterinary professionals wear all different kinds of hats. Through each role, professionals have the chance to explore interests and learn about themselves. However, in the grand scheme of things, how much time are you spending on things that no longer give you joy or are taking away from time you could spend doing something else?

During this interview with dvm360® about his upcoming keynote address "If It's Not A "Heck Yes!" Then It's No! Building Your Happy Place in Veterinary Medicine" at the Fetch dvm360 conference in Kansas City, Missouri, Dave Nicol, BVMS, Cert Mgmt, MRCVS, shares why it is so important for people to be intentional, plus what his favorite job of all time has been.

Dave Nicol, BVMS, Cert Mgmt, MRCVS

Dave Nicol, BVMS, Cert Mgmt, MRCVS

Can you share more on what your keynote address is about?

It's based loosely around an idea that one of my favorite writers… he spent a lot of time thinking about [how] you've got this one life. Too many of us spend too much of our time doing things that actually have very little value to us, don't enjoy [and have] very little value to others around us. I'm 47 now and I've done quite a lot in my career [and] I've got quite a lot of things happening. When you've got so much stuff happening in your life, then you have to be very, very careful with how you spend your time. Whether you're at my stage in a career or whether you're at the start with your career, the same is true.

You hear this a lot, particularly in the narrative of younger-generation vets. It's about finding that balance and the work-life balance. As a phrase, I hate that to start with, because I just don't like putting work and life against each other. I honestly think that work is integral to my life. I don't think one should mean you enjoy one and suffer in the other. I think I find balance because I really enjoy what I'm doing. So I think more people would find balance if they were intentional about what they were going to do.

What are some takeaways you want attendees to leave your lecture with?

The most important thing is intentionality. That's a word that just keep bubbling around in your brain, and you're thinking about things. A big part of my job now is thinking strategically [and] I think I'm good at that. Ideas and concepts come around and if they keep coming around bubbling up, then I think that's something I should pay attention to. Sometimes those concepts come external to me, and I just take them in and think about how am I applying them in my life. Sometimes they just seem to pop out from nowhere. I think I think the overriding takeaway is that you should figure out what the 'heck yes' things are about your life and you should apply set principles that allow those things to be maximized.

Otherwise, you're going to have a lot of life slip past you before you know it, you'll be thinking, 'what happened?' There are too many miserable burned-out people. That's the evidence that we're doing it wrong... all the people that are unhappy—and it's not just veterinary medicine, by the way. You speak to dentists, lawyers, accountants, building trades, [and] the story is the same over and over. I think is a big part of it is a lack of intentionality. So the talk will really set out the terms of why that matters with some fairly seminal moments in my life that gave me some really important pauses for thought [and] some pretty difficult situations I had to deal with. Then I'll set out the terms of what is a heck yes life compared to the normal life and then we'll actually go through some principles for how you might go about living a heck yes life.

Are you giving any other lectures when you're at Fetch?

I'm giving another 3 lectures [if] people can put up with a Scottish accent for that long. To use a Glaswegian phrase; I'll be talking the hind legs off a donkey. [One of the lectures is] a talk on a little study that we ran back in 2021 about leadership, and we wanted to prove that there was a link between leadership and the quality of culture. There's no doubt about the impact of culture on organizational performance. There's no shortage of evidence there.

So, what is leadership and how does it influence culture? We did this study, because we wanted to, first of all, prove that there was a link. Second of all, really made sure that anybody interested in running a successful practice today really had the green light, kick up the backside, loving boot in the bum to take leadership seriously, and not just focus on the clinical side of business, or the staff, equipment, or the amazing building. Because all of that stuff matters, but it really doesn't matter if you've got a [bad] culture and that is what one of the primary jobs of leaders is to be intentional.

Is there a fun fact about you that might surprise people or one that you'd like to share?

I'm a pretty avid triathlete so that maybe wouldn't surprise people. I honestly think the thing more than anything else is that despite everything I'm doing business-wise, the number 1 job [and] the most favorite job I have ever is being a dad.

To learn more about Nicol, check out his website at www.drdavenicol.com!

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