Are you sitting on a big idea but are not sure how to get started? How can you go from starting a private practice to launching a group practice? Want some tangible tips on how to step outside your comfort zone and run full tilt towards your dreams?
In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks with LaToya Smith about her journey from getting laid off to starting a group practice and launching a big idea.
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Meet LaToya Smith
LaToya is the owner of LCS Counseling and Consulting Agency in Fortworth Texas. She firmly believes that people don’t have to remain stuck in their pain or the place they became wounded. She encourages her clients to be active in their treatment and work towards their desired outcome.
She has also launched Strong Witness which is a platform designed to connect, transform and heal communities through the power of storytelling.
In This Podcast
In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks with LaToya Smith about why she started her practice, launching her big idea and why she thinks everyone should experience at Slow Down School.
Why Did You Start Your Practice?
In that moment of walking away it was more painful, but now I see I needed that. If I did’nt have that I would’nt have started my practice.
In 2015 LaToya was working in an agency when they started laying off people, including herself. Despite the fact that LaToya previously had people ask why she didn’t start her own practice, it wasn’t until she got laid off that she seriously considered doing it. After an objection from her sister about the names she was coming up with for her practice, LaToya just decided to use her initials, hired an office and started going from there.
When Did You Consider Starting a Group Practice?
Your most important client are the therapists that work with you.
LaToya’s practice had really grown and she was seeing way more people than she needed to see so she was really exhausted. She then joined a Mastermind Group with Alison Pidgeon and she soon realized that things weren’t as scary or tedious as she thought it would be. In March 2018 LaToya brought on her first therapist.
Going After The Big Idea
And I wanted to grab hold of it when I still had that energy. I didn’t want to sit down and get relaxed. I wanted to keep building on what was already created.
When LaToya started bringing the first therapist on board she got more serious about her big idea and she wanted to see some more things take off after realizing that she could do much better. LaToya had wanted to do some consulting because as her business grew quickly she had many people enquire about how she was doing what she had done. Another dream that had also been in her heart was Strong Witness. She envisioned this as a place to just share more, build a community, grow, connect and heal, right by just talking and sharing.
The Experience At Slow Down School
It helped to clear my mind so that I could just think, and be at peace so that I could see the bigger picture.
Being around other people who were also working on their big ideas gave LaToya the energy to further dig deeper into her dreams and work on her vision as well as reignite some of the excitement she had lost through the pressure of running her business.
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Books Mentioned In This Episode:
- Chrissy Lawler Made $5k In Her First Month On Instagram Talking About Sleep | PoP 427
- Slow Down School
- Free resources to help you start, grow and scale
- Join Next Level Practice
- Apply to work with us
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 428. Everyone loves payday, but loving a payroll provider, that’s a little weird. Still, private practices across the country love running payroll with Gusto. Gusto automatically files and pays your taxes. It’s super easy to use and you can add benefits and management tools to help take care of your team and keep the business safe. It’s loyal, it’s modern, you might fall in love yourself. Listeners get three months free when they run their first payroll. Try a demo and test it out at gusto.com/joe. It’s what I use. That’s gusto.com/joe.
Welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast. I’m Joe Sanok, your host. Hey, if you are new here, I’m so glad you’re here. Welcome. We have over 400 episodes of this show that you can listen to. We also have all sorts of resources to help you get to the next level. We brought together all of our best resources, downloads, webinars, e-books, and we should put it all under one roof, and it’s called pillarsofpractice.com. So, if you haven’t checked out pillarsofpractice.com to opt in for that, there are, I think 40 or 50 different resources. Plus, I have this thing called Eight-Minute Experts where, or is it seven-minute? No, it’s eight, eight-minute experts, because I did the e, e thing. So, eight-minute experts where I interview people for eight minutes and get their best tips. So, things around bookkeeping and websites and launching a group practice and using virtual assistants. What are their best tips in just eight minutes? So, you can get that over at pillarsofpractice.com.
