The Value of Listening

Everyone else has done such a great job recapping specific moments of Medtronic’s Diabetes Advocate Forum that it would be foolish to think I could add anything else to that narrative. But there has been one prominent, lingering theme that I’ve taken away above all others: listening makes all the difference.

Medtronic made it an early mission to articulate that they have heard all of the feedback surrounding their launch of the 530g with Enlite, specifically the problem with calling a device an Artificial Pancreas Device System: Threshold Suspend with an audience that will only read/hear “Artificial Pancreas”.

They also did an admirable job of hearing our feedback. Most of the time a simple “we hear you” is all you will get out of Presidents, Vice Presidents and other similarly impressive job titles. But we got more than that. Instead of slides and “any questions?”, we were interjecting thoughts and feedback throughout the day’s conversation. Topics that were worth revisiting, of which there were many, were added to the “parking lot” and given follow up time at the end of the first day.

Part of the second day at Medtronic HQ included coaching from David Lee Strasberg, encouraging us to take a “leap of doom”, hearing our grand visions for the diabetes community, and helping us fine tune our asks.

Medtronic even listened to us when we asked for something a little more fulfilling than fruit for dessert, opening up a handful of tasty options at dinner Friday night. Granted, this might not seem like a lot, but seeing how fluid and reactive the entire Forum was was very impressive (especially as a first-timer).

Most importantly, we all listened to each other. At the end of the Forum, the Medtronic folks took a backseat to an hour of genuine diabetes advocacy and brainstorming. Rather than talk about broad bullet points, we discussed an actual plan of action for how to improve upon last year’s Spare a Rose campaign. Everyone had a chance to speak up and offer their feedback. Everyone found a way to help spread the word. Everyone had a glimpse at what the diabetes community is capable of if we focus our efforts.

Listening is something that I take for granted. Sure, I have to listen when I host my podcast, but sometimes I feel like that’s listening for the sake of the show and not because I’m being a respectful member of society. It’s something I can certainly improve upon. There are a lot of takeaways from my time at Medtronic’s Diabetes Advocate Forum, but the value of listening is right up there with the most meaningful of them. I can’t promise to be the best listener out there, but at least recognizing that this is something I need to improve upon is a step in the right direction.

Disclosure: Medtronic and Bayer provided travel, lodging, and food for the duration of the Forum. They did not provide opinions. I can handle that last one on my own.

3 thoughts on “The Value of Listening

  1. I love this post, Chris. Making a decision to attempt to listen more is something we all need to do. Even for those who feel like they are the best kind of listeners out there. This post was a wonderful contribution to the conversation.

    Last night in #DSMA, we talked about what kept us all from doing advocacy work or ‘being’ an advocate and a prevailing theme is the “someone else would say it better” thought. I certainly felt this way before I jumped in and often still now. I wonder what we can do as a community to relinquish the fear of seeming repetitive or ineffective in the diabetes online community as a whole.

    You posting is a perfect example of offering your voice anyway.

    Thank you for writing.


  2. I felt like they were actually listening too. Not just trying to appease us.

    I do know that you do a good job listening on your podcasts. I know I have listened to several where a guest’s answer threw you off your groove. If you weren’t listening you would have just gone to the new question on the list.


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