Your Podcast Hosts
Kathleen Mills, LPC-S,
Phillip Crum, JP
This Week's Guest Mentor
Counselor at MYOB Counselor
Starting a Private Practice
Phillip Crum: Do you know what time it is?
Kathleen Mills: I do.
PC: It is time for another edition of Practice Matrix starring Kathleen Mills.
KM: Wow. Starring? Wow.
PC: Yes. Yes! And Kathleen and her Yeti. That’s a whole other story. Today though, we’ve got in-house we have a special guest
KM: Yes, we do.
PC: Because we’re going to get right to it. Her name is Stephanie Adams. Stephanie who? Stephanie Adams. And Stephanie has founded a little operation called MYOB.
KM: Mind Your Own Business.
PC: Mind Your Own Business. And Stephanie is, well why don’t you tell me a little bit about Stephanie?
KM: Stephanie. How are you doing, Stephanie?
Stephanie Adams: I’m pretty good. How are you?
KM: I am well. Stephanie Adams is a licensed professional counselor. She’s here in the great state of Texas and she is passionate about helping new counselors find their niche, grow their practices from square one. And Stephanie has learned a lot along the way, and the reason why she started the MYOB Counselor is because she feels driven to do that and purposeful and she doesn’t want people to fail.
SA: No. We want to get in there and stay in business. Not get in there and crash and burn. It’s not as fun.
PC: And you’re married to a psychiatrist and you move every four months.
SA: Yes, pretty much.
KM: I was going to ask. Tell us a little bit about your personally and what you like to do at MYOB before we get started.
SA: Well, I am a native of DFW but, like you said, I’ve been moving the past four years for my husband’s school and those whole wedding vows things, I kind of decided to stay with him.
PC: They get in the way a lot, don’t they?
SA: They do! There’s some advantages, too.
PC: It’s like running a business. If it weren’t for these darn customers and these employees, we could get something done around here.
SA: Exactly. Yeah so we’ve lived in College Station, home of the Agis. We’ve lived in Hearst. We’ve lived in Fort Worth now, and we lived in Dallas right before that. So I’m brand new just re-starting my private practice in Fort Worth. We work with anxiety and trauma, especially military. I really enjoy doing this. I like to say that we started Mind Your Own Business because I did a lot of stuff wrong at the beginning and I kind of learned that if you don’t Mind Your Own Business, no one else is going to do it for you.
KM: You talk about that a lot – you did it wrong. What specifically are you referring to?
SA: I like to say – and I’ve heard other people say the same thing – it’s just you start it, you open your business, you get your paperwork, you get your office, you get your name, you agonize over your name. And then you just think your phone’s never going to stop ringing. And then you go, “Wait a minute. It’s been like two weeks and no one’s called. How am I supposed to pay for this office? How am I supposed to pay for this thing over here? How am I supposed to make a living?” And then you start thinking it’s something wrong with you. You start going, “Okay so maybe everybody else is getting calls but I’m not.” They must be just thinking, “I’m a messed up person,” and then you finally realize, “Oh wait a minute – this is not how it works.” It just doesn’t work that way where you just hang up your sign and you start counseling.
KM: Where do you suppose that myth started? Where do we get the idea that, “hang your shingle and they will come” just somehow is supposed to happen? Or we’re entitled to it?
SA: That’s something I’ve often wondered about and I don’t know if I have the specific answer, other than the fact that just like it seems like we never have any other alternative coming up. Nothing else is ever presented to us. We’re taught great things clinically. We’re taught how to be great counselors, but we’re never taught how to run a business. And I think we just think it’s a non-issue, and it never even occurs to us – that’s my best theory so far.
KM: So the myth of, “hanging your shingle and they will come,” is designed by, well clearly nobody’s talking about it so clearly it’s a non-issue.
SA: Exactly. It must be a non-issue because nobody’s bringing it up. And upon reflection, the people who are teaching us are teachers and great clinicians and sometimes they have private practices, too. But they’re focus is on being teachers and great clinicians.
PC: So what have you done about it? Tell me about MYOB.
SA: Well, it started out as a conference – an online conference three years ago and –
PC: You did a conference.
PC: By yourself.
