Today I’m here with Jason Stein, acupuncturist and veteran business coach for wellness entrepreneurs.
Jason literally spends his days helping people build their practices and gain confidence in running their businesses – it’s his full-time job!
Plus, he spent a decade building curricula and teaching Practice Management courses to acupuncture students at OCOM and IICM.
So I can’t wait to pick his brain and share his insights with you today.
Jason and I worked together quite a bit in 2017 and we just launched a group coaching mastermind together. In fact, our first meeting with our group of six students was this Tuesday, and it was a blast!
The reason I wanted to interview Jason is that he has been in both the acupuncture and business coaching industries for a long time (over a decade for both) and he has unique perspectives that I really want to share with you.
And a quick note before we get started:
Jason runs several group coaching sessions throughout the week. Right now he has
two seats one seat left in his 10:30 am (Pacific time) Tuesday coaching group.
Today Jason and I talk about:
- What marketing tends to work (and doesn’t) for the wellness entrepreneurs he coaches
- How to find a great business coach, and whether you need one
- Why he shifted from practicing acupuncture to business coaching full time
- One action we can all take today to get more patients this week
Let’s dive in!
How long have you been an acupuncturist and where did you go to acupuncture school?
I graduated in 1998 from the International Institute of Chinese Medicine in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
What made you decide to pursue acupuncture?
I wish the story was a bit more glamorous, but the truth is I contracted an NUI (a nonspecific urinary tract infection) and after three years of invasive diagnostics and several courses of antibiotics, the doctors just kept saying, “We don’t know.” So someone recommended a local acupuncturist and after moxa, acupuncture and herbs I was symptom free after 2 weeks.
That’s amazing; three years of no diagnosis, and acupuncture helps you in just two weeks? I love this medicine 😍
You’ve been a business coach for over a decade now. How did you get into coaching?
I have a BS in psychology and became a peer counselor in college. I found in the treatment room patients always wanted to talk more and I become more interested in behavior changes than in turning off the light and having them go to aculand. So, I came to a crossroads of becoming either a chaplain or a professional coach. After two years of chaplaincy training I realized I enjoyed the spiritual nature, but my true love was for business owners. I went to coaching school in 2004 and never looked back.
You coach a variety of different holistic healthcare professionals. Do you feel like acupuncturists as a group have a struggle or roadblock that is unique to us?
Most of the acupuncturists I’ve encountered have similar money blocks. They love the medicine, but struggle with making more money. Although you’d think this would be wellness industry across the board, it seems much higher in the acupuncture community.
I agree. In my work with acupuncturists I also find that we are so giving of ourselves as healers that we have a terrible time asking for payment in return for our services. We’re adept at giving, but not receiving. Fascinating but frustrating to witness! What do you recommend for acupuncturists who are nodding their heads to this right now?
Yes, somehow acupuncturists seem to over-give and under-receive, so it’s important for those that can relate to do some work here. You can start with reading a book like Lynn Twist’s Soul of Money or doing a simple course like Heart of Money with Heart of Business. If you have the basics down, it may be time to work with a coach so you can really learn how to more fully receive, accept payment, and grow your practice with the help and support of others.
What’s the most important advice that you’re constantly repeating to your coaching clients across the board?
Stop trying to use a paint by numbers approach. Just like the medicine, each acupuncturist needs their own treatment plan for their business. It really comes down to understanding ways in which you can do business that enliven you rather than make you want to throw up.
Yes! I’m always telling people to focus on the marketing efforts that feel good to them. Marketing that you absolutely hate isn’t sustainable in the long term, and you want something you can be consistent with. Consistency in marketing is key for results.
Is coaching right for everyone? How would someone know if they’re a good fit for coaching?
Coaching isn’t right for everyone. It often comes down to resonance and means. If you have the means to invest a fraction of the cost of your education and you are ready to be supported and accountable at a high level, then you are ready for coaching. Finding the right coach is a different story.
You do both one-on-one coaching and group coaching. Can you talk about the (less obvious) differences between them, and why someone would choose one over the other?
Some people thrive in group environments, others in a one-to-one relationship when it comes to growth. With that said, it also comes down to the investment. Individual Coaching is often hundreds of dollars more in the investment; however with that said, you can get so much done when you have all the attention on you and someone else with experience is there to help you achieve your goals.
Business coaching is becoming really popular in the acupuncture world, and there are more coaches out there for acupuncturists than ever before. But not every coach is going to be a perfect fit for us. What should we look for when we’re choosing a coach? How do we determine who would be a good fit for us?
