We think the title says it all here. Enjoy!
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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 I’m Allissa Haines.
MR And you were still chewing, weren’t you? [laughs]
AH I’m eating a crunchy peanut butter granola bar, so yeah.
MR I could tell. There was a slight delay while you were swallowing. And we’re your hosts. Obviously, your snacking hosts today. Glad you’ve joined us today for this episode. So you’re eating a granola bar you said?
AH I am. I am. I am out at the office shed a little early and didn’t have breakfast and ran inside — oh, oh. I have to tell you a little thing about my home office.
AH I scored, for free, this fake fireplace heater. So I now have a little fireplace in my home office.
AH It’s so cool. I’m running it this morning. I actually had to turn the heater on for five minutes to take the chill off of this place. I am sitting here in my little — and I’m not allowed — I need to rearrange it a little bit now to put it between the little windows so it looks super cute and move my desk. But I’m not allowed to rearrange it and make it perfect until I finish the three big tasks on my to do list today. But I have this little fireplace in my little home office. Anyhow —
MR I feel like your home office belongs on Pinterest.
AH It really, really does.
MR That’s what Pinterest is for.
AH Uh-huh. It totally is. But I also — I’m not prepared to start entertaining lots of questions about how I did it. I just don’t have time to be like here’s what we did. So I’m holding off on that. And also I’m realizing that the windows that came with the shed are totally shed windows, and they’re going to need to be replaced or sealed up or something over the winter because they’re super drafty.
MR It’s a work in progress.
AH We have a few more things to do. I feel like in a month I’ll be — I have this weekend off so I should be able to finish decorating, and I still have to touch up the paint around the windows where we put the trim in and stuff. But it’s almost there. And I have a fireplace. [laughs]
MR [laughs] I am so excited for you.
AH I’m a really lucky young woman. How are you?
MR I’m fine. I’m just sitting here in my big, dumb, boring office building like I usually am. I have no fireplace, no quaint little Pinterest-worthy scenes, just a —
AH That’s not true. You have a ton of Star Trek posters.
MR I do actually, yes. I am collecting Star Trek posters, so that’s exciting.
AH All right. Bring us home, Michael.
MR All is right with the universe. So yes. When I saw the topic you listed for our show today —
AH Yeah, we gotta warn people.
MR Oh, yes.
AH It’s not actually a swear word, but we’re going to be saying a word that sounds like a swear word. So if you have gentle ears listening, tender ears listening, hit pause and listen to this later.
MR [laughs] Fair enough. But I was very excited to see our topic. I’m going to go ahead and read it just as you described it. And it is: don’t be an askhole – tips for asking better questions and giving better answers.
MR Bring it on.
AH So what is an “askhole”? And this is a word that I learned back when I was working retail pharmacy. It is someone who asks a question and then argues with or denies or contradicts or ignores the answer. They are especially an askhole when they ask a question to someone who has a larger knowledge base or expertise than them and still argue with the answer.
An example would be — and this happened daily when I worked in pharmacy. Someone would have a question for the pharmacist. The pharmacist would go over and this person would ask their questions.
And they’d say something like Uh, is it okay to eat dairy when I’m taking this antibiotic.
And so the pharmacist would go and say, Well, no, that’s why there’s a big sticker on there that says do not combine this medication with dairy products. So if you’re going to have milk or cheese, you want to separate it by about three hours because it changes how the antibiotic is absorbed into your system. The antibiotic will be much more effective if you space out dairy by about three hours.
Well, I mean, I just had the milk in my cereal.
Right, that’s dairy. And the calcium and the minerals are going to change how the antibiotic absorbs into your system. So if you want to have cereal, you should take your antibiotic three hours before or after.
Well, I’m not going to be home then, so I’m just going to take it with my morning cereal.
Okay, but what I’m telling you is, and etc., etc., etc.
And this would go on and on. Every day people would ask someone, who literally has a doctorate in pharmacy, a question and then argue with their answers.
So-and-so told me I should take Vitamin C, and they said I should take this much.
And the pharmacist would say, You could. Taking that much Vitamin C could give you the runs, but it probably won’t hurt you. However, this lower does is more appropriate.
Well, my friend said the internet told her to take this much.
Well, I’m a pharmacist and I’m telling you to take this much. This is what’s healthy. You can take more, but you’re going to get the runs.
This — every day. So you get what I’m saying. This happens a lot everywhere in person, on the interwebs, and it’s happened to me when I’ve taught business classes, it happens daily in various massage groups, which of course is what inspired this topic today, where a therapist will ask a question and then ignore all of the answers.
