Physician, Medical Clown, Healthcare Consultant, and Colleague of Patch Adams
Bowen F. White, M.D. combines the talents and expertise of a physician, speaker, consultant, and author. He travels the world conducting seminars, consulting and speaking to public and private organizations.
Doctor and Speaker
In 1983, Dr. White founded the Department of Preventive & Stress Medicine for Baptist Medical Center in Kansas City, Missouri and the Department of Wellness and Health Promotion before leaving to pursue a private practice and a career as a consultant and speaker. He has given hundreds of keynote addresses and some highlights of his consulting experience include a six-month team building project at NCAA headquarters, three years as corporate medical consultant to the Hazelden Foundation, multiple presentations for Medtronic, Inc. (including their Medtronic Leader program), is the graduation speaker for MFS leadership training programs, multiple presentations for the Institute for Management Studies and lectures to graduate students at Stanford University on play, design thinking and innovation.
Healthy Work Environments
As an organizational physician he is interested in the “people piece” of the workplace puzzle: Creating Healthy Work Environments, Team Building, Leadership, Performance Enhancement, Stress, Managing Change, Sales, Ethics, and Communications. His programs emphasize the need for individuals to take responsibility for their own health and well being as he helps organizations create suspiciously healthy workplaces.
Dr. White’s training programs, seminars, keynote speeches, management retreats, executive mentoring and spouse programs have had an immediate, practical application for such organizations as: Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, 3M, AVEDA, Association of American Medical Colleges, Duke University Medical Center, Beth Israel Hospital, Mercury Marine, Inc., the Foreign Service Institute, Hallmark Cards, New York Life Insurance, Federal Reserve Bank, MFS, Ameriprise Financial, Hydraulic Institute and the Georgetown University Law Faculty.
His message is international. In addition to presentations throughout the US, he has presented at conferences in Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Germany, Austria, India, Ireland, Scotland, Spain, Panama and Israel. He has spoken to educators, managers and the aviation industry in the UK (London, Manchester, Edinburgh), and to staff members stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Budapest, Hungary.
The International Management Center in Budapest asked Dr. White to share his expertise with managers studying their emerging market economy. He has also discussed aspects of executive training and quality programs with industrial managers in Osaka, Japan.
In addition to appearing on the front page of the Wall St. Journal and on national television programs such as CBS This Morning, Desmond Morris’ The Human Animal and the PBS series The Promise of Play, Dr. White is often interviewed by radio, newspaper and magazine journalists. He has eight years of experience as a weekly TV health commentator for Kansas City’s CBS-TV affiliate and also had a three-year stint writing a weekly newspaper column, entitled “Patient Potential,” for the Kansas City Business Journal.
He contributes his time to The Gesundheit! Institute and is a founding board member for the National Institute for Play. He is the author of two books: Why Normal Isn’t Healthy and with John MacDougal, A Clinician’s Guide to Spirituality. In addition he created two audio tape series: The Cry of the Heart and Dr. White’s Complete Stress Management Kit.
Why Normal Isn't Healthy
How did we learn the “right way” to do things? Trial and error. We did it wrong, wrong, wrong until we finally did it right!! And when we did it wrong, we were told, “If I’ve told you once I’ve told you 1000 times…) We heard we were bad and should be ashamed of ourselves. So we all got more specific negative feedback that specific positive feedback on the road to learning how to do things well/right. Also, warmth was withheld until performance criteria were met. "Your father and I are very proud to see you’ve finally learned how to do that the right way!” Getting more specific negative feedback than specific positive feedback while learning the right way to do things means we all got our feelings of inadequacy reinforced in the process. And those feelings never go away. Why? The voice of the parent becomes the inner voice of the child. So, when we make a mistake we don’t need anyone else to reinforce our feelings of inadequacy. We do it to ourselves! The result is that we all have a secret. That part of us that has those feelings of inadequacy is called the scared one; scared guy, scared gal inside who never goes away. However, it is a secret we all share yet don’t talk about. The irony is that having those feelings of inadequacy doesn’t mean we’re inadequate. In fact, it’s a great driver of ambition to show the world our worth by doing things really well. Better yet, perfectly. That way no one will know our secret! That’s the plus side if you will of the scared one. The downside is that how we operate in relationships is a function of how we learned to feel about ourselves. It’s not a function of how well we do anything! And everything gets done through relationships. So, we can be really good at implementing a product improvement process and not be very good at coaching someone to learn how. "What’s your problem? What’s wrong with you? Well, that’s just how I was taught! Now try it again and do it right this time!" Just as people can learn how to do some process improvement in manufacturing, they can also learn some process improvement in their relationships, both at work and at home.
