Podcast

Episode 419

Jun 17, 2022

Allissa and Michael answer a question from a community member about how to handle dual relationships in your massage business.

Listen to "E419: Managing Dual Relationships in your Massage Business" on Spreaker.
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EPISODE 419

Weekly Roundup

Discussion Topic

  • Managing Dual Relationships

Quick Tips

Sponsors


Transcript: 

Sponsor message:

This episode is sponsored by The Original Jojoba Company. I believe that massage therapists should only be using the highest quality products because our clients deserve it and we deserve it. I've been using jojoba for years because it doesn't go rancid. It doesn't contain triglycerides like many other products do, so it won't go bad. Also, jojoba is non allergenic, so I can use it on any client and every client without being concerned about an allergic reaction. And it doesn't clog pores, so if you have a client that's prone to acne breakouts, jojoba will not cause a reaction. In fact, jojoba can help to clean out and clear the pores. You, my friends, can get 20% off when you shop through our link, massagebusinessblueprint.com/jojoba.

Michael Reynolds:

Hey, everyone. 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.

Michael Reynolds:

We're your hosts. Welcome. We're still here. Happy to be your hosts today. That's all I got.

Allissa Haines:

We are. We're delighted, we're super delighted.

Michael Reynolds:

I love pressing that button right when you're done. I like this new live format we're doing because you do the pre roll, and then I have this big purple button on the soundboard that you can't see, that I get to press. And when I press it, it's like, "Boom," the music starts. It's a lot of fun. I just wanted to let you know I'm having fun with this new setup we have because that big purple button is just fun to smash, so that's what I got.

Allissa Haines:

Make you feel powerful?

Michael Reynolds:

It does. It's like, "Boom, sound, music." I like it.

Allissa Haines:

Okay. Michael's got a secret little DJ thing going on over there.

Michael Reynolds:

I do. I should take a picture. I'll take a picture and send it to you for Instagram, so people can see our little amateur slash pro setup here.

Allissa Haines:

Because Heaven forbid you post it to Instagram yourself.

Michael Reynolds:

I guess I could do that, yeah. I forgot I have the password now, yeah. I never posted our blueprint Instagram because I recently got the password to it, so I guess I should do that now.

Allissa Haines:

Ah, I'm very proud of you. Michael, what are you reading?

Michael Reynolds:

I saw that on LastPass, you shared it with me. What am I reading in LastPass? What am I reading this week? Sorry. I was talking about LastPass and my brain short circuited. So I feel like usually you share interesting, fun things you're reading and I share really boring, dry, sometimes morbid things I'm reading. But what I'm reading right now is How to Name a Beneficiary for Your LLC, if something happens to you, if you die, for example. So I was getting into this because we have an article coming out for ABMP, I think it's scheduled for the fall, or it might be late summer, on putting together, I get hit by a bus file for your business, what to do if something happens to you, if you're incapacitated, or you pass, and what happens to your business, how to give someone access to things. And it got me down this rabbit hole of saying, "Hey, I need to really kind of refresh on what the options are for naming beneficiaries for your business." Obviously, someone operational to get access is important. But who actually gets ownership of your business?

Michael Reynolds:

And so I've been reading a couple articles from various law firms about this. And there are various ways to do it. And we're not going to dig into it all today. Maybe we'll turn this into a whole episode. That might be a good idea. But basically, it's important to take a look at how your business ownership will pass in the event of your death. So a lot of ways to do it, one of the least efficient ways is through a will because that goes through probate. It can take months. There's expenses and costs. And in the meantime, your business kind of comes to a halt while the courts sort everything out through probate. So that is typically the least desirable way.

Michael Reynolds:

But one of the more efficient ways is to update your operating agreement to name a beneficiary in your business operating agreement, like your LLC agreement, for example. Also, many states will allow you to do what's called a transfer on death deed, for various assets including a business. You can often do it for things like your home, or for a vehicle. But you could also do it in many states, if they allow it, for a business, which means that if you die, then assets like your home, your car, and your business immediately pass to your beneficiary, as in the ownership passes without going through courts or probate, so it's instant efficient. So I've been reading more about the details of the ins and outs of some of the better ways to do that. So as exciting as that sounds, that's what I've been reading.

Allissa Haines:

Riveting.