Today we’re talking with LaToya Smith. LaToya is, oh my gosh. She is one of my favorite Slow Down Schoolers, this past year, and she talks about this in this interview. She really pushed herself to do new things, and to have new experiences and it was amazing to see her personal growth. Her business growth and her big idea growth have been amazing as well, but it’s so cool to be able to talk to these Slow Down Schoolers, because you know, doors are opening, are just open for that. So if you want to do an interview for Slow Down School, if you think it might be a fit, if you’re not sure, if you want to just talk with me about it, we want to make sure that you really feel good about coming to Northern Michigan, because we hang out on the beaches or we watch the sunset, we go for hikes, and then after a couple of days of really letting our brains rest, we run full tilt towards your business.
And honestly, I don’t know, you know, now this is our fourth year doing it. I don’t know which side is my favorite because the slowdown is so fun. It’s just nice to go hiking and get a massage and yoga in the woods and watch the sunset. But then when we’re working on these big ideas and you know, leveling up your business and helping you get to that next level, that’s so fun too, to just dream about the kind of life you could live. And it’s great because we get to really kind of pace out together in the way that I get a lot done. And it’s not that I’m someone special, it’s something that I’ve figured out that I’ve put the time into my own coaching, my own consulting, my own reading. I listen to two to three podcasts a day on 1.5 speed. So, I take in a lot of information and I try to kind of bring that all back to you and help you get to that next level without having to kind of do all that work.
So, if you’re interested in Slow Down School, I would absolutely love to talk with you, to do an interview. Just head on over to slowdownschool.com to schedule that. I’m going to be doing those interviews for our early birds, over the next few weeks, and, that’s going to be a great way for you to be able to see if it’s a fit for you. So, without any further ado, I give you LaToya Smith.
Well, today on the Practice of the Practice podcast, we have LaToya Smith. LaToya is the owner of LCS Counseling and Consulting Agency in Fort Worth, Texas. She firmly believes that people don’t have to remain stuck in their pain or the place where they became wounded. She encourages her clients to be active in their treatment and work towards their desired outcome. LaToya also launched Strong Witness, which is a platform designed to connect, transform, and heal communities through the power of storytelling. LaToya, welcome to the podcast today.
You know, it’s about, as to the tagline I’ve been using as like to share more, you know, the idea that we can build community, we can grow, we can connect, we can heal, by just talking and sharing. And I think what I’ve found, you know, which is strong when it’s in general, like a lot of people are shocked in their faces when they learn more about the connections they have with one person, but they were afraid to say, and so I decided to go with that because to me it’s just powerful even in session one-to-one or, in different communities that I’m in, just seeing people be healed by releasing what they’ve been carrying or thought they were, had to carry for so many years, [JOE]: In the first event that you put on, there was some really intense stories that were going on there. Maybe explain some of the people that shared their stories and kind of what happened in that first event.
[LaToya] The very first time I did a strong witness event. It was specifically for victims or survivors of childhood abuse or sexual assault. So, the lineup was just that. It was a lot of people that spoke, a lot of people were impacted and I think the people that were there to hear, they, I think they grew for, but I think they were also taken back like, “Oh,” you know, because these are things that they will normally hear, but there are also people that were there in the audience that never spoke about their own pain. So, I think a lot of it too was the idea like, “Oh my goodness, these people have this freedom and this peace to speak things out loud that I never thought that I could or I didn’t think was socially accepted.” Because again, you know, a lot of times, not for everybody, but growing up when it came time for abuse, it was the message sent was keep it hush hush or you don’t talk about it.
