PTO 69 | Creating Vision And Values

 

If you're stuck on how to create vision and values, this episode is your "how to." Business coach, entrepreneur, and physical therapist Sturdy McKee, PT makes a comeback in this episode to talk more about creating vision and values. Sturdy is a business coach, entrepreneur and business owner who also happens to be a physical therapist and private practice owner. Today, he reveals the three components of a vision and how much they can influence how you seize opportunities, make business decisions, and identify a good team player. Sturdy also touches on his methods in helping business owners and executives achieve their business and financial goals. Prepare to be inspired and fired up to start a business that not only drives wealth but also makes the world a better place.

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The How-To And Benefit Of Creating Vision And Values With Sturdy McKee, PT

I have a returning guest, Sturdy McKee, a physical therapist out of San Francisco. He is a successful physical therapy business owner, business coach, and entrepreneur who I want to bring on to dive a little bit deeper into vision. We had an episode about vision and its importance. I want to talk to Sturdy about what a vision consists of, how to go about creating it and how to utilize it in our practices. Sturdy is a great guest to have on because he has quite a bit of knowledge about current businesses and how they've been impacted by implementing these fundamental principles. I love hearing his real-world examples of how these things are helpful in our businesses or how they can hurt us if we don't have them. He's got a lot of wisdom to share. I don't want to speak into it much more than to get to the interview.

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I've got Sturdy McKee, a physical therapist out of San Francisco, who is a business coach and entrepreneur himself. Sturdy was on with me in 2018. We had a nice discussion about his story and what got him to be successful to the point where he is right now. He shared the formula that I espoused. He reached out, he networked with people, he stepped out of his clinic and started creating the business that he wanted. Thank you, Sturdy, for coming on the show again.

Thank you.

We already shared your story about what got you to where you are. You have the social proof, you're in your business once a week managing, leading the company and in touch with your clinic managers and directors. I know you reached out to me. I'm excited to have you on because we’re talking about vision. You shared the idea and I agree. It'd be nice to get deeper into how to create a vision or what a vision really is. Where are you coming from in that regard?

I’m passionate about what a vision is because I've been through the same thing. Many people, your readers, all have heard of these different versions. I used to teach some of this stuff. I remember the mission of the VA stands out as one. When I first started teaching, I was using it as an example because it was obviously done by a committee. Each one of them, each VA was different. I'm not talking about each district. I'm talking about the Palo Alto VA and the San Francisco VA. Each one of them had its own mission statement on their website. I have some old PowerPoints where I copied a couple of them. They're all gone.

I haven't been able to find the old ones, but they basically were a laundry list of all the content constituencies at that organization. It was very internally focused on what we do. Without getting too much into politics, Obama and under the VA administration updated and changed it. The mission of the VA was revamped to be one sentence by Abraham Lincoln. He quoted, “It's around taking care of our veterans and soldiers.” It is far more eloquent. It's more purposeful in nature and that's a great contrast. It’s all over history. My history is working in hospitals and other businesses and seeing things like vision, mission, values and all these different things that you need.

I have been taught by coaches and some others and guided this way, but I have come to this conclusion where my definition of vision includes three things. It's very clear, these three things. It's the higher purpose, it's the core values and the big, ambitious goal. Whatever you want to call that, whether that's a BHAG or what have you, we can take them one at a time and break them down a little bit. The higher purpose is your why. It's the reason the company, the organization exists in the first place and it's not profit. Profits are good and it's necessary, but generally it's not the reason we got all fired up and went out and started whatever business we did.

It's more of the Michael Gerber explanation of it. He calls it an entrepreneurial seizure. I call it an entrepreneur or temper tantrum, but it’s like, “I'm going to do it by myself. I'm fed up wherever I am. I can do it better.” Whatever triggered that is the higher purpose. It's not necessarily the service that you're providing. This is true, whether you're an attorney, a therapist, a plumber or a cake baker. “I'm going to do it because I can do it better.” It's like, “Why were you not happy with where you were? What are you going to do for whom?” That’s more of the purpose. Why are we doing this? Why are we going out and taking this crazy risk going on this journey that is really hard?

I’ve read your blog with Will where he talks about falling 50 feet, breaking both legs and arms, the rehab and everything with that, and then saying, “The business was harder than that.” That made me think about another friend of mine who is a Navy SEAL. He was honorably discharged. He took over his father's business. After about a year and a half, he was one of the EO members, Entrepreneurs Organization that he has been involved with. Darren is an EO member. He did a talk for us, a small breakfast talk, only about twelve members in the room. One of the things he said about having run that business was it was the hardest thing he's ever done in his life.

We're like, “You're a SEAL for more than ten years.” He's like, “I know.” That was incredibly humbling at the same time, I'm still not sure, maybe my journey has been a little bit easier, but it hasn't been easy. I'm wondering, “That's a heck of a comparison too.” It is this thing that keeps us doing what we're doing. It's the reason and it's the why behind it. The other thing to know about a higher purpose is it's not a goal. It's not something that will be achieved. It will never be completely finished or fulfilled per se. It's the reason that you get up in the morning and do what you do.

It's also the reason why your employees should maybe feel compelled and excited about a vision that, “I'm going to work for something that I believe in.”

Let's put them all together and then talk about how we can use it. That's definitely one of the areas. The core values are the second one. We talked about a higher purpose. That's the why. The core values are the how. It’s not the operational how but the behavioral how. It's the code of conduct. It's how we do things around here. When you write them out, I've looked up core values and you get this long list of one word to choose from, please don't do that. The core values need to be behavioral in nature. They're generally about three to six words in length because they need to be descriptive enough that people know what to do.

PTO 69 | Creating Vision And Values
Creating Vision And Values: Our higher purpose is not a goal. It's not something to be achieved. It’s the reason that you get up in the morning and do what you do.

 

There are a lot of good examples out there. You look at the New Zealand All Blacks, an organization since 1902 or 1906. In any event, for more than a hundred years, they have a 77% win rate. That's a country the size of Phoenix. In an international competition, they have the highest win rate of any professional international sports team in the world for more than a century. A lot of that has to do with their core values. “Leave the jersey in a better place, champions do extra,” those are a couple of values. They got five that they outlined. These are the things that tell them all how they're going to behave.

“Sweep the sheds is another one.” Sweep the sheds doesn't mean sweep the sheds, but it means cleaning up after yourself. Take care of the facilities. Take care of the place. It doesn't matter if you're an international superstar or you're the towel boy, you still pick up your stuff. If you don't do that, you don't get to stay. They've stuck with that. That's an attitude that brings to them together and bonds and they have. They've dismissed international superstars in the past because they haven't lived and abided by the core values. They lived and not agreed with because that's a whole other thing. It’s behaviors. What we need to do is ensure that the people in the organization are following those behaviors. Then, we'll come back to attracting people.

