Episode 176

Aug 24, 2018

We. Love. Massage students! So much potential and excitement for massage! We had a great time talking to students at the World Massage Festival and were inspired to share our favorite tips for budding MTs.

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We. Love. Massage students! So much potential and excitement for massage! We had a great time talking to students at the World Massage Festival and were inspired to share our favorite tips for budding MTs.

This episode is exclusively sponsored by ABMP.


Sponsor message This episode is sponsored by ABMP, Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. Supporting the largest community in massage and bodywork, ABMP goes above and beyond great liability insurance to make it easier for you to succeed at what you love. ABMP membership combines the insurance you need, the free CE you want, and the advocacy and personalized customer service you deserve. Join the ABMP family and learn why more massage therapists and bodyworkers choose ABMP membership than any other association. Expect more at abmp.com.

Michael Reynolds Hey, everyone. Welcome to the Massage Business Blueprint podcast, where we discuss the business side of massage therapy. I’m Michael Reynolds.

Allissa Haines And I am Allissa Haines.

MR And once again, we are coming to you from the exhibit hall floor of the World Massage Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada here at the ABMP booth. We could not be happier to be at the ABMP booth. It’s the place to be.

AH Well, there was one time this week where I was happier than I am now and that was when we were eating sushi off of a conveyor belt and having robots deliver bits of our sushi to our table here at — what was it? Kon something? Aw, man.

MR Starts with a K. Yeah, that was kind of the highlight of our trip I think.

AH It really was.

MR I mean, no offense to ABMP, but that was probably the highlight.

AH Yeah, eating sushi off of a conveyor belt was pretty much the best thing I’ve ever done in my life. We were so fortunate, and I want to shout out to our friend Andrea Lipomi who has been a guest on this podcast before. She is a local here in Vegas and treats — this is the third time I’ve come to Vegas and Andrea has shepherded me through everything and just — she picked us up from the airport and took us for breakfast and played with us and took us to this amazing sushi restaurant where, literally, sushi goes by your booth on a conveyor belt and you just pull out off the belt —

MR And it never ends. It never stops.

AH — whatever it is you want to eat and then you can put a special order in for some fancier stuff and this little robot comes. You can totally check out our Instagram or our Facebook page to see a video of the robot that delivers the sushi and food to your table and it rolls up and is like “Please take your food. Please take your food.” It’s amazing. I didn’t want to let too many podcast episodes go by before we talked about food again.

MR Yeah, it’s true.

AH It seemed appropriate for the situation. So yeah, thanks Andrea for taking us on the best food adventures. Oh, and we went to a buffet last night that was amazing too. They had this walnut shrimp.

MR Andrea’s delightful.

AH She really is.

MR She really showed us a good time.

AH As is the food in Vegas. We are well fed. Clearly, I am coffee-d up and hanging out at the ABMP booth here at the festival. They’ve been very kind to us. Mike Hinkle came by a few minutes ago and gave us some World Massage Festival tattoos, some temporary tattoos that I’m pretty excited about. But, Michael, tell us what we’re talking about today.

MR So today, we’re going to talk about tips for students. I think we had a lot of students we talked to throughout the last couple of days. I think, Allissa, you were inspired to speak to students today.

AH I was. And it was so great to talk to students, particularly from NCC, I think it’s Northwest Career College, and I’m going to feel bad if I got that wrong. But NCC came by with their custom scrubs and it was beautiful and they were — we got to talk to students in all different phases of their schooling: some just starting, some at the end. Got to talk to a dude who had just finished his — had just successfully passed his MBLEX and was just finishing up his clinic hours. People who know what they want to do when they get out, people who have no idea what they want to do when they get out. Talking to the students really made me want to come up with — I shared some of my favorite tips and I wanted to round them up for our podcast today. And we brainstormed this morning with our friend Andrea who gave us even more tips, which was really, really fun. So some of these are hers, I don’t want to take too much credit.

I’m going to jump right in. Is that okay, Michael?

MR Go for it. I assumed you would.

