Interview with Katie Altneu
Katie is optimistic, always smiling, and has lots of practical knowledge to help you grow and run your practice. I really love her energy and passion for helping other acupuncturists manifest the practice they desire – in her words; ‘It doesn’t have to be so hard’. Great words for those currently struggling and feeling overwhelmed by the business side of things. She has created AcuProsper which is such a great resource, and she has generously shared much of her pearls of wisdom here, in this podcast. Watch / Listen NOW. ~ Spence
Katie is an acupuncturist & herbalist and the founder of Acuprosper.com where she leverages her business experience to help other acupuncturists create and grow practices they love.
– Founder of The Point Acupuncture & Holistic Medicine in Denver, where she currently has three associates – two acupuncturists and one homeopath – on staff.
– Founder of Acuprosper.com where she’s helped hundreds of acupuncturists to grow and feel more ease in their businesses.
– Taught the business & marketing class at two acupuncture schools
– Launched an online fertility course, Becoming Mama
– Magna Cum Laude, Bachelors degree, Economics, Colby College, 2003
– Economic History, London School of Economics 2003
– Finacial Analyst, Nelson Roberts Investment Advisors, 2003 – 2006
– Masters Degree, Southwest Acupuncture College, MSOM, August 2011
– Founded The Point Acupuncture & Holistic Medicine, LLC 2011
– Founded Acuprosper, LLC 2014
– Speaker and Instructor at the Colorado School of Traditional Chinese Medicine 2011 – 2017
– Instructor at Southwest Acupuncture College 2017
– Created the Becoming Mama online fertility programs 2016
Spence: Hello, everybody, and welcome to another Golden Podcast, where we have interviews with world-class TCM community leaders, discovering the stories, habits, psychology and secrets that led to their success. And today, we have the honor of having Katie Altneu – is that right, Altneu?
Katie: That’s right.
Spence: Welcome to the show.
Katie: Thank you for having me.
Spence: Excellent. You’ve come highly recommended and I’ve seen your stuff online, I’m excited to get to know you, and that’s what has ended up being the foundation of these podcasts, is selfishly I get to know such wonderful people. Like we were just talking about before we hit the recording button, our industry is so full of amazing people for so many different reasons and from so many different backgrounds. And for that reason, that’s where we’re going to start. I mean, like we said before, I think the theme kind of here today or what energy you gave me was how to kind of make the business side of practice feel easier and lighter, but who knows where we’re going to go. That’s kind of our intention. These are words of Katie, but regardless, as in honor of tradition that’s so far in these podcasts, we’re going to turn the mic over to you and get your background. I love the backgrounds, where you came from, you could even sprinkle in like influences and mentors or experiences or characteristics. I know I shouldn’t put multiple levels of questions into one, that’s a no, no, but just to hear your story and we’ll kind of blossom from there into practice stuff.
Katie: Great, thanks, it sounds good. Like so many acupuncturists, I guess I never expected to be doing what I’m doing now. In undergrad, I majored in Economics and minored in Psychology in Business. I loved economics, I felt like it was philosophical with a practical application and it explained human behavior and it explained the world around me. It turns out Chinese medicine does that a way better, but at the time, I didn’t know about that. And I loved
it, and then I spent a year at the London School of Economics, which is kind of this like prestigious institution that just kind of like funnels out investment bankers. So, I found myself being like, oh, I guess I’m going into finance now. And I graduated and I was a financial analyst in San Francisco. What that means is I worked for an investment advisor and I was in charge of a buy list. I chose stocks or businesses for to invest in for all of our clients.
Spence: This is back early 2000s, right? Nelson Roberts in 2003 to 2006. Sorry, I kind of forgot to jump through your experience, but thank you, sorry.
Katie: I just like to put that out because some people think, oh, you have a business background, so this is easy for you. And I’m like, no, no, no, I don’t know anything about running a small business, or marketing my finance background is so different than starting a business. I was like a — for a lack of a better word — like this hippie chick who just found myself in like finance and was completely not happy or satisfied. I wanted more meaning and purpose, and feeling like I was helping save the world and make the world a better place instead of just pushing money around. And ironically, I think it’s so funny now, the main stocks that I picked that year were, if this was like a book and we were reading the novel of my life would be such irony and foreshadowing, the two big stocks I picked were for TerraCycle which were needle disposal company, sharps disposals, and a Medical Electronic Health Records Company.
Spence: God always has the plan.
