Being Creative in Private Practice with Nathan Hawkins and Aaron Potratz | FP 15

Being Creative in Private Practice with Nathan Hawkins and Aaron Potratz | FP 15

Are you stuck in the idea of what a private practice has to look like? Have you lost the ability to have more creativity? How can you be creative in meeting the goals of your practice?

In this podcast episode, Whitney Owens speaks with Nathan Hawkins and Aaron Potratz about being creative in private practice.

Meet Nathan Hawkins and Aaron Potratz

Nathan Hawkins is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Oregon. He is the owner of Life Encounter Counseling and the co-owner of Life Discovery Counseling Services – two private group counseling practices. Nathan maintains his own client caseload while also managing and supervising his counseling staff. He started out as a solo practitioner in 2004, expanded to a group practice in 2015, and started his second practice with his business partner, Nathan Hawkins, in 2016. Between the two businesses, he has 10 clinicians and one support staff.

Visit Nathan’s website and connect with him on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Aaron Potratz is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Oregon. He is the owner of Discover Counseling and co-owner of Life Discovery Counseling Services – two private group counseling practices. Aaron maintains his own client caseload while also managing and supervising his counseling staff. He started out as a solo practitioner in 2007, expanded to a group practice in 2015, and started his second practice with his business partner, Nathan Hawkins, in 2016. Between the two businesses, he has 10 clinicians and one support staff.

Visit Aaron’s website and connect with him on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Also, visit their Life Discovery Counseling Services website.

In This Podcast

Summary

  • Nathan and Aaron’s journey
  • Running 2 separate businesses in the same space
  • Meeting a need
  • Creative ideas

Nathan and Aaron’s journey

It’s rare for somebody to have this really similar vision. It’s like a reignition of everything you started doing in the first place.

Nathan started off as a solo practitioner but because of not naming his business after himself, he had a lot of push back. There was a reason he named his practice Life Encounter Counseling because he knew that he wanted to grow it to a Christian faith-based agency over time.

Aaron had this vision God had given him about doing a group practice and doing something bigger than himself. As a solo practitioner, he was looking for ways to partner with people until he met Nathan and their collective visions finally came to fruition.

Running 2 separate businesses in the same space

They structure their businesses to reflect payscales for their employees that are identical. Because they share a suite, if their employees do start comparing things, it is the same across the board.

Meeting a need

We trying to respond to God’s calling and if we’ve got the resources, just trying to be faithful and make those connections there.

In a densely populated part of town, there was a great need for Christian counselors and Aaron and Nathan were always asked for referrals, but they didn’t know anyone who could help. At the same time, they had Christian counselors who were looking for openings in their business, but they happened to be in that part of town that had a great need. Together they decided that they would create this new business and as of today, they have extended to 2 Life Discovery Counseling Services branches.

Creative ideas

A few years ago Nathan had developed this idea called The Fear Triangle, but it wasn’t till talking with Aaron that the idea really ignited. He is now working on an e-course for this idea. He will also be introducing hypnosis scripts on his website, focusing on relaxation and anxiety.

Aaron is really good at putting things into visual representation so that people can digest and comprehend things really easily, so he is working on putting together an e-course and some materials that can be downloaded.

Making time to be creative

As you are building things and growing your business you really have to take off some of these hats and pass them on. Look at the tasks that you are doing and see if you can pass them on to somebody that can do them faster, more efficiently or better than you. This can free you up to do some of the things that really excite you. Also, make sure that you automate as much as you can so that you are not spending all your time doing repetitive things.

Hiring from a faith-based perspective

We want to slow down and take our time to hire the right kind of people that are going to do very good clinical work, that are people of character, people that are grounded and people that are going to fit into this environment and really add to it in positive ways.

This takes a little longer to hire and the process is more thorough but in the end, it is is so worth it.

Books mentioned in this episode

Useful Links:

Meet Whitney Owens

Whitney Ownens | Build a faith-based practiceWhitney is a licensed professional counselor and owns a growing group practice in Savannah, Georgia. Along with a wealth of experience managing a practice, she also has an extensive history working in a variety of clinical and religious settings, allowing her to specialize in consulting for faith-based practices and those wanting to connect with religious organizations.

Knowing the pains and difficulties surrounding building a private practice, she started this podcast to help clinicians start, grow, and scale a faith-based practice. She has learned how to start and grow a successful practice that adheres to her own faith and values. And as a private practice consultant, she has helped many clinicians do the same. 