AH My Starbucks kicked in about 5 minutes ago. I am moving right now. My first tip is know that you cannot know all the things there are to know about massage. You just can’t. You never, never will. This field has endless variety and specialties and sub-specialties and modalities and a variety of approaches to any thing, any issue, any person we’re trying to treat. I’m looking around this exhibit hall right now and I — actually, I just saw the creator of one technique get on the table of a whole other technique booth and — I’m not going to use names because I didn’t get permission and I just saw it happen. And I love the comradery and the collaborative approach, and I love that I could take my sore shoulder to every practitioner here and get a different approach to it and 90% of them will probably be really effective. I love all the places you can go. There’s nowhere you can’t go with massage, which is really, really great.

But you can never know all there is to know. You just can’t. And I think that can be really overwhelming in school when you realize there’s so much, how am I going to absorb all of this? The reality is you’re not. You might be a practitioner who needs to know all of the attachments of the rotator cuff. Or you might be a practitioner like me who does not need to know all the attachments of the rotator cuff because that’s not what I do. I know that I do not know these things. I know where to look them up if I need to know them. And I know who to refer to when these things come across and I want my client or any client to get better care and who to refer them to. So know that you’re just never going to know everything and you don’t really have to.

Concentrate on learning what resources are out there for you and for your future clients when you need them. Specifically, I love when massage schools have business programs. I understand that they cannot be robust in the limited hours that they have to dedicate to that part of the curriculum. But I also know that you want to get a brief overview of business and potential business stuff in massage school, but none of it’s going to make sense to you. We can talk to you about different structures of your massage — different business structures and how to move your money around to save for taxes, but none of that matters to you, none of it makes sense, none of it’s relevant until usually well after you’re out of school because you just typically don’t know what you want to do there. Concentrate on finding resources that resonate with you and know that if it’s not relevant to you now, six months from now when you’re asking yourself do I need to open up a separate checking account for my business, concentrate on where you can find that information versus trying to remember it and store it away now because you’re just not going to be able to.

I like to tell people to built a community of supportive massage-related colleagues and business owners. Start now looking around your massage class knowing who you feel cozy coming to with a question. Looking around your massage school and all of your potential mentors and instructors and think who would I feel comfortable emailing or calling with a question six months from now when I have my first client walk in and they’ve had a knee rehab surgery and I’m not sure what to do with that. Start building that supportive network now.

Conversely, run screaming from the drama llamas. If you’ve got peers or you’ve got your friend who does hair or your friend who’s a physical therapist but they are drama llamas or they are victim mentality, they are constantly whining about their own clients or whining about how hard it is to make it in business, run screaming from those people. They are not your people. They are not your network. They will not serve you in helping you build your business and your career and you shouldn’t be serving people who suck too much time and energy and ambition from you. So learn early on to avoid drama llamas, don’t give them too much of your time because you will become like them. You hang out with negative, whiny people, victim mentality people too much, you start to become like them. So be warned.

MR I just love the term “drama llama.” I’m just laughing at that term.

AH It’s totally a meme. There’s actual pictures of llamas.

MR Yeah, I’ve seen it.

AH It’s fantastic. Sometimes when one of my nieces over-posts on Facebook and she gets really whiny and I just have to send her a text of a drama llama meme and she calms it down a little bit. I’m like if you’re having a bad day, call me. Don’t tell the world on Facebook how pissy you are because blah, blah, blah.

Anyhow, if you are a drama llama, you need to get that crap handled. If you are a person who tends towards intense emotional situations and often feels beat upon and put upon and struggles with always feeling guilty and therefore doing more than you can and should for other people or if you are constantly negative about what’s going on in your own world, you need to get some help with that because you could be a drama llama. You, perhaps, want to look into self-care resources like meditation. You might want to get yourself a therapist because if you tend towards that personality type, I could bet money you’ll become the kind of therapist who tells all of your clients about your boyfriend trouble, and that’s not healthy for anyone nor is is going to keep you a full, steady clientele of great people who want to pay you for your services. So if you are a drama llama, get that handled. If you are not a drama llama, don’t surround yourself with them.

Network before you need it. Michael, what does that mean?

MR So having a network is really, really useful in lots of areas of life, especially in your profession so networking is not just — a lot of people people thing networking is going to a BNI meeting or going to a chamber event and exchanging business cards and feeling awful about it and just this whole big thing. But networking is really just having connections with people who are willing to help you and who you are willing to help. That’s really what it comes down to. A lot of times a lot of massage therapists who are students, they will get out of massage school and say okay, now what? Now I’ve got to do business and find clients, and what do I do now? And they haven’t really built any kind of network.

