Episode 324

Nov 13, 2020

Allissa and Michael discuss if massage therapists should report colleagues for breaking the rules.

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Discussion Topic

  • Should I Report a Colleague for Breaking the Rules?

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Michael Reynolds Hey, everyone, and welcome to the Massage Business Blueprint podcast, where we help you attract more clients, make more money, and improve your quality of life. I'm Michael Reynolds.

Allissa Haines I'm Allissa Haines.

MR And we are your hosts. Welcome to our podcast episode as I silence my phone because I was just about to get a text. There we go. Sorry about that. I usually silence that, but I forgot this time.

AH Keeping it classy, Michael.

MR Keeping it classy, yes. [Laughing]

AH What're you reading? Tell me about what you're reading.

MR Oh, well, I'm going to be a little meta today and a little -- hopefully not -- I feel a little weird about this every time I do stuff like this, but I'm going to share one of my own things just because it is something I think is important to our listeners. And it's a PPP loan forgiveness update.

So in my other business as a financial advisor, I did a short podcast episode a couple days ago about this. So I wanted to share the content of that with our listeners as well as kind of just a minor update because I know a lot of our listeners -- actually, most of our listeners are probably solo massage practices, self-employed, so we are going to kind of cover the basics on what's going on with PPP because a lot of them took out PPP loans. So no major updates or anything, but just more of a -- an FYI.

So the -- I would guess -- I would say that every one of our listeners probably falls under the category of a loan of less than $50,000. And there is a simplified form that is out. I think it's called 3508S or something. It's one -- it's the simplified PPP loan forgiveness application. And it is super easy, and I want to mention that to anyone who has not applied for forgiveness yet and encourage them to go ahead and consider doing it because I've got first-hand knowledge of businesses that have used this form to apply for PPP loan forgiveness and have received their official forgiveness confirmation very quickly, within a week, or some within like a few weeks. So very quickly in general.

So if you are still kind of wondering what to do or what's going on with it, I am of the opinion -- I take the position that it is a good idea now to go ahead and use that form to apply for forgiveness. It is one page. Well, it's two pages, but the second page is basically an optional survey. So it is one page. All you have to do is fill out your basic contact information, your loan amount, and then just kind of initial some things that certify that you understand all the rules. And then you submit that form to your bank or your lender who supplied you with the loan, and that is the process. It's extremely easy.

So I know in our Community, some people have been asking about, hey, has anyone gotten forgiveness yet? So people are still kind of questioning. So I would say go ahead and do it. I've seen nothing but 100% success on that easy, kind of simplified form for loans under $50,000. So that's kind of my update for those who are wondering.

AH So I have a question.

MR Yes.

AH I have heard rumor that -- so right now, if you got the EIDL Advance, which was like a grant that just showed up in your account one day, and then you got the PPP loan, the amount of your grant would become non-forgivable within your PPP loan. So if you got the $1,000-dollar EIDL Advance, and then let's say you got a PPP loan for $10,000, only $9,000 of that $10,000 of the PPP loan would be forgivable.

MR Right. That is correct.

AH Okay. So that's what I know to be true. However --

MR Yeah. [Indiscernible].

AH -- I have heard that in some of the potential legislation that's being written -- but of course has not passed through Congress because nothing but horrifying judges are being passed through Congress right now -- is that the forgiveness will include even EIDL Advance amounts. So I've some experts saying don't apply yet. Hold out because it could be you'll get more forgiven if this passes.

MR I have not heard that specifically. It may be true. I just haven't heard it. I have heard people saying hold out if your loan is over $50,000 because there may be additional blanket forgiveness coming for those amounts. But I have not heard that getting both forgiven at once would -- it may happen. You may be right. I just haven't heard that.

AH Okay. And I will note that that easy form, that simple form, really is super simple. It took me like ten minutes, and it was less than ten days later that -- I actually haven't gotten the official letter that my loan was forgiven, but I looked at the bank and I looked at the loan amount, and it is down to just $1,000, which was the amount of my EIDL Advance. So mine has been forgiven, I'm assuming. So -- and it really was super easy. Michael's right, so.

MR Awesome.

AH Okay. Good to know.

MR What about you?

