Why Being WHO YOU ARE is important in reaching clients and colleagues or Why Parents and Mentees need YOU not your list of certifications –
podcast episode 2
There is no magic pill. It is simply called being you. The real you.
This being me is the reason why wearing a white SLP jacket is not simply my flavor. It is also why a matchy matchy business suit in professional workshops doesn’t quite suit me. But it took time to figure ME out. I believe this is why Tameika Meadows has such a reach and following with her blog and books. She has figured out that Heart to Heart connection plus SMART INTELLECT knowledge equals IMPACT.
I am a fan of good music. I love how music can grow up in an individual artist. The growing up being reflective of the artist aging and the need that the political, social, and technological climate require. Art is fluid. Business should be too. Like you, I have worked and seen business’ stuck and stagnate…this is what we do and how we do it. I remember interviewing for a Chief Clinical Officer position at an ABA Company and not wanting to relocate my family. I found the company attractive because they were multi-state and seemed progressive. But in peeling the layer and speaking to current leadership and former employees…a few things stood out:
Therapists shouldn’t worry their pretty little heads about business;
and Clinical and Business leadership had a distinctive visual picture of an old guard while the people doing the work were younger and more diverse.
The onion pulled back lack of fluidity in diversity in thought and leadership. Isn’t therapy, art? Isn’t business building an artform? Isn’t branding yourself and creating business identify,art?
I certainly think that like any good piece of music…there are retakes, rewrites, retooling, listening, understanding the pulse of your audience. What true artists are unafraid to do as they develop and grow or “come into themselves”…is daring to be different. Like true artistry, the call the grow requires distinction and the signature of different can feel lonely, challenging, and cyclical self-reflection that. To NOT be different would be a contrast to the call of understanding and knowing that the clinical therapist will eventually make your best leader. They understand two things…the therapist perspective, the client perspective…the business’ two major important customers: employees and families.
For therapist’s that feel the call, the pull, the nudge to clinical leadership and/or therapy business ownership, here are some tips from my Landria experience.
Keep your circle small enough to count filled with encouragement and accountability. You will need people. And they don’t have to all be therapists. The people that have encouraged me the most and held me accountable were those that were “For Me”. I think TD Jakes adds clarity to distinguishing Comrades, Confidantes, and Constituents.
Work Backwards. Write down the vision then connect your plan to the vision. The plan is the step by step how to. I like to create plans in pencil. For me, it’s symbolic of plans and PLANS. It allows me room for recreation, erasing, and starting again. My desk is filled with colored pencils, markers, crayons, dry erase boards, and vision journals.
Understand Timing and It’s Gift. Timing is everything. I had a vision years ago as I closed my 14 year multi-state clinic and really wanted my new vision to meld into the clinic(s) that I had. I kept trying to make the two fit…change culture (all by myself) and grew tired. I worried that the the time would pass because I really had no energy left to execute and I wanted to give more energy to myself and my family. I remember discussing this with a confidante and her words were “when you re-enter, what you seek and who you will serve will still be there…it’s okay to take a break”. And I did…I developed my plan, I retooled, found a second love niche in therapy business strategy coaching, and then had a second baby. All of this happened in a span of two years…and goal-plan-vision is even more stronger and necessary.
Being an entrepreneur of any kind is tough no matter how much financial backing you have or not. Certainly, funding takes pressure off. But creativity, planning, and the internal drive to succeed is innate to the entrepreneur. The added pressure of the direct impact to our clients and the call to serve is a pressured duality. The business of therapy has many internal thoughts:
I need to market to get more clients and/or staff;
I need to make sure I have systems in place when they come;
I must make sure I budget and making a profit is very important for me and my business;
And when my clients and staff come, I must monitor clinical progress, etc.
Whewwww…remember Time. All things take time. That’s the eventual promise of what happens when you work the plan and stay committed to the vision. It’s Inside-Out work. I even stayed focused…I stopped interviewing, I created what I needed…Momentum Autism Therapy Services.
Stay the Course and Remember this Therapy Business is Masterful work! Get your tools and start creating 🙂
In all the lists going around about what you do for marketing. Some things just don’t travel well on you and don’t reach your potential clients…they can sense it and smell it. Here’s a few reasons why:
You are uncomfortable selling your services and talking about yourself.
You are trying to reach people in a way that doesn’t fit them culturally.
You are not speaking in consumer language.
Therapists are therapists. I was at a meeting with leadership of a major autism therapy organization and was told this. In my head, I was slightly offended. But, in later digesting this information…my takeaway is therapists think about therapy and speak in therapy terms; your potential customer does not. So how are you really supposed to get more clients and referrals? How are you really supposed to differentiate yourself even when there is a bigger grander competitor around the corner?
