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Are you looking for tried and tested business advice? What are some best-selling tips and tricks for running a group practice? How can you increase your knowledge about the business aspect of group private practice?
In this podcast episode, Alison Pidgeon talks about 10 business books that have changed how she runs her group practice.
In This Podcast
- The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace by Ron Freidman, PhD
- Playing Big: The Unsexy Truth About How To Succeed In Business by Kim Flynn
- The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate The Three Essential Virtues by Patrick Lencioni
- You Are A Badass At Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth by Jen Sincero
- The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape The 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss
- Clockwork: Design Your Business to Run Itself by Mike Michalowicz
- Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World by Gary Vaynerchuk
- Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo
- Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin
- The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership by Kevin Eikenberry and Wayne Turmel
The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace by Ron Freidman, PhD
This book is all about how to create a workplace where your staff want to stay and are happy to work. Dr. Friedman discusses the things that contribute to good work culture, such as smaller, more frequent rewards throughout the year as opposed to the typical Christmas bonus or a similar large once-off reward.
Playing Big: The Unsexy Truth About How To Succeed In Business by Kim Flynn
Kim Flynn writes about how you, as a business owner, can work with your employees and set good boundaries with them. Chapter 10 lays out seven questions for you to do with your staff in meetings, which I used to do every month before bringing my managers on board. These questions encourage feedback and constructive criticism for both you as the boss and your employees, as well as making it possible to talk about smaller issues before they develop into big issues. Take about 30 minutes in your next staff meeting to ask your employees these questions:
- What is working for you (the employee)?
- What is working for me (the boss)?
- What is not working for you?
- What do you think we can do to fix that?
- What is not working for me?
- What is your goal for this month?
- What is one thing I can do to manage you better?
The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate The Three Essential Virtues by Patrick Lencioni
In this book, which reads almost like a novel instead of a typical business guidance book, the author gives advice on how to hire the right people for your business or “team” by finding those who are humble, hungry, and smart – the three essential virtues referred to in the secondary title:
- Humble – The author defines humility as the single greatest and most indispensable attribute of being a team player. You want to hire someone with humility as opposed to a narcissist who only wants the job for relentless personal gain.
- Hungry – Hungry people are those who almost never have to be pushed by their manager as they are self-motivated and work diligently.
- Smart – This refers to people’s common sense when it comes to dealing with others, such as their interpersonal skills and conflict resolution.
You Are A Badass At Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth by Jen Sincero
The narrative for most therapists – encouraged by a fair amount of brainwashing at grad school – often tells us that we should only be doing this work because we love it and because it’s interesting and that it’s okay to not make much money from this line of work. This often leads to us struggling with our money mindset and not shooting our shot when it comes to taking bigger leaps for our businesses. This book is all about working on your money mindset and helping you figure out where to start if you’re wanting to make more money. The author gives exercises at the end of each chapter, and I particularly liked the one on page 114:
- Write a fantasy about a typical day in your ideal future as the “richest, happiest, and most successful version of yourself”.
– Be very clear about what you want
– Write from the feeling and emotional part of your brain rather than from the analytical
– Give yourself time to write it
– Write in the present tense
– Think about what would be fun, not just reasonable
– What would you be most excited about giving back or leaving as a legacy?
- Write down the five strongest emotions that you feel when reading through this fantasy.
- Figure out how much this fantasy life would cost you.
- Boil this fantasy down to find the most exciting details, then combine them with your cost estimate and the emotions associated with them and create a mantra, such as “I love making $300,000 a year as an interior designer.”
- Read your mantra every night before you go to bed and feel it.
- If you’re not sure what you want to do, write a list of the things you do know that you want. Be very specific. Write down 5 action steps for you to take in the right direction.
The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape The 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss
Written in 2002, this revolutionary book points out some ways in which you can cut down on your work hours each week and free up some time for yourself. I specifically liked the part on page 109-110 when the author discusses how he handled outsourcing some of his customer service responsibilities in order to free up time. At first, when Tim outsourced the customer service for order tracking and returns, he was still handling product related queries and receiving over 200 emails per day. However, they were mainly queried from the outsourced reps asking for guidance for a lot of different situations. Instead of writing a manual (which would likely have been impossible, given the extent of various situations for which the reps were asking advice), he sent an email as written permission for the reps to handle the situation themselves if the solution would cost under $100. Tim’s emails went from over 200 per day to fewer than 20 per week, and the first month cost them about $200 more than when Tim was “micromanaging”. Tim also saved about 100 hours of his own time per month, and customers were receiving faster responses and solutions. Overall, outsourcing the customer service and cutting out the micromanagement led to rapid growth, higher profit margins, and happier people – customers, reps, and Tim alike.