The third component is the big ambitious goal. It's sometimes referred to as the Bang or the BHAG. Jim Collins and Jerry Porras defined it in the Built to Last book in 1994. It was the Big Hairy Audacious Goal. They set a time frame for 20 years to 30 years, yet their number one example is the Moon Shot, which was about ten years since then. I've had this discussion with a couple of other friends who are business coaches and former coaches of mine, and we all settled on an eight-year to ten-year time frame. That's far enough ahead that you don't know how to get there, yet. It can be aspirational. It can be inspiring. You can figure it out along the way. It's not so far over the horizon that it's abstract.

If you ask me 25 years ago what I'd be doing, I would have been way off the mark. Twenty-five years from now, what will I be doing? I have a better idea than I did 25 years ago. If I can look at an eight-year to ten-year time frame, I can start to put my head around that. I can grasp that intellectually and logically, but it still gives me enough time to figure stuff out along the way. Those are the three components, the why, the how we're going to act on the way there and where we're going. Those are the three components of a vision that I seek to work with clients to develop and get those in place. The earlier you can do that in your process, the better.

That's not to say they're set in stone. They can shift. They can iterate and morph as you go along. You may discover some things that we're missing, assumptions that need to be more explicit or what have you as well. It will evolve along the way. It starts to give you a beacon, a north star, a direction of where you're going. This has got a lot more attention. This isn't some feel good, “I want to fulfill my destiny” type of thing. There's been quite a study around purpose-driven and values-driven organizations. They outperform their competition. They're hard data, but they outperform on multiple fronts, employee engagement, customer satisfaction, innovation and financially.

Harvard Business School did a research study where they looked at companies for a decade. They outperformed their rivals by a factor of twelve. That was in seventeen different countries too. I've had people tell me, “This is culturally specific.” It's not. Maybe what your purpose is could be your values, but the structural blocks do attract and inspire the right people. It makes your life easier all the way along the way. It’s not just if we talk about how we use this stuff, there’s one other thing that is interesting is it may give more credibility to this whole thing. Do you know who Laurence Fink is? The CEO of BlackRock?

Profits are good and necessary but it should not be the reason you get all fired up to start your business. Click To Tweet

That sounds familiar.

Laurence Fink is the CEO and Chairman of BlackRock. I didn't even know this. I knew of them. They're here in San Francisco, but they have somewhere north of $6.8 trillion under management and investment. It might be as much as $7.4 trillion. It fluctuates a bit. The point is they're one of probably the biggest investment firms in the world. Every year, Larry Fink writes a letter to the CEOs, the thousands of CEOs that are running the companies that they are investors in, that they have board seats on and all this stuff. In 2019, this is the quote in his letter, “To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society.” He started to talk about not just corporate social responsibility because that's not the same thing that we're talking about, but a purpose-driven values-driven organization that isn't solely shareholder focused.

In the publicly traded world, I think rightfully so, he got some push-back. A couple of hundred saw his letter and wrote him a letter back. They said, “That sounds great until you change the playing field in the rules, the way we get compensated, the way we avoid liability and don't get sued and all the rest of it. That sounds great, but you’ve got to change the playing field if you want that outcome. The way it's set up now isn't going to allow us to do what you're talking about.” That's great news for most people who are going to read this because you're not running a publicly-traded corporation. Very often, you're the sole shareholder or at least the majority shareholder. You can take this stuff and you're answerable to yourself not to institutional investors and CalPERS. You can do this. The cool part is if the playing field over the long-term favors this and the big guys, the corporations and your perceived competition out there can’t do this, at least not with any integrity or fidelity over time, then you have a bit of an unfair advantage.

Maybe someone already has an idea of a vision that's already out there. How does one either assess their current vision? Is that different than someone who's trying to start from scratch? I don't have a vision in place necessarily, how do I go about creating one and get to my why?

If you have an existing organization, whether you've been in business six months or fifteen years, you already probably have a purpose. You already probably have values in a way you do things. What those are more of a discovery process of unveiling, sussing out and asking, “Why did you start doing this in the first place? What are some themes throughout your life? What do you do when you're not getting paid? What inspires you? What does your family tease you or make fun of you about?” They’re like, “That's Nathan. He does that.” It's that stuff that starts to give you this common thread that ties it all together. Sometimes, we're the last ones to be able to see it.

Everybody around us sees it. We think we've made this great discovery. We tell them, we figured it out and they're like, “Yes.” Another friend of mine, Bill Gallagher is a coach. I love his saying, “A fish as the last one to see water.” Ask your loved ones. Ask your best friend. Ask your spouse. What do they see in you? What do they think drives you? That will start to help reveal the why and you tie that into your business. How does that align? What is it doing at the core values? Similarly, when I go through and do the core values, that exploration and facilitation with clients, I want to get everybody in the organization, in the room together, at least the leadership team.

PTO 69 | Creating Vision And Values
Creating Vision And Values: If you have an existing organization, whether you've been in business six months or fifteen years, you already probably have a purpose. It’s just a matter of unveiling it.

 

Do you do that with the vision or do you leave the vision simply to the owner?

The vision is the aggregate of the higher purpose, the values and the BHAG, those three components. The higher purpose is usually more around the owner, but it depends on the maturity of the organization as well. There was an interesting story. I forgot what university it was. This woman came in and was leading the department organization. She was new to it but was going to be taking it over. To figure out what drove the people that were already there, the tenured professors, the new faculty, and the other people that had been around and were there for a reason, she went and talked to all of them about what that reason is. She started to find some commonalities and threads through that, that she then brought back, reflected them, asked them, vetted it and they were like, “That's what we're about.”

That is the discovery process. The core values are largely a discovery process because we have expectations for each other. What irritates you when somebody doesn't live up to those expectations? What do you expect from each other? That's a way to get to that. There's a cool exercise to go through and get in the weeds and ask all the details, be on time and look people in the eye. What do you do? You start to find those common themes. The couple I mentioned follow the respect theme. There's something there about respect. What does that mean for us? How are we going to manifest that in our day-to-day actions and behaviors? How do we articulate that, not only so we're clear about it, but for new people joining the organization? How do we make it clear to them what the expectations are before they even get here?

I like how you filter it down from what it sounds like. You take this aggregate of behaviors. You filter it down to a common word. What's our definition of that word? What does that mean? What does that look like in our company? From our perspective, we had four core values. PAGE was the acronym, Professional, Accountability, Growth and Empathy. We had those for a number of years, but they didn't gain a lot of traction until we did two things, until we defined to them with the leadership team as what that looks like. What does professionalism look like in our minds? That could be different for somebody. You can't assume that everyone has the same definition.

That's the biggest hazard of these one-word values. If we have fifteen people in the room, we've probably got seventeen different definitions, which of those? Does respect mean the same thing to you as it does to me? It’s communication. It’s communicating. I hate that one. Communication can be a theme, but exactly what you have said, how does that manifest itself? Being a good one-way communicator and articulate, that's maybe part of it. Listening is important in working together. There's an empathy component, or there are other pieces and parts that come together that start to describe how we embrace that. Communication might encompass a theme like grouping, but then what we're doing is taking those micro behaviors, pulling them together into something more cohesive.

