Last Post on This Blog

by Elizabeth on February 18, 2014

This will be my last post on this blog.  I’m not ending blogging but moving  (leaving these posts here) and starting fresh!  I did a little Q&A with myself to tell you what’s up… enjoy!

Why not move this blog over to a new website?

I have grown a lot in the last five years and to be honest, have been having an inner battle on what to do with my various websites around marketing consulting.  Then I made it REALLY easy by entire destroying this blog!  I changed the “permalinks” and lost all my amazing social share numbers.  Seriously?  You’d think the permalink page would say “HOLD ON COWGIRL, are you sure you wanna destroy all that organic search results traffic, and ruin your social shares?”  But the page does not and my creative little self just did one tiny little tweak and destroyed all the amazing numbers of you who have fallen in like with me the past years.

The upside is that my mess up answers a huge problem.  I’m keeping this blog all ugly and messy and moving on! ;-)  This page will be the static homepage forever and ever.

Whatcha doin’ then?

I am working hard on who I am, what I want to offer, and how.  I have learned an incredible amount in the last 6 months or so and am going to attempt to build a big systemic map of what all needs to happen for marketing, so that therapists can plug in at whatever level they’re at.

I credit this blog post for why so many therapists, strangers to me, hired me over the years.  It’s pretty amazing BUT at the same time not amazing.  Blogs, with your real voice, tell people a lot more than some perfectly copyrighted pile of steaming poo.  You can fake it pretty well with a static website, the perfect design and perfect words but as soon as you blog over 300 times, your true personhood sneaks through (or in my case, I don’t know how to sneak nor do I want to, so I ooze myself all over the interwebs.)

Interesting.  What else will be different?

The new blog is going to be shaped in a really cool way, I hope, and it’s going to be part of a larger map that I’m creating to help people at whatever stage they’re at.  You could say I’m finally coming into my own power, and trusting that I have a unique voice and unique perspective the world needs to hear.  No more comparititis!

I have a lot of amazing things coming soon that you’ll want to know about.  Somehow this journey has brought me back to my earliest childhood years, when I loved to mix tapes and be creative…. only now it will be making videos with serious personality that are client attractive and ignite your passions…and a lot of other fun things.

I’m done with the drippy sap of the therapy field that seems to only talk to one very slivered type of female and leaves many, many people out in the “marketing cold.”  I believe in healing and crying but I believe the marketplace can hold up to snappy, high personality marketing, and audios and videos that are hilarious, interesting, irreverent, and edgy.

My new goal is to maximize the fun for me AND you while being authentic, expressive and oh-so-client attractive.  Hope you join me on this grand new adventure!

Awesomeness.  When can I find out where your new blog is?  Click on the link below!



And por favor folks, never sign people up for your ongoing newsletter without their consent to be on your newsletter.  This link does NOT do anything else tell you when the blog is up, and, if you chose to stay in my system, I send the random email inviting you into things I offer.  I am getting darn tired of being put in newsletters when I submit a contact form,  email a colleague about something general, or sign up for a webinar, or even worse, if I Linkedin someone then they grab my email and put me in their newsletter.  Stop the madness!  It’s bad marketing and pretty much not legal and a great way to get marked as spam.

ps: I don’t do newsletters so you don’t have to worry about me.  And if I somehow start one, I’d have you opt-in to get them…and really, I’d only do a newsletter if it was really awesome and worthy of your time.

pps: OK so you’re freaking out because you have a “free offer” that you use on your website to get people into your list.  That’s fine but make it darn clear when they go to give their email “Sign Up for Free Awesomeness AND my (insert frequency) newsletter.”  Or another great suggestion is give the free thing then have an auto-follow up at a logical delay (1-7 days) asking what they thought of the freebie and inviting them to sign up for your newsletter.

I know, I know, engaging your list, what am I crazy?  Yes.  But if you get a poor follow through rate on your newsletter sign up request, doesn’t that mean few people really wanted it when you forced it upon them?  Then watch your open rates hopefully go way up because your list is only people who purposefully meant to be on the newsletter.

Elizabeth Doherty Thomas old blog

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Generating Therapy Blog Ideas

by Elizabeth on January 24, 2014

Blogging for therapists can be challenge for any number of reasons including:

  • worry about self disclosure
  • no time to write
  • writing too much
  • academic writing style from grad school
  • not being grounded in where the reader is on their journey (are you writing to clients, to pre-contemplative folks, to people who will never get therapy?)
  • how to come up with ideas?!

