Welcome back to another awesome episode of the Healthpreneur Podcast! Today we’re going to dive behind the scenes of an extremely accomplished Healthpreneur’s journey. Danielle Brooks, author of, “Good Decisions” is a nutritional therapist, a clinical herbalist, and the founder of a successful wellness clinic called Lake Washington Wellness.
Danielle spent the beginning of her schooling and professional career being told that she couldn’t do things, which propelled her to push for her dreams despite uncertainty, fear, and a pesky ego (who can relate?). She learned that by leaning on trusted relationships and hiring the right people, she could reach heights she never thought possible – and enjoy the process.
As entrepreneurs, we’ve all been there; we’ve been told “no,” we’ve been discouraged, and we’ve had moments where shit hit the fan. But what matters is how we choose to grow from those experiences. Tune in as Danielle and I reflect on how self-doubt inhibited her growth, how she moved past it to get what she truly wanted, and why she she’s so excited about helping people find peace with food and their bodies.
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In This Episode Danielle and I discuss:
- Her mother’s parting words and how they impacted her.
- Ignoring when others say you can’t do something.
- What you need to start a business.
- Swapping out fear for excitement.
- Hiring good people and hiring out your weaknesses.
3:00 – 6:30 – Danielle’s journey and how she got through school
6:30 – 10:30 – Gaining confidence and excitement through experience
10:30 – 15:30 – The initial business mistakes Danielle made and how she fixed them
15:30 – 18:30 – Relationships as a key factor for growth and success and how to hire
18:30 – 26:00 – The Rapid Five
What You Missed:
In our last episode we had another “original gangster” on the show, Jason Ferruggia, who was online even before I was!
Jay has been a fitness and lifestyle consultant for over 20 years, has been featured in major publications, hosts a podcast called Renegade Radio, and has helped thousands transform their bodies and lives.
He is a self-made man and has taken full control of his life and way of being.
In this episode, Jayson reveals the habits and techniques he uses to improve his social skills, confidence, and lifestyle, and helps others do the same.
Tune in to hear how to become a better leader, business owner, and friend.
Today we got a really cool interview with Danielle Brooks. We’re going to be talking about the hero’s journey of a Healthpreneur because what Danielle is going to share with you is a condensed version of 20 years of ups and downs of crap hitting the fan, of good stuff that’s come from that, and it’s going to give you some really good perspective on what is involved in building a successful business.
That’s part of my mission with this podcast is to pull back the curtains and remind you that building a successful business is not easy. Yes, let’s set the intention for ease and facility and everything running as smooth as possible, but let’s also understand that it’s not always going to be easy, right? They’re going to be times where they’re challenged in a very big way.
Do you just give up and call it a day or do you keep on going? I really believe the reason why most businesses fail is because most businesses are not run by entrepreneurs. What I mean by that is they are not run by people who understand what it takes to be successful in business. So I think this episode will really give you some really cool perspective and wisdom and I think you’ll really enjoy it.
Danielle is the author of, “Good Decisions.” Most of the time she’s a nutritional therapist, a clinical herbalist, and the founder of a very successful wellness clinic called Lake Washington Wellness.
Without any further ado, let’s welcome Danielle onto the show and let’s jump right into it. Danielle, welcome to The Healthpreneur Podcast. How is it going?
Danielle Brooks: It’s going great. Thanks for having me.
Yuri Elkaim: You’re very welcome and thank you for being here. I’m excited to jump in and share our listeners about your journey because like with so many amazing entrepreneurs, the journey is so special and I think is really what makes us unique and powerful. I think in terms of inspiration for other people, you’ve been in business for two and a half decades. You’ve been through some ups and downs, talk to us about how that all got started and how you went from where it all began to where you are today.
Her mother’s parting words and how they impacted her
Danielle Brooks: Wow. Well, you know, let’s see. My journey started 24 years ago. I would say that the thing that really put the fire in my belly was when I was young, when I was 15 years old, my parents got divorced. When I turned 17, my mom left. She fell in love with a man who lived across the country. I was on my own and the last words that she said to me before she left were, “You will never make it on your own, you’re too irresponsible, you’ll never make it.” I remember at that point going, “You know what, I will show you. Oh, you don’t even know.” It was kind of like one of those moments of, you know, no, I’m not going to let that define me. Now, keep in mind that I was young and just out of high school when I started and my grade point average was 1.7 and my major was marijuana 101.
