Do you have a specialty within your business? Have you ever thought about extending that specialty into an e-course? What big ideas are you working on at the moment?
In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks with David Morgan about how he went beyond his practice and started an online anger management course.
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Meet David Morgan
David Morgan is the Director of Long Island Behavioral Health and the co-founder of Anger Management U. He is a licensed clinical social worker with over 18 years of experience in private practice and he is passionate about anger management. His goal is to teach anger management skills on a global level
David Morgan’s Story
Growing up David struggled with inattention, had low frustration tolerance and anger was an issue. He received lots of mixed messages about anger and aggression because there was a lack of understanding about the subject. Even though he had a lot of friends, anger, and apathy was a defense mechanism for him.
In college, when David had more control over his environment, felt better about sports and a lot more positive, he did a better job of managing his anger. Because of his own experience, this really propelled him to developing these programs and write books
In This Podcast
In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks with David Morgan about why he chose this specific niche, techniques to use in anger management and how he launched his e-course.
Looking Through The Anger Management Lens
A lot of the times we see kids as angry but we don’t really see what’s behind the anger.
- Try to have boundaries with schedules
- Change the conversation around anger and look at what could be causing it, try to understand where they are coming from
The Core Principles of Anger Management
Many people think anger management is only for people that are incarcerated or on probation or to satisfy a court mandate. And that’s not true.
- Communication skills
- Stress Management skills
- Emotional Intelligence skills
These are all skills anyone can benefit from.
Primary and Secondary Emotions
If you look at anger management as a pyramid, at the tip of the pyramid is anger and then there’s the primary emotion that comes before that. And then below that is the unmet need.
If you’re feeling angry it means you’re feeling something else and then there’s also a need for you that is not being met. And that is what’s causing that overreaction.
Techniques to Use When Feeling Anger
- Try to pause and understand what you’re feeling
- Take a time out
- Listen to the other person
- Identify primary emotions
- Communicate emotions
- Accept responsibility
- Focus on what you can control
- Work on compromises
Launching the Curriculum
If you have a big idea and you want to go beyond your practice, you have to start carving out time to work on these big ideas.
- Schedule time every week to work on your big ideas
- Write out all your content
Some Wise Words
It’s okay if it’s not perfect, just put it out there.
- It’s okay to fail, don’t be afraid to fail
- Embrace your imperfections
- You can’t do everything yourself, delegate your tasks
Books by David Morgan
Books Mentioned in This Episode
- How to Rank Higher in Google with Jessica Tappana | PoP 356
- Killin’It Camp
- Practice of the Practice Blog
- Free Downloadable Resources
- Register to attend Webinars
- Next Level Practice
- Apply for the Big Ideas Mastermind
Meet Joe Sanok
Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners that are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.
Thanks For Listening!
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[JOE] This is the Practice of the Practice podcast with Joe Sanok, session number 357.
Welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast. I am Joe Sanok, your host. I’m so glad you’re here. If you are driving in car, raise your hand. If you’re working out right now, raise your hand. Well, that would look weird. If you’re in the gym, you raise your hand and if you’re maybe going for a walk, keep doing that. If you’re doing dishes and hanging out or your kids are taking a nap and being a nap-prenuer well done. I’ve done all those things while listening to podcasts and you know, it’s going to make a difference. And it may not be my voice, maybe somebody else’s. No, no.
I hope this podcast really makes a difference and you know, it’s fun to see people really growing and scaling quickly and bringing it back to you what they learn from our great guests here on the podcast. It’s so awesome. You know, if you haven’t been over to practiceofthepractice.com blog in a while, I want to just read you some of the recent blog posts. So, we have a bunch of guest bloggers that, they are just practitioners that want to give back to our community and they’ll write some amazing posts. So, let me just read some of the titles of these. We’ve got, ‘How to start a private practice if you struggle with perfectionism’, ‘Health insurance’, ‘How to charge a no-show’, and ‘Do you need another LLC?’ That was actually one of the podcasts recently, ‘The three E’s of every long-lasting business’, ‘Six things I learned after hiring a virtual assistant’, ‘How I launched big ideas’.
We’ve got our monthly roundup of posts and every month I post my income on there to show you exactly how and where I make money. My first month, I want to say I made $1,100, showed you exactly how in private practice I made money. And then you’ll see over time as I started doing consulting, mastermind groups, other things. I want to say we had one of our 1st $50,000 a month in 2018 or 19, I’d have to click through. But you can watch that progression and see how it just keeps growing in certain areas. And you can do it too. I’m a regular guy in Northern Michigan. There’re so many things that, you know, we think about, you know, it’s out of our league or somebody else just struck gold with that. But you know, honestly, it’s doing this podcast when maybe I didn’t feel like doing it.
