Podcast

Episode 432

Sep 2, 2022

Michael and Allissa discuss what it means to be socially conscious and how to build a socially conscious massage business.

Listen to "E432: Ways to Be a Socially Conscious Massage Business" on Spreaker.
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EPISODE 432

Weekly Roundup

Discussion Topic

  • Ways to Be a Socially Conscious Massage Business 

Quick Tips

  • “I need your advice”

Sponsors


Transcript: 

Sponsor message:

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Allissa Haines:

Hello 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 am Allissa Haines.

Michael Reynolds:

And I'm Michael Reynolds.

Allissa Haines:

And we're your hosts, and we're delighted that you're joining us today. And also delighted that we are joining you today, which is what I almost said initially. This is what happens when I bring in the program. Michael, what do you reading?

Michael Reynolds:

You're doing great. I'm reading about horrible things. Pakistan is one-third underwater, apparently. China is experiencing a massive drought. We've got climate disasters all over. I'm hearing that crops in Spain are failing. All sorts of things are happening. I'm reading about all that stuff. And not to be a downer, but that's just kind of what I'm noticing right now. This is related to our topic today, which we'll get to shortly, but we're getting more and more indications that this whole climate change thing is real, and if we don't do something fast, we're going to have a lot more problems on the planet. A lot more people are going to die. A lot more bad things are going to happen. So, I am just reading about all of that today, and I have no other commentary besides: it's a downer.

Allissa Haines:

So, let me ask you this: what are you doing other than just reading about it?

Michael Reynolds:

Well, I'm going to get to that in our topic today.

Allissa Haines:

Are you? Okay.

Michael Reynolds:

Yes.

Allissa Haines:

Oh yeah, look at that.

Michael Reynolds:

Yeah.

Allissa Haines:

It's a socially conscious episode. Okay, well, this all ties in together.

Michael Reynolds:

Yeah, it's kind of tied in together. Yeah.

Allissa Haines:

I'm going to tell you what I've been reading about. And hat tip to Ian Harvey, Massage Sloth, because he brought this to my attention, that some massage therapists are unionizing. Massage therapists at a franchise in Colorado, I believe, and I don't have more detailed information than that, have filed the paperwork and started the process to become unionized. They have experienced a little bit of clap-back from the franchise owners and managers in that a few of the original organizers I believe have been fired. He found out about it through a Reddit thread. There's a whole massage Reddit that I didn't really know existed, but I'm not a big Reddit person. But anyhow, I've got the link in our show notes. It is interesting to follow the process, and I think that there's a lot of places this could go. I think we are ripe. We are ripe for this to happen.

And I think if you'd asked me 5 or 10 years ago if you thought massage therapists could ever unionize... I know I was asked that, and I laughed and said, "No way." But we are in a time and a space where this is possible. It is exciting to see. I am going to follow it. I am going to support these causes wherever I can, because this is good. I love unions. My ex-husband was electrician. He's a member of the electrician's union. And because of that, he had a good working environment and great benefits and a fair pay. And even now, as he is now disabled, he is getting some great benefits from the union and support. And I am super pro-union and think that it is what this country needs. So yay for the massage therapists who put their heads down and plunged through the beginnings of this work, and I will keep you apprised of the situation. And I think you should all just go follow that Reddit thread.

Michael Reynolds:

Very cool. It's great news. Thank you.

Allissa Haines:

It's good news. Indeed. Also good news: anytime we get to talk about ABMP, so let's just jump right into that sponsorship. ABMP. Just love them. They say they're proud to sponsor us and we believe them.

Michael Reynolds:

I believe them.

Allissa Haines:

I believe them. They have tons of good benefits. Let's talk about the magazine today. Massage & Bodywork magazine is an award-winning magazine included in print for ABMP members and available to everyone for free at massageandbodyworkdigital.com. We personally write the "Blueprint for Success" column. There are many other columns, regular columns in that magazine that are super useful. My favorite is always Ruth Werner's Pathology Corner. It is a fantastic professional journal. Award-winning. Includes: techniques, in-depth features, video tie-ins to cover issues that matter to us, hands-on practitioners, business owners, employees, all of the people.

