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What are some of the ups and downs of starting a business as a married couple? How can the principles of improv help improve your personal and professional relationships? Can you replace your “but” with “yes, and”?
In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks about how to be married entrepreneurs with Ron and Lexie Lee.
Podcast Sponsor: Brighter Vision
When you’re in private practice it can be tough to find the time to even review your marketing efforts, let alone to make improvements where needed. Whether you are a seasoned clinician with an existing website in need of a refresh, or a new therapist building a website for the first time, Brighter Vision is the perfect solution.
By first understanding your practice and what makes it unique, Brighter Vision’s team of developers are then able to create you a beautiful website that will attract your ideal clients and get them to contact you.
Better yet, they also provide unlimited tech support to make sure it’s always up-to-date, and professional search engine optimization to make sure you rank high in online searches – all at no additional cost. But best of all, we’ve worked with them to create a special offer just for Practice of the Practice listeners.
Get your first 3 months of website service completely FREE. To take advantage of this amazing deal, head to brightervision.com/joe to learn more and take advantage of this great deal.
Meet Ron and Lexie Lee
Ron and Lexie are serial entrepreneurs who help couples to scale the ups and downs of marriage and business. As counseling professionals and owners of Lee Counseling Services and Texas Marriage Retreat, they have worked with hundreds of clients to make changes and find better systems in order to live the life they choose. They now combine their knowledge of mental health, couples counseling, and entrepreneurship in their podcast, The Married Entrepreneurs.
Listen to The Married Entrepreneurs Podcast and connect on Facebook.
In This Podcast
- Early ups and downs
- A good sign
- How Ron and Lexie help other married entrepreneurs
- Practice improv for business
- Ron and Lexie’s advice to private practitioners
Early ups and downs
One of the early ups and downs that Ron and Lexie faced as newly married entrepreneurs was deciding who was going to do what within the business.
I was very much used to being in charge in the dry-cleaning world, but in the counseling world, Lexie was in it before me … so it was that role-reversal of understanding my lane and my scope and [then] staying in my lane and my scope. (Ron Lee)
If you are working with your partner, set aside some time to clearly define which roles belong to which person.
Divvy up the tasks that each person is most competent in doing, and then trust each other that they will do it to the best of their ability, and will ask for help if it is needed.
A good sign
One of the ways to notice that you and your partner are doing well in business together is when you are celebrating each other’s personal development in doing passion projects and things that are outside of your respective comfort zones.
He is helping me to grow as a person, and when we started looking at things like, “What are our strengths and how can I grow as a person?” That [was] when things really started to click, that we respected what each person brings to the table. (Lexie Lee)
How Ron and Lexie help other married entrepreneurs
Ron and Lexie, through their retreats, counseling sessions, and podcasts help to provide other married entrepreneurs with the tools and communication skills to become better in both their marriage and business.
As you know, marriages and businesses [often] fail for the same kinds of reasons, so we look at them and try to help them navigate the failure to understand the customer or the lack of trust or transparency. (Ron Lee)
They sit with these couples and go through the ways that they run their companies and how they communicate with each other as business partners and a couple, and tweak them for the better.
Practice improv for business
Improv is a great skill to practice because it teaches people to “set the stage” before they act as it gives them cues about what is needed. Improv, although creative and spontaneous, depends on the scene that is set.
In business and marriage, you need to set the scene by communicating your expectations.
If you don’t know where the boundaries are and what you’re aiming for, then resentment can set in because you were expecting one thing that wasn’t clearly defined, and your partner was expecting something else that, again, wasn’t clearly defined. [Be] able to [lay out] basic rules and say, “this is the formula that we are following, these are the roles that we have,” then we can improvise. (Lexie Lee)
Ron and Lexie’s advice to private practitioners
Lexie: Dream big, and evaluate why you may say “no” to your big dreams. Practice saying yes to your dreams!
Ron: Don’t be afraid to spend money on training. It will seem expensive, but it is so worth it because it enlightens your way of thinking and helps you to grow your business.
Useful Links mentioned in this episode:
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Meet Joe Sanok
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!
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This is the Practice of the Practice Podcast with Joe Sanok, session number 755.
I’m Joe Sanok, your host, and welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast, where we cover all things private practice and even more. Whether you’re just getting started and maybe you’re thinking to yourself, I want to start a private practice or maybe you have a solo practice that’s kicking it a little bit and you want a little extra help there or maybe you’re even leveling up to starting a group practice or you have a thriving group practice, or even going beyond your practice, we’ve got things for that whole journey.
