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[00:00:00] Dr. Sharp: Hello everyone and welcome to The Testing Psychologist podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Jeremy Sharp, licensed psychologist, group practice owner, and private practice coach.

Many of y’all know that I have been using TherapyNotes as our practice EHR for over 10 years now. I’ve looked at others and I keep coming back to TherapyNotes because they do it all. If you’re interested in an EHR for your practice, you can get two free months of TherapyNotes by going to thetestingpsychologist.com/therapynotes and enter the code “testing”.

This episode is brought to you in part by PAR.

The Personality Assessment Inventory Bariatric compiles the results of the PAI into a useful report for bariatric surgery candidates, available on PARiConnect, PAR’s online assessment platform. You can visit parinc.com\paibr.

Hey everybody. [00:01:00] Welcome back to the podcast. I’m glad to have you here. Thank you for being here.

This interview today was a fantastic interview that ran the gamut of topics and emotions from my perspective. As the interviewer, you will hear me two times say that I am reflecting so much on the content and the knowledge that my guests are sharing that I was even having trouble focusing on the next question and how to stay on task for the interview, which happens rarely in this job.

My guest, Shelli Warren, is a distinguished Women’s Leadership Advisor and host of the Stacking Your Team podcast. Her expertise lies in helping small business owners develop and nurture a leadership team that can take over the daily operations of the business, enabling the owners to focus on higher-level growth decisions.

She has an impressive background that includes successfully managing multi-million dollar projects for Fortune 50 corporations [00:02:00] and iconic-billion dollar brands. Shelly spent nearly 10 years coaching business owners since ‘retiring’ about 10 years ago.

Her podcast is now in its 5th year and has over 500,000 downloads. Like I said, it’s called Stacking Your Team. There will be a link in the show notes. It serves as a source of inspiration and education for women leaders, guiding them on how to build capable leadership teams that can effectively provide the daily direction needed to exceed their company’s clients’ expectations.

Shelli and I get into a lot of dimensions on this interview. We talk about leadership more than anything, but as you’ll see, the conversation veers into a lot of the emotional aspects of leadership, the difference between having employees versus team members, and why that’s important. We talk about how to have our team members become more invested in our practices [00:03:00] and reduce turnover. We talk about the aspects of leadership that can be tough, conversations that we struggle with, loneliness as leaders, and many other things. There’s a lot to take away from this conversation. I think you’ll find Shelli dynamic and insightful as I did.

If you are a testing practice owner, I would love to be able to support you in whatever way I can from beginning your practice, launching, to scaling and hiring folks. If you would like some of that support, you can go to thetestingpsychologist.com/consulting and schedule a pre-consulting call to see if it’s a good fit. And if not, I will make sure that you get hooked up with the right resources; one of which might just be Shelli and her niche in coaching. So give me a call if you would like and we’ll figure out if it makes sense to work together.

Without further ado, let’s get to my conversation with Shelli Warren.

[00:04:00] Shelli, hey, welcome to the podcast.

Shelli: Happy to be here, Jeremy.

Dr. Sharp: I am happy to have you. You have a unique perspective on this whole business development, leadership topic, and many other things. I’m excited to get into this with you.

I will start where I start with everyone, which is, of all the things that you could do with your life, especially at this point in your life, why are you doing this? Why focus your time and energy here?

Shelli: Well, I’ve always been a coach. I was a gymnastics coach for years, a dance coach, a local mentor to young girls. And then as I moved into my corporate career, I found that I was [00:05:00] often coaching people. I coached up the ladder, down the ladder, sideways on the ladder. I was always being called upon to help coach and develop people.

When I retired from Procter & Gamble, 10 years ago, when I was 52, I decided that I wanted to continue doing the kind of work that lights me up, which is coaching and developing others. So here I am at 62, still loving what I’m doing and leaning, I would say, even further into it.

Dr. Sharp: I love that. I’m going to hold back on all my gymnastics coaching questions because my daughter is a competitive gymnast at this point and I am still learning everything about that.

You’ve done this across the course of your life. I’m struck by the idea or the fact that [00:06:00] you retired and are leaning further into another career. I’m curious what that’s like for you, especially as I’m guessing, a lot of your friends, family, peers, whatever, are coasting into retirement and doing less. Is that fair?

Shelli: It’s very true. A lot of my former colleagues, family, and friends think I’m nuts. I bump into them at the local bakery or the deli or the grocery store. People joke and say, when are you going to retire? And I’ll say, I did retire. I retired 10 years ago from corporate life and now I have a small business and I love it. I see no reason whatsoever to stop what I’m doing. And because I really enjoy the clients that I work with, and I really enjoy developing tools, [00:07:00] frameworks, and curriculum, I think I will always be doing this.

I joke with my daughter, she’s going to be 35 here at the end of the month, and I joke around with her that when I really do retire and I move into a senior residency home, I’m probably running it. I’ll be the lady at the front desk, welcoming new people in, putting together outings, hosting events. I truly believe that we have to stay active and we have to continue to enjoy what we do. And if you’re able to do it, why wouldn’t you?