Clockwork: Design Your Business to Run Itself by Mike Michalowicz
The author of Profit First is back with some more fantastic business tips, this time focusing on how you can set your business up to run itself. I happened to read this book around the same time as I found out that I was pregnant with my third child, so it really helped me use those eight or so months before the birth to get everything running smoothly. One cool thing that he talks about is the Queen Bee Role, or QBR, where he translates how queen bees run their hives into business terms. The QBR in a hive is to lay the eggs, which is the most essential thing for the colony to thrive. All the bees know how crucial egg production is for the colony, so they do everything they can to keep the queen bee fed, protected, and focused on egg production. For your business, you need to find the QBR – the most crucial thing for the success and functioning of your business – and make sure everyone is on the same page in terms of keeping that role going. Take note that the QBR is not one person, but rather a mission for the business to achieve.
Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World by Gary Vaynerchuk
This book gives some tips for social media from a business perspective, and the author uses a metaphor of how boxing is like social media. Until recently, traditional marketing used to be a one-sided boxing match with businesses “slamming right hooks onto the same three or four platforms: radio, television, print, outdoor”. Later, the Internet joined the marketing game, but it was still a very one-sided boxing match until social media came along, where marketers can now rely on their brands and companies to “spar with them a little, pay attention to them, let them voice their opinions and concerns, and make the brand their own before giving them a shot at the hard sell.” Since the book was written in 2013, some of the specific information about social media and popular platforms is potentially outdated, but there is still a lot of useful information regarding the concepts of social media that can definitely help you out.
Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo
Released towards the end of last year, this inspiring and positive book talks about how no matter what obstacles you face in life, you can figure it out and make it work if you’re determined enough. I’ve definitely found this to be true, such as when I wanted to buy an office building for my practice. I didn’t have the down payment for it, but I knuckled down and figured out a way to get the money for that down payment. On page 131 the author talks about a study done by Dr Gail Matthews, a psychology professor in California, which was completed by men and women between the ages of 23 and 72 from all around the world and in different walks of life, and it concluded that people are 42% more likely to achieve their goals if they write them down. The book talks about how this study could be interpreted as saying that if something is important to you – even if you don’t know where to start in achieving it – write that goal down because it does something to your brain and you’re 42% more likely to succeed.
Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin
Also from 2002 and way ahead of its time, this book talks about niche marketing and how you should be making yourself and your business as memorable as possible. The purple cow in the book title refers to an analogy Godin uses to explain how your marketing should make you stand out.
“Cows, after you’ve seen 1 or 2 or 10, are boring. A purple cow, though, now that would be something. Godin defines a purple cow as anything phenomenal, counterintuitive, exciting, remarkable. Every day, consumers ignore a lot of brown cows, but you can bet they won’t ignore a purple cow.”
The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership by Kevin Eikenberry and Wayne Turmel
What with everyone working from home and my whole team working remotely, I started reading this book to help me figure out how to manage them better, there are some differences between how I used to run the practice and how I run it now, such as having Zoom meetings instead of staff meetings in person. The author talks on page 118 about being seen, and how people develop their worldview based on the things they see around them. The people who work with you and see you as important so they are often playing very close attention to the things you say and do, even if you don’t realize it, so you need to be aware of how you are being seen and how this influences your staff.
“If people know you mostly as a signature on an email and not a real person, you are constraining their ability to get a positive, accurate impression of you and what you’re trying to accomplish and why. In the absence of hard evidence, people tend to fill in the blanks and often not in positive ways. If the leader isn’t visible to people, it leaves plenty of room for rumor, gossip, and misinterpretation of messages.”
- Dr. Rachel Needle on Buying an Office Building and Running a Group Practice | GP 29
- Killin’It Camp – Virtual Conference
- Move Forward Virtual Assistants – Scale Up Summit
- Email Alison: firstname.lastname@example.org
- PoP Group Practice Owners Facebook Group
- Free resources to help you start, grow and scale
- Work with us
- Consult With Alison
Meet Alison Pidgeon
Alison is a serial entrepreneur with four businesses, one of which is a 15 clinician group practice. She’s also a mom to three boys, wife, coffee drinker, and loves to travel. She started her practice in 2015 and, four years later, has two locations. With a specialization in women’s issues, the practices have made a positive impact on the community by offering different types of specialties not being offered anywhere else in the area.
