Sue Chen is an active woman. She serves on the board of several charitable organizations, including the LA Chapter of The National Association of Women Business Owners, Reef Check, and Shark Savers, with whom, a few months ago, she personally lobbied members of the California Legislature to pass a bill banning sales of Shark fins in the state (and it passed!).
But, most importantly, she is also the founder and CEO of Nova Medical Products, which makes and distributes various orthopedic mobility products and accessories, and has grown steadily since 1993. Just in this past year, Sue has received a Community Leadership Award from The President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, was a finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Award and has been featured in Fortune Magazine as one of their Most Promising Women Entrepreneurs. And now she has written her first book, Confessions of The Walker Stalker, about her experiences in selling quality independent living care products, such as wheelchairs, crutches, canes, bath benches and, of course, walkers.
And if you think that sounds like a boring premise for a book, think again.
Equal parts autobiography, business manual, sales pitch, & motivational guide, this short but detailed book contains several personal anecdotes that help the reader identify with the writer, and understand what it is that drives her. The book begins with Sue explaining exactly what a “walker stalker” is: someone who wants to help disabled people better their lives, and who doesn’t believe that just because someone HAS to use special mobility products, it doesn’t mean that can’t also have a little fun with it. When she sees someone using a drab, plain-looking walker, she finds herself compelled to “stalk” that person (figuratively speaking, of course), and find out how she can make their life better. In the following nine chapters, Sue celebrates the American spirit (which, as a Taiwanese immigrant, she probably appreciates more than many native born Americans do), and issues a call to action to other Americans to follow their dreams and not settle for less. She also writes about how she developed her goal of making walkers look more stylish, explains why she doesn’t believe that “disability” has to be a dirty word, gives details about her Lose The Tennis Balls campaign, which aims to convince walker-users to do away with the sliced tennis balls that many use on the bottoms of their walkers, and replace them with more effective (& better-looking) glide skis. She also includes tips to customer on how to find the right cane, walker, transport chair or wheelchair for themselves.
Along the way, Sue includes many personal anecdotes, talking about her own life, from coming to America as a young child with her family, to starting her own business @ age 23 and the early challenges she faced as a businesswoman, as well as about her many experiences meeting with, and talking to, her customers over the years. I feel that it’s in the latter that this book really shines. There is a great line in Chapter three where she writes about how after meeting one of her earliest customers, a woman in her 50′s who was using a Nova walker, and hearing from her how much the walker had improved her life, allowing her to be mobile and semi-independent again, Sue found herself really seeing her costumers not just as consumers, but as real people whose lives she was in a position to change for the better. That may not sound like a huge revelation, @ first glance, but if all CEO’s had that attitude, I bet we wouldn’t have an Occupy Wall Street Movement. One particular story that stood out to me, is when Sue writes about visiting an Assisted Living Care Facility, and meets an old couple who prove that just because you’ve reached a certain age, that doesn’t mean you get a little frisky (if ya know what I mean). She also includes what she calls a bonus chapter (Chapter 7.5) which is specifically about how to sell to a potential customer, and includes some common-sense advice which should be valuable to any salesperson, regardless of what the product is that you’re selling.
In conclusion, I’d recommend this book to business owners, people (male or female) considering starting their own business, and to anyone involved in sales and marketing, as well anyone who has a loved one that may need some assistance in getting around (one chapter addresses how to approach an older relative who may be hesitating about using certain mobility products, in order to gently convince them that it’s for their own good). My one and only criticism of this book: it’s a little short. Otherwise, Two Thumbs Up!
Just my opinion.
Confessions of The Walker Stalker by Sue Chen should be available through Nova’s website soon (check back on it or on the company’s Facebook profile or Twitter page, for updates), In the meantime it can be purchased via Amazon.com.