Next Level Private Practice | PoP 246

Next Level Private Practice

In this episode, Joe Sanok speaks about reaching for the next level of private practice.

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In This Podcast


In this podcast, I launch my series on leveling up your private practice. I explain why it’s important to scale your practice as well as what the three stages are of this. This is an introductory podcast of what is to come in the weeks ahead.

Why Level Up?

What the average private practice counselor does is we make bears out of chipmunks.

Make time for your big ideas and scaling.

Living the life you want to live is more fulfilling than just sitting in a chair and doing the minimum required for your job. When you do this, it’s also really hard to increase your income. Instead, you need to look at how you can multiply your time.

Three Phases Of Leveling Up

  1. Assess where you are at
    • Where do you spend your time?
    • Where is the money coming from?
    • What drives you?
  2. Brutally take things off of your plate
    • Create one, small boundary that you’re going to stick to
    • Brutally examine what it’s going to take to stick to that boundary
    • Outsource items around that boundary
  3. Getting to the next level
    • Create space to slow down to allow your brain to settle down to start brainstorming
    • When we slow down, those sparks of innovation come

Useful Links:

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.




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Podcast Transcription

File: POP 246 – Next Level Private Practice
Duration: 0:26:47
[MUSIC] [WELCOME AND INTRODUCTIONS] Joe Sanok: This is the Practice of the Practice podcast with Joe Sanok, session #246.


Joe Sanok: Welcome, welcome, welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast. I am Joe Sanok. We are going old school today. I am here in my house in the upstairs. My daughter is taking a nap and I literally realized that I hadn’t recorded the podcast for tomorrow morning until this morning. I was out of town last week for a key note and I thought I had wrapped everything up, and I didn’t. But it’s okay. I don’t even have my recording MIC. I have my white headphones in and the sound may not be perfect, but it’s here.

[NEXT LEVEL PRIVATE PRACTICE – INTRODUCTION] Today we are talking all about having a next level private practice. So if you are in that $60,000 range and up, how do you get to that next level? How do you get to six figures? How do you get the multi six figures? I am launching a whole series that’s going to be going throughout this month, and I have been interviewing some of the top practices in the nation that are multi six figure practices. Some are approaching million dollar practices. Going to talk with those folks this month. And then next month, Alison Pidgeon is doing a podcast takeover, where she is going to do a whole series, all about group practices. So we have got a ton of next level stuff coming up to really motivate you at the end of 2017. And so this is the kickoff for those next level private practices and part of it that I am super excited about is that I have just six openings in my next level Mastermind group, and these are folks that are going to meet together for a year. It’s really cool. It came out of Slow Down School where we had the 10 of us talking and I had planned on launching this next level in the Mastermind group – I had planned launching it in like November or December. But in talking to the people that were at Slow Down School, they were so motivated to do that next step after Slow Down School, I decided to launch it there. Filled up that first one right away, then quietly launched the second Mastermind group to my consulting clients, that one filled up, and now I am launching the third one. And it’s going to close after this. And so if you are interested in applying for this next level Mastermind group, it’s over at I will tell you little bit more about that at the end. But first of all, I actually talk about next level private practices.