Alison has been working with Practice of the Practice since 2016 and has helped over 70 therapist entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses, through mastermind groups and individual consulting.
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You’re listening to the Grow a Group Practice podcast. Whether you are thinking of starting a group practice, are in the beginning stages of a group practice, or want to learn how to scale up your already existing group practice, we have lots of great content for you.
Hi, and welcome to the Grow a Group Practice podcast. I’m Alison Pidgeon, your host. Today we are going to talk about the 10 business books that have changed the way I run my group practice, so I’m excited to share those with you. I also wanted to tell you about two events that are happening this October 2020. So, the first one is Killin’It Camp. So, last year, Killin’It Camp was in Colorado in person, and because of COVID this year, we are having a virtual event. It is going to be October 5th through the 7th. And there’s going to be over 20 speakers there and the tickets are only $95. I’m really excited about it. I’m one of the speakers; I’m gonna be talking about how to scale up your group practice. So, if you’re interested in registering for that you can go to killinitcamp.com.
The other event that I’m going to be a part of in October is towards the end of October, that’s October 20th through the 23rd. It’s another virtual event, so you don’t have to go anywhere, it’s all online. We’re going to be talking about how you can utilize different tools and services to really scale up your practice. So, we’re calling this the Scale-Up Summit and we are organizing this through my virtual assisting company, and so, to find out more information, you can go to www.moveforwardvirtualassistants.com/scaleup and you can see all of the different speakers and the topics that they’re going to be covering. And so, I’m also going to be speaking at that event as well. So, if you are wanting to do a little bit more of a deep dive in, you know, building up your practice and really maximizing things, getting some great ideas for how you can do things differently, definitely check out those two events.
So, I wanted to share with you these 10 business books that I have found totally invaluable for my own group practice, my own journey as an entrepreneur. I started my practice about five years ago now and have, you know, read these books at various points along the way. Some of them are old, some of them are new, and I have some kind of bookmarks in these various books so that I can just sort of share with you a little blurb about the book and kind of share with you what I learned from it and why it was helpful. So, I don’t have these in any particular order, but let’s kind of dive right in here.
So, the first book that I wanted to talk about is called The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace by Ron Friedman, PhD. I don’t have a blurb to read to you, but I’ll kind of give you the overview or the CliffsNotes version of what this book is all about. So, if you’re wondering, as a group practice owner, how do I create a really good work culture? How do I create a workplace where people want to stay, there’s not a lot of staff turnover, the staff is happy? How do I reward my staff for doing a good job? He goes through lots of different pieces of research and talks about what it is that helps people to stay and be happy in a job. So a lot of people think that it’s really like, “Oh, I have to pay them this big Christmas bonus at the end of the year” or “I have to pay them the best out of any place else in the community and that’s why they don’t want to come work for me”. But actually, what he found was that employees really wanted smaller, more frequent rewards, sort of throughout the year, rather than just, like, one big reward that happens infrequently.
So, I really took that information and started implementing what are those little rewards that I could do to show them that I appreciate them, and I value them, and I think they’re doing good work. So, one of the things I did after reading that book was, I started providing free snacks and drinks in the office for when they are working. Obviously, this was before COVID, when we were using the office, and they could, like, write on a list what they wanted from the store, and my assistant would order it, and we would have it there in the kitchen for them, and they just loved that. They couldn’t stop talking about how awesome it was to have snacks there, and things that they liked and healthy things and, you know, special seltzer water and all that kind of stuff. So, they still really do appreciate that. And some other examples of things that I do are obviously, as the staff may share things that are happening in their life, like they just bought their first house or they’re getting married or whatever is happening, like, we try to recognize them by, you know, getting a gift or having a little party or something like that, just to say like, oh, congratulations, you know, like, sort of recognizing that, yeah, you have a personal life, too, and we kind of care about, you know, these big things that are happening for you. So, if that is a subject that you feel like you need some help with, I would definitely recommend reading that book. It’s excellent. I recommend that to everybody who is working on building a group practice.
So, the second book we’re going to talk about is called Playing Big: The Unsexy Truth About Succeeding in Business. That’s by Kim Flynn, and she talks a lot about kind of how to view yourself as, like, a legit business owner who has employees, and manages them well, and sets good boundaries and, you know, all of the things. One of the chapters in the book, I believe it’s chapter 10, she talks about the seven magic questions. And these are questions that you use when you meet with your staff. So, what I do is, every month, we have a half-hour check-in meeting with each of the staff people. I don’t do them as much anymore because now I have kind of managers over most of the therapists. So, I used to do these meetings, I don’t do them anymore. But essentially, the managers now ask these same seven questions and I’ll explain to you what the seven questions are.