Oftentimes, here’s an example — the new therapist will be like How do I get new clients? How did you get the most new clients to your practice? And then will crap on all of the practical, foundational advice that happens in the thread. So inevitably a hundred people will be like I ran a groupon, or I started doing this, or I ran an ad in my paper, or I did this. And someone — usually me — will be like Well, did you get your website set up? Is it really clear and understandable? Do you have online scheduling? Have you joined a networking group? Here are the steps that you should do in order of practical application to build a strong massage business with a strong foundation. And then, I swear to God, it’s always like five comments down the original poster says I’m going to run a groupon, thanks everybody. And then they fail miserably and then they burn out and then they go back to whatever their career was before massage. Exaggeration yes, but happens a lot.
Another example that happens a lot is a therapist will vent about how clients are calling them at all hours of the day and night and how burnt out she is, and I don’t know how to handle things like when a client calls me at 9 pm on a Saturday and dut-dut-dut-dut-dut. People will give great advice like turn my phone off or simply do not answer client texts and phone calls until the next business day, make sure that’s clear on your website, or you could respond to them one time and say “I am off duty right now; I will get back to you on Monday morning at 9 am when I’m back at the office.” And people will give practical responses, and then that original poster will crap all over that and be like but I care about my clients, I need to help them when their hurting, and completely blow off all the practical advice about boundaries and actual techniques to prevent this kind of behavior.
That, my friends, is an askhole. We have all been one at one time or another, and I think as we move through our careers and we start to recognize it more and more in others. So here’s how to avoid — Michael, do you have any good examples? You’ve seen this, right?
MR Well, I was going to say this sounds like everyone on Facebook, so —
AH Yeah, partly.
MR I can’t think of any specific examples because there are so many.
AH Huh-uh. It doesn’t happen to us in our Massage Business Blueprint premium member discussion group because —
MR Well, that’s true because it’s super high quality — I see what you did there.
MR Because it’s the best massage therapy group on Facebook.
AH You’ll keep saying that until it isn’t and then we’re going to be like how do we back out of
MR No, it so is.
AH [laughs] So how do we avoid being an askhole? First of all, you need to ask better questions. This is a thing we all do. We ask a question and then — we don’t know what we don’t know so as people start coming in with answers, we realize that the original questions needs a whole bunch of clarification and context. So do your best to ask better questions. Lay out the situation in full. You don’t want to say How should I sell gift certificates in my massage practice? You want to say I have been selling gift certificates this way, and I found that for these reasons it’s not working well. What solutions have you come up with? And list those reasons. Maybe you’re selling them online, but you found it inconvenient because you have to so something manually that’s really annoying. Maybe you’re using an online system to sell give certificates already but you don’t like it because XYZ. Maybe blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Lay out the full situation, provide as much context as you’re able, and see how that goes. And then be willing to amend your original post and say Updated: I realize you need to know these factors in order to give me an educated answer.
And once you do that, be open to the answers. Especially the answers that make you uncomfortable. Be willing to think about answers that initially make you uncomfortable. If you say My practice is failing; how do I get new clients in? And someone says Well, do you have a strong foundation built? Is your website super informative and easy to use? If you’ve don’t that I would say your next step is to explore some local networking options. If you are so closed off to the idea of networking that you won’t even read that answer and your next step is run a groupon, the problem is you. The problem is not the advice you’re being given, the problem is you.
So consider that. Anytime something makes you very uncomfortable, think about why. Sometimes there are really great reasons why something makes you uncomfortable. Sometimes you realize that local networking isn’t an option for you because you are in an incredibly small town and the head of the chamber of commerce is your abusive ex-husband, let’s say. That’s a situation in which that answer is not appropriate to you. In which case, you might want to amend your question to say I need to get some new clients in the door. For some personal reasons, local networking groups are not an option for me. What are the other things you would suggest? However, if someone’s saying “networking could be an option for you” makes you so uncomfortable that you ignore their answer, you need to think about why. Maybe that’s okay, networking isn’t the answer for you, but be open to exploring why so that you can evolve as a business person and succeed.
Also consider who is giving you the answer and measure that as well. I think oftentimes we ask questions of people on the interwebs and we treat all the answers with the same weight. And this going to sound a little snobby when I say it, but asking Michael for business advice and him answering honestly and clearly, and asking someone who has been a massage therapist for about five minutes and did not have any kind of business background beforehand and no experience or acumen, their answer might need to be given a little less weight when they say you should run a television ad or get a billboard. Consider the answerer and measure that as well. Which is not to say that people new to the field or people with no business experience don’t have great ideas and thoughts. It’s just that we don’t always know who’s answering the question especially in these big massage groups, big discussion places, especially even when — yesterday, I was at a live networking event, and I broke into a small group and the activity was to — you’re going to laugh at this, Michael, it was to nail down our elevator speech according to our specialty and niche —
MR Nice, I like it.