So my wife and I, when we were on our honeymoon, we flew out to Boulder, Colorado, and in Boulder, we stayed at this place called Chautauqua Association. And this is beautiful kind of camp that… the history of it is that teachers from Texas would go to different places in the country in the summertime and they studied philosophy and religion and the art. This was in like early 1900s, and had this amazing community of, just like, renaissance thinkers and they all bought these like little, tiny cabins. So this little efficiency cabins we rented right at the foot of the [Inaudible 00:03:41.14] Boulder. They had an old barn with a short, silent movies and had people play piano and it was just as perfect like getaway for us. We love Colorado. We have so many friends out there. We have family in Longmont and friends in Denver. And so we stayed connected with Colorado kind of back and forth between Michigan. So we fly out there. The summer, before we got married, I had been going full tilt working like 50 hours a week down in Kalamazoo, driving back to Traverse City three hours to help plan the wedding on the weekend, driving back on Sunday three hours and then doing all over again [Inaudible 00:04:20.13] to get my internship hours done. So we finally on the airplane after we get married, we’re flying to Colorado, had lose my voice and like my nose is all snotty and gross, and we get there to Chautauqua, and we have gone shopping at whole foods for some food and put on the counter. And it was hot outside, so we got all the windows open, not remembering that we were in bear country. And had all this food out, and some middle of the night, and we hear scratching on the screens. Christina kind of elbows me, and says, Joe, Joe, Joe. Joe… I think there is a bear. And I am, “What?” So we heard this scratching and this like kind of beast thing out there that wants our food. Is like, nobody tells you what to do in these situations. Like you don’t know what to do if a bear is outside of your screen, during your honeymoon, when you left food out on the counter. I am an Eagle Scout, and I didn’t even know what to do other than, “I think I should probably just lay here quietly.” So then this animal kind of leaves. The next morning I am reading a book outside, drinking a cup of coffee and I hear the noise behind me, and I quietly turn around, and I see that it’s a chipmunk. I see that what I thought the night before in the darkness and my feeling sick, that what I thought was a bear was actually a chipmunk. I started with that because I shared this story with the World Changers Challenge that we just wrapped up, where we wrote e-books throughout September. And this is why I am starting with my e-book about scaling a practice, about creating… it’s called, ‘Becoming Giants.’ It’s the title that I am working on right now. As I interviewed these top practice owners, what the average counselor and practice owner does is we make bears out of chipmunks. We might feel like overhauling a website is this huge task. We might feel like getting new clients or getting into a new specialty is this gigantic task. And giants, people that have really figured out private practice – how to grow it and scale it and move beyond just their typical time sitting on the chair, but actually are multiplying time and multiplying income and growing exponentially, not just you know, 10 percent a year, but 200 percent a year and double every year or so, those folks, they figure out how to find the chipmunk and to say that’s a chipmunk, rather than worry about kind of these big things. And so this series is going to be all about what those practice owners do. There’s three distinct phases that I have picked up on in talking to practice owners that went from being in the kind of higher five figures to six figures and multi six figures. So we’re going to talk about these three phases. We’re going to talk about why we need to make time for our big ideas and we need to make time for scaling and we are going to talk about how it’s more fulfilling to live the life we want to live beyond just working harder and sitting in the chair. And so as we talk about this, I hope you are taking active notes, take pictures of it. Tag me in Instagram, tag me on twitter and Facebook the notes you take. We are also going to have a whole bunch over at

[THREE PHASES OF LEVELING UP] But let me take you through the three phases and then I am going to talk about kind of elements under each phase. So there is really three phases when you’re really looking at going from that high five figure into wanting to boost into that six figure that I have discovered from these practices that scale. And maybe first we should talk about like why should you scale? Well, when we have a solo practice, that’s just based on kind of time in a chair, it is really hard to increase your income. It’s really hard to pare down the amount that you are working because what ends up happening is the only way to make more money is to raise to raise your rates or to see more people. And so we have to break that model from just your time being worth something. To really look at scaling beyond yourself. And so for lot of people that looks like moving to the point where you start asking yourself why am I touching this? Why am I the one that’s doing this when my hourly is worth so much more or when my specific way of operating I need to be looking more big picture? And we will talk about how you do that. So first one of those three phases – well, Phase one is assessing where you are at? And we will talk about what that looks like. Phase two is to brutally take things off your plate. And then phase three is getting to that next level, getting to that next level.