For total transparency this is how I came up with this blog post…

1 ) open my new favorite toy,

2) go to the “infographics” area to find an image that pops out at me

3) decide on circles

4) think, “what could circles represent?”

5) decide they could be ideas for therapists to consider when writing a blog post

Yes, aren’t you so impressed with how well planned out my posts can be?  Like an editorial calendar two months minutes out from publish date….

Now on to the image and explaining what I’ve done to help you.

Each circle I created is for you to think as a professional, within your niche area, about a blog post or a series of posts.  A blog is best longer, for Google lately who hates the people who write just to rank high, but truly what matters is YOUR audience.  If you serve busy moms of young kids, I’m not going to guess they have time to read 2,000 word blog posts so your strategy may be shorter and sharable.

I’ll share one liners from my niche of relationships/marriage, money, medical stuff to bring to live what each circle means.
Therapy blogging
Unusual realizations: in the medical stuff, I try to help people go from being resentful of the healthy people in their lives, or the clueless, tone deaf people who they are bothered by, into a place of transformation where they realize “the blessing” of ignorance and how even if they hate that family members comments, they come out of ignorance.  Every good person admits they would never wish their medical pain on anyone… so the “price of health” can be douchey comments.  It’s so awesome to watch people go from resentful to humbled and more able to withstand the stupidity.  Obviously there is other work to be done on boundary setting, etc, but your niche has a lot of great “huh!!” realizations for your clients.

Common bad advice: A top one is “moving in together is the next best step to test if you can really be married and you’d be fool if you didn’t.”  Research goes in the exact opposite direction if you follow tens of thousands of people who move in together.  There is a massive drop off rate of cohabitating couples at the 5 year mark because, stats show that’s about how long you will either “wait to get a ring” or when you get married.  It’s bad advice for many reasons and so you could create a 10 part blog post on that topic alone. (Or if you’re Scott Stanley, Ph.D., and a researcher your entire blog is on the topic of Sliding vs Deciding.)

Always safe advice:  this is stuff that you as a therapist know is always safe… Recently I told someone on the phone, “If you decide that you can not marry this person without getting some good, solid couples counseling to work on the issues that you are very concerned about, then one approach is to tell that person you will NOT marry them if they do not go with you to get couples counseling.”  I say this is safe advice because it is a very bad sign if you are very sincere, serious and willing to break up with someone over it, and they still refuse to go to couples counseling together.  The vast majority of people who want to marry someone will, if told how important it is, go to counseling together.

Never do advice is the dumb things people want to do (or loved ones in their lives) in your niche area.  Telling a woman who miscarried, “you can always get pregnant again” would be in this category of NEVER DO.

Half truths are fun because you can go with statistical information, or myths in your niche area and admit that yes, partially (common myth) is true but it’s missing the other side.  A huge one for marriages is that 50% of people get divorced.  In fact in any given year, a “cohort” of people from a given wedding year, only 1-2% will get divorced.  Similarly, we don’t all have a 50/50 chance of divorce.  Many factors play a HUGE role in our divorce rates.  But yes, in any given year 50% of all past marriages (of different wedding years) will come to an end, but that 50% represents a HUGE amount of new marriages and then a trail of marriages from different marriage lengths.


Hope this spurred some creative ideas for you!  If you have blog posts with some of these examples, share them in the comments and tell us how they were received.

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I love the question “where should a therapist spend their money?”

Therapy marketing where to spend moneyMy super short answer is: you’d be AMAZED how little you have to spend if you are creative, smart and have a lot of moxy.

My slightly less short answer is below.  And, per usual, I am forever one to ask questions about a question before answering… ;-)

The question about where to spend limited marketing dollars, asked by many therapists, stirs up the following thoughts for me:

  • Do you really have limited money?  (I will then look at vacations you take, nice dinners you have, fancy clothes you buy, quality presents you purchase for birthdays and holidays, how old your car is, how much your partner makes if you have one…. ) As someone interested in the psychology of money it is WILD how a well earning person may feel less financially secure than someone on paper who has quite limited income.
  • Do you have the mental chops and interest in learning stuff on your own?  (Learning = free)
  • Do you have time to learn?  (Time=longer route to money = less overall income earned.)
  • How much moxy do you have and how much does or could having a ball busting coach help you? (In a Yoda voice now, “Much success, moxy creates.”)  I say moxy because the best marketing is PURE relationship building and that requires getting out of our self-protecting egos, engaging others, and learning how to work within someone else’s paradigm.  It can be exhausting and scary.  Just the other day I emailed a connection at a big company and acted like a dorky 4 year old for a full two days before I could send a simple email!)
  • Who do you trust?  (I’m looking at your gullibility to sales people and your critical thinking skills, like do you believe what your neighbors best friend tells you about X being the best marketing technique ever, etc)
  • What standards do you have? (for your office location, for your website and visuals of business cards, who you want to attract because you have the guts to say (accurately) you aren’t a specialist in the homo sapien species and the 5,000 things that can go wrong with our lives and minds and how much do you suffer from Perfectionism…..)
  • How much do you trust (or even have…) an intuition or gut on what to do?  A strong intuition is mostly amazing but I have personally found in the last four or so months, our intuition tells 3/4 of the story and at last 1/4 of what we believe is not actually true or there are workarounds.  This is especially true on things like marketing when we’re not experts with the ability to have a “learned instinct” quite yet.  But we CAN have an instinct on a marketing coach and whether we like their general approach and can suspend judgement on something they suggest we do because we trust them (my recent experience and it was an amazing result….)
  • What will happen if your marketing money doesn’t work?  (Will you come up with more money?  Will you take a job that you don’t want to pay the bills….?)

So with those questions as a preface, I’d then figure out your personality.  

  • Are you a writer?  
  • Like to give talks?
  • A bit of an actor type who would do well on video?
  • Do you easily know who you want to serve and why?
  • How bored do you get?  (I always love changing things up so I’d never spend huge money on a website that I wasn’t able to change pretty easily)
  • Do you make decisions easily and are you good at follow through?
  • Are you an extrovert or introvert?
  • Do you feel competitive with others or are you able to look at someone as “that is my future” with excitement?
  • How expressive are you about what you do and what motivates you?
  • Are you looking to fill a practice and be joyful with 20-25 clients or are you looking at having clients but have a bigger mission along side 1 to 1 help with some broader cultural issue?
  • Do you have an ego?  Yes, no, healthy, unhealthy one?
  • How assertive are you?

So all those questions are super important and would lead me to helping you with a specific direction….


The three buckets of money to spend on marketing then are…..

Your Website as the Central Hub  (Money Spent Here)

  • You want just enough money in that you are happy, that the website gets readers to actually turn into clients
  • The website is where all your marketing efforts drive people to so you want it to work!

Finding Website Traffic (Money Spent Here)

  • Without eyeballs on your site you’re not likely getting clients
  • Money can be spent on therapy directories, Google Ads, Facebook marketing (great super local search abilities!) I’d just stay away from generic print ads in large publications
  • If you do videos or speaking or writing for other websites, then you do all those fancy skills with a keen eye on getting people back to your website

Learning from Real People Doing What You Want To Be Doing (Money Spent Here)

  • As the famous marriage and family therapist, Virginia Satir said, “We can’t see our own behinds.”  Often we’re entirely trapped in our heads and a small or large mental tweak or change in a thought or website messaging can make dramatic differences in our outcomes.
  • Putting hard earned dollars into talking to real people can be way more invaluable both in terms of specific details but also building your energy level, confidence, and networks.  We can’t talk back to books…. asking questions.
  • Marketing coaches (like me!) are fantastic and well worth figuring out if you want to work with one and what your goals are, but TRULY you may do very well with that person in your town who you admire who does similar work (but who isn’t down the hall and may be annoyed that you want all their clients)
  • Pay for the local therapists client therapy rate for an hour of brain picking… and then with they give names and organizations, ask if you can use their name as someone who suggested you contact those people.  Just be careful if they’re very successful they may have a different marketing rate OR they may be super burned out by brain picking therapists who never do anything with the advice.  Truly there is nothing as draining as seeing that happen over and over and they may say no simply because they’ve talked to too many therapists before you.

Warning: your website may still suck, you may still be positioning your messaging all wrong, and the “local therapist doing exactly what you want”  may have HORRIBLE advice for another generation ago.  Your therapy directory ads may not work, and you run out of money.

So the zero money option that takes some time is to study everything free…. there are tons of Amazon books out there for therapists and marketing and business building so buy those, or find them in the library.   Pick and chose what you like, plus web surf for the countless marketers out there inside our field and outside our field.