So, the first one is “What is working for you?”, you meaning the employee, and have them give you something specific like “Oh, you know, my caseload is really full, it’s great.” The second question is “What is working for me?” meaning me, the boss. Again, you want to be specific about, “Hey, I saw that you, you know, were willing to see that client who was really in distress at the last minute, and I really appreciate that.” The third question is “What is not working for you?” meaning them the employee, so maybe they’re getting frustrated because they don’t have enough clients in their schedule or, you know, whatever the case may be, this is their opportunity to talk about that. And then the fourth question is, you’re going to prompt them to come up with some solutions to that problem. So, you aren’t having them bring up a problem and just expecting you, the boss, to fix it, you’re sort of brainstorming and collaborating like, “okay, employee, what do you think we can do to fix it?” The fifth question is “What is not working for me?” meaning me, the boss. So, I might say “You know, I had a couple of complaints from clients that you were running late to session, and, you know, what’s going on? How can we fix this?” Again, you could sort of do the “let’s collaborate on a solution”. And then the sixth question is, “What is your goal for this month?” So, we set little mini goals every month that they want to be working on, whether it’s like, oh, yeah, “I really need to get on top of doing some CA trainings” or whatever that might be. And then, if you’re writing these things down, you can remind them then the next month, because you’ll be able to go back and look at your notes. And then the last question, the seventh question, is, “What is one thing I can do to manage you better?”, which I really like, that you’re basically asking your staff for feedback about you as the boss, and inviting that and not necessarily like, “Well, I’m the boss, so I’m perfect or I don’t need constructive criticism.”
So, I really like these seven questions because I feel like, when you are regularly talking about these things, it really helps to identify small problems before they become big problems. And also, like, they know those questions are going to get asked. And so, they, my staff especially, now knows that they are going to get asked that question about “Okay, you know, you stated this as a problem, now what is your potential solution?” So now they just show up to the meeting already having thought of a solution, because I’ve asked them so many times in these situations, like, “Okay, great, like, here’s the problem, what’s your solution?” So, I think it creates an environment then where people are, you know, they see themselves as part of the process to fixing the problem. And it’s not just me having to fix everything for everybody. So, that is that book. Again, if you’re, you know, really wanting some solid advice about how to manage your staff or maybe just how to have your business run more smoothly, I would definitely check that book out. So again, it’s called playing by There’s actually another book of the same title. And so, this one is by Kim Flynn, so, you just want to make sure, like, you’re looking for that author. So, let’s fly in.
So, the third book that I wanted to share is called The Ideal Team Player by Patrick Lencioni. So, you may have heard folks talk about this book before, this is something that’s, you know, made its way around, you know, Facebook groups and things for therapists. So, the secondary title is How to Recognize and Cultivate the Three Essential Virtues. So, I kind of want to read for you what he’s talking about with these three essential virtues. And this is something that you will use to help you hire the right people. And so, the author is saying that you want to look for people who are humble, hungry, and smart, and here’s his definitions. So, he says, “Humility is the single greatest and most indispensable attribute of being a team player.” So obviously, you don’t want to hire somebody who’s like a total narcissist and, just, is in it for themselves. And then he talks about “Hungry people almost never have to be pushed by a manager to work harder, because they are self-motivated and diligent. So, he’s talking about, you know, those people who are just willing to go the extra mile, that’s just their personality, and, you know, you as the manager aren’t having to, like, chase them down to do the simplest tasks. And then the last definition of smart, “Smart simply refers to a person’s common sense about people”. So, I tend to think about how are their interpersonal skills? You know, like, if we have a conflict at work, how are you going to handle it? Are you going to avoid talking about it? Are you going to lash out at the person and be aggressive? Or are you going to be assertive and come to them, you know, bring it up in an inappropriate way and work through it? And you would be surprised, you know, at the number of therapists I found to have trouble working things out with their boss or their coworkers. You would think we’re really good at communication, being that we tend to teach people quite often about how to communicate better, but not the case in a therapist’s personal life all the time. So, I try to make sure that they’re going to have good interpersonal skills, that we can kind of work through things, as conflicts come up in the workforce.