[PHASE ONE: ASSESSING WHERE YOU ARE AT] Let’s walk through phase one, so assessing where you are at. The first thing you want to look at is doing an [Inaudible 00:09:42.10] on where you are spending your time. Like what you spend your time on? Is it email, is it phone calls, is it scheduling, is it website updates? Where are you spending your time. So even just taking a week to really look at – okay, what am I spending my time on this week? Should I be spending my time on this week? I remember I did a consulting call with someone recently who was looking getting to that next level. And she talked about how… she really could only do like five sessions a day and she felt like she had the energy for that. And that she did on the hour and she wants you to do 15 sessions over 3 days. And I asked her, well, how much do you… and right on time at the 45 minute mark because that’s what your sessions are. And she is well, you know, I kind of go over some time. Sometimes I go 60 minutes, sometimes people need 75 minutes. I encouraged her to really look at her use of time because you figure if you do 45 minutes sessions… and say you did them back to back. I am not saying that that’s what you need to do, but just to kind of challenge your way of thinking. If you did at 45 minutes, every 45 minutes, and did four in a row that would take you three hours. So every three hours of work, you add an extra hour of income, just by being diligent and ending on the 45 minute mark. So maybe if you work for 90 minutes, so do two 45 minute sessions, take a 15 minute break for paperwork, bathroom whatever, and then jump back into that 90 minute session. And so then, you are in three hours getting in four sessions, rather than just doing on the hour, and for that 15 minutes or that 10 minutes dinking around, doing paperwork, feeling like you are getting something done. But really, do you need to have that 40 minutes to an hour of time to do paperwork and go to the bathroom. Probably not. So what it does is, it forces you to end on time if you schedule some people back to back. It’s just one example of evaluating your use of time, looking a way to doing email. Is it non-stop during the day with notifications coming in versus dedicated time to do email versus having an assistant digging into all that. [Inaudible 00:11:51:3] where you are spending your time.

Next under phase one, we want to look at where is the money coming from. You’ll be shocked at how many six figure practices that are in the low six figures don’t even know their numbers versus the multi six figure practices almost always know their numbers. I do my monthly income report. I also do an annual income report where I look at what percentage came from consulting, from group consulting, my use of time. The more that you know you numbers regarding where money is coming in, the easier it is to maximize those things that are going to bring in more money.

And then the third part is really assessing what is driving you. So it success that drives you? Is it achievement? Is it a sense of changing you community for the better? Is it access to mental health services? What is the driver for you that really pushes you forward?

So phase one is all about assessing where you are at. What’s happening now and what are the numbers? What’s the time? What’s driving me? And taking some time to genuinely answer those three questions before you say, oh, I need to go do all these other things. Now if we don’t do that, if we don’t know where our time is being spent and our money is being spent and where the money is coming in and what’s driving you, we are not going to be able to level up. Because we are not going to have time, we are not going to be able to edit things off your plate. We are not going to be able to optimize the money coming in. We are not going to able to have the influence, that income that we really want to have.

[PHASE TWO: BRUTALLY TAKE THINGS OFF OF YOUR PLATE] Phase two is then to brutally take things off of your plate. And so what a lot of multi six figure practices do, what those owners do, is they only touch the things they have to touch. So for example, this morning, our G suite for some reason we couldn’t log in. I don’t know why it happened. All of a sudden we had to verify payment again. I had Emily, my Director of Details, as I am going into the dentist. I jumped on the phone with her. I’m about to go get a filling and my mouth is just done now from being numb. I have her jump on the phone with our IT guy. By the time I am done with my filling, that is sorted out, and then paying here 17 bucks an hour, 18 bucks an hour, somewhat in that range. So I am optimizing my time so that later on in the day I am not having to do that. Also there is no delay. She is working on things while I’m getting a filling. So I’m also multiplying my time, and so to brutally take things off your plate. You may end up paying a $1000 in virtual assistance fees, but that if you’re charging 200 bucks an hour for your consulting or your counseling or you have other people working for you on all these other things, what happens is – yeah, that is five or six hours of your time – but you discuss someone for 40 hours or 50 hours. You multiplied your time, you will be multiplying your money. So phase two is brutally taking things off your plate. Another thing that stands in the way of this phase two is that idea of only I can do it best. I am the one that people come to at my practice. I am the one that made it great. Which is probably true. The owner usually is the hardest worker, the visionary for the practice. But over time if you train well, which often times we have too much up on our brain, so we don’t put on paper, on video or train in a positive way that people can learn from. If we don’t then assess where someone has asked for virtual assistance or something like that and then have feedback back to them in a non-judgmental way, then it kind of says, okay, maybe I drop the ball on the trainee here. Let’s just tweak this a little bit. Let’s have a weekly sit down when you start. That’s what top practice owners do. They have this cycle that they continually go through in hiring people, training people, giving them the tools to be successful and then going back and making sure that they are getting some accountability around it and quickly going through those phases so that person can really be on-boarded quickly and learn as they go. And so as we do this, yes, you are going to have the feeling of only I can do it. But in reality, there’s so many other people that could do as well or better than you if they were trained in your methods. All right.

