Ask The Expert: How to create predictable success with Les McKeown | POP 844

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A photo of Les McKeown is captured. He is the Founder and CEO of Predictable Success. Les is featured on the Practice of the Practice, a therapist podcast.

Can you launch and nurture predictable success that’s sustainable? Are you a visionary or an operator? At which stage of evolution is your business, and what is the next best step forward for you?

In this podcast takeover episode, Dana Barber speaks about how to create predictable success with Les McKeown.

Podcast Sponsor: Therapy Notes

An image of Therapy Notes is captured as the sponsor on the Practice of the Practice Podcast, a therapist podcast. Therapy Notes is the most trusted EHR for Behavioral Health.

As a therapist, I can tell you from experience that having the right EHR is an absolute lifeline. I recommend using TherapyNotes. They make billing, scheduling, notetaking, telehealth, and E-prescribe incredibly easy. Best of all, they offer live telephone support that’s available 7 days a week.

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Meet Les McKeown

A photo of Les McKeown is captured. He is the Founder and CEO of Predictable Success. Les is featured on the Practice of the Practice, a therapist podcast.

Les McKeown is the Founder and CEO of Predictable Success. In addition to being involved in the launch of more than 40 companies before he was 35, he was at the same time a founding elder in a fast-growing church, while serving on the board of a number of charities and not-for-profits.

He first began to recognize recurring growth patterns early in his career as a serial entrepreneur. Struck by the similarity of issues faced by all growing organizations, Les began to codify his understanding of the repeating patterns of growth, publishing his Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller “Predictable Success: Getting Your Organization On the Growth Track – and Keeping It There” in 2010, followed in 2012 by “The Synergist: How to Lead Your Team to Predictable Success“.

Visit Predictable Success and connect with them on FacebookInstagramTwitterYoutube, and LinkedIn.

FREEBIE: Read a free extract from Les bestseller “Predictable Success: Getting Your Organization On the Growth Track – and Keeping It There

In This Podcast

  • A visionary leader
  • Operators
  • The evolution of a successful business
  • Find your synergist

A visionary leader

Some of the most successful founders are what Les calls “visionary leaders”.

Somebody who’s driven. Absolutely driven to do this, and that’s why most people start their own businesses, it’s for freedom of autonomy.

Les McKeown

Visionary leaders think big and outside of the box.

They’re not afraid to take risks, nor to fail, because they know that it is part of the journey toward achieving the goal that they have in mind, which makes them resilient.

Often, a visionary leader pairs with an “operator” to achieve the dream.


Operators are the people that get stuff done. They can figure out how to combine all the ideas that a visionary has, and works on how to bring them to fruition in a manageable and practical way.

These two together, the visionary and the operator, make for an unstoppable team.

Operators are hard-charging finishers. They just get stuff done … that’s the perfect combination to launch and grow any successful organization.

Les McKeown

Therefore, a key to creating powerful success is for visionaries and operators to pair up with one another.

The evolution of a successful business

1 – Early struggle: the launch period which is usually three years for successful businesses

2 – Fun: once you find your market and start to mine it

3 – White water: setting up systems to maintain the momentum

White water is the point at which [if] we want to continue to grow, we’ve got to grow up a little bit and bring systems and processes into place … start codifying things … and strategically saying “no” to things.

Les McKeown

4 – The process role: hire someone that maintains the process and keeps the business in line with its goals

However, the visionary and the processor can irritate one another. You need to buffer and allow them to both contribute to the business.

5 – Predictable success: the opportunity to scale

The key, however, is this: the visionary, processor, and operator styles don’t work well together. In order to get into predictable success and stay there, you need to develop as a team a fourth style, which I call the “synergist style”.

Les McKeown

Find your synergist

Your synergist doesn’t let the individual team member’s needs be met because, instead, they make decisions that are best for the business as a whole.

They surpass the individual visionary, processor, and operator and focus on maintaining and integrating them all as a unit beneath the business.

The synergist is what brings that group together to make cohesive business decisions.

Les McKeown

Books mentioned in this episode:

Sponsors mentioned in this episode:

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Meet Joe Sanok

A photo of Joe Sanok is displayed. Joe, private practice consultant, offers helpful advice for group practice owners to grow their private practice. His therapist podcast, Practice of the Practice, offers this advice.

Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners that are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.

Thanks For Listening!

Podcast Transcription

[JOE SANOK] A new year, a new you, yeah, how about a new year, a new private practice? If you’re ready to start a private practice this year, or maybe you just got one going and you’re thinking, did I do it right, how do I do it right, how do I leave this full-time job, I have a 28-step checklist just for you to walk you through the initial steps of starting a practice. Just head on over to Again, that’s This is the Practice of the Practice Podcast with Joe Sanok, session number 844. I’m Joe Sanok, your host, and welcome to the Practice of the Practice Podcast, where we are helping with mental health issues, mental health awareness, and really programs in therapy to address that mental health crisis by helping you start a thriving practice that will mirror your own values, the heart that you have, what you want to create in your community. So we’re helping people at every phase of practice, whether it’s the brand new startup, like, “I’m just getting going, I don’t even know up from down,” all the way through, “I have a thriving group practice, and I want to launch a big idea on an international level.” We have different memberships and programs to help at every single level, which is pretty amazing to see. We’re going to have some people on in the next couple months just sharing their successes of how they’re able to grow in a variety of different ways. Today I’m really excited about having Les McKeown on the Ask the Expert. Ask the Expert is what we do with our membership communities behind-the-scenes where you get to actually ask the experts questions. You get to have laser coaching. Usually, these are groups that are not that big, and you get to say, well, what is it that really you need help with from these really high-end types of people? So Les came in, we had to reschedule a few different times and then unfortunately, the date that ended up being landed on I couldn’t attend because I was in the hospital. So we had, I think Dana was the one that interviewed him. I actually should know that before you, it was Dana or LaToya ended up doing that. Without any further ado, here’s the Ask the Expert with Les McKeown. [DANA] While people are entering, I’m just going to do a quick little intro so we know a little bit more about Les. Before Les was 35, he launched more than 40 companies, while simultaneously serving on the boards of a fast-growing church, charities and nonprofits. He then co-founded one of the first business incubators in the world, which was then developed over the next decade into a multinational consulting company that advised on the creation and growth of hundreds of organizations worldwide. Struck by the similarity of issues faced by all growing organizations, Les began to codify his understanding of the repeating patterns of growth, publishing his Wall Street Journal and US Today Best, UDA Today Bestseller, Predictable Success, and then followed up by the Synergist. We are so glad to have you here today, Les. Thank you for joining us. [LES MCKEOWN] It’s great to be here. Thank you for jumping in. I believe you’ve been given a, what we call in rugby, a hospital pass, literally. [DANA] Oh, yeah, I like that. I don’t, yes, perfect, hospital pass. Bless. The way that Ask the Expert works is we just would love for you to talk about your book and what you’re doing, just for like 20 minutes or so, and then we open up the discussion to the community to ask you questions. Just so you know we are mostly a group of people in the mental health field starting, or some people are in further stages of starting a group practice or a private practice. So that’s who you’re talking to today, so I think all the stages of development that you mentioned in your book will be applicable to somebody here today. We just would love to hear what you have to say about success. [LES] It’ll be my pleasure. A small communication issue just to get over, early on as you can probably tell from my accent. I’m not originally from these parts. I’m from Texas. I’m originally from Ireland, Belfast, actually, the messy bit in the North of Ireland, but although I’ve been here for 25 years and I have American citizenship my accent has decided not to fully relocate so it’s sort of stuck. A weird thing is when I go back to Ireland to visit my kids they tell me to stop talking with this stupid American accent but when I’m here, I’m told, if I could please just slow up a little bit so people will pick up a bit more on what I’m saying. So, originally from the UK, I started out as the, career wise, as the UK equivalent of CPA, what’s called a chartered accountant back there. Did that just because I was a weird kid and I was interested. I thought I was interested in business, turns out, I’m hugely interested in organizations in general, just people in groups trying to achieve common goals, but business was the way it first showed up. My first ever mentor, a wonderful guy called Jim Johnson, told me that if I really wanted to understand how business ticked it would be a good idea to become an accountant. So I qualified as an accountant, and I did so right at a point when there was a huge investment in entrepreneurship in the United Kingdom. The reason was that back then we were essentially a branch economy of the US and South Korea of all places so if Ford or LG caught a cold, they had a bad year, we would lose 15,000 people in a plant in Leads or Liverpool