Welcome to Vet Mentors - Jon Mills!

Jon Mills describes himself as follows...

Character: I mean well, but I’m very enthusiastic – too enthusiastic – and I often create chaos, exhaustion and frustration in those around me.

Values: I like function and achievement, not appearance or fashion or materialism. I’ve become financially very comfortable but that, to be absolutely honest, was a complete accident. I’m happier on a mountainside with a rucksack than I am in a 5 star hotel. I’m patriotic and opinionated, but I’m not nationalistic or bigoted, and I’d like to think I’m open minded enough to be persuaded.

Aspirations: I want to retire in 3 years, climb an 8000m mountain, paramotor the length of Africa, sail the Odyssey, ski across Greenland…


Tell us about a daily habit or routine you practice that contributes to your productivity and fulfilment?

As a leader I think I need to be, and to be seen to be, amongst the first in, and the last out. It is important to lead by example. I’ve never respected “leaders” that I perceive to be lazy.


What was a major setback that you learnt the most from, or actually turned out to be a success?

I was sacked, 6 months into my first job in 1992. I was very far from perfect and had anger problems. But my first boss – gave very little support, despite me asking for it. One night I came very, very close to ending things all together.

Something like that changes you, one way or another. It was a turning point. I at least realised that I needed to change direction.


When you start to doubt your own ability, or are having 'a bad day at the office', how do you get back on track? Can you give us an example?

I talk to my business partner. He’s calm, wise, works hard and he’s very good at his job. He’s very good at seeing what’s important and he will tell me what I need to know, not necessarily what I want to hear. I trust him. I think it’s very hard to do this job unless you have a colleague you can trust.


What have you got better at saying no to? How did you realise this and how has it benefitted you?

My wife would say I haven’t learnt this lesson yet - I’m a bit of a workaholic.


If you could gift a book to all vets at graduation, what would it be, and why? (It doesn't have to be specific to animal health!)

“Sapiens”. It’s the most thought provoking book I’ve ever read. It’s about who we are, where we’ve come from, how we got here and where we are going.


Tell us about something you are currently a fan of? This could be anything; a person, trend, hypothesis, mindset, diet, activity, tech, hobby etc.

Democracy. We need to listen to each other.

I loathe much of the politics of Corbyn’s hard left and of UKIP, but I would defend to the death the right of both to be heard. I hate the way that recent referendums (Brexit, Scotland ...) seem to have polarised large parts of our society.


What purchase of less the £100 has most positively impacted your life in the last 12 months?

Reading glasses, (and accepting that I need them!)


What is the worst bit of advice you hear regularly in our profession? Why do you feel it is bad advice?

I’ll substitute “advice” for what I think is now a widely accepted creed/code/dogma/culture amongst younger yets:

“Refer that case. Don’t do it yourself. It might go wrong and you might get sued”.

There is a reason that 50% of new grads aren’t still vets after 5 years – It’s because they are bored out of their brains.

I’m not saying be cavalier or be gung-ho. But I am advocating being prepared to take yourself out of your comfort zone.


What advice would you give veterinary graduates about to begin their careers?

See my answer to the question above.

My advice to school kids thinking of embarking on a vet degree is:

“Think very, very hard before you do this and talk to people 20 years qualified before you do. Ask them if they would honestly do it again”.


If you could send a single text to every vet around the world simultaneously, what would it say? This can be one word, a message or an entire paragraph.

A pearl of wisdom from an early boss who helped straighten me out:

“End every day knowing you couldn’t have tried harder. But if it all goes wrong, don’t forget that it is only a dog – it’s not a child!”