I’m so excited about the guests we have today. When I was a therapist before I sold Mental Wellness Counseling there was a number of married entrepreneurs that I saw in my practice. I honestly wish there had been a podcast that I could have pointed them to that they could go just learn from other people that were married entrepreneurs. Ron and Lexie are serial entrepreneurs who help couples to scale the ups and downs of marriage and business and as counseling professionals and owners of Lee Counseling Services and Texas Marriage Retreat, they have worked with hundreds of clients to make changes to find better systems in order to live the life they choose. They also have the Married Entrepreneurs Podcast. Ron and Lexie, welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast.
Hi Joe. So glad to be here.
Good morning, sir.
Yes, well I mean, we’ve worked together for a while on this podcast project and it’s been so fun to just see the two of you come up with like, what does it mean to be a married entrepreneur, what are the concepts you teach, even just hearing people’s stories. But before we dive into all of that, I would love to just hear your story as a couple of how you got together.
Well, we sort of met at church.
On my birthday.
It was on your birthday. I was like the ultimate birthday gift. Ron was going to a different church and all of the guys, or really all of the single people got married in his church except for him and one other guy. My church had all the single people and he’s like, if I’m going to meet somebody, I should go where the single ladies are. Our church also did lots of activities and so one night we went to play Worley Ball, which is such a fun game. I don’t know if you know Worley Ball, but Worley Ball is basically bumper cars and you have a whiffle ball and a scoop that you’re trying to scoop up the ball and race across basically a basketball court and get the whiffle ball into a basketball goal while other people are trying to bump into you and get you off your game.
So it’s bumper car Polo
Yes. So we met at Worley Ball and then he kept coming to various activities at my church and one particular night, so I hear, because it’s like, God closed my ears and I didn’t hear this, somebody asked him why he was coming to our church if he had another church that he was going to, and he said that he was looking for a wife. If I had heard that I would have written him off. I wouldn’t have thought about him at all. I mean, he was not on my radar, but my ears were closed and I didn’t hear that and about six months later he asked me out on a date.
So I never actually I made that announcement at a table, like a 10 top table full of women and me.
What was your first date?
Oh, what was our first date? Our first date was going to a movie and out to eat at a place called The Rain Forest Café. It wasn’t love at first sight.
No, it wasn’t.
So we went out three or four times and then as we got to know each other a little more, we just realized that we’re like perfect for each other. We’re like ying and yang
22 years later and still like each other.
Yes, yes, still like each other. Still make each other laugh. So that’s the fun part. You got to laugh.
I would love to know then, talk about how you guys became counselors and became married entrepreneurs. How did that process go to start a business together to start working together?
Well, when we first met, Ron was a dry cleaner and he had, at that time you were just about to open your second store when we first met. Then he went on to build that up to 11 stores in the time that we got married and I went to grad school and became a counselor. That was the first business venture that we had together.
Then the dry clean industry went belly up. The government regulations got involved, they started putting all kinds of taxes on the chemicals and it destroyed the industry. There’s no money. You can’t make money as a dry cleaner anymore. So we sold it. I went home, I sat around the house for about six months trying to figure out what I wanted to do and Lexie was like, “You’re a natural counselor. You should go back and get your master’s degree.” That’s what we did and we started Lee Counseling Service.
When you think about the early days of launching a business together what were some of the ups and downs of doing that after you had your degree, Ron?
Understanding who’s going to take care of what. I was very much used to being in charge in the dry-cleaning world, but in the counseling world, Lexie was in it before me and the company’s actually in her name. So it was just that role reversal of understanding my lane and my scope and then staying in my lane and in my scope. So that was probably the most difficult thing to learn in the very beginning.
Yes, having a flow chart of who’s in charge of what. When you think about big companies, they often have the who’s in charge of flow chart and who you report to. We had a little bit of a struggle figuring that out so that it wouldn’t be micromanaging each other. That was like the biggest issue, is making sure that somebody was taking care of something or one person would start with something and the other person would take over. So yes, that was probably our biggest struggles early on.
We find that to be the biggest struggles for entrepreneur couples, just having an understanding of staying in their own lane and what is it that you’re supposed to be working on and things of that nature.
Well, tell me a little bit about some of those early struggles. Like what were some of the things that fell apart or fights or disagreements or overlapping of ideas? Like what were some of those struggles?