Thanks For Listening!

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Podcast Transcription

[WHITNEY]: The Faith in Practice podcast is part of the Practice of the Practice podcast network, a network of podcasts seeking to help you start, grow, and scale your practice. To hear other episodes like the Imperfect Thriving podcast, Bomb Mom podcast, Beta Male Revolution, or Empowered and Unapologetic, go to practiceofthepractice.com\network.
Welcome to the Faith in Practice podcast. This is Whitney Owens, your host recording live from Savannah, Georgia. The purpose of this podcast is to help you start, grow and scale your private practice with a faith-based perspective. Today you’re listening to episode number 15, Being Creative in Private Practice. Today I did an interview with Aaron Potratz and Nathan Hawkins who are both counselors out in Oregon. They did an awesome interview and I met these guys out in Colorado back over in Estes Park back in October of 2019 when we were at Killin’ It Camp. So, hoping they will attend again because it was such a good connection. They have such a great practice model that as soon as I heard about what they were doing, I was like, you’ve got to be on the podcast. So, I look forward to you hearing about that.
And what I want you to think about though is we do keep kind of stuck in the idea of what a private practice has to look like. Oh, are you going to do contractors or are you going to employees and what’s your splits going to be and what’s your percentages? And all those kinds of things we think about, and sometimes we get so stuck in our routine, we don’t have the ability to have more creativity, right? So sometimes we need to take a step back and consider how can we be creative in meeting the goals of the things that we want to do in our practice. So that was something I loved about Aaron and Nathan; is that they first became friends and they saw that they had something in common. Their passion for counseling, their passion for opening a practice and their love for God. And so, they use that to their advantage in helping one another and their individual practices.
But then there was a location on the other side of town or really a need on the other side of town. So, they came together and met that need for some Christian counseling. That is just so beautiful. So, they have just a really unique model in the sense that they’re in the same building, but they’re each running their own practices alongside each other even though they’re doing the same thing, same contracts and those types of things. But then they have a practice they both own on the other side of town and I just love their teamwork and their creativity and even beyond their practice they’re doing some other awesome work. So really loved meeting these guys. I want to encourage you to, when you’re thinking about meeting people in private practice, just get out there and go to these conferences because that is where you make some really great connections and I loved being at Killin’It Camp. We’re going to do it again in October and you can check that out on the Practice of the Practice website, about a bunch private practice owners really kicking it and getting into high gear and moving their practices forward and being able to grow and learn together.
And the friends that I made at Killin’It Camp are still people that I’m talking two months later. The people I even met through mastermind groups or Slow Down School are people that I talk to almost on a daily basis and these have been some of my best relationships. So, if you are feeling kind of lonely in private practice, make sure that you find conferences to attend. Get on the Practice of the Practice website, see the stuff that we’re doing, see the stuff that specifically. I’m doing, I’m running masterminds and I’ll be speaking at Killin’It Camp more than likely in October of 2020. So, we’d love to have you there. Well let’s just jump into the episodes that you can meet Aaron and Nathan.
All right, welcome to the Faith in Practice podcast. Excited to have you here today. Please go on your device or program of choice for listening to podcasts and give us a rating. We would love that. This is the Faith in Practice podcast where I help you learn how to start, grow and scale your private practice with a faith-based perspective. And today I have some good friends here on the show. I’m excited to be interviewing Nathan Hawkins and Aaron Potratz. And so, I’m going to give you a little bit of information on each one of them and you get to know one at a time and then we’ll cut all checks and more together.
Nathan Hawkins is a licensed professional counselor, Oregon. He’s the owner of Life Encounter Counseling and co-owner of Life Discovery Counseling Services; two private practice counseling agencies. Nathan maintains his own caseload, also manages and supervises his counseling staff. He started out as a solo practitioner 2014, expanded to a group in 2015 and then he started his second practice in 2016 with Aaron. Between these two businesses, he has 10 clinicians and one support staff. I also, to say about Nathan and Aaron, I met them both at Killin’It Camp back in October and these guys like shared their story with me and it was so awesome, which is why I’m having them on the podcast. So, I’d love for Nathan to kind of share with you a little bit about his journey outside of his bio here.