or somewhere. So the UK government was very keen on building local businesses and so started to put a bunch of loans and soft money into that. Long story short, I got a reputation as being really good at helping people launch their businesses, just put a cash flow to go out there, go to the bank, help them flesh out their ideas, would team people up, all that sort of stuff. Folks started asking me if I’d like to move from just being their content to being an interim CEO or a co-founder and essentially I got 10 years of cherry picking five or six of the best offers I got every year and going in for a ride with the other co-founders and that’s where the 42 businesses that I helped start came from. I was in a very fortunate position. You do something over 40 times, even a dumb Irishman starts to see some recurring patterns and I started to write those down. Back then we had things called lab books. Y’all are too young to remember lab books. This was the old version of a tablet. It was basically a thin book that you could write loud stuff in. I built up this stack of lab books with what I thought I was seeing happening over and over again, and distinguishing between successful and unsuccessful new businesses. Now to be clear, we’re talking about things like chiropractors, graphic design agency, advertising agency. The biggest business I owned was the Pizza Hut License for Ireland. It was pretty big, about 300 people, but most of them were two people, 10 people, 12 people type tool. Dye manufacturer was one of them, which you couldn’t start in Western Europe anymore. Anyway, next phase is the UK government again asked myself and a friend of mine who was also a serial entrepreneur if we could teach other people to launch businesses because they really wanted to put the gas on this. We started what was essentially the first ever incubation business in, I think in Western Europe. We’ve got Y Combinator and Techstars and all that sort of stuff, business incubators, is a big stuff. But we just invented one from scratch. We would bring people in two nights a week for six months, teach them what we knew about how to launch successful businesses, team them up. We did a sort of a shark tank thing. We were way ahead of our time where we would, at the end would bring bankers and investors in and get people to invest in their business ideas. That thing was an out of the park success. We started in West Belfast, which was in the middle of a brutal civil war, where male unemployment was 72%. We had a huge success. We began to get visitors from economic development agencies all over the world trying to, wanted to repeat the model. So for the next 10 years in my career, I’m 187 years of age, just so you know, well my then partner, sadly now deceased and I repeated this model all over the world, 13 offices worldwide, about 120 people. At that stage, we weren’t just helping people launch new businesses. This is a plane. What my hand’s doing is a plane going off the runway. We weren’t just helping launch new businesses, we were helping existing businesses in communities grow because that was good for the local economy too. I kept doodling these patterns and so I had patterns that worked, I launched that helped new businesses succeed. I then founded that there’s patterns that helped second stage growth, were sort of linked intimately into the earlier set of patterns and so the final phase was I moved over here to the US in 1999, a long time ago, a year. So good Prince wrote a fantastic song about it. The whole point I came here was I had an opportunity to work with very large organizations because I wanted to prove out if this model that I was not venting, but uncovering if those patterns continue to work for very large organizations. I got to work with American Express, T-Mobile, US Army, Harvard University, Siemens and I find that there was a holistic model that went from cradle to gray for all organizations. It became this life cycle, which is the whole core of my first book Predictable Success, which came out in 2010. It basically is those patterns. he second book in the series called The Synergist and is really about the leadership challenges of working your way through those stages of growth. Then I did two later books in a series. One is called Do Scale. This series of books are called the Do books, so they’ll all start with do, which is about scaling, which is a very particular aspect of growth that’s scaling as that J curve, think Uber on its good years. Then I wrote Dual Lead, which is really about the title to lead from anywhere in an organization, whether you’ve got the title or not. So that’s what I do now, is I don’t do any serial entrepreneurship anymore. I enjoyed that when it was a key part of my life, but it was really, as it turns out in retrospect, it was really just the phase when I developed what I now do, which is to help other people both launch and then grow and lead their organizations. It’s a great privilege. I get to work with wonderful people like you. My heroes are entrepreneurs, people who stop working 40 hours a week for somebody else to work 80 hours a week for themselves. I help them get what they want out of that process. So that’s it. Then I could go back to the start and tell you it all over again but that’s the whole story of everything that ever happened in my life. [DANA] Wow. Thanks for the abbreviated version. Just kidding. Well, one thing I remember, one thing I noticed in your book was about how you said it’s not always about spreadsheets or money management that determines