Spending money. There was a lot of different, like buying equipment. Dry cleaning equipment’s expensive. So in the very beginning it was like, we need to spend money on this. Then in the counseling world, it became the same thing. It was, do you spend money on training? Do you spend money on, how nice of a couch you have? That was a bit of a struggle at first. So we had to come to realize this magic, I won’t say magic, let’s use a alright, let me use the joke, what’s the difference between a $500 hour lawyer and a $250 an hour lawyer? The answer is the quality of the couch and the quality of the suit. So it really took me a while to wrap my head around charge people more, give them something a little bit more of value and then make the furnishings and everything very, very nice so people can appreciate the atmosphere. So that was a big of a struggle in the very beginning, creating that perfect atmosphere where people can relax and entrepreneurs can slow down and then really think about their feelings.
Yes, I think that’s so important to think through who does what and how you decide is someone going to be in charge and not. I know that in my previous marriage we really had to, in any project have like, who’s the lead here? Because we both are, we’re first borns, our firstborns and I still remember this one fire pit project that she wanted to do, and I had a vision for it, and she had a vision for it. Finally, I realized I don’t really care about the fire pit. So I just was like, I’m just your work boy or your person, your workman here. You’re the contractor. You just tell me what to do. I just followed instructions and it went a lot easier than us both trying to be in charge of the fire pit project.
Exactly. So we still have that concept when we do anything like even gardening, like building a garden bed. I’ll build a garden bed and I’ll put it where she wants to, but what goes in the garden, that’s all up to her.
Lexie, when you think about maybe success stories or times that for you and Ron, it started to really click as married entrepreneurs, what were some of those success stories or times that maybe our stakes to say, yes, this was really a moment that we realized this is how we can work together, this is how we can really understand and have our strengths come out? Because so often our greatest strengths are also the things that piss us off about people that are our partners. What were some of those stories of when it started to click along and you said, oh, okay, we’ve got a bit of a model here to use as a framework for the way that we are married and also entrepreneurs together?
When we first started Lee Counseling service we started offering parenting classes, actually for CPS involved families, is how we got started. In the beginning, I started working for someone else doing the classes and pretty quick learned that I think I can do this on my own and talk to Ron. Ron was always the natural entrepreneur for me, there was a big bigger learning curve. So I talked to him about this idea for Lee Counseling Services and he was like, yes, and I think that in that moment where I shifted to where I could start thinking big instead of thinking of all the reasons not to do something that I realized, okay, he is helping me to grow as a person. When we started looking at things of, okay, what are our strengths and how can I grow as a person, that is when things really started to click that we respected what each person brings to the table.
Yes, I can see how that would really start to make it flow a little easier. When you were doing those parenting classes, how did you sort out who did what? Was it go with the flow or did you really have it structured out as to who was doing what part of the parenting classes?
Well, Ron’s strength is being able to take something big and break it down into smaller pieces and my strength is really people. So he was able to figure out all the state contracts and all the red tape and make that happen and I hired the 17 people who came to work for us in that contract. So that was like the perfect marriage of the two things in that he was a systems guy in figuring out the systems and I’m the people person and really understand how to bring on someone good and to really help build a good team.
So I was in charge of the billing, everything of that nature. That was my gig. I was doing the billing, sending the information to the state, making sure that everything got checked off, making sure the payroll happened. So I was like the operations manager more than anything. I still fall into that role at Lee Counseling. I mainly fall into the operational side of everything, making sure that the website’s up. Now Lexie does make designs most of the content. I’ll be 100% honest about that, but I do most of the framework. So she designs it, gets me to me, I post it up, and that’s the way we’ve been doing it for a long time.
That’s so great.
When you’re in private practice, it can be tough to find the time to even review your marketing efforts, let alone to make improvements where needed. Whether you are a seasoned clinician with an existing website in need of a refresh or a new therapist, building a website for the first time, Brighter Vision is the perfect solution. By first understanding your practice and what makes it unique, Brighter Vision’s team of developers are then able to create you a beautiful website that will attract your ideal clients and get them to contact you.
Better yet, they also provide unlimited tech support to make sure it’s always up to date and professional search engine optimization to make sure you rank high in online searches all at no additional cost. Best of all, we’ve worked with them to create a special offer just for Practice of the Practice listeners. Get your first three months of website service, completely free. To take advantage of this amazing deal, head on over to brightervision.com/joe. Again, that’s brightervision.com/joe.
So with the podcast, I would love to hear the origin of how you decided to go from having a successful counseling practice, successful marriage retreats to saying we want to do a podcast on top of all the amazing things we’re doing. How did that conversation go early on to say, let’s start a podcast around married entrepreneurs, or even maybe you had different ideas before that of what you wanted to start? Tell me about just your conversations of deciding to do a podcast.