[NATHAN]: Yeah, sure. So actually there, I probably got a typo in sending that to you because I started in 2004 but, [crosstalk]. Yeah, I think the thing maybe I would add that, in the beginning I felt very different about and kind of a risk and saying was that I started as life encounter counseling when I was a solo practitioner because in my mind I was not going to stay that way. I was going to have a Christian faith-based agency that was going to build over time. So, it’s been really exciting to grow and have everything come together. But to be honest with you, in the beginning there was some resistance. People would look at me like, “Well, why don’t you just like, I’m calling myself Jamie, blah, blah, blah, counseling. Why don’t you do that?” Like almost like, I mean too big for my britches or something.
[WHITNEY]: Yeah. So, tell us more about this idea of how did you decide to integrate faith into counseling? Why can’t you start a practice that has a faith component?
[NATHAN]: I think there’s a, well, first of all in Oregon, there’s a huge need and it’s kind of an underlying one. There are aspects of it that are upfront and overt, but there’s folks for example, that want a faith-based counselor, but they don’t they kind of don’t want their friends to know they’re going to one. So, it’s, and when I was at Killin’It Camp, I learned how much of a big deal that was because there’s, in other places in the country, it’s kind of like, of course you’re a Christian and you go to church. And that’s something out here in Portland. You would not bring that up upfront. I would say 40% of the people that come in to see me are Christian, intentionally coming in to see me because of the faith-based component. But 60% they all, everybody knows it, but 60% are coming in just because I’m a counselor.
[WHITNEY]: Yeah, I understand the whole idea of the culture because well here it’s like the opposite. Like I’m down in Georgia in the Bible Belt, and it’s like if you don’t go to church, then you’re nobody in society here. Like it is a cultural thing. It’s crazy the difference it can have on different parts of the country.
[NATHAN]: Yeah. Well, and there’s, I think I’m, so I’m on the Focus on the Family website and I think I’m one of like probably 10 people on that referral site that’s somewhere near Oregon. Like but it’s, there’s just not a lot of folks who will drive in from, I’ve got some folks driving in from a hundred miles away. So, it’s just a different and a huge part of the culture out here that folks have to deal with. And the other component too is that a lot of Christian counselors don’t want to integrate Biblical value and they don’t want to be overt about it at all and just want to kind of be known that I’m a Christian just like you and let’s just do normal counseling. And I’m kind of known for being a bit more integrative. So, I think, —
[WHITNEY]: Yeah, I’m sure that really draws people to you.
[NATHAN]: Yeah, it definitely comes into play. Aaron’s very similar to that.
[WHITNEY]: Yeah. Yeah. Well let me introduce you guys also to Aaron here. Aaron Potratz is a licensed professional counselor also in Oregon. He’s the owner of Discovery Counseling and co-owner of Life Discovery Counseling services. He maintains his own caseload and also manages and supports his counseling staff. He did start out solo in 2007, expanded to the group in 2015 and then started the second with Nathan in 2016. Between the two businesses, he also has 10 clinicians and one support staff. So, Aaron, you want to share a little bit about kind of your journey and starting out solo and maybe talk a little bit about how you make faith a part of your counseling?
[AARON]: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for having me here. I’m really excited to be here and do this and I was really grateful to have met you at a Killin’It Camp. I got started a little bit differently than Nathan. I had this vision in my head. Really looking back, it was a vision that God had given me of having a group and doing something just much bigger than just me, but it was just an idea. And so, when I would talk with people about it, I was an individual clinician, I would talk with some colleagues about it and I think I probably came across as a little crazy at that point just coming out of grad school. But I started out as an individual practitioner looking for ways to, I guess to partner with people connect with people, you know, because it’s lonely as an individual practitioner.
And actually, came across Nathan in a consultation group probably about seven or eight years ago. And we just started connecting at that point and sharing some of our ideas and some of our dreams. And that’s where I think his vision for a larger group practice and my vision that God had given me privately really came into fruition there and became something that was real. And that was really, I think where the two of us began. At least for me really it was helpful to have another person to bounce ideas off of and to share things that had just been on my heart and things that I’ve been doing, but I didn’t really get much feedback from other people about, other colleagues about and felt like I was really able to hone some of those things. So, the way I integrate faith in practice, I’ve always thought about it as like a pre-evangelism sort of a thing whereas counselors, our main goal is really to treat issues and to help people to work through whatever distress or struggles that they’re going through.