And I will give an aside plug to ABMP. They pay their educators and their writers well, they treat their members well, and they treat their contributors very well with the respect that our work as educators deserve. They pay well for people who teach CEs for them, who write for their publications, who write for their website. And they pay efficiently, which cannot be said for some other magazines. So, I just wanted to say I love ABMP. I love them as a member. I love them as someone who gets to work with them. They are just the highest quality of organization. You can learn more about all of their benefits at abmp.com. And if you need me to say anything more about ABMP, you can just drop me an email, because you know I'd love to.

Michael Reynolds:

We could gush about them forever.

Allissa Haines:

We could. They're just good to work for and work with. So, I get to just mute myself for the next several minutes because Michael is taking control of today's episode. And, Michael, tell us what we need to know about having a socially conscious massage business.

Michael Reynolds:

Sounds good. Well, despite being muted, I would love to hear your thoughts as well, because I know this is something you are also passionate about, so I'm sure we'll have a good discussion. But I wanted to bring this up. I actually talked about this on my other podcast in my other life as a financial advisor, and Allissa and I thought it would make a great discussion for today as well, because so much of our audience and our community we feel is fairly like-minded. Now, we know there's a lot of diversity in thought, but still, we feel like we attract people that kind of care about this stuff that we're going to talk about today like we do. And so, we're going to talk a little bit today about integrating, really just how to align your business in a socially conscious way.

And I want to preface this by saying: part of this discussion, at least for me, came out of this thought process I think a lot of us have, which is that there are a lot of problems in the world. There are a lot of things we would love to help fix or improve, but often we feel overwhelmed. It feels like everything that we see happening around the world is just so big and so overwhelming, and we often struggle to see how we can make a difference; how us and our little businesses can do anything to really impact these massive problems we have in the world. And to some extent, I think that's fair. I mean, yes, we're tiny in comparison to these massive problems that are often created by massive organizations and corporations and momentum, and it's very difficult. But I don't think that means that we should not try. I think that there are ways that we can make a difference. If nothing else, just the value alignment that we can put out into the world, so to speak, and the energy put out still makes an influence and does provide influence.

But also, we can have tangible impacts, especially collectively, the more of us that do make decisions and take action. So, I'm going to start by saying: what does it mean to be socially conscious? There are lots of ways to talk about this, but the way I would talk about it is, first of all, I like the phrase "socially conscious" better than "socially responsible" or other phrases like that. "Socially responsible" to me comes with a little bit of extra judgment and baggage, I think. "Socially conscious," I think, is a more open and broad way of thinking about this stuff. And to me, someone who is socially conscious, or a business owner specifically in our case who is socially conscious, is aware and concerned about the impact we're having on the environment. We care about the impact that fossil fuels are having. Deforestation. We support movement toward clean energy.

We realize that, as I talked about initially in the first part of this episode, there is a lot of bad stuff happening in the world that is damaging to the earth; and if we're not careful, we're going to end up with not a very nice earth to live on anymore. And so, being socially conscious for most of us means caring about this stuff and wanting to see movement away from damaging, toxic practices to the earth and toward clean energy. We're also aware and concerned about lack of equity and inclusion in our society. Things like systemic racism, gender bias, inclusion, human rights, access to healthcare, housing, financial services, employment rights, benefits, and opportunities for marginalized communities. So, these are things that we are aware of and that we care about and that we want to influence in a positive way so that we can fight against these problems.

Again, fight against systemic racism, fight against gender bias, fight for better inclusion, better human rights, better access to services. So, just to make sure we're on the same page, that's what I'm seeing as being "socially conscious." Ultimately, I know everything becomes political, but I want to encourage us to think about this beyond political parties. And more specifically, I like to encourage people to say, "You can not identify as a Democrat and still care about this stuff, and that's okay." Yes, the Democratic party seems to have more of an alignment with these issues, but there are other political parties you can align with or believe in and still care about this stuff. So, to me, this should transcend all of the politics that gets in the way sometimes. This is just stuff I think we should probably all care about.