And the last part I wanted to read is, he says, “What makes humble, hungry, and smart powerful and unique is not the individual attributes themselves, but rather the required combination of all three.” So, what I find when I interview people is, sometimes, I’ll see somebody who’s, like, humble and smart but they’re not hungry. They’re not, you know, willing to go the extra mile they’re not on top of keeping their schedule full, or I may see somebody who is humble, hungry, and not smart, like they have had a lot of interpersonal issues in past workplaces, things like that. So, definitely finding somebody who has all three attributes is really important. And one other note about this book, it’s written almost like a story. Obviously, he’s talking about the different principles and how it relates to business, but it’s actually written like a story, and so, I had a couple consulting clients who were like, “I don’t know if I found the right book because it’s like reads like a novel, almost”, but it is the correct book. So, if you have not yet read that, definitely check that out.
So, the fourth book that I have here is called You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth by Jen Sincero. I’m just taking a drink there. So, what I love about this book is, she talks all about money mindset, and I think especially for us as therapists we need a lot of help with that. The brainwashing starts early in graduate school when we’re told, “You should just do this work because you love it, because it’s interesting, you know, you’re never gonna make any money at it, but that’s okay…” you know, the whole nine yards. So, I had to do a lot of work on my own money mindset so that I can, you know, take bigger leaps in my business, and it helps me not to play small. And so, what I really liked about this book is she goes into that in a very deep dive kind of way.
And then, she also has, like, little exercises at the end of each chapter. And so, I wanted to share one that I particularly liked, so this is on page 114, she says, “Write a fantasy, a day-in-the life. What would a typical day in your life as the richest, happiest, and most successful version of yourself look like? We can rattle on all day about what we don’t want but being very clear about what you do want usually takes a bit more doing, especially since you’re looking to radically change your life. You’ve never experienced or owned many of the things you’re seeking, so how the hell can you know? This is why it’s so important when you’re writing this to come more from feeling than from your analytical brain. Give yourself time while you write it, do it stream of consciousness and see what you come up with. Write it in the present tense, as if money weren’t an issue, think what would be so fun, not just reasonable. What would make you most excited to give back or leave as a legacy? Go to town.
And the second step is, once you’ve written your day-in-the-life, write down the five strongest emotions you feel when you read it. Number three, do the numbers around your day-in-the-life, get an idea on the page of how much this life of yours is going to cost. Four, boil down your day-in-the-life, taking the most exciting details of it and combining them with the cost and the feelings they bring up, so you can create a mantra.” – so she’s really big on mantras in this book – “Don’t worry about fitting everything in, just the most compelling parts. Then write a five to 10 sentence mantra, something like, ‘I love making $300,000 a year as an interior designer. It’s so exciting working with clients who are smart and who appreciate me, traveling the world and discovering new ways to be creative. It makes me feel happy and invigorated and like my heart could explode. I’m so grateful that this affords me the opportunity to live by the beach in San Diego with my soulmate and that we go surfing every day’. Number five, read your mantra every night before you go to bed and feel it. Six, if you’re not sure what you want to do, make a list of the things you do know. Be as specific as possible and write down five action steps you will take right now to move yourself in that direction.”
So, the reason I love this passage is because I feel like a lot of times we have these sort of, like, daydreams or these pie-in-the-sky ideas of what we want out of life, but we don’t actually realize that it could happen for us, like, you know, when you’re young, and you’re like, “oh, when I grow up, I’m going to live in a mansion, and I’m going to have five kids, and I’m going to drive this fancy car”, or whatever that was for you. But I think that we don’t really think logically about like, what do I, you know, we don’t even know what we do want or realize that as possible for us. And then we don’t necessarily assign, like, a number to it. So, I did this exercise. And I actually wrote down, like, well, how much would it cost if we owned a vacation home? How much would it cost if, you know, I could, you know, do XYZ, whatever it was, and then I realized that, you know, I could sort of break it down by month and figure out, like, the money that I would need to accomplish all those things I want, I’m actually not that far off from that. And so, then I started to see, “Oh, this is actually really possible for me.” So, obviously, that was very exciting to realize that. So, yeah, just something to do if you’re wanting to make more money and you’re not exactly sure how to do it.
So, the next book I have for you is called The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss. So, you might have heard of this book before. This book is actually very old, I think it was written in 2002, which is amazing, because this guy was, like, way ahead of his time. And I think when this book came out, a lot of people dismissed it as like, yeah, this, you know, isn’t gonna work for me, who is this guy? How does he only work four hours a week? And I don’t think I’m ever going to get to the point where I work four hours a week, I don’t think I would want to, but I think a lot of these ideas he has in here could definitely be utilized and can help you figure out how to free up more of your time. So, the part that I wanted to read to you is on page 109. So, he had a company where I think he sold vitamins or something, and he talks about how he handled, like, outsourcing the customer service. I’m just going to read this little part to you.