It’s meeting other influencers and going after opportunities, and just keeping at it while also saying what’s the best use of my time. That book, The One Thing is one book that I keep going back to and Jay Papasan, I’m actually going to be able to have drinks with him and his wife when I’m down in Austin in March. And I’m so excited about it. Like I got to know him, a TEDx and he’s now become someone that I can bounce ideas off of. And you never know where this road is going to take you and where you’re going to meet other people that can help you continue to grow. So, if you’re looking to continue to grow, we have so many things that are free or cheap for you to check out. If you haven’t checked out our resources over at practiceofthepractice.com/resources, we have over 30 free eBooks, resources, checklists. They’re going to help you grow.
We’ve also got free webinars coming up. It’s a masterclass that’s all going to be about how do you go from zero to over a 100k a year in less than two years. And so, we walked through month by month, week by week, exactly what you do. So, those next masterclasses are coming up soon. You can register for those at practiceofthepractice.com/webinars. Also, our next Next Level Practice group, that’s our membership community for people that are starting and growing a practice. So, you might kind of be all the way up to adding a clinician in your practice, but you’re in that kind of startup phase. Those are opening up only four times a year now and so you’re going to want to jump into it if you want. If you want to jump in and that’s going to be over a practiceofthepractice.com/invite. We’re also taking applications for our Big Ideas Mastermind group.
This is for people that want to launch a podcast, an e-course. Your practice’s probably going great and you’re saying, “I want to do something more that will level up my income, my influence, my innovation and my impact. I want to do something big.” We want to have you be one of those eight people, if that’s you. And then another thing that might be for you is Killin’It camp. That’s where we are bringing together our community, where we’re getting together learning how do you kill it in private practice? We might think of this as a retreat or as kind of a mastermind community coming together or a conference in whichever resonates with you.
We’re bringing people together in Colorado, really cheap so that you can have food taken care of, lodging taken care of, and you can focus on your practice for three days with a bunch of awesome, cool people. So, really excited about all that’s going on. Kind of each thing is aimed at maybe a different phase of practice. If you’re confused at all, hey just drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org and if you’re not sure what to do next, I’ll point you in the right direction.
Today on the show we have David Morgan. I have loved seeing David continue to grow and level up and just launch things. He was in one of our Next Level Mastermind groups and it’s been incredible to see all that he’s done to grow and scale. And in fact, and I talk about this in the interview, his children’s book, ‘How to tame the anger monster’, Oh, I probably didn’t say that exactly correct. My seven-year-old daughter loves it and it has taught her so many skills to just regulate her own emotions. I can’t recommend that book high enough if you have your own kids, let alone if you work with kids.
And so, ‘Taming the anger monster’, it’s this anger monster training guide for kids and it’s so cool. We’re going to talk about that on the interview. We’re going to talk about his practice and how he grew that in a very competitive market in New York. And then we’re also going to talk about him launching Anger Management U, which is his e-course around anger management. You can see this guy has a bit of a specialty, and you know, it just shows the power of having a specialty and how well you can drill in and just offer amazing content if you have that specialty. So, without any further ado, I give you David Morgan.
Well, today in the Practice of the Practice podcast, we have David Morgan. David is the co-founder of Anger Management U. He’s a licensed clinical social worker with over 18 years of experience in private practice and he’s passionate about anger management. His goal is to teach anger management skills on a global level. David, welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast.
[DAVID MORGAN] Thanks Joe. I’m psyched to be here.
[JOE] I am so psyched to have you. I just got to start with, my daughter loves your Anger Monster Training Book. Like every night it’s like, do you want to read your books? Do you want to do this? Like she would pick that over the iPad if the iPad, were an option. So, —
[DAVID] Wow, that’s huge.
[JOE] I know, I know. Well, we’ll get into how you kind of started creating things around anger management, but I’d love to hear a little bit more about your journey of just getting into private practice, growing a group practice, and then pivoting into doing more of the consulting and anger management work. Take us back to when you started your practice.
[DAVID] Yeah, sure. Maybe I could even start even further back. And you know, why maybe I even niched into anger management.
[JOE] Yeah, let’s do that. Keep going back.
[DAVID] You know, I think like all of us, our experiences, they shape us and they point us in a direction. And, you know, for me, growing up, I struggled with inattention, I had low frustration tolerance, and anger was an issue. I think that it was confusing to me. I didn’t understand it. I think other people didn’t really understand it. I kind of got mixed messages about anger and aggression, you know, I’m on the lacrosse team, I was a good athlete. And on the field, aggression was something that really, you know, I won games. I was a great athlete and, you know, I felt good about that.