When I made the decision, so at first it was like, okay, well I had to make a living so I got a job working at a grocery store during the day. Then I was waiting tables at night and I knew that this was just not what I wanted my life to be like. I made the decision to go back to school and at that time I had to take a placement test. When I went in and I took the placement test, the gal who was giving me the results, she basically looked at me and she kind of shook her head as if to say, you know what, honey, you are so dumb you need to start back off at IDO 75 intro to fractions. I was devastated. I went home and I cried and I picked physical therapy.
I wanted to go into physical therapy at the time. Then I thought to myself, you know what, I’m going to do this, I’m going to do this. I went back and I took IDO 75 and then I took 90 and then 100 and I worked my way up and I ended up getting a 4.0 in all of my prerequisite works classes for physical therapy, including physics one, two, and three.
Yuri Elkaim: Nice, that’s awesome.
Danielle Brooks: The first lessons I would say is, you know, as a young entrepreneur, don’t believe those who tell you that you can’t and don’t listen to those people. There’s really only one person that you need in the whole world to believe in you and that is you. The second lesson from that I would say is you don’t need to have a degree or a 4.0 or you don’t need to be this really wicked smart Yale student to start your own business. You really don’t.
Yuri Elkaim: A lot of people, especially in the health space think that they have to have the letters after their name, the certifications, and a lot of time that holds them back from moving forward because they don’t think they’re good enough or they can’t charge enough or they don’t have the expertise to help someone with respect to their health. Other than sharing your own journey, if you’re speaking with someone like this, what advice would you give to that person?
Gaining confidence and excitement through experience
Danielle Brooks: You know, I went through that, you know, after I graduated I still didn’t feel like I was good enough. I went through all of that and then I would say, when you go to see someone who is going to give you a surgery, let’s say that you need surgery and you have two choices, you can choose to go see the surgeon who has got 20 years of schooling, all of the degrees and all of the certifications. Or you can choose to see a surgeon who doesn’t have all of that but has been doing the surgery for 20 years. Which one would you choose?
Yuri Elkaim: I will go for the experienced, personally.
Danielle Brooks: Right. I would say don’t worry about it, don’t worry about the degrees, the only thing that’s going to really give you that feeling of confidence in what you’re doing is to actually get in there and to actually do it.
Yuri Elkaim: It’s so true. We talk a lot about fear versus courage and I think a lot of people want certainty before they jump into anything and it’s like listen, nothing in life is certain. You’re not going to have certainty of a healthy baby when you get pregnant yet we do it all the time. Right. I think it’s so important for entrepreneurs to not only get this because if you’re coaching clients or getting people to enroll in a specific program you have to offer, they too are going to be going through that same type of fear. They have to have the courage to step into the unknown and to work with you. I think we have to lead by example to take that risk to believe, as you said, believe in ourselves. That’s the big thing. When people want certainty of an outcome, what that tells me is they don’t believe in themselves.
Danielle Brooks: I would add to that, see if you can swap out fear for excitement because I remember after I graduated, so I didn’t get into the physical therapy program when I applied to it, but I was working at a physical therapy clinic at the time and they said, “You know, Dani, you’re really good with your hands. You should open up your own massage thing. You should go to school and open up your own massage … ” I’m like, well, I can’t, I can’t do that. I don’t know how to run a business. You know, the group of PT as well said, “Yeah, sure you can.” And so I did. The fear that was there when I did it, when I graduated and I started the business, and back then we were doing everything on 13 columns. I mean it was like paper and the HIPAA claims that we were sending out were all paper claims.
Every single time when I looked back at doing it, I was like, wow, that wasn’t so bad. I would say when you have fear, when you graduate or you’re working with your first client and that fear starts to well up in your belly and the thinking mind starts going on about, “Oh, who am I to do this? And I really don’t know what I’m doing.” I would say swap that out for feelings of excitement and say, “You know what? I’m excited and I’m ready for what’s next.” Because when you can swap out fear, because it’s the same thing when you’re excited, you get that pit in your belly and your pulse goes up and your heartbeat elevates and you just get excited. I would say through all the years that I’ve gone through, starting and stopping and starting and stopping and facing fear and moving through fear every single time I looked back and it wasn’t as bad as I thought that it was.