Dr. Sharp: Yeah, that’s a good way to put it. My wife says the same thing. We’re a little younger but we talk about retirement a lot actually. She says the same thing. She’s like, I don’t have any reason to want to quit doing what I’m doing.

Shelli: I really did want to retire at 52, but the reason why I retired at [00:08:00] 52 was because I had a side hustle that was doing well, and that gave me the confidence to leave at 52. I also had zero debt So no car payments, no credit card payments, no mortgage on the home, nothing like that.

I thought I’m not completely thrilled with the direction that this leadership team is taking us. I’m starting to enjoy the volunteer work that I was doing in my local community more than coming into work every day, and so that was a sign that it was time for me to step out, lean more into that volunteer work, lean into really moving the small business forward and start bringing more of myself to work than feeling any restrictions that were happening at the time because of a change in leadership direction.

Dr. Sharp: It’s a good way to put it. It sounds like you had a nice safety net and you were very deliberate about it. [00:09:00] From one entrepreneur to another, I still admire the leap. It’s always a leap.

Shelli: It was a very big leap. I still sometimes refer to it as the velvet coffin. I had an absolute fabulous career with them, and now I’m having a second fabulous career.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah. This is going a different direction than I thought we might right off the bat, but you’re leading us down this path. So I’m going to follow it for a little while.

I think a lot of folks out there are probably wrestling with hard decisions with career and work and maybe feeling a little disillusioned and wondering if they should take the leap. I’m just curious for you what that process looked like. I don’t know if you can remember, but from inception of the idea, like, ooh, maybe I could leave this secure corporate thing to actually doing it, and then taking the leap and [00:10:00] making it happen. Can you talk about that process at all and how you work through that?

Shelli: Sure. Well, I had started to make money in my side hustle and I had started to build a reputation outside of the corporate world. Becoming known for something different, that’s no joke. That is a heavy lift, especially when you live in a small town, to reeducate people about what you’re doing now.

When you have an identity that’s attached to a big corporate brand and you’re known for that and those connections and that network, and now you’re starting to step into a whole different realm of being every day, for a lot of people, they resist it. A lot of people resist thinking of you in any other way.

And so I went through the normal ridiculousness of any person that starts a business. [00:11:00] My prices were embarrassingly low. I was over-delivering ridiculously but at the same time, I loved it. I loved the freedom. I loved knowing that I had a skill set that could parlay over into a different realm.

And so I had my own business for, I’m going to say, about three years, and then I joined a different brand that was based in the US. It was a coaching business. I joined that brand and I built out a profit center with that brand for five years, including intellectual property, all kinds of things.

Then that founder decided that she wanted to focus on one single client type, which was essentially her ideal client because her and I had very different skill sets, very different mastery areas. And [00:12:00] so I ended up buying the profit center that I built, buying back the intellectual property, including my podcast. All the clients came with me.

I was petrified that the clients would jump ship and they didn’t. They literally used to sing me Lizzo songs about damn time, all that kind of stuff. They were so supportive and it really gave me the boost that I needed at the time to launch a new full-blown business, rebrand it, kept as much consistency as I could that I had built over the last five years, I wanted to not confuse my ideal clients in any way, but it was another very big leap and a lot of people thought it was absolutely nuts.

Dr. Sharp: I believe you.

Shelli: A lot of people thought, well, isn’t this a sign that you should actually be [00:13:00] retiring now? And I just knew that, not for me. It’s not that I don’t think people have aspirations, the old dream was the double nickel retirement, right? Everyone wanted to retire at 55. You were made in this shade if you retired at 55. I did it at 52 but it didn’t feel like I was on the top of the podium. It felt like I was ready for the next thing that I wanted to do. So I really enjoyed that five years that I spent with that US brand, and then now it’s been a full year that Stacking Your Team has been its own company and still going strong. I’m really enjoying it.

Dr. Sharp: That’s a hell of a story. I’m going to ask a super naive question to fill in a gap that I imagine some people are wrestling with. What is a profit center?

Shelli: A profit center, that’s [00:14:00] my corporate conditioning coming out because I like to take what works well in corporate and strip it down into something that works really well in small business. That’s what I do. In a nutshell, that’s how I coach people. 

I’m looking to teach small business owners to literally set up their businesses, not only in business functions but as in profit centers so that they start to understand, hey, what really are the profit centers that I have created here in this business? 

Typically, those profit centers are linked to a revenue stream and you can start to see, hey, that revenue stream is stronger versus that one. Let’s talk about why. The marketplace is telling me that I should be putting more effort into building out this particular profit center because there’s such high demand for that in this current moment in my marketplace, in my local community.

And so what I help my [00:15:00] clients do is learn profit centers, what makes them great, what makes the mediocre, what profit centers need to be sunset or retired, and then how do I build a leadership team so that I have a leader in every one of those profit centers that’s looking forward, that’s looking at cost savings, that’s looking at how do I develop the people that are linked to this particular profit center so that they really do feel like they’re leaving a stamp on the business itself and they start to think like business owners.

A little tip I tell my clients all the time is we should be helping our team members stop thinking like employees and start thinking like business owners.