Look around you. Look at what you buy. Do you see it? Walgreens and CVS are typically near each other. Walmart and Target often share the same parking lot. Kohl’s is next to Target. Bank of America is across the street from Chase Bank. Competition is inevitable and not going anywhere. Competition is not about another person. Competition is about you. It is about how you see yourself in the race, how you stay in your purposed lane and finish your race. Not looking right or left, but straight ahead. Competition is about arming yourself with the best trainer, uniforms, coaches. Competition is about staying in the race, resting, retooling.
It’s about You. Your Mind. and Building your Business Muscle.
There are no magic pills to make the clients come. There is no Build it and they will come. There is the build it. Shout it out. Put yourself in front of it. Get your materials and talk about it and tell people what to do next.
It is about being operationally ready for the first call. It is about creating policies and procedures that are the buffer and boundary.
December registration will open for the next Marketing course (two part) and Business Bootcamp. Courses will begin in January.
I am also opening my coaching therapy doors to welcome five additional clients. Want to know more? Email me with the subject line “Count Me In” at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Paper-Scheduling Chase and HOW IT DOESN’T WORK
You open your ABA, Speech, or OT Therapy Practice.
You are happy.
Your family is proud.
You get a few clients.
You are proud and happy.
You start billing.
You get paid.
You are very happy.
You get more clients.
You hire employees.
You feel like a business owner.
Then you get more clients…which means more paper. More authorizations. More signatures. You add services like ABA or Speech Therapy or OT. You now want social groups. Your staff is happy for the job security. Your client’s are signing up. And you have more paper. You can’t keep up. You are using program books and Excel to track ABA programs and it’s not keeping up and not very efficient.
You chase employees down for signatures. Employees break HIPAA even after training with leaving paper out and in their cars. You don’t get the signatures you need at the timeline for billing and paying your expenses. You are stressed. Paperwork and Codes change. You send out a memo. Employees use old codes. You spend your weekends in the clinic fixing your employees coding errors and auditing paperwork for signatures. Billing is late. Payments are late.
Employees are happy.
YOU ARE STRESSED. YOU ARE TIRED. YOUR WEEKENDS AND NIGHTS BELONG TO THE CLINIC.
The scheduler is putting people without authorizations on the treatment schedule. You will never get paid for those services rendered. You are losing money. Your services are great but going down if you don’t get your hands in treatment…after all, you started to make a difference not enter a conundrum of billing, signatures, reports, and paperwork.
Your processes suck and they are killing your quality of life as a business owner and hindering your business growth. Finally….You add electronic system. You add a scheduling system. You add a billing system. You add a data collection system. They work for a while…but don’t talk to each other. Those systems don’t even meet the insurance requirements of getting signatures, note taking, and the scheduler is still scheduling visits for which you do not get paid. You find yourself having the same conversations every time and are afraid to fire the scheduler and front desk staff because…they have all the information in their head and no one taught you about unemployment and those atrocities in SBA class and in graduate school.
Your processes STILL SUCK and now you have technology that is not working for you. Your Saturdays and late nights are still owned by the business…and you have convinced yourself that this is the cost of doing business and everyone goes through this. Meanwhile…life is passing you by…your employees talk about their great weekends and you have been doing their work all weekend. You write a memo. And the cycle continues…the happy service firestorm.
Can you relate?
This was me at different points and time.
So when do things really get better? It’s not a matter of when but HOW do things really get better.
Change systems. Change culture. Change how we implement technology into our clinics and schools. Our commitment at TN Active Care is not just to get adoption of a system and add you to our numbers, but implementation of the system so that it works for your practice. And here is the real difference between TN Active Care and others aside from getting a “ME”:-) (clinic director,entrepreneur, first hand understanding the leadership perspective). Each client that works with us gets the environment created and custom to your clinic and school. We ask questions..we listen to you and how you work, what you need especially and we custom our framework around you. This is very much like what we do for our clients in ABA therapy and other treatments…what really works is not placing a program on a client and making it fit..but creating an program and client management system that actually works!
This is about more than technology. It’s about Efficiency, Productivity, Quality Assurance, and giving YOU your Saturdays and Evenings BACK (Quality of Life).
How Exposure, Opportunity, and Experience make a Difference in Teaching Concepts
I’m using this Saturday morning, taking a brief break from studying, and watching the movie “Hardball” with Keanu Reeves. It’s a story of redemption for Keanu as he is tasked to coach an inner city youth baseball team. True to life, he eventually learns that investment has a cost and the teaching-learning is reciprocal. In a memorable statement, he asks the team if they’ve ever been to a baseball game. The children reply “No”. Keanu states “Until you see a baseball team, you’ll never learn to be one”.