AH I read -- and I read it like last month, and I remember sending it to you and being like, you would like this book, Michael. But I read a book called How to Drag a Body and Other Safety Tips You Hope to Never Need by Judy Matloff. And she's super cool. She's just an interesting woman. She was a -- like a war correspondent, and she's also a teacher, a professor at Columbia University. And she's a safety consultant. And she has been through and/or prepared for every kind of crisis and issue and situation you could possibly imagine, like including natural disasters like fire zones and hurricanes and earthquakes and such, but also actual wartime stuff.

And so she has really neat advice, like what to pack when you travel to be prepared for certain things; what to do in a situation of political unrest, which is becoming more and more helpful.

MR What?

AH I know. What to do with digital attacks, and how to -- what to do if you're in a mass shooting, and what kinds of first aid should you know to be of best help in any particular crisis. It's kind of scary. And there's also a chapter, too, on mental resilience, which I thought was really, really interesting. Anyhow, it's a -- it's an interesting read. Some of it's, of course, a little bit dark, but it was interesting and helpful. And it really did -- and it was funny. It was written in a way that -- she's got a great sense of humor, which I would think you have to have.

It gets really -- the book got great reviews from people I respect, so like Susan Cain, who did the whole introvert -- she's done a couple books on introvert, one called Quiet. I know Michael and I have seen her speak at a bunch of events. Susan Cain thought it was a fantastic book. Gretchen Rubin thought it was a fantastic book. A whole bunch of other authors that I really like loved this book; that's kind of how I heard about it. So anyway, the full title is How to Drag a Body and Other Safety Tips You Hope to Never Need: Survival Tricks for Hacking, Hurricanes, and Hazards Life Might Throw at You. And it's really good. And that's my "what I'm reading."

MR And you reminded me about that, so I just bought it on Kindle just now while you were mentioning it, so.

AH You could've borrowed it from your library, Michael.

MR Oh, crap. I always forget about that. [Laughing]

AH [Laughing] You're so trigger happy to buy things, weirdo.

MR I know. Well, I'm such a slow reader these days because I can't find as much time as I want to sit down and read a book. And so I -- it takes me a long time to get through a book these days, and I don't have -- I know I could do the trick where you turn off Wi-Fi but then have to -- all the other books disappear -- anyway, the whole thing. So I just bought it today, so.

AH It's okay. There you go. You're going to -- I think --

MR Thanks for the reminder.

AH I think you'll feel good about it. And I always feel good about making sure an author gets some money, so yay.

MR Yeah. Yeah.

AH Yeah. That's all I got.

MR And I'm kind of like a closet prepper, so I like this kind of stuff. [Laughing]

AH I know you are. I'm really glad you got it because I think you'll enjoy it.

MR Yeah.

AH And it's really -- it's very funny. There's a lot that just written with good humor.

MR Yeah. All right.

AH Who's our first sponsor?

MR Our friends over at Acuity.

AH They sure are.

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MR Yay. Thanks, Acuity. All right. Excuse me. I had to clear my throat there for a moment. It looks we have kind of a juicy topic today. What are we talking about?

AH It's a little juicy but also short-lived. And I feel like this could alternately be titled like "Why A Lot of People Think Allissa Is a Big Jerk," and I'm cool with that. But there have been, especially in the last ten months or so, a lot of questions and interesting conversations about reporting colleagues who are not following COVID protocols or just, in general, breaking the law.

So should you report a colleague for breaking the rules? And there's a few things. There's a few factors here. And when the first -- at least in Massachusetts, when the first shutdown happened, I definitely heard through people of massage therapists who were just working right through even though we were definitely very clearly shut down and not considered essential workers. It was really clear in Massachusetts that we had to shut down. And I have heard of people who are working and have been back working since we were allowed to but are not following the state-required COVID protocols. And in general, in my career, I have certainly been aware of many practitioners practicing in ways that are illegal according to our regulations, or practicing without the proper licenses, and lots of different things like that.

So it's a topic I've always been interested in and I've always been a little bit of a hardliner about stuff, which makes a lot of people mad at me, and I'm cool with that. I don't think I'm quite the monster these people think I am, but that's okay. So here are some things to think about if you are made aware of "inappropriate, illegal, violating protocols, gray area" behavior on the part of a colleague.