The minute we can have them start to think like business owners, the more tethered they feel to you in your private practice or your small business, however type of business you have, and the more they start to realize, hey, wait a minute, I can have a career here. I don’t have to work for some big corporation [00:16:00] and be strangled every day with all the red tape and all the hoops that I have to jump through in order to even get noticed. I can have a worthwhile career here in this small business with my name, reputation, identity linked to this particular profit center that I am such a key contributor for.

It’s really about understanding what is a profit center, how it’s linked to revenue streams, and how as a business owner, you should be taking the deeper look at what’s the data telling you and how can I look to improve this particular profit center.

Dr. Sharp: Okay. There’s a lot to dig into there. So I’m going to try.

In our practices, can you give me an example, maybe that’s where we start, what are profit centers in a mental health practice? Are these service lines? 

Shelli: Yeah. So you look at where’s the money coming in [00:17:00] from? What’s the source? Do you have a revenue source that is directly linked to your school board? Do you have a revenue source that is directly linked to general GPs like local doctors? Do you have a revenue source that is linked to your government, whether it’s your state, province, or territory? Is there grant money being set aside that you’re overlooking that you could build out and develop, and that could become an additional revenue stream for you?

So it’s really about looking at where’s the money coming from, where would I like the money to come from? Where has it dried up? Where have those streams literally turn into creeks and now it’s just a trickle coming in. And is that my fault? Did I impact that? Is it my [00:18:00] team that’s impacted that or is there a way for us to turn that around? And then how do I set my team up so that they feel ownership and responsibility to move the goals within that profit center forward?

Dr. Sharp: Let me try to define this a little bit more. I’m super concrete and black and white sometimes. The way you describe it, profit centers almost sound like referral streams, like where are the referrals?

Shelli: Yes, could be.

Dr. Sharp: Could that be Google ads versus medical practices versus schools versus neurologists, whatever it may be?

Shelli: Yes. All of those, but you also have a profit center called admin, and within your admin organization, they’re making money for the practice as well. How they’re making money is making sure that billing is done correctly, billing is done on time, that they have a [00:19:00] plan and a process that they go after those no pay, slow pay, no pays, and that they’re always looking at ways to streamline the operations so that there’s no constraints and that it’s is run effectively and efficiency. So now you’re looking to where can we save money.

The admin team is so critical in any private practice in any business because they are linked to profit, although you have to teach them how they’re linked to profit because it’s not an easily understood concept.

Most people that work in admin would never consider themselves to be part of profit center. They just don’t. They have a different outlook as to what the work that they’re doing, but it’s as simple as knowing that you never have a client leave your practice without booking their next session, totally linked to profit. You would never [00:20:00] have a full treatment plan mapped out by one of your psychologists and then have that particular parent or client leave without booking out the full treatment plan and getting those dates locked in to the calendar, right? Again, directly linked to profit.

Dr. Sharp: It’s true.

Shelli: So, it’s looking at almost like departments that you would have within your small business, within your private practice, and then messaging them and positioning them as actual profit center, so we’re going to watch what’s happening over here. We’re going to watch the trends. We’re going to make decisions based on data, not on emotions. We’re going to keep our eye on what’s happening in the marketplace. What are our clients asking for?

Hey, are we realizing that the number of referrals that have come in from this one family are outstanding. The lifetime value within this one particular family, their siblings, their cousins, and their neighbors, [00:21:00] we really should be doing something to make sure that that cluster of clients feel like VIPs every time they’re here. Those are all the strategies and the thinking that goes behind leading a profit center. 

Dr. Sharp: I love this. I’m going to follow this one thread just for a second and then go bigger picture. When you say you want to help people feel like VIPs, what are some ideas that you’ve seen in practices that are leaders that you’ve worked with?

Shelli: Well, I feel the biggest thing that you can, and believe me, I’m a VIP in my small town in a number of ways, and it’s mainly because I grew up here. I have far-reaching network here.

I’m a buyer. I’m a shop local person. I look for ways to help small business owners here as well. So when I’m in a shop, I don’t just go in and make my purchase. I’m always [00:22:00] commenting on this or giving accolades to a team member that helped serve me. That’s just who I am.

In a private practice, there’s ways to have your clients feel like VIPs as simple as things like putting them at the top of the queue, sending them a different monthly newsletter than what you would send to your masses, inviting them to invite-only events, telling them first about a new service that you’re offering, or a new psychologist that has joined your team.

What you’re doing is you’re reminding them, as a VIP client within my practice, I’m so excited to be able to share with you that we’ve hired two new psychologists. Let me introduce them to you. You can do that with a little video that gets embedded into the newsletter that’s being sent to them. You might kick it [00:23:00] up another level, invite them to come in and actually meet the new psychologist at a closed door event on-site, light beverages, meet and greet situation.

What you’re trying to do is look for ways that elevate the relationship that you already have with them, because those are the individuals that are your ambassadors, especially in a small town. Those are the people that are talking about you favorably at the backyard barbecue, at the mom meet-up, and at the soccer field.

And so I think sometimes we forget these simple little gestures, simple strategies that you can put into play that become a natural, this is how we do it here. It becomes so natural. It’s so genuine. People start to feel the difference about having you as part of their healthcare team. [00:24:00] They feel the difference of interacting with you and being served by you and your team because most people who are your clients, are building out a health care team. There’s more than one service provider that’s helping them with their child or themselves. And so we can’t overlook those things.