Katie: The stocks I picked in S&P 500, I got a big, fat bonus, the way they do in finance, and I quit my job and decided I was going to try to figure out what I really was meant to do with my life. I had like two big dreams, I was always into Eastern philosophy and was always wanted to be a rafting guide because I was like, I want to learn the river and read the river and live on the river, and I quit my job as a financial analyst and became a rafting guide in Colorado. My parents were like, what are you doing, but that was the best thing ever. And then my second dream was I really wanted to go to India. And so I did that after the summer of raft guiding, I spent six months in India, in Nepal, hiked the Annapurna Circuit and then went down south and lived at an ashram and did a yoga teacher training and studied there. And it was really rigorous there. You’ll do like four hours of yoga, two hours of meditation and three hours a
day of classes on the Bhagavad-Gita, Vedanta philosophy, Ayurveda, and then you have this big test at the end. And there was people from all over the world there and my study buddy was this Dutch gal who had just returned from China, where she did a course in Chinese medicine. I was like, what is Chinese medicine, like it was not on my radar. She told me a little bit about it and it was interesting. And then I get back to the States, I’m a rafting guide again for the second summer and I decided, I’m going to get my health in order. I basically had years of being spleen Chi deficient, digestive problems and all kinds of stuff, and I’d go to the doctors and they ran all the tests and they’re like you’re fine, you’re perfectly healthy. And you’re like, you can’t tell me that, like I don’t feel good, like what. Thanks for nothing. And then I remembered my Dutch friend and sought out Chinese medicine practitioner, and there happened to be this amazing acupuncturist in my small rafting town in Colorado. He had been the previous dean of the school in Denver. He helped me so much within a handful of treatments, I was feeling so much better. And even things that I didn’t even know were problems that I just thought a fact of life, they even improved. And I was just floored, like I was grateful, but I was also kind of pissed off, you know, like what, how come I don’t know about this.
Spence: Good motivator.
Katie: Why did I have to learn about this from a Dutch person in India in order to like hear about this medicine? Everybody needs to know about this medicine. Right then and there, I was like, I want to do this and I want to help like bring this to more people. I think within the week I devoured the web, and it was just like everything I loved about economics before, I was like, this is amazing, it explains people, it explains behavior, it explains the world, it explains health, it’s like endlessly fascinating. And my mind was just blown.
Spence: Sorry for interrupting, but did you consider starting to use the I-Ching for investing for a little bit, even a little bit?
Katie: I love I-Ching but I never thought about using it. So, I enrolled in school and that first year of school, your mind is just blown, you’re studying basic theory and learning the pulses and it’s just amazing. And then the second year, it is still amazing, you start treating patients and learning how to diagnose a little bit. But it started to dawn on me, I was funding my
graduate school student loans as were most people at my school, and I was like, I’m getting $10,000 check every trimester three times a year and I was just acting like it’s nothing. I was like, you do the math, I was in the three-year accelerated acupuncture and herb program. And I was like, three years of this and I’m going to be in so much debt, and as a finance person, I knew about capitalizing interest, how fast that was going to add up if I didn’t aggressively start paying it off as soon as I graduated. That’s why I started getting like a little anxious, like what’s the plan here, oh, my god what am I going to do, because I just started school without even thinking about the business aspect. I just knew I wanted to be an acupuncturist. And then I’m like, I can be a little socially awkward but not like completely socially awkward, and I started to notice like I wanted to talk about it with my buddies. Like, are you nervous about student loans, like what’s the plan here, and I quickly picked up on the fact that you do not talk about that. It’s like kind of taboo, no one wants to think about it, no one wants to talk about it. And I just was dying to know like, well, can I support myself doing this, like, are my teachers supporting themselves, is this possible, what is this going to look like. And I quickly learned that you do not ask your teachers that, no one wants to talk about the business.
Spence: Well, I think most of them probably came from China, where it isn’t a business, for the most part it wasn’t at the time. If too many people talked about the medicine, no one would complete their schooling or the financial aspect.
Katie: I think that’s what they worry about, I don’t know. But I think we should change that culture, I think we should have more discussion around it earlier on, and I think like supporting ourselves and reaching more people is not incompatible with helping people at all.
Spence: If you believe you’re adding value.
Katie: Yeah, you are trying to help people. So, I got anxious and just over a weekend, I was like, well, I am a kind of a planner, so I decided I’m going to write my business plan. My second year in school, I just spent a weekend doing research, figuring out the costs, what rent was going to be in Denver and how much I needed to like start my business, how many patients I would need to see in order to like break-even every month and then to support, myself and then I had a plan. I was like, actually, I can totally do this.
Spence: The financial side, right. That’s great.
Katie: Yeah, it made me feel more calm, like seeing the spreadsheet, I was like, ah, I got this, it’s totally doable.
Spence: You could share that thinking.
Katie: It’s free on AcuProsper website. It’s all these spreadsheets that I created for myself to make my life easier, because I think it’s huge. In my last year in school, I started like blogging and developing my website, my logo and my form for the LLC. I wanted to hit the ground running, so as soon as I got my license, I could start being in business. And of course, I still didn’t know anything about marketing. I thought the medicine, it’s just so amazing that I would open my doors and have like floodgates of people!
Spence: Hallelujah! Yes, we all went through this. It’s just so amazing how can you not rush to my front door.