You mentioned, “Champions do extra.” For the All Blacks, that means, “We run farther, we work harder, we stay later, and we go the extra mile in some cases. That's if we want to win.” I've seen companies take that on and swipe it. Please don't do that. Core values need to be unique to you. Aside from the fact that whatever business you're in, you're probably not a champion. You're not literally competing for a world title. If you are great, then maybe that works. For most of us, figure out what your own version looks like. Make it your own and embrace it. The idea can be great, but that brings up one other thing. These are real. These are serious, real expectations. It's somewhat hazardous to create core values that are aspirational in nature and that we're not going to fulfill. That's one of the hazards, in addition to the one word. Be careful about aspirational core values. You want them to be actual rules we live by.

Spend time and effort on people that are attracted to your purpose. Click To Tweet

You've got to make them. They are the law.

That’s the third risk. If you're the owner leader and you're not going to abide by them, then you're probably better off not ruling them out. That's going to create dissonance and a problem with integrity in the organization. If you don't intend to follow these, if these aren't things that you exemplify in your behaviors, you may want to think twice before rolling it out to the rest of the organization to holding them accountable.

You’ve got some good advice. It's not something I've considered before, that there could be a hazard in making it an aspirational value. We hope, but it's tough. It's something that we want to live to, but we're not quite doing it yet. It doesn't vibe. You can lose some people in that regard because you're supposed to be holding people to this standard. If that standard is somewhat fuzzy, then it's hard to play black and white and say you're not living up to it honestly.

How do you explain that one's aspirational, but the other ones are real rules? You're creating potential conflict at least internal, mentally, emotionally. Don't set the bar too low either. We don't want a show up to be the goal or value. These are things that, again, are yours and not everybody's going to agree with and that's okay. It's still what we hold as important.

How does an owner know the values? It might be easy to somewhat of an exercise to come up with, but how does someone know that they've got it? When they are happy with it, that's it, but sometimes you can feel uncomfortable.

There are three or four questions you can ask. One of them is, “Will I spend money on it to fix it or to train? Will I confront someone else in the organization about it? Would I fire somebody who refuses repeatedly to get on board with it?” Along the lines of the spend money, would you also forego money? If you had a client or a company that wanted to hire you that wasn't in congruence, wasn't aligned, was in conflict with your values, would you still take that? If the answer to any of those is no, then it's probably not a core value. Maybe, it's nice to have. Nice to haves are great, but they do not core to who we are as an organization.

PTO 69 | Creating Vision And Values
Creating Vision And Values: The path to success very often lies in our focus and persistent work toward a goal, not running around to all the different things.

 

Those questions bring up the whole idea of, “How do you use these?” One of the cool things about them, once you have these three pillars, these three pieces in place is you use them in your decision-making process. They become the first questions to be asked when you have an opportunity or when a strategic partner or an employee comes to you with this idea, this program, this thing we want to do. Does it align with our core purpose or higher purpose? Does it fit with our core and does it move us closer to our big ambitious goal? If the answer to any three of those is no, we're done. Move on.

If the answer to the three of those is yes, then we move to another layer of questions. That's when you're looking at, “How does it serve our target customer? Is it profitable if we're running a business? Is it process-driven versus individual-driven? There are other questions that you can get to, but I'm not worried about answering those until I know that it checks the boxes on the first three by weeding things out. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett say this, so many people who are very successful say this, but it's the things I said no to, not the yes. It's too easy for us to get distracted. There are too many opportunities. There are many things we could be doing. The path to success very often lies in our focus and persistent work toward a goal towards something, not running around to all the different things.

It's cool how you lay it out because I can consider taking these things. The vision, the values, or the higher purpose, the values and the goals. We start weaving that into interview processes.

That's another way to use them. You're connecting people. Your job postings, you're going to surface that. Hopefully, if you've done that well for the right people. This is also key. For the right people, it should be inspiring. Not for everybody. That's fine because if they self select out and they're not aligned with your vision to start with, you didn't have to spend your time and effort. You're spending time and effort on people that are attracted to your purpose. You layout the core values and not tell people what they are. I'm a big advocate of reorganizing your interview questions to answer how aligned people are with those values.

I have a scoring system aligned with the poster child as opposed to not aligned with whatever. There’s a number scale that we came up with that we can rate on each one of these. We have the questions to answer whether or not basically their past behaviors. That's the other thing. We're not asking hypotheticals, “What would you do if?” We're asking, “What did you do when?” That's evidence-based as well. People's past behaviors are more predictive of future behaviors than somebody's answering the question the way they think you want to. If they're telling you the truth about how they behaved in certain situations that they were confronted with, that'll fall into this realm of your core value number one or core value number three. You start to get a sense of their behaviors and how well they are aligned, with that value.

You can decide, based on that whether they would be a fit with the organization. We did two interviews, and clients do two interviews. The first one is solely focused on are they fit with the team? Are they inspired by the purpose? Are they aligned with the values? Behaviorally, we're looking for who they are before we're looking at their skillsets and stuff. That weeds out more people. You might be a lovely person, you might even be a great player, but if you aren't going to live by these behavioral values, then you're not going to be happy here and we're not going to be happy with you.

People's past behaviors are more predictive of future behaviors than answering questions the way they think you want them to. Click To Tweet

This ends up being a real good test for all parties involved. They may not understand it quite the same way you do after years of practice or what have you, but if I send somebody away because they're not aligned with the values and they're like, “I really like you guys and I want to work with you,” you're not going to be happy. I've seen this before. We like you. This isn't a judgment about you as an individual. Are you going to be happy here with the team or are you going to contribute in the ways that we want? Are you going to abide by the same rules that we do? It doesn't mean it's the law. It means that it's important to us.

What a powerful position to be in to say, “We like you, but we can tell that this isn't going to work out.” To be able to forecast that as you interview many people. You've lived and worked through your core values and tested them so much that you can find the right person. I know that bears out with you guys because I don't know if you still do this, but I tell a lot of people that one of your filters for candidates was that they had to play team sports in the past.

Collaboration is a big deal.

Consider that to some people that might be like, “That's odd, but that would make you many decisions based on that one thing. That's how you figured that out.”

Not quite so hard and fast on that if they can come up with another area where they truly collaborated.

It holds tight to your values.

PTO 69 | Creating Vision And Values
Creating Vision And Values: Work together, help each other, share knowledge, and don’t be afraid to ask for help or ask questions.

 

That's one of those things that were conditioned in school. Especially if you're coming out with a DPT, twenty years of schooling taught you that collaboration is cheating. As soon as you're out of school though, that's not true anymore. I want people to have the context of working together, helping each other, sharing knowledge, not being afraid to ask for help or ask questions. You’re not withholding information, but sharing and telling, “I made this mistake. I'm hoping the whole team can learn from it.” There's not a fear of repercussion there or punishment or getting it wrong. There's a, “This will help the whole team and ultimately help our patients, our customers or clients.” In doing so, can we avoid this mistake in the future? Can I help everybody else out? Those are things that are important to us in our culture. That's not everywhere.

That's a great example of holding to your values. Is there anything you want to add here at the end to inspire people to help people solidify their purpose, values and goals?