What are the kind of bullet points under phase two brutally taking things off your plate. Number one, – and you can do this right now, even if you are not a six figure practice yet, – is create one small, clear boundary that you are going to stick to. So it might be that you are no longer going to see people on Saturdays. It might be that you are going to take one evening off a week. It might be that you are going to go from five or six days a week to four days a week. It might be that you are going to check your email once a day. One small boundary you can set and stick to. These top practice owners I interviewed, they find ways to set boundary after boundary to stop people from getting to them. Now that sounds brutal when you are a counselor because you want people to have access to you. But we do want to say that there’s certain people they get more access to than others. The average new intake person should not be able to jump on a cell phone, call with you right away. There should be some layers between you and that person whether that’s your website, an intake coordinator, some way of scheduling an intake phone call with you, versus you may have a client that you have had for five years. They are highest paying client. They have been around… they may have more access to you our consulting B/client. So my Mastermind group, in particular, they will have my personal cell phone number. They can text me. Just the other day, someone text me, said, hey, could you jump on a 10-minute phone call. I have some quick questions. Yeah, absolutely. You are my Mastermind group. I want you to be able to feel like you have direct access to Joe Sanok to help you with your problem. And so those people, they are in the inner circle of the next level Mastermind group. They can do that. Whereas the average person, I am not going to put my cell phone number on practice of the practice and have, you know, 50,000 a month texting me. So first, under phase two of brutally taking things off your plate is to create one small clear boundary they will stick to. Second is to brutally examine what it will take to stick to that boundary and take things off your plate. So what is it going to take? Is it going to be that you put something in your calendar that automatically fills in every Thursday or every day that you [Inaudible 00:18:28.06] your email. What are you going to do that you are going to systematize it, so that you stick to that boundary, so that people don’t schedule on Saturday mornings or Fridays or on Tuesday nights. Often times, it’s that you sign up for something that’s other than counseling. So for example, I just recently signed up to learn how to curl. You know that awesome Olympic sport where you throw this big stones down the ice. So every Tuesday night, I want to be curling and learn to curl – actually on Wednesday night this week on two days, I am going to learn to curl, on the basics of curling. I have been watching You Tubes on curling and statistically speaking I have the best chance of being an Olympian because curling is [Inaudible 00:19:10.07] to be a dying sport. And so if I ever want to be an Olympian I might actually have a shot at it with curling unlike a lot of other sports. Now I may learn more of curling and say it’s not as easy as it looks, which I would guess is probably going to be the case. But it’s something fun to do. I am going to hang out with my friend Paul. We are going to get drinks afterwards. I would get time away from the kids and get to go, do something fun. That makes it easier to not work on a Tuesday night. I didn’t really have that problem anyway. But if I did, that would make it even easier. All right.

Next after we have set one small clear boundary, we brutally examined what’s going to take to stick to that. We are going to then start outsourcing items around that boundary. And so for example, let’s say that you want to check your email once a day. That seems crazy for most people. What would you need to do to make that happen? Well, you might need to hire a virtual assistant that signs a business associate’s agreement, you train in HIPPA, that is able to go into your email, respond on your behalf as them and not as you. You want people to know that it’s Emily, your Director of Details or whoever your intake coordinator. I am replying on behalf of Joe. He gets lot of emails every day. I can jump on a phone call with you to get you scheduled. He checks his emails once a day and I’ll star this and text him to let him know that it’s in it. That’s going to make it that you read the emails only you need to read. I started having Emily do that for me, man, six months ago or a year ago… I don’t remember exactly when I brought her on. I should have [Inaudible 00:20:47.20] memorized. But it has been amazing. I went from 50 to 100 emails a day or more to probably 5 to 10, and she stars the ones I need to do. I just do those, and leave the un-starred, I let her go through, and it has significantly helped me focus on those next level of things that I need to be working on. As well, we want to continue to finding doing those things that we brutally take off our plate.