Each coach should offer some sort of session to learn more if you are the right fit. If they don’t be wary since your probably investing thousands for one-on-one coaching. In that session, make sure your questions are answered and you feel into the energy of the coach. Are they just trying to Ra-Ra you into a sale or are they listening. Listening to what you want, where your obstacles are, what you really need when it comes to support and accountability. I usually recommend checking out two or more coaches to find the right fit.
You decided to take the leap into coaching wellness clients full-time. How hard was it to leave practicing acupuncture behind? And why did you make that change?
I left my full-time practice long ago and in 2007 and I went full time at the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine as the Chair of Professional Development. This is a fancy title that allowed me to create curriculum and try to change the internal landscape on the business of acupuncture. I left the school because after five years of having a full-time coaching practice two days a week, it was time for me to go full-time in my own business. I still treat family and take on an occasional locum practice because it keeps me in the know and understanding the complexities of treating patients and running a business.
You also offer one-page marketing plans custom-created for acupuncturists, a concept I love (especially since my favorite marketing book currently is The One-Page Marketing Plan by Allan Dib). Why is having a one-page plan so helpful?
Because it is so easy to get overwhelmed with the demands of your time as a practitioner. The one page plan allows you to simplify and focus, just like with Qi.
After working with hundreds of acupuncturists for over a decade, are there specific marketing activities that you’ve seen work over and over?
Yes – marketing message —> consistent sharing generously with your community —> call to action.
Any marketing approaches that just don’t seem to be worth it for your clients, in the big picture?
Social media and SEO can be a huge waste of time without the right strategies. I’ve see people waste lots and lots of money trying to have other people do their marketing.
As a clear advocate for the power of mentorship, I’m assuming you’ve had a few mentors yourself. Can you share who they’ve been, and what big-picture messages you took away from each?
One of my favorite mentors became my best friend after years. Dr. Ken Weizer is the first Naturopath at Nike and Providence Health Systems. He’s taught me so much about creating strategic alliances.
I worked for seven years with Mark Silver at Heart of Business and Mark taught me that marketing and making a profit can be done without hurting the heart.:
Finally, my wife, Dr. Rachel Sterry is a big mentor to me on loving and be generous. She teaches me daily about the strengths of love and discipline.
For our audience members who are still in acupuncture school, what advice would you give them regarding starting a practice? What can they be doing now, even before graduation, to really hit the ground running once they’re out in the real world?
My two favorite activities for students are doing informational interviews with acupuncturists you respect and doing frustration surveys to truly understand the general populations thoughts, perceptions, and language around healthcare.
Interesting! What’s a frustration survey?
To create a frustration survey, you ask four simple questions:
- What is your biggest frustration with healthcare?
- If you had a healthcare clinic what would be most important to you?
- Have you ever experienced Chinese Medicine, and if so, can you share a bit about your experience?
- How would you get the word out about a new natural healthcare clinic in town?
Then invite a friend to come along and just ask people on the street within a few blocks from your clinic. Every time this exercise was done at OCOM, people wanted to know more about how they could make an appointment.
You also taught Practice Management for 10 years. What made you decide to take on that course?
I taught Practice Management at both the International Institute of Chinese Medicine (IICM) and at OCOM. I love marketing so I was happy to take on that course because with marketing comes the power of doing what you love. If you can learn how to market you truly can practice anywhere.
What do you think is the most important concept that you consistently taught your students in that class? The fundamental takeaway?
The most important concept is it’s not about to niche or not to niche, it’s all about how you want the community to know you. Once you can begin to answer this question you can share with others your point of view about medicine and healing. From here marketing can become fun rather than just another thing to get done. Sharing your passion with the world in ways that can be heard will allow the right patients to take steps towards you and allow you as the acupuncturist not have to work so damn hard.
What’s one thing we can all do this week to get more patients?
One simple action you can do this week to see more patients is to make sure your business is updated on the top free directories. You’d be amazed how little time it takes to get on Google Maps and how helpful it can be to do that. I just made a simple guide for this today, please excuse any typos – https://goo.gl/wTjxa3
Anything else you’d like to add?
I’d like to add some hope. That just like your patients that have seen tons of practitioners or are on multiple medications and still struggling when they come to see you, you might be frustrated with your student loans or the changing landscape of insurance reimbursement. You too can find hope. With the right support you can be nourished on your own path and create something beautiful. Take a moment after reading this interview and remember why you got into the medicine. You can do this!
Thank you for sharing your experience and expertise, Jason! Much appreciated.
Thanks Michelle for asking the questions. I’m excited to watch the next generation of acupuncturists make a difference in the healthcare challenges we all face together.
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Thanks again to Jason for sharing! I hope you found this interview helpful and that you take Jason’s action advice to build your practice this week.
If you have questions or feedback for Jason, feel free to leave it in the comments below or email him at email@example.com
Until next week!