Then find a coach willing to do an assessment on what’s going on and be sure they don’t suck you into their expertise.  Like if you hired a marketing coach whose primary passion is video, be sure it doesn’t end in the assessment that you must do video.  They should be able to say all the options and pros and cons of the different approaches.  They should also be giving you a robust series of things to do beyond just a one trick pony move.

Good luck!




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Questions to Ask Yourself

by Elizabeth on January 10, 2014

A lot of us get “opportunities” come our way by all too happy sales people who want our money.  It may be to put a print ad in a large city paper, or to be a coupon in a coupon saver packet that is delivered to everyone’s house.  It may be to do a quasi TV commercial, using video, to promote ourselves.  Lots of people want us to do Google ads or ads in their specific network (like Yelp or the countless other website directories large and small.)  Maybe it’s to be a blogger on a large network.

Here are some questions to help you consider the BIG PICTURE:

  • What percentage of your marketing budget is the expense?
  • What won’t you be doing (energetically, time-wise, or financially) because you’re pursuing this opportunity?
  • Is the sales person trying to rush you into deciding, and you’re feeling a little flustered?
  • Does the offer address your need for super local clients?
  • Have other therapists done it and have proven success (the sales person ought to be able to direct you to a testimonial or at least name of someone in our industry)
  • How much does the “guarantee” sales spin they offer relate to the work they do versus the outcome you’ll get?  Any print or web company has a standard, impressive number they reach.  That has no bearing on eyeballs seeing your ad let alone of that small number who see it, the number who will respond.
  • Does the opportunity lend itself to any other side benefits?  For example, paying to be in a blogger network may not get you new clients but maybe it puts you on a new radar for higher level decision makers who will find you and offer you other writing gigs.
  • Does being a part of that offer make you look cheaper, or less stable, because of who their demographic is and the types of businesses that typically advertise with them?
  • Has a colleague tried it before and failed or succeeded?  Have you learned more details?
  • Does the opportunity “fit” your location?  Our regions vary a lot so for some of you being in the actual yellow pages will dramatically increase the number of middle age and elderly people who call you for therapy.  The vast majority of us should ignore the yellow pages entirely.
  • How will you truly know the ad/opportunity is working?  How can you measure and if you can’t, how will you know if it was a waste?

And the number one consideration:

How well is your website working?  Do you know how long people are staying?  Do you know exactly what people do on your site and whether you are addressing all their hesitations?

At the end of the day, all roads lead back to your website.

Too many therapists put lots of money into creative advertising but their own websites are struggling to attract clients.

Imagine your website is a falling apart lemonade stand.  Would you first work on fixing the lemonade stand or would you go spend a lot of money hiring people to be on every street corner directing people to your falling apart lemonade sale?


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The Imperfection Behind the Scenes

by Elizabeth on December 18, 2013

Hello everyone!

First of all, if you’re not on my list (though some of you will be getting an email later today) I have a one time offer that relates to my birthday and a lot of other goals.

But let me back up quick on the why I’m doing this offer, to shed some fascinating marketing light on you and why it’s better to be real with folks than have a glossy perfect sheen to your business…at least for what is called an “internal” launch to your fan base.

There is a man, Jeff Walker, who has a once a year training on product launches (then closes his cart so you’re very far off from going through his pricey program.)  What I love most about him is that he only talks about quirky niched folks who do NOTHING related to marketing.  You know, like you and me, trying to market to people wanting mental health services and products.

He is a super authentic, down to earth man who, inside his raging success, is constantly battling having a lifestyle business or having a business that occasionally lets him have his lifestyle (Colorado skiing and hiking.)  Almost all the big internet marketers have been taught by him but he seems to feel some have fallen from grace, which I agree with, and those schmucky people give the rest of us the eebie jeebies about marketing.

Anyway, I’ve been learning a ton from him and one of his lessons really stuck out and is why I’m doing this birthday product.

Most of his product launch formulas have a lot of moving parts and pieces, but he did give a few examples of 3-5 day launches.  The best part is you do these in a way that is authentic, telling the reader the real why’s and thinking behind it.   I perk up to the “why” because unless your why is something really superficial, people can relate or at least it makes sense to them that it’s not just purely about making money.

My birthday “idea” of a product hits a few key things for me while also helping other people!  I am trusting the process, because I started without selling ANYTHING, just soliciting questions.  I then trusted the questions would be great.  And now I’m trusting that people sign up and that what I offer is great, and the questions within the service part of my offering is great, and that I will learn as much as you, because your questions are so eye openingly delicious and useful for me to know exactly how to help.