So whether it’s massage therapy or any other profession where you’re in training and you have yet to launch your career — this is good advice for anybody in that situation — which is start to meet people before you need to ask for their help. Let’s say you’ve got six months before you graduate. Maybe start reaching out to referral partners and say hey, I’m a massage therapy student, I graduate on this date, I’d love to learn more about what you do to see if we can help each other when I start my practice. Start to investigate places to work. If you’re thinking of going out on your own, start to research rent opportunities and talk to people who can maybe introduce you to rent opportunities. If you would like to work as an employee somewhere, start to visit and connect with people who run businesses that you might want to work at and start to get advice from them and hey, how would you — ask them how would you recommend me working at a place like yours and maybe even start to attend some networking meetings. Start to actually walk in and say hey, I’m a massage student about to be a brand-new massage therapist, I would just love to meet people who I can expand my network with and maybe we can help each other and just start to build those relationships in advance. That way, when you do graduate and you are ready to start your career, you can pick up the phone or you can send some emails or you can go visit people and say hey, I’m starting my practice, I’m starting my career, I’d love to see if we can help each other and that is a warm conversation as opposed to an awkward “where do I begin” conversation.

AH Word. All right. You covered that.

MR Word.

AH Are we ready for our halftime sponsor?

MR We are indeed.

AH Who is it?

MR ABMP. Our friends here. We are sharing the booth with ABMP. Could not be happier about it. Yeah, what’s going on with ABMP? We have a lot of stuff to cover.

AH They are actually our full and exclusive sponsor of this episode and they have been so gracious to allow us to hang out at their ABMP booth talking to different people all week at the World Massage Festival.

Sponsor message ABMP is the largest community in massage and bodywork. They go above and beyond great liability insurance. It’s not just about liability insurance, people. They’re about making it easier for you to succeed at doing what you love, being a massage therapist and bodyworker. They combine insurance, free continuing education, advocacy, personalized customer service, a fantastic magazine in which we happen to have a column, a couple of features this year. And we are super excited to announce that we have a new partnership with ABMP. Certified members will save $5 a month on our premium membership here at Massage Business Blueprint, getting you a ton of business building and supportive resources. We talked about building that supportive network for yourself? We are part of that, ABMP is part of that, Massage Business Blueprint is part of that. Yes, there’s tons of stuff you can get for free like this podcast and all sorts of resources and advice at our website. And as a premium member, you can get a whole bunch of other stuff, our archive of webcasts, teaching you everything from how to handle your money to how to create a Facebook ad. And we’re so pleased to be able to offer that to certified members at a $5 discount. You can get that at abmp.com, log in to your member portal, and we’re right there with all of the other benefits you can get, all the other discounted memberships and services and everything that ABMP provides. Again, you can check that out at abmp.com where you can get our special deal with them in your member portal.

MR We are excited about that.

AH We are. So moving on to some more student tips, we’ve got a couple more. Much like Michael says build your network before you need it, I say practice your professionalism now while you are still in school. This was a great tip from Andrea. You want to start making a good impression on your instructors because these are people who could have a lot of connections and be able to help you while you are getting out there starting your career. They know who the fantastic CE providers are. They know who has a room opening up for rent in their space. They know who runs the best massage facility in your town. They might even know who the best franchise owner and manager is where can you go where your skills will most be respected, get your hands on a lot of bodies to really learn your craft and figure out what you most love to do in massage. So really practice your professionalism now. Act like every day in massage school is a job. You’re showing up for work and you’re going to act your best and be your best. It’s just like practicing your handshake, practicing your elevator speech, practicing how to interact with people at a higher level of professionalism. Get used to doing that now. Be the geek in your class who always has your scrubs ironed and is standing up straight and knows how to shake a hand of someone you meet. Do that now and it’ll be second nature later when you’re out of school and you will ace every interview. You will ace every meeting with a potential landlord. You will ace your meeting with the bank when you’re setting up your business checking so that bank officer wants to send themselves and their partner to you for massage when they get to meet a great new local business owner. Really start practicing that because it is a thing that needs practice.

Another tip: beware of ego and not just your own. When you are choosing your network of collaborators, when you’re choosing your support and your mentors, when you’re choosing continuing education, make sure you’re choosing people who want it to be about you and not about them. When you choose continuing education, look not just at the contents of the course, but talk to people who’ve taken that class and hear what they have to say about instructors because there are instructors out there who are super ego-driven and there are instructors out there who are clearly servant leaders.