So, ways to build a socially conscious business. I think that we have tools at our disposal as business owners and decisions we can make that are unique to us. So, some of the stuff will be business-specific, some won't, but it's all kind of aligned with our identity as business owners, as massage business practice owners. So, one thing: commit to action in your community first. A lot of us look at the news and we think, "Oh, this national or global scale stuff is just massive," but often I think it's useful to start in our community first and see where we can go in our local areas.

One thing is vote. We think of voting often as, "Oh, voting for a president or Congress or the big picture stuff," but we have local elections, as well. We have city council. We have local government officials. We can vote locally in our communities, and often that can make a bigger difference to our small geographic world. More of a difference than the big picture stuff sometimes. So, educate yourself on who is running for various offices in your community, get to know public servants, and vote accordingly and be very informed about your own community. Also, volunteer in your community. Volunteering is something that you can do individually or through your business brand as well, or both. But volunteering at various nonprofits you believe in, organizations providing needed services in your community. You can use business resources for that, as well.

And also, giving. Giving is something that's fairly obvious to all of us, I think, but you can give through your own personal funds or business funds or however it makes sense to you. But one thing that I do in more than one of my businesses that I own is consistent giving. Every year, for example, in my other business, my financial advisory practice, I choose one organization that I'm going to commit to recurring monthly donation to. And so, every year I add something. So, as my business grows, I'm also adding more contributions to organizations that I support.

One of them is As You Sow, which is an investment organization that focuses on ESG investing, which we'll talk about in a minute. And one is Anti-Racism Daily because I believe they do a great job of extremely deep, thoughtful, and productive conversations about systemic racism in our society, and I think that the education they provide really makes an incredible impact. So, that's one organization I donate to every month, as well. And so every year I'm adding an organization that I want to support that does great work in the world. So, giving is obviously something you can do through your business, as well. On a bigger scale, again, kind of same thing. Once you've kind of figured out your local community stuff and are working toward making impact there, then move on to the bigger stuff. Move on to national conversations. Voting on a national level. Volunteering on a national level. Giving on a national level. Those things are important, as well.

So, something else you can do in your business. I like to commit to action in my individual business operations. So, as your business operates, what are some things you can do to make decisions in alignment with socially conscious values? One is evaluate your partners and service providers. Most of us have choices in service providers, software providers, other partners we work with, other suppliers. Our organizations, like the massage associations. We have choices in who we work with as partners. So, I think it's worth evaluating, for example, your software providers, your schedulers, your other apps you use.

Now, we can't be totally pure about this. I don't know of any company that is perfect. No one is perfect at this stuff. But if you're choosing between Online Scheduling Tool A and Online Scheduling Tool B, and you're aware that Online Scheduling Tool A goes against your values and Online Scheduling Tool B, by contrast, supports your values, and even has some advocacy and really centers around these values that you care about, I think it's worth looking into that and worth considering, "Hey, I'm going to go with Option B and this provider because of those values." And that's kind of "voting with your dollar," so to speak. That's a phrase we all know. Voting with your dollars and voting with your business and saying, "Hey, I'm choosing this company and I'm choosing to pay this company not only because of the service they provide, but the values they embody."

And I think it's worth telling them, as well, and sharing that information. Also, in your financial services. You can look for, for example, Black-owned banks. There may not always be a bank in your area, but you can look for Black-owned banks, minority-owned banks, banks that are socially conscious; and your local credit unions can often have a community impact, as well. So, besides just kind of choosing a bank that is a default, look for financial services providers that align with these values, as well. And there are other service providers as well you can look for, so I'm just going to use those examples. But I think it's worth, at least on a regular basis, evaluating your partners and service providers that you pay and integrating socially conscious practices into your decision-making.