So the “why’s” and “what” behind this product are:

1 – I have this super fancy new system that, for a small business, you really can’t get fancier.  The problem is?  It’s FANCY and before I get USA Today coverage in January for something else I’m launching (to the direct public) I really want to test this system.  The stress I have on this is very real.  I’ve spent hours and hours learning, in webinars, paid good money to a consultant, but you really have to JUST LAUNCH something to really test it fully.

2 – I really miss consulting!!!  I am THRILLED to not only help more people, but to have it in a Jeff Walker SUPER engaging way.

3 – I get to do it “my way” so unlike traditional teleclasses where you hear all the dings of people getting on, and the speaker does a lot of slow banter, and in the worst ones, it’s fluff, fluff, fluff, shove rainbows up your butt for even being on the call, then a mini lesson, then an upsell to the REAL reason they’re having the teleclass, then another lesson or two, then it ends…..  I am actually going to give material in video (oooh the stories I have that I haven’t shared, some are funny, and some really require my personality and non verbals.)  Anyway you’ll be able to ask confidential questions between lessons and I’ll answer them en-mass for the next video.  This is easier than Q&A on a call where you’re not likely to get your question asked or your brain hasn’t fully absorbed what you were just taught.  We’ll have a few days between videos.

4 – part of the “why” is it was my birthday not long ago!  I asked people to submit their questions before my birthday and now it’s taken this long for me read through the fantastic marketing dilemmas and questions people have, chose one, and get my systems in place.  The dollar amount on the product is my age, $38!  Fun eh?

It all makes sense and you get an inside look at what would otherwise be “hey I’m doing this one time product and buy it for $38!”  You also are forewarned that if things mess up, to be patient as part of the reason this is such a low price point is to have as many guinea pigs as possible, with all your personalities and quirks to “test” the system.

As a buyer, I think it can be more fun to receive more of the behind the scenes information, and to be super honest, HONESTY is really helpful as yesterday I spent most of the daytime hours in techie hell, wanting to curl up in a ball and cry.  But because I have a big list, then the list who responded to my original email, then a smaller list who answered their pressing question, I was able to start with that smallest list.  Now that things are working, after 5 tech support calls and a lot of testing, I can go more public.

The cart closes Friday December 20, 2013 so hop on board if you dare to spend a little bit of money for a ton of really cool, never before shared information and my almost 9 years perspective on marketing for therapists!  If you are reading this after the cart closes, the link below will be gone.


Thanks everyone and I hope this blog post was a little intriguing.  If you buy the product I’m sure I’ll be sharing more behind the scenes on it as my results so far match what Jeff predicts.  It’s pretty emotionally terrifying as well, so don’t think I’m too big for my britches here.  :D

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The Roller Coaster of Bravery

by Elizabeth on November 20, 2013

The highs and lows of therapy marketingI’ve been a little quiet lately, stewing in glorious overwhelm. While all seems quiet as we have no websites launched, it’s a madhouse behind the scenes. Almost every day some brand new thing happens that makes things even more powerful, fascinating, or solves a problem. The number of people I am to “follow up with in a couple weeks” makes me want to take a nap. To say I’m over my “ew, I don’t like the phone” is quite an understatement. My networking skills and “Rolodex” are on fire!

Life never quite goes in a straight line and yet I wouldn’t change anything that happened to get to this point.

But today I want to talk about the roller coaster. I’d say the “bipolar” nature of it all, but that is offensive to people actually struggling with bipolar, where they have to manage anger flashes, and extreme behavior, medication, spouses who don’t get them, kids who are afraid sometimes.

Yet there is an entrepreneur version of the extreme highs and lows that we know about, but not everyone will admit.  I call it a “ping pong” feeling, where you can be lower than low, then in one call, or email, or meeting, you can be higher than high.  Then another call, or thought, or conversation can crash you back down. I do not believe this has anything to do with strength of character (I’m actually not a moody person by nature and never have been) but with the intense power we hold on to our vision AND our egos.Therapy marketing vision

This is why, I really believe, people who just chase the money, never quite get there because they aren’t in the stew of emotions and may not listen closely to customers, or extend themselves further than they thought humanly possible.  They are the excuse makers of the world.  It makes sense because if you want to do as little work as possible, you do what marketer Jeff Walker calls “hope marketing.”  You don’t act like your pants are on fire and moving fast and furious is going to get you where you want to be.  Seriously, there are ways to make good money without this much extreme emotion!