But, you know, in the classroom and at home, I kind of struggled with it. And again, you know, I wasn’t beating people up. You know, I always cared about people. I had a lot of friends, but anger and apathy were a defense mechanism for me. You know, if I got a C on a test, it was, “I don’t care. It’s okay, I’m going to own my own business. I don’t need to do well in school.” Yeah, so, and I’m really lucky because I have, you know, my parents and my family are super supportive. My Mom’s a teacher and my dad is a business owner and there was super supportive and they were strong advocates for me. And I remember at one point they took me to a psychologist and I went for, you know, full of bowel and the end result was, you know, I was a smart kid, but I was lazy. And that made me really angry because I wasn’t lazy. So —
[JOE] Is that your official diagnosis, the DSM for laziness?
[DAVID] Yeah. So, you know, I mean, again, this was in the late eighties. It was a different time. You know, I think there’s better tools now and I think that there’s more accessibility and there’s more acceptance I think with therapy, but —
[JOE] So, what did your parents do with that, you know, saying that he’s smart but lazy?
[DAVID] You know, and again, my parents are awesome. But I think that maybe they sort of got behind that a little bit. Well, maybe I just needed to work a little bit harder, you know? And in my opinion, I was working as hard as I could or I didn’t even really know how to work hard. Because when I was in the classroom, I was thinking about a lacrosse player. I think back then, like in middle school I had a paper route and actually started a little landscaping business. So, I was like, thinking about that. I was thinking of who owed me money or what am I doing at school? So, I was never in the classroom. So, I think that they didn’t really understand that either they went through a professional and the professional said that I was smart and I was lazy. So, I think that they didn’t understand that either. So, I think it may be created even more confusion.
[JOE] Yeah. So, then as a teen or middle schooler, did you feel like you mastered that or what happened? Like when did you realize that there was help around anger?
[DAVID] I don’t know if I ever realized there was a help route. I think that I just over, I think through hard work, like, you know, again, I got a lot of self-esteem through sports. I was a super hard worker. My dad owned a power washing company, so I worked with him and you know, I just loved to work. And so, I think it really wasn’t until like college where I sort of had more independence. In my first semester in college I did really well because like I had more control over my environment. So, I think that then, because I felt better about it and I felt good about sports and, eventually felt really good about work that I think that, I did a better job managing my anger. So, I don’t know when I actually learned the skills, you know, I think that it may be sort of like self-taught, self-learned and I think that’s what’s really like propelled me into trying to develop these programs like writing these books and you know, developing these programs coming out of my own experience.
[JOE] I mean how much, and I want to talk more about like society. How much of anger management specifically with kids right now do you think is a lack of exercise, being in nature, too much sugar because I see kids all the time, whether it’s in, you know, the school that my daughter goes to or just amongst friends where they say, “Wow, they seem to have some anger problems.” And I’m like, “They’re never outside. They’re not exercising much. They have a really high sugar diet.” I mean, how does, how does that connect in having kind of a switch in how we’ve been raising our kids?
[DAVID] Yeah, I know, I think definitely lifestyle plays into it. I think diet sugar obviously, it increases, yeah. Hyper activity, impulsivity and, I think what the crash with sugar, the anger, and frustration tolerance. But I think it’s also just even, you know, video games and media and, you know, these kids are still playing a lot of just the aggressive messages that are sent through media and the way all these kids are growing up too. I think it’s having a huge impact.
[JOE] Yeah. One of my daughters, they have a reading specialist that kind of helps the whole class out. And she was explaining how hard it is in regards to the brain, just learning to read at, you know, that kind of first and second grade level. And she equated it to, remember when you first like drove a car, you had to look at the mirrors, you had to think about putting it in reverse. You had to like think through where am I driving to? And now it’s just automatic. But it took a lot of brain energy to learn to drive a car. And she equated that to learning to read.
And so, she kind of gave us permission to like, when our daughter gets home, if she’s just exhausted, that’s not a time to be like, “Let’s do more homework.” And I imagine if parents haven’t heard that way of framing it out, they might think, “Well, you got to do homework, you got to do chores, you got to go to your practice, your soccer practice. And then this kid is just like, their brain is all scrambled. Like, what do you tell the parents when they’re thinking through kind of the anger management lens?
[DAVID] Yeah. So, I think that trying to have boundaries with their schedule, right? I think trying to really tap into, you know, what’s happened. I think with a lot of kids, we kind of need to change the conversation. I think that, you know, if a lot of times, we send messages of anger, we see kids as angry and we don’t really understand what’s behind the anger, right? If a kid is reactive or they’re acting aggressively, you know, what’s behind that message, like what else are they feeling? So, I think really trying to tap into that and trying to really try to change the conversation, and try to understand where they’re coming from better.