Michael Reynolds:

Yeah.

Allissa Haines:

Actually, we should dedicate an episode to that because now I'm kind of almost interested in it.

Michael Reynolds:

Yeah, almost. Don't get carried away here, but it's somewhat interesting.

Allissa Haines:

So I have been reading. Last week, I read a book called I Love You So Mochi, and it's by the author, Sarah Kuhn. And I shared From Little Tokyo With Love, or something like that, a couple weeks ago, which is another book by the same author. And it is a story of a young woman, Kimi Nakamura, who goes to Japan to spend a couple of weeks with her grandparents, who she had not met in person before, and kind of her little evolution through what she's going to do with the rest of her life. She's a senior in high school, and her parents have some expectations of her. And she has some changing expectations for herself. And it's just a very sweet story of her learning more about her culture and meeting some friends in Japan, and connecting with her grandparents. It's a very sweet, not crazy long, story that gave me a little life last week when I was super sick, so a special place in my heart for this book.

Michael Reynolds:

That sounds lovely.

Allissa Haines:

It was really sweet. It was a sweet book. It was nice. Yeah, that's what we've been reading. What's next?

Michael Reynolds:

All right. What's next, you ask, is a shout out to ABMP.

Allissa Haines:

Yay. ABMP, thanks for being a sponsor of our podcast. Let's talk about one of the many, many benefits of ABMP. Let's talk about their magazine, Massage and Bodywork Magazine, since Michael mentioned it a little while ago. It is indeed an award winning magazine. And you get it in print if you're an ABMP member. But it's also available free to everyone at massageandbodyworkdigital.com. We have a column, The Blueprint for Success column, in every issue. And there is a column, a regular column, written by Ruth Warner, about various pathologies and how we handle them in massage. It is a fantastic feature or column.

Allissa Haines:

Plus, all kinds of relevant, important, current articles on techniques, in depth features, and lots of video tie ins to cover the issues that matter most to professional body workers. You can check it out at massageandbodyworkdigital.com. Or keep an eye on your mailbox if you're an ABMP member. I'm going to cough, sorry. And sorry, I thought I was over this. Just going to try and not cough during this episode. So yeah, check your mailbox if you're an ABMP member because you probably got an issue that just came, or is coming soon. And everyone can check it out at massageandbodyworkdigital.com.

Michael Reynolds:

Thanks, ABMP. All right, you have a fun topic today, managing dual relationships.

Allissa Haines:

Yeah. So this is cool, let me flip my page to get to the right notes here. And I'm going to take a sip so I can try to not cough during this portion of the episode, trying real hard. We had a really wonderful question asked in our mastermind community. And very specifically, it was asked by someone who is wrapping up their schooling and going to be venturing out as an actual massage therapist, so there's a few student related notes in here. But all of this applies to everybody. You can make it work.

Allissa Haines:

So what our friend asked is, "What should I keep in mind in terms of dual relationship, as I plan to work on my sparring partners and coaches at the MMA gyms in the area?" And this is someone who obviously has been involved in MMA and related martial arts and gyms and stuff in their area. And it was such a great ... Dual relationships is such an interesting topic. We've covered it a few times. I wanted to cover it from a slightly different angle. We got some wonderful thoughts from some of our members that I added in here, and here's what I got. My initial gut when I read this question, I was like, "Clarity, boundaries, confidentiality." And after years and years of doing this, and taking a lot of ethics courses that talk a lot about gray areas and dual relationships, and having so many conversations with colleagues, these are the things.

Allissa Haines:

And they can all be defined in a variety of ways. But yeah, clarity, boundaries, confidentiality. Let's start with clarity. Be super, super clear about what your arrangement is with any of these clients with whom you also have another kind of relationship, what your arrangement is as a student, and what that relationship will be like once you are licensed and legit, as in I'm not practicing anymore. So that might sound like when you're talking to somebody that you are going to do some practice sessions on as a student. It might sound something like, while I'm a student, my practice sessions are at no charge. I'm not sure exactly what my pricing is going to be when I graduate, but I'll keep you in the loop as my business plans progress.

Allissa Haines:

This lays a really nice foundation. It's super proactive, so that you don't end up in a situation where you've been giving someone free massage for a year, and then you graduate and you're not sure how to tell them you're going to have to charge them now. If you're going to do that before you start practicing on them, that's ideal. We have solutions if that didn't happen. We'll get there.

