Sheri Fitts Says That Fortune Favors the Fast | PoP 296

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Sheri Fitts Says That Fortune Favors the Fast

Do you struggle marketing yourself? Are you able to connect with your ideal client? Do you find that you’re taking your business (or yourself) too seriously?

In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks with Sheri Fitts who says that fortune favors the fast.

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Meet Sheri Fitts

Sheri is well known in the financial services industry as a true creative force…who would imagine it all started at the tender age of five, selling her own homemade rose petal perfume in baby food jars, door-to-door.

Leveraging that entrepreneurial flair, Sheri debuted in the financial services industry as an award-winning graphic designer, progressed to participant curriculum design, and advanced to sales and marketing before stepping out on her own as a consultant and speaker.

Now, with more than 25 years of industry experience in her pocket, Sheri shares her success insights with retirement plan advisors, third-party administrators, and financial service organizations to help them make more meaningful connections by better leveraging marketing tools and developing a social media strategy that they can manage. She is a natural-born communicator, earning Toastmasters’ adult-level Speechcraft certificate in the 8th grade. Now she’s a sought-after speaker and has twice been named one of the 100 top influencers in the retirement planning (DC) industry.

She has received awards and recognition from the Plan Sponsor Council of AmericaPension and InvestmentsNational Association of Government Defined Contribution Administrators; and the International Association of Business Communicators.

Sheri Fitts’ Story

Sheri Fitts started out in graphic designer when there was a ‘shift’ in the design world. She’s always been comfortable in computers. Sheri then started working for a financial services firm and created materials to teach other people about money. She then started selling these materials and, therefore, moved into sales.

In This Podcast


In this episode, Sheri Fitts takes us through her journey of starting as a graphic designer to where she is today running her own business. Sheri speaks about authentic, heart-centred marketing, and how this is the key to connecting with your ideal client. She also shares how becoming more confident in yourself will do wonders for your business!

People-Centric Marketing

The more heart-centred people are when they are promoting their brand, the more they’ll be able to connect with people who will eventually trust them enough to become their clients.

You need to speak the language of the customer when doing your marketing. You need to scrap your industry terms and speak the language of the average person.

While the work that we do is serious / important, the way we market it can be more light.

The more that you’re yourself, the more the right kind of people will be drawn to you. But, self-efficacy is a process. You don’t need to get it right the first time.

“If you’re not failing / ruffling feathers, you’re not doing anything.”

Marketing Process

  1. Who do you serve?
  2. What’s important to them?
  3. What are the multiple layers of their life? (empathy map)

Ask yourself the above three questions and then you will begin to know what kind of content you need to create to attract your ideal client.

Useful Links:

Meet Joe Sanok

private practice consultantJoe 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!

Feel free to leave a comment below or share this podcast on social media by clicking on one of the social media links below! Alternatively, leave a review on iTunes and subscribe!

Podcast Transcription

POP 296

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This is the Practice of the Practice Podcast with Joe Sanok: Session Number 296

Career Wiggles

I’m Joe Sanok, your host, and thank you so much for tuning in. We are live here in the Radio Center 2 Building in beautiful downtown Traverse City, Michigan. Isn’t it funny that you know what Traverse City is? It’s just kind of crazy that you could be in L.A. or Nashville or Miami or London or some really small town in Wyoming and you know Traverse City. You may not know exactly where it is in the Mitten State, America’s High Five, the Great Lakes State, but you’ve heard of it because you know me and I’m here in Traverse City. It’s kind of funny, it shows the power of podcasting, the power of the world we live in now.

It’s interesting to look at the wiggles in ones career, that you can really start in one spot – clinical counseling, working in non-profits – I was working at residential facilities, loved working with these really pissed off kids… it was a lot of fun. But over time I changed my direction. My interests changed, I developed, I learned new things and found I was interested in stuff I never really was as interested in in the past. I was talking to my dad the other day and he retired from being a psychologist a couple years ago. We were discussing that transition from spending your whole life developing those clinical skills, he got a PhD, all of that and then, he doesn’t really want to do that work anymore in a volunteer capacity. For him it’s just a transition.