[JOE] Yeah. So, a lot of that then doesn’t just go away with adulthood. And that’s kind of the other side of your work as helping adults with anger. What are maybe some principles that you would hope therapists learn about anger and anger management in working with adults?
[DAVID] Yeah, sure. So, I think again, like I want to come back to the stigma of anger. I think that a lot of people, and maybe even some therapists feel like, you know, anger management is only for people that maybe are incarcerated or on probation or maybe it’s to satisfy a court mandate. And you know, that’s not true. 90 to 95% of people that are coming to us, it’s usually because it’s affecting our relationship. I think even too with like, you think about anger management, I think a lot of people think that only, you know, women go to anger management, right? And I’m sorry, only men come to anger management. Women don’t.
So, I think attached to that, you know, the reason a lot of people don’t get help for anger management is usually the shame and the guilt that’s attached to anger and anger management. So, I think it’s really trying to change, you know, the understanding of what anger management is. And the core principles of anger management are communication skills, stress management skills and emotional intelligence skills, and actually one could benefit from that.
[JOE] Yeah. And so, kind of the typical mindset is, it’s for men that have, you know, done something from the kind of court mandate they need to go through anger management training. But really everybody could grow in those different core values or core educational items.
[JOE] So, what would you say kind of the average Joe, you know, so like, someone that’s not court mandated, they’re experiencing maybe some problems in their relationships. What would you want them to know in regards to anger management?
[DAVID] Yeah, sure. So, yeah, I think that one of the things that really resonates with a lot of people is that anger always come second, right? It’s a secondary emotion. And you know, people really try to, they need to understand that primary emotion that’s, you know, coming before their anger, right? So, if you look at sort of anger management as a pyramid, at the tip of the pyramid is anger, right? And then there’s the primary emotion that comes before that and then below that is the unmet need, right? So, if you’re feeling angry, it means you’re feeling something else, right?
And then there’s also a need for you that’s not being met and that’s causing that overreaction. So, if you really try to identify, once you’re able to identify with that primary feeling and that unmet need, then you could then communicate it and then work on a different way to get those needs met, right? But for a lot of people in relationships, there’s these reoccurring, minor arguments or situations where needs aren’t met, and people just get frustrated and they try to use anger as a defense mechanism to try to get those needs met. And obviously it just makes everything worse.
[JOE] Yeah. So, then, for people that may be experience the anger but don’t recognize that emotion behind it, what techniques would you suggest for them?
[DAVID] So, again, when they’re feeling angry, it’s trying to understand that, “All right, we’re feeling something else. So, what is that?” So, if you’re in a really high emotional state or anger state, the first thing that you need to try to do is pause, right? Try to pause and really understand what you’re feeling right? Sometimes you need a longer pause and then you need a time out. So, this is cool. When we wrote our adult anger management book, we came up with these, which is called ‘Managing our anger, Managing our lives’. We came up with these anger control amateurs, right? So, we came up with these behaviors that lead to anger, that lead to rage, and that people need to identify with. And then we came up with all these skills that you know, they could use, that could lead to control.
So, the first step is really trying to, once you’re feeling angry, try to pause, take a time out. I think a lot of times we might take a time out, but we don’t communicate it, right? “I’m done, I’m out of here. I can’t take this anymore.” And then it sends the message maybe to the listener that they’re just avoiding. So, it’s important if we take a timeout to try to communicate it. I think once we come back from that time out, it’s really important to try to listen. Listen to the other person. If the need’s not being met for us, it can be hard to listen because we want to get our message across and we want that need to be met.
But we really have to listen because if we don’t, then we can’t use empathy. We can’t understand where that other person’s coming from. So, we’re missing key points of the situation. At this point, then they could identify their primary emotions, they write those coming before the anger, communicate those emotions, accept responsibility for that part. But I think when you’re in an argument and when you’re angry, I think even when you know you’re wrong, you still don’t want to take responsibility. You want to blame it on a person.
[DAVID] And then finally, just try to focus on what you can control and what you can’t control. So, reevaluating the situation and then you could try to work on some compromise. So, that’s really kind of the eight-step process that we use to teach people to, you get to control. So, serve as the anchors to our program.
[JOE] Well, and I love especially with the kids training, how you take those and make them so approachable. One of the first techniques in the book, and I’ve been going through it with our seven-year-old is this idea of cake breathing. So, we’ve all heard, “Yeah, take deep breaths,” but for a little kid to think, “Okay, I’m going to take a breath into, smell the cake, and then I’m going to blow out the candles.” Like just that visualization of cake breathing. It’s such a cool idea and kind of the phrases that you use with like morph mode. This idea that you morph into somebody else to see it from their point of view.