Allissa Haines:

Boundaries, in that, really consider the power structure in this relationship and how you're going to handle it. So if there is a coach that you respect and that is usually having some kind of authority over you as you are their student in class. So if a student that you respect asks for a session, one: Are you going to feel comfortable working on them? Are you going to be able to kind of flip and adjust that power differential? But also, what if that person who you really respect is like, "Hey, do you have any appointments on Saturday afternoon? I'd love to get in after class"? If you don't work Saturday afternoons, what are you going to say there? And this is something to think about ahead of time. Just assume that you're going to have these uncomfortable situations, and think ahead about how you want to respond, so that you have something in your head and you've considered this.

Allissa Haines:

So if you are going to be someone who holds firm to your assigned scheduled, the schedule you have given yourself to work in your massage business, you got to come up with a good answer. If you're not going to work Saturday afternoons, are you going to say yes just because you kind of worship this person? And typically, they have some sense of authority over you. Or are you going to be able to say, "Sorry, I don't have Saturday afternoon appointments. Do you want the link to my scheduling page so you can find something that'll fit into your schedule?" Can you do that? Or are you going to feel obligated or weird and make exceptions? This is a really important boundary. What boundaries are you going to be cool holding? What do you need to practice? And what are you going to do if you find that there's a boundary being violated and you're really uncomfortable with that? All things you want to think ahead about.

Allissa Haines:

You're not going to handle all of these things perfectly. You're just not. You're going to end up in uncomfortable situations, but knowing that ahead of time and knowing that we'll help you find a way out might be helpful. One of our members noted, and this has been noted a lot of times, and I so appreciate it. Is it okay to not trade and barter? Yeah, it is absolutely okay to not trade and barter. And a lot of people, as you start up your business, might offer this to you. It is okay to say, "You know what, I'm actually not going to trade services. I'd rather just pay you straight out and have you pay me straight out, and have it be real clear and clean." That's what I say when people ask if I want to barter or trade. These words are not interchangeable, legally they're different things, but roll with it.

Allissa Haines:

If you decide you do want to do some kind of trade or barter, it needs to be super clear, and I would suggest even written down, so that you have a record of it and everybody remembers the same conversation, the same way. So if you have a conversation with someone and they're like, "Classes are 50 bucks. If I give you ... Do you want to trade a class and a massage," and you're like, "Well, my massage is 100 bucks. So could we trade dollar value for dollar value? Or are you going to trade time for time, an hour lesson for an hour massage, even though there's a price differential there?" There is no right or wrong answer here. Do what you're comfortable with, but make sure it's super duper clear. And if you have that conversation verbally, follow it up with an email and say, "Just so that we both remember the conversation correctly, and we're on the same page, we are going to trade services this way. Did I remember that correctly?"

Allissa Haines:

And be super, super clear about it. Please note that even if it feels uncomfortable to have that conversation and uncomfortable to write that email, it's going to feel way less comfortable later when there's conflict and you have to deal with it in the situation of conflict versus being super proactive. And any responsible business person that wants to trade or barter with you is going to appreciate and respect your clarity and professionalism. And if they do not appreciate and respect your clarity and professionalism, then you don't want to be in business with them. You don't want to be doing this trading stuff with them, so keep that in mind. And Michael is making a note right now, so let's just let him pop in.

Michael Reynolds:

Oh, sorry. I just didn't want to interrupt. I just want to make a note. I may have missed this if you mentioned it, but bartering is taxable income as well.

Allissa Haines:

Yes.

Michael Reynolds:

Just a side note.

Allissa Haines:

Yep. And that's the difference between trade and barter. I believe that we actually have a whole old podcast episode on this from a long time ago.

Michael Reynolds:

I'm sure we've ranted about that at some point.

Allissa Haines:

Yeah. I think we actually had Kelly Bowers, the tax person, on about this. So yeah, if you're going to do this, make sure you look it up and know what you're talking about because one you actually have to claim as taxable income. So if you're doing that, but the person that you're bartering with is not, they're going to be confused because a lot of people don't comprehend the difference between trade and barter, on the books, off the books. I am not here suggesting you do anything off the books. So make sure you know what you're doing, and the person you're doing that with is quite aware as well, and you're all on the same page. Okay, I'm going to take a sip.