I was thinking about how for me there’s that transition to where I’m doing hardly any clinical work anymore because I just love helping you all develop your practices and coming up with cool ideas to really disrupt the industry of private practice to help you create the kind of life you want and to help your clients create the kind of life you want. And when we have those wiggles in our career, at first there is some guilt around that – “Man, I was trained in this and now I don’t want to do that as much.” And maybe you feel that when you get your business and you’re excited about marketing or social media and other therapists they just take insurance, they follow the regular pattern of it. Maybe they just work in non-profits and they struggle throughout.

But you want to disrupt things, it doesn’t have to be this way, but like it doesn’t match some of your training… well, you’re in the right place. Today’s guest, Sheri Fitts, she, as well, has wiggled out of her career and I’m so excited for you to meet her and to learn from her today. This is part of our series where we’re talking all about marketing, we’re talking about branding.

Interview with Sheri Fitts

So without any further ado, I give you Sheri Fitts.

Joe: Well today on the Practice of the Practice Podcast we have Sheri Fitts. Sheri is well known in the finance services industry as a true creative force. Who would have imagined that it all started at the tender age of 5, selling her own homemade rose petal perfume in baby food jars, door to door, leveraging that entrepreneurial flair? Sheri, welcome to the Practice of the Practice Podcast.

Sheri: Hey, how are you? Nice to be here.

Joe: We were just chatting and we said, we should just get started because you were talking about you are a morning person and you’re usually walking at this time. I’m in Traverse City, you’re all the way out in Portland, OR. So every morning you get up at what time?

Sheri: Well, what I try to do is race the sunrise up the hill. So it depends on what time of year it is, but this time of year in Oregon we are so lucky that the days get longer and longer, so eventually the sun will come up around 5:00 and won’t set until about 10:00 because we’re so far north.

Joe: Actually you’re pretty close to the 45th Parallel, right?

Sheri: Yeah, I think we are. In fact, I think it’s south of us.

Joe: Yeah, we’re right on the 45th Parallel, so we’re pretty similar to you, as well.

Sheri: I really love that. During the depths of winter, I want to just call into a cave and I go to bed at 7:00 at night because it has been dark for three hours.

Joe: I know, it’s crazy. You go to work and it’s dark and you leave and it’s dark.

Sheri: And then it’s rainy and it’s dark. But I like to get up in the morning and go for a walk and when I’m home I try to walk 5 miles a day. I mostly walk 5 miles a day when I’m home and I walk over the 16th Volcano. Portland has beautiful city parks – which is why I wait for dawn to come up – I mean, I love being out there, but I don’t love being out there in the dark.

Joe: Well, Sheri, you do all sorts of really interesting things. Tell us a little bit about how you got into the work that you do.

Sheri: Wow, well I started as a graphic designer way back when it was very unusual for design to be digital. So the first iteration – this is going to really date me – the first iteration of Pagemaker 1.0, which is the predecessor to digital design, was something that I got my arms around. I’ve always been comfortable with computers and anything related to them. I think it was in my genes. My father was a computer programmer in the 70s.

So I started as a designer when there was a shift in the design world and then I ended up doing this design for a while and I didn’t really want to be a bad designer, so I studied it and I was good. Then I ended up working for a financial services organization because I was a single mom and I knew I needed to know about money. And I ended up creating these materials to teach other people about money. And then I ended up selling those materials that I created and therefore I moved from being a designer into being a salesperson. So I got into marketing kind of weird because I had a sales goal.

Joe: Isn’t that interesting how that happens? For me, I opened a counseling private practice and I was doing good therapy work, having some clinicians that work here for me, and I still have that going. But then, I started talking about business and the business of running a practice and there’s this tipping point where you have to decide, is this old – for you it was design and for me it was therapy – do I stick to that or do I start to really go with where I feel this momentum is headed. When you were in that in between – because I imagine it’s didn’t just happen overnight… maybe it did – how did you decide when it was time to really go after that big idea?

Sheri: I remember, it was not me. Meaning I was this de facto head of a department creating these materials, right? So it was a subsidiary of an organization, so essentially I was the CEO of this little subsidiary. And I was looking around and my last sales person had left. Not to my doing, but because of the drama of the organization. And I was thinking, “Holy smokes, if we don’t get a sales person, none of us are going to have jobs.”

