A Productive Distraction

WHY NOW Sixteen years ago, when printed material was the norm, I was the business columnist for Merion Publications, publisher of the OT Advance. 76 columns and 10 years later ,my Taking Care of Business column ran its course, a victim of the demise of print media. Most of the messages, content and material remain foundational and timeless. And after 40 years in the field, I have a good idea of what matter most…

Mark Bittman, a famed NY Times food columnist wrote that sooner or later,a column becomes a body of work. The columns documented the history not only of my personal development in the business end of therapy, but trends in healthcare that have ramifications for all therapists. Updating the material for podcasts is very exciting. My first column appeared in 2004, when associating healthcare delivery by private practitioners and being a financial successful businessperson was still “taboo”. It took time for the column to find its true identity, and I assume the same will be true of the podcasts.

The three continual elements of the columns will also be emphasized in the podcasts:

  1. There are cyclical trends that therapists need to acknowledge, understand, and anticipate what their impact will be.
  2. Pro-active planning and problem solving is essential to capitalize on these trends and make informed and strategic business decisions.
  3. Making sure of the direction you are headed is more important than the time it takes you to get there


The style of the podcasts is part of the message- in order to succeed, I want them to be short, concise and give actionable implantable ideas that listeners can relate to and act on. To transition to podcasts, I will often be collaborating with a colleague, Tomeico Faison, OTR/L. Tomeico and I have known each other for over 10 years; she originally sought my advice about her company and has gone on to grow and expand, not only as a practice owner, but as a business consultant/coach in her own right. I am committed to bolstering the business acumen of the next generation of stakeholders in the field.

Episode Thirteen – Guest Spot on David Kittle’s Show Talking about Selling a Private Practice

I was a guest in June on fellow New Yorker David Kittle’s Show talking about all aspects of selling a private practice. Yikes, I talk too much but there is a good amount of detailed  information about what makes a practice valuable, value makers vs. value takers, adjusted EBITDA calculations, the mighty multiple, tangible vs. intangible assets, pros and cons of using a broker,  among other things. Enjoy!

Episode Twelve – Academic and Social Entrepreneurship – Can You Make the Whole World Your Client?

As therapists, we know the impact we have when we typically work one on one with clients. Nobly, over the course of a lifetime you can impact hundreds if not thousands of individuals.

But sometimes you want to do even more, and have a further, wider and deeper reach.

Academic and social entrepreneurship gives you that option, and today it is more important than ever.  Tomeico Faison and I tackle this in the podcast and both of us have immersed ourselves in this niche of entrepreneurship from different vantage points. Healthcare in this country is a trillion dollar industry regardless of whether you participate in it from the private or public sector. We are both deeply committed to the notion that the academic therapy program owes it to their students to introduce and support a student’s business acumen, and their foundation to be a conscientious global citizen in addition to advancing their clinical skills.

Episode Eleven – Creating Multiple Revenue Streams in Your Practice and in Your Life

Tomeico Faison and I talk about building in multiple revenue streams in your practice as a way to  mitigate, not increase, your risk, to  strategically  grow a practice,  add value to current clients, provide learning opportunities for staff,  prevent potential burnout and ultimately add value to practice at the  time of sale.

We also discuss pitfalls  to watch for including an existing infrastructure that does not accommodate new revenue streams, and what can happen if you are too distracted or differentiated from your distraction from core practice and competensies.

And yes, we do discuss using success of therapy practice to venture into other unrelated areas/ business etc. Enjoy!

Episode Ten – Location Location Location – Sublets/Home Offices/Rentals and More

Probably the first big investment therapists make in their private practice is deciding to open a physicial location, or “brick and mortar” location. The podcast does a deep dive into all possibilites and what you need to take into consideration for each- from running a practice out of your home, subletting from someone, doing a space usage agreement, renting or buying a location. This is discussed from all vantage points including what you need to include in a letter of agreement or lease to make sure you are protected, getting a good deal, and choosing the location best suited for you.

Episode Nine – Naming Your Practice: What You Can Learn From Martha Stewart

One of the trickiest decisions for many first time practice owners is what to call their private practice.  This podcast explores naming your entity from a legal and  marketing  perspectives, and gives practical advice and information on what to take into consideration when making this decision.  Use of a tagline in association with a name is also discussed.

Episode Eight – Motherhood, Family Ties and Therapy Practice Ownership – Balance and Success on Both Fronts

One of the first questions I often get asked is whether I think you can you grow a successful practice and have  a family.  Proof of concept is the fact that my own company grew over a 25 year period in sync with my wonderful daughter Jenna. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that both turned out to be successful in their own right.