SA: Well, the first year I did it with my friend Dr. Deb Legge. She’s in New York and she’s a coach at Influential Therapist and she’s just awesome. I finally got to meet her in person this year when we were in the same state. Normally we just get to connect on the phone. We just got together. We both had this same concern about people starting out and not being prepared.
PC: So you didn’t have a whole crew or a team or big funding or what not? You had you and somebody from New York.
SA: Yeah, pretty much. (Laughs)
PC: Just wanted to make sure.
SA: And some technology. Not a ton of it because I didn’t really know what I was doing then. I knew very little about all that kind of stuff about setting up a site, so it basically just contacted some people I thought were great therapists or coaches or knew what they were doing in business. I said, “Hey, I’m doing this thing. You want to record a talk with me and train some people for free?” All this stuff. And I got – I think it was 12 people including me the first year to do this.
PC: So you had an idea and you just did it.
SA: Yeah. Kind of.
PC: Who forgot to tell you that you couldn’t do this?
KM: I was just going to say: What was the impetus for you just doing this? Just doing it.
SA: For better or for worse, I always just kind of go, “Well if I can do it and I think it will be a good thing, why not try it?”
PC: So you asked give or take 12 people and they said sure? Or maybe 15 or 20. How much did it cost you to ask them?
PC: Oh – asking is free!
KM: Asking is free.
PC: Every opportunity I get to sneak that in.
SA: And people want to help a lot of times. It’s free publicity for them and a lot of them are just really good people who want to help and they just didn’t have an opportunity or a voice.
PC: Ain’t it funny how that works? You put MYOB together to help other people avoid the pitfalls and the landmines that you found.
SA: Yeah. I just really got sad of people – my friends – that would start out in private practice and then have to take “a real job” and do something they didn’t love or go to a different field when they wanted to do private practice. Why are great clinicians that spent thousands and thousands of dollars on their education and their training just dropping out and not doing what they want to do? So it was a big deal for me to give people potentially the information they could use to have another option.
PC: So from the first year you did your conference, bring us up to date. What have you done since then with MYOB?
SA: Well, the second year was another conference and then after that it had grown so much that I decided to do a monthly webinar and it became really more of a community. We had a Facebook group and we had more people just connecting with each other at the monthly webinars, chatting, emailing each other. It got to be where I was able to speak more about private practice and thankfully the community gave me enough support that I could continue to share this message with the American Counseling Association and American Mental Health Counselors’ Association would let me talk about that kind of stuff because we had this awesome community that was interested in learning about it.
KM: So there’s a lot of people that have been waiting for you.
SA: I like to say there’s a lot of people who want this information. Maybe not me personally, but they need this information.
KM: Over the last four years or three years since you’ve designed the MYOB counselor format, what are some things that you’ve learned about your community that has helped not only you but them, too?
SA: Like learned about what to do with our practices? Or-?
KM: Mmm hmm. Yeah. How has it helped their practices, or has it helped?
SA: I hope so.
KM: I do, too.
PC: Another way to put that is, Kathleen’s focus Practice Matrix is keeping people out of jail.
PC: Helping them setting it up properly, maintaining and running it properly. From a regulations and HIPAA and all that federal stuff point of view, and then what to do if somebody calls you on the carpet. What is your focus?
SA: Gotcha. Keep in mind, I’m an INFJ, so I’m an idealist. But my goal really is for people to be in their ideal businesses. I know that sounds outrageous, but I don’t think in time it really is. Maybe the first day you open you’re not going to have your ideal business, but you can end up working with the clients that you love and that just you really help especially well. You can end up doing most of the hours you want. So if you want to see your kids when they get off of school, you can set up your business to do that in time. And so on and so forth. If you want to write books, if you want to work in a certain place or certain kind of office, then that’s what you can do. So I like to really try to empower people to release their anxiety over their own ability in this field and just to really reach out with one another and share what they do. I like to teach them to market their practices to their ideal clients, to speak their language, to say whatever they need to say to tell their clients, “Hey, I’m here to help you.”
PC: Yeah, I’ve read your propaganda and there seems to be a heavy focus on marketing.
SA: Well I like to say that we’re all afraid of marketing it seems like in counseling, but it’s really just psychology. It’s like, “What do you use to say to encourage people that you have what they need in the form of a service, in our case, or some other people’s cases it may be a form of a product.” So it doesn’t have to be a scary thing. So a lot of times marketing is the focus because that’s how you bring in the people that feed your business, unless you have your ideal business. You do have to be customer-service oriented.