And so I started interviewing all these sales people, they were rolling through, and two of my colleagues at the time, who worked for the bigger, badder company, came to me and said, “Sheri, what the heck are you doing? Why aren’t you selling?” And I was like huh… uh… huh, I never thought about that. And so, I did. I took another individual, I promoted her to run the organization and I went out on the road and it was very fun.

Joe: How did you do that? You said that you were a single mom. I know that life juggling gets kind of complex. How did you manage your family while also managing this growing career?

Sheri: There were two things that happened at that same time. So I have been with my life partner for 28 years this May – like next week. He and I did not live together until my son was 12. So it was interested, so the first 12 years of Garrett’s life, it was me and Garrett or it was me and Greg. I did not mix the two because I didn’t want to be one of those single moms who said, “This is your new uncle.” You know what I mean? I didn’t want to be that mom.

But it was interesting that it happened at the same time that I had this jumping point in my career. So Greg and I – finally, after 12 years of dating – decided to move in together. Here’s the funny thing, Joe. Seriously, we didn’t get married until 5 years ago. After 23 years of dating. So that gave me some, that helped a little bit, too. That overlaid the decision that I made.

Joe: So then, where did your career go after that?

Sheri: One thing, by the way, this obsession about waking up early in the morning, from a single mom perspective – that’s where it started – because it was the only time I had to myself, by the way. And it’s how I found time. I have people who tell me all the time that they don’t have time and I’m like, “You can get up earlier, you don’t need that TV at night.”

Joe: I feel like I’m on the opposite end where when the girls got to sleep, they’re 3 and 6, I just want that quiet then. I milk every moment of the morning. I’ll get there someday, maybe, we’ll see.

Sheri: So then what happened with that, I was doing sales and marketing for this employee financial education organization that had a national scope and – interestingly enough, the guy that owned the whole consulting firm… so this was a financial consulting firm based in Portland, Oregon, very well respected… and he did not believe in marketing. This was the guy that cold-called Phil Knight. Phil Knight, you know, Nike guy. He cold-called Phil Knight. Now, that was then. That was in the late 80s, early 90s, you could still kind of do that.

But here I was, I had this sales goal. No marketing, and so I ended up doing something I called guerrilla marketing. I had never even read the guerrilla marketing books, I didn’t even know that, I just started doing whatever I could do to get in front of people. And it turned out that what I was doing was what we call now Inbound Marketing or Content Marketing.

Joe: Funny how you discover those things when you’re not a business insider. You and I started outside the business world, didn’t have as much of the formal business training early on. You do these things that just seem they’re right and often times they are, it’s just learning the skills of how you do it even better.

Sheri: I mean, I did email marketing in 1998. I had to do some workarounds and Outlook merging or whatever, but I did email marketing in 1998. I think back and I go, wow!

Joe: I remember I had an idea for a podcast in 2004 and I’m like, why didn’t I start that? Cmon, nobody was there.

Now one thing that you teach people is about their brand, their business, their bottom line. You also talk about generating deeper client relationships through branding. Take us through the concepts of finding your brand and then having that come into your business.

Sheri: Here is the thing. So remember that I tend to work predominately in the financial services industry and if we take a look at that particular industry, it moves very slowly. It’s mostly white males and mostly white males over the age of 55. It’s getting older and older and older. Not good, right? And they have never had to really think about their brand that much because it was who knows who and I know this and so on.

And for me, my passion within the world of financial services is the fact that a lot of people need the help that these kind of individuals can provide, but they’re scared of them. They don’t trust them. They think they lie. Now, there are some grumbly bunnies out there. But the more heart-centered people can get when they’re out and creating their brand and the more they can connect with people and the more people can find them and trust them and work with them. So I really try to push them to be a little bit more… less three piece suit and more human as a starting point to talk about their brand.

Joe: Talking about private practices, that’s something we also talk about, that in clinical work so many people have their Masters or their Doctorate and they talk about anxiety or depression in very clinical terms. One exercise I take people through is… if someone was at a potluck and they asked asked who you serve, how would you talk to them? What would be the five questions deep that they would go and how would you answer it in a way that they would actually understand? That same sort of idea, take off your clinical hat and talk like a normal person.