We can tell kids like, “Think about what it’s like to see the situation from this other kid’s point of view.” But they don’t get that. But then when you call it morph mode or slow down mode, it makes it feel like a game or like something that is a little more of like a video game and they get it. And it’s easier for them to remember. And so, I love that you take these techniques that maybe we’ve heard, but you do it, especially with the kids’ side, and that’s what I’ve been going through with our daughter, and make it so approachable and easy to remember.
[DAVID] Yeah. And then morphing mode is empathy. So, then even a lot of adults that come in, I think that’s a second thing that stands out the most for us is that, you know, people say over and over, I don’t even know what empathy was. I didn’t even know what empathy meant.
[JOE] Well, and then even like at least with the kids’ work book that you have them then draw a situation and then have themselves morphing into their friend’s eyes or their mom or dad’s eyes and like drawing that picture to solidify it. It’s just so cool to see, my daughter’s starting to understand these concepts that are really important for her emotional intelligence.
[DAVID] That’s great. Yeah, you know, when you read it, it’s one thing and then when you have to actually draw it or talk about it, it becomes more abstract. They need to think about it on a deeper level. So, it’s awesome.
[JOE] Yeah. Well, I’d love to talk a little bit more about, so when you have this kind of skillset, how you transitioned from just having a great group practice, you know, in New York that is helping people with anger management and it’s clicking along. We all have those skills that we’ve zeroed in on, whether it’s couples or trauma or whatever. How did you decide, “Okay, this is going to go just beyond my practice. I’m going to write a book, I’m going to build an e-course. Like what helped you take this skillset and get outside of the office?”
[DAVID] Yeah, so I think when we started running the anger management groups and we started the program, there are a lot of great, great workbooks out there. But for us, we felt there was just, they’re wordy, they were, for us confusing and we felt if they were confusing for us, they’re probably going to be confusing for our clients. So, we started with the anger management, the adult anger management workbook, and just went from there and just, you know, developing the program. So, we started there. I think two, we, again, for our specialty anger and anger management, there’s a lot of shame and guilt attached to anger.
And I think it really deters people from really trying to seek help. And we hear that over and over again. You know, anger has been an issue my whole life. Like I don’t know why I didn’t do this, you know, years ago, like this really helps. It has helped so much. From every single person that comes through. We’ve heard them say that. So, we really, there’s so many people that we’re still not reaching. You know, I think there’s because of that shame and guilt and I think probably for a lot of people, but I think especially for women, they’re not seeking help because they’re shamed.
So, we figured if we could have more access to services, if we could roll out a web-based company where we could bring anger management and these skills to you, the privacy of your home, then we could really help a lot more people. We could really reach a lot more people, so like that’s how it grew to that point.
[JOE] Hey, practitioners, I want to take a second to tell you about the Killin’It Camp retreat. If you would value connecting with a community of like-minded and like-hearted practice owners who want to deepen their sense of purpose and meaning as business owners and to talk about and share the best practices and strategies for ultimate business and life success, then this event might be for you.
If you’d value being around high performing practitioners without the big egos, clinicians that believe in living life to the fullest while also growing an amazing practice, you might enjoy Killin’It Camp. Once a year, we’re getting together in person, in small groups with the best guest experts and so much more in Estes Park Colorado. We’ve done these focus retreats multiple times. They’ve sold out every single time. If you’re excited about it, make sure to check it out at killingitcamp.com where you can sign up for the next Killin’It Camp therapists’ retreat.
One of the things you might be wondering is, is leaving my business actually going to make me a better business owner? For many of you, you work really hard, but at this retreat we’ll be helping you to know exactly where to spend your time and where to say no. To speed up, you have to slow down. You have to learn from experts and grow a community of like-minded supporters.
We have to step back so we can go back into our practices to rock it out. This is the same concept as going to therapy, a weekend intensive, or a church retreat. You take a moment to reconnect with what really matters. You plan, you strategize, you work on your business so you can be better in your business. If that all sounds good, check it out at killingitcamp.com.
Someone says, I’ve got this idea similar to how you had anger management, and I want to create workbooks. I want to be known as the person around trauma, around couples, or whatever their specialty is. So, maybe walk us through more of the process of launching the anger management curriculum, kind of business side of launching it versus the, maybe technical clinical side.
[DAVID] Yeah, sure. So, I think really trying to get a lot of content. I think that if you’re, when you’re doing structured sessions, I think that you want to prepare for those sessions, right? So, I think that you could start by just really just starting to write the content down. I think, you know, Samantha Janosick, who’s my stepdaughter, she’s the co-writer on the workbooks and she’s my partner in AMU. And at the time, she was actually in Buffalo and we wrote this remotely. Like I wrote a chapter, she wrote a chapter and you know, it’s just developed over time. So, the adult workbook took about a year, I think a little over a year for us to finally publish and put out.