if you’re on the path to predictable success. I just wonder if you could talk about that a little bit, talk about, maybe just talk about a little bit, what is predictable success and what isn’t it? [LES] Sure. Well, what I’m meant specifically about it not being all about the numbers, whether they’re on a spreadsheet or not is this being trained initially as an accountant, that’s what you’d get led to believe, solid set of financial statements. Of course is a very, very good thing and your strategic plan needs to be really, really good. Now, of course, a good strategic plan is a really good thing, but what I recognized pretty early on was you could take the best funded balance sheet and the best thought-through strategic plan and hand it to the wrong people and it’s not going to work no matter what you do. And I’ll define what I mean by coach the wrong people in a moment. On the other hand, you could have, it’s not the best word, but let’s for the moment, call it the right people. They’ll make it work, even with a not perfect strategic plan and an initially balance sheet. They’ll succeed. I mean something really, really specific about that and the wrong and right stuff, why those aren’t quite the right words is that they carry, those two words carry a sort of somewhat judgmental element to it. That’s not what I mean, what I mean is this, they’re essentially four types of folks show up in leadership and management in terms of getting something up and going. Most successful founders are what I call visionary leaders by which I don’t mean they necessarily either took marijuana legally or not. I live in Maryland and where July 1st it will become legal apparently or that they think very zen thoughts. I just mean by a visionary leader. t’s somebody who’s driven, absolutely driven to do this. That’s why most people start their own businesses. It’s for freedom and autonomy. They want to do stuff their own way or in their own time, actually becomes problematic in later stages from a growth point of view. But it’s absolutely fundamentally necessary early on. Visionary leaders think pretty big. They’re going to take risks. There’s an 80% chance of failure with a new venture in a “normal year.” That failure rate goes up in both recessions for obvious reasons. The market’s really tough and it goes up in frothy economic times as well, because at times like that, when a boom, people look around and think, I could do that. Anybody can do that. I’m going to start a business. Then they don’t have the things that I’m talking about. So, visionary leader is somebody who’s resilient. You knock them down, they get back up again, you knock them down and get back up again. They tend pretty early on but they’re also starters, the people who love starting things. They, I’m scratching on alarm here, folks, like, I’ve got a jonesing for something because provisionary finders, where they get their endorphin release is in thinking about new things. You don’t want to meet a visionary founder the day after they’ve come back from vacation or been to a conference because they’ve got like 20 brilliant new ideas that are going to change the world. Those visionary leaders tend to pretty early on know that they’re going to really benefit from hiring one or two, when they get to the point of hiring people, getting one or two people in, who I call operators. Operators are just hard charging finishers. They just get stuff done, the right boss, I see what you want. I’ll make it happen. Just don’t look. It won’t be pretty. That’s the perfect combination to launch and grow any successful organization, is a visionary leader conducting a growing group of what I call operators. And some of those operators, those hard charging operators who get things done, they become big dogs in their own right because they really do that work all ours and they just do stuff. We’ve got a couple of two other styles which I just want to talk about for a second because it’ll explain why I say that it’s much more than just numbers and plans that make success work. That visionary operator group will grow the business through the early stage of growth, which I’ve given it a very technical name. The launch stage I call early struggle, because that’s what it is. It is an early struggle. It typically lasts about three years if you’re successful in getting out of it. We can talk about why that is. It would be worthwhile. But then you get to this, the first real growth stage and I call it fun because that’s what it is. It’s fun. We’ve found our market, which is what I struggles all about, trying to find our market and we can start to mine the market. Our market share’s really low. We’ve got one client or two clients, one more client doubles our revenue. We have fun. I mean, it doesn’t mean we don’t have problems and doing all this, but we end up every Friday night sort of righteously exhausted because we said yes to everything and somehow made it happen and that makes us feel good. That’s done by the visionary working with one or more operators. At some point the business will grow because we’re very flexible. We say yes to whatever anybody wants. We make it happen. Our business grows, we get good word of mouth. At some point we’ll hit a stage, which I call whitewater. Whitewater is really just the point at which if we want to continue to grow. We’ve got to grow up a little bit. We’ve got to bring systems and processes in place. We’ve got to start codifying things. We got to start strategically saying no to things. They just got to be a bit more adult and that brings