Sheri: Yes, exactly, you should totally create some kind of buzzword bingo for your next potluck. I do that all the time in financial services. it’s so funny. As an example, there’s a word that we use that everybody’s got everything all twisted about. This word “fiduciary.” That means nothing to you, nothing to you. I mean, it sounds like – that’s somebody, but that’s not me. And our industry tries to sell you that. “You want to work with me because I’m a fiduciary.” People are like, “No.”

So one of the things that I do is – when I do this to your brand, your business, your bottom line, I do it as a living. I speak and I train on this. Anyway, I have these cool little superhero cards that my great research team (Google) and I came up with a list of the top superhero talents. So think teleportation, being invisible, being elastic – all that kind of stuff, right? And one of the words that’s in that deck of cards is “force field.” Now, if I were to talk about the things that I do for you, one of them is that I build a force field around your financial life to help keep it safe and keep your best interest in mind, rather than mine. That might make more sense to you. A force field makes more sense to you than a fiduciary. So this is what I try to get them to do, too, is bust out of their… we have these clinical names for the things that we do and it means nothing, it feels nothing, it doesn’t touch anything in our consumers at all.

Joe: So it sounds like one of the main things is to make sure you just scrap the industry language and move into how the average person talks, because your customer is the average person.

Sheri: Exactly, exactly. We name products in the financial services industry after tax code.

Joe: Which people love, I’m sure.

Sheri: Like 401K, that’s tax code.

Joe: So when people are evaluating their branding, so take our their industry language, and what else do they need to do in how they speak about it? And then I’d love to talk about when you look at your website or all of the things that demonstrate what you believe, what else do we do then. Let’s go into what else, in regards to the internal evaluation of their branding, should they cover?

Sheri: The work that we do is important. Just like the work that clinicians do it – trust me, my brother is very, very active in the mental health community in Oregon, he’s awesome – anyway, the work that is done is critical and very important. And I’m not necessarily saying that you take that less seriously, but I’m saying that you take yourself less seriously because from a branding and marketing perspective, there’s nothing wrong with being a little bit lighter. The subject matter is heavy. Security, safety, life, all of those things – that’s really heavy, but it doesn’t mean that we have to have a brand that looks and feels that way because nobody is going to buy something that looks and feels really heavy.

Joe: I even look at how my headshots have changed over the years as I have become more confident in my own personal brand and who I am as a consultant. Early on I had a button up and then I had a suit on, not a tie – I knew a tie was too much – but I wanted to have a bit of that professionalism. But over the years I’ve gotten to my skinny jeans with my button-up, I just wear clothes that I feel comfortable in. To me, my headshots demonstrate who I am. I’m not pretending to be this high-falutin’ business consultant, I’m trying to be myself and say – here’s how you do it, just give it a whirl.

Sheri: And I will say that for me, the more I do this, the more concentrated I’ve becoming. As an example, when I left corporate America, I got rid of all of those suits that made me try to look like a man. I don’t know why, but in my world, that was what you did, you made suits that made you look like a man and they usually always had shoulder pads in them. In the 80s they were bigger shoulder pads, but now…

Joe: I’m sure the bigger ones will come back.

Sheri: I had some serious add-on shoulder pads. Anyway, when I left corporate America I got rid of them. And now, if you see me in a professional environment, usually I’m wearing a dress and usually I’m wearing cowboy boots because in cowboy boots you can walk anywhere. I don’t know why women walk in high heel shoes. And cowboy boots make me feel really powerful and really grounded and it’s part of my schtick right now. I show up in Austin and Nashville and say, “This is my schtick.” It’s what I feel really comfortable in, I feel really grounded. Nobody is going to knock me over. I’m not going to trip in a pair of cowboy boots, right?

And so the more that I let myself be myself when I’m out there, the more that people are drawn to me or the more that the right people are drawn to me. And that’s what I keep trying to tell people, “Don’t be afraid, don’t hide behind a suit and a tie, that’s not who you are.” And I’ll say this, financial advisors are really therapists. They are. Unfortunately they’re not trained and they should be, and there’s a Financial Therapy Association where people are trying to figure it out. The stuff that we have going on with our money is deep stuff.