Katie: I couldn’t even imagine otherwise. And then, so I graduated, and it took about ten weeks for me to get my license from DORA in Colorado, and that was like the most anxiety provoking ten weeks is my entire life. Because I didn’t have a spouse or a partner, anybody supporting me, and I was like, I have the student loans, I’ve got to make this work. And my last year of school, I took out extra Grad PLUS loans to help support myself and start my business and I knew that I had enough money saved up — my business opened in November, I graduated in August — that I had to be supporting myself by February. I was going to like run out of money. I gave myself about six months and it was really scary. Ten weeks before I got my license, I went to the school in Denver, gave them my resume, and I was like, I don’t have my license but I’d love to help out if you need anything. I’m just waiting for my license, I’m getting my business started and I need something cool to do. They looked at my resume and they asked me to teach the business class, and I was like, well, I just graduated, I don’t know anything about running a business. And they’re like, well, you just started your business, so you can just teach them all the steps you just did.
Spence: It’s actually quite brilliant, you know, the mistakes and everything, it will be
Katie: Yeah. I started teaching the business class that next semester in January, and I’ve done it ever since and it’s become a passion of mine to help acupuncturists. And now, I’m kind of embarrassed looking back on those early years where I didn’t know anything about growing my business or marketing. It really was just teaching them how to start their businesses and then sharing kind of like the crappy marketing advice that I got, but I’m just passing that on. I don’t like to teach anything that I don’t personally know from experience, like know to be true. So, I couldn’t teach so much about marketing then, but now, I’ve learned so much more. Backing up a little bit, my doors opened in November, and I think I had four patients a week in the beginning, which, according to my business plan, I knew that that was the number I needed to not be in the red, to not be losing money. So, from day one in business as an acupuncturist, it’s pretty amazing that it doesn’t cost that much to start our businesses and you can cover your expenses pretty.
Spence: Yes, you can find a space that accommodates, like two-room or whatever you want, no build out to start.
Katie: That’s true, it’s not very expensive rent. Then I did a flyer in my neighborhood and delivered like a thousand fliers and got zero patients back and I was like, oh, gosh. I was like, well, maybe I need to actually start learning something about marketing even though I had no interest it and I thought it was gross, salesy. And I thought our medicine was like above that and didn’t think I should have to learn that, but I had to learn how to get patients. So, I picked up some books and I did another flyer, this is like pre-Facebook advertising.
Spence: Right, you are practicing copy.
Katie: I did another flyer and I got 21 new patients in January.
Spence: So, what changed? The copy?
Katie: The copy and actually more like the photo that didn’t look so much like a stock photo, it was like more personal and then benefit-driven copy instead of like ‘Acupuncture Works!’
Spence: It’s the best ‘Here’s the WHO list!’ Things I can treat! Bullshit.
Katie: No one finds themselves like in the list of bullet points and are like, oh, I should do that. So, yeah, I started just learning a little bit more about marketing and within a year, within ten months, hit my goal on my business plan for the number of patients I was seeing. And it just snowballed from there and I really didn’t do much other marketing. I really think this is an important point, because I did that flyer, my blog was published in the Denver Post, which really helped, and I gave a talk at the local university. It was like three pieces of –
Spence: Public talk, flyer and your blog was published online.
Katie: It was in the paper, The Denver Post.
Katie: I got a bunch of older people who actually read the paper. And then, from there, it just snowballed and I really didn’t do any other marketing. I was busy enough that I was able to pay off my student loans within four years of graduate. I was so grateful for that. When I realized that I was able to do that, I felt even more fired up about teaching business to acupuncturists, because you go on like, acupuncturists on Facebook group, you see how many people are struggling. And you see how many people, aspects feel so hard for them, and they’re really just not as busy as they really should and could be. It’s like, I need another class, I spent the whole 15 weeks of my business class teaching them how to start a business in like two weeks. Again on marketing, I was like, you need to give me another semester, there’s so much that they need to know about growing their practice. And every trimester in the evaluations, the feedback from students, they’re like, this is the right class, we need more of it and we need it sooner. And the school just wouldn’t do it. To their credit, I think it’s just they’re swamped with the accreditation process, and it’s really hard to get curriculum changes approved, but it’s really frustrating for me because they clearly need this and they’re not willing to do it. I was like, just give me like an hour in someone else’s class one day, early on in the program to be like, dudes, this is what you should be thinking about, like here’s things you can do now to set yourself up for success. They won’t do that, so then I’m like, okay, well,
can I just teach the other teachers some key things. Because like thinking about it, it’s not necessarily another marketing class that they need to be successful, it’s like it could be imbued into every class within the curriculum. At least in my school that I teach at, it’s not until the last semester, right before they’re going to graduate that I’m like, have you guys been taught about the report of findings and how many treatments a patient is probably going to need to come in and how frequently they need to come in. And they haven’t had that discussion, and I’m like, you’re like doctors who haven’t been taught to dose your medicine. You have to be taught this and you’re getting taught this in business class, but this could be taught way earlier in so many other classes. I think that’s huge, that communication, learning how to do the intake process in a way that really builds trust and makes people want to stick around and do what you say and they feel like you’re a partner and telling them how frequently they need to come back in order to get the best results. So, there’s some things, and just learning how to communicate about our medicine.
