Listen more, speak less.
Dr. Colin Wilkinson is the President of The American International School of Medicine. He is a graduate of Columbia University in Upper Manhattan, New York City. He began his career in education as a scholar and research assistant in the school labs of the university. As a staff member, he was dismayed at students that were not able to receive the support that was required for them to succeed. Noting the differences in favoritism shown to select students, Dr. Wilkinson was inspired to establish a medical school to provide an environment where every student would be able to thrive.
Since 1999, the school has trained hundreds of doctors. Graduates of AISM have opened practices in the United States, India, Guyana, UK, Tanzania, Pakistan, and Trinidad. AISM is listed with the World Health Organization (W.H.O.). Students earn certifications in the US, UK, Canada, and Guyana. Campus locations are in Atlanta, Guyana, Nigeria, and England.
Dr. Colin Wilkinson is a native of Guyana in South America. He was raised by his mother and had four siblings. When his father died, his mother went back to school and became a healthcare midwife practitioner. His mother created the incentive for Dr. Wilkinson to become interested in education as well as the medical industry.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
We were going to name it the American International University where we were going to have several different curriculums under that umbrella. However, when we started the school, we wanted to focus on the medicine first and by year three we would begin to integrate other curriculums. We wanted to title each curriculum as American International School of nursing, dentistry, of public health, and other healthcare curriculums. There is little known about the American International University because we have our focus on Medicine first, but we still plan to establish the school curriculums in the future.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I typically have a fifteen-hour workday. I make it productive by following a simple adage, “kill the fish closest to the boat”. I have my normal work tasks such as meetings that are scheduled throughout the day. Then, when something happens that is going to affect someone else’s life in some dramatic way, I address those issues as they come up. I either give solutions where possible or guide people towards the right solutions.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I always thought that if I was going to leave a positive footprint on the world long after I am gone then I would have to take people’s dreams and make them into reality. If you see my website, we say “We can turn your dreams into reality”. We see what the dream is and see how practical we can make it. If it is to be a doctor, we can do that part, as long as they do their part. We give them the tools so they can begin to do their part. We make that dream become more substantial than an idea. They make it out there in the day to day life. We let them know that this is point “A” thru “Z” and they are going to have to take it every step of the way.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The trend that most excites me is that we are able to deliver educational training across borders through all these online training platforms. We can speak and have interactions with many geographical locations at the same time. We can also put patients in front of specialists from all over the world. For example, someone may have an injury in some remote part of Africa, and all they have is an internet connection or just a phone. They can use that phone to get in touch with a radiologist who can at the very least, get them to get the right images. It can instruct the physicians as to what the problem could be. Similarly, the Avian Flew made its way from China to New York in sixteen hours. China knew much more about it when New York didn’t. Through the same virtual exchange, both China and New York could coordinate about a treatment plan. What excites me is International collaboration, education and patient care.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I like to have a clear idea of what is asked of me. No matter who it is I am speaking with. I require perfect clarity, no matter what the question or request may be. I always ask them what kind of a response they are expecting of me. I want to know what their expectations are. It allows me to super-impose upon their expectations what our realities are. I can give an answer that is unbiased and practical. I want everyone to know that I listen to them and that I engage in the conversation. That kind of dialog gives me a better buy-in and it helps me to have a more honest conversation with people.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell my younger self to pay very close attention to your human resources around you. Even though you like to train people, they may use what you have trained to sabotage you. It has happened to me twice. They will turn on you and write negative things about you after they have stolen your intellectual information. They took my exams, my results, my lectures, and even my school strategic plans. Be more strategic about the circle of people that you share or allow access to your intellectual information. It would be best to have three or four people in that circle and everyone else should be on an as-needed basis. Give people boundaries to work. Make things a little more unpredictable.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I am a fatherless child. I never knew what it was like to grow up with a father. I see my mother as both. I call her to wish her a happy Mother’s Day and I call her to say happy Father’s Day. To me, it is all the same. Not many people agree.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I stick with a routine. Make sure that you complete all your objectives. Make sure your mission is well understood. Develop a good routine with your work habits, and how you will deal with difficult situations. Listen more, speak less.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Positivity is the main thing that helped me grow my business. When the balance sheets are looking bad, you have to shake it off and inject positivity as a leader. Your closest circle may know how you feel, but outside of the circle must see a positive outlook. Preach the prosperity ideal until it becomes reality. Once you speak negatively, people will start running. Everyone wants to be a part of a winning team.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
The biggest failure that I’ve had is taking employees and making them my friends. They began to drift away from my mission by creating their own missions. I corrected it by narrowing my circle. I wrote out my mission, and I stopped explaining to everyone about something that I already know.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I think a good business idea would be to have medical students participate in some sort of outreach program with high schools. They can encourage students to pursue research careers. It could be set-up as an exchange program for credits.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I had a friend that came in from Nigeria. We went out to dinner, while he came up with a plan to help his friend protect his assets. It was money well spent.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Quick Books. We use QuickBooks to keep our finances in order. It gives great daily and weekly reports. I use another software that I use for lectures and video to share with students.
There are testing platforms for students that are very useful also.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. What Got Me Here Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith.
What is your favorite quote?
“Wise men work and toil while lazy men slept the night away. When morning came the wise man achieved everything he wanted, and the lazy men looked at him and wondered why.”
• Preach the prosperity ideal until it becomes reality.
• Positivity is the main thing to grow a business.
• Listen more, speak less.
• Everyone wants to be a part of a winning team.