Joe: Maybe one of the listeners out there is saying, Oh, I could launch an e-program for financial advisors from a therapy perspective.

Sheri: Please do it, we need you.

Joe: We have 100,000 people listening right now, so I’m sure someone out there is going to say, Oh that’s a great idea. A bunch of people will say, Oh that’s a great idea but only a couple of people will take action. When you take action, reach out to Sheri so you guys can collaborate.

I love what you said about being grounded when you wear cowboy boots and becoming your own person, because there are a lot of people listening and they have a private practice and now they’re moving into the big ideas. So their practices are scaling and they’re launching podcasts of e-courses and the danger sometimes is that you look at what everybody else is by doing. And by doing that, you’re not creating something unique.

I love how you’re framing out branding as looking out people that are outside coming in. Looking at your ideal clients coming in, speaking in a way that they understand, but then also doing that internal work of – who are you, what are the things that you’ve believed all the way through? Even in your bio, Sheri, how you were selling rose petal perfume as a little girl. There’s something in us as kids that often times is still a thread as we’re an adult and I think when you discover that, it makes it a lot easier to say, what’s my unique voice even if I’m talking about things that other people are talking about.

Sheri: The problem I think is that sometimes – just like everything in life is a work in progress – when I first started by business, Shoe Fits, which was five years ago, I certainly had a different voice. I’m known for being unique and creative, but it took me a while to really be stronger and clearer and it’s just a process. It’s just an ongoing process of… like peeling an onion… it’s an ongoing process. That’s why I always say, just keep getting more concentrated because the more that I… it’s an act of courage. The more that I move toward who I really am, the more confident I am, and then I’m able to move closer. The term is self-efficacy, you know that, right?

So I think the one thing is, is that if people are thinking about this, this can feel really overwhelming, like you have to get it right the first time. You do not. Microsoft didn’t. They sell you stuff they know is flawed and then they send you an update. But you don’t to even get close, you just have to be honest about it. So it doesn’t have to be perfect, it’s an iteration. I’ve been in business for five, six years now as a stand along entity and I’ve redone my website four times.

Joe: And I think that’s such a good point because we often talk on the podcast about experimenting with things and whether you succeed in your experiment or you fail, you’re getting information. And that’s really the difference between practices that get to 6 or 7 figures versus those that just kind of limp along. They always want to do it right, they want to do the exact right blog post, but then it takes them three months to write their first blog post and they’re not getting any of that SEO juice from Google versus, “Hey, let’s not be paralyzed by perfection. Let’s get some things and then if things resonate with people, we’ll do more of that. And if they don’t, then we’ll take it down or delete it or change it.”

We take ourselves so seriously and I think especially people – you know, like your clients and my clients – because we’ve had higher education for so long and in higher ed or grad school or your doctoral program, what you do is that a write a paper, you turn it in, you get graded on it. You’re used to this model of you do your best work and then you turn it in and you get judged. Where is that is not what works in the business world at all.

Sheri: Fortune favors the fast.

Joe: Say more about that.

Sheri: Well, I’m also a Chief Marketing Officer for an institutional consulting firm out of Chicago and I have a young woman who I work with and I say it regularly because – especially in the business world – it seems that everything moves at snail’s pace. It just drives me up the wall. Anyway, I tell her regularly that fortunate favors the fast. If you have an idea, you need to act on it because it’s in the ether now and somebody’s going to actually act on it, somebody is going to.

I mean, I thought for the longest time that there should be a bumper sticker that says, “Dog is my co-pilot.” And there is! Somebody did it. Somebody thought about it. But I swear, when was it? Back in 2003, I know the exact moment because I was making a transition in my job and I was working with some business coaches and I mentioned it to them one day and I’m like, “Dog is my co-pilot.”

So as an example for me, in my world – there’s all this stuff going on about fiduciary. I’m not going to bore you, but think 5th Circuit Court. Who cares? I wrote a blog post about the fact that the 5th Circuit Court said that in a sales environment there’s no trust necessary. And I’m like, “Holy smokes, are they wrong.” The 5th Circuit Court came out on Friday. The following week on Thursday was National Fiduciary Day. I wrote a blog post on Tuesday. I got it edited, I do my own editing, I finally got it to where I wanted it to be and I managed to get it out and about to about 7,000 people on my email list on National Fiduciary Day. Here’s what happened. There was a typo. So what?