And a lot of people that come to my practice are not Christians and they don’t want faith a part of that at all. And that’s fine with me. Other people do want that integration and I’m happy to do the integration like Nathan does as well. But for the people that don’t, I really want to help them help create space in their lives for some of these ideas of, you know, I’m imperfect, I’m not living up to a standard that I know is there and that’s really difficult for me, but there’s a space there for grace and it can actually be okay to not live up to my own standards. Now obviously from a Christian perspective, you know, we can fill in some of those gaps with Biblical language, but I just want to help people to be okay with those things so that maybe eventually down the road somebody else in their life might have some more explicit language for them and they’re ready and able to receive.
[WHITNEY]: Yeah, gosh, the word that keeps coming to me is encounter. Even the, obviously that’s the titles of your counseling practices, for Nathan there. But like this encounter that the two of you guys had and how it almost seems ordained that you’re in this consultation group together, right. And then people come into your office and they’re having an encounter with God, even if it’s not explicit, you know?
[NATHAN]: Oh yeah.
[WHITNEY]: And how God ordains so many encounters.
[NATHAN]: There’s actually a lot more of that story to make it succinct. We basically kind of, both of us were I don’t want to speak for you Aaron, but in a place of, you get kind of isolated by yourself, just doing, practicing over and over, just dealing with voicemails back and forth. I’m sure a lot of the listeners know what I’m talking about because you know, as you’re trying to coordinate care. So, we, that’s why we kind of, we got together not really randomly, but specifically within a faith-based cohort, a supervision group. And as Aaron mentioned kind of before and as Aaron and I were getting to know each other, he had mentioned, I had already in my mind been looking for a little bit more space because I wanted to try to bring in an intern to see if maybe that would be just a revenue stream, but also I really wanted to teach and so I shared that with Aaron and Aaron’s eyes lit up.
He was also, at his office, they had just started construction outside his back window and was going to go on for a lengthy amount of time. So, he needed, he was interested in a new office and just so happened “providentially” that the office below us at that time opened up and it had three offices and then yeah, that’s about my succinct model. Everything just exploded from there.
[WHITNEY]: Love it, love it. I was just talking to another counselor yesterday on the phone. She was telling me like, “I don’t know, this space just opened up.” And I’m like, “Girl, that is God. Take the space.” Like, you know, it’s just amazing how things just fall into place. You know, when you’re following God and you’re trying to build your practice and you’re waiting on different things to happen and you make these encounters. I love that. So, can you all talk a little bit about kind of how you each individually run your practices and maybe how you came together and started a practice? I guess, Aaron, if you want to start with that and then if Nathan wants to jump in on anything you leave out.
[AARON]: Yeah, yeah, certainly. I want my practice to be a place for both clients and counselors to come where they can discover a lot of things about themselves and about life and about one another that maybe they had always been interested in or that they’ve struggled with. That’s kind of where the name came from. I wanted it to be a place of safety and comfort and peace where you can really just kind of explore all these things safely. And so, I’m really careful about the people that I hire. I’ve got, I would say, fairly high standards for the type of clinician that I’m wanting to hire and want my clients to be people that are willing to work hard, but within that hard work, there’s just a lot of encouragement and a lot of support and a lot of uh, just togetherness in that process.
So, I think I try to make my business sort of revolve around that idea. Another component of that I think is hope. That’s a huge part of life for me and so I think hope is something that a lot of people really need and it drives us through difficult times and it keeps us going. And so that’s another component I think that I’ve really tried to instill both in my practice and in my clinical work; it’s that idea of hope. So, when I started connecting with Nathan, I all of a sudden, I mean, I’m a big proponent of hope, but it’s almost as though this whole new horizon of hope opened up with him. Like, there are these new ideas, new things that I could do where I could expand beyond just my myself and my own reach into reaching many, many more people through these other clinicians. And even now, you know, we’re on this podcast, you know, reaching other people that way. So, over the course of the last several years, God has just been opening my eyes to bigger things, more horizons of being able to reach more people and do this work and have more impact.
[NATHAN]: Yeah, I have to add in there that one of the things that I learned a bit later, because it was really exciting to have somebody that had, I mean I can’t tell you how it’s just as rare to have somebody that has a very similar vision and you get really excited and passionate as you share that and just, and it’s like, it becomes like this light of fire that you want to just like, “Oh boy, this is exciting. It’s like a re-ignition of everything you started doing in the first place.”