Communication and Team Building in a Time of Change
Given the above modis operendi of do it right or not at all, certain implications result. For one, although we were told that honesty is the best policy. Is that what we learned? Remember we all have a scared one inside whose motto is, safety and security at all costs. So when we were asked if we did something that we weren’t supposed to do, it might not have felt safe to admit that we did. The bubble above our head filled with awful images of what happened the last time we got into trouble. “No, I did not!” rolls off the tongue. Honesty wasn’t the best policy. To be honest is to risk being vulnerable. And the scared one is risk averse. If I admit that I need help with a project or that I made a mistake, my image in your eyes may diminish. And I risk you seeing me as inadequate. Plus, being vulnerable is not a cultural value. However, high team function cannot develop without high levels of trust amongst teammates. And without honesty and the certain knowledge that no one will take advantage of our vulnerability, a trusting environment will be lacking. Everything is always changing and with change comes stress. Why? One reason is that the scared one is driven by the fear that at any moment he could be exposed as inadequate. Fear is the driver of the stress response. And the stress response is a survival response. So, when we’re functioning at a survival frequency we act out the scared one’s motto, safety and security at all costs. What is best for the common good of the team falls away and our own survival becomes paramount. Outcomes: Participants will get an understanding of what gets in the way of getting to where they want to be at work as well as at home and the value of working for the wellbeing of others at some cost to themselves. That cost is an investment and the return on investment is a much more positive, enjoyable worklife and homelife.
We’ve all heard it said, people take their money very……..(fill in the blank) seriously. Right. When you’re talking about money it’s a very serious thing. It’s like medicine. People take their illnesses very seriously and very personally as well. It’s also true of their money. People take their money very... personally. And they give it very personally! So, to what kind of person do you want to give your money. Products and services are all similar. Prices are too. Then what is it that causes you to open your wallet and hand over your hard-earned money? It’s the personal relationship that has developed with the person doing the selling. It’s not about the product. Of course, they have to know about the product and believe in the product. That’s a given. It’s about the person selling the product. What are her values? Does she really care about us and helping us solve a problem? Is he honest or is he just saying what he thinks I want to hear? Is she pleasant to be around and responds quickly when we have a problem? Are they in it for the long term? Can I trust them like a friend? Outcome: learn to be the kind of person to whom you want to give your money.
The Juggling Act: Balancing Multiple Priorities
First, this is not a time management program. It’s an interactive 3 hour session about learning how to get your own needs met at the same time you help others get their needs met. So learning is required and juggling is a great metaphor for learning. Sure there are different learning styles which are unique to each of us. But what do we share in common regardless of those differences. What is the final common pathway of learning? And what secret do we share in common that keeps us from following that path to manage all the important grownup stuff we have to do?
Creating a Healthy Workplace
Rank without Rankism: Everything gets done through relationships. How people are treated determines the health of the organization, collectively and individually. Rankism occurs when someone takes away the dignity of another person by pulling rank. In other words, a somebody makes someone else feel like a nobody. Everyone is a SOMEBODY and nobody a Nobody. Cultivating a dignitarian workplace makes for a suspiciously healthy place to work where collaboration amongst equals creates the best solutions for those being served.
We heard honesty is the best policy growing up. Was it? And what was the model we saw around us even in our own families. What is selective honesty? Is the best moral decision the best business decision, period? And if so, the greatest good for all will be served. How do we get off the path? How do we get back on? What is the risk?
All Bowen White Books
Why Normal Isn’t Healthy: How to Find Heart, Meaning, Passion & Humor on the Road Most TraveledPurchase Book
“Wise, witty, wonderful. Bowen navigates the inner territory in a way that speaks to everyone’s heart.”
- Marty Sullivan, MD, Cardiologist and Director | Duke Center for Integrative Medicine, Duke University Medical Center
"At the end of the conference, after the participants were networked out, partied out and 'seminared' to their limits they still talked about your presentation. They left the conference with a newfound energy and smile on their face because of you! Thank you for adding so much to our conference!"
- Lisa Dansie-Daley, Director of Marketing & Education | Washington State Pharmacists Association
“A master of innovation, Bowen White gives us the tools we need to change ourselves and to move culture by creating an environment conducive to creativity and growth. He understands the value of being comfortable with ourselves and allowing others to do the same. Funny and intelligent, he leads readers on an exciting exploration, a trip you won’t want to miss.”
- Sue Klepac | Lucent Technologies