So the first question is, "How do you know about it?" Do you know about it because a client said, oh, I went to so-and-so for a massage, and they didn't make me wear a mask, so I'm going to keep going. Now, in Massachusetts, everyone's required to wear a mask, both the practitioner and the client, through the full treatment. So did you hear about it from a client who is complaining because you are following protocols but another massage therapist isn't? Did you hear about it from another colleague, which is what happened to me in the spring. I had a whole bunch of people call me and be like, hey, I heard so-and-so is still practicing even though we're supposed to be shut down, what do I do? And yeah. And I had to say, well, how did you hear about it? So are you hearing -- is it being reported to you as hearsay, third or fourth person? Or did you hear about this illegal or non-protocol-y practice from the practitioner themselves? Do you have a colleague who told you they're not requiring masks? Did you -- have you had a colleague that told you they're open for business even though they haven't gotten all the proper licensures yet or the -- did you read a colleague talk about this online?

And that happens a lot in massage discussion groups. People openly talk about the rules and the laws that they are just not abiding by. So did you hear this as third- or fourth-party information, or did you hear this directly from the person violating that policy or law? That matters because you might not want to report it if you have -- well, I never really want to report anything, but it might not be acceptable to report it if you've only heard about it second-or third- person. That might not be enough for anyone to take action.

So the next question is, "Are you required to report it?" In Massachusetts, it is a condition of my licensure agreement that I signed as part of a -- part of the deal, part of the contract for me being licensed in Massachusetts. I am required to report any violations of our massage laws. It is part of my licensure. And if I don't and they find out that I knew -- let's say someone was practicing in my office without the proper licenses or down the street, if I know about that and I get busted, which is unlikely to happen, but nonetheless, by not reporting it, I am violation of the regulations. And now I'm at fault. I'm -- I could have my licensed pulled for that. I am violating my licensure agreement. If I know that a colleague is practicing illegally and I have not reported it, that's a problem. And also, is there a difference between violating typical regulations versus violating some more recent state- or locality-enforced COVID-19 precautions? There is a difference.

And for me in Massachusetts, there is a difference. If someone's operating without, let's say, a practitioner license, I report them to the Massachusetts State Massage Therapy Board. If someone I know is operating but they're not requiring clients wear masks, as our laws require right now, they would get reported to the local board of health that's charged with enforcement of these type of protocols. So are you required to report, and what things are you required to report? That may or may not influence your decision to report.

Another factor -- and this gets into some real ethical gray areas. The real hardliners would say, if you know something illegal is happening, you need to report it. Other people want to think through the context and be the judge themself. I don't know how I feel about this, but I am going to point out that it is part of many conversations that I see. Who's going to get hurt? If a practitioner is violating a rule, a law, a protocol, who gets hurt by that particular violation? Is it the practitioner that's at risk? Is it the client that becomes at risk of harm? Is it both, or is it no one? Is this some kind of rando, arbitrary rule that says the handwashing water in an office must be a certain degrees and you know theirs falls five below it because their hot water heater's not working right. This is a random example; it's not a real thing. Who gets hurt by that, and does that influence your decision to report or not? Only you can decide. And I'm not saying there's a right or wrong answer here, but it might be a factor.

What else can you do? If you're not going to report to them -- report them to a governing authority, or even if you are, what else can you do about it? I mean, you can obviously never refer to them again, if you ever did. You could make sure that your business is never associated with theirs. So if they call you and say, do you want to do a chair massage job with me, you can say, absolutely not, thanks, though. If you know that person, do you talk to them? Do you call them and say, hey, I just had my client tell me that they're not going to see me anymore because I require masks and that they're seeing you now because you don't require masks. Are you aware that the law requires masks during the full treatment and whenever they are in your office? Maybe they don't know. Maybe you don't want to have a confrontational situation. Maybe you don't want to have that conversation because then they know after they affirm that they're not requiring masks that you're going to be the one that's reported them to them to the Board of Health. I don't know.

But if you have a friendly relationship with someone, maybe you do feel okay approaching them. And I have certainly had colleagues tell me that they did this or did that, and that was a violation. And I have certainly said, do you realize that is a violation and you could be reported and lose your license? And anybody who knows me knows that if they are repeatedly violating something knowingly, I'm probably going to report them. So people, don't tell me that stuff. But on occasions, people have. And I haven't had to report any of my friends because I'm not a jerk, and also my friends are pretty smart people that fix something when they realize it's wrong. But if you know them well enough and you feel comfortable having a conversation, it could be a great educating conversation for both of you, even if it tells you that you never want to be associated with them again.