Well, first of all, we both like to talk, so that wasn’t an issue at all. We had tried podcasting in the past and really had fun with it, but life got busy raising kids and it just wasn’t the right timing. But that taste that we had gotten had never really gone away. We’re avid podcast listeners ourself and so we we’re like, we think that we have something to offer to help people who may just want to have somebody speaking into their lives, which is so who we are. We love to help people and help people to reach insight and the podcast might have been a way to do that. When we first started talking about doing the podcast, we had not really come up with the idea yet to speak just to entrepreneurs, even though as we were working through the process, we realized that’s who we talked to the most are entrepreneurs who are married to each other. Our business is focused on solving marriages and so, or helping people to better their marriage, and so that just naturally evolved as we were planning the content on what this podcast would be about.
As you started to come up with ideas for the direction of the podcast, types of people to interview, the main pillars that you were going to talk about, I know that as we did consulting we talked through the main pillars, but what for you was a struggle during that process of sorting out your main message and what for you was really easy? Ron, why don’t you take this one?
All right. In my mind, what would’ve been the hardest part was to understand our format, what it is that we’re trying to accomplish? We love talking to people, yes, but what is it that we’re trying to do besides just hold conversations? Well, we’re trying to help people become better. We’re trying to help individuals understand the ins and outs of their working relationship with their spouse, because most of our clients, they’re in the same industry and they work together. So there’s complicated problems that happen with that because as you know, marriages and businesses pretty much fail for the same reasons. So we look at them and we try to help them navigate the failure to understand the customer, the lack of trust or transparency.
So we gather with them and we look at some of their ways that they’re running their own company. We look at their systems, we understand that their communication problems within their systems, and then we give them the tools, partnering up with them either on a retreat basis or standardized counseling, which we can do via internet or however we do it. Helping them understanding each other, talking to each other, giving an idea, making sure that their goals are pointing in the same direction. One of the things we really love to do is to get, have a couple come to us entrepreneurs, and we go on a retreat. So we take three to four days sometimes and sometimes we go to, like, right now we’re doing one at the place called the Wild Catter, in Graham, Texas. We’re going there and we’re doing a four-day, three night retreat where we’re bringing five couples in.
We’re going to work on communication skills. We’re going to have them understand the roles that they have within their relationship and within their company. And then we give them some fun time. We send them out to the ranch and we say, “Hey, go shoot bow and arrows. Go shoot some ski. Go have a good time.” One of the things that we have to realize when you’re an entrepreneur couple, you don’t slow down enough. Seriously, you have to take time to rejuvenate yourself to get new ideas and new concepts and that can’t happen all the time if you’re working 24 7, which is, sometimes the, what’s the good word for that, the nuance that happens because they don’t slow down. They’re constantly working and therefore they mess out on stuff they need. You need to go and slow down, recuperate, get new ideas, and then implement.
Tell us about some of the interesting interviews you’ve done, Lexie.
I think one of my favorite interviews was actually when we talked about how Improv can help you in your relationship and helping you in your business. We interviewed a guy who does corporate trainings and uses those principles of Improv, yes and thank you because, to end, defining expectations, to help you to have a better relationship and better communication. That was really fun.
Well, you guys know that I’m a big fan of Improv, so yes, that would be awesome. I know that even just doing Improv for myself has been one of those things that started as purely just for fun just to enjoy myself and to act a little silly. But there were times I remember I was speaking at a conference and the sound went out and the mic wasn’t working. So while it was not working I just started talking to people and people were laughing and kept the crowd engaged and warmed up. I don’t think that had I not had some Improv training, I would’ve felt nearly as comfortable with an awkward situation as I did because of that. So to see even that ancillary benefit of Improv, whether it’s with business or with relationships. What were some of the things that he talked about in regards specifically to how Improv can inform people in their either being entrepreneurs or as being married entrepreneurs?
I think the biggest thing is setting expectations that if you don’t know where the boundaries are and what you’re aiming for, then for sure resentment can set in because you were expecting one thing that wasn’t clearly defined, and your partner was expecting something else that, again, wasn’t clearly defined. So being able to have these basic rules and say, okay, this is the formula that we’re following, these are the rules that we have. Then we can improvise, in the meantime, as well to, it doesn’t have to be A plus B equal C, but yet also we know that whatever our partner throws out there, if our response is yes, and we can add to it instead of being negative Nelly, which sometimes can happen when we want to go in one direction and our partner wants to go in a different direction, those basic rules we find help tremendously.