Spence: In the language that people understand, not the language you want to speak. May I interject for a second? Just before it goes too far, when you started teaching that class and you’re like, I don’t have business experience or the acumen or however you put it, I don’t know, but what I think the strength probably was at that point is that I assume that you probably just taught people what they needed to know about learning. Here’s how you need to be thirsty and hungry just like you are about the practice management or business side, and you’ll do fine. There’s tons of resources out there. I wonder if in some respects, those students that you had at the start are doing quite well just because of that, because you just planted a seed, and that’s needed.
Katie: In business, that resourcefulness and that drive and passion, yeah.
Spence: That’s awesome. One semester hopefully it was enough, or at least it’s one semester, my god. We didn’t get any.
Katie: Really? You didn’t get any.
Katie: Oh, my gosh, wow.
Spence: Well, I said before, maybe it’s from Chinese teachers primarily coming from China, it’s not a business primarily there. And Chinese people, if they’re going to utilize acupuncture, they’ll utilize it regularly, it’s so deeply ingrained in their culture that they know they have to go back maybe ten times to help, in a couple weeks, with this mild facial paralysis or whatever it might be that the doctor doesn’t have to say, well, you know what, you have to commit, like, they don’t have to have that confidence, it’s ingrained. So, maybe that is something that’s coming and obviously it is.
Katie: You know, I think it’s different in Denver than in Vancouver, though. In my whole program, I think I only had two Chinese teachers, and everyone else was American and coming at it from that perspective.
Spence: Vancouver is a port city, 45% Chinese Mandarin speaking I believe, so the guy that taught Western medical side was an Italian guy, but the only non-Chinese teacher if I can remember that I had from mainland was Cuban Chinese fellow. He was Chinese but he was brought up in Cuba, so he had the swagger and he was very charismatic.
Katie: Nice, well, that’s amazing. Actually, I didn’t say this, but I applied and got into school, I can’t remember the name of the school but the school’s in Vancouver and one in Vancouver Island.
Katie: Yeah, and I went up there and really wanted to go and they like wouldn’t let me in because they wanted me to show that I had the full tuition in my bank account. And I was like, oh, yeah, I can’t prove that, and they like turned me around at the border. So, with all my belongings in my car, I’ve just turned around and I called my brother and I was like, I just kicked out of Canada.
Spence: So mean.
Katie: Yeah, but I really wanted to go to school in Vancouver because you had so many Chinese teachers. Our teachers are great too.
Spence: They’ve got passion I’m sure.
Katie: I just became really passionate about like, we really can, it doesn’t have to be hard, and you don’t have to do like constant marketing and advertising. You just need to learn a little bit of this theory, which is actually really fun I think. I thought marketing was going to be like sleazy and slimy, but actually it’s like human psychology and mindful communication, and I think that stuff is really interesting and fun and it helps you feel like self-expressed. You know, when you get your message you’re like, yes, this is what I do and that’s who I help, and you feel like you’re articulating yourself better, which is really good. You just need to learn a little bit about marketing and your life can be so much easier. And the school couldn’t fit it into the curriculum, so I just took it into my own hands and I put it all online and did an online course. I started AcuProsper, and then I realized I was getting feedback from people like, I want to grow my practice, I’m not as busy as I want to be, but I’m just like overwhelmed with what I’ve got. Even though I’m not that busy and I want to be busier. Like the business aspect feels hard and I’m completely overwhelmed. I was like, oh, well, like tell me more about that, what’s overwhelming. I can’t even do QuickBooks, and I’m like, oh, that’s easy. And I just filmed a video, you know, screenshot of me doing my QuickBooks thing, put it up for free on AcuProsper website. I was like, oh, here’s what you need to know about malpractice insurance, here’s a spreadsheet to help you analyze your costs, here’s how you bill insurance, and just trying to make all those little things feel a little bit easier, because I think it doesn’t have to be that hard and it doesn’t have to be a struggle if you have systems in place and if you just emotionally feel like, I know what I’m doing I’m doing this right. Because you really don’t have that many pieces. We like communicate and manage our patients and do the electronic health records, and then you have to enter data into QuickBooks, and then you have to like make sure you have needles and cotton balls and schedule patients. There’s not that much else to do to run our businesses, and if you get those pieces down and have systems, my practice now just kind of like runs — I don’t know what to say — like runs smoothly on rails without me. I just took three months off from maternity leave and back two weeks ago now, and because I have systems in place, it just runs really easily. I just really think it doesn’t have to be overwhelming and hard.
Spence: I’ll ask you to tell us a little bit about your practice and its actual structure and the people you have with you. But at least half of the things you just spoke of the QuickBooks, the billing, the scheduling, these things I’ve delegated those out because of my allergy to them probably, you can either learn them, and nothing is that crazy complicated until you understand it. You’ve just got to learn about it, which Katie helps with AcuProsper, thank you. Or, you go through a different process of learning as to how to build a team, which you’ve done anyway, so you share your space or you have associates?