KM: That’s such a paradigm shift between, “Hang your shingle and they will come.” You have to go to them and you have to find out where they live, where they work, how they play, and go to them.
PC: And the reason for that is just because your mother loves you doesn’t mean anybody else is going to show up.
KM: Or bail you out of jail.
PC: Your mother bailed you out?
KM: No. She didn’t. (Laughs) I was never in jail.
SA: Not yet, anyway?
PC: Okay, so marketing advice. What would you tell me?
SA: I think I would say, “Well, who do you want to reach and who do you want to talk to?” You always start with who you want to talk to, because otherwise if you’re focusing on a general market, for example, your not going to do nearly as well as you will do if you focus on someone specific. Because then you can get inside their head and meet their needs.
PC: Can you give me an example of why that is?
SA: It’s interesting. I think it’s partially the changes in our society where we’re more focused on personalized attention/service. I mean, we can customize almost everything now so I think as consumers we expect that kind of personalized attention. But also we have so much competition for our attention. The fact that there’s all these promo services about, “Don’t text and drive,” it tells you how hard it is for us to focus these days. So speaking specifically to that person helps the focus. It helps it happen so that they will pay attention to you and see what you have to offer.
PC: I think people just have an innate need to hang around with people that are just like them, that look like them, that think like them, that talk like them-
KM: And understand them.
PC: That understand them. Because if I have a special problem – and every problem I have is special.
KM: You’re looking at me.
PC: You’re special, too. Then I want to talk to somebody whose been there, done that, didn’t just read about it in a book.
KM: It makes it less scary, doesn’t it?
KM: Partnering with them.
SA: It’s true. It makes it easier in that- in marketing they talk about the know/trust factor. That for a person to do business with you, they have to know you, they have to like you, and they have to trust you. And especially with counseling that’s times ten.
KM: Times ten meaning that they’re probably not going to come right away. This is over the long haul. You’re developing your marketing. You don’t stop. You kind of have to continue staying on that same mantra making shifts along the way of what’s working and what’s not, but keeping focused on that prize, if you will.
PC: I told Kathleen there was no math involved today, so let’s try and stay away from the times ten thing, okay?
KM: (Laughs) Oh geez, Phillip. Just when I was-
PC: Know, like and trust somebody. Do you think it has to be in that order?
SA: Yeah. I think it does because they’re not going to like you or trust you if they don’t know you first.
SA: It kind of starts there. And then the like, I think that could also be translated to the term, “Interest,” and a lot of times how you get someone interested is you talk to them. One bit of marketing advice that we say is don’t start out any kind of ad, directory listing, profile page with, “I went to this school and I got this degree.” Nothing personal, but they don’t care right now.
PC: That just screams, “It’s all about me.”
SA: And most of us would never dream of doing that in session, but we do it in our copywriting all the time. So start out by talking to them. I understand this and this and this about you. I know you’re probably worried about this. You’re concerned about this in the future. And then you reach out to them and there’s an interest there. We are always going to like someone who seems to understand and like us, at least at first.
PC: In my long and colorful sales career, I have discovered that if you have a discussion with somebody for 60 minutes, if you have a one hour discussion, and I only get to speak for two minutes because I’m smart and I know the trick, and I let you talk for 58 minutes. When the discussion is over, there’s a good chance you’re going to tell me or be thinking that I am the best conversationalist that you have ever dealt with. Not the best listener, but you’ll think I was actually involved in that conversation.
SA: Yes. Everybody write that down right now.
PC: That’s fact, Jack.
SA: It’s absolutely true.
PC: You’ve got a quote here that says, “Money is a clinical issue.” I like that. No idea what you mean, but I like that. It just rolls.