Allissa Haines:

The next bit here, because we're talking clarity, boundaries, and confidentiality, confidentiality, keep your mouth shut. In the massage room, do not initiate conversation as if you are hanging out socially with this person, or in a class with them, or having conversation about whatever, your martial arts. If they initiate conversation and they do it a lot, if you're comfortable with that, great. You also might want to say, "Listen, I'm happy to chat, but I never want you to feel like you have to be social during your massage. So the amount of talking is up to you. I'm not going to initiate conversation."

Allissa Haines:

And you can change your mind with every session. And I do this even with people, clients I don't know. If someone is really chatty in their massage, I make sure after their massage, I say to them, "Listen, it was a delight to chat and get to know you. But I don't want you to feel like every time you come in, you have to be chatty. I will not initiate conversation during your massage, and I want you to be aware of that because this is your time, and it can be whatever you want it to be." I do that with anyone. If any client who is chatty, especially if they've come to see me a few times and haven't been, and then all of a sudden, they're chatty, sometimes there's a reason for that. But I always want them to know they can come back and feel comfortable not talking.

Allissa Haines:

Sometimes if they tip you once, they feel like they have to keep tipping you. It's the same thing with talking, so don't be shy about addressing that proactively and saying, "It was lovely to chat with you, but I don't ever want you to feel like that's necessary. Just because you're my friend doesn't mean you can't have a quiet massage." Outside of the massage room, be super mindful that you are not mentioning their massage care in front of anyone else. So if you're standing around the gym after class, don't look at your coach and be like, "Hey, it looks like that shoulder's moving better since your massage." That is super in-approps.

Allissa Haines:

If the client, the coach, initiates that topic around other people and says, "Hey, my shoulder feels really great today. Thank you for that treatment," it's okay to acknowledge that. But I also would not further that conversation. Say, "Oh, I'm so glad. That's great." You don't need to say, "Oh, yeah, it absolutely looks like your lateral blah, blah, blah is better. Blah, blah, blah." You don't need to go into detail, especially if there's other people around, even if they bring it up. You want that client to know that you're not going to start divulging information about them. And you want everyone around you to see that, that you are not bringing that up.

Allissa Haines:

So again, I like to be really proactive with this, so if I have somebody come in and I know there is a dual relationship situation, I say at their first appointment, "Listen, it can get a little messy when I work with my friends. I want you to be super aware that I am going to be mindful of your confidentiality, and I'm not going to on my own initiate conversation about your massage, or bring up that you're a client in front of other people." People are going to respect that level of professionalism. They really, really are. And if they don't, they're not your people, and that's fine. But I think you'll find that when you observe that level of confidentiality, and when you make it known to that client who you have a dual relationship with, that you are going to be super mindful of their confidentiality, they're going to be even more likely to one, again, admire your professionalism, and also help you build your business by telling people about you. It becomes a point of marketing. Yeah.

Allissa Haines:

And you can do it. You can totally do it. My dad used to see one of the other massage therapists in my office, and I would never know that he was coming in. I never knew if he didn't mention it to me, until he walked in the door. And I was like, "Are you here to see so and so?" And he always knew that I was never going to know because he knew that his massage therapist was super hyper confidential. So yay, it all works out really well when you keep your dang mouth shut.

Allissa Haines:

Finally, my last bit here, all of this can be really awkward and uncomfortable. And I am such a huge fan of just acknowledging, shining a light on that awkward and uncomfortable. It's okay to say, when somebody is asking you about your pricing or whatever, or if you do discounts, you can say, "I feel super awkward talking about my pricing and charging a friend for massage, so bear with me here. Here's the pricing that I'm going to offer when I get my license. I'm planning to give anyone in the dojo a $10 discount. Does that sound fair to you?" You don't even have to say, "Does that sound fair to you?" Or if someone's kind of asking about wanting to be your client, and they're worried about it being awkward, or you're worried about it being awkward, it's okay to say, "It feels really awkward to be ... " I'm sorry, I'm going to start again because this actually ... Because I started my business in the town I grew up in, I would have old teachers come to me for massage, or people I went to high school with that didn't know really well.