[AARON]: Yep. We have to sometimes be careful about our ideas because we’ll have so many and we have to like sort of tame it down. That’s how exciting.
[NATHAN]: Yeah. And well the other component to that I think that I’m really thankful for Aaron about in particular is that, you know, what we have is really not normal, in the sense that when you are partnering and also sharing a practice in a suite, there is all kinds of things that I believe could go wrong. And Aaron always approaches everything with a lot of humility and teachability. I hope, I hope that’s returned to him in the same, but we basically are just, we just share that perspective but also the respect of going, “Okay, you don’t want to do it that way? Let’s do it this way.” And to get a little bit into the nuts and bolts as an example, we structure our businesses to reflect pay scales and that kind of thing for our employees that are identical so that there’s no, if the employees do start comparing things back and forth because we’re literally sharing a suite that’s not going to go sideways. So, there’s a lot more of this talked about and dealt with I think on an average day than probably we even take into consideration.
[AARON]: And I guess to answer the question about the shared business life discovery, we just saw a need. You know, a lot of people were coming to us and they’re saying, “Hey, do you know of anybody in this part of town that does Christian counseling?? It’s a very densely populated part of town and we didn’t really know of anybody that we could refer to there. And then somehow at the same time, other people that were in grad school were coming to us saying, “Hey, we hear that you guys have these businesses. Are you hiring? You know we’re Christian counselors, do you have any openings for us?” And they happen to be in those parts of town that had a great need. So, we just decided together, “Hey, let’s start another company together and we’ll sort of put two and two together. We’ll find these counselors a job by creating this business and connect them with these clients that are needing Christian counseling in this area that those counselors happen to be at.”
[WHITNEY]: It almost like gives me an image, like a big road sign. Like God was like, “Yeah, I’m pointing you in this direction. Come on now. Here is all you need. Here’s some people. They live in this side of town.” Like I love it. So, I guess, so you each have your own practice, but you all share office space with your individual practices and then you have another practice on the other side of town that you do together. Is that right?
[NATHAN]: Yeah, we have actually, our other practice has two locations. So, we are a shared suite at which we’re, you know, like my Life Encounter and Aaron’s Life Discovery is in a little community called Tigard, which is kind of central inside of Portland. So, on the far West, closer to the ocean it’s not really close to the ocean at all, but we have a site over there and then on the East side closer to the mountains, which are not close at all, we have another practice over there. We didn’t want to, we set them up kind of distant from us on purpose. After identifying that need, we also realized we didn’t want to compete with our own selves because that seemed weird. So, I don’t know if you want to add anything Aaron.
[AARON]: Yeah, no, that’s exactly right. Just to be able to branch out, and I think it initially was just meeting the need in that one area and last year we added another site because there was a need. And that’s kind of how it’s grown. We’re sort of looking at it like we’re servicing the need around ourselves here and the Tigard area and then the other needs that are popping up around the rest of the city or the rest of the state. We’re just trying to, you know, respond to God’s calling and if we’ve got the resources and the connections, just trying to be faithful and make those connections there.
[WHITNEY]: Yes, I love the creativity that you bring to the table and that it’s easy to just kind of keep doing what you’re doing, but you all saw a need somewhere and you were willing to kind of take a risk and do it together. You know, and I really admire that. We were talking before the show. I kind of think of you all as the creative guys, you know, you have all these ideas and you’re willing to actually ideas and get out there. And I love that. So that’s what I really enjoyed about meeting you all; is that you all provide something different than the traditional sense of private practice. So that’s really awesome. So, I would love to like touch base a little bit more on this idea of the creative ideas that you all have a lot going on. So, share a little bit more about what you’re kind of doing, creativity outside of your practice. And Nathan, maybe if you want to share first and then Aaron.
[NATHAN]: Sure. Outside of the practice, meaning just in regular life or do you mean?
[WHITNEY]: Yeah, it’s like, I know we’ve talked about some of the e-courses or [crosstalk] things like that. I would love to hear you guys kind of share, like what was that kind of started that idea and where are you in the process of that idea?
[NATHAN]: Yeah, I had, a few years ago I developed this thing that eventually became called the fear triangle. And it took, it was a kind of a long time coming, but then bringing, I had some people give me a lot of feedback, like, “Oh, that’s, that’s incredible. Well, you got to get that out there.” And then and I kind of just, for whatever reason, it just didn’t feel right. I didn’t, I wrote some stuff down and so, and sharing it with Aaron we, you know, it was just kind of the same old thing. Everything starts to ignite. Aaron brought an additional perspective to everything. And one thing about Aaron is he’s extremely organized and so he started putting things into perspective and writing a bit more. We were like, “Hey man, this is, we have something here. This is where people are. People really like this and it makes sense to them.”