And finally, my last thought here is we don't -- because we're so averse to having confrontation or conflict in any kind of relationship -- but also we're afraid. If I call my colleague out for doing something dumb, are they going to talk smack about me in my community for the rest of our careers? What's going to happen here? How's this going to go down? But I am a very big fan of being honest with colleagues when the situation allows itself.

And I'll give an example from my life. A colleague who owned a business down the street from me called me and asked me if I wanted to work some kind of event with them. And I said, thank you so much for inviting me, but I don't think I -- but I don't want our businesses to work together, and I'll tell you why. And it was because she had a habit of, whenever someone semi-famous, like an athlete, a pro athlete from our area, would go and see her, she would announce on social media like, oh, I saw -- insert football player's name here -- so-and-so's wife is now a regular client, yay! You can't -- and I told her right out, like, I'm not comfortable with how you advertise your business, and you use your clients' names in your business, in your advertising. You've never made it clear if it's with or without permission, and even when I went to see you, you told me about another massage therapist you had recently seen, so I'm not comfortable with your levels of confidentiality, and I don't really want to do that. And she was pretty pissed at me, but her business also went under a year later, so that says something about that.

But I think it's okay to clearly and as kindly as you can be honest with people when you are choosing to not refer to them or not be associated with them in a public way. And I think we need be clear with people.

And that's all I have to say about that. So that's the "Allissa's a monster" episode. I'm done. What do you think, Michael?

MR I just want to add that you're definitely not the monster that some people think you are. [Laughing]

AH Yeah. Well, say that -- tell that to my step-kids' mothers.

MR [Laughing] You are kind-hearted, and you want the best for everyone, so I appreciate that about you.

AH Well, let me just tell this story, and this is actually why I feel kind of strongly about reporting people who are so clearly and knowingly operating illegally. There was a dude who was around the same age as me. We went to the -- we went to high school at the same time, but he went to the private high school, and I went to the public one. But I knew of him through other people. His dad was a chiropractor in my town for a million years, totally had been around forever.

So this dude, whatever, went through high school, went to college, moved to California, became a massage therapist, and then moved back to Massachusetts and started working as a massage therapist in his dad's chiro office. However, at the time, we had Massachusetts's state licensure for massage practitioners, as we still do. He never got his Massachusetts's license because it would've required that he take some more classes because the training he had in California didn't match up with the requirements for Massachusetts. So he would've had to take some more classes and do some stuff. And he decided to just never do it. He did massage; he called himself a massage therapist; he advertised massage on the website. But he -- when questioned, because I knew people who were like, what's that deal, and they asked them, he said he does massage under the umbrella of his father's chiropractic business as a chiropractic assistant, which is a thing that requires no training. He never got his practitioner license and he never got an establishment license.

And he called me once to say, hey, I have a question about this in Massachusetts, and how do you do this? And I was like, dude, you're operating without licenses, which means if you hurt somebody, you don't have liability insurance that's going to cover them. I am not comfortable doing this thing with you or guiding you on how to run your business because you're operating illegally. And he was pretty mad that I said that out loud, but I also didn't really care. And literally, this guy -- I could look out my front door and see his office, see his dad's chiro office, so he was a local neighbor who I had known growing up. Anyhow, he did hurt somebody. And it ended up being a small thing, but it got -- the client felt so bad about all of it that they never furthered the situation or reported him to the board.

And then like six months after that, the dude ran a Groupon. He ran a Groupon campaign to the whole wide world, knowing that he is completely unlicensed and working illegally. And at that point, his dad had actually retired and wasn't even in the office every day to supervise him, and he was still massaging out of that office without any licenses. And you bet your sweet bippy I reported him, and I don't feel the tiniest bit bad about that because if people are going to act that dumb, oh, my God. Report the crap out of them. And that's my story, so there.

MR Nice try, but I still maintain you're not a monster.

AH I'm a little bit, but I'm okay with that.

MR [Laughing]

AH Who's our sponsor that might not want to be associated with me after this episode?

MR Jojoba!

AH Yay, Jojoba! Ah, they stick with me even when I'm ridiculous.

MR True story.

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MR All right. Quick tip time.

AH Bring me your quick tip.