Joe: Yeah, a lot of people would freak out about that and say, “Oh my God, there was a typo.” So what did you do? You went in and you changed it?

Sheri: Yeah, some guy emailed it back to me and I said, “Thank you.” And he said something like, “I’m not going to hire a marketing person who can’t use spell check.” And I said, “No worries, I’m not for hire.”

Joe: Right, you’re not my people. I’ve had people that they respond to something in my email sequence and they’re super jerky about it. And I’m just like, “Thank you, please unsubscribe.” I’m glad we figured this out before we got into a consulting relationship.

Sheri: It’s true, it’s true. I said this last night – I was at happy hour with a girlfriend and they have really good fish tacos…

Joe: Where in Portland because next time I’m out there I want to try these fish tacos.

Sheri: It’s at the observatory, but it’s only happy hour, Joe. So it’s at the observatory on the Southeast side. You can grab them before. But the thing is, it’s a neighborhood place. I’ve been there, I bring people there all the time. I do. And in the past, I’ve been able to sneak the happy hour tacos home to my husband. There was a changing of the guard, there was a guy with a man bun – if you don’t know what a man bun is, come to Portland.

Joe: It’s totally Portland. Man buns and beards and skinny jeans and boots and probably a leather apron. He makes his own craft cocktails at home that he’s been fermenting for years.

Sheri: Exactly. And I said, “I want to take some fish tacos home.” He said, “We don’t let happy hour go home” And I said, “Well, you have in the past.” And he goes, “Well, we don’t do that.” And I said, “Well, maybe you’re not my person. Maybe you’re not my person.” So it’s kind of like the same thing. If someone gives you crap because you wrote this amazing article that people in the industry are like, that was awesome. And there was one typo, I don’t want to talk to you.

Joe: I did this event called Next Level Living Room where my highest clients that are in Next Level Master Mind and coming to Slowdown School. They came and hung out in my living room for two days and we worked on their businesses. And while that happened, one person in that group got their first hate mail from the podcast. And I was so excited and this person was like, “I don’t know what to do with this.” And I was so excited for them because I feel like that’s this stage of achievement that you got some hate mail from someone who is a big jerk to you and you really have a large enough audience that people don’t like what you’re doing.

Sheri: Exactly, exactly. If you’re not failing or if you’re not ruffling feathers, you’re really not doing anything.

Joe: Absolutely. So I want to take it from… so we have the external, making sure that the way that we speak to our clients is natural, it’s not clinical, not using industry words. You’ve got the internal where you’ve been sharing about your own internal work. Wearing your own cowboy boots, being firm in who you are.

Now how then do we make that transition back out to the external with our website, our rec cards, our content, social media, all of that, to reflect everything we just talked about? Because I think that’s what’s often hard is – you can feel grounded in who you are, you can feel like you’re using non-clinical language that resonates with your ideal client – but then a lot of people get paralyzed by, now I have to create content, a logo, a brand. All of this that for me is supposed to represent this thing. It’s very nuanced, but in a very simple fashion. What are some tips for people to take that nuance and demonstrate it in that public fashion?

Sheri: Well this is exactly why I say – when I start talking to people – I say, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” But if we think about that, if you’ve got the other stuff done. As an example, and you’re really clear on who you’re serving. So, you might be serving families as an example. Or you might be serving couples. Or people with PTSD or whatever. I need to know who you’re serving. And then what I need you to do is I really need you to think through what’s important to them. Besides just their inner workings. Besides the therapeutic side that you work with.

As an example, single moms. They’ve got to get their kids here, they’ve got to do this, they’ve got to get to the grocery store. Day care falls apart. There’s all these other pieces in their world beyond our tiny little dot in our world. And I think that what happens is when we think about the content that we create, we get stuck on the tiny little dots and forget that they’re a full human being and that they have multiple layers on their life. I need you to figure out what those multiple layers of their life are. There’s some called an Empathy Map. It’s like figuring out your persona, but an Empathy Map is more about what they worry about, what do they celebrate, where do they get their information from.