And so, we are going to be doing an e-course. It’s coming up. It’s going to, it’s actually going to be quite a bit of work so it will be coming on the fear triangle. And then there’s, the other component is that, so I’m trained in hypnosis and you can get some stuff on YouTube and click in there and do it. There are, from my perspective and in the faith-based community, there are some, there are actually, I think some dangers with hypnosis. You can, it can be bad. There can be some bad things that happen. I don’t know, that I just get on YouTube and listen to somebody advertising me. I feel that feels a little dangerous.
So, I’m going to be creating some hypnosis. They’re called scripts on my website. It’ll all eventually be on my website at lifeencounter.com, and just kind of high-level stuff like relaxation. I might do something to help people stop smoking, but stuff like that, that’s relaxation, it seems to be a huge one and an anti-anxiety. And hypnosis is very effective in helping people calm down. If you, honestly, if you’ve never been hypnotized and there is somebody that you trust that you might want to check it out, I’m not joking with you. If you can be hypnotized for like, man, 10 minutes, maybe 20 minutes, and it feels like you’ve slept for hours. It’s crazy.
[WHITNEY]: That sounds pretty nice. So, I’m guessing you’ve had this experience before?
[NATHAN]: Yeah. When you’re getting trained there’s a lot of supervision in it. So, you have to let it happen to you; that you’re kind of a Guinea pig. It’s the same thing with other therapies. But you’ll learn in, that you do it on other victims and then you become the victim. That’s what I come from. You know, that whole thing. So yeah. Anyway.
[WHITNEY]: That’s awesome. Well that sounds so interesting. Well, that information is really great and we’ll put everything in the show notes that you all can go to the website and check that out as Nathan kind of produces more material. And I love how you’re talking about it from a faith-based perspective and how helpful it can be and moving people forward in their lives. That’s awesome. So, Aaron, anything you want to add to some of the extra things you’re doing, the creative side of you?
[AARON]: Yeah, absolutely. Again, it’s kind of the same idea of you know, there’s a need. I hear from people, I’m kind of known as the whiteboard guy. Like people love my whiteboard. I do drawings. They’re not fantastic drawings, but they’re simple drawings because I’m a visual person. So, I take these ideas or these concepts in my head and I try to put them into visual representations that people can digest and comprehend really easily. So, a few of these things, I’ve talked about boundaries for many years and since I’ve been a clinical supervisor, I’ve learned a lot. I have somebody who supervises me and just some of that conceptual and organizational stuff I found people really respond to. So, I’m just trying to take all this stuff, boundaries, supervision, fear triangle stuff, organize it, put some material around it and release it again just so that I can, I guess, meet the needs of my audience.
You know, people are telling me this would be really helpful for them and it’s not just with me one on one in my office, you know, because my time is limited. I can only see so many people per week in my office. But if I put some stuff out there as an e-course or as materials that people can download, I can reach more people. And that’s really my goal. I want to help as many people as possible. And the whole creative side is just so exciting because there’s so many different things that you can do with stuff to reach as many people as possible and just to continue to be motivated to sort of scratch that itch.
[WHITNEY]: Yeah, that’s great. I mean if the listeners are anything like I am, I’m sitting here thinking how do these guys do all this, right? I mean you’re coming out with new materials, you’re spending time talking together, being creative, and then you’re also managing practices and you probably have families that you’re caring for. So, I’m curious as we talk about creativity, like how are you creating time in your lives for all of these things? Like what systems do you have in place to manage it all?
[AARON]: That’s a great question. Actually, Nathan just said to me this morning, I don’t know, literally this morning, “I don’t how you do all this. Where do you have time to stay on top of it?” And my answer is sometimes I’m just not sleeping. My mind, I mean I sleep generally pretty well, but once my mind gets going, I grab onto an idea and I just keep going with it. And that’s, I mean it’s kind of draining at times, but it’s also really exciting. I just have a lot of creative energy.
[WHITNEY]: That sounds like you need some prognosis there.
[AARON]: Probably, [crosstalk].
[NATHAN]: Actually, and what I told Aaron was is that I figured out actually how he has more time is that actually secretly he’s actually not seeing any clients during the day. He just [inaudible 00:27:23] all day long anyway.