in the need for what I call the process or role. That’s somebody who measures twice in order to, well, it measures three or four times in order to cut once, puts things in place, make sure that we’re doing it the same way, time keeps us out of jail. The problem is those three styles don’t work well together. The visionary in particular can get very irritated with people who are too process, sorry, feel they’re sort of holding them back. At that stage, our final style emerges. By the way, I didn’t make any of this up. This is just what I see over and over and over again in growing organizations. If you want to get into that stage, predictable success, which it gives me the opportunity to answer the second part of your question, predictable success is the peak stage in lifecycle that I pointed out. It’s sort of that apex of growth. What happens in predictable success is you have the opportunity to scale in the fun early struggle and get through to the fun stage and fun you can grow, but it’s always a convex growth curve. In other words, as you’re going up through fund that early growth stage, the rate of growth will taper off as you get close to that whitewater stage because complexity is overwhelming you. You can’t do everything you wanted to do. You got to rule back, take some time, build those systems and processes, bring in the process or role, and then the visionary operator processor together, they get to predictable success. You can if you wish to, you don’t have to, but you can scale, which is like a concave growth curve. A J curve means if you want to, you can open 10 outlets, 15 outlets, 20 outlets. The key however, is this, the visionary operator and processor styles don’t work well together. In order to get into predictable success and stay there, you need to develop as a team of fourth style. So I call the synergy styles, this topic of my second book. Synergists are basically people who enable the team to not need to have their own style needs met, that instead they make decisions that are the best for the business as a whole. So the visionary stops getting frustrated with people because they don’t think big the way they do, and it won’t take chances. The operator stops getting frustrated because they have to go to meetings from time to time. The processor stops getting annoyed with people who talk about $100 when what they mean is $97 that are not precise enough. The synergy style is what brings that group together and lets them make cohesive business decisions. It’s a rather lengthy answer to your question about what I mean by people. The sequence is right. If you, one of the things that happens in frothy economies is operators try to start businesses on their own and they fail because they don’t have the vision. Or processors try to start businesses on their own and they fail because they don’t have the vision. Then your second question was, what’s predictable success? It’s that peak stage of growth, which you don’t have to go to by the way. There’s no problem about staying in fun. It requires a conscious decision to keep you there. But if you want to, you can get into predictable success. That’s when you become a regional or a national or a global player. [DANA] Thank you. [THERAPY NOTES] As a therapist, I can tell you from experience that having the right EHR is an absolute lifeline. I recommend using Therapy Notes. They make billing, scheduling, note-taking, telehealth and e-prescribe incredibly easy. Best of all, they offer live telephone support that’s available seven days a week. You don’t have to take my word for it. Do your own research and see for yourself. Therapy Notes is the number one highest rated EHR system available today with a 4.9 out of 5 stars on and on Google. All you have to do is click the link below or type promo code [JOE] on their website over at and receive a special two-month trial absolutely free. Again, that’s and use promo code [JOE] on the website. If you’re coming from another EHR, Therapy Notes will also import your demographic data quick and easy at no cost so you can get started right away. Trust me, don’t waste any more of your time and try Therapy Notes. Just use promo code [JOE] at checkout. [DANA] A discussion that happens often in small group in this community is about the economy and about how to prepare for recession and how to not freak out and make impulsive decisions. So what maybe can you speak to regarding that, to this community specifically? [LES] I’m going to talk in general and then we can talk a little bit about the Covid experience because there was a very particular thing that happened there that hasn’t been repeated. I’ve been through a fluke of timing, misfortune of timing because of the time that I moved from the UK to the US. I’ve actually worked through 11 technically designated recessions. So I’ve seen a lot of it. What happens whenever you hit an economic headwind is it’s essentially that it is a headwind. So wherever you wear on that life cycle that I drew, again, I didn’t invent that life cycle. It’s just what every organization goes through. So every business, no how small it is or how big it is, it’s somewhere on that life cycle, just like we are all somewhere on the human life cycle. isn’t on the human life cycle. No organization, no business is on the growth life cycle somewhere or other. But wherever you were either on there, essentially two parts there’s the growth side and there’s the decline side. When the recession hits, it pushes you back down those sides. So if you were a small practice with 3, 4, 5 people