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First off, I would like to apologize to all the people who have made comments on my blog on the Massage Magazine website (where Massage Collage originates) that are not posted. There has been an ongoing problem with this now for several months and for some reason, no comments are being posted. Management is aware of the problem and is working to fix it. It has apparently affected most of us, not just me. The comments are there in line, they’re just not making it into print, and I’m sorry. I don’t withhold any comments, including those from people who disagree with me, so hopefully this will be resolved sooner rather than later. I do appreciate everyone who has commented on my posts.

Now on to the real topic today, and that’s about attitude. My fellow blogger, Julie Onofrio, directed me to a website the other day that was full of therapists who were all making extremely negative comments about our profession and how they aren’t making a living, whining about their lack of clients and the general decay of the massage profession. Not being one to mince words (and neither is Julie), I was appalled at what I read and think it’s a bunch of claptrap. I firmly believe that your business can be whatever you make it.

I want to state clearly that the county that I live in is the 2nd most economically depressed county in North Carolina, out of the 100 counties in our state. We have the second highest unemployment rate in NC, and of towns our size, the 13th highest unemployment rate in the nation. And in spite of that, my business is rocking to the point that just this week I took over another suite of adjoining offices, adding four more therapy rooms, and hired additional staff to handle the clients.

We aren’t cheap, but neither do we cater to the rich and famous. There aren’t any celebrities that I know of in Rutherfordton, NC. There are just honest working folks, or I should say, they would be working if they hadn’t been laid off when their plant closed down and moved out of the country. I think when people are stressed out, whether that’s over money or some other reason, they need a massage. Maybe the people who can’t afford to take a vacation this year are getting a massage instead. Whatever the reason, we’re booming, and I’m very thankful.

In reality, I attribute the success of my business to one thing, and that’s the positive attitude of my staff. People feel welcome when they come in the door. They receive the best service we know how to give, and they are made to feel appreciated for choosing to spend their money with us.

I just received my first massage this afternoon from a new therapist I hired a couple of days ago. I don’t believe in making therapists “audition” for a job at my place. I hire them based on attitude. I can teach a monkey how to give a good massage. I can’t teach anybody how to have a great attitude. I’m glad it was a great massage, but the bottom line is, it was her personality and great attitude that caused me to give her a job.

I’m a big believer in the law of attraction, that whatever you put out there is exactly what you’ll get back. So if you’re dragging to work every day with the thought that you aren’t going to make the money you need, the universe is going to see to it that you don’t. I choose to go to work every day trusting that my needs are going to be met, and they have been. If I go to work whining that I’m not going to have a good prosperous day, I am virtually assuring myself that I won’t have one.

You can’t sit around waiting for business to come in the door. You have to go out and get it. You have to make it a point to tell at least two new people a day about your business, and give away at least two of your business cards every day. You have to network with other small business owners and others at every opportunity. You have to be prepared to look at every new person you meet as a potential client. You have to see to it that the clients you do get are so thrilled with your services they go out and tell a dozen other people. You have to work at it! And you have to have an attitude of success, even when your success has not yet arrived.

If you set concrete goals, if you’re working toward them and doing the absolute best that you can, and you don’t give up, it will happen for you. On that note, I’ll sign off with a quote from Thomas Edison: Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close to success they were when they gave up.

Peace & Prosperity,

Laura Allen

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Comment by Mike Hinkle on August 10, 2009 at 11:10am
And not quitting... Laura! People create most of their own mountains, but they fail when they give up!
Comment by Laura Allen on August 7, 2009 at 8:39pm
Thanks for your comments, Robert.

It was a little distressing to me to see that a lot of those people, as you say, weren't in the market for any way to improve their circumstances...they're just ready to jump ship, so you're right, they don't love massage. Sort of makes you wonder why they went there to start with.

I have had a lot of luck...I got lucky when I met my husband, who is my biggest fan and my rock. And I guess you could say I got lucky when the partners left because they didn't think it was going to be a success. The rest has pretty much been elbow grease :)
Comment by Robert Chute on August 7, 2009 at 7:53pm
Okey-Dokey. I checked out that link. Wow. There are some very negative perspectives over there on MT you don't generally see written down. My impression was that they were expressing themselves angrily but honestly and I'm sure they aren't alone in their dissatisfaction with many aspects of the profession. (Many aspects of the profession frustrate me, too--ooh let me count the ways.)

Since so many people leave the profession after a short time, I'm not even sure if it's appropriate to call them an undercurrent of voices. They might even be an overcurrent and we're just the vocal minority of hardcore true-believers. (Overcurrent. Not a word. Should be.)