Katie: I have two associates who are acupuncturists, they’re independent contractors. I just had a baby so I am only now working three days a week and then I have associates four days a week, and it feels awesome to like both help acupuncturists to have a job and help more patients, because I don’t want to work that much. And it feels really good. And then I also have a homeopath working for me as well. I actually worked for her all through graduate school, and then she took a full-time teaching position and now she works for me one day a week.
Spence: She wants to come back a little bit.
Katie: A little bit funny how it works out.
Spence: Well, I would correct you, and you saying you don’t want to work too much, I always say I’m not practicing too much, but I’m working all the time. It’s who I am. Once you get infected with a bug of trying to figure out various ways that you can contribute. One spiritual principle that I value, and it’s tied to personal growth like this, it’s just, unless I’m playing with my boys almost every waking hour, even when I’m taking care of myself is about trying to figure out something else that can be done, how else could value be added to the world or my patients or scaling myself or the business. And on track with scaling, you started putting more and more stuff online and that is a way to do that. You’ve done that both on the business side and in practice, right?
Katie: Yeah. It’s funny, Spence, that you mentioned that, like I think that when I was in the process of paying off my student loans, I was just like nose to the grindstone, seeing as many patients as I could, I got pretty burnt out. And it was until my student loans were paid off that I
kind of like lifted my head up and was like what else is possible and how else can I have a bigger impact, and it’s funny, because I should have thought that sooner. Once that was off my back, I could think bigger, and now, it’s just like you said, really just thinking about impact and how to have even bigger impact.
Spence: Online courses? AcuProsper and some things for your patients as well you were talking about.
Katie: Yes, I think from seeing the AcuProsper course, like wow, reaching people and helping people and this feels amazing. I realized I could do that for my practice as well, and I treat a lot of fertility patients. And there’s so much I want my patients to know that they can do on their own outside of my office.
Spence: Most of it.
Katie: Yeah. I mean, they’re with themselves most of the week and what they do on a daily basis for themselves can have a bigger impact, I think even more than what I do. It’s just hard for me to go over all that in an office visit, especially because I think I can just be like too nice and not want to make people feel bad that I can be like, are you balancing your blood sugar, okay, well, try to balance your blood sugar, but with an online course, I can have like a research study and be like, this is really important.
Spence: That’s tough, love is online.
Katie: Yeah, they made it easier to communicate all these things that I wanted them to know, and then I realized I could give it away to my patients for free, but I could get this information out there to more people and have an even bigger impact on people’s fertility than what I can just treat in my clinic.
Spence: Awesome. You just were explaining what you do with your fertility patients, that’s kind of like the financial analyst in you, you’re super nice, but here’s the spreadsheets and you run away?
Spence: So, you wanted to run some simple math maybe or something with people about their clinic? Something that’s tangible online here in this context.
Katie: Yeah, this math, this is a financial analyst area, I really like the math because it’s solid and it just really paints a clear picture. And I just see so many people struggling with paying off their student loans and I think when you look at the math of how you can do that, you can really see — I know for sure personally — that seeing like $100,000 student loan bill feels like, I’m never going to be able to pay that off and it feels like you just get drown in it. But when you see the math, that’s really possible. I like this example, just to keep the numbers really easy, let’s say you make in revenue 124,000$ a year.
Spence: Okay, that’s gross revenue, the money you pull in from everything before expenses.
Katie: Yeah. And then, let’s say, you have 24,000$ in expenses a year, so 2,000$ a month. With rent, needles, malpractice insurance, education, everything, which I think is, at least in Denver and maybe not in San Francisco or New York City, with that your expenses would be higher there, but I think in most of the country, that’s pretty reasonable, so then your profit is a 100,000$. And then you assume a 30% tax rate, then your after-tax take-home is 70,000$. And let’s say you live on 35,000$ a year, that’s after tax, you have 35,000$ a year to pay off your student loans. You’re taking 3,000 a month, you’re paying 3,000$ a month your student loans, so the question is: what does it take to make 124,000$ in revenue? So, if you divide that by 50 weeks, because you have to take two weeks vacation, you divide that by 50 weeks and you’re charging 75$ a patient, which is like going in Denver, that is 33 patients a week. So, is 33 patients a week possible? – Absolutely. If you have two treatment rooms, you can do that in part-time. Less than 40 hour. I love that math because it’s super possible to pay off your student loans within four years. And the problem is that what I’ve seen, I can’t remember the name of a guy who did some survey on the acupuncturists on Facebook group, and hundreds of acupuncturists filled it out about how many patients they see a week, how many rooms they have. The problem I see is that the majority of acupuncturists are getting stuck at like 15 patients a week, which is enough to like barely squeak by, but not enough to pay off your student loans. And not enough to buy a house or pay for your children’s college education. So,
getting people from 15 patients a week to 33 or more, because our expenses are the same, so the marginal expense from each additional patient, it is nothing and all the profit goes to my time.