Isnt’ this what we know as therapist’s. ABA, Speech, Occupational Therapist. Especially those of us that work with children with autism. Being is Seeing.
When we want our client’s to BE…we essentially want them to learn the concept and the proof of learning is in the data. You know those pesky numbers that require us to show that what we are doing has social relevance, is working, and has generality.
But our client’s need to “see a baseball team”. How do we deeply want our clients to identify fruits, vegetables, foods when the the opportunity to go to the grocery store doesn’t happen, the experience of eating a select food item happens often, and the exposure to only what he will eat continues to exist. How then and what connection do our clients have with our learning tools and teaching stimuli? I was amazed in doing language therapy with a group of children last year that in discussing animals, none had ever visited a zoo; asking them about where to find books, few had visited the library. How do we as therapist’s get up this mountain of language lack and get to acquisition, fluency, and generalization of new concepts?
WE MUST WANT TO.
First things first. The desire to get to know what our clients know has to be there. We must have the motivation to build our treatment around them, allowing the learning material and objects to be motivators. The connection to the learning tools is because of interest and the need to know more. Connect the small interest and expand on that. After all, project based learning such as Reggio Emilia does this with typical brain developers. How awesome is this to take this concept of interest and expansion into the world of discrete trial teaching and ABA therapy. For instance, if your client loves all things “red’. Why not start with red things, apples, candy, veggies, chips, crayons and use them to teach categories and smaller categories (i.e. fruit, snacks, shapes, colors, crayons, clothing, etc.).
2. DON’T ASSUME. GET TO KNOW YOUR CLIENT.
Here is where it’s not tricky at all, but this is where therapist’s get in their own way. This is the part we miss. I recently read a post on FB from an SLP who gave reasons why she no longer does home visits…”section 8 families never home, too busy to answer the door because of drugs, sex, and alcohol”. Because we live in a world of screen shots, I was flabbergasted. I also thought…this therapist could not have any true friends-colleagues to remind her that arrogance has no place in the heart work of therapy and to take that #$@# down! So the getting to know our clients is simply taking on each as an individual. Not all families who speak a second language are dysfluent in English, they can be fluent in both and have a great language rich home. A child of surgeons, can have poor opportunities and exposure because they may not fit the picture of what is imaged. Never assume. Get to know them, lay down your profiling and stereotypes, and MAKE A DIFFERENCE!
3. CREATE COMMUNITY RELATIONSHIPS.
You want your client’s to have social opportunities. You want them to experience the vocabulary and actually engage with the concepts and words you teach. Well this where the extra mile gets impactful. Make calls to your local library, supermarkets,museums, and arrange discounts or make it more autism friendly so that the loudness, etc. of the place doesn’t get in the way of them experiencing the target goal. And how about those supports coordinators for autism waivers and such…this is what they should really be doing to make the therapy work. So let’s help them be better at and more integral in coordinating and establishing those community relationships for you. It takes a village. Yes. And village creation is not magical. It takes reaching out, reaching across, and communication.
4. BE IMPACTFUL. MOVE AWAY FROM WORKSHEETS.
I don’t like worksheets for most things especially therapy homework. Circle the_____. Cross out the _____. Versus write down your dinner,circle the vegetable, the dairy. Look through this article on USA today or Time for Kids, make a video summary and tell me about what you read. In a world of SnapChat, Instagram, Facebook Live and all things to come…I don’t want my client on these platforms engaging in ways that look as if therapy were never part of his world. To be impactful in 2016 and beyond, today’s therapist will need to assign relevant homework with applicable outputs. The therapist will have to assign experiences and discuss them rather than the solitary worksheet that may support acquisition but will not readily yield fluency and out of touch generalization.
Seeing is Being. And on the flipside…how can a therapist assign a client to make an Instagram video and give a movie review (2 things you like and don’t like about a movie), if they themselves don’t use the tools. Going to the baseball game is a two part. The coach had already experienced this phenomena and studied it…he enjoyed it and saw the relevance and therefore exposed his apprentice. As people in this world, we experience life…and don’t bring the “baseball” game to the therapy room and we lack relationship with our families…never getting to know them beyond the surface. Time out for this! Life is not only short, but our time spent together must be impactful.