So, I think it’s really about just trying to start writing the content down. And I think if you have this big idea, if you want to go beyond your practice, you have to really start carving out time to work on these big ideas. Schedule that time every week. It’s just going to get done, but it’s going to take much longer. And I think that for most of us, if we have these big ideas, that’s really where our passions at. And I think we get caught up in this day to day grind in our practice where it sort of takes us away from our bigger ideas. And I know that’s where I was at when you and I first met, Joe when I first started this mastermind.
[JOE] Yeah. And I think it’s a thing that so many people deal with where the money’s coming in through the practice. The group practice might be clicking along and then it’s sort of a gamble to go work on your big idea. You know, if I do three more sessions a week, I’m going to make x number of dollars where if I put three hours into my big idea, I may never see that money. But for me, that book, The One Thing, and I’ve talked about it so much on the podcast, it’s just so helpful like what’s the one thing that you can do now that’s going to make everything else easier?
So, doing one more session, it’s going to bring in that money, whatever your hourly rate is, but boy, if I create an e-course that I have even 10 people a month that are coming in and it becomes more passive income, I do a couple of podcasts to generate people coming to that and maybe do some Facebook advertising or however you market it. If you have that e-course, or you have that workbook, or you have that keynote or Webinar, that’s going to make it easier to scale. Whereas if you stay in that kind of hour to hour grind, you’re never going to be able to level up. Even though it’s guaranteed in the short run, it’s not necessarily going to make things easier in the long run.
[DAVID] Yeah, exactly. I think for me that might peak. I’ve been in practice 18 years, part time for many years. But then once I went full time at my peak, I know it sounds insane, but I was actually seeing like 60 people a week working six days a week. I loved it. But you know, like you talk a little time about lifestyle and you know, I think that I was getting burnt out. Like I wasn’t as a whole for my family. And I remember thinking like, you know, well, my boys are older when they’re in middle school and they’re playing Lacrosse, you know, I want to be able to make those games. But if I’m working 4-10, I’m never going to meet these games. And you know what, fast forward they in middle school now, and I think I’m down under 15 people a week that I’m seeing and I’ve grown my practice. I’m working, I think I’m hiring to two new therapists, hopefully. I’m almost certain now nine therapists working for me. I haven’t missed a game yet. So, —
[JOE] It’s awesome.
[DAVID] Yeah, it’s awesome. So, I think it’s about having that lifestyle that you want to lead to while working on all these other big ideas.
[JOE] Well, even just thinking back to where you were at a year ago and all that you’ve done, especially with Anger Management U, when did that switch flip for you to say, I really think it is worth my time and money to work on the big idea versus just the practice?
[DAVID] So, I think that, I remember early on when we first met, you know, mastermind, me talking to, we were all just sort of introducing ourselves and what our practice looks like. And I think at that time I was seeing like 40, 45 people a week ahead, like four therapists working for me. And everyone’s reaction was like, “What? [crosstalk] [JOE] It’s amazing when you’re around a bunch of other high achievers and they say, “That’s not right.”
[DAVID] Yeah. So, but I think that’s, you know, I think with private practice it can be so isolating. And I think that you can’t reality task because you’re isolated. You just, you know, for me it was normal. I’ve always been a super hard worker and you know, running a practice and seeing 45 people, it was done. It was normal to me. But I think that when you’re able to reality test and get that feedback from other therapists, it’s not okay and things can be better. I think that was super helpful for me. So, I think that once I was able to do that and feel comfortable hearing that other people, might only see, you know, 15 people a week or two people a week or whatever it is, I think that I felt more comfortable, started taking a risk with increasing my fees and decreasing the amount of people that I was going to see so I can work more on my practice, my group practice, but then also all my group ideas, my own ideas.
So, I think that that helped lessen the anxiety over overdoing that. Because you’re right. Like it’s, I think like seeing people, adding more appointments is sort of low-hanging fruit. It’s like easy, it’s guaranteed, you know you’re going to make the money, but maybe taking some of these risks, hiring someone else, taking a risk with a big idea, you’re not sure if it’s going to pan out.
[JOE] Yeah. Well, it sounds like you had some really practical kind of nuts and bolts things though, like raising your rates, reducing your hours, bringing on other clinicians so that you didn’t experience as much of a dip in income where if you worked on the big idea, it’s like you kind of had to have one side growing with the practice and pulling your time down in order to say, “Yeah, this is worth it to work on my big idea.”
[DAVID] Yeah. No, absolutely.