We're talking about the big ambitious goal, the eight to ten years down the road, then you can backward plan your three years, highly achievable goal, your one year, your quarterly, that type of stuff in your planning. I would encourage you to get working on it, but of all the things, if this is new to you and you're thinking about it, start writing it down. If you've been through this before, start writing it down and implementing it. I started working with a client and we were talking about this stuff and they're like, “We've done all this before.” I'm like, “What are they?”

The silence was the answer. “What is your purpose?” “I'd have to look it up.” “What are the core values?” They couldn't recite them. How are you using within your organization? That's not an answer to how you're using them. We use them in our interview process. We use them in our one on one meetings. We tell a core value story about somebody else. Every week, we bring them up in staff meetings. We have a theme each month. However, it is that you employ and use these in your organization. They must be used. We use them in our decision making. Fair enough. If they're not used, then they're more words on the back of a name badge or a plaque on the wall that nobody cares about. That's the other thing. They've got to be written down. They've got to be utilized in the organization. When I say used, I don't mean one time, I mean this should be your favorite ten or whatever.

It should look as part of the agenda on meetings. It's absolutely purposefully put in many different locations.

Those are more reminders. We're using these in our decision making. What marketing efforts are we going to do? What outreach are we going to do? What programs are we going to do? We ask these three questions first every time. They don't get dusty. They don't have to pull them off the shelf. They're well-worn and use as your favorite pair of shoes.

You start attracting those people. You don't necessarily have to filter them out, but sometimes they tend to start finding you.

The bigger and the more you live these and use them, the more that's out there. It's not employees and stuff that tell their friends or others. It's patients, it's referral sources. It's partners and vendors and other people that are like, “These guys, they know what they're about.” Maybe it's not everybody's cup of tea. That's fine. They know what they're about. I think you might like them. They start matching people up and telling them about you and vice versa and stuff. It becomes a lot more organic in large part because people know what you're about. They know what matters to you, and can be fairly powerful as well.

If people want to reach out to you and help them if they needed help establishing these or reestablishing these or any other business questions, how would they get in touch with you?

Thanks. It is SturdyMcKee.com. There's contact info there, my cellphone. Text me or call me. There are links to Facebook groups. There's a free Facebook group for business owners. There are all kinds of resources. Jump on there.

Thank you for your time. It is hugely valuable. I appreciate going into a little bit deeper into vision and values and its importance in our companies.

Thank you, Nathan. I appreciate it.

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About Sturdy McKee, PT

PTO 69 | Creating Vision And ValuesSturdy is a business coach, entrepreneur and business owner who also happens to be a physical therapist and private practice owner.

He helps business owners make the world a better place.

He has a special place in his heart for physical therapist entrepreneurs and private practice owners.

 

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PTO 65 | Creating A Vision

 

As a business owner, one of the most fundamental aspects to have if you want to grow, improve, and be successful is a vision. Our guest, Travis Robbins, PT, learned the importance of creating a vision the hard way. He spent years going deeper and deeper into debt while building a multi-clinic PT company, never really looking for a way to get profitable. However, once he hit rock bottom, he decided he had to do something different. What did he do? You'll have to listen to the podcast to find out (hint: reach out - step out - network)! Nonetheless, once Travis got in the right mindset and developed a vision for what he wanted to achieve with his company, he has since been profitable and has the stability and freedom he couldn't envision before. The owner's #1 job - create and hold the vision for the rest of the team to look to. Once you get their buy-in, you'll have all hands on deck to see that your vision comes to fruition, but a clear and compelling vision has be there first because no one else is going to create it for you.

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Listen to the podcast here:

An Owner's #1 Job: Create And Hold The Vision with Travis Robbins, PT

I've got Travis Robbins, a physical therapist out of Pennsylvania joining me. I'm excited to bring him on, not only because it's been a long time coming. We've been communicating for some time now. Travis brings some great information about the fundamental aspect of any business owner and that is to have a vision. I've alluded to it in the past, but never had an episode that's more focused on the importance of having a vision. It's rather simple and it can be overlooked. It's fundamental if we want to grow, improve and be successful in our clinics. We talk about the importance of finding a vision, having a vision, and relaying that vision to the team. Otherwise, they don't know where we're going if we don't know where we're going.

That doesn't give us a lot of purposes to get up in the day or even for your team members to get up and go to work if they don't know where the company is headed and where they fit in that plan. I'm also excited to bring on Travis because he's got great rags to riches story. Not necessarily that he came out of destitution or anything like that, but not unlike the other physical therapists that I've interviewed on the show, he had to hit rock bottom. In his case, it’s hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt before he turned things around and became ultra-successful. He is doing that now and has a greater vision to be double his current size and even more successful and significant to him, his community, his family and the profession around them. You'll hear all about that. I'm excited to bring that to you. Let's get to the episode.

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I've got Travis Robbins out of Pennsylvania. He is the CEO of Next Level PT and also the owner of some of his own clinics there in the Pennsylvania area. First, thanks for coming on, Travis. I appreciate it.

Thanks for having me.

If you don't mind, share with the audience a little bit about your story. You're a successful practice owner. I believe you are where a lot of other physical therapy owners want to be and that you're working hard on your clinics, but as the leader, tell me a little bit about your path and how you got to where you are right now.

In terms of PT, almost every PT says that they were in some form of sports or athletics in high school, had some injuries and then went to PT and said, "This is pretty cool. I could do this for the rest of my life." I got some guidance from a guy that went to my high school. He went to the college I eventually went to. Ithaca College is the best physical therapy college universe. I got into PT. I loved it. I love every aspect of it except organic chemistry, not so much, but the rest of the stuff was good. I got out into the field. I'm sure just like other private practice owners were, I was like, "I can do this a little bit better."

I didn't know what I didn't know, but I did look at things. I worked for a large conglomerate. I had nine jobs in my first eighteen months when I got out of school. I'm unemployable. I did everything. I did home care. I did a lot of different stuff. I was 24. I didn't have a mortgage. I didn't have kids yet. I'm like, "I can eat Bologna and cheese for a while. If I'm going to screw up, I might as well do it now. It's pretty easy to recover from.” I opened up my practice. I rented 200 square feet in the backroom of a chiropractor’s office, opened it up and hung my shingle. I'll never forget the first patient I ever had. She fills out the paperwork. She says, "Do you accept my insurance?" I had no idea that I had to talk to insurance companies to say, "Can I be a provider for you?"

I treated for the first four months and I didn't get paid because I didn't have any provider numbers. You don't know what you don't know. The first part was, “Maybe this is a little harder than I thought it was going to be.” I loved it. When you put your name on there and you’re going to work every day. It's a dream that I had. I always wanted to own my own practice. Things got off from there. I started to add more locations and added more levels of complexity to what was going on. In the middle, I struggled. I opened up my practice in 2003.