Allissa Haines:

And after a few times, I realized, listen, it can feel really awkward that we used to be in high school together, and now I'm going to tell you how to undress for your massage. But here's the shtick that I tell every client, and you are every client, so here we go. And then I'd give them my shtick. It feels really weird. I actually have seen five or six teachers, or admin, staff, faculty, from my old high school. And every time, it was so weird for 10 seconds, and then it wasn't. And they're really some of the most lovely clients I've ever had, and to be able to have an adult therapeutic relationship, and also some friendships with some teachers and some people that used to have a position of authority over me in one way or another is super awkward, but also really, really wonderful, and will help you grow as a professional and as a human. So that is my final note, just acknowledge that it's weird because it is. And then everybody can move past it. And that is what I have to say.

Michael Reynolds:

Awesome. Really good stuff. We have some comments here on Facebook, so Leslie's first comment from Facebook here says, "I feel like this particular scenario's power differentials could be difficult to wrestle with." Thanks, Leslie. On brand.

Allissa Haines:

Awful, awful punny for this early in the morning.

Michael Reynolds:

On brand for Leslie, all right.

Allissa Haines:

Bless you.

Michael Reynolds:

Also, Leslie has a second followup, saying, "The few times I've bartered for bigger items, there have been actual physical gift cards involved."

Allissa Haines:

Yeah, absolutely. And that can be a really good way if you're going to barter with somebody like, I don't know, for whatever, a car detailing that's worth 150 bucks. You give them $150 worth of gift card, and they can do whatever they want with it. And yeah, that can be super, super helpful to just ... It keeps it real clean. And then they can just schedule like a regular client and apply that gift card to it, or they can give it to somebody. And then there's no weirdness or cancellations about it. It makes it nice and clean.

Michael Reynolds:

And Marcy, also on Facebook, joins us to say, "Good morning. Late to the party today. 80% of my clients live within five miles of my clinic. I try to not even acknowledge them during accidental meetings inside grocery stores, restaurants, Starbucks, et cetera. No one needs to know."

Allissa Haines:

Word. I feel like I have mastered the smile and nod. It's just a smile and a nod, that would be friendly even if it was just a stranger who you happen to make eye contact with, but does not further initiate any conversation or anything. If a client walks up to me and is like, "Hey, Allissa," I will say, "Hello." I don't say, "This is my client." I had a wonderful experience when I was in college, where I was out to eat with a friend, and in walked my therapist, my mental health therapist, with her daughter. And I looked up and caught her eye. You're surprised to see someone, your healthcare practitioner out in the wild. And she was walking right by, so there was no avoiding. And she was so graceful about it. She stopped and she said, "Well, hello, Allissa. It's so nice to see you." And I was like, "Oh, it's nice to see you too." She went, "This is my daughter, Sarah." And I was like, "Oh, this is my friend, so and so." And she's like, "Well, it's nice to see you," and went and sat down. That was it.

Allissa Haines:

And she didn't even need to introduce her daughter, except I think she'd mentioned she had one, so I knew she had a kid. But she was just so graceful about it that it really has informed how I handle meeting people out in the wild. But yeah, you can just say hello and you don't have to say how you know somebody. You don't have to introduce the person you're with. And it works really well. Just takes a little practice, like everything.

Michael Reynolds:

Lovely. Well, thank you.

Allissa Haines:

Is that all the comments? I wasn't watching, so I don't know if I missed any.

Michael Reynolds:

That's all the comments for now, absolutely. All right.

Allissa Haines:

Well, good morning, Leslie and Marcy. Thanks for joining us.

Michael Reynolds:

Thanks for joining us, indeed.

Allissa Haines:

What do we got?

Michael Reynolds:

For quick tips, let's give a shout out to our last sponsor, Happyface.

Allissa Haines:

Yay, and I can say that I personally have experienced the beauty of Happyface when I got a massage last week, just as I was starting to get congested. I've got to tell you, it is indeed the most comfy face cradle, so you can give the most relaxing massage of your client's life. There is an innovative heart shaped design of the cushion. That means no sinus pressure, no eye pressure, not need to adjust mid massage, no wrecking people's makeup, or their fake lashes, or their real lashes. Made in the USA, Happyface is seamless with an easy to clean surface. And it's about the same dimensions as all the other face cradles, so it's going to fit your face cradle frame. All of your face cradle covers are going to fit. It's got a full Velcro back, so it sticks where you put it. And you can get 20% off your entire purchase at massagebusinessblueprint.com/happyface. Use code MASSAGEBB at checkout, but you'll see all that information at massagebusinessblueprint.com/happyface.