[JOE] Yeah. And that’s where I think people will oftentimes say, “Well, I can’t work on my big idea because x number of dollars aren’t coming in.” Well then, it’s like put some time into that and make sure that if you’re turning referrals away, that you hire people to come in to work there so that you can make that time.
[DAVID] Yeah. No, absolutely.
[JOE] If you were to go back say a year ago and talk to Dave a year ago, what advice would you have given him that would have sped things up over the last year?
[DAVID] So, it’s okay to fail, right? It’s okay to if it’s not perfect. It’s okay to, you know, people can do it better than you.
[JOE] Hmm. Just so hard to give up that control though.
[DAVID] You know, when I first hired a VA to take over the phones, you know, I have a relationship with so many people in the community, and I thought about how is someone else going to like navigate this, you know, when I’m not answering the phone like how the heck are they going to navigate this? And it was really scary. It was scary to delegate that, to give that up. But I would never have been able to expand the way I have if I didn’t do that.
[JOE] So, how did they navigate that?
[DAVID] So, how did they, you know first, it was a little bit of a learning curve with the VA. But you know, I think so we worked on that. You know, we tried to think about like, all right, where are we making mistakes? I worked on scripts. I thought about all the referrals that might possibly be coming in and, you know, I tried to work on scripts to give her so she could answer those questions. And I think just, you know, just learning the practice over time. Like now she’s like really got it down. So, I think it was like trial and error and just trying to put some systems in scripts in place for her so it kind of minimize the impact of it.
[JOE] So, what helped you go during that phase? Because I mean, that’s a very common thing of people, have been answering the phones, they have the relationships. No one can answer those questions like I can. What helped you get through that so that you’re at this point?
[DAVID] Yeah. I think part of it was I had to. I remember like getting referrals that were coming in and I think I was at my, during the day, it was my dining room table at home before I’d come into the office and I had like, you know, 15 sheets out, just ticking and writing down referrals and I’m like, I was like, you’re spending hours fielding calls. And I was so excited that I was getting so many referrals, but I was just completely overwhelmed. And I think part of it came out of like, I just, I have to take this next step.
[JOE] Yeah. So, it was pretty clear base that you just couldn’t keep up with it.
[JOE] Wow. So, where do you hope that Anger Management U goes from here?
[DAVID] I really hope that we could really change the understanding of anger and anger management and maybe try to normalize it, you know, try to hopefully, do a lot more prevention, with that. Unfortunately, we’re living in a really angry world right now and I have kids on my own and I’m kind of, I’m worried about the way the world’s going and, you know, I’m really hoping that we could really make a global impact with our programs, with our books. I mean, really hope we can try to get into school districts across the nation. You think about all the things that are going on in the world right now, you know, why are we not doing pushings on the elementary level?
Why are we not teaching anger management skills? Why are we not learning about, why isn’t it part of the curriculum in a health class? So, really hoping to, on a national level, really try to work on prevention and really try to teach these skills by teaching in the school districts or maybe teaching them to, therapists they maybe, you know, might want to offer services to their district through their practice. So, really trying to, again, really trying to make that global impact.
[JOE] Yeah. Well, I mean, just seeing the quality of the Anger Monster Training for the kids, I have no doubt that as you guys continue to develop things, it’s just going to be really awesome and impactful. Well, Dave, if people want to build an e-course, I know that’s kind of one of the last parts that you created and it’s going now for Anger Management U, what tips do you have for folks that are looking into building an e-course?
[DAVID] Yeah. So, it’s a lot of things that, I think in the Mastermind, week after week and on the hot seat, I was talking about practice management stuff and it kept coming up with everyone. “Dave, what’s going on with the e-course? Why aren’t you doing the e-course?” And I kept just putting it on the back burner because I just, I couldn’t get to it. And I, so for me, I was lucky because I had the content. We already had the Adult Anger Management workbook. So, all the content, all the worksheets, everything was there.
And I remember one hotsy like, “Dave, why don’t you just give this to Sam, to your Sam to design it, to turn it into an e-course?” So, for me, that’s what I did. I just, I basically gave all the content to Sam and she and worked on it over a month or two months, whatever it took. And she basically turned it into an e-course. So, for me it was easy. I don’t know if I even I’m an expert on developing an e-course because really Sam was the one that really was the, designed it for us and we worked on it together. But since I had the content, it was easy for me.
[JOE] Yeah. And I think that’s one of those things where, you know, if someone wants to learn how to make an e-course, then by all means they should make an e-course if that’s kind of the best use of their time. But there’s times when you’re moving slower because you’re in the way. And I remember, I still remember when I gave up creating the images for the podcast because I love art, I love design, I love being creative. But every time I made a podcast it, I would do my own show notes. I would make the art for it in Canva. And each one would take three hours.