One of the rules I like best is keep your but out of the conversation. What do I mean by that? That’s the number one defensive word. Someone jumps into a defensive mode as soon as they start using the word, but, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, but you went defensive. It doesn’t help communication to go defensive. So one of the things I like that I learned was keep your but out of the conversation. Replace it with Yes and. It keeps the communication going. It keeps cells going. If you’re in cells and you’re starting to use the word no a lot, no, we can’t do that, you’re going to lose a cell. So instead, you change that wording up a little bit to say yes, and this is what we’re going to need to do. So yes, I just love the idea of keeping your but out of a conversation.
That’s so good. I like that a lot. Now, as you think about the future of the podcast, how are you thinking through what guests you’re going to bring, what series or direction you’re going to do in regards to just the future of the podcast?
Part of what we are working on next is having more just what we’re calling coffee conversations, where Ron and I pick a topic and we just do what we naturally do in the mornings, have our coffee and talk about how we feel about different things. It has really been a rich conversation. The other thing that we’re doing is we have a series coming up on formulas, the formulas that help make better relationship, like how to be curious instead of furious and the formula for happiness are some episodes that we have coming up.
The formula of scripts and how certain scripts can help you drive a conversation, like I feel blank when you blank because blank and what I need you to do is blank. So when you have certain scripts sometimes, and you can work with those through certain problems of your relationship and the communication problems it sometimes makes it easier. It’s like using Adlibs, but seriously.
I love that. I love that.
When I was a teenager, I loved Adlibs
Oh, I loved them too. My daughters loved them. They were just doing a summer camp one before Lucia went off to Sleepaway Camp for the first time. Well, the last question that I always ask is, if every private practitioner in the world were listening right now what would you want him to know? Lexie, why don’t we start with you?
Well, I would have to say that the biggest thing that has been for me is to not dream small, to dream big and if you find yourself saying no, really investigate why you’re saying no to something and being able to lean in and say yes, and how do I make that happen?
The advice I would give to other clinicians out there is don’t be afraid to spend money on training. You have to give with experts who really know the field and be willing to pay for that expertise. It may seem expensive, hang on. It will seem expensive, but it’s worth it. It really is. I mean, it enlightens you in a whole new way of thinking. It grows your business, it creates more revenue for you. You don’t see it in the very beginning, but you really do. You have to be willing to embrace the concepts of spending more money on trainings.
Thank you so much Ron and Lexie for being on the Practice of the Practice podcast.
Thank you, Joe. It was fun as always.
So many great just tips and advice. Whether it’s your own, maybe being a married entrepreneur or maybe you have married entrepreneurs that you know you’re working with in your practice, send people over to The Married Entrepreneur Podcast. Have them check it out. Make sure that they’re listening to it. There’s so many great tools and tips over there, even if just one of the individuals is an entrepreneur, to just help people that are married to understand that entrepreneurial mindset. It’s such a good podcast and I’m so excited to have this tool out there for people, whether it’s for your clients or for yourself.
Also, if you’re looking to level up, if you’re looking to take that next step, we’re so excited that in September we’re going to be doing Level Up Week kicking off on September 12th. So if you’re thinking I want to start a private practice we’ve got tools and tons of free webinars for you that week. I think we’re going to do 10 or 12 webinars all in one week, totally free. If you already have a practice that’s kicking it and you want to level up to maybe add clinicians to your practice, we’ve got some webinars that week for you as well. Maybe you already have a group practice and it’s going well, but you want to learn a little more. We’ve got webinars for you. Then lastly, if you’re ready to level up even beyond your practice and to do podcasts, public speaking, keynotes, we’ve got some webinars for you as well. So over at the main page, Practice of the Practice, you’ll see Level Up Week right there above the fold, front and center. Just click on that and you’ll get all the details of Level Up Week webinars and all the different things that we have going on. We’re going to be doing some giveaways. It’s going to be just a really big push for Level Up Week. We’re ready to help you level up.
Also, we could not do this podcast without our amazing sponsors. This week our sponsor is Brighter Vision. Brighter Vision is the premier way of getting your website made for a low monthly price. You get all the website support. Yes, you get support, you get the design. Head over to brightervision.com/joe. You can get some free months for free doing it that way. They’re going to give you all sorts of support throughout the life of your website. Again, that’s brighter vision.com/joe.
Thank you so much for letting me into your ears and into your brain. Have an amazing day. I’ll talk to you soon.
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.