The nature of entrepreneurism is not taught in therapy schools. The faculty have stability, though a few are adjunct and do have mostly busy lives outside the classroom. Don’t get me wrong, I’m the daughter of an academic who has proven you can do unbelievably amazing things outside the office. My father is probably more grounded in complex reality than most people outside academia, due to the work he’s done and the innovation he continues to do.

But, there is something about creating our future that only WE control that takes an emotional toll. The vision some of us carry is breathtaking, for a better world…for our role in that betterment. We fight stereotypes people have about us, or about our vision, or about the road to get there. We fight the “shoulds” and we fight our own instincts. We fight the oppressive nature of some therapists interpretations of what we can do, what insurance allows us to do, and what HIPPA mandates.

Therapy regulations, hippa, ethics

We fight trusting that we are in fact the most awesome version of ourselves the world has ever seen and that nobody can be us and nobody can share our unique gifts with our unique life lens.

Here are a few things that keep me sane and moving forward:

I trust my instincts and vision. I hold it with great energy so that when I’m feeling beaten down, I go back to that bubble inside me and get all excited again.  If I didn’t have good instincts and a vision, I wouldn’t survive.  In fact, my vision takes my breath away sometimes because it seems so gloriously large and far reaching.

Really amazing friends and acquaintances. Some of them are so beyond hilariously awesome that they touch not just the “rah rah” cheerleader voice I need to hear, but they’re own awesome ego’s rub up against mine, and remind us we’re all human weeble wobbles, trying to stay standing and walk into our vision.

Here is an example that had me laughing out loud.

The friend: Woman, never doubt your power. You have already made a huge contribution to the field and your ideas are OVER THE TOP GREAT!!!

Me:  awww thanks i may copy that and print it out.

The friend:  Do it! Some day my quotes will be famous!!!

Keep testimonials and positive quotes people say about you so that you can reread them for a boost.  Or simply ask for a pick me up from a loved one or friend to remind you how awesome you are.  When we realize, truly, how little we know about anything, it can shred our confidence.  These folks keep us afloat.

Know that there is no easy road and “excuses”, whether very real, or simply felt to be real, will always slow you down.  The goal is to manage those excuses and keep on keeping on.  There will always be illness, a crisis, time management struggles, and things outside our control.  But for those with a big vision, you have to continue.  While I put in 50 hour weeks in 4 days in grad school, I was still doing work emails all day long to serve customers, I was still learning 5-10 hours of marketing (usually audio so I multitasked with playing Solitaire as I learned… and yes, that is relaxing and energizing to me.)  Did I have to give up a lot, absolutely.  But I knew I couldn’t just “coast” for two years if I wanted to reach my vision.  Truth be told, it’s also honestly really fun stuff and it felt out of balance for me to not pay attention to this important part of me.

Find inspiration elsewhere.  For me, I have a vision for the therapy field that is quite big and very far from what it is today.  This past weekend I watched the moving Spinning Plates, a documentary about three restaurant owners.  One of them had me in tears with his creativity, vision and self-expression about what food and restaurant life mean to him.  That man inspires me for who he is and what he has to do to fight his industry’s standard practices and beliefs.  

Obnoxious people are going to be in your path.  It takes a lot of energy to deal with frustrating people and not let them zap you.  I put people who don’t listen in this category.  I’ve been given some of the most amazingly bizarre advice from people who have no idea what I’m doing, or what I already know.  It’s fascinating and a bit disturbing, really.  I always use these opportunities to check in with myself and my vision, and often I’m reminded of how far I’ve come when their advice is very dated to myself 5+ years ago when I was not in the same spot as I am today.  It helps me remember why I’m doing what I’m doing and helps me remember my unique gifts.  (Hint: if you are looking to pay a consultant and they give advice that you find out pretty quickly is not at all related to your business, run.  This happened with someone I wanted to hire for a system I use and I just felt bad for the guy who was fantastic with instant follow up with me, throughout a few week period, but missed the ball entirely by not asking me about my business but instead yaking about his success.)