Everybody that starts with practice for the most part is a good practitioner, but we don't get the training or the skills to run a business. Click To Tweet

In the middle part of the journey to try to figure this out is tough. At one point, we were borrowing money to make payroll. We were over $350,000 in debt. I would go to the bank and say, "Can I have some more money?" They said, "No." I said, "That's probably a good idea. I need to sit down and figure this out." I was a good practitioner. Everybody that starts with practice, for the most part is a good practitioner, but we don't get the training or the skills to run a business and we think we can do it.

Tell me a little bit about that middle part. Did you have multiple clinics at the time or were you still the solo practitioner/owner maybe with another couple of providers? What was your exact situation?

At that point, we had four locations and trying to make everything work. We tried to do the best we could through force of will, which can only take you so far. My mom always said to work smarter, not harder. I wasn't afraid of hard work, but I wasn't making the right decisions because I didn't have the right knowledge. I wasn't talking to the right people. I didn't have the right training. It was at that point where I was like, "I've got to figure something out." Starting a mastermind was the big turning point for me.

You got to a point where you were hundreds of thousand dollars in debt. You talk about it now and it doesn't sound emotional, but I'm sure it was super emotional at the time, super stressful.

Whether you're a man or a woman and you have your own practice, you're the hero of your family. You go to work. It's your job to put food on the table in one way or another. You're coming home every day and your kids meet you at the door. You know in the back of your mind, “I'm not doing a great job. If I was doing a good job, I probably wouldn't owe a bank $350,000 and not be able to know how I'm going to make payroll next week depending on the collection.” You wear this armor. People in your community are like, "He's got four practices. He must know what he's doing." I'm like, "It’s so far away from that." Putting up that image is mentally and physically draining.

You not only had the debt but what you didn't share is that you had also gotten married in that time and also had kids?

By that time, I had four kids. From the day that my wife got pregnant with my first kid to the day she gave birth to my last kid, she was pregnant more of those days than she wasn't. We had four right in a row. As anybody that has kids knows that they're not cheap, that's one way you would describe them. You've got these obligations. I've got these four kids and I'm in this debt. I'm like, "These kids are going to want to go to college probably. I can't even keep my practice to flow." Everybody goes through this point, "Maybe I should pack it in and I could get a job at the hospital. Maybe that's what I'm supposed to do. Maybe I'm not cut out for this." I'm glad I kept going.

Where you like me and that there were some days where you didn't see your kids at all? You'd get home too late and leave too early. I would even tell my wife, I'm like, "I don't think I've seen my baby for three days awake." It's crazy.

Yeah, everybody does that. You're working. If this patient wants to come in at 5:30, I'll treat him at 5:30 AM. If they need a spot at 8:00 and I've only got four patients on my schedule that day, I'm not losing one of those patients. I'm sure everybody reading this can relate to that.

You hit that low point. Where did you see the light? For me, I don't know if there was something that I found more than I was like, "I've got to do something different." The situation turned you, but what got you going in the right direction?

I'll tell you as we were at our lowest point, we went to the bank and asked for money. They wouldn't give it to us. I had to lay somebody off. In truth, looking at the business numbers, I probably should've laid people off earlier, but I just couldn’t do that to somebody. We looked at numbers and said, "I cannot afford to have this practitioner come in on Monday.” The one we had to let go was a mother of four. She was the sole breadwinner of her family. On Friday, we had to bring her to the back room and we had to say, "I can't pay you. You need to grab your stuff and you can't come in on Monday." I remember her leaving and I was overcome with failure. There's lots of failure in business no matter what business you're in, but that was tough.

It was at that point, it's like, "If I needed this to happen to get me to take some action, I can't miss this opportunity." It was at that point. I've got to figure this out. It's going through my PT books, becoming a better practitioner and treating my patients better. That's all important stuff but unless you the business knowledge and someone that can help you out. We always say, "If you find someone that's ten steps ahead of you, it's possible." It's not impossible. If you hang out with that person for a little while, you're at least going to get some stuff through osmosis where you'll figure stuff out. I don't give out a ton of advice, even though I have a consulting company. The only real advice is if you can find someone that's where you want to be and you had the opportunity to spend some time with them, that's the best use of your time.

Work smarter, not harder. Click To Tweet

What was your first step that next week or maybe in the next month after letting that person go?

I started to look at different options and that's when I started to look outside the industry of physical therapy, both in and outside. There are other businesses that are doing well. I would read a lot of business books. I would read a lot of self-help books. That stuff was all-important. It sent me in the right direction. It wasn't until I started to find other private practice owners. I was in my private practice ten years before I ever met another private practice owner. That was probably one of the biggest mistakes. I don't know what that is. There were other private practice owners in our area. I could've knocked on their door. There's this scarcity mindset where it's like, "Why would they help me out? They're trying to go after the same patients that I am going after. It doesn't make sense for us to work together." When I switched over to more of an abundance mindset, it's like, "There are more patients here than any of us can all treat. If we can present our information and show our value the way that the value of physical therapy can be presented, there's more than enough patients."

Do you think that some of the business books and the self-help books that you read that changed that mindset and started allowing you to see other perspectives outside of your own clinics?

I'm sure almost everybody has read Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. If you're going to start out somewhere, that's a great place to start. It's not the best title. It's like you want to get rich quick, which is not it. It is like a philosophy around abundance. He talks about in that book the power of the mastermind. I was reading that and it says, “It's not when you have two people together, it's not one plus one equals two. It's one plus one equals three or four or five.” Once you get this collective mind together of one or two or three or more people, problems aren't as daunting as they seem. When we do consult with other practices, I don't do consulting on my own practice.

What I do is I ask other founders of NLPT, "Here's my number. Here's what's going on. What am I not seeing?" Inside of a couple of minutes, they'll point out something that was so obvious that you're so upset you didn't see it, but you're so close to it. You're so close to your own practice that you can't see it. Every time we explain this to one of our clients, it's like, "You knew that, didn’t you?" "Yeah, I knew that." You're so close to that it's hard to say.

PTO 65 | Creating A Vision
Building A Story Brand

You changed your mindset and you reached out. Did you get a coach? Did you get a mentor? Did you join a mastermind? What did you do after that?

All of it. I've had individual coaching inside and outside the PT industry. Probably the biggest thing was going to an internet marketing conference. This might not make a ton of sense, but around that time, I was starting to follow some online guys that were doing some online sales information products and that stuff. I said, "Can I apply it to physical therapy?” It 100% does. There was a guy named Pat Flynn that had a popular podcast. When he was starting out, I was on his list. I won a ticket to this event in Chicago. I flew out there and I sat at a table with some interesting guys. There was a pediatrician that sold an online course to pass your boards for pediatrics. There was a self-help guru, motivational speaker. There was a handyman that taught you how to start your own handyman business. There was a golfer who was the youngest ever winner on the minor leagues, the PGA Tour. He was selling a golf product to people online and we started our first mastermind.

We just met online. We used GoToMeeting at the time and every week we would meet. We put our heads together. I got to see how there are similarities and differences. There are tons of similarities to all businesses. It's the little differences when you see something that someone else does in another industry, it's like, "I can apply that to the physical therapy industry." Once we started doing that, it’s like, "There's a ton of power in this. This is good for business, but how can I apply this to the world of physical therapy?" I need to get out there and talk to more private practice owners so that I can do a similar concept.