[AARON]: I close my door and I work on these creative ideas. Now, I think it’s a lot of organization and automation, a lot of sort of routines and procedures. You know, as you are building things and growing your business, you really got to take off some of these hats and pass them off. That’s something I’ve learned in the last couple of years particularly from Joe and his Practice of the Practice podcast; is you got to take, look at the tasks that you’re doing and see if you can pass them off to somebody else that can do them faster or more efficiently or better than you so that, that can free you up to work on some of these other things that really excite you.
So I’ve really learned how to pass some of those off to my assistant, to some of my teammates and then also put into practice some of these procedures, these automation technologies and things internally so that my business is running itself and that frees up my time to do some of these other things. And just staying disciplined, really, it’s just a lot about being focused on what your goals are and prioritizing and doing this again.
[NATHAN]: Yeah. I think one of the things that I do is we have a date night that occurs. It’s been happening for 20 years now. It’s Tuesdays. I will not be later home than at four or five o’clock. And so, it just as a fact and so once since that’s scheduled and literally everything in my life gets scheduled around that, and then on the, I’m not directly in the office on Fridays and avoiding work at all costs on Saturday and Sunday except for now I’m doing emails and sneaks in. But, —
[AARON]: I’m developing some routines for that.
[NATHAN]: Yeah, exactly. Aaron can automate that. That’s, that should be like, that’s what it is, all the A’s in his name should stand for. But, because it’s funny. He’ll be like, he came to me the last couple of weeks ago and he goes, “Okay, Nathan, I know you’re not going to like this, but I got a new app that you need to do because we’re going to coordinate the free world with this.” He didn’t say that, but that’s what it felt like. So, I still need to get to that out. And by the way so Aaron’s really good at that. One book that I read a long time ago that’s helpful is From Good to Great by, I don’t know if it’s John Collins, but I know his last name is Collins. He was the Dean of the Stanford Business School and he has a lot, I mean, there’s still a lot of good principles in that book that kind of can help you kind of disseminate what kinds of like, what to look for in yourself as you move and how to be honest with yourself and how to grow beyond you and take and how to look at your, like the way a successful grounded person looks at their employees.
So, and Aaron raised something earlier that I think is really important and that’s it. When you’re, I mean, you’re doing your practice and moving from something solo where you have employees, that same passion that you have to work with your clients, you also have an opportunity to work with your clinicians that you bring in, which I think is very different in a faith-based practice than just going to a group practice and being in, showing up and clocking in. Because these folks are coming together because their relationship with the Lord and wanting to somehow figure out how to impart the good news to the world in a safe and in our field, a non-proselytizing manner. So being able to talk back and forth about that is awesome.
[WHITNEY]: Yeah. I love that you’re bringing that up. Actually, I want to touch on that here as we kind of start to come to a close of this idea of hiring and hiring with a faith-based perspective in mind. Curious what you all have to say about the idea of, do you feel like hiring with the faith-based practice is different than when you’re hiring clinicians at a non-faith-based practice? And how is that different? Aaron, maybe if you want to touch on that.
[AARON]: Yeah. You know we really wrestled with this for quite a bit and even just recently, Nathan hired a couple more people and we were kind of working through this. And we talked a bit about this at Killin’It Camp and I know Whitney on one of your recent Facebook Live videos you talked about this as well and that’s been really helpful for us. And that is really, I think the idea about trying to slow down and take a more of a long-term perspective with hiring. You know, there’s a difference between contractors and employees, W2’s and 1090s. We both have W2’s because we want a little bit more control over how we do things that are closer to our brand and our company’s values than with just a contractor. And so from that perspective, I think we definitely want to slow down and we want to take our time to hire the right kind of people that are going to do very good work, that are people of character, people that are grounded and people that are going to fit into this environment and really add to it in really positive ways.
And, you know, that unfortunately has taken a little longer to hire. I would say maybe the interview process is a little bit more thorough, I would say definitely more worrisome, because we worry about the people that we’re hiring. We want to make sure we get the right people. But the return has been amazing. We just had our fourth annual company party; we do a joint one and it was fantastic. All the people got along, they really said they enjoyed it. It’s like you can just turn and whoever happens to be sitting next to you and have a fantastic conversation and walk away feeling like these are great people that I’m working with. So that’s definitely an added benefit even though there’s some drawbacks to it.