Yuri Elkaim: That’s great. We always want that hindsight, right? But the only way to have the hindsight is to go through it in the first place to have that experience and that wisdom. For you, what is a moment in your journey where you thought yourself, “Shit, this is a really bad mistake or this is a bad move.” Something that you know, maybe cost you in some way reputation-wise or money-wise, a mistake you have made and what did you learn from that?
The initial business mistakes Danielle made and how she fixed them
Danielle Brooks: Well, when I first started the wellness center and I was hiring people to work for me, I would interview people who were so much more talented than I was. At first, I shied away from that because my ego was really strong and that cost me because the people who I hired who were not as good as I was, the wellness center suffered. Once I learned of, “Gosh, Dani, get over your ego and hire this amazing person,” then my business began to thrive because I had people who were more talented than I was. When I began to do that, that’s when the clinic started to take off. I would say it costs me when my ego got in the way and I would say that it really rewarded me when I started hiring people who are better than me. I don’t mean like better than me but more talented, that had that expertise.
Another thing that I would say is that cost me is over the years, once I got to the point where the wellness center was doing really well and I’d hired a business manager to come in to take care of everything for me, the billing, the bookkeeping, the insurance claims and all the stuff that makes you want to poke your eye out with a fork. That would be another lesson that I would say is hire out your weaknesses. I got lazy. I got to the point where I have that work life balance and I got to the point where I was traveling and I was taking advantage of all that freedom and I let the business go. Then healthcare reform hit and back in 2016 when everything started getting implemented so we were primarily 90% orthopedic rehab clinic, and insurance billing and doctor’s referrals was our mainstay.
When health reform hit, our reimbursements decreased and the cost for getting authorizations increased. I wasn’t fully present for that and I found myself in a position where the wellness center was really going down and our line of credit was maxed out and I had to just be really quick and shuck and jive. I made the decision to rebrand the company and transition to a cash-based wellness center. I would say that would be another lesson is don’t take your eye off the ball. When you find that work life balance, it’s really easy to enjoy that and take advantage of that but nobody takes care of your business like you do. That would be a piece of advice that I would give.
Yuri Elkaim: That’s awesome. One of our clients posted a really cool piece and I can’t remember where … This is from The New York Times or something about leadership and one of them was the ideal … So you got four quadrants. The one end you got vision at the top and then strategy on the right. Ideally a really strong leader has like zero compromise on their vision, but they’re flexible on their strategy and on the flip side you got to have a strong vision, but if you’re fixated on your strategy, you can very quickly go out of business. In your case, you kind of demonstrated how you had a pivot from that insurance-based model to more cash-based because of the climate, the economy, the whole political setup that changed around that which was a smart move otherwise I’m sure there’s a lot of businesses that may have gone out of business or were really affected by that.
I just wanted to kind of bring that up. The other thing you mentioned about hiring I think is a great wind up about hiring people that are better than you. Again, not necessarily as human beings, but just better in the role than you would be doing that. That’s a big thing I think for a lot of people to get their head around. You mentioned ego getting in the way. I also think that a lot of people try to cut corners by spending the least amount for work, so they want someone to do a task for $10 an hour and then they get $10 an hour results and then they complain about it and go back and forth trying to fix the issues instead of hiring someone maybe that’s $50 an hour, whatever it might be, who’s actually very proficient at doing that.
What do you recommend if someone is bootstrapping their way like most of us have? Bootstrapping their business and maybe cashflow isn’t quite what they want it to be the higher, like a really, really kick ass business manager or operations person or any kind of team member.
Relationships as a key factor for growth and success and how to hire
Danielle Brooks: Well, first off I would say start with relationships. When I first started my practice, I was right there. I had no money, I had no funds, I had no resources, but I had a group of physical therapists that believed in me and I was working in a medical building at the time and I knew a couple of the MDs in the office. I would say build your relationships, find people within your community and again, get your ego out of the way or that fear of not being good enough or whatever it is that comes up for you about building that relationship or connecting with people. Move through that because once I got one doctor that was referring to me and I respected that doctor and so they would send us a referral and then we would treat the individual and then we would send out a progress report so that the doctor was the gatekeeper.