AH Right? I’ll tell the whole experience of my networking thing on another podcast episode. It went really well. But there was a woman in the group who was really assertive about how well she was doing with this — like, I’ve got it; I’ve really got it. And it literally took her two and a half minutes to get through a 30 second elevator speech. And by the end of it, I still had no idea what she did for a living. So consider that not everybody’s advice is equal, and you don’t know just from someone’s profile picture what their experience and acumen level is. Consider the answerer, maybe learn a little more about who they are and if they’ve been successful in similar endeavors before you take their advice to drop a thousand dollars on some internet business coach or — you know what I’m saying? You know what I’m saying.
Anything to add to that, Michael, before we jump into our halftime sponsorship?
MR No, I just can’t wait to hear about your networking experience, but I’ll wait for that patiently for next time.
AH It’ll be the next episode, I promise. It’s totally a success story.
AH Anyhow. Michael, who’s our halftime sponsor today?
MR You ready?
AH I’m ready.
MR You ready for it?
AH Bring it.
MR How about now?
AH Do it.
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AH And I just want to take this opportunity to say not only do I love their product, but I love the company partly because they’re just fun, but also because they have been willing to take a chance on Massage Business Blueprint and sponsoring us almost from the very beginning. That means a lot to Michael and I because sometimes we didn’t know if this was going to go down well or not and it turns out it’s gone okay, and we’re grateful to Jojoba for helping us as we started up.
The next part of this is — now that you know how to not be an askhole, I want to make a note about people who are “answerholes.” And yes, I have definitely made this term up and yes, I have definitely been an answerhole. Here’s an example. If someone says Hey, how do I set up a form in Google Forms? I’m having trouble with it. Don’t answer with a commentary on how much your hate Google Forms and don’t use it. Maybe you could share that you also struggled with Google Forms, what you struggled with specifically, and how you found an answer to that. Maybe it was that you started using Formstack because it was easier for you, and you could tell why. But you could be useful and descriptive and positive about that. Don’t just be like No, that sucks.
I used to do this when people would be like I’m having trouble with how to do this thing in QuickBooks and I’d be like I hate QuickBooks. It sucks. I never had success learning it; I’ve tried three times. That’s not helpful. That’s not helpful at all. What I should have done in those situations, now that I know because I’m maturing as a human, is that it’s okay to not answer and it’s okay to not help people. If you cannot be your best self while giving advice, don’t do it, scroll on past. Or if you’re in a situation in person with people like Huh, I don’t know how I would handle that and let it go. Or maybe you can be helpful by just offering a resource like I’ve never had a lot of luck with QuickBooks, which is why I send all my people who have QuickBooks questions to this particular QuickBooks specialist. And then you’ve been useful without being negative and without making an ass out of yourself. Oops, sorry. Real explicit there. You can just be helpful without being a negative jerk. Nobody wants to hand around with a negative jerk, and you’re not helping anybody by being a negative jerk.
In conclusion, don’t be an askhole. Ask better questions. And don’t be an answerhole. I’m done.
MR Well, that was simple enough.
AH Right? It’s basic, and yet I can tell you from some various reading I did this weekend and some situations in my networking event yesterday, I can tell you that some people really needed this podcast. I kind of needed it to, so I hope that it’s helped.
MR Well, I appreciate you saying that we’ve all been that person before. We’re all learning.
AH Um-hum. Amen.
MR Good to be vigilant. Thank you. All right. Well, we’ll wrap it up there. Again, I can’t wait to hear your networking story. I saw your photos of the event on Instagram, so I’m excited to hear how it went. We’ll hear about that next time it sounds like.
MR Thanks, everybody, for joining us today. Reminder you can visit us online at massagebusinessblueprint.com. If you have question or a topic or any kind of feedback you want to give us, love notes, hate mail, we’ll take it all, email@example.com is the email address. We appreciate all of the iTunes reviews we’ve gotten. We need to — we’ll do this next time because I just wasn’t prepared for it today, but next time we’ll check out some of the iTunes reviews and thank some of our reviewers because we got some really nice recent reviews, and we appreciate that. Again, visit us online if you want to give us a shout, and we appreciate you being here today. Have a great day. We’ll see you next time.