My path sounds so similar to yours. I'm sure the time frames aren't the same. I started reading books. I started networking. I joined the Entrepreneurs' Organization locally, meeting with other local business owners who were not physical therapists. It was in those things and maybe Pat Flynn had some structure to it that I started learning about visions, mission statements, values and how to incorporate values into your business, setting quarterly goals and annual goals, figuring out your BHAG and all that stuff. I was learning about some of these business books. I started developing that entrepreneurial business side of myself, developing the mindset and getting to know that we can get stuck in our own physical therapy perspective, our limiting beliefs that we all agree on. When another person outside of our industry looks at it, they're like, "Why can't you do that? You should. That's not an excuse." Those kinds of things come up. It sounds like your story is very similar. It seemed like you start to develop those things for your own practice.

It takes time. There's no quick turnaround here. In the beginning, what we see is you get knowledge and knowledge is good, but if you don't apply it, then that becomes a problem. At some point, I would over-consume. I would listen to 100 podcasts a week and I wouldn't have any action on that. I started to narrow that down and started to apply it, the things that were important. You would start to get little wins so you would learn about something, you would apply it and it works. That's reinforcement. I'm on the right path. Sometimes you would learn about something, apply it and it wouldn't work. You get as much benefit information out of that at the time. Trying to do the application part is the hard part. Gathering knowledge is good and important, but applying it is hard.

From what you learned, what got you steamrolling? What created the biggest bang for your buck of transforming you or transforming your business?

I do think it was the vision part. There are lots of people that have written tons of books on vision. Cameron Herold who is in another mastermind that I'm in, I feel he has the corner on that. In terms of where do you want to be in ten years? Around that same time, I had PT come up and ask me, "Where are you going with this?" It was an arresting question because I'm like, "I'm trying to make payroll next week.”

Knowledge is good, but if you don't apply it, then that becomes a problem. Click To Tweet

“I'm trying to get out of hundreds of thousand dollars of debt. That's my vision.”

I noticed that no matter how big your team is, if you don't have a clear vision on where to direct them, it's hard to attract the right people to whatever you're trying to do. It's hard to retain people that are good. I would see some people would leave because they said, "I don't know this is a private practice. Travis is running it. He does everything. Where's my upward mobility here? I don't think I'm going to take this practice over from Travis. What's going on?" Now since we've opened up other clinics and implemented a clinical director, there's room for that. It wasn't until I set a clear ten-year mission before it started to make sense. A lot of people will read this and be like, "That's the key to a successful private practice."

Maybe not universally, but I can't tell you how important it is, this tool that we have created and have amalgamated from different books and even different companies like Infusionsoft. Maybe you have heard of Infusionsoft, but they have an executive training program that you can go through. One of the founders of NLPT has gone through that and he came back to me, he said, "You've got to come and check this out." I had some ideas about what I wanted to do. It's having a ten-year mission. Telling people where you're going to be in ten years is important because it helps you recruit the right people. We use this tool in our meetings. We use it in all of our recruiting. We use it in our onboarding. It's this one-page tool that shows everything that is needed to get to where we want to get to in ten years.

In ten years, I want to have ten clinics doing $1 million in revenue. There are other metrics that you put on there. When you slide this across the table with somebody and you explain it to them, you watch them get excited. Steve Jobs would always talk about when he interviewed people, he had a wooden model of the first Apple computer and he would put it on the table. If your eyes didn't light up, the interview was over. It was like, “This person is not what I need to get to where I want to go.” I want it quite like that, but you get some information about, "This is where I want to go in ten years. I've got four clinics right now. We need to add six more. Here are the people that are going to need to do that. Here are the resources I'm going to need to do that. Here's what I'm going to need to be good at to get there. Here's where we're weak and we need people to help us out here. Are you interested in getting on this journey with us?" They jump out of the table and say, "Yeah."

I got an email. I started reading a book called Building a StoryBrand. The guy's name is Donald Miller. If you want to get clear on your marketing, your tag lines or whatever you want to put out there, it’s a great book. It takes you through a whole process called My StoryBrand. One of his emails specifically talked about that if there's one thing you can do as a leader or as a boss, and that is to set the vision and iterate that every day, multiple times a day over and over again. What it does for the employees and people on your team is that it gets their buy-in. If they're not bought in, they'll self-select typically and you let them go. You get some cohesiveness and everyone can wake up the next morning knowing exactly where we're going. I know what I'm doing going to work because I've got the leader's vision in front of me. I've bought into that because not all of us are visionary. It's not easy to come with visions sometimes. Not all of us are creatives.

When you hear a vision that you can buy into, maybe you don't have to have so much of your own. You can buy into that one and take on that vision. It helps so much to get people on board. That's what I found as we developed our leadership teams is when we came up with visions and goals that extended beyond a year or two talking about the number of lives that we might affect or how we might make a difference in the community, that's when you could feel the energy in the room can build up and you start sharing that with people. The culture emanates from that. The retention improves with that. The ability to recruit improves with that. You were talking about in your interviews, so much comes from establishing that vision in the very first place. I'm sure as you've implemented that you've seen some of the same things in your practice.

I can't directly link it to that, but I have to think it has something to do with the fact that we're hitting a lot more in the hires that we're making. We're hitting our goals. On this one-page PDF that I have, at the very top it says, “I have ten locations. I have 35 therapists. I'm seeing over 2,000 visits a week.” I had no idea what that looks like. I have thirteen therapists now, 13 to 35. What does the company party look like? I don't know. That's the most important thing. Don't think you have to copy mine for this to work. I don't want ten clinics. I don't blame you. Some days I wonder if I want ten clinics. It doesn't matter what it is. It only matters that you have it. It matters that it's very clear and very compelling.

If anybody is a history buff, John F. Kennedy in 1961 gave a speech. He said, "We're going to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade.” Think about that. It's very concise. We're going to put feet on the moon. We're not going to go into space. We're not going to throw rockets up there. We're going to do it by the end of the decade." It has a time deadline. He wasn't down there at NASA l putting the spaceships together. He wasn't down there doing the hiring probably. All he did was we put the right people in the right places to be successful. We did it before the end of the decade. If someone can put someone on the earth and on the moon, you can definitely set a clear vision for your private practice and you can get there.

A lot of it is planting the flag and if it's not a little bit nerve-wracking for you, it's probably not strong enough. It's probably not compelling enough. You got to find a way that stretches you.

It should definitely scare you. We did this with our mastermind group now. We had this private Facebook page and as part of the homework for vision, that's what I teach. You have to post your ten-year vision. I'll go through the process of how I pick mine. How did I get to ten clinics? Originally, I had written five down. I talked to another founder in NLPT, Arlan, who has a big vision. He says, "I want to have 50 clinics." I said, "50 clinics? I can't go to these meetings and put down five. I've got to put down at least ten." That's not a great reason to pick ten. It was like when you get yourself around people that have a big vision, you want to step up to that. It's powerful. When I first wrote it, I had two clinics. Now we're a little bit ahead of schedule. I still can't believe. We do quarterly and annual offsite meetings and we go through it.