And so when you look at setting your business up with these profit centers, you invite that kind of creative thinking and you invite those deeper conversations to help people that are linked to that particular profit center to say, Oh my gosh, I know I’m a psychologist, but I love planning events.

Dr. Sharp: Sure.

Shelli: I know I’m a psychologist, but I am so entrenched within our local sporting community, especially the 13 to 16 year-olds. I [00:25:00] love that I get to go and speak to those organizations on recruitment nights and talk to them about how we can help their young athlete build out their Olympic dreams.

You have people on your team, you start to get to know what lights them up and you can offer them opportunities to show another side of themselves or even like a deeper side of themselves, not just the psychologist skill set. That’s what keeps people tethered to you and that’s how you reduce turnover on your team.

Dr. Sharp: So this is that point that you’re bringing up about helping people feel like team members versus employees, right?

Shelli: Yeah. I refrain from using the term employee. The only time you’ll ever hear me say employee is if I’m talking about an employee manual. I refer to people as team members because in my mind, [00:26:00] if someone speaks to me as a team member, refers to me as a team member, treats me like a team member, I know I belong to something bigger than me. If I’m being referred to as an employee, I’m feeling more like a badge number. I’m feeling more like a payroll ID number and no one wants to feel like that.

Dr. Sharp: I think you’re right. I know you’re right from experience on both sides.

Let’s talk about some more ways to help folks feel empowered and team members versus employees. Do you have other thoughts on that?

Shelli: Sure. Well, one of the easiest ways to reduce your team turnover and boost your retention numbers is to recognize the fact that the reason why people quit, and the reason why people suddenly get a notion in their head that they’d be [00:27:00] better off on their own, like, Hey, I’m going to leave this practice and go start my own, or I’m going to leave this practice and go join one of those big tech app outfits and I’m going to work from home in my pajamas and all that kind of stuff, the reason why people get an idea in their head that they’d be better off anywhere else other than with you, there’s really only two reasons. It’s because they do not feel connected to you, their leader, or they do not feel connected to the work.

Both of those things can be so easily fixed, including if your practice is quite large and you personally are not responsible, you don’t have direct reports any longer, or ideally, like how I coach my clients, if I’m really wanting them to build a leadership team, so the people that they are 100% responsible for and 100% tethered to each day [00:28:00] with giving coaching and direction are their leadership team members. And then those leadership team members are now responsible to the extended team divided into profit centers.

So you can still stay connected to that extended team, whether you have 60 psychologists, 100 psychologists, you as a CEO can still stay connected to them by showing your face, by setting up some quarterly or some biannual, what I like to call two to ones. So instead of a one-to-one with the person, you’re going to have a two-to-one, which would be you, the leadership team member who’s directly responsible for this individual, and the individual.

That’s a two-to-one where the team leader is saying, Hey, Jeremy, let me introduce you to Hillary. Let me recap for you what Hillary has been able to accomplish in the last six months. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. Here’s some of the things that we appreciate about Hillary. She’s been able to offer us insight and incredible ideas on how we [00:29:00] close some constraints in the business. We were able to introduce this automation. We were able to improve that form.

That’s a two-to-one where you’re literally as that leadership team member highlighting that team member in front of the big deal, in front of the CEO, in front of the founder, in front of the person that has their signature on the paycheck. There’s ways to make sure as a CEO and founder, there’s easier ways to do this on an even tighter drumbeat, and it’s simply to recognize that it doesn’t matter how big your team gets, you cannot abdicate your leadership obligations to the people that are in your practice.

You have to find ways to show up for them whether you’re literally showing up for them face to face, or you’re doing it through little mini videos, you’re doing it through a monthly CEO newsletter, you’re doing it through hosting some roundtable discussions every two [00:30:00] months where people get to see you relaxed, available, ready to answer the hard questions, ready to get to know them as individuals.

These are all the things that we hate about corporate. We do. We hate these things about corporate because people in corporate don’t usually do these things really well, but we’re in the world of small business now. So you have control over all of this and you don’t have to jump through hoops to ask for permission. You can do these things. You literally can do these things with some help from your leadership team and have everyone on your team feeling like they really are connected to you.

The more you showcase what your plans are for the business: here’s the priorities we have for this quarter, and here’s what we’re thinking about this, we’d really like your insight on this. Would anyone like to volunteer for that? Is there anyone here that has a secret skill in this? We would love to be able to showcase you at our next conference, [00:31:00] at our next city council meeting, who’s up for that? Who’s interested in that?

There’s lots of ways to showcase in your small business that people can have worthwhile careers. They don’t have to go to corporate and they don’t have to leap over into being an entrepreneur. They can stay with you and have a really wonderful career under your current guidance.

Dr. Sharp: You’re saying so much good stuff. I’m honestly, just being transparent, I’m having trouble focusing on what you’re saying because I’m thinking about what you’re saying and how we could implement it in our practice. This is such good stuff.