SA: Well, I’m sure I didn’t come up with that term. I know a lot of other people have coined it before me, but I’ve really gotten on that bandwagon lately because it has both a marketing and, like I said, a clinical aspect. When we don’t deal with our money issues in our practice, we can transfer that over to our clients. And by that I mean when we don’t set fees that are realistic but still... something that we need to sustain our business that are not the rock bottom we’re trying to compete with someone else on price. When we don’t follow through with our no-show fees, when the person really doesn’t have a good reason to have the no-show or something like that, it causes all sorts of other issues. We feel bullied or worried by a client because they said, “Oh I can’t afford this,” and then they come in with a new designer purse and you’re eating Raman, then it causes clinical issues. You have counter-transference and resentment and all sorts of issues. So that was the topic I was speaking on at the American Counseling Association Conference this year, and I’ve been fascinated by how much we don’t want to deal with that in our profession. But we need to.
KM: What was the feedback, by the way?
SA: People responded to it. They really did. I think that none of us realized that was going on. Just like before I don’t think anybody realized that was happening. I didn’t until it kind of got brought into my consciousness either. And they were open and welcome to that because there was a way to think about how I can think about making a living without selling my soul. I don’t have to hate clients. I don’t have to- it’s not a them or me. It’s not, “I have to hurt clients to make a living,” it’s about a respectful relationship and setting boundaries with money and knowing when to wreck those boundaries and when to stick with them.
KM: It’s a business deal.
SA: It’s business. And what do they say on the godfather? It’s not personal, it’s business.
PC: “Get that horse out of my bed.” Hmmm alright. Interesting. What do you think about the whole left-brain/right-brain creative versus the intellectual type as far as running a practice? Any thoughts on that?
SA: I think we have to have both sides of our brains and we have a mental block against- let me speak for myself. I know I had a mental block- “I can’t do math. I can’t balance books. I can’t have a budget. I can’t do accounting. I’m just not good at that. I’m an artistic person. I write. I do counseling.” Stuff like that.
KM: That should be good enough.
SA: Yeah! Because if I’m a really good counselor, people will just show up.
KM: Hang your shingle and they will come.
SA: Like I’m the Pied Piper and they’re going to find me magically. But I realized that first of all that’s unrealistic and that’s not going to happen. And secondly, it’s not about how good you think you are. It’s about, well you have to learn it. You have to learn it. You don’t have to do it all yourself. You can certainly sub-contract it and get people to help you out. But you have to know what’s going on if you’re the business owner.
KM: Well, you just honed in on: it’s going to catch up with you – the business piece – if you’re not willing to participate in that other side of your brain that you just are telling yourself I’m just not good at it and I’m going to let somebody else do it. That will come to haunt you down the way a little bit.
SA: It really will, and honestly I think it was sometime in the last year when I really put that to the next level and just connected the fact of, “Okay, if I’m in a state where I need to bring in money into my practice now,” because like you just mentioned I’ve just been moving into this move from an hour away from Dallas to Fort Worth for my practice. I’m like, “If I’m not focusing on every activity and going how does this respond on return on investment for my practice then I might be wasting valuable time that I need to get clients in.” You have to think about cause and effect. You have to think about, “Okay, if my insurance payments don’t come this month, how am I going to make it to next month?” The timing of things come in. So putting all those pieces together.
KM: There is a maddening sequence of things that need to be addressed. You’ve just hit on a really bit spot there.
PC: But I’m no good at it. What do I do?
KM: You’re going to have to or else you’re going to leave the profession, I think just what Stephanie said a little bit earlier ago: They’re going to go away because they didn’t figure that piece out. I mean, what are your thoughts, Stephanie?
PC: I understand that I have to, but I’m no good at it. What I need is some sort of a blueprint.
KM: I’m telling you. I wasn’t good at it either when I first started, and so I think if you want to learn about stuff like this, MYOB Counselor is the place to go.
KM: Because Stephanie talks about it all the time.
SA: Yes I talk about it all the time, and with some help from the community I created a resource for people like me who are not naturally gifted in that area but we have to do it. And I have what I like to call the private practice income blueprint. It’s this great Excel spreadsheet. You put in a couple factors like your expenses, your desired income before taxes, and after taxes, and you factor in your state taxes which sounds scary – don’t tune out yet. I promise it’s easy. You put in some numbers but then the spreadsheet does the rest for you and it lets you start playing around with it. You can see, okay if I want to take home this much and I want to see this many clients a week, for this many weeks of the year, then I need to charge this much per session. And bam you know it, and then you said, “Well wait, that isn’t realistic.” Well then you adjust how many hours you see clients, or how many weeks you work, and you make it work for you. So it’s kind of that crossover again of making your ideal business but within the frame of reality.