You know what I mean? Or “I can’t let anybody else know because what would they think of me.” So, it was like this peace, this freedom to speak about what occurred, whatever it was in the past and that it is okay. And so there’s a lot of power in the room, I think a lot of connections in the room, but at the same time too, I thought, “Okay, I got to do this a little bit different, because as much as I want, and that’s the reason why I started it, I don’t want people to run from it because they’re so scared because they don’t want to be in that space if they’re not ready. You know what I mean? To run that level of vulnerability or transparency, I think it scares people. So, it’s funny because that pulls people in and then people run away at the same time. So, trying to find that middle ground, when necessary is really what I’m trying to work on. [JOE]: And after that first event, what were things that you learned from it or shifts or adjustments that happened as a result of what you learned from that first event? [LaToya] I think one was kind of helping people be more specific about their stories too, because sometimes when we start talking, like if you didn’t structure this podcast, maybe I go on and on and on about one topic. So sometimes it’s the idea of giving a little bit more, you know, helping them to guide their stories and to craft it; is what I’ve learned is important, instead of just saying, “Okay, you can talk about, just talk. But okay, tell me about, how you overcame, tell me about how you’re different, tell me about the moment that you knew things changed for you,” or “Tell me about the important people along the line who you felt helped you. So, kind of putting little field reports in there for people to connect more with their story as well, and then also helping the audience understand the power of story. Like don’t be scared of this moment, but this is a moment that we can all come together and we can form community or this is right here, this is where transformation happens for the person speaking and the person listening. Like, or this right here, this is called vulnerability. Like, let’s sit in it and let us see what happens. Or this right here, this is silence and it’s okay to sit in silence and we can heal from it too. So also, being more mindful to educate the hearer and the one speaking and then telling them like what we just created. [JOE]: I love that. And I think that it’s easy as therapists that, you know, our job is to sit and talk about really heavy things with people and to know when to be quiet and when to ask questions and when to go deeper. We forget that a huge part of the population doesn’t have that depth of conversation on any sort of regular basis. And so even to take those skills as a therapist and put them into your big idea to say, “I’m going to teach you how to have deeper conversations. I’m going to name things like empathy and anger and trust and we’re going to kind of have a safe vessel for this experience and I’m going to guide you through it.” It’s so cool when we can take these therapeutic skills and apply them to a new situation that oftentimes it’s not applied to. [LaToya] Right. And I think it’s, because a lot of people still, I mean, as much as people come into the office for services, there’s still a big population that isn’t ready yet. So, I think too, like you said, if they’re not going to enter into that space, they could see it in this community, and they can see it unfold in front of their eyes and they can, and then we can teach them along the way. Like you mentioned, like this is exactly what this is and this is what’s going on right now. Like, it’s okay to empathize and feel with them. You know, you may not have experienced that right there, but you know how, you could say that sucks. Like, you know what I mean? I agree. Like that was painful and now I can connect with you. That’s what I want people to see and feel. [JOE]: So, as this gets going and you’re in the mastermind group, maybe you take us to Slow Down School and what did that do for your big idea, for your practice, for kind of moving forward with these areas that already had some traction? [LaToya] Yes, Slow Down School was amazing for me, because it allowed me, one to slow down. It put me in a space I’ve never been in in my life. I’ve never been in Northern Michigan and I never thought that I would be in Northern Michigan. [JOE]: That’s a common reaction. I think that, I mean, I think that a lot of the folks from like California and Denver and the East coast, they’re like, “What am I doing here? Why am I on the beaches of Northern Michigan?”
[LaToya] Yes, it was fun. So just the idea of getting out of this bit of normalcy, the routine, but going around people that I’ve never met, and being in a place I’d never been in and just absolutely just relaxing and doing what I have never done. I’ve never, I don’t think I’ve ever gone hiking, not like that. And it was just beautiful. The scenery, was beautiful, making smores. I can’t recall a time in my life that I’ve made smores and those were really good. And I love Reese’s peanut butter cups. Yes, peanut butter cups are put [crosstalk] [JOE]: Kit-Kat. I don’t know what other things; I just got a whole bunch of crazy things to put on there. [LaToya] Yes, so I just loved getting out of the routine and doing something different. And so, just the ability to slow down and relax and then being around other people who had big ideas too. And that’s my personality. I get energized off of other creatives. I know they are counselors, but you know, people that want to do more and see more, just be creative. So that enthusiasm, that energy, like that excites me. And I want to hear what other people are doing and then I’m like, “Yes, like, you know, and now, I want to do it. I want to do mine too.” And so, I think the idea grew there and not just that, but