Phase two. Brutally taking out things off our plate. Set one clear boundary that you can stick to. Second, figure out what you need to do to stick to that boundary, and third begin outsourcing things. So for example, if you are looking at outsourcing your insurance billing, Practice Solutions, they are great billing company that we have partnered with. And you can check them out at And so they are amazing. So that’s something you can take off your plate. There is so many things you could take off your plate.

So, phase one, assess where you are at. Phase two, brutally take things off your plate.

[PHASE THREE: START GETTING TO THE NEXT LEVEL] And phase three, start getting to that next level. So you want to in this time, in this phase start creating space to slow down to allow your brain to settle down to start brainstorming. Now, I taught this quite a bit over the last year and you guys heard a lot on the podcast about this. But I saw in person at Slow Down School this summer, and to see these participants genuinely slow down, go for hikes and then have light-bulb moments everywhere, was mind blowing for me. When we slow down, those sparks of innovation come and we get clarity we would not have had if we didn’t do that. And so top practice owners create that space to be able to have those new ideas. Because what’s going to set you apart from the average practice is not going to just being efficient on customer service. It’s going to be little sparks of innovation where you create a new category. Just like Christopher Lochhead talked about over the last three podcast episodes that we had. Holy crap, wasn’t that awesome? Lots of swear words in there too. Ow, but you need to stand out and the way you are going to do this is by slowing down to spark innovation.

Next after that, we are going to take in new information from outside the field because so often we just listen to podcast like this – and which is fine – but I want you listening to podcast about business, about marketing, about art, about story telling. Taking in books or TV shows that make you think differently to expand your way of thinking. When you add that different dimension to yourself, it makes it so much easier, and then next you want to go through a process of bringing on ideas, launching ideas, and then taking those off your plate and outsourcing them.

[CONCLUSION] I went through that whole seven step process through my podcast series where we were talking about those sparks of innovation which we will put a link to in the show notes. And so we know the top practice owners first assess… (phone beep) aw, that’s my wife texting me, let’s see… aw, just a swing set quote, should turn that off… so assess where you are at, brutally taking things off your plate and then getting to that next level. Now, if you are interested in applying for the next level Mastermind group… this is for people that they know that they had [Inaudible 00:24:20.3] six figures. So you have to be at least a $60,000 in gross revenue. Most people are at the $100,000 market growing. So this is for people that they know that they need a little bit more focus. They know that they need a community of other high achievers that they can talk to every twice a month. And we are going to do it over a year. But it’s people that maybe feel that it’s kind of hectic. I need to get organized. I need to have some accountability, and so we have these twice a month meetings where we are online, where we see each other face to face, as well we work together with accountability partners so that you can have that support from me and from the group. And Slow Down School has actually included in the price of doing the Mastermind groups. The Mastermind group is $600 a month over that year. I would love for you to go over to level mastermind. There is only six spots for this and the reason there is only six spots left is the cap for Slow Down School is going to be 20 people. So we have our six people in three groups. So, we are already at 18. So we are going to have very few spots for Slow Down School this coming year that you can get into outside of the Mastermind group. So if you are thinking about coming to Slow Down School, if you want that accountability, if you want to get to that next level, go to You can apply there. Emily is going to jump on the phone with you. Make sure that you’re a good fit. And then we are going to jump on the phone to talk about whether or not you are a fit for that, that next level Mastermind group.

We would love for you apply, we would love for you to read about it, if you are ready to go to that next level. You guys rock! Thanks for letting me into your ears and into your brain. Keep up the good work and we will talk soon. Bye.


Joe Sanok: Special thanks to the band Silence is Sexy, and this podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered, is given with the understanding that neither the host or the publisher or the guest surrender any legal, accounting, clinical or other professional information. If you need a professional, you should find one. See you.


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