Michael Reynolds:

I've also experienced Happyface. It is much more comfortable than the traditional face cradle. I will agree.

Allissa Haines:

That's right. You got one to gift to your massage therapist and it turned out she had one already.

Michael Reynolds:

She did, so I've got one sitting here in my office that needs a home.

Allissa Haines:

Nice.

Michael Reynolds:

So if anyone out there wants a-

Allissa Haines:

Shout out to Emily. It was Emily, right? Is that your massage therapist?

Michael Reynolds:

Yep.

Allissa Haines:

She's the best.

Michael Reynolds:

She is. She is amazing. All right, quick tips.

Allissa Haines:

I don't have one, so you go. I love yours.

Michael Reynolds:

I figured you would. So my quick tip today is for men. And I'm going to preface it by saying that one thing I've really been trying to do over the years, and I'm hopefully getting better and better at this all the time, is to listen and pay attention more, especially from my position of privilege, so that really helps me. Often, instinctively, it's easy to argue and debate and argue, especially online and things. And I find that I just learn a lot more by listening. So one of the things I listen for is people that don't have the same privilege as me, women, minorities, et cetera, speaking out and explaining what their experiences are. And there was a woman on Twitter recently, I don't know her, someone I follow, re-tweeted by someone I follow. And her advice was, men, watch if the first response to everything a woman tells you is to refute, say no, or something negative.

Michael Reynolds:

There was more to it, but that's kind of the gist of the advice. And there were a lot of comments with it, a few other kind of bits of feedback throughout the thread. And it really is a thing. It's exhausting for women often because as men, a lot of us instinctively just, when a woman says something, we just immediately want to debate, or fight it, or say no, or refute it, or say something negative. And this happens to women all the time, and it can be very exhausting for women in the workplace, in social situations, et cetera. So my quick tip today is for men, start paying attention. Just pay attention that if a woman says something, if your first response is to refute it, to say no, to debate, or fight with them, see if you notice yourself doing this. And if so, work to correct that.

Allissa Haines:

It's a good tip. I just have to say, this is one of the more masculine tendencies that I tend to take on. I tend to be super initially contrary to people. And somebody said-

Michael Reynolds:

What? You? No.

Allissa Haines:

I know. And somebody said to me once, "Listen. What do you get out of being immediately contrary?" Oh, yeah, I don't know. It's something I actually have to really work on. It is one of my more less desirable characteristics, but yeah. There you go. Thank you for that tip. It was really good.

Michael Reynolds:

Yeah. There you go. All right.

Allissa Haines:

That's everything.

Michael Reynolds:

I think that's what we got for today.

Allissa Haines:

28 minutes, dude, nicely done.

Michael Reynolds:

All right. Let's wrap it here then. So thanks, everyone, for joining us today. As always, a reminder, giving a shout out again to our blueprint mastermind community. We're trying to highlight it more and more, so we actually talk about this great thing we have instead of keeping it a secret. If you go to our website, which is massagebusinessblueprint.com, and you're not a member yet, you can join for 30 days free to try it out. And it is a private community full of super smart massage therapists. And Allissa and I also, obviously we do a lot to help any way we can and provide mentorship and accountability. We have office hours. We have resources. You can post questions and get support and nurturing, help and advice from peers, and from us as well. And it's pretty amazing.

Michael Reynolds:

We find that people really get a ton of value from it many times over what they pay for it. It's not very expensive, by the way. But they get many times more value than they pay for it. And we've had people tell us that it is transformational to their massage practice and their lives. So we invite you to check it out and to become a member, or at least try us out. All right, with that, we'll wrap it up there. Our website is massagebusinessblueprint.com. And you can email us at podcast@massagebusinessblueprint.com if you have any questions, comments, or feedback for us. We'd love to hear from you. So thanks, everyone. Have a great day. We'll see you next time.

Allissa Haines:

Bye.

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