I own a larger practice, at least in the mental health realm. There’s 35 or 40 of us on any given month, and fluctuation and folks. I’m curious, how does this scale down if you can speak to that? There’s a lot of folks out there, I think, who are running like [00:32:00] 5-person practices or 8-person practices. How does this apply where I can hear people saying like, oh, I don’t have team members to have a leadership team. We’re not that big. What’s it look like on an even smaller scale? Can you speak to that?

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The Personality Assessment Inventory™ Bariatric or PAI Bariatric compiles the results of the PAI into a useful report just for bariatric surgery candidates. Login to PARiConnect, PAR’s online assessment platform, where you can administer the PAI and select the bariatric score report to view results based on bariatric presurgical candidate norms. Learn more at parinc.com\paibr.

[00:34:00] Let’s get back to the podcast.

Shelli: Sure. If you have a smaller practice, what you need right now, get out there and make this happen as soon as this podcast is over, you need someone who I would call your right-hand person. You need someone who is going to act as a great extension of you so that you don’t have to be in every meeting. You do not have to be in every one-to-one. You’re not making all the decisions.

Do yourself a favor, ease up on that decision fatigue, and choose one individual who declares out loud that they are committed to you. They declare out loud that they’re committed to staying with you for the next two years. They’re committed to you and themselves in wanting to learn how to lead; and that’s lead people, processes, [00:35:00] and profit centers, and that they are thirsty to learn more from you about running the business and what it takes to keep your doors open.

That one individual could then move over and take on a lot of what we would call non-billable work, right? So we have billable work and we have non-billable work, but they could move over to take on your entire hiring process for you and you would slide in for a secondary or maybe even a third interview knowing that this person knows your mission, your vision, your strategic plan. They know the team culture. They’re looking for a great fit. And they’re there to help leave their stamp on the business in terms of the team of psychologists that you’re building.

And that alone, just that one person who is [00:36:00] now going to be a buffer between you and your small team, that person that’s going to act as the lead trainer, that person that’s going to be reinforcing your standards, that person that’s going to be reinforcing your expectations, that person that’s going to be looking around the corner in terms of who’s our next best hire. What’s our next best partnership opportunity? Where’s our next best revenue stream coming from?

Think about how helpful that would be to you as a small business owner to not go it alone, to have someone who is incredibly trustworthy, high level of integrity, and is incredibly committed to you and the brand and what you’re trying to do. Just think about how much more ease you would have throughout your day.

Dr. Sharp: I think you’re right on. The part that I’m resonating with, maybe the underlying element there is business ownership I think can be the loneliest thing that we do. [00:37:00] They say, it’s lonely at the top. That’s, funny, and dramatic, but that’s something that I have felt a lot, especially as our practice has grown. And that only changed when I found an assistant director and then a leadership team.

Having someone to share in the day-to-day and the big picture and the ideas and the trials and tribulations. There’s a lot to be said for that. In addition, of course, to the actual logistics and having someone to handle things and take care of things that you may not be able or want to do.

Shelli: It’s so helpful to have people on your team, even there’s that one key contributor to be able to go to that person and say, I’m starting to worry about this particular person, process, or profit center. Am I overreacting?

Dr. Sharp: Yes.

Shelli: And then be open to hear that feedback from [00:38:00] that trusted team member to say, Jeremy, you actually are overreacting, and let me tell you why. And then let them tell you why. And then you’ll go, oh my gosh, thank you so much because that is helpful. Versus walking around all day with this backpack full of worries and concerns, almost like secrets. You don’t have anyone to talk to about these things. You feel like there’s no one that would even be interested to know. So you bottle all this stuff up and it’s unhealthy for you.

Dr. Sharp: Right. Or you channel it to your spouse or partner. Not speaking from personal experience, of course, but I imagine some people’s spouses.

Shelli: That is true. The family of an entrepreneur, they need their own podcast.

Dr. Sharp: Hey, there’s an idea for you. Oh my gosh. It’s so true.

[00:39:00] Shelli: Yeah, for sure.

Dr. Sharp: This is ringing true for me. I’ve talked a lot on the podcast about the way that we’ve gone about the leadership process, and I can’t remember if I mentioned during our pre-podcast thing, that we’ve implemented the Entrepreneurial Operating System, EOS as our framework, but there are tons of different frameworks out there for how to do leadership, and it’s the idea that you open up to that and take that journey. It has been a game-changer for us for sure.

Shelli: Doesn’t it make you feel so much more smart having processes within your business that are built on frameworks, they’re built on true success, and you’re being consistent and using them? That’s another reason why [00:40:00] people quit is because they do not feel confident that your business is set up for growth.

Dr. Sharp: Right. It legitimizes.

Shelli: Absolutely. They’ll start to be concerned and then they’ll start to tell themselves that crazy story that they need to work in corporate in order to have a highly lucrative, worthwhile career. And that is simply not true. 

Dr. Sharp: Yes. Well, the way that I follow it and make sense of it is, there are many ways that we can legitimize our business, right? I think for mental health folks or psychologists, one big way is we say, okay, we’re getting a lot of referrals, we’re really busy. That feels legitimate. Or maybe we’re hiring people like, oh, that feels legitimate. We’re growing. But the other big side of it, at least for me is being able to sleep at night and say, Oh, yeah, we actually have defined processes and [00:41:00] consistent ways of doing things, leadership team, a decision making process, like those also legitimize the business. And then that leads to more confidence in being a leader. And then that trickles down to your team members and they hopefully feel more secure in having a confident leader.