KM: And I’m going to hone in on that spreadsheet because I think it’s an awesome spreadsheet.
KM: And it’s on your website and they can download it for free.
SA: Yes. www.myobcounselor.com
PC: But I can’t afford it.
KM: No, it’s free. Phillip, honey, it’s free. It’s a free download.
PC: But you see that’s how we do. We default to our list of primary excuses without thinking first.
KM: This is probably the whole you have to have this talk with yourself about, if I want to be in business for myself, what am I willing to do? What am I willing to do to get there? And sometimes we’re going to have to try on new shoes.
SA: And I want to make this really easy for you. I’ve got a video on there explaining how to do it. I’ve got templates and stuff, because this is not my area of comfort either, but if I learned it, you can learn it, too.
KM: So you’re saying that if you can learn it, anybody can learn it, right?
SA: Anybody can learn it. Exactly.
KM: There’s the difference. There’s a willingness on your part. How do you make somebody get to that point of being willing? What’s it going to take? What do you think it took?
SA: I think it just took realizing that I had to, that I didn’t have a choice. I mean, like I said everybody was like, “Oh you married a doctor,” and I’m like, “Well, he’s not a doctor for a while yet.” I’ve been supporting our family since- and we got married in 2009- so I’ve been the primary support all except I think about one year he wasn’t in school. But I’ve been the primary support and eventually we want to have kids and have a house and all that stuff. So if that’s going to happen, it’s up to me, you know because we can’t wait until he’s worked long enough that he actually starts making some decent money. I have to support our family in the meantime.
KM: You’re saying that there’s not a fallback myth?
SA: No. You just gotta do it. And you can.
KM: It’s all you.
SA: Find something you want enough. Find something in your mind. I wanted not to go live with our parents, as much as I love them. I wanted to be able to pay our bills and that was enough that got me going. You know, it lets you keep doing what you love. Every time you make your business work, you get to go see the clients again. You don’t have to go take that other job that you don’t want to take where you’re doing more case management or something.
KM: So let me ask you this question: You’ve learned along the way and I know that’s not a straight percentage or anything like that. But just out of 100% of your day, or your business, what’s the percentage that you focus in on the business part versus seeing clients?
SA: Honestly, I’d say at least 50% and right now while I’m restarting my business, probably like 80% because I have some clients but I’m still restarting my practice and it’s not near to full capacity. So I don’t take off that time and spend more time reading a novel or something fun, even if I want to. I spend more time marketing.
KM: So people who want to be in private practice with at least 50%, 55%, up to 80% when they originally start – if they’re not willing to learn about the business piece, what are some suggestions for them, where they could go? Do they just need to be a part of a group so they don’t have to worry about that business piece? Or what do you want to say to them? They’re just like, Stephanie I’m just not good at this. I’m not going to do it. I’m just not going to do it.
SA: A group can be a great resource. That’s an awesome way to do it because if you have someone who loves business and is business-minded, they can kind of take the reigns. Awesome – do that. If you really want to it on your own then try to find maybe an accountability partner in the community. I mean I know there’s a lot of informal groups and partnerships within our Facebook group and in our community because people just find each other or they post that, “I’m stressed and I don’t want to do this,” and you get 10 people saying, “No, you can handle it. You can do it. Try this idea.” So once you do that, you can get some good resources and support and it becomes a lot easier.
PC: You don’t have to do everything yourself because you’re probably no good at some of it.
KM: I still get all of it. (Laughs)
PC: Well, I was going to give you some credit.
KM: Go ahead, give me some credit.
PC: We’re already there.
KM: Lift me up off the floor!
PC: So who does your books?
KM: I have a bookkeeper and I have a certified professional accountant who does the quarterly and yearly and annually and all that.
PC: And how long have you been married to him?
KM: The bookkeeper guy for 35 years. The CPA I’m not married to him because I can’t.
PC: The point is you use those skills that somebody else has.
PC: And the one at home probably doesn’t cost you much.
KM: Well, I pay him. It’s a business. It’s part of doing business. I’m going to pay my bookkeeper and he just happens to be my best friend forever. But I’m going to pay him because he’s doing me a huge favor.
PC: Marketing on the cheap.
