Adam Metcalf | Crain's

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Adam Metcalf


Located in the Lake Travis community, Alive + Well touts itself as the Greater Austin area’s first and only integrated health and wellness center. Available services include functional medicine, pharmacy, acupuncture, massage and yoga. Using a combination of conventional and innovative techniques, Alive + Well healthcare and service providers collaborate to address guests’ unique health concerns with long-term solutions. Co-located within the center are Alive + Well sister brands Hill Country Apothecary, a wellness and compounding and full-service IV therapy lounge Drip Drop IV Vitamin Bar.

The Mistake:

Asking too many people for advice on a certain subject.

I believe it’s great to ask people their opinion but sometimes the adage of too many cooks in the kitchen does apply. It can lead to rabbit holes or not trusting the approach you were going to start off with.

For example, I was going with a different approach with Hill Country Apothecary to change the experience of going into a pharmacy and providing a wider range of customizable healthy and wellness services.

I wanted to offer what you would not get at big box pharmacies or most in general. My father had owned a more traditional pharmacy.  I asked him and his friends, as well as people at pharmacy school since my idea was going against the grain of one size fits all, and looking at taking a more individual approach.

I found that I got pushback and questions like why I wasn’t going the more traditional route rather than going an alternative route in regard to clinical nutrition, diet and wellness supplements. People thought I should go the proven path and what has been successful already rather than focusing on lifestyle, lifestyle changes, hospitality and customer service.

In the end, I wasted a lot of time exploring their ideas when I already knew the direction I wanted to take – which was working to change what pharmacy looks like.

They didn’t want me to offend the status quo but I felt the status quo was not doing a good enough job with regard to empathy. As I started, I realized more that I would be happier if I did push against the status quo and work to build a bigger community and wider customer base.

Recently, I had a lot of changes going on at the apothecary and again I found myself trying to get others’ opinions. But I’ve learned that it’s best to be selective in who I ask for opinions and take more of a strategic approach than a shotgun one where I get everyone’s opinion.

It’s also important not to just go to people you know who will tell you want to hear and are willing to offer dissenting opinions or play Devil’s advocate for you. You have to fine tune it.

That takes time – it’s a learning curve in figuring out the people you select to bring in on a discussion or whether the timing is right, or not. And ultimately, I just have to trust myself more often.

I’ve learned that it’s best to be selective in who I ask for opinions and take more of a strategic approach than a shotgun one where I get everyone’s opinion.

The Lesson:

Ultimately, I learned that second-guessing your own approach, instinct and beliefs can lead you down a rabbit hole that often just leads to where you started. And by then you’ve wasted a lot of time discussing things you had already figured out on your own. Or worse, even wrong decisions can be made.

There’s different people within this organization in addition to friends and mentors in life who may not be the best fit for certain discussions. It’s always good to have people advise you, but it’s better to just trust in what you’re wanting to achieve.

An example lies in the design of the counter. I wanted to make it more welcoming. A lot of pharmacies build walls and put up a barrier between the customer and the pharmacists. But I believed it was important for us to lower the counter and put people working up front to make the pharmacists and technicians completely accessible and easier for a dialogue to occur.

Along the way people were telling me how to design and lay out and advising me to have the barrier. But that’s not what we were looking for. We were looking for transparency, and to let the patient be part of the process and be more of a partner in their own health.


Follow Hill Country Apothecary on Twitter at @HC_Apothecary.

Pictured is Adam Metcalf. | Photo courtesy of Alive + Well.

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