We never disrespected the doctor and we always kept them in the loop and that really built trust within that relationship. Now I went out and I met with other physical therapy clinics and I met with chiropractors and I met with other physicians. I literally got in my car, drove to their clinics and try to set up a meeting with them to say, “Hey, this is who I am and this is what I’m doing.” I did have a couple of meetings where, you know, I met with a couple of doctors and they kind of looked down their nose at me and gave me that whole, “Who are you?” You’re just a massage therapist and those were the doctors that I didn’t build the relationships with.
I would say, if you don’t have the funds, build the relationships because those will increase your referral base. Then as you’re increasing your referral base, if you hire somebody that you can afford to pay. Let’s say that you want somebody in the clinic that’s going to just really kick ass, but you can’t afford them. Hire somebody who’s passionate and motivated and train them, show them the ropes. Bring them into the clinic and create that company culture that makes people want to be there and people will come. People will come. You will get there.
Yuri Elkaim: That’s awesome. That’s really good advice. Two options. You have groom people to where you want them to be, it takes a little bit longer, but that’s a great strategy or you just hire out right from the top of the pool. Two great options for you guys. Dani, I know we’re pressed for time today unfortunately, but I want to jump into the rapid five if that’s okay for you.
The Rapid Five
Danielle Brooks: Sure.
Yuri Elkaim: There’s four or five really good nuggets I’ve already picked out in this conversation. Hopefully, you guys listening have as well. As you know, these are a surprise. You don’t know what these questions are unless you’ve listened to the podcast before and then in which case you would know them, but anyways. Whatever comes top of mind is probably the right answer.
Danielle Brooks: Okay, I’m ready.
Yuri Elkaim: Number one is, what is your biggest weakness?
Danielle Brooks: My biggest weakness, self-doubt or social media.
Yuri Elkaim: Which they feed each other, right? They feed each other.
Danielle Brooks: Right. Right.
Yuri Elkaim: Totally, yeah. Number two. What’s your biggest strength?
Danielle Brooks: Biggest strength, I would say creating company culture and tenacity.
Yuri Elkaim: Nice. Yeah, that’s huge. That’s good and I think that’s how you get people to stick with you for a long time where you don’t have the turnover or you don’t have to worry about hiring new people because someone just left because you’re a Nazi of a boss. Right?
Danielle Brooks: Right. It makes life so much more enjoyable. You go into the office and it’s family, it’s beautiful.
Yuri Elkaim: Awesome. Number three, what’s the one skill you’ve become dangerously good at in order to grow your business?
Danielle Brooks: Skill, relationships.
Yuri Elkaim: Nice.
Danielle Brooks: Yeah. I would say relationships.
Yuri Elkaim: Number four. What do you do first thing in the morning?
Danielle Brooks: Wallow in bed.
Yuri Elkaim: I mean, we don’t need to go that far if you don’t want.
Danielle Brooks: I love being in bed. The first thing that I do is really just really enjoy being in bed with my soft sheets. Then it just depends. Sometimes I’ll meditate, sometimes I’ll work out. It depends. I follow my intuition, but I’d say the first thing that I do in the morning when I wake up is just really enjoy being in bed.
Yuri Elkaim: Awesome. Finally, complete this sentence. I know I’m being successful when …
Danielle Brooks: I know I’m being successful when someone going through my good decisions online course is at peace with food and their body and I can make a donation to my global cause.
Yuri Elkaim: Awesome. That’s great. There you go guys. Danielle Brooks, thank you so much for being with us today. It’s been abbreviated but nonetheless really, really packed full of wisdom and I’m really excited to have you join us at Healthpreneur Live, which is going to be great. We’re going to hang out and have lots of fun. What is the best place for our listeners to follow your work online?
Danielle Brooks: Well, they can follow the wellness center at lakewashingtonwellness.com. They can also pick up my book, “Good Decisions Most of the Time: Because Life Is Too Short Not to Eat Chocolate,” on Amazon. They can follow me on my website gooddecisions.com.