and a recession hits, it pushes you back down towards the early struggle stage that you were at. You typically end up having to undo some of the most recent things that you put in place maybe a new product offering a new service offering. You hired somebody or you opened a new location and a headwind pushes you back towards that. If you’re on the decline side, which I’ll not spend any time on because it’s not unlikely anybody from the decline side here on the call, but it pushes you forward to further towards the end stage as we saw in the most recent example, a lot of businesses that were under decline, they just never came back from Covid. So what I would say is that if you feel that we are headed into another tough time then, Jeff Bezos has put it quite well this morning, don’t buy that TV, don’t make investments in the notion that you might jump through the recession by having doubled down on any sort of an investment. You’ve really just got to baton down the hatches and be conservative. It’s particularly the case, the closer you are to the the launch moment, if you’re only a couple of years out from that, resources are, which is mostly cash for most of us are really, really important at a time whenever interest rates are going up and we may have a decline in demand. So I would just say baton down hatches, be conservative. Don’t make any investments in hires until you feel comfortable that it has settled down. My own view is, for what it’s worth, we probably are going to have a mild recession a little later, a little into next year. Depending what happens between now and maybe April, May, that might be it for the next couple of years. If a couple of things go squirrely between now and then, and that could either be geopolitically or internally here in the US, it could get a little harder. But I don’t, I don’t think we’re headed for, in the UK, the US, sorry, in the UK, the US is a different story, but I don’t think, I think here in the US at the moment that we’re headed for a disastrous recession. [DANA] Great. We have a couple questions and then chat. Anne asks, what advice do you have for someone who’s getting ready to open a solo private practice? [LES] A couple of things, first of all get a book written by a friend of mine called The Entrepreneur, The Entrepreneur Equation. The author’s name is Carol Roth. I don’t typically recommend other people books for obvious reasons but The Entrepreneur Equation is the best book for people to read before they launch a business because Carol takes a really hardheaded look at what is involved. She and I launched our books at the same time, got to know each other because we met at a number of speaking events. It’s still the best book I think for people to read before they launch the business. I agree with our key takeaways which, are first of all, it will cost you in terms of both finance and your emotional support, which I’ll talk about more about in a second or two about three times more than you expect. It happens all the time. Budget yourself out for three years, as I said, because that’s typically what it takes to get viable, by which I mean being able to feel that you’ve got a business and not waking up every morning thinking, is this going to work? Is this going to work? It takes up to three years for that for you to get to that point. The second thing I would say is completely contradictory to achieving what I just talked about, but it’s very important, which is to pay yourself market value from day one. Do everything you can to pay yourself. Too many people start particularly service-based businesses and try to make it successful based on the fact that they’re not paying themselves and it just delays getting, for reasonably, probably don’t have time to get into here, it delay is getting viable because it sort of gives you a weird comfort thing that it sort of looks like we’re getting somewhere but the reality is you’re not, because if you were to pay yourself, you’d be looking at red ink and you have to look at red ink, which will bring me to my third point in a minute. You’ve got to look at red and stare. This is all very uplifting cheer stuff. Be prepared for it to cost a lot more and emotional and financial support than you think. Pay yourself from day one, at least your market rate, what you’re being paid before. Thirdly, if you’re financially iterate, that’s great. If you’re not, you’ve got to learn how to just do one thing, which is how to produce and understand a cash flow statement. It’s not that complicated. It’s not about becoming a CPA or an accountant. You can learn online, you can go to a local night school and maybe take like three, four classes. But absolutely, you’ve got to be comfortable with a cashflow statement, which is basically saying, here’s my income coming in, here’s my expense, here’s my starting bank account. Add the income, subtract the outgoings, here’s what my bank account will look like at the end of the week. Gotta project that out for 26 weeks. It’s half the year. Don’t put any projected income that you think you might get only put what you know that you build and you’re going to get paid and put all of the projected expenses up because you’re going to pay your rent for your offices. You’re going to pay your payroll if you’ve got employees. You’re going to pay the utility bills to heat and light the place. So there’s no getting away from us. Put them on. Scare yourself to death but look at it. I’ve been doing this for a hundred and million years, every Friday morning, 7:00 AM I sit in front of the screen that