I also think reviewing the accessibility of your business is important. We've talked about this in previous podcast episodes, and I think we have an article with ABMP as well about this. So ADA compliance, both online and offline. Is your website accessible? Is your website accessible to people's visual impairments? Hearing impairments? Cognitive issues? Dexterity issues? Can they book online easily? People have various abilities. Is it comfortable and convenient for them? You're a massage office, as well. Is it ADA compliant? Is it accessible to people of varying abilities? That's something I think a lot of us are probably pretty good at, honestly, but it's something that's worth considering and reevaluating, as well. Products and services that you provide, as well. That kind of gets into the specifics more about how you price your services, how you deliver your massage techniques and services; but evaluating those and make sure that you are comfortable with the level of accessibility and the way you serve your clients as well and make them feel included and safe.

If you have team members, not many of us have team members, I know, but if you do hire team members, evaluate how you treat and empower your team members or contractors or other partners that you work with. Are you creating a safe, inclusive environment for them, as well? Also, I think it's important to be intentional about how you invest. This is kind of very specific into my world that I'm really passionate about. But as a business owner, as a massage therapist running a practice, you might have a solo 401(k), for example. You might have Roth IRAs. You might have investments. And in your business retirement accounts, you have choices. Depending on where it's custodied, where your account is, and various options, you might have plenty of options that allow you to choose socially responsible or ESG investments. Some of them even make a specific impact. And this is sort of a deep area that is a little hard to go into on a short podcast, but be aware that you don't just have to choose default investments.

You can select and research and invest in funds that have an advocacy component. For example, there are mutual funds that you can put inside your solo 401(k) that not only exclude fossil fuels and include companies that are highly scored in positive impacts, but also your money is pooled toward going toward advocacy. These mutual fund companies will encourage the corporations that are in their portfolios to reduce their carbon footprints, to reduce single-use plastics, to make a positive impact on the environment, to reduce toxic waste, to make tangible change. These are things that really do happen and these things really do make a difference. So you can invest in a way that not only benefits your own retirement funds, but also, again, voting with your dollars creates a way to participate in advocacy to make real change in companies.

Because honestly, a lot of the problems we have in our society, especially environmentally, are due to large companies being irresponsible. Just quite honestly. And so, the more we can collectively vote toward putting pressure on companies to be more responsible and to stop damaging the earth as much, that does make a direct impact. That's a direct change we can work toward. Also, just committing to action in your business communications and your services in your massage practice. Again, I think a lot of us are pretty good at this, but it's worth being aware of and discussing. Using inclusive language. When you're making smalltalk with your clients, using words like "spouse" or "partner" versus "husband" or "wife." Not making assumptions about gender or identities. Being aware of your pronouns. Making sure you're aware of your client's pronouns and their preferences. Reviewing your messaging, as well. So, is your messaging inclusive in the content you produce and the blogs you write and the social media posts? Are you using inclusive language?

Also, as a side note, something I'm working on personally is trying to avoid being performative. I think it's really easy in this social media age to just kind of click buttons and share things and say, "Oh, everyone should do this and that," and we're not necessarily doing those things internally. So, I always try to make a point of, if I'm going to share information about something or if I'm going to share an article about how to make a change or something that's happening in the world that we believe strongly about, I try to make sure that I'm doing something first in alignment with that. So I'm not just randomly sharing things and pointing fingers at other people. I gave to an organization that I shared information about, or I'm actively doing something to contribute to an organization or a cause before I share information about it. So, avoiding being performative I think is helpful, as well.

And honestly, I mean, demonstrate commitment and respect for all; educate and inform others. Going along with not being performative, be a little performative after you have taken action, as well. So share information about how others can help. Share organizations that you support and how people can donate to those organizations. One thing I've loved to do in the past, and will continue, is, again, sharing Anti-Racism Daily content, because it's great information and I encourage people to subscribe and to donate. And that helps educate. Educating people kindly and productively, I think, can make a big difference, because that is a ripple effect and encourages other people to take action, as well. So, encouraging others. Educate people on how to make a difference in ways they didn't even know about. Organizations they weren't aware of ways in their community they can volunteer. Ways they can vote.