And I thought of this because my friend and a mentor and a colleague, Ralph Stephens, won the lifetime achievement award here at the Massage Festival the other night, and I didn’t know I was going to see Ralph here and I haven’t seen him in a couple years. When I passed him in the hallway and realized he was here, I got a little weepy, and it is because Ralph is just — he got up and he got his lifetime achievement award that he didn’t know he was getting, and he just reminded us that his mission has always been to help massage therapists help more people. He’s built a beautiful education business doing that. Every class he taught was about giving the students in that class the tools they needed to help more people. He’s a person who was helped by massage before he became a massage therapist, and he truly embodies what I think of as a servant leader. I’m calling in Michael to talk about what it means to be a servant leader because I try to keep that in my own mind when running my business and interacting with other people in massage.

MR To me, a servant leader is someone who puts the spotlight on the people on their team and their constituents as opposed to themselves. It’s very easy for someone who is very well known, very famous, very accomplished to brag about themselves, to feel like they’re the spotlight. But to me, when I see a servant leader, it’s someone who’s always lifting up their team, lifting up their constituents, lifting up their students, their customers, whoever it may be that looks up to them, they are doing everything they can to provide help and lift those people up. To me, that’s a servant leader.

AH You know, I am so delighted because as we’re recording, our friend Laura Allen, who is repping for Soothing Touch here at the World Massage Festival, and also just a dynamo in her own right has come over. Laura, get yourself over here and say hello.

MR Say hello, Laura.

Laura Allen Hello, Massageland.

AH Tell us how it’s been for you here this week. I bet tonight the karaoke is your favorite part. But how’s it been so far?

LA No, actually I have a dinner date with a nice man tonight so I’m blowing off karaoke.

MR Look at you. You know what? Your priorities are in line.

LA My priorities are in line. I hate to miss that because it is always fun. We’ve got some very talented singers in the massage world and we also have some folks who should just stay sitting down but they like to get up and have fun. [laughs] But it’s great. It’s great to see y’all. I haven’t seen either one of you in such a long time.

MR Yeah, it’s been a while.

LA I’ve been having a good time here.

AH Good. How’s it going over at the Soothing Touch booth? Anything you want to —

LA We’re almost sold out.

AH Nice.

LA And we’ve still got today and tomorrow to get through. So we’ve almost sold everything we have. It’s been a very successful show.

MR Wonderful.

LA There’s a lot of people here. Next year it’s going to be down in my neck of the woods in Cherokee, North Carolina so I hope everybody makes it down there.

MR We were just looking it up earlier actually.

AH It seems like you can’t get there from here. How do you get to there? Where do you fly into?

LA Well, it took me about 12 hours. [laughs] You can fly into the Ashville, North Carolina airport, and they actually have a free shuttle that will take you over to Cherokee.

MR Oh, okay.

AH Shut the front door. Okay.

LA That’s in the Great Smoky Mountains. Very beautiful place. Very near the Appalachian Trail, the Blue Ridge Parkway.

AH You drove us through there when I visited your place a couple of years ago.

LA That’s right. I did. I think Allissa got bored on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

AH I did not because we went to the part where they filmed some of Dirty Dancing, right?

LA They filmed Dirty Dancing and Last of the Mohicans over there.

AH Oh my gosh.

LA So it is very beautiful area of the country. It’s one of the greatest national treasures on a national park, so a very beautiful place.

AH Can I totally put you on the spot?

LA Go right ahead.

AH The episode we’re recording right now is tips for massage students. So you taught for a long time and you still teach, I know, CE.

LA Yeah, I’ve been teaching here this week.

AH Have you been? I totally blew off the whole class concept here. As far as massage students and their initial massage training, do you have a favorite tip or any random tip you would give students.

LA Yes, my favorite tip is to realize that your education begins when you walk out the massage school door.

AH Word.

LA That’s it.

AH We were just talking about choosing CE providers and how to avoid advisors and teachers with giant egos and instead shoot for people who clearly show humility and servant leadership when teaching.

LA I have threatened for a long time to teach the Laura Allen Method, which is teaching you to slap people who claim they’ve invented a new modality, and if they name it after themselves, we’re going to slap them twice.