I’m looking at and I stare down my cash flow and I’ve been doing it for decades. You’ve got to be very aware of what financially you need to do and not numb that in any way, all of which is just to get you past that stage. It gets much more fun afterwards. But I see too many people get stuck in the what I call the early struggle phase and they have existential grief. I mean, you deal with mental health. I have been at my worst mental health state. I’ve literally, and without any hyperbole whatsoever, I’ve been quite literally in the fetal position and emotionally completely lost control three times and every time it was to do with the stress of the early struggle phase. So that’s all very uplifting and good but I’m — [DANA] My gosh, I think it’s very appropriate. I know some of you have been in that phase. [LES] I always portray it that way because the, I mean one of the most common questions I get is should I start my own business? My answer is always no. Always, always. Why? Two reasons, one is because of all of the things that I just said. That’s more the typical situation, the atypical situation. The second thing is given that if you have to ask anybody else, it’s not the right time to do it. The right time to do it is when you don’t have to ask anybody, when you know I have to do this. Why else would you put yourself through it? So Anne, good luck and if there’s anything after this that you want more info on Dana’s got my email address, more than happy to answer any other questions you have on that topic. [DANA] Awesome. Sarah, you want to unmute yourself and just ask your question. [SARAH] Yeah, so I imagine a lot of us on here probably identify with the visionary thing, because that’s probably what brought us to Practice of the Practice. But like, I guess I struggle because I do, I have like shiny object syndrome big time and I’m curious you have any strategies for like assessing like, okay, I have this new idea. Is this just a byproduct of being a visionary and you need to like, be able to set things aside or wait, this is idea that it might be actually worth pursuing? Like how do we suss out what’s noise and what’s like really good new ideas? [LES] Well, don’t ever start a new business with a new idea. That’s just not a clever thing. I’m going to, let me start that sentence again. That was very patronizingly put and I didn’t mean it to come out that way. One of the things that’s happened over the last, started, believe it or not, with the very first Iraq war which is going back a long time, that’s George Bush Sr. On the day that it started, another thing happened, which was CNN went on the air 24 rolling, 24-hour rolling cable coverage for the very first time and it was a marriage made in heaven because CNN had something to talk about for 24 hours a day. What has it got to do with your question? ne of the things that’s happened since then is of course internet streaming, cable news, everything, we’ve got to have stories all the time. I mean, we’ve got to find stories in order to sell those internet inches or whatever the metric is that we sell the internet by. So we have, we hear these wonderful stories that we all repeat like the iPod and Uber and all the other fantastic out of the box, new ideas that just killed it. For every one of those there’s like a trillion dead clever ideas. When you make a simple map of a two by two boxes, which says existing company selling existing products, wait on at the bottom, that box is pretty solid. My Deli that I’m going to go to as soon as this is finished and get my luncheon sound, which isn’t going anywhere tomorrow because it’s got a proven market and it’s going to keep selling the sandwich, I know I’m going to get my ham sandwich later today that I got yesterday and so that’s why I’m going there. So same existing company, existing product, fantastic. Should they, if they come up with a Sarah, brand bright idea, brilliant idea, try it in the Deli. Absolutely. But why not? They’ve got the space, they’ve got the overhead, it’s a marginal cost, you can try that out. So existing company, new product, sure, give it a go. New company, existing product, so if my brand looks at the Deli across the way and is like a world renowned baker and thinks there’s clearly a demand here, I could open a competing one, so new company, but same product, okay, some research, not as much as sure thing as existing company, existing product, but give it a go. But when you think new product, new company, all the variables are in play. You don’t know, you have no notion whether it’s going to work or not. Does that mean, I mean, but how did them new ideas ever arrive? Well, to do something first in the entrepreneurial equation. Carol talks about a job which is more than a hobby, but not quite a job. Trial it. It depends, obviously the nature of the thing. If it requires a million bucks to build it. You can’t just trial it. But if you can try it out with folks, if you can get like a group of people who you think might be interested, go actually see them. But just to start a business on a whim, I wouldn’t suggest that you do that, Sarah. The other thing that I would say is if you have that visionary trait one of the things to play with is immediacy, building a muscle to reject the immediacy element. Most visionaries, they get very excited about an idea until the next one comes along. If this one you can’t let go of, even after a couple more notions have come along, then it may be worth going back and having another look at it. [DANA] Okay, that’s helpful because I think for