Aside from the entrepreneurial spirit behind these and other Dr. Crain creations, common themes include reverse thinking, proactive collaboration and the earnest belief an answer exists; it’s just a matter of shifting current thinking around enough to see it.

Of the former, Dr. Crain starts with the end in mind and works backward.

“But, critical thinking means evaluating evidence in order to make a decision,” Dr. Crain says. “By definition, you are limited to the evidence known to you; that can be a mental trap.” 

Plus, Dr. Crain explains, “When you start talking about the pros and cons of something, creativity stops as soon as you focus on the cons. If I make the assumption that there is a better answer, then I’m led down a different path. When you focus on what you want to create rather than what your current thinking and experience deem possible, you place your thinking in a different zone.”

And you don’t worry about sharing the idea. One of Dr. Crain’s early mentors held more than 370 patents and a lucrative career. “He always told me the idea is one-tenth of one percent of it; execution is all the rest,” Dr. Crain says. “I’m open with sharing ideas because so much of the ultimate success of them comes down to execution.”

In fact, Dr. Crain likens having a degree in veterinary medicine to holding a patent: “It separates you from others and narrows the competition, but you still have to do something with it.”

Besides, Dr. Crain believes there aren’t new ideas as much as there are old ideas recovered and new applications developed.

For him, realigning existing puzzle pieces to create new solutions has often meant stepping outside the animal health box to visit with innovators in other disparate fields.

Consider VPFSC. He called and also travelled to meet with Dee Hock. Many may not know the name, but Hock is the founder and former CEO of Visa Credit Card Association. It was development of this unique organization that enables you to use a credit card of your choosing at about any retailer in the world.

Dr. Crain reads about how human medicine is attacking influenza and he ends up talking with scientists at University of Cambridge in England.

More recently, he has become involved with folks at Columbia University, sharing notes about what animal medicine and human medicine have to offer each other.

“What I learned is that you can pick up the phone and contact the people you read about. They’re approachable,” Dr. Crain says.

The Future From Here

Admittedly, with the industry in the midst of a paradigm shift—most everyone agreeing long-established production and market fundamentals are changing, but no one knowing where the other side is or what it looks like—panic is a perfectly normal first response.

Thinking about the shrinking industry pie again, Dr. Crain says, “It scares me. I don’t like change. I’m used to doing what I do. I think everyone’s first reaction is to sprint and grab your piece of the pie. That might work until you get tripped. Panic kills reasoning and creativity.”

Once you see the train tracks and hear the approaching train whistle, Dr. Crain figures  the future depends on what you do next.

“I’m trying to make more money by serving my clients better,” Dr. Crain says. “Every day in our practice we ask ourselves how we can do a better job for the clients we have and make them more money.  How do we make more money by helping them make more money? How do we find more clients to help make them more money?”

 

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