He says, “In 2002, I had outsourced customer service for order tracking and returns, but still handled product-related questions myself. The result? I received more than 200 emails per day, spending all hours between nine to five responding to them, and the volume was growing at a rate of more than 10% per week, I had to cancel advertising and limit shipments as additional customer service would have been the final nail in the coffin. It wasn’t a scalable model – remember this word as it will be important later. It wasn’t scalable because there was an information and decision bottleneck: me. The clincher? The bulk of the email that landed in my inbox was not product related at all, but requests from the outsource customer service reps seeking permission for different actions. For example, ‘The customer claims he didn’t receive the shipment. What should we do?’ ‘The customer had a bottle held at customs. Can we re-ship to a US address?’ ‘The customer needs the product for a competition in two days. Can we ship overnight? And if so, how much should we charge?’ It was endless. Hundreds upon hundreds of different situations made it impractical to write a manual, and I didn’t have the time or experience to do so, regardless.
Fortunately, someone did have the experience; the outsource reps themselves. I sent one single email to all the supervisors that immediately turned 200 emails per day into fewer than 20 emails per week. The email says, ‘Hi all. I would like to establish a new policy for my account that overrides all others: Keep the customer happy. If it is a problem that takes less than $100 to fix, use your judgment and fix it yourself. This is official written permission and a request to fix all problems that cost under $100 without contacting me. I am no longer your customer. My customers are your customer. Don’t ask me for permission, do what you think is right and we’ll make adjustments as we go along. Thank you, Tim.’ Upon close analysis, it became clear that more than 90% of the issues that prompted email could be resolved for less than $20. I reviewed the financial results of their independent decision-making on a weekly basis for four weeks, then a monthly basis, and then on a quarterly basis. It’s amazing how someone’s IQ seems to double as soon as you give them responsibility indicate that you trust them. The first month cost perhaps $200 more than if I had been micromanaging. In the meantime, I saved more than 100 hours in my own time per month, customers received faster service, returns dropped to less than 3%, an outsourcer spent less time on my account, all of which resulted in rapid growth, higher profit margins, and happier people on all sides. People are smarter than you think, give them a chance to prove themselves.” So, that’s the end of page 110.
So, what I loved about that piece is that I also trust my staff to make good decisions. And so, how I apply this is, I told my assistant like, “You know, we probably spend around, you know, $400 a month on various office supplies”, like I was talking about the snacks for the staff and then, you know, paper, and ink, and all that kind of stuff. I said, “So, if you need to order supplies, you keep track of what needs to be ordered, and as long as it’s under $400, you don’t even need to ask me, just order it. And I don’t need to be involved. If, for some reason, you need to order more than $400 worth of stuff, just run it by me.” And so, that allowed me to remove myself totally out of that loop, that she wasn’t having to email me like, “Hey, can I put in an order for XYZ?” and that freed up my time. And I think, like he said, people appreciate when you trust them to make good decisions. So, if you tend to be a micromanager, that might be a good way to kind of starting to remove yourself from all of that.
So, the next book I want to talk about is Clockwork by Mike Michalowicz. So, you may have heard of him, he also wrote the book Profit First, which I know gets a lot of attention from business owners. And in the book Clockwork he talks a lot about how do you set up your business to run itself? So, I had fortunately read this book right around the time I found out I was pregnant with my third child, and I knew I had about eight and a half months to get my business running on its own. And so, we used a lot of these elements from Clockwork to help me do that. But the other cool thing is, he talks about something called a Queen Bee Role, and he talks about how he came up with this idea when he heard a story about bees on NPR. So, I’m gonna kind of read to you about how bee colonies operate. I promise this relates to business. And so, this is on page 58.
“Number one is a hive has a queen bee and her role is to lay eggs. The task of laying eggs is the Queen Bee Role, the QBR. If the QBR is humming along, eggs are laid in the colonies positioned to grow fast and easily. If the queen bee is not fulfilling her role of laying eggs, the entire hive is in jeopardy. Two: every bee knows the most critical function for the colony to thrive is the production of eggs, so the queen bee, who is designated to fulfill that role, is protected and served. She is fed, she is sheltered, she is not distracted by anything other than doing her job. Three: don’t confuse the queen bee as being the most important part of a colony. It is the role she serves that is most important; eggs need to be made quickly and continually. One specific queen or another is not critical, the QBR is what is critical. So, if the queen bee dies or is failing to produce eggs, the colony will immediately get to work spawning another queen bee, so the QBR can get going again. Four: whenever the bees are satisfied that the QBR is being fully served, they go off to do their primary job which could be collecting pollen and nectar or food, caring for the eggs and larvae, maintaining the hive temperature, or defending the hive from being exploited by NPR reporters. So,” he says, “after learning how bee hives scale so efficiently, I had the ‘a-ha moment’ of a lifetime; I realized that declaring and serving the QBR would radically improve any entrepreneur’s business and an entrepreneur’s quality of life.”