I feel like folks can really tell if you don’t know what you’re doing and feel uncertain and are all over the place. Then that also affects them. I don’t know if that matches anything that you’ve seen in your experience. 

Shelli: It absolutely does because what you’re doing is you’re putting some effort into building some business assets. So we have external business assets that get sold to our clients and our customers, but then we have internal business assets that are developed directly to benefit your team members, right?

Those business assets are all about making their work easier. So when we have time and energy and brain space to be able to build out some of those business assets, you’re helping create this [00:42:00] level of calm and confidence across the whole business. People do start to see, Hey, Jeremy knows what he’s doing. He’s thinking about the future.

That creates a level of excitement to stay, and it also creates a lot of curiosity because you’ll have people raise their hand and say to you, hey, I heard at our last round table that you’re looking to build out this particular business asset. I would love to assist in that. Is there some way we can collaborate on that? I’ve got some great ideas. I mean, who’s going to say no to that, right? You want to be able to tether those people to you.

Another reminder with as you’re building out all your documentation and your processes, and you’re really putting in structure in your business, that’s really what you’re doing is you’re building in some structure, that is absolutely going to ensure that you have a higher price point for the valuation of your business if you decide to sell it. And oftentimes, small businesses are sold [00:43:00] to team members.

Dr. Sharp: Such a good point. I think that’s a relatively new concept for a lot of practice owners to even consider the possibility of selling our practices. I don’t think we go into this field with the exit strategy as I say but it might be a little different than other businesses, but that’s becoming more and more of a reality I think these days that mental health practices are marketable. 

Shelli: Absolutely. Or you you decide that your private practice is prime for a 2nd location or a 3rd location and therefore there’s room to negotiate that a team member opens up that second location or that third location as a separate entity or within the same brand. But it’s really about knowing that all of this structure, some people call it rigor, but all of this structure that you’re building into the business, [00:44:00] you’re creating assets for your business that not only impact the outcomes and the results of the business itself, but it affects every single person on your team. It does help them feel like they made the best decision ever when they accepted your job offer.

Dr. Sharp: That’s a nice point. A nice thing to reflect on. 

I want to pivot just a little bit and talk about something that we discussed in our previous chat, which is things that leaders struggle with. I’m really curious what you see us struggling with as leaders of mental health practices, whether it’s different or not from other types of businesses. I’m just curious. Where are the places or the conversations you feel that we struggle with?

Shelli: Well, there’s two things that I see within the private practice realm.

One [00:45:00] of them is that the work that you do is heavy. And it can rub off. I call that stickiness. It can stay stuck to you all day. It can stay stuck from going from a client interaction or you’re working on an assessment for a particular client and then now you’re moving into a team meeting and the heaviness of the assessment that you’re doing for that particular client is staying stuck with you as you’re going into that team meeting.

Instead of walking into a team meeting wearing your leader hat, you’re walking into that team meeting feeling low, feeling sad, feeling perplexed, frustrated, whatever the emotion is, and now you’re not being of service to your team.

So I think one of the [00:46:00] things that leaders that work in a realm where the work is heavy, like there’s heavy lifting involved, mentally, your stamina is effective. Your outlook on life is affected. And it can feel like you’re never really making progress that we’re never helping these individuals move forward. You can have moments where it feels hard.

Dr. Sharp: Yes.

Shelli: So we need to make it really normal to talk about that amongst you and your leadership team and amongst everyone on your team, regardless of how big your team is. We need to make it normal to talk about that. Not in a woe-is-me kind of way, not in a way where everyone’s going to come in and kick the garbage pail over 15 times and get your frustration out, but in a way that makes it okay to talk about the fact that you’re struggling with a particular assessment or a particular school or a [00:47:00] particular client type and ask others to help you with it.

I think sometimes when you’re an expert in something, which all of your psychologists are, they’re all experts at what they do. There’s a little bit of this attitude where I need to hold back. I can’t be as transparent as I would like to be because I don’t want to show up with any sign of weakness. I don’t want anyone to think that I’m suddenly not capable anymore. Oh, she’s lost her edge or she’s, she’s a mess. You don’t want people thinking that way about you. So people tend to keep those things a secret, stuff them down and that’s not helpful for anyone.

So just being able to even on some sort of a drumbeat, whether it’s once a month, every two weeks, you create an agenda item on your team [00:48:00] meetings or within your one-to-ones where it’s okay, now we’re going to talk about the hard stuff. I would say that on the agenda, the hard stuff. That’s the agenda item; the hard stuff.

And that’s where people can come forward and say, here’s what I’m finding hard this week. For someone else, they’d be like, oh, my gosh, I’m so sorry to hear you find that hard. I’m actually okay with that. Can I give you a hand with that after the team meeting? And that’s what you want. You want that vibe where it’s okay to be collaborative. It’s okay to show your weaknesses at the moment, show what you’re being struggling with right now, because inevitably you’re saying what someone else in the room wants to say, and they feel like they can’t.