Therefore, my clients have no room for my assumptions about their life…I need to bring them to the baseball game…to frame the words from the Statue of Landria, SLP GURU
Bring me your behaviors. Food Aversions. Sarcastic say anything selves. Bring your spitting, bolting, and focused interests. Bring your inflexibility, large vocabulary and small experiences. Bring me your large experiences that you keep to yourself. Bring me your hitting. Bring your slang, defensiveness…I am your Autism Therapist…it is my job to accept you, broaden your world, and make you better for having known me…not from any pseudoscience, but from evidenced based practice, real world application, and data collection. Bring yourself. I bring myself. And let’s get to work! ~Landria Seals Green
…and other Things I applaud to Encourage and Teach Independence
In my mind I had several things to get accomplished at the same time. And I was holding my three year old son’s pants. I handed his pants to him and said “Put your pants on”. In his wisdom, he paused, moved his head to the side and repeated the direction. As I then tended to other things, I could hear see him sit on the floor and hear him slowly saying “Right…Left”. A few minutes later he walks up to me and I remember thinking “PANTS. HE’S WEARING PANTS backwards.” I immediately screamed with glee, clapped, hugged, and we did a dance. Why? All of this for something incorrect?
It was his effort.
His generalizing something he hears as a slow down prompt…Right, Left.
He went for it.
He did his best work.
In working with people with autism and other special needs. I’ve always believed the importance of honoring the present level in such a way that gives that “I believe in you feeling”. It is possible for the therapist to have human engagement beyond “he’s so cute”…and actually Collect Data, Teach and Expect more all at the same time.
Here is what happened that I did not expect. Later as I was putting on my own pants (TMI), my son clapped for me, screamed in glee, and told me congratulations. Social reciprocity, Experience Sharing, and other nonverbal social development skills is what we see on the playground and want for our clients and children. Where does that social connection piece begin? At the beginning of our interactions and we teach it. We show it. We embody that which we want them to become…better versions of themselves not many therapy “me’s”.
A larger lesson is that I did not measure my three year old by my standards of putting on pants. I measured him against himself. Ha! What a lesson for adults. Less negative competition, topper comparison, and pointing out the wrong. But the positive authentic acknowledgement of the person standing before us and celebrating how far they have come.
The celebration of HUMAN EFFORT in the YOU DID IT! And then the I SEE YOU experience humans need and want. Then the teaching of
Putting on pants in the correct direction
Placing silverware in the correct location
Putting socks in the sock drawer.
Putting shoes on the correct foot.
Moving toward Generalized Independence is not just about data collection. It is about seeing the individual as they are, celebrating them, collecting data, and giving the informational supports needed to exceed themselves!
I’m sure this post is not so speechy in its five steps to improve behavior, communication, or any other topic. I have been busy. A good busy. Manageable, not crazy, and working on some pretty awesome projects. The best part, is that I am present (in mind) for myself. Still climbing to the top, but I have to admit a lighter load makes all the difference when climbing a mountain.
I have the amazing task of designing college-graduate level courses for a university adding an autism specialization to its teacher education track. Not teaching the course(s)…although it is an option for me; But designing the courses inclusive of what student’s will read, discuss, projects, and all things in between. Sounds good, right? Sounds amazing, right? Yes and Yes. Autism Subject Matter Expert, Landria Green is pretty cool. But, here is the thing…like any project you can get lost in the detail. I also remember being in college and graduate school thinking “my professors are giving a heavy workload because they can”. Here are some of the lessons I have learned and tools I used to keep myself organized and focused:
Calendar. Deadlines are real. In order to move forward in deadlines, I live by my electronic and paper calendar. I use an Erin Condren calendar to arrange the specifics of my day (library time for my son, take son to school, work on project A).
Maintain your sanity. The details are such that they can overwhelm you. In designing this first course, I became so lost in the details…I was becoming ineffective to myself. So when I found myself doodling and perusing facebook, I would give myself a “play break”.
Your learning style matters in designing. When I was in college and graduate school, I was the student who gathered all journal articles, read them, marked them up, sat down at the computer and started typing. Brain to fingertips…paper done. I am no longer a 20 something in college, I am still this type of reader, learner, and writer. I honored that part of me in designing and communicated this to the team I am working with to support their understanding as we hashed out the course(s).
Review. Reformat with fresh eyes. I am doing this right now. I am reviewing and thinking that one class session should go before the other so that there is better understanding. I could only do this after reflecting, talking about it aloud, envisioning my self as the adult learner.
Keep It Simple. The heavy workload doesn’t make me a better course designer. I want better application of those journal articles. I want people to not Hammer through, but to actually read, apply, discuss and be better for the learning experience. That’s how I mentor (trick is always making sure there is good intentions of the mentee….more about that another time) and how I think when reading journal articles and designing clinical programs for schools and individual learners.