So, basically what he’s talking about is, if everybody in your business is on the same page about what is the most important thing that can happen in your business, then it’s going to run really well and you’re going to be able to scale it really easily. So, for example, your QBR is not a person. That’s a common mistake. People think it’s, like, a role or job description. It’s not a person. It’s sort of like a mission. So, if you think about it, your QBR could be, you know, “we get clients into therapy within three days of when they first reach out for an appointment”. You sort of want to be known as, “we are the group that can get you into therapy the quickest”. Maybe your QBR is “we want every part of this process of accessing therapy to feel very high-end and very hassle-free and very catered”. That is kind of my QBR in my practice, so you can kind of see from those two examples what I’m talking about there. So, if you don’t know what your QBR is for your group practice, I would say definitely check out that book. He does give you, like, an exercise that you can go through to help you figure it out, and you can also get your staff involved too, which I think is cool.
So, the next book I wanted to share is called Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk. If you’ve never heard of Gary Vaynerchuk, he is quite the character and he loves, you know, doing podcasts and videos and stuff, so he has like a ton of a ton of content out there. So, I have quite a few consulting clients who say to me, like, “Well, do I really need social media? I don’t really understand it. It’s, you know, I get on there and it just feels like a foreign language to me.” And so, if you’re really having trouble wrapping your mind around, you know, like, social media from a business perspective, I would definitely say, check out this book. So, the reason that it is called Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook is because he uses the metaphor of how boxing is like social media. And so, I’m going to read you a few paragraphs he has on page 6 and the heading says, “How storytelling is like boxing.”
“Until recently, traditional marketing was nothing but a one-sided boxing match with businesses slamming right hooks onto the same three or four platforms – radio, television, print, outdoor, and then later, the internet – as fast and as often as possible. ‘Two-for-one, today only!’ Punch. ‘Grab your keys and come on in!’ Punch. ‘Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!’ Punch. It was an unfair fight, but it worked. Customers had to take the hit since they had nowhere else to go to consume their media. Social media, however, finally gave them an advantage. Now the match was taking place on a platform that allowed them to demand a change in how the game was played. They were going to demand more time. They wanted their brands and companies to spar with them a little, pay attention to them, let them voice their opinions and concerns and make the brand their own before giving them a shot at the hard sell. From now on, marketers we’re going to have to spend a lot more time jabbing at their consumer before landing their right hook. That’s why I spent the majority of my last two books explaining how to jab properly, even though I knew that managers and marketers cared mostly about right hooks. Jabs are the lightweight pieces of content that benefit your customers by making them laugh, snicker, ponder, play a game, feel appreciated, or escape. Right hooks are calls to action that benefit your businesses. It’s just like when you’re telling a good story, the punch line or climax has no power without the exposition and action that came before it. There is no sale without the story, no knockout without the setup.”
So, this book is actually from, I believe, 2007. So obviously, a lot of the specific information about social media and how it’s set up and all of that kind of stuff – oh no, it’s not 2007, 2013. So, it’s seven years old – a lot of that stuff is up to date. But if you’re kind of having trouble kind of wrapping yourself around the concepts of social media and how you should be presenting things in social media, definitely check out this book.
The next book I have is called Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo. This is a newer book; I think it just came out in the fall of 2019. What I love about this is that she talks about how, you know, no matter what obstacles you face in your life, like, if you’re determined enough, you’ll figure it out, and you’ll make it work, and that is definitely a philosophy of mine. You know, I wanted to buy an office building for my practice, and I didn’t have the down payment to buy a building, and I didn’t let that stop me, I figured out a way to get the down payment money to buy the building. So, the part that I wanted to read to you, is on page 131, she talks about “How to increase your odds of success by 42%”. So, she talks about a study done by Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at Dominican University of California, “shows that you’re 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down. Gail’s sample group included men and women, ages 23 to 72, from around the world and all walks of life: entrepreneurs, educators, healthcare professionals, artists, lawyers, and bankers. She divided the participants into two groups: those who wrote down their goals and those who didn’t. The results were clear. Those who wrote down their goals achieved those desires at a significantly higher level than those who didn’t. As basic as it seems, most people still don’t write down what’s most important to them. If I was considering making a bet, and you told me that if I wrote that bet on paper I had a 42% higher chance of winning, I would do it. If I was undergoing some kind of medical protocol and my doctor said, ‘Hey, if you write this down, you’ll increase your chances of healing by 42%’ Am I not going to listen? Who doesn’t want those kinds of odds?” So, she’s basically making the point that, if it’s something important to you. a goal that you have, even if you’re not sure how you’re going to accomplish it, write it down, because it does something in your brain to help you accomplish your goal. And the book just all around is very inspiring and positive and I enjoyed reading it very much.