MR [laughs]

AH [laughs]

LA So I do just say do not resent the requirement that you take continuing education. Use that as an opportunity. I’ve had hundreds of hours more of continuing education than I have been required to get to keep my license and that’s because the day that I feel like I need to stop learning is the day I’m going to do everybody a favor and retire.

AH Well, don’t do that anytime soon.

LA So just look forward to that, embrace it, learn things. I actually was teaching a class last night for teachers. I was teaching an instructor class. One of the things that kept coming up is something that you and Michael actually do for people and that is the fact that a lot of people leave massage school and they’re actually very ill prepared to deal with business. They know their massage techniques, but they get out there into their own practice and a lot of times fail in less than just a few years because they truly were not prepared for business realities. Listen to Allissa and Michael and their good business blueprint and all of their advice and you should be successful. There are a lot of resources out there from the massage organizations as far as business goes and there’s a host of CE out there. Just take it.

Of course, continue to improve your techniques. But I advise everyone who is not working for someone else or who doesn’t want to work for someone else for the rest of your life, educate yourself in business so that you will be prepared for those realities. Have a business plan and stick to it and reevaluate that plan. I used to evaluate mine all the years I was in private practice. I would reevaluate my plan a couple of times a year and if something wasn’t working I would go whoops, need to make a change there. That’s just my best advice. Educate yourself.

AH Thanks, Laura.

MR Thanks, Laura.

LA Thank y’all for having me. It was good to see you.

AH I’m going to come over and give you a huge before we go. Yeah, so choose CE providers like Laura who have a no bull-crap approach and really want to do things, who want to teach you to care for your clients versus get you in a class to sell you their DVDs, which I am totally a big fan of selling DVDs.

MR I’d go to a class on the Laura Allen Method.

AH I would totally pay for that class. But really, when you choose CE, talk to people who’ve been in those classes and find out how accessible is this instructor after that class and how has the stuff we’ve learned helped — how has the stuff you learned in that class helped you in your practice. I guess that’s my tip about CE and avoiding the egos in massage. And that goes for when you’re talking to future potential employers too. If you decide to go be an employee somewhere, you don’t want someone with a big ego being in charge of what you’re supposed to do.

Another tip from our friend Andrea is do not spend lots of cash on equipment early on. You don’t know what you really need when you’re still in school. You don’t know what direction your massage career is going to take right away. Some people kind of do, but most of us don’t. You don’t really know where your office is going to be. Don’t buy that 500-pound hydraulic table if you’re just going to have to schlep it to 5 different places your first year. Don’t buy fancy stuff until you know what your practice and your career’s really going to look like.

And finally — this could be five podcast episodes all and to itself — beware of boundaries. Just like you’re practicing your professionalism, part of that is practicing really good boundaries early on. If you find yourself making decisions about you career based on guilt or emotions or oh, well, I should probably work on this person because they have a migraine and they’re begging me even though I don’t really like working on people with migraines, that’s a problem. You are setting yourself up to be at the beck and call of people to your own level of discomfort. And you want to really respect your gut and set those boundaries early on. Learn the scripts. Say I appreciate that you have a migraine right now, but I’m not comfortable working on people with acute migraine issues and know who to send them out to. I have this great therapist over here; here’s her number. Learn early on how to say no elegantly so that you don’t put yourself in a situation where you’re saying yes to things that make you uncomfortable.

That is my final student tip. Michael, take it away.

MR I like it. I think we have a lot of students — I know we have a lot of students who listen our podcast and many of them when they graduate and start practicing they become premium members or they stay in touch with us. Really, we love students. We love to be able to talk to students, as well, and seeing the journey of when they go through school, when they graduate, when they start their practice, and it’s really exciting to connect with those people. Thank you, thank you, thank you, all the students who are in our community. We appreciate you.

AH And thanks for swinging by our booth there. It’s been super fun.

MR Indeed. Well, let’s wrap up there then. Again, we appreciate being here at the ABMP booth. We appreciate the partnership with them. Again, if you’re a certified member, go ahead and log in, grab that special offer if you want to become a premium member at that special rate. We appreciate them offering that benefit to you. We appreciate you listening. Grab us online at massagebusinessblueprint.com if you want to learn more. We will see you next time. Thanks, everyone.

AH Bye.