Six years ago, Phillip Stutts was diagnosed with achalasia, a rare and degenerative autoimmune disease that disables the esophagus, eventually making eating impossible.
For years, he took doctors at their word when they said the disease was incurable, that it could be slowed, perhaps, but not stopped. He took prescription medicines as recommended despite knowing that they have been linked to dementia as a side effect.
He was, as he writes in Fire Them Now, a “bystander to his own disease,” paralyzed by fear. That is, until he was told that a feeding tube was an inevitability that he should plan for.
Life as he knew it was on the line, and Stutts would be passive no longer.
Today, he is confident that “we will find a cure. I am going to cure my incurable disease.”
As a product of relentless online networking, Stutts was introduced to an achalasia researcher at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, and he is now poised to become a “clinical trial of one.”
The treatment involves an injection of stem cells into the esophagus in hopes that it will regenerate muscles and nerves.
For Stutts, a business and political marketer who lives in South Walton County, achalasia is to him as change is to many CEOs around the country.
“They know that disruptions are coming, and they don’t know how the marketing world works anymore, but they are choosing to bury their heads in the sand,” Stutts said in an interview conducted at The Henderson Beach Resort in Destin where he hosted a book signing.
“The CEO who operates from his gut and wants to continue doing the same things that made him successful in the first place years ago — the world doesn’t work that way today,” Stutts said.
With his book, Stutts is trying to rattle executives much as he was shaken by the prospect of a feeding tube.
“They need to know that they can win in a world of disruptions by reversing their fears and taking charge,” he said.
A key step can be hiring the right marketing firm. Stutts finds that too many businesses enter into long-term contracts with marketers who place their own interests above those of their clients.
Customers recognize that they need help navigating today’s digital marketing environment and, “all of a sudden you have an unbreakable long-term contract. The agency’s campaign may not work, but the customer is left holding the bag.”