We're like, "Where are we on a ten-year mission? We're a little ahead of schedule." If you didn't tell me that when I first started this and if you'd taken me in a time machine to where I am now to when I first started this mission thing, I wouldn't believe you. It happened and it wasn't important. I didn't do everything. In fact, I had to keep removing myself from stuff because I'm the bottleneck to making sure that this stuff happens. You put something on paper and you put your thought behind it and you share it with other people. When you use that to get the right people on your team, it's incredible.

Give us a little bit of your timeframe. You hit a low point and I don't know what year that was, but how long do you think it has taken for you to transform your business to a point where you felt it was maybe it's not four or five clinics strong, but you felt like, "I'm heading in the right direction and I'm accomplishing some of the goals that I had set forth initially." What was your timeframe there?

No matter how big your team is, if you don't have a clear vision on where to direct them, it will be hard attract the right people. Click To Tweet

It's not as long a turnaround as you might think. It's only been over a few years. It wasn't that long ago to where it was in dire straits. I had this realization. I said, "I've got to get some help. I got to get some other private practice owners that know what they're doing because my bank account clearly says I don't." I had to get that. Some people have been in private practice for a couple of years. Some have been for fifteen, twenty years and sometimes they don't see that there's a possibility I could get what I want out of private practice. Why did you start your private practice? You didn't start to work twelve-hour days and get paid less than your employees and break-even at the end of the year. It's not why you did that.

Few practice owners get the practice that they dreamed of when they first opened their doors, which to me is heartbreaking because your heart is in the right place, the effort is there. If you don't know the right action steps to take, it's hard to get success. To me now as I spend my time, I spend more and more of my time in the consulting world and less and less of my time in my private practice because it does run better when I'm not around. They're monkeying around with stuff. I want that opportunity for other private practice owners because it is rare. We talk about time choice and financial freedom so time freedom. Do I have to go to work now?

I don't have to go into work for the next couple of weeks if I don't want to. That's a choice that not a lot of private practice owners want. Financial freedom, are you successful? What’s the scoreboard of business? Are you making a profit? I know some PTs have a big problem with that and private practice owners have a big problem with that. If you're reading this and you are a private practice owner, you in your heart of hearts know that your practice is giving out excellent care. If there was more of you around, do you think your community would be better? “Yes.” In order to do that, you have to run a profitable business. That's the health of the business. Having financial freedom is important. Choice freedom, can I choose to do what I want to work on? I can go out and work on a woodworking project in my garage or I can go work in my practice. It's hard to appreciate if you've never had it before. I didn't have it before like a couple of years ago. If you don't know what that feels like, the quality of life that I have achieved by putting in systems to remove myself from my practice, it's hard to describe and I want to give that to more people.

That's a point where you're at because you've experienced a certain amount of success and you still are, but now you're switching over to significance. That's where you're extending out your effect, your power. It’s more than just yourself and your clinics. Now it's becoming more than you. That's why I have to commend you for sharing with people that there are ways to do it. You don't have to reinvent the wheel. If you create systems and improve your culture, create your own independent vision. I'm not going to tell you what it is but create one. Create your own thing so you can set your own goals.

I had a call with a guy who disappointed me. He was selling his practice. He'd been in practice for twenty-plus years. I said, "if you keep working too hard, treating patients all day and working on the business after hours, you're going to burn out eventually." He's like, "Yeah. I passed the mark ten years ago." It hurt me because it doesn't have to be like that. Maybe you feel the same way. I wish I knew some of these things when I first got started and had to go through all that. It takes some growing pains and you take some lumps, but you don't have to get to the point of burnout. You don't have to get to hundreds of thousand dollars in debt in order to make some of these changes. If you start implementing them now, you get so much benefit and pay off from doing it before you need to.

PTO 65 | Creating A Vision
Think and Grow Rich

In terms of timing, we work with private practice owners that have been in business for eighteen months and some that had been in business for twenty years. It's always the same thing. The best time to plant a tree was ten years ago. The second best time is right now. I do say this, I went through ten to twelve years of struggle. I don't know that I would go back and change that. You learn so much from your failures too. At the time, it was painful. I have some lessons to teach from. No matter where you are in your private practice, reach out and get help.

Private practice owners are hesitant to ask for help. They have a hard time admitting that they were wrong or that they don't know what they're doing. We come from science backgrounds. We're intelligent. If you get through PT school and you take the boards, I don't care how smart you think you're a smart person. I don't know if it's admitting that you don't know what you don't know. We see that a lot. It's never too late. We're seeing turnarounds inside of a couple of months in some other practice by pointing out simple stuff, stuff that you can see. It's helping people out and watching them improve. When we started as physical therapists, what is our focus? Our focus is our patients.

Getting results with our patients is important. Once you can get that down, most people look for something else to fuel their competitive fire. For me, in my practice, it was, “I can put myself in a successful situation and help patients.” I like getting wins with patients. I don't treat at all anymore. I'm on a part-time basis or covering vacations. I'm more excited about, “Can I help someone else with any issue that they're having with?” If they want to become better clinicians, yes. I want to teach that. If they want to run one of my practices, yes, I give them the tools to be successful and get financially rewarded for that. Working with other practices, can I help them achieve the freedom that I have now? That's what I'm focusing the rest of my career on.

Your power, your sphere of influence is definitely expanding it and your ability to affect more than the patients that you have your hands on is significantly greater. It’s exponential. As you work with people, do you find that you're spending more time on visions and mindsets instead of their KPIs or do you work together on some of those things?

The cool part about our organization is we have nine founders. When we first got together a long time ago, our first in-person mastermind, we rented the Airbnb in Chattanooga. It was nine practice owners that came down and we put up our financial metrics that fire the guys that were being into finance and that metrics said, "Let's get this stuff together. We're going to throw it up on the whiteboard and you're going to pick apart your practice." Through that process, that weekend, we went from, "We're just trying to help out our own practices with the power of the mastermind.” Every time somebody put the numbers up there, we would put them up and we turn around and like, "Please help. I don't know what's going on. I know there's something wrong, but I don't know where it is.”

They point it out and be like, "What's your length of stay?" I said, "Why isn't it higher?" It was like, "How do you know that number?" They pick it apart. Inside of a half hour, I know exactly what I need to do when I go home this weekend to get an improvement in my practice. For whatever weird reason, each of us specializes in something different. I had had a ton of experience. I'd done masterminds. I loved the vision stuff and I've seen the power of that in my practice. I teach that. You have founders that are experienced in finance and real estate. It’s setting up real estate deals and buying buildings so that you put your practice in it and the advantages of that.