The more that you can get clear on who this person is – and you might have multiple ones, that’s totally cool – then you can start to think about how do you talk to them? What kind of content are you going to create for them? Know that, as an example, the content that seems to be the most read is kind of like this personal life style stuff. Like life hacking and productivity and juggling things and not necessarily overcoming depression. As an example. I think that there certainly are ways to – you know, three quick hacks to make yourself better. That might be a cool blog post versus really pointing in at a specific issue.

Joe: Yeah and I think going up the river and thinking about… if someone is depressed, what are some of the symptoms of depression? Sleeplessness or over-tired or fatigued, so then what would someone Google? They wouldn’t Google, “Am I depressed?” They’d probably Google something like, “Why am I so tired?” or “Why can’t I get out of bed in the morning when I used to get up at 5:00 am and race the sun up the mountain?” So working up the river, saying ok, if someone is tired, what might they Google? Other people might be interested in, “How can I be more alert? So going into that side of things rather than just, “Five Reasons you Might be Depressed.”

Sheri: Let me give you a little tip as it relates to using Google to get ideas. So when you Google something, there’s the first page of Google and then if you look below that, it says “People also searched for…”

Joe: Yeah, that’s awesome. So say that again in case people hadn’t heard that before.

Sheri: Sure. So when you Google something you ask, “Why can’t I sleep at night?” or whatever it is. Then you look at the first page, there are all these ideas or whatever, but below that there’s also these ideas of “People also searched for” – just terms. So it give you this, “Oh, maybe I’m not necessarily saying this correctly. Maybe there’s another way for me to say this that is more appropriate.” So that might be one cool thing for you to look at. Also, you might want to start to look at Google Trends. Google Trends tells you what are people searching for. I would imagine a lot of people are feeling kind of anxious.

Joe: Why would that be? It’s because Handmaid’s Tale just came out, with their second season.

Sheri: I totally need to get Hulu, just for that.

Joe: Seriously. Oh my gosh, it’s so good and it’s so disturbing. It’s up there. I’m sucked in.

Sheri: See, I had to get Showtime to watch Billions.

Joe: Well and didn’t Homeland just come out again?

Sheri: I’m not a Homeland person.

Joe: You’re anti-Homeland?

Sheri: Same with Game of Thrones. I missed the beginning and I don’t have that much commitment.

Joe: Game of Thrones we started watching last summer because we just got sick of hearing about it and we knew it was supposed to be the last season so then we binge watched it and they announced another season so we’re with everybody going, “Come on!” I thought, “OK, we’ll watch the whole thing and we’ll be done with it and we’ll be able to talk to people and not feel left out.” That was one that I definitely got into.

Sheri: It’s a cultural touchpoint that I way don’t know.

Joe: There are so many good shows now that you could just sit and watch show after show.

Sheri: And podcasts, too.

Joe: We’ve actually been watching a lot more stand-up because you can just pause it and turn it off and you can watch ten minutes of it, laugh, and then just escape and be done.

Sheri: Oh I love that. By the way, another tip as it relates to Google. Because I’m certain you tell everybody you’ve got to Google yourself. Which I think is hilarious when I started speaking about this whole world in 2006 and I’d ask people if they had Googled themselves and it sounded sort of…

Joe: They’re like, “What’s the Google?” I ask Jeeves.

Sheri: I totally forgot about Jeeves, that’s hilarious. Anyway, so when you Google yourself, you need to do it in an incognito window.

Joe: So take people through how to do that.

Sheri: Google is predictive. Google is a predictive algorithm. So when you Google yourself the first time, it actually as an algorithm – somehow, I don’t know – keeps track of that. And when you go to Google yourself the next time, it’s like, “Oh you liked this person last time, you’re going to like them again.”

When you use an incognito window or a private window, what you’re doing is that you’re looking at the results of your Google quest as if you were looking for the first time. So it’s a way for you to see a little bit more clearly into the results, the search engine results.

Joe: So one practical example of why you should do that. So, for example, if someone typed in their city plus counseling. So I’m in Traverse City. So if I typed in, “Traverse City counseling practice,” because I’ve been on mental wellness counseling websites a bazillion times, and that’s my own practice then it’s probably going to rank higher than if I went incognito, then I can see accurately for “Traverse City Counseling” how are we ranking. So hopefully I’m still number one, but who knows? You don’t want your own search history to inform it.