Spence: That’s your time.
Katie: I don’t know, I really like that math because 33 patients is totally possible.
Spence: I think from my experience often, it may be and no disrespect, it may be people in a family scenario where they decide to become an acupuncturist and the other member of that household is a primary breadwinner, whatever terminology without disrespect, there isn’t the need for as much emphasis on pushing, because the difference in work administrative and mental workload between 15 to 30 patients in a week is a lot. If you really want to connect with patients, which I know you do if you’re treating fertility, I know I do, it’s huge. The difference between 20 to 40 or 30 to 50, these are all big jumps in patient management. I wonder if that’s kind of a barrier to it, but that’s just where systems are super important with especially administrative and stuff if they’re doing it on their own. But if you’re seeing more and more patients, to me, I’m like, hire someone to help you with the administrative side so you can practice how you want.
Katie: I think you’re on to something there, though, that if you don’t have the systems in place then you’re spending a lot of time running your business.
Spence: And even managing patients, yeah, a lot of time.
Spence: Sorry to interrupt, do you have a handout or something with that math, like to walk people through that math that you just did?
Katie: No, I don’t. I should create a PDF to do that.
Spence: Do that if you have one. I mean, if you’re listening to this now, hopefully it’s done by
the time we’re posting this and an opt-in will be sitting right below us here. Because I’ll put my little revenue exercise ebook down there too, because it’s a simple way of projecting how you can move forward financially as well. So, I think those both in combination, if they don’t give you kind of some clarity and hope, then you didn’t do them. You didn’t work through it because there’s a worksheet component to mine as well. So, let’s do that.
Katie: Great. I like that idea.
Spence: Opt-in here and a couple good resources for you. Now, fast-forward to today where you’re at now, what kind of plans for moving forward, you’ve had a new addition to your practice three months ago, your life practice? Congratulations.
Katie: Thank you.
Spence: New mama. How does that change things’ perspective, I mean contributing to the world grows? I know as a parent, it’s like, oh, my god, I’ve got such a big heart.
Katie: Yeah, so you want to make the world a better place. At first, I was just in it, like maternity, that came first and the rest of the world just like fell away. I usually feel like drive and like all these ideas in me that I want to get out into the world, and in the first three months, I was like I don’t care about any of that. But now, I’m like back in the world, back in practice and it feels great. I am trying to feel that out, what’s next, how can I have a bigger impact, do I expand my office and hire more people, do I focus online, do I focus more on AcuProsper versus like becoming mama online aspects of my practice. I’m just going to feel it out and take it step by step and maybe change my mind if I need to and just have fun. I’m trying to enjoy the creative process instead of feel pressured, but it’s really neat that we have so much information that the world needs. We have to remember that we also have the knowledge that it’s not just the needles or the herbs, there’s also Chinese medicine knowledge that we can share with people that can really improve lives. And we can reach more people without having to get our hands on them, even working with people one on one. I never want to give that up. And with AcuProsper thing, I just spent three hours a week helping acupuncturists. I don’t really want to be like a business coach, I want to be an acupuncturist, that’s my passion first and foremost. But it’s fun to have all these other passion projects.
Spence: And it’s good to have a few eggs in your basket just in case, and just because it makes sense. In an investment portfolio, you do the same.
Katie: They say that especially for women: the more hats we wear the happier we are. And I really like that. I think it’s true that wearing a lot of hats, I don’t know, makes life fun and interesting. I also have a dream, I really want to write a book about Yin actually, about the feminine energy. Some day, I’m going to write that book. I’m embracing that bullet, like, enhance all areas of your life.
Spence: There’s the Yin movement maybe at the moment, and in so many respects, is very timely for you. It might be something you focus all your blogs on moving forward or something and then those blogs become your book, at least the ones that get good feedback.
Katie: I know, my husband is like, do you really need another project right now. A lot of my projects feed into each other, like it was promoting the ‘becoming mama’ online courses, where I learned about Facebook advertising. Because I didn’t have to really advertise or market my practice for years. I wasn’t taking new patients for a year before I hired associates and it wasn’t marketing, and so, doing the online courses has taught me so much more about Facebook ads and marketing and opt-ins and sales funnels and then I get to teach acupuncturists that. It’s neat how they feed each other.
Spence: You know, everyone should learn some about the digital world of marketing because it’s so black and white, these funnels, you know. Our clinics aren’t so clear, but online, you can really get measurable results if you’re trying to get things. For me, personally, Facebook ads and online ads for my clinic, I don’t know how to measure it well enough, it’s kind of abstract and I know it works well for some and I just haven’t dove in. We put our money back into our community mostly personally, but online, it’s ridiculous how many metrics you can get back about every change in wording that you have in a title of an ad and all that stuff. It just dawned on me, as you evolve, you get your practice to a place where you’re happy, you’ve got other projects going on in life, we kind of need to create a herbal formula out of our life so we’ve got to keep the king herb, which is your practice broadly, and then you’ve got a couple of the deputies that support that one. And they all should and will work together. Then you have some harmonizing things, which are personal fulfillment and stuff like that. Maybe you and I can put together a little course on the formula for life.