Dr. Sharp: I think we have to make space for that stuff in our work.

Shelli: Yeah. The other thing I find within the mental health field is a lot of people [00:49:00] walk around all day with this stickiness and they take it out on their family members for sure, but they also take it out on their peers in the workplace. So whether you have a brick-and-mortar or whether you’re jumping on Zoom calls, inevitably, there’s someone that’s speaking inappropriately, that has a negative tone, that is suddenly being short with people, maybe bullying other people, cutting people off, monopolizing conversations, all those kind of things.

And when you ask them about it, what is going on is the stickiness. It’s this heavy weight of the work that they can’t compartmentalize or they’re having a difficult time of almost releasing that before they go into the team meeting, before they go to the kitchen net to grab lunch, before they walk into [00:50:00] that one to one. They haven’t learned a coping skill to release those emotions and that stickiness so that they’re fresh and ready with a new mindset to go into the next task.

Dr. Sharp: You make a great point. I think it’s easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day business operations and so forth. And like you said…

Shelli: It creates a lot of drama on your team and now it’s spilled over into your team culture and no one likes it. And people are starting to label people; I don’t know why she’s always so nasty. I don’t know why he’s so short. Every time I raise my hand to talk in a team meeting, he shuts me down. Those are all signs and symptoms that something’s going on, but no one’s looking at it deeper to understand why.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah. Well, a component of all this to me is vulnerability and safety. This is something, even a psychologist and mental health folks, I think we wrestle with [00:51:00] a lot with our teams is how to make a work environment safe, let’s say, or okay to be vulnerable. I don’t know if you’ve run into things over the years that have helped others do that. And if so, I’d love to chat about some of those.

Shelli: Well, a lot of it comes down to knowing that when you’re in a leadership role, part of what you’re getting paid to do is to coach and develop others. It might not say that on your job description or the role posting, but it should.

Anyone that’s in a leadership role, whether you’re the lead admin, whether you’re the lead psychologist, whether you’re the lead trainer, you’re the one that onboards everyone that comes and joins the business, it doesn’t matter, if you were in a leadership position, part of what you’re getting paid to do is to coach and develop other people.

So the skill set that we’re nurturing there is to [00:52:00] learn what it means to coach. It’s so simple. I can boil it down into this little ditty that if you can remember it, it will always help you in these difficult conversations that you have at work. But it’s knowing that coaching feels helpful, criticizing feels hurtful. It’s that simple.

So when you say to someone, hey, this morning in the team meeting, when you made that little quip at me, I didn’t appreciate it, and let me tell you why. And that’s where you would listen to that person, tell you that you hurt their feelings, tell you that they didn’t think that was warranted, tell you that it rubbed in the wrong way that day, and then that’s where it’s your role to be able to say, I’m so sorry that that comment made you feel that way. I realize now that I was criticizing you. I’m here to tell you today, I will not make that comment towards you again. Thank you [00:53:00] for sharing that with me. Thank you for letting me know.

It’s more about creating that psychological safety across your team that confrontation is your friend. Confrontation is not your enemy. I know a lot of people in the workplace hate that word confrontation because they think gunfight, but it’s not. It’s about finding words and phrases so that you can have these adult conversations that put an end to the drama instead of letting it fester even more because no one says anything about it.

Dr. Sharp: Yes. There’s a pretty well-known dynamic that occurs in therapy groups and I think other groups, my wife is a group therapist and expert in that area, and so we talk a lot about storming, there’s the storming phase, right? A group has to go through a storming phase. And if you do what a lot of us, myself included, are inclined to do and tamp down the storm or pat people [00:54:00] on the back and it’ll be okay, don’t worry about this, and ignore whatever might be brewing, it is incredibly detrimental and the group doesn’t move to the next phase, which is much healthier and more of a working phase. So, you have to provide space for that conflict or confrontation or ill feelings or whatever it may be before.

Shelli: What we’re really doing is we’re making it okay to have these uncomfortable adult conversations at work.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah.

Shelli: So many people run the other way from those adult conversations, but that’s really what creates the team culture where people don’t get bent out of shape over every little thing. They let more things robot-like roll off their back because, over time, we’ve built strong relationships with people, so you can say, Oh, you know what I think just happened there, I think she’s got some stickiness from [00:55:00] that last session that she did, or I think she’s got some stickiness from she just came out of that meeting where she shared the results that assessment. I’m just going to give her a pass today.

But we have to build those relationships. It’s not assumed that everyone is going to have that kind of relationship. We need to build those over time. I agree with you. This tamping down of what’s going on serves no one and that’s why people quit because they no longer feel connected to you because you’re not a leader that wants to look at these things. You earn a reputation of that ostrich that’s sticking their head in the sand. And then, now they also don’t feel connected to their work or their team members. So they’re going to bounce.

Dr. Sharp: Right. There’s been a lot of good stuff here. I feel like our time flew by and I could talk to you for another hour or five hours about this kind of stuff. I can tell you care a lot about this work and you’ve done some really [00:56:00] good work with folks over the years. Maybe we leave it there with the importance of keeping it real, not being afraid of confrontation, and stirring things up when you need to stir things up, not putting your head in the sand.