There are many paths, and you get to chose yours!  This is a bit similar to above, but successful people take many paths, with many micro decisions on what they’re going to do, how they’re going to express themselves, and where they are going to put their energy.  The glorious thing is you get to define your own path!!  I am never going to be a schmoozy person, licking the behinds of big wigs, writing sales copy to fluff myself up, act like my customers are dumb and just greedy, or make my organization appear more powerful than it is.  You’d be amazed how many small businesses have consultants on hand or for contract work who list those people on their team to make it seem like there is a lot more business and work than there is!  I’ve literally seen 9+ people on a page, and it turns out there are just two people working, and the rest get an occasional gig.

Bring others along for the ride.  The collaboration and amazingly diverse group of people I’m working with “this go around” on this new Doherty Relationship Institute is so freakin’ fun and awesome.  I felt like I was in a silo before, self induced obviously, because these same people have always been around.  Being around the right people in the right business context brings out more in you and makes finding those win-win scenario easier.  We’re working with schools, divisions, big famous therapists, researchers, associations, non-profits, and much more.  I can go into my bravery because I’m exactly where I’m meant to be and walking into my vision.  If others don’t share the vision or turn into obnoxious people, their loss and I move on!

Context matters.  What I mean here is sanity may ebb and flow in this work, but the bigger context can keep you strong or can zap you.  The tricky thing before the last business wasn’t my vision but the context of the organizational structure.  I was about 7 months pregnant when my father said, “hey, I have this idea with a colleague but neither of us have the time to do the daily grunt work.  No pressure, but if you wanted to do the work, I’ll pursue this idea, otherwise I won’t.”  I was going to be a stay at home mom and make a few dollars on the side.  I bought into the business more recently, but hadn’t done all the leg work to chose all aspects of the business.

Similar to buying into an existing business, be aware that you are buying into a lot of strong assumptions, perceptions and historical memories and other people’s visions. That is hardly the same thing as I’m creating now!  I built INTO a vision, for sure, that I carry and will execute into my next therapy directory, but I was torn in many directions. Some of my father and my work belonged to us, some to just him, some to just me, and some to the business.  It gets very complicated and makes vision work harder when there are permissions to ask different people to do things that impact them.  If you find yourself in the wrong context everything may go wrong.  If you change where you are, everything may flow.  For me now, it’s a glorious flow.  Everything sits inside DRI and every benefit from one piece of work can flow organically around.  I can be the vision and the operations person and that is exactly how I like it.  

Everyone fails and has dirty closets (literal or figurative.)  At the end of the day there is not a single person who ever stepped easily into their vision.  This helps keep me going!!  Those who move more quickly are likely to have even dirtier homes because they dedicated more time and energy to their vision.  I am far from perfect and my house would probably make Martha Stewart shriek in horror.  But ya know I am fine with that.  All values compete with each other, and the time spent cleaning is time not spent decompressing, or visioning, or getting work done.  My house is clean enough. Everything takes longer to launch, with more effort and stamina that we could ever imagine.  Things we believe are solid fall apart and throw away ideas become the linchpin of a new business.  It’s all complicated and a knot of rope that we yank on one end of and see what happens.

Laughter and humility are the best medicine.  I took Saturday as a rare “me day” and was leaving a coffee shop, didn’t turn where I was supposed to, and got LOST.  Not just a little lost, but I had no idea what direction I was going and couldn’t figure out how SIRI works on my IPhone 5 and there was never quite a place to pull over for directions.  All I could do is laugh at my extreme incompetence in some areas of my life.  I also extra enjoy those silly animal videos, clever comedy bits, and anything that gets me out of the seriousness and stress of starting a big, bold new business.  A sweet entrepreneur friend, for example, sent me a care package.  Wouldn’t you know, the care package was kid-proof by way of bubble wrap they liked, but it wasn’t cat-proof by way of the COOKIES hiding inside.  The cats ate then upchucked the care package.  (It’s the thought that counts, B, if you’re reading this!)  :-)

I actually feel closer to other entrepreneurs and small business owners lately.  We’re all secretly freaking out or freaking up (a new term I just made up whereby we have blasts of extreme joy and energy that keep us going, psychically, for the mad spiral down.)

In my happy place, we’re all able to be honest in our successes, failures, freak outs, and freak ups.

In this space we are allowed to cry, scream, nap, and feel every roller coaster move into our bravery.

This is tough stuff folks.  The more you don’t fit “the mold” of doing “what you should be doing” as a therapist, the less support you get, the more people shun you, question you, or feel insecure and inferior around you.

Graduate school was a huge self help program.  Entrepreneurship is like grad school on crack.

But if you don’t fill your vision….who will?

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