KM: Yes, talk to me about that. Please.
SA: Well, there’s a thin line. Because on the one hand, you can do marketing super cheap. I would really not recommend you talk with anybody whose going to charge you like $10,000 to do such and such. That’s probably not a good deal. But you do have to invest. But there’s option. There’s scaling and you can always start small and scale up when you have more, like for example with your website – it can be a great idea to start with a small hosting account, anywhere from $5 to $6 per month is a great place to start. And you can go up from there and start getting some more fancy stuff on there and making it work for you. Just think about… the biggest thing I always say that, the major thing I want you to take away is return on investment. It’s okay to invest in your practice if the payoff and knowledge gained and financial reward or earnings or something else that’s quantifiable is equal to or more than that. So if you pay $2,000 for an EMDR training, that’s awesome as long as you can get at least $2,000 worth of clients out of that over a certain period of time. And you can schedule the period of time. But if it’s 30 years into your practice and you have no EMDR clients, that may not have been a good investment. You just learn from it and you try to do better next time.
KM: Sometimes there’s that other myth – the more things I get after my name, my people will come to me.
SA: Yes, and that’s one thing I see clinicians all the time so willing to invest in their training. And that’s awesome – they should invest in their training. But they don’t want to invest in their businesses. And it’s like, I feel like every year that I see my taxes say I spent such and such more on consultation and training in my business, I see the profit from my business rise proportionally. I don’t think that’s an accident.
KM: You just hit a nerve spot with probably some that are listening.
SA: Yeah, because we like to find the free stuff and download what’s free and that’s not a bad thing to start out with. But when you find something you really need to do – and I’m not just saying that because sometimes I do coaching – whoever you work with, whether you never work with me or not it’s good to invest in coaching and training programs for business.
KM: I’ve always experienced that people are much more willing to spend clinical dollars for their training and get all the free business stuff, and therein lies the problem.
SA: Yeah, it’s not proportional.
KM: It’s not proportional and there’s going to be a certain level of doom in that at some point. So be wise on how you spend your dollars.
PC: So- inexpensive. Let’s use that word instead of cheap. Inexpensive ways to market. I’ll go first. Then you’re next then you’re next. Here’s one thing you should do, assuming this is not day one in your business. You’ve been at it for a little while. First thing you do is take your existing client list for the last year and figure out where they came from. I don’t mean geographically, although that too. I mean, were they referred to you by this person? This institution? You go to church with all these people? You’re the same self-help group? Whatever it is. Where did they come from? Because apparently that’s working. And the trick here is that you have to know that information, you have to collect that, when somebody shows up at your front door and says, “Hi, I’m here. Great. How did you find us?” And asking is free!
KM: Asking is free.
PC: And you write this down and you collect this stuff, and you got a little chart that says, “You know, Bob, 80% of all your clients come from these church groups around town, and that’s not why we go to church but there are people there and you meet people there.” I go bowling every Wednesday and Thursday night whether I need to or not, and 20% of mine comes from bowling. Who’da thunk it? Okay? That’s where you need to be. Go do more of what you’re doing, throw gasoline on the fire, make more money, have more money to do some other options. So that’s the free tip of the day.
KM: That’s how you cultivate many other things with that.
PC: Okay. What’s your tip?
KM: My tip?
PC: Your free tip. Inexpensive marketing.
KM: Inexpensive marketing is every day. It’s your customer service. You’re in the business of serving your customer. You’re in the business and your client is your customer. Every client that walks through your door is good customer service. And that one good client whose got some really good- you’ve treated him well on the business side and of course the clinical side, they’re going to spread your name like wildfire. If you get a client who hasn’t been called back or what have you, that wild fire of that one negative thing is exponentially worse.
PC: Ten times.
KM: Ten times worse. You did math again.
PC: I know, there it is. When it came out I knew where it was going.
KM: So I like to think of it as like every day that I am in my office, I am in the customer service business.
PC: That’s right. Now I didn’t specify, that’s a passive approach. Mine was an active get off chair and go do it approach. And that’s okay.
KM: But I beg to differ with you.
PC: We’re taking it.
KM: I’m very active with the customer service. Extremely, extraordinarily active.
PC: We’ll talk semantics later.
