Listen to your inner small voice, the voice that tends to spark new ideas or guides in the creation of niche markets.
Dr. Alfred Sparman was born in Guyana and moved to New York as a child. He always had a fascination with the human body and medicine. To accomplish this goal, he obtained his Bachelor of Chemistry from Long Island University, followed by his Medical Degree from New York Medical College. On completion of this degree, he went on to do a Research and Surgical Internship at Brooklyn Hospital/Syracuse Medical Centre. Thereafter, he completed his Medical Residency at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital (Mount Sinai Hospital) and his final step was the Cardiology Fellowship at Jacksonville Medical Centre. That year, after gaining valuable work experience in the USA, he moved to Barbados and opened The Sparman Clinic, the second private hospital on the island. The Clinic was the first facility of its kind as it offers a range of medical and complimentary services all under one roof.
Where did the idea for The Sparman Clinic come from?
My Mum was a nurse and I believe my many visits to her hospital combined with my love for the sciences propelled me into medicine but I knew I did not want to have a mediocre career in medicine. Therefore, I did not want to settle with mainstream cardiology, if I wanted a career for the rest of my life, it must be done well. Everything I do in my life, whether its playing chess, on the range or singing; I try to do the best. I relocated to Barbados in 2001 and launched The Sparman Clinic with only two (2) employees. I wanted those in Barbados and the Caribbean to have access to the same standard of healthcare that is offered in the USA. I initiated angioplasty procedures which had yet to be done in many Caribbean islands in 2001. A few years later I opened my hospital in Barbados. It offers a holistic approach to medicine, incorporating cardiology, general medicine, diagnostic testing, surgery, pharmacy, gym, cardiac rehab and ambulance service.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Each morning I rise and thank the Master for another day, following this, I ensure I have a heavy plant-based breakfast. I am a vegetarian and my motto is ‘Keep Close to the Plant’. I believe a solid breakfast sets a good foundation for the day and is especially crucial as a physician with an unpredictable schedule. I mentally prepare the tasks I want to complete during the course of the day and I notify the members of my team who I need to assist me in order to give them a heads up of their tasks. Once this has been completed, I head into the office to begin my scheduled day of seeing patients and performing surgeries.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I visualize; I play it out in my head and once I get to a successful endpoint theoretically, I then bring together the key players that I need to execute the plan successfully.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Over the past few years, medical technology companies have been making great strides in the arena of sensor devices to assist both during surgery and after discharge to monitor a patient’s clinical status. For example, iPad based apps have been refined to monitor a patient’s vitals during surgery mimicking the work of the anesthesiologist. Robotic surgery is another story.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Listen to your inner small voice, the voice that tends to spark new ideas or guides in the creation of niche markets. I faced my fair share of challenges from the time I launched my business, had it not been for me focusing on that voice I may not have been here today.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I was once a security guard during my time as a student and I learnt that I would never want to be one again.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Almost three (3) decades ago, I was placed on probation for an altercation with my ex-wife. I regret this incident greatly. However, this incident has caused me to find my inner self. It humbled me and made me a better person. Sometimes I wonder if I would have been so successful had it not been for that crossroad.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
My words and actions are in sync. One of the factors that I attribute to my success is the fact that the guidance I give to my patients is actually what I am doing for myself as well. I ensure that I exercise regularly, eat healthy and take care of my overall wellbeing. People’s perception of you can further enhance the development of your brand. A dentist with bad teeth is bad marketing.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Networking and learning is key to growing any business. As an entrepreneur, I recognized that there were many people who I could learn from to aid in developing my goals. I could learn from their success as well as their mistakes. We as business leaders must always be searching for new ways to remain profitable and we cannot become complacent.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
A few years ago I wanted to purchase a property to further expand my hospital and I was looking for investors to assist in this venture. I thought I had secured a well-known investor who was recommended by a close friend. We signed off to work together and I discussed the proposed plans for the new facility. A few months later, I was informed that the investor had nullified our agreement and purchased the property. I lost a lot of money with the dissolution of that deal. But it was a lesson learnt. So I now move forward cautiously.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
If we could isolate the mechanism that prevents cancer cells from dying and allows for their continued proliferation; once isolated, we may be able to prevent the natural death of the cells that cause ageing. The business of slowing or circumventing the ageing process would be an ideal avenue.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
An important piece of equipment malfunctioned recently and I had Techs quoting exorbitant fees to ‘hopefully’ get it up and running again. However, I contacted a local firm who sent one of their Techs and within a short space of time he had completed the job in a significantly shorter turnaround time than his counterparts. I was so overjoyed at the quality of his service that I gave him $100 as a token.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
I have my own radio show on Saturday morning and I am always on the hunt for new music. Shazam, Sirius XM and iTunes are my ‘go to’ for compiling my playlist. I also love playing Chess and I am hooked on competing with other online at www.chess.com. For note taking, I always utilize my notepad App on my iPad. It helps me keep track of my ideas and any other pertinent information that I may misplace otherwise.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The autobiography of Tommy Hilfiger, ‘American Dreamer: My Life in Fashion & Business.’
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
People who have influenced my thinking are typically those who listened to their inner voice, showing strength and resilience. They include: Nelson Mandela, Michael Jackson, Bob Marley and President Barack Obama.
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.