So, the next book that I want to talk about is called The Purple Cow by Seth Godin, and this is another book that was way ahead of its time. So, he wrote this book, I believe, in, was it 2002? Now I’m looking at I can’t find it. So… yeah, 2002. So, I know we talk so much in the business world of private practice about niche marketing, and in the beginning, I know for me, that was a hard concept for me to wrap my head around, like, how does that work exactly? Am I making my focus too narrow? Am I going to alienate too many people? And Seth talks in this book about how, you know, really the future is making yourself as memorable as possible. And so, I wanted to read to you – it’s actually from the book flap – because it kind of explains what he means by “purple cow”. So, it says, “In 2002, Seth Godin asked a simple question that turned the business world upside down. What do Starbucks and JetBlue and Apple and Dutch Boy and Hard Candy have that other companies don’t? How do they confound critics and achieve spectacular growth, leaving behind formally tried and true brands? Godin shows that the traditional Ps that marketers have used for decades to get their products noticed – pricing, promotion, publicity, packaging, etc. – weren’t working anymore. Marketers were ignoring the most important P of all; the purple cow. Cows, after you’ve seen one or two or 10, are boring. A purple cow, though? Now that would be something. Godin defines a purple cow is anything phenomenal, counterintuitive, exciting, remarkable. Everyday consumers ignore a lot of brown cows, but you can bet they won’t ignore a purple cow. You can’t paint your product or service purple after the fact, you have to be inherently purple or no one will talk about you. Godin urges you to emulate companies that are consistently remarkable in everything they do, which drives explosive word of mouth. Purple cow launched a movement to create products and services that are worth marketing in the first place. So yeah, great book and highly recommends.
So, the last book that I wanted to share is called The Long-Distance Leader. So, this is a little bit of cheating on my part because I haven’t finished reading this book yet. But it’s written by Kevin Eikenberry and Wayne Turmel. So, I obviously started reading this book because of COVID. Everybody is working from home and now I have a completely remote team and I wanted to know how to manage them better. Obviously, some of the things I was doing before, we could still pretty much do the same, obviously just now all virtually, so, like, we used to have staff meetings in person, and now we’re doing them on Zoom, but there are enough differences that I think it was important to find a book and get some good tips about how to do things a little bit differently.
So, I’m going to read you a short section on page 118. And he’s talking about being seen. It says, “You gather information and develop your worldview from what you see around you, but so do the people you work with. How people see you is important and, whether you realize it or not, as the boss, they are paying close attention. They are looking for clues to answer questions like: ‘Do you care about them?’, ‘Do you care about the work?’, ‘What work is most important?’, ‘Can you be trusted?’, ‘Who are your favorites?’, ‘Do you give preferential treatment to one group or to the people in the office?’, ‘Do you do the things you ask them to do?’. Everyone you interact with is searching through their own experiences and results to decide how they should interact with you. As a leader, be more aware of the impressions you make. If people know you mostly as a signature on an email and not a real person, you are constraining their ability to get a positive, accurate impression of you and what you’re trying to accomplish and why. In the absence of hard evidence, people tend to fill in the blanks and often not in positive ways. If the leader isn’t visible to people, it leaves plenty of room for rumor, gossip, and misinterpretation of messages. As a leader, are you being seen often enough? How are you visible to your team and what are they seeing? And how do you know?” So, I really like that section because, you know, if you’re not in an office, you’re missing a lot of that information and I think that, obviously, you have to create those spaces where they’re interacting with you as the boss, even though you may all be working virtually from home. So, I definitely recommend that book as well and I’m going to be putting some of those different strategies in place as my staff is working from home probably for the next several months.
So, I hope you enjoyed those 10 business books that changed the way I ran my group practice. And just another reminder about the two events in October: killinitcamp.com and our Scale Up Summit through moveforwardvirtualassistants.com. They’re both virtual. So, if you are looking to really take your business to the next level, definitely check out those events. And I will see you all next time.
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