me it’s less an issue of like, I want to start a brand new business with a brand new idea. It’s, I have a business, I have a practice, and inside of my practice it’s like, oh, do we want to start doing parent infant classes? Do we want to start doing a summer camp? Do we want to do like, it’s like within the realm, like the first thing you were describing, like existing business new idea, I could have a billion new ideas and I sometimes need to say like, slow down, do one thing at a time. [LES] Yes, yes, yes, yes. Absolutely. So here’s what happens with visionary founders in terms of, the cool kids call it entrepreneurship, coming up with ideas and new things inside, is you go to a conference or talk to somebody or read something and they be ping. You have this idea and you come in all excited and one of the nice things that happens in the fun stage of growth is a board meeting is right up in the elevator. You get in the elevator with one of your employees and you have this great idea and by the time the door go ping and you walk out, you’ve got the next auction’s already planned and you’re ready to go and that’s fine. But then two things start to pound together, one is that your natural creativeness and inventiveness means that other things are just, even if they haven’t replaced that idea, there’s still other stuff on the periphery that are grabbing your peripheral vision from time to. So you’ve sort of got little tugs here and there. You think about a really boring, dull processor type, like me. We have an idea and start it. We’re dogged with that sucker. That’s the only thing I’m ever going to think of in my life, so I got to make it work. Whereas if you’re a visionary, other things are always pinging little bits and this becomes a red-headed stepchild after a period of time and begins to get neglected because something else has come along. The other pattern that can happen, so if you can just discipline yourself not to do that, I’m going to do this thing, I’ll see it through, does it mean I’ll never have another grid? No, it doesn’t, but let’s just get this to viability and then bring the next thing in rather than 20 new things in a month. The other aspect is sort of like almost the reverse of that. I call it pulling the plant up. So you plan a little thing and then the next morning come along and pull it out of the soil to see whether the roots are grown or not just doing anything yet, is this doing anything yet, just having unrealistic timeframes in mind that something’s got to either be knocking it out of the park within the first two weeks or we’ll move on to something else. So setting some realistic, we’re being really fancy about it, we call them KPIs, just establishing what you want this thing to do in a realistic timeframe and disciplining yourself to keeping your hands off, pulling it out, just water it, grow it, take time. [DANA] That’s really helpful. Thank you. [LES] You’re welcome. [DANA] Thanks. Well, awesome. Thank you so much, Les for your time and your expertise has been super helpful. Thank you so much everybody for your time and your commitment to service. Y’all are awesome. [JOE SANOK] Well, thank you so much for hanging out here today. If you are starting a solo practice and want a little bit of help to make it less confusing, we’ve got a 28-step checklist totally free over at that’s going to help you stay organized. We’re also going to send a couple emails to you all about starting a practice to make sure you do it right. We’ve helped thousands of people start private practices. We added up recently the amount of money that has come in through the practices we’ve helped and it’s been over $20 million. We actually have, I would have to add it up again because just recently we had I think four or five practices that said that they had hit over $2 million. So that would actually like make our numbers way higher because we need to do another annual survey as I actually think about it. But if you’re looking for some help just to get going we have free emails that you’ll get that will walk you through exactly what to do as you start your new practice. If you’re a solo practice and you’re thinking, yeah, I would like a little help too, our Next Level Practice is going to be opening up again in March. You’ll definitely want to be on that reminder list over at because you’re going to get first access. We’re going to have some open houses where we can answer your questions before we open up where you can say, hey, I don’t, is this for me? What should I do? Would love to make sure that you really have a good idea of what Next Level Practice is so that when those doors open you can dive right in. You’ll get all those details over at Also, we could not do this show without our sponsors. Our sponsors help really us be able to do such creative and innovative shows here. Therapy Notes is our sponsor today. They are the leading electronic health records out there. Use promo code [JOE] at checkout to get some free months and they’ll also help you transition from your current EHR. Thank you so much for letting it into your ears and into your brain. Have a great day. We’ll talk to you soon. Bye. Special thanks to the band Silence is Sexy for your intro music. This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. This is given with the understanding that neither the host, the producers, the publishers, or the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical, or other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.

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