MR All right. I am probably more excited about this quick tip than I have been about any other quick tip for a long time because it's a cooking -- it's a food thing. And here's the deal. I am so bad at food and cooking and making food. I'm just really bad. I don't get how people create these beautiful, wonderful dishes and meals and things, and it's just -- ah, it's just not my thing. But I found this recipe that I used recently, and I love it. It's -- so usually, when things are fancy and interesting, they're really hard to make. Or if they're easy to make, it's like, uh, they're just boring. The ratio of ease-to-make to fanciness is so favorable.

So I found this recipe for tzatziki shrimp cucumber rounds, and they are so easy to make, and they are delicious. So it takes -- the ingredients are really simple. It's basically some yogurt, a couple of cucumbers, some garlic, salt, and dill weed, some bacon, some shrimp, a little bit of oil, and that's basically it. And you wrap the bacon around the shrimp, and then you fry it, and there -- you cook in a skillet. And you slice up the cucumber in these little rounds, and then you attach it with the yogurt with the dill weed and the seasoning in there.

And it's so refreshing. It's like -- if you like shrimp and seafood, it's awesome because the shrimp and the bacon are delicious, obviously, and then the cucumber is so refreshing. The combination of the cucumber and the yogurt is such a refreshing balance. And they're so easy to make, and they look so fancy. So I'm really excited about this recipe. It's a big deal for me. Probably not a big deal for people who are good at this stuff. But I wanted to share the recipe because it's one of my go-tos now.

AH I have to say, knowing you, I was really impressed with this, that you -- because I think told me about it when you first made it or something, and you were like, this is amazing!

MR Yeah.

AH And the fanciest thing Michael's ever cooked for me was like scrambled eggs and bacon, which is a big deal because Michael used to not like bacon. He used to not understand how great it was. But you're welcome, for fixing that. And yeah, it looks really good. And I am not prepared with a quick tip, but I'm very proud of you for cooking.

MR [Laughing] Thanks. It's a big deal for me. And the whole bacon thing -- I used to have a hierarchy of meat. My hierarchy of --

AH [Laughing] Sorry.

MR I just can't help but share this because you know I used to have this hierarchy of meat, right?

AH I know. Wait, can I try to remember what it was?

MR Yes. Go for it. Go for it.

AH So meat from -- okay. So from the most healthy meat to the least healthy meat, so it was like fish, chicken, beef, maybe. And then pork was the least healthy. Pork -- any kind of pork or bacon and stuff like that was at the least healthy. It was your hierarchy of meat, which is actually -- whatever, whatever. But did I get it close to right?

MR Yeah, you got it right. Turkey and chicken were kind of in the same category.

AH Yeah.

MR And when I said fish, I was like, preferably raw fish like sushi, and then cooked fish, and then so on down. And this -- and by the way, disclaimer: this is basically my impression of healthy, not like backed up by any data or science. It's what I thought was healthy.

AH Yeah. And you're kind of incorrect because lean pork is actually a little bit healthier than red meats, but whatever.

MR See? I don't even know what I'm talking about. It's just my hierarchy of meat.

AH Yeah. Yeah. It's why I totally -- Michael had to eat bacon when he lost a bet with me. But he finally -- took him several years, and my guess might be even the persuasion of your wife a little bit because she's cool with bacon.

MR Yeah. She likes bacon.

AH Yeah. So thanks, Ariana. You've changed all of our lives for the better.

MR [Laughing] So the link is going to be in the show notes for that recipe. If you make them, send me a photo of how they turned out because they are so easy to make look fancy and cool too. So anyway, I want your photos if you make these things.

AH Hold up. Did you use fresh dill or dry dill?

MR Just the dried, like, a bottle of dill weed.

AH Okay. Sometime when you go grocery shopping, get a package of fresh dill, and it'll be even better.

MR Oh, okay.

AH And then throw it in your scrambled eggs. It's so good. I grew it this summer, and it was really good.

MR Okay. Awesome.

AH Anyhow. Pro tip. We're done.

MR All right. Well, let's bring it home. Thanks, everyone, for joining us today. We appreciate you being a listener as always. You can find us on the web. Our website is massagebusinessblueprint.com. If you're part of our Community, we'll see you there. If not, consider joining us. We have an awesome private community. If you're tired of the shenanigans on Facebook and other places and you want to join a really super smart group of other massage therapists who are helping and supporting each other and getting resources and mentorship as a community, we would invite you to check that out on the website, massagebusinessblueprint.com. Thanks, everyone, for joining us. Have a great day. We will see you next time.

AH Bye. Bye.

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