Katie: That’s beautiful. I love that analogy.
Spence: This character, though, that you have, that’s about you, where you are, is to me probably what sets people apart. You’ve got to be driven, you have to have a thirst of some sort for knowledge period. And giving the world the gift that you’ve trained in it for Chinese medicine, and that will lead you to business inevitably, but you’re born with it probably – where did it come from and what are the prime characteristics of personal traits that you think you have that have helped with your perseverance and success?
Katie: Wow, that’s a hard question.
Spence: There’s two parts.
Katie: I think both my mom and my dad. I think I am just a die-hard optimist and my mom is too. I got that from my mom, she’s the kind of person we all roll our eyes that she’d like throw the windows open when it’s like a rainy terrible day, and be like, oh, I love the rain. I go, oh, mom. I think we have to start from a place of like, yeah, this is possible and I can do this. And I can make the world a better place, and of course we can figure this out. I think that has to be a starting ground because if you don’t think you can do it, then you don’t even start trying figuring out. I think that it might be optimism.
Spence: Your mom, yes, optimism. I think that optimism probably just naturally instills perseverance, which is key to anything. You know, hard work, perseverance and clearly you’re not shy of working hard. There’s no magic bullet, we know that.
Katie: Totally. Oh, my gosh, I’ve failed a lot of times. I wasted a ton of money learning I guess. Like, I have to keep trying.
Spence: It is true.
Katie: I like how you linked that, though. I could see how perseverance is totally linked to optimism. I’ve never thought about that, but yeah.
Spence: With that in mind or in this lane, if you could go back to, you know, a lot of people I love the answer that comes, but go back to your 20 year old self or to someone that’s younger in the profession now – what are the key messages that you’d give or maybe one or two or something that just pops into mind?
Katie: I think I would tell myself to embrace who I am and step into my confidence and my power sooner.
Spence: Your authentic self?
Katie: Yes. I think it’s beautiful that I learned that from being in practice. I had to learn that from my patients. And I always say that being in private practice is like the best self-help tool around because you’ll be confronted with your demons and it’ll force you to figure it out, but you know, I learned confidence like from my patients. When you’re like, okay, so when do you want to come back and they’re like, I don’t know, you’re the doctor, you tell me. And you’re like, okay, well I think… you know. At first, you write blog posts on your website like, using the ‘royal We’, or like trying to be overly professional. And now, it’s like, just be yourself and you connect way better, and, yeah, if we could all just be ourselves.
Spence: I love that, and if I may, in addition, I feel like authenticity — people come to us and they invest in us. They’re like, if you’re someone that have traits that they can aspire to or you’re living a life that’s full of wellness or joy, like you alluded to before, fun is an important principle, then that’s going to impart trust in them right off the bat. Even if you don’t have a ton of confidence because you’re brand new in your clinical experience because you don’t have much or any, just borrow that from other people for now. Get talking to people that have that confidence, borrow that and just be you, because that also will turn around and make you accountable for taking care of your own health, and being that person and making sure you step into the day with that optimistic energy or whatever it is because you have a responsibility to these people, and that is so mutually engendering, to use a herbal term, formula term again. That’s great, that’s wonderful, the authentic thing. Are there — I’m just firing away at you a little bit here as I think them through some fun questions — tough days? It would be hard for people to believe that you have them with the amount of teeth and smiling
that I’ve seen from this whole hour. You seem very optimistic and happy, it’s obviously a strength of yours. But there’s tough days, and building a practice and writing a business, even after I interviewed Mike Berkeley, 21 years, New York City. There’s tougher times, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in practice, there’ll be times no matter how much marketing you do, where things will dip or life will kick you in the ass. And it’ll be hard for you to lift your energy, divorces or deaths in the family or babies – is there anything that works for you, what works best for you to kind of pull you up? If there’s any darkness.
Katie: For me, it’s always nature, getting outside and getting in touch with how we’re all connected, and you’re like, it’s going to be okay. And I don’t know, this thing I think is so important maybe is not as important in the grand scheme of things. So the nature and the I- Ching too really help me. Which I always need to be reminded, which is why the I-Ching is perfect for me, is to control less and trust more. And I think that’s what the I-Ching always reminds me to do whenever I go to it and to reconnect to your inner sage, and that always thoroughly helps me, those two things.