KM: Yes, we will. Okay? Alright. So active approach – have you got one?
SA: I do have an active approach, but I would second what she said that it is an active-
PC: Well, of course you would. The two girls going to gang up on me. That’s how this works.
SA: I mean calling people back and maybe giving people really good directions so they don’t get stressed about coming to your office the first time. That’s active. I know- rolling your eyes. My active suggestion is actually what I’m doing right now in my new practice. It’s more time-intensive, but it’s much more long-term reward and personally satisfying as well, honestly. It’s identifying maybe you start out with like 10 people or organizations in the community that serve your ideal client just like you serve them, but in a different way. They do a different service for them. And reach out to somebody who is key at that agency or the director of that if that’s the case and say, “How can I help you serve your clients better?” And do not ask for anything for yourself. Just tell me what you do. I’m a counselor. I’m here for the community. I care about this issue, because hopefully you do. And I want to start making this change in our community and how can I help you do that? Because people at agencies- I mean, I used to work in non-profit. We want to serve but we have… when you’re at a non-profit you have budget issues, you have time issues, you have lack of support from different aspects of your job. Or even if it’s not a non-profit. If you’re some kind of private business or ministry, you have constraints and stresses in getting your job done.
PC: So there’s people out there that need help?
SA: There’s people out there that need help, and whether it falls under your purview or not, it’s kind of like what Kathleen said about the customer service. When you’re starting out, just try to help. They’re going to remember you whether or not you had a chance to demonstrate your clinical expertise, and worse case scenario, you helped someone out in the community.
PC: And here’s my bonus tip for the day, which is close to what you just said but I had it ready before you did: Is there a subject in your life – I don’t even care what it is – that you can talk about for 15 minutes, passionately without even preparing for it, what would it be?
KM: You’re looking at me. Absolutely.
PC: What would it be?
KM: You mean to people, or-?
PC: No – the dogs and the cats in the neighborhood. Yes, to people!
PC: What would the subject matter be?
KM: It would be great self-care in service.
KM: That’s what it would be.
PC: What about you? What would your topic be? Your passion topic? Just don’t get me started topic.
SA: Well, I think it’s on recovering from sexual abuse and assault, anxiety wellness, and business for therapists.
PC: Mine would be how to prevent small eight-year-old boys from doing stupid things with small, plastic toys.
KM: Are you referring to your grandson?
PC: Several of them. So go volunteer at some church, some non-profit, to do a 15-minute discussion on this subject. That subject. Somebody needs that! Or they’ll say, “Could you do it on this?” And the answer is always, “Yes. I can.” And then have 15 minutes of material ready. Go do it, don’t let them see you shaking. Who cares.
KM: Schools are pining for people to come in and talk about those little 15 minute little things.
PC: And it’s a new crop of kids every year. They’re making more of them every year.
KM: Parents are always wanting those 15-minute epiphany moments.
PC: The PTA meetings.
KM: PTA meetings are like profound.
PC: Where are we going to find somebody to talk?
KM: Or a church group. Or a church youth group.
PC: I have to get Bob to do it again.
KM: Or pastors. Whatever. Whoever.
PC: You could schedule something every night. Oh well what good did that… I don’t know. They’re going to lose my card. Well, here’s the deal: I think that there are more people out there right now within a 10-mile radius of wherever your office is that would visit a counselor, have thought about it for themselves or somebody in their family, but they…
SA: The never did it before.
PC: Because they-
SA: They don’t know who you are or what you offer.
PC: They got to know you, like you,
SA: And trust you.
KM: Be real. Authentic, transparent, available.
PC: And you know why this is going to work?
KM: Why is it going to work, Phillip?
PC: Just because nobody else is doing it.
SA: Yes, 1,000 times. Well, now I’m multiplying again. But yes, 1,000 times yes because nobody is doing this kind of things. People are shocked when a counselor wants to come meet you and know someone in the community. But aren’t we supposed to be – even if we’re in private practice – aren’t we part of the community? Aren’t we trying to help the people in this area?
KM: It goes back to the myth of hanging your shingle and they will come.
PC: If you’re too scared to do it, then go see a counselor. Get over it.
SA: Asking is free, remember?
PC: I like this woman!
SA: Isn’t she awesome?