Some people don't know how to vote, or how to register, or don't know how to research candidates. Help them. Give them education. Say, "Hey, these are candidates I've researched. They stand for these values. They care about the environment. They have inclusive policies they're trying to put forth in our society. Here's how you can learn more about them. Here's how to get registered to vote. Here's the areas they serve." You can really help educate people to take action themselves, as well. And ultimately, I think a lot of this comes down to thoughtful consistency. Going back to the beginning, I think a lot of us, myself included, often feel very overwhelmed, because, again, we're looking at these massive global problems. We're looking at climate change. We're looking at systemic racism. We're looking at all these human rights issues and access issues, and we're thinking, "How can I, one little business owner here, make a difference in my little town?"

Well, thoughtful consistency really helps, because the compounding effect of these actions I think is very real. So, today it might be, "Hey, I'm going to donate a few bucks every month to this organization I love, and I'm going to get to know them." Then, after that, it might be, "Oh, I'm going to share more information with others about it. That makes an impact on what they do. Then, I'm going to add other organizations to donate to. Then, I'm going to volunteer. Then, I'm going to learn how to vote in my community for candidates to support causes I care about." And layer by layer, there's a compounding effect if you have this thoughtful consistency approach to what you're doing. And before you know it, you're doing a lot more to make a difference in the world than you were a few years ago.

And you are sharing that information and making and causing a ripple effect with others around you, as well. Partners. People you work with. Everyone you talk to. So, I think we need to not bite off more than we can chew and think, "Oh, I'm giving up because I'm one person." I think this thoughtful consistency of layering effect and compounding effect of little actions we can take can do things to combat climate change and to fight against things like systemic racism and human rights and access issues, and really create a positive impact in the world and our communities, as well. So, those are a few things that I like to think about. I'm sure Allissa has thoughts as well, but I will pause there for feedback.

Allissa Haines:

I think you covered it, and I really liked when you added the part about not being performative. I think it's important if you're going to do the things to do the things, and not just do the things for attention. I don't really have anything to add, because I think you really nailed it. And I personally have been making a bigger effort to reach out to my elected officials. I have not gotten myself to a phone call yet. I can't make phone calls. Tough.

Michael Reynolds:

Phone calls are tough. Yeah.

Allissa Haines:

They are really hard. But I have written actual, physical letters. I do regular emails. And I try as often as possible, when one of my state or federal level officials does something that I think is great, moves forth legislation or votes in a way that I agree with, I remember to send them an email to say, "Thank you for your vote on XYZ."

Michael Reynolds:

Nice.

Allissa Haines:

Massachusetts just did a huge piece of legislation to secure reproductive rights for people in Massachusetts, and also to protect people coming into Massachusetts from other states seeking reproductive care. And every official that I have any connection with really worked hard on this legislation to move it forward, so I sent emails to each of them saying, "Thank you so much for your vote on XYZ." It's also really self serving because my state-level rep has helped me had some problems with the Massachusetts licensing board for massage, like changing an address. It's been a nightmare. And he finally stepped in and got them moving on a thing. So, in general, for a lot of reasons, it's good to know especially your state-level local reps. But drop the emails. Do it. It's not hard to send an email that says, "Thank you for XYZ." It's a nice touch. But yeah, you nailed it. Thank you.

Michael Reynolds:

And we do this too at Massage Business Blueprint. On a regular basis, not so much anymore because we've got our partners we're pretty aligned with now, but especially early on, we rejected plenty of sponsors and partners who we just didn't agree with. There's been scheduling apps, for example, where we're like, "We don't agree with their values and we're not going to work with them." And we've had organizations even reach out to us. And we actively choose sponsors and partners that align with our values. I'm pretty confident in saying I think just about everyone that we work with is like-minded and is socially conscious in these ways. So, we actively seek that out here at the Blueprint, as well. Andrew stopped by on Facebook, and Andrew says, "I recently interviewed for an ambassador position with the DE ACLU. Really hoping I get chosen. I feel there's so much I could learn and so much I could offer." Thanks, Andrew. That's great. Thanks for sharing that.