for my practice, like I had so many ideas, leaving things I wanted to see, things I wanted to put together, things I’ve been working on, you know, since leaving there. And so that space just helped to spark, it helped to jumpstart, and it also helped to bring back some of the excitement that left through the pressure of running the business and being in routine. So, I made it that and I just, I love Slow Down School. It was good. [JOE]: So, when you started working on the business, so you know, we have two days that we slow down, we go for hikes, yoga teacher comes in, we have massage, we have an awesome chef that’s there. So then Wednesday, Thursday and Friday we’re working on your business hardcore. By slowing down, what do you think that did to amplify the three days that we were working on your business? [LaToya] It helped to clear my mind. So, I didn’t go, it’s not like going from meeting to meeting to meeting. It helped just to clear my mind so I can just think, and be at peace. And I can see the bigger picture, you know, sometimes like working hard, you get so narrowed down to details and think about one specific thing. But you know, the quieter I got, I was better able to hear, whether it be instruction from you, whether it be ideas from somebody else, and I was more open to new and to different things. Like having tried various new things in the first two days I was more open to different ideas that came instead of being like, “No, that’s not how I do it. Always do it like this. So that’s not what I was told. I was told this.” But once you just sit back and chill, you can hear better. It’s just greater clarity. And so, even to the point of being like antsy, like, “Okay, I want these, these work days to come down because now I feel like I’m ready.” Like I want to take off. So, it was exciting. [JOE]: Well and I think part of it that works is that it is kind of this pent up excitement about working where, and I, you know, by me taking off Fridays and Mondays, every week, by the time I get to Tuesday, I’m just like, “I can’t wait to podcast. I can’t wait to create.” And it kind of helps me get pent up where the best stuff comes out first. And so, it’s interesting how, by now I think this is our fourth or fifth year doing Slow Down School, how we just see that over and over where kind of Monday, day one, people fly in on Sunday and then on Monday people are feeling a little antsy. Like, “Oh can I slow down?” And they kind of slowly getting into the hike but then like Tuesday morning people wake up and it’s just like their face are total sunshine. “I could live in this moment forever,” but then by Wednesday it’s amazing how it shifts to just run full tilt towards the business goals. [LaToya] Yes, definitely. And you know what I love about Slow Down School, because have so many key takeaways. I don’t know if you’re going to ask me that next [crosstalk]. One that I use often is the 20-minutes sprint. Like I love that one. I love the idea of even if I’m sitting on my couch and I have an idea to go further with my big idea now, with my business, like getting quiet, you know, put my phone on silent and just going at it for 20 minutes. Matter of fact, last week I was having lunch somewhere and I was sitting at the table for the longest period of time. I’m drinking coffee and I told the server like, “Listen, you want me to pay it? I have to go back to my car, but I had to go get my journal so I can start writing for this. All of a sudden, I had this idea on it. I said, “I know I got to do this sprint now.” [JOE]: That was awesome. [LaToya] I went to the car, got the journal and I just, you know when harp like 20 minutes, but I just love that part; getting up, coming back in a circle. Okay, what’d you learn? And then just go right back at it. There’s so much to be said about that time, so much to be created when you just focus on an idea like there’s no right or wrong and you just pull out, you know. [JOE]: And to see, I think part of it also is when you do three 20-minute sprints with just a short break in between them to kind of quickly debrief and get back into it. To say, how much did you just get done in 60 minutes in one hour? And people are saying, “Oh my gosh, it was weeks-worth of material I got done in an hour.” But then to say, “Well, why don’t you do that on a regular basis? Why is that not part of your habit if you know it works right now?” I think when that clicks that this, the Slow Down School’s not this one week and magical things just happen there, that it really is a springboard into other parts of your life and being able to get more done in a shorter period of time. That’s really the quality best use of your time rather than all the little things that steal our time away. [LaToya] Yes. I like that. [JOE]: So, who would you say shouldn’t come to Slow Down School and who would you say should come to Slow Down School?
[LaToya] I think, well, I think everybody should come, but it gets the people that, I think everybody should come, if you’re really set in like structure and this is the way I’m supposed to do it, you know what I mean? Like, I don’t know if that would be a good fit. Like somebody who like, “No, no, no. I have to follow this blueprint. They told me in grad school,” which I don’t think anybody talks about podcasting in grad school. I don’t think that that would be a good fit. I think the person who wants to do greater, the visionary, the dreamer, the person that just, the person that loves to think outside the box, doesn’t want to be stagnant. The person who constantly wants to evolve, that’s the person who has to be at Slow Down School. The person that wants to take their skills greater and isn’t okay with like status quo, like “I arrived at this level, all I ever wanted to see is 20 people and I’m content right here in this space.” That I don’t think that would be good fit.