[WHITNEY]: I love it. Yeah, just even recently, and I’ve to talk about this a little bit. I had lost someone on our staff like two months ago and just kind of looking back at the process of hiring and what am I doing and how am I hiring and how am I leading out. And I probably should have known from the beginning that she wasn’t really the right fit, but I just wanted to move forward. And she had such good clinical skills, but the faith base was not the same as the rest of us, you know? And so, I totally get that and slowing down on the front end, but even with her loss, somehow, I brought the team together even more. And there’s just something so special. You talking about your company party. We’re having ours tomorrow night and so super excited about so that all like each other, you know. We’re actually friends because we all have similar values and thoughts and it’s just a really special thing when you can create a team like that. It’s like you’re a little baby. You dream came true.
[NATHAN]: Yeah, totally true. And one thing to add that, so it’s interesting having that separate company thing, right? So, one of Aaron’s people I was hanging out with and he was just really happy with working with Aaron and it’s, before I could tell Aaron that he texted me that one of my people told him that this was her dream job. And it was just, like really cool. I mean, I can’t tell you how exciting that that is to hear that because you are like, “Thank God that something’s working here.” Like I thought, I’m not just dreaming about it.
[WHITNEY]: That’s beautiful. I actually had another employee whose husband had gotten a new job or was, had lost his job and he was looking for a new job and she was like, “I’m going to have to leave and this has been the best job I’ve ever had.” And I was like, “Oh no.” And so of course [crosstalk] that’s how a job would open up locally for her husband. It actually did and she stayed. Thank goodness. [crosstalk] the nicest job I had had in ten years.
[AARON]: That is one of the hard things about us. You know, we got to, as business owners, we got to sort of hold our employees a little bit loosely, because life is going to change and people may come and go. But in some ways, you know, we care, we invest in our people and we care about them and so even when it’s on good terms and they leave, it’s still is a, is hard because you feel like you’re losing a little piece of yourself. But I just chalk it up too, and that’s our culture and the environment we’ve created and I’d rather have that than some of those hard feelings.
[WHITNEY]: Yeah, most definitely. Well, here we’re closing out. I just want to ask what I always ask on the podcast. What do you feel like Christian counselors need to understand better or need to know?
[NATHAN]: I guess I can start with that. I think you need to know, at least here on the West coast that if a person is coming to you because you’re a Christian counselor, they are interested in what your thoughts are biblically. That doesn’t mean that they want to have them put on them or shoved onto them. But I can’t tell you, I’ve had folks come to me because they’ve heard that I’ll talk about the Bible and they were with a Christian counselor before who refused to because they didn’t feel like it was ethical, which I think honestly is crazy because I think it is ethical. We all have biases. It just is what it is. And so, I guess that’s what I would encourage folks in.
[NATHAN]: Yeah, and I’d just like to read a quote that Joe read on one of his podcasts from Jim Rohn and I’ve loved it. I wrote it down and it stuck with me. And it’s that ‘Your level of success will never exceed your level of personal development because success is something you attract by the person you become.’ And so, as a Christian counselor, I think character really matters. The person that you are, even the clinical skills that you have sort of come out of your character. And so, the person that you become, I think really does draw people in and it has an impact on them, maybe even more than your clinical skills. So, I just try to encourage Christian counselors to really continue developing themselves as a person, growing in their relationship with God, and I think out of that a lot of really good things will happen.
[WHITNEY]: I love that quote. I don’t know how I’ve missed that on Joe’s podcast. I’m going to have to get that quick. Yeah, that’s beautiful. Yeah, that is, it is so, so true that if we’re not doing our own work, we can’t take clients to that deeper level. Well, guys, it’s been so awesome to have you on the podcast today and look forward to all your stuff coming out and hearing more from you guys in the future.
[NATHAN]: Well, thank you.
[AARON]: Thanks for having us and thanks for all the work you’re doing.
[WHITNEY]: Thanks.
Thank you for listening to the Faith in Practice podcast. If you love this podcast, please rate and review on iTunes or your favorite podcast player. If you liked this episode and want to know more, check out the Practice of the Practice website. Also, there you can learn more about me, options for working together, such as individual and group consulting, or just shoot me an email, whitney@practiceofthepractice.com. Would love to hear from you.
This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. This is given with the understanding that neither the host, Practice of the Practice, or the guests are providing legal, mental health, or other professional information. If you need a professional, you should find one.

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