Allissa Haines:

I made [inaudible 00:27:44] do a monthly donation to the ACLU way back when. Actually, it must have been in 2016 when Trump was elected, we both started doing monthly donations to the ACLU. And one thing you can do just in general for social justice is that you can really encourage people who are more wealthy than you to also make donations to places that you agree with. So if you feel bad that you can't donate as much to XYZ, find a wealthier friend who can. If your parents have more money than you, nudge them to do so. That's a thing you can do, as well.

Michael Reynolds:

There you go.

Allissa Haines:

Put it on someone's radar.

Michael Reynolds:

Indeed. All right. Speaking of sponsors we love, let's talk about Jojoba.

Allissa Haines:

Let's talk about Jojoba. Jojoba, as a matter of fact, is the only company in the entire world that carries 100% pure, first-pressed quality jojoba, and we are delighted to know them. What that means is that they don't squeeze the jojoba seed too hard so they get a higher quality extract from it. It's called a "light press" or a "first press," and they don't get as much of the liquid from it, but they get a higher quality of liquid. Who knew? It is non-allergenic. It is non-comedogenic. It does not go rancid, so it can sit on your shelf for however long you need it to and it won't get gross.

I'm going to repeat. It's non-allergenic, so I can use it on any client at every client without fear of an allergic reaction; which is always nice when you see that little red flag on someone's intake form that they've got all kinds of allergies. Also, it's going to save you some money, because you don't need to use as much on people. You just let it warm in your hands kind of slowly, and you barely need any. Three drops for an arm does the job. And it doesn't stain your sheets, your cotton sheets, so your sheets are going to last longer and they're not going to smell gross. You can get 20% off the price of jojoba when you shop through our link: massagebusinessblueprint.com/jojoba.

Michael Reynolds:

All right.

Allissa Haines:

Yay.

Michael Reynolds:

Quick tips. I got a short one. You have anything today?

Allissa Haines:

I don't, but I was just going to say: quick tips, Michael. What do you got?

Michael Reynolds:

All right. Sorry, I jumped the gun. All right, so this is from Rob Hatch. I listen and I both subscribe to Chris Brogan and Rob Hatch's newsletters. They're authors and coaches that we both enjoy learning from. And Rob sent a newsletter out last week. I think the title was, "I Need Your Advice." Basically, the concept was this. It was a great piece that reminded me that we often have trouble asking for help because we don't want to bother people. We don't want to put people out or feel like we're interrupting or bothering people. So he turned it around and said, "Hey, what would you do if someone came to you and said, 'I need your advice'?" Most of us would say, "Oh, well, yeah, I'd love to help." We immediately would want to help. And so, just that simple framing of, "Okay, well, why is it different when you ask for help?"

The answer is: it's not. Most people you would ask for help would love to ask for your help. I'm terrible at asking for help. I'm getting better at it, but I'm pretty terrible at it. I know that anytime I ask for help, Allissa's right there saying, "What can I do? I got you." And vice versa. And I think it's something we have to learn, those of us that are bad at asking for help. And a lot of us are. So just remember that if you need help and you feel like you're struggling, but you can't bring yourself to ask someone for advice or help or mentorship or support or whatever it is you need, just flip it around and think of what you would do if they asked you; and hopefully, that'll make it easier for you to ask for help, as well.

Allissa Haines:

Brilliant. It's a brilliant idea. And yes, we all need to do a little more. I think we're all veering that way. I think the last couple of years have made us all realize we need be a little bit more community oriented, and so we've all, in a lot of ways, lightened up a bit. Because what's the alternative.

Michael Reynolds:

Right.

Allissa Haines:

That's everything, folks. I don't have a quick tip except to listen to Michael, because he's usually right. And when he is not, I am. So, between the both of us, we got you covered. Thank you for your attention. Thank you for your listening. Andrew was here. I think Marcy was here. Thank you so much for listening and contributing. I forgot what we say. Oh, if you have questions that you want answered, you can email us: podcast@massagebusinessblueprint.com. We actually answer you personally. We are delighted when you email. And that's all I have to say. Thanks, everybody, and we'll catch you next week.

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