And I’m like, “Wait, in those three hours, I could edit and get through three or four interviews, get all done, and make four times as much content. And so, when I handed that over to Sam, I realized, you know, I can still do art. I just don’t have to do it in my business. Like, so Lucia and I will go paint together or we’ll do things as a family that are artistic and creative. But giving up that control, I think when you start to do it, you then realize, wow, I can move so much faster if I let someone else do this who loves doing it too.
[DAVID] Yeah, I know, absolutely.
[JOE] Yeah. Awesome. Well, Dave, if every private practice owner in the world were listening right now, what would you want them to know?
[DAVID] So, I think some of this I talked about, but I think it’s okay to fail, right? I think if you’re failing at something, it’s a sign that you’re pushing yourself towards something bigger and better. All right? So, don’t be afraid of that, afraid of failing. Embrace your imperfections, right? It’s okay if it’s not, if it’s not perfect. Just put it out there. If you need to edit it, if you need to adjust it, that’s okay. And finally, I think it’s really, really important to delegate where you can’t do everything yourself. And you know, I know even for me, I thought that I was the best at answering the phone, but you know what, someone’s doing a much better job than me. So, I think it’s really, really important to delegate your tasks.
[JOE] Yeah. Such a great point. And I just think, I don’t know what your hourly is for counseling and you don’t have to say, but say you’re making 200 bucks an hour, like, would you pay someone $200 an hour to be awesome at answering phones? Probably not. You know, it sounds like you’re the most overpaid, you know, virtual assistant in the world. And so, well, such great points. And you actually have a discount code for anger management. You tell us a little bit about that course so that if therapists want to go through it, if they want to put their clients through it, that they can check that out.
[DAVID] Yeah, sure. So, it’s angermanagementu.com. So, it’s the letter [U] .com is where you could, where you could check out the e-course and our products. So, it’s basically, you know, you could take the course from the privacy of your home or office. It’s at your own pace. There’s worksheets in it, there’s printable worksheets, and we’ve gotten really great feedback about the e-course. So, for people that, therapists that want to maybe refer that client to us, we’re offering 30% off with the code ‘Joe’ at the checkout. And for maybe people that want to take the course themselves, maybe a therapist wants to take a look at it before they refer someone to us, if they want to email us direct, so it’s email@example.com.
I’d be happy to be happy to send them a free code if they want to take a look at it themselves. If they want to jump on a call with us, we’d be happy to talk to them about us at Anger Management U about the program. And I think the most important thing when you’re referring to someone is that you trust them, right? You know, you’re going to get good results. And we’ve got great results, great feedback, and I want people to feel comfortable if they’re going to be referring to us.
And I think another important thing to point out, Joe, is I think sometimes people might be reluctant to refer out to someone else because they feel like they might lose a client. But for us, we only augment other therapies or modalities. You know, if you think about someone that is in couples’ therapy, a lot of people that are in couples’ therapy might need anger management and they might need a private program where they are going to get results so they can stay in couple’s therapy while they take our program or they may do video sessions with us. So —
[JOE] Yeah, I love that idea of having you as sort of a temporary expert that comes in to help make the therapy even better and that helps clients have better outcomes as well. And so, if they want to reach out to you to connect or have questions, is that email the best one to email you on?
[DAVID] Yes, that’s the best one. Yeah, absolutely. I’m available. So, please reach out if you want to talk to me about anger management, I’m available.
[JOE] Yeah. Now that you’re not working 45 sessions a week, [crosstalk] Well, we’ll have all the links in the show notes to Anger Management U. We’ll have that promo code there and we’ll have a link to books we talked about it like The One Thing over in the show notes. David, thank you so much for being on the Practice of the Practice podcast.
[DAVID] Thanks so much Joe. Take care.
[JOE] So, what are you inspired by from what David had to say? Was It the e-course? Was it how much of a specialty he has? Was it partnering with his stepdaughter? I mean there’s so many cool things that he covered in this interview. What are you inspired by? But even more importantly, what are you going to take action on so that you can continue getting to the next level?
If you want to get to the next level with your paperwork, I highly recommend Therapy Notes, therapynotes.com, use promo code [JOE] to get two months for free. It’s awesome. I was just talking to their head of marketing with a question about how much you can cater the progress notes and he said they don’t allow as much wiggle room as other programs because they want you to survive an audit if it happens. So, the best practices that they use are super helpful in an audit too. So that’s just so cool that they’re thinking through those types of situations as well.
Also, if you’re interested in Killin’It Camp head on over to killingitcamp.com. You can read all about our speakers there. Thanks for letting us into your ears and into your brain. Have an amazing week. Talk to you soon.
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