Yuri Elkaim: Awesome. There you go guys. We’ll be sure to link up to that in the show notes as well for you all and Dani once again, thank you so much for being with us today.
Danielle Brooks: Oh, thanks for having me, Yuri. It’s been fun.
Yuri Elkaim: You’re welcome.
I hope you enjoyed that one. I know it was a shorter briefer one today. We both had a bit of a tight schedule to meet, but I wanted to get that in and really share that journey with you so I hope you enjoyed it, I hope it inspired you.
If you want to connect with Danielle, she’s actually going to be at Healthpreneur Live. She’s going to be joining us in Scottsdale, September 20th to 23rd. Will you be joining us? If not, well, that’s unfortunate, but if you’re still on the fence, then I want to push you over the fence and urge you to check out the event.
See if it’s a good fit for you. Head on over to healthpreneurgroup.com/live. That’s the event page. On the event page, you’re going to see everything that is involved.
You’ll see the speakers, you’ll see the dates, you’ll see all that stuff. It’s a by invitation by application event only. Okay? We don’t just allow anyone in because we want to make sure that it’s a curated, vetted events. We only allow 150 health entrepreneurs into the event and there’s a very specific reason for that because we want to create as magical experience as possible for everyone. Once you’re on the page, click the red button that says, request an invitation. Fill out the questions on the following page, submit that page and we’ll get that information and we’ll follow up with you within one to two days at the latest. Healthpreneur Live is a very unique events. We had 110 people last year’s event. Almost all of them said it was the best event they’ve ever been to.
The nice thing is that we have a really good mix of very successful people in the room and people who are still just getting things started and the reason I want to bring both groups of people together because I’m not, I mean I’m a big believer in you are who you surround yourself with. We do a very careful job of selecting the right people to be in the room. I’ve been to events where there’s a lot of ego, right? There’s a lot of egos, “Okay, I’m a speaker. I’m going to be in the green room and then when I do my talk, I’m gone.” And then you’ve got little cliques forming of people who’ve been around for a while and they kind of ignore everyone else like they’re too cool for school, and that’s not what this event is all about. See, our event is about inclusiveness and if you’re at the events whether you’re a speaker or not, everyone is on the same playing field.
For instance, the speakers we have this year, you know, Carey Peters, the founder of Health Coach Institute, or Shannon Graham who’s been on the podcast. Dr. Stephen Cabral who’s one of my mastermind members and just an amazing, amazing, smart, smart naturopathic doctor. We’ve got some amazing speakers, but they’re also going to be sitting in the crowd in the audience during when they’re not speaking, right? They’re not too cool for school. They’re hanging out there, might be sitting right beside you and quite honestly, we have a lot of people that are like, “Hey, I’d love to speak at your event.” I tell them, “Listen, our event is not about fire hosing information from stage.” The vast majority of learning happens peer to peer. We’re going to spend a lot of time during breaks.
We know we’ve got 30 to 45 minute breaks, a lot of round table discussions, a lot of peer to peer learning where you are teaching what’s working for you, you’re learning from what other people are doing. That’s what makes this event so special and so unique is that it’s not a top down approach of saying, “Hey, here are these experts you have to learn from.” Yes, you might be sitting beside one expert or several experts who are crushing their business and you’ll be befriending them, getting to know them, having lunch with them, having dinner with them, and that’s what this event is all about. The reason we put this together is because there’s just such a big gap in the marketplace.
There’s a need for this as most events keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger and in personal, we want to stay small, intimate and more personal to give you that connection to great people but also big ideas and inspiration to take your mindset and your business to the next level. Space is running out. I mean we’re just over a month away and we have to finalize our numbers. Our cutoff date basically for the hotel and the venue is August 31st, right? So obviously we only have another two weeks or so before we have to finalize everything. We do have a couple spaces left if you want one. If you want a spot, head on over to healthpreneurgroup.com/live.
I guarantee this will be a three day experience you’ll remember for a long time to come and it’ll be well worth the investment of your time, of your energy, and obviously just from being there with us it’s just a very special experience. So with that said, I want to thank you once again for tuning in.
Head on over to healthpreneurgroup.com/live, request for invitation for annual events. I look forward to seeing you there.
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