But the person that says, “Listen, I had this skillset, I want to do greater. I want to do better. I know I can because I want to be of greater service to more people,” or the person who has a big idea but just doesn’t know how to make all the connections, or even the person who has these great ideas but really doesn’t have that circle of people to help them build and grow. And sometimes that’s the resource that we’re lacking. You know, we can have great support in certain areas of our life, but when it comes to that business support, that creative support, it can be missing. You know, and we can watch all the YouTube videos we want, but sometimes like being present and sitting amongst people that want to go where you want to go, I think that’s a greater experience. [JOE]: Oh, such good advice for kind of the type of people that would be good fits and what they’d get out of it. LaToya, the last question I always ask people on the podcast is, if every private practice owner in the world were listening right now, what would you want them to know? [LaToya] Ooh, that’s a good question. That’s a loaded question. Man, I’d want them to think bigger and to really think about where they want to see their practice going in the next five years, to think about the population they’re serving. Definitely don’t lose sight about why you started in the first place. So, not that it’s all about the dollar sign of the money, but think about why you started in the first place, where you want to go, and then think bigger on how to get there. Like you don’t have to go down this traditional path that’s been worn out, but like make your own way. And I think that’s where the greatest creativity comes when you’re like, “That road is just crowded. They’re moving slow.” Some people just sit down anyway, like, “I’m going to go this route.” And then when you begin to go that route and look and think outside the box, there’s so many ways, there’s so many possibilities to grow your practice and so many ways and so many different people you never thought you could reach by expanding your vision. [JOE]: Oh, such good advice, LaToya. If people want to follow Strong Witness, if they want to kind of see more of your work, what’s the best way for them to connect with you?
[LaToya] Sure. I’m on Instagram. It’s @strongwitness1 and it’s the same thing on Facebook @strongwitness1. And then my business page is @LCSCAC on Facebook and then on Instagram is @LCS_counseling. [JOE]: Awesome. Well thank you so much for being on the Practice of the Practice podcast. [LaToya] Thank you for having me. This is good. I appreciate it. [JOE]: Well, I just love doing this show and people like LaToya that are making a difference in their community in Fort Worth, but then also going after big ideas. It’s so fun to work with them and to help them get to that next level. I hope you had some really clear takeaways from this interview. I know that for me, seeing LaToya really kind of look at and evaluate things from different sides, has been so helpful in our mastermind group, as she’s supported other people that are in that group as well.
If you’re interested in one of our mastermind groups, if you’re interested in coming to Slow Down School, head on over to practiceofthepractice.com/apply and I’ll jump on a call with you and really hear about kind of where you’re at and say, “You know, here’s where I’d spend my time and money.” And we have enough people applying for consulting, mastermind groups, Slow Down School, Killin’It Camp, all those things that we do.
We have more than enough people coming into those things that we really just want you to be in the right spot to get the best return on investment for your time and money. And I’ll tell you, I do it all the time where I say, “I know you want to do this, but it’s really not a good idea. I would wait until you’re at this level before you come back and do that.” And we have people that go, they hustle, they get things done, and they come back a year or two later and then they invest in consulting rather than maybe spending all that money on consulting on the front end, which could help and there’s nothing wrong with that, but to say, “What kind of ROI do you want? Let me honestly tell you if I think you can get that.” We’ll have that conversation if you apply.
Also, we want to think Gusto. Gusto is the payroll solution that I use for my own business. They’re awesome. When I get those random pieces of mail from the state and say, “This has changed,” I take a picture of it, I send it to customer service and they tell me what I need to do and say, “Here’s the four steps you need to do.” It is so awesome and I love Gusto. gusto.com/joe, you get three months for free. It’s just not even worth trying to figure it out yourself for the price that Gusto is. It’s a no brainer. So, make sure you check out gusto.com/joe and next week we’re going to be talking to Janeen Herskovitz who has the Autism Blueprint Podcast. She’s been on the podcast before, longtime friend of Practice of the Practice. Can’t wait for Janeen to be back on, to talk about kind of autism, the podcast, how she has leveled up through that and what she is kind of working on right now. So, on the 22nd, oh sorry, 21st, that’s when that next one goes live. So, can’t wait for you to connect with her through the podcast. So, thank you so much for letting me into your ears and into your brain. Have an amazing week.
Special thanks to the band Silence is Sexy for your intro music. We really like it. And this podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher, or the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical, or other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.