Shelli: That’s right.

Dr. Sharp: Let’s see. I’m still thinking about this. I’m trying to think, how do we land the plane here? But maybe we land the plane with, if people want to learn more about you or what you do, how can they find you? What’s the best way to find you?

Shelli: The easiest way to find me is to go to stackingyourteam.com/listener, and that will give you hot links to the Stack Your Team podcast. It’ll offer you a ton of really cool freebies that you can get to help you be that leader that your team wants you to evolve into and the tools and the frameworks that [00:57:00] are there available to you to get.

It doesn’t matter how big your team is. It doesn’t matter how many people are on your team or how big your teams are, whether you have multiple locations or whether you’re just starting out. They’re designed to develop more leaders because that’s what I feel like I’m always been doing as a coach, even from way back. It’s all about looking to see the strength in people and help bring more of that out.

Dr. Sharp: I love that. Tell us about your podcast a little bit. I didn’t ask anything about this podcast as I should have. So tell me about Stacking Your Team. What is it? Who’s it for? What do you talk about?

Shelli: Well, I’m going into my 6th year of being on air with Stacking Your Team.

Dr. Sharp: Congratulations.

Shelli: It’s always been called Stacking Your Team. The reason why I called it Stacking Your Team when it was launched podcast over six years ago is because that was my reputation in corporate. [00:58:00] There was always this underground commentary, things like, well, no wonder she’s so successful on that project. Have you seen that stack team she has? But it’s because I was able to attract people that wanted to come and work with me. That’s what it was all about. And it was really through relationship building and recognizing that hey, I’m going to help you identify your skills and your strengths, and we’re going to double down on that. So it was a style that I had.

Now, I teach small business owners how to attract, retain, and lead their teams in such a way that their teams don’t require them to hold their hands every day. They literally are able to get out of that day-to-day operation so that they can step into doing what’s next for them. That could be opening up another location. It could be opening up a secondary complimentary business.

Sometimes brick and mortar want to open up an online [00:59:00] component to their business, but they need time and headspace to do that. Sometimes people want to move into thought leadership in terms of getting published. They might want to move on to being their local expert for media. They want to move into a speaker position where they’re starting, again, that would be another profit center that they’re developing where they’re being able to pull in revenue from those media streams.

A lot of small business owners have built incredible mastery over the years. They are incredible at what they do and they’re still excited about what they’re doing. And there’s lots of things that they would like to do, but they simply don’t have enough time or stamina to do it because their small businesses are wearing them down.

And so, that’s what I’m here for. I’m here to help you build out that leadership team, and get the structure in place [01:00:00] so that your team doesn’t need you like they used to. And then that frees you up to go and implement all these other wonderful ideas and serve your communities in all the other ways that you’re just dying to be able to do.

Dr. Sharp: That sounds fantastic. I’m sure there are some folks out there who are nodding their head and getting excited about that possibility. So I’ll make sure to include that link in the show notes so people can find you. I encourage everybody to go listen to the podcast.

You’re a very dynamic, intuitive, insightful individual. It’s no surprise that you are doing so well. I’m glad you didn’t retire. This is great. Thanks for doing what you do.

Shelli: I’m glad I didn’t retire too. And you’re doing a wonderful job in serving this community as well. I think people in the healthcare field need people like you to guide them [01:01:00] through and offer this elevated level of support for them because I think sometimes they’re just feeling weary as well, right? It’s a lot. It’s a heavy load to carry and you’re helping to lift that load, lighten that load.

Dr. Sharp: I appreciate you saying that. Yes, there are a lot of good practitioners out there doing good work. Thank you.

Shelli: Yes, there are.

Dr. Sharp: Thanks for being here. I really enjoyed.

Shelli: Absolutely. Thanks for having me. It was great to finally meet you in person.

Dr. Sharp: Likewise. All right, y’all. Thank you so much for tuning into this episode. Always grateful to have you here. I hope that you take away some information that you can implement in your practice and in your life. Any resources that we mentioned during the episode will be listed in the show notes, so make sure to check those out.

If you like what you hear on the podcast, I would be so grateful if you left a review on iTunes or Spotify or wherever you listen to your podcasts. 

If you’re a practice owner or aspiring practice owner, I’d invite you to check out The Testing [01:02:00] Psychologist mastermind groups. I have mastermind groups at every stage of practice development, beginner, intermediate, and advanced. We have homework. We have accountability. We have support. We have resources. These groups are amazing. We do a lot of work and a lot of connecting. If that sounds interesting to you, you can check out the details at thetestingpsychologist.com/consulting. You can sign up for a pre-group phone call and we will chat and figure out if a group could be a good fit for you. Thanks so much.

The information contained in this podcast and on The Testing Psychologist website is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Nothing in this podcast [01:03:00] or on the website is intended to be a substitute for professional, psychological, psychiatric, or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Please note that no doctor-patient relationship is formed here and similarly, no supervisory or consultative relationship is formed between the host or guests of this podcast and listeners of this podcast. If you need the qualified advice of any mental health practitioner or medical provider, please seek one in your area. Similarly, if you need supervision on clinical matters, please find a supervisor with expertise that fits your needs.

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