Spence: I postulate that that’s an underpinning message in any canon, like the I-Ching, the Bible, the Quran, faith. You just explained faith to me, surrendering to the fact that right now might be shitty, but if you believe in yin-yang theory, that’s going to change. Because that’s the only thing that doesn’t change is change I-Ching. Even if it’s shitty right now, character-building, it’s going teach you how to get out of that shitty time. And then you’re going to be stronger, and when time gets good, it’s going to be awesome. A man named Darren Hardy once said, entrepreneurship, which is inevitably what we are, you would kind of have to be, is a roller coaster ride and a lot of it can be really hard, really, really tough, but the good parts are amazing. Because you built this, because you did this. And you’re in charge of your fate. If at my age, I’m a little older than you are, I know that and I’m not wise at all, but there’s a few things that at this point in my life I feel like wisdom, at least for me, is the ability to step back from any circumstance or scenario in your life. Float above it, look down on it and say this is going to pass. From that, you can settle back into it, and allow yourself to feel badly, allow yourself to go through tough times. And to think that just because we’re practitioners of some spiritually founded medicine, it doesn’t mean that we can’t ever be down. Some of my biggest connections I’ve ever made with patients was like sharing darkness or crappy time. Then they’re like, oh, his life is not perfect, but he obviously has some tools maybe to get out, so what are they.
Katie: I think that’s so true because there’s such a big like mindset, I don’t know, focus these days, and I feel like people want to like visualize and think their way or like feel their way out of problems. And I think that it is a starting point, you have to think that it’s possible and think you can do it, but we shouldn’t pressure ourselves to be happy all the time. I actually think like looking at back at my life, the times of fear and stress drove me to action. I’m actually thankful for my student loans now because they like really drove me. And it wasn’t like just ease and like sunshine and rainbows that drove me, it was like, oh, my god, I have to figure this out, and it was fear and anxiety. And it’s okay to be in that place. You have to feel the whole range of human experience.
Spence: That’s that authentic self that we’re telling our 20-year-olds selves to be. I like to ask what are you reading or what, if someone was like, I need to learn a bit more about business, obviously they should go to AcuProsper, or the Golden Cabinet – but who are some of your gurus or people that really have resonated with you in learning how to embrace the marriage of business and medical practice?
Katie: Oh, my gosh, there’s so many books. I think the first book I read that really introduced me to it was Michael Port, Book Yourself Solid. And that’s not a marriage between spirituality and marketing, it is just really marketing and business. For the marriage, I really like the book the Go-Giver, have you read that?
Katie: It’s like this short little sort of parable, kind of like The Alchemist. It’s kind of like that, like sort of a parable short stories and it’s about kind of like the mindset that’s required to be successful in business and it’s a beautiful book. And then there’s the Diamond Cutter, which is about a Buddhist monk that goes into business. Those are beautiful.
Spence: Like Siddhartha. So, is there an underpinning message in some of those? I’m a true believer that a skill maybe only makes up 10-20% of your success in life period, and business and practice is a big piece of that. The rest is psychology and your work with your inner self, the spirit – does that resonate with you? It sounds like the book you choose probably.
Katie: Yes, absolutely. I think it’s about really aiming to give, showing up to contribute instead of being worried about what you’re going to get.
Spence: I’d like to think the same, as world grows and there’s more unrest and it’s the only thing that’s going to eventually help, is if we come together, lean on each other and are there to help and be kind if we can, you know, kindness versus competition. And this is why it’s so great. I really appreciate the people that are out there in the acupuncture world that are trying to help from a business perspective. For the most part, we’ve all came through it from the acupuncture perspective first, and then learned, oh, you know, I’m not pulling anybody in my front door, my clinic with a cane. I’m just providing some education and some value and an offer of places that I’m actually certain that I can help with, because with experience now, I know what I can’t help with. I think that’s how if you persevere, you eventually attract more with doing less. Because you’re certain and you’re okay with saying, you know, I have a friend that might be able to help you with that because I don’t, I can’t, I’ve specialized, I’m not there, my intention isn’t there.
Katie: Then you really can trust yourself and others can trust you too and you can communicate really authentically.
Spence: That’s awesome. You’re going to make a little spreadsheet, this isn’t due to be out for a couple weeks at least, so I’ll let you know when I’ll put this online, but I thank you so much. You got a new baby that’s probably waiting for mom hungry. Mom’s ready to feed. It’s Sunday and I so appreciate jumping in here on a Sunday. I usually don’t do them, but it’s nice that we could connect.
Katie: Yeah, I got to connect, thank you so much for having me. It’s a pleasure.
Spence: Awesome. And just to end off, where can people get a hold of you?
Katie: acuprosper.com is the website. That’s where I have a bunch of resources.
Spence: And your Facebook and all the usual suspects.
Katie: Facebook, Instagram, yeah.
Spence: Awesome, thank you so much, we will maybe drill down on some of these things too at some point and get you back on the show a little bit later on. Because I think what you’re about to experience, just like you taught the business course, I’m going to be that same school and say, well, if you don’t know how to teach people about becoming a new mom and reintegrating back into Chinese medicine, then why don’t you just teach them about your process? So, please, pay attention to that and I will get you back on, because I think that would be so valuable. It’s something that women struggle with and have to go through in their life so often and a private practice, it can be tough. It can disappear if you don’t set it. You’ve got some help and that’d be very valuable I think. All right, my dear.
Katie: Well, thanks so much, have a good rest of your Sunday, Spence.
Spence: You too.