PC: Exactly. You know what? Let’s rephrase. It’s not why this will work is because nobody is doing it… well, you just told everybody in the world what to do. Now everybody’s going to be doing it so I’m not going to. It’s because nobody will do it. They’re all scared to death. It’s okay to be scared – just do it anyway.
KM: You know what? When I first started Life Tree, I was mortified. I was scared out of my mind of the four of us.
KM: But I had to overcome that in order for- it’s either going to sail or sink, and I’m a go-getter like it’s going to sail and it’s going to fly. If I’m in it, I better be in it all. All-in. So part of being in business in your private practice is what you’re saying, Stephanie, is you have to be all in. Hands on deck at all times.
PC: Just take small steps.
KM: Baby steps are great.
PC: Do a speaking engagement.
KM: But you do have to do a big jump.
PC: Well, a big jump could just be talking for five minutes to a group of five people.
KM: So if I talk to five people here, that will overcome my nerve?
PC: Well, sure you get over the nerves. Are you nervous?
PC: I’m not nervous. Are you?
KM: Maybe. (Laughs)
PC: You should be.
SA: But I will say, sometimes you go in- and even now and I’ve been speaking and talking for at least a year or two now- and I still get nervous sometimes but I just go, you know what once you get in, first of all, and afterwards you’re always glad you did it. I’ve never had a speaking/networking/one-on-one meeting that hasn’t paid off in some way because people… when you approach them and you say you have something sincere to offer and you want to help them in what they’re doing, they’re there. They want to work with you.
PC: In the very beginning, Kathleen would come in and give me a list. She had a written list of 25 reasons why she couldn’t do this. I’m scared. I’m scared!
KM: This is so not right.
PC: Now we’re in a group of 100 or 200 people. We have to clear the room just to get her to stop. It’s true.
KM: I don’t know. He must have had a dream of that last night.
PC: No, she don’t get scared anymore.
KM: I do, too.
PC: She don’t get scared anymore. So, any final thoughts?
SA: I really like what you said about being all in. I think that’s really important. You don’t want to be out of business some day wondering if you couldn’t have just stretched yourself a little bit and made it happen. Because it’s really fun when it pays off. I’m starting back over again where I am, but when things are going when I was full before, I remember how it’s like oh I did this and I’m living the life I want to live after all those years of study. So it pays off and it’s very enjoyable to do our job so don’t give up on yourself and try everything you can. You could be better at it than you think you are.
PC: You just have to have a plan. Okay, so Miss Kathleen, where can we find you, quickly?
KM: www.practicementors.us or [email protected]
PC: And if I’m interested in putting a plan together?
SA: You will go to www.MYOBcounselor.com and in addition to those freebies, we have more freebies and blog posts and videos and a community. So you really should come because it’s all free and fun.
KM: You have a Facebook page, don’t you my dear?
SA: We have a Facebook group actually.
KM: Oh, I have to be approved?
SA: Yeah, you have to be approved.
KM: Oh, that’s going to be hard.
SA: We get too many people with funny selfie shots and no real friends and I’m like okay those are spammers so now we have a private group so I can just go, and if you message me and show that you’re a counselor somewhere on your profile, I’ll approve you. I just have to say no to the people who are sending out thousands of invitations.
KM: Smart girl. That’s why your Facebook page is awesome.
PC: Alright, well good. I’m still Phillip Crum, www.contentmarketingcoach.us. Again, Stephanie is at www.MYOBcounselor.com/getfreeblueprint. I assume - you just said it probably – there’s a newsletter we can sign up for there?
SA: There’s a blog post and that comes there, and actually once you sign up for that you’re signing up for the email list for as well, which of course you can unsubscribe at any time but I don’t think you’ll want to. It’s good stuff.
PC: So you can get your free blueprint and get signed up for your new book that’s coming out called, what was it? Keep your practice alive: 47 creative ways to cook Raman noodles.
SA: (Laughs) Wow
PC: Sounds good.
SA: Now I have a whole book planned.
PC: Alright, say goodbye, Stephanie.
SA: Goodbye, Stephanie.
KM: Thank you, Stephanie, very much. What a pleasure.
SA: Thanks for having me.
KM: Phillip, say goodbye.
PC: Say goodbye. We’ll do it again.
KM: Yes, we will.
PC: See you later.