Marketing and metrics, people that are expert in, "There's a ton of metrics you can look at, but what are the most important ones?" It’s pulling them out. Human resources so we have a guy that is amazing at hiring right people and putting systems in place to make sure that you're doing that properly. We didn't get trained on how to do that in PT School. Each of us all has our own corner, a world of business and physical therapy that we love to teach about. Yeah, that's how we separate the duties. I'll use some stuff about my KPIs and that stuff. If you had an in-depth question about it, I would kick it over to Arlan or one of our other founders.

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Is there anything else you want to say about vision in particular and its importance?

No matter what vision you said, we've talked about it, it's not important what vision you said. It's important that you have one. It's got to be clear and compelling. It has to have some finite numbers to it. It has to scare you a little bit. We've talked about that. That's what clear and compelling is. You've got to have a visual representation of that in your practice. In my practice, we have posters of our vision. You have to use that. That's a real tool. Every time we introduced somebody, every time we onboard somebody, every quarterly off-site, we have an all-day, quarterly offsite meeting, we're going to get this thing out and put it up there. We're going to pick it apart and say, "Where are we at? We're in year three and our way to year ten. Where are we supposed to be? What changes do we have to make?" It can't be a thing that you say, you put it in a drawer and never look at it again.

That's valuable. It’s exactly what you said and the same thing goes with values. If you have a vision and if you have values, that means nothing if they're not reiterated over and over again. People should have them memorized if you asked them any time what your values and vision are. They know what that means. It's not just a word. It's not just the vision. They know what they're doing to show that vision or to show the values that the company has. It's important that those things get practiced on a regular basis.

Core values are important. I teach that in our program too. The example that I give is Chipotle because it’s everywhere near you. It's a nationwide chain. I said to the person that was checking me out, "What's that thirteen?" He said, "That's our thirteen core values in our company." I said, "What are they?" I do this every time I go to Chipotle. I've never had someone been able to name more than three of them. It's important to have core values. It's important to have a vision, but you got to use it as a tool. When we teach the staff, I will call up a practice that we're working with and I'll say, "I need to talk to the front desk."

I’d say, "How many of the core values do you know of your company?" I know we know they have core values in place but having them isn't good enough. You've got to reinforce them. You've got to keep going back to it because you've got to hold yourself accountable to it. I've told everybody I know, not just my employees. You share this with your patients. You share this with your vendors. You share this with your referral sources, whether that's physicians or local small business partners. I'm trying to get as many people on board as possible to get me to where I'm going to get to. I've already made this so public that I almost have to do it at this point. I'm holding myself accountable to that. The power of making that public can be really scary.

If you do that, you will be amazed at the people that will come to your side to make sure that you get there. We share this stuff with our patients too. If you have a small private practice like with most people, that's the practice they have in one or two locations or four or five or something like that. Your patients are rooting for you. They want to help you out. I don't go a month where someone doesn't look at that poster in one of our offices and comes up. They said, "I have an idea." Sometimes the ideas aren't so great, but every once in a while, a patient will say, "I can help you out with that. I know this guy that might be able to help you out with real estate or I know this person that can help you get there" because if you have a good product, people want to help you. You have to give them the tools to do it. If they don't know where you're going, your employees but also including your patients, it's hard for them to help.

I love the value that you brought especially in regard to vision because I don't think we talked about it enough. Especially planting the flag, setting banners and putting that BHAG out there or your ideal scene and whatever you want to call it, putting it out there is fundamental to your success. If you don't know where you're going, then your team doesn't know where you're going and everyone's going their own different directions. When you can get people aligned to that vision and get the right people on the boat, people come to your aid. They help you out. They get you there. I appreciate it. Thank you so much for your time. If people want to get in touch with you, how would they do that?

I'm terrible at email. What I'm forced to do is I give out my cell phone number. If you call me, there's a good chance I won't pick it up. If you can leave me a voicemail, there's a good chance I won't listen to it. If you text me, there is a 100% chance that I will open it. My cell phone number is (610) 955-3718. If you text me and I've got your number, I will send you that ten-year vision that I have. It’s a PDF. It's a Google Doc that's in our Google account and you can take a look at that. That's probably the first thing that you need to look at to get excited about that. It shows you the structure and it can help trigger some ideas about where you want to set your ten-year mission. I've said it a ton of times. That's been one of the big factors in getting to me to where I am right now. Not to say that I know everything and I've got the perfect practice. I don't know that anybody has a perfect practice, but it's a lot better now than I used to be a few short years ago.

You set that up and maybe it goes back to Napoleon Hill's Think and Grow Rich. You put it out there and the universe starts working in your favor. Either internally you know that you have to change your ways in order to get to that point. You also need to come across the right people to get you where you want to go so things happen. It's magical and the more you can make it something if you can visualize it, if you can see it, smell it and know where you're going to be. “When I achieve this goal, I'm going to be at this place and it's going to feel like that.” Those kinds of visualization patterns really help out when you have a clear vision.

That's a huge factor. We've talked a ton about how we are working with clients. We're starting up another mastermind group. We don't do a lot of them. We only do three a year and we only accept twenty practices. That program is not for everybody. You have to apply to do it. If you apply, we're going to get on a call with you and evaluate your practice a little bit. It's a free consultation. Anybody's interested in that, they can go to NLPT BaseCamp, Next Level Physical Therapy, NLPTBaseCamp.com/apply and there'll be a quick form you fill out there. We'll send you an evaluation and answer a couple of quick questions about your practice to see that if it's a fit for you.

Do you also have a Facebook group page?

We have a Facebook page. Go on Facebook and put NLPT BaseCamp if you did a search there. The stipulation is you got to be a prior practice owner. If you're answering the three questions that we ask and jump with the group, there are almost 600 private practices that are in there now. That's an incredible resource. It's all free. There are tons of free information. I posted something about going into a physician's office and some tips on that. I got fifteen responses in the first five minutes. It's a responsive group. We're all trying to help each other out.

It's a cool thing that we've built and for anybody that's interested in getting a little bit of help with their private practice. I would definitely suggest that. The mastermind is coming up. We have our early bird rates. If you guys are interested in getting some more information about getting a group of people together and talking about the power of the mastermind, if you're looking for a way to accelerate whatever vision you have, you want some help with that, what we have dedicated the rest of our careers to doing is making the dreams of private practice owners come true.

You're talking to the right audience. I'm simply assuming, considering the nature of my podcast and the name of it, you're talking to a bunch of PT clinic owners. We should all be on board. Thanks for your time. I appreciate it, Travis.

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About Travis Robbins, PT

PTO 65 | Creating A VisionTravis grew up milking cows on the dairy farm that his great-great-grandfather started in the late 1800s in Upstate New York. All male Robbins have been self-employed ever since. He opened up his private 18 months after graduating from Ithaca College at the age of 24… this after having 9 different jobs in those 18 months.

He earned his Fellowship in the American Academy of Manual Physical Therapy through the Manual Therapy Institute His company, Robbins Rehabilitation, has won Best Physical Therapy Practice as voted by the readers of the Morning Call for the last 8 years. Robbins Rehab has also won the Healthcare Heroes award for its charitable donations of time and money in the Lehigh Valley and they won the “Best Places To Work” award for the small business category by the Lehigh Valley Business Association.

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