Sheri: You said it way more articulately.

Joe: I just punched by desk.

Sheri: The other thing, though, is in addition to looking at the Google results, I need you to look at the images associated with your name. Right?

Joe: Yeah, definitely.

Sheri: Here’s another tip is – I’m certain that you’ve been asked for your headshot in places – and when you name your headshot, I just don’t want it to be, “img734.jpeg,” I need it to say, “SheriFittsimg734.jpeg” or whatever. So whenever you send something, your headshot. Wherever your headshot appears, your name needs to be on that. The name of that file, so that you can begin to own all the images associated with your name.

Joe: Do you think it’s helpful to name what you are? I mean for me, Joe Sanok – private practice business consultant?

Sheri: That is a great idea!

Joe: We do that with all our images that we put on our blog. So every time we have – whether it’s a monthly income report or we’re writing about how to set up your Google My Business, we’ll name the image, “Google My Business set up” and then hopefully that then ranks higher. So I didn’t know if that would work with headshots, too.

Sheri: I love it. Thank you, that’s a tip for me. That was worth waking up and not walking.

Joe: Well, Sheri, one of the last questions I ask people is, if every private practice owner in the world were listening right now, what would you want them to know?

Sheri: Oh wow. I mentioned that my brother is deeply involved in the mental health community in Oregon. He is actually very involved in pushing towards peer support and so my life has been touched by my brother and his struggle with mental health issues and I just would love to tell them thank you.

Joe: So kind. You know I think sometimes when we’re talking business and the clinical side and all that… counselors, therapists, MFTs, psychologists forget just how unique their role is in the world and so thank you for that reminder of how it has touched your family.

Sheri: Thank you.

Joe: Sheri, if people want to connect with you, can read about your work, learn about you… what’s the best way to connect with you?

Sheri: So there are two ways to my website. You can find me at It’s like your shoe fits with two “Ts.” So no, I don’t sell shoes, but when I decided to name my website I didn’t want to be, “Sheri Fitts Consulting,” that’s boring. And not to mention, I said to my friend, “Nobody knows how to spell it anyway.” So I have to be like, “F like Frank, no….”

Joe: Sheri without a “y,” one “r.”

Sheri: It’s like your shoe fits with two “T’s.”

Joe: Shoe Fitts Marketing, I love it. So if you want to connect with Sheri, go over to

Any other ways they can connect with you?

Sheri: Yeah, I’m on Twitter. My Twitter – this is why fortune favors the fast – my Twitter name is “missfitts” with two “T’s” which is perfect for me because The Island of the Misfit Toys, I always cry. So “missfitts” is my Twitter name and usually you’ll see pictures of my walk in the morning.

Joe: Awesome. Well Sheri, thanks so much for being on the Practice of the Practice Podcast. Next time I’m out in Portland I’ll have to drop you an email before I come out there and we can get fish tacos together.

Sheri: I would love that! That’d be awesome. I love my city. I love welcoming everybody and anybody to my city.

Joe: Awesome. Have a wonderful day.


Thanks so much for tuning in. In the next episode we’re going to be talking to Jeremy Zug, who’s going to be taking us through Lean Manufacturing, which is a really interesting way of thinking about how we do things in our business, how we structure them. And I say manufacturing, but it’s really the lean process. It started in manufacturing, but it’s so applicable to what we do. I’m really excited about that interview.

Brighter Vision

Also, if you want to check out that new theme with Brighter Vision, head on over to You can get a month for free if you go through that link. We would just love to see you have amazing websites. Just today I was working with a consulting client who is in Next Level Practice, he’s rocking it out, he’s a play therapist in North Carolina and just killing it. He has a Brighter Vision website and he was talking how he used to try to do all of the website updates himself, but then Brighter Vision is just so fast with updating the website that it just takes that off of his plate completely. So, if you want an amazing website, head on over to

Thanks so much for letting me into your ears and into your brain. Have an awesome day.

This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher, or the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical, or other professional information. If you need a professional, you should find one. And super big thanks to our intro music musicians, Silence is Sexy, thanks for that music.