That is not to say that there were not trials and tribulations along the way. This podcast, co hosted with Tomeico Faison talks about tips for doing this successfully ; how to manage guilt and growth,  why therapists make “special” kinds of mothers, and  the pros and cons of keeping your therapist hat on when looking at your own children. We also delve into the upside and downside of family engagement and what to expect if you go the route (which is actually pretty common) of hiring your family members, being the “boss” of your husband, and pitfalls to avoid. We also look at the impact that can have on the dynamics of your practice. Specifically what this may mean for other staff members, including tensions in the work place when your family is treated differently than other staff members, and how to avoid the appearance of nepotism.

Episode Seven – The Coach/ Therapist Conundrum – What hat do therapists want to wear when they hold themselves out to the consumer?

I decided to do this webinar solo because I feel so opinionated on the topic, so first and foremost, I welcome all feedback especially opposing points of view. At a time where there is so much competition in the healthcare industry, ongoing encroachment on our scope of practice, blurring of the lines between professionals, at the very least I hope everyone will think carefully about how they want to present themselves to the public, the motivation and pros and cons behind wearing each hat, and maybe some enlightenment on the risks and rewards to consider. As I mention in the podcast, please feel free to email me directly at iris@nytherapyguide.com if you would like a template for verbiage to consider using if you deem having a Disclaimer would be appropriate.

Episode Six – The three most misunderstood clauses in most therapy contracts

Whether you are a practice owner hiring, or a therapist being hired, it is so important to really understand what is in a contract and what should be in a contract. By far, the 3 most misunderstood but important clauses are the non compete, non solicitation and non disclosure. Find out what they should entail to be enforceable and how they work together to mitigate risk. I am joined by Tomeico Faison, OTR/L to help me dissect and give them new meaning, relevance and importance!



Episode Five – Contributing to AOTF’s NYS OT Scholarship Fund for Gerry Balasta

Gerry Balasta,a fellow NYC Occupational Therapist died of COVID 19 90 days ago. I have known and worked with Gerry for over 20 years; he was just embarking on his latest entrepreneurial venture, Wonderful Beginnings, an EI and early childhood center that he was opening with Lea, his beloved wife, a physician. He loved life, NY and his Queens community, proud of his Filipino roots. He had many stories to tell about people and used his OT background, and innate people skills in film making. After taking courses in film production at NYU, he went on to create, direct and produce his first film in 2010,THE MOUNTAIN THIEF which told the story of the people of Patayas, one of the Philippines’ largest dumpsite towns. Gerry masterfully told the story of the people of the town who live off the mountains of trash in dumpsite towns but manage to retain their dignity and thankfulness for life,. The film had a hugely successful film festival run,won the Special Jury Prize at the San Francisco International Asian-American Film Festival, The Prix Du Public (Audience Award) at CCIFF, France and the George C. Lin Emerging Filmmaker Award in Washington DC. In 2012, he founded The Mount Hope Project Inc., a charitable organization with the mission of using films and the arts to make a direct impact on lives. He also founded The Mount Hope Initiative in the Philippines where the children and the actors of his workshop in the dump site town had medical care and are now going to school, to give them options outside of scavenging for trash. He recently sold a pediatric entity in NY to his partners, so that he could embark on another clinic. I know he had many more stories to tell, people to help and life to live and the best way we can all honor him is by contributing to this scholarship fund, set up by the American Occupational Therapy Foundation To date over 100 colleagues have contributed, and any and all contributions would be greatly appreciated. https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/gerrybalasta

Episode Four: White From the North, Black from the South

The idea for this podcast came about after the murder of George Floyd on May 25th. Right after that, many in the therapy community were rushing to put out anti racist statements, posts, pictures and comments. Somehow that felt shallow, superficial and ineffective and really did nothing for me personally to gain insight into understanding racism in this country. When Tomeico asked me to do a podcast with her on race relations in health care so that we could share our perspectives, I instantly felt that this could be more meaningful than any post I could craft. Our hope is that sharing our conversation will serve as a catalyst for many others in the therapy community to start open and honest dialogues of their own with colleagues, coworkers, friends and family.

Episode Three: The “Mother” of Invention – The Story of Barbara, Becca,and UnbuckleMe

On this podcast, I have the great pleasure of talking  with  OT Barbara Heilman and her daughter Becca Davison, the creators of UnbuckleMe,  a patented, award-winning tool that makes it more than 50% easier to unbuckle a child’s car seat. This podcast will take you on their journey which includes a feature on ABC’s Shark Tank this past May that resulted in a deal with not one, but two, sharks!

Episode Two: The Best Prophet is the Best Guesser – What Will Happen To Private Practices Post COVID 19

On this podcast, I share some thoughts on the first question most therapists have asked me in the last 90 days since COVID 19 entered our vocabularies and soon after, our day to day lives. What do I think will happen to private practices?? While no one really knows what is going to happen, there are ways we can move forward from where we are. I impart useful and practical information, demonstrate “pandemic positivity” and point to one important concept: The post COVID future does not exist yet and will only exist after we create it.

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