From what I read, it seemed to me that many of the people who were complaining about MT on that site were not in the market for ways to improve their attitudes, get inspired or to make a massage career work for them. Many sounded like folks who are on the cusp of leaving the profession for something that I hope they like a lot more. Life's too short to do something you hate that much and, of course, nothing is for everybody and not everyone can be saved. Fortunately, it's also a job search site so they're in the right neighborhood.

Interesting forum. Reading your follow-up post, it's clear you love MT. They don't. They won't.

PS RE: luck. People who are super-successful never seem to allow that any luck was involved after the fact (see the winners of any Survivor. They're all convinced they're strategic geniuses when in fact somebody had to win, many of their competitors were bozos and chance was a factor somewhere in the game.) On the other hand, people who aren't successful tend to think anyone who makes it only had luck going for them, they're evil, or both evil and lucky. (In other words, bitter loser talk.)

I'm sure the harder you work the luckier you get (i.e. you show up more so opportunities present themselves.) Author Malcolm Gladwell has some interesting things to say about this. His key thing is, put 10,000 hours into anything and you're set up to really know what you're doing and be successful at it. Sounds like you put in your 10,000. I begrudge you none of your success.
Comment by Laura Allen on August 7, 2009 at 7:37pm
All practitioners in my business are independent contractors. They are all totally in charge of their own schedule, they come and go as they please, and miraculously, my clinic is staffed all the time. I am very blessed to have the people I have...most of them were people who switched careers at some point, and they all love what they do.

The reason I don't have any turnover is because I treat people fairly and pay people what they are worth. My therapists make anywhere from $30 up to $45 an hour, and I don't take advantage of independent contractors....they take care of their clients and keep their own room clean and that's it. They don't do laundry, they aren't told to scrub the toilet. I hear from ICs from other places all the time that they are treated like employees, expected to stay there whether they have clients or not, made to do cleaning, etc, and if that's the case, the owner is breaking the law. I strictly abide by the IRS rules governing ICs. Many business owners don't, and lots of times, the therapist needs a job too badly to quit. It's a sad situation, and then people wonder why they have so much turnover. I had a spa owner who called me for consulting say that her spa was fully staffed with 18 people, and that every year she does over 100 1099's at the end of the year. That's her whole staff turning over 5 times. I don't want that kind of atmosphere.

My selection process is just as I said above--I don't make anyone audition--I hire people with positive attitudes who want to make money and have a good time while they're doing it. That's my plan every day--make some money and laugh a lot!
Comment by Robert Chute on August 7, 2009 at 6:39pm
Thanks for the link. I'll take a look.
Comment by Laura Allen on August 7, 2009 at 4:33am
Thanks, Rosemary--and you're right, the whole story would probably require a dissertation, but to make it short--six years ago this week, I opened the business. A married couple who were therapists at the massage school where I was the administrator had approached Champ (my husband) and me to open the business with them as partners. They both wanted to keep their other jobs and work part-time, so when we started we added one other therapist to the mix as an independent contractor. Two months after we opened, the couple came in and said that they could see that the business was never going to support us, and they wanted to move away. We released them from the partnership agreement. Our first original suite of offices had four treatment rooms, so there I was with empty rooms. When they left, there was a big energy shift, and the other therapist was soon saturated with clients, so I got another one.

Since this is a very small town, I knew people who were going to Charlotte and Asheville, the two nearest big cities, 50-70 miles away, to get services that weren't available in our town--Rolfing and lymphatic drainage--and I called those people and asked them if I provided those services if they would come here. They said yes, so I called up a Rolfer and an LD therapist from those towns and asked them if they could come into town one day a week to work here if I got them enough clients. They've been here now for six years; the LD therapist got busy enough that people had to wait forever for appointments; then had to cut back her work load to take care of a sick family member, so I got another staff member to go take that training. Then I got an acupuncturist to start coming in from out of town.

When one therapist got busy enough, I got another, and another. The second year, I took over the adjoining suite of offices, and last week, I took over the third, giving us four more treatment rooms. Going on two years ago, I got a chiropractor to join us. It has been a growing experience and an evolution.

I have never lost a staff member, with the exception of a couple who were honest with me at the outset that they wanted to work for me for a year and earn enough money to move to the beach, and one person that I fired after only two weeks for being negative about everything. I do not have room for negative people in my practice. Everyone else who has ever come to work here is still here, and prospering. We have a great time at work every day, and my die-hard rule is that you have to love your work and laugh every day. Our clients comment on the laughter in our office. We just enjoy what we do and have a good time doing it, we're all positive about it, and we look forward to coming to work every day. That's it in a nutshell.

Thanks for asking, and for reading my blogs.
Comment by Laura Allen on August 6, 2009 at 7:18pm
Robert, here is a link:

My husband has spent the past year out of work (construction) and believe me, we have weathered our own financial storms. He generally makes a lot more money from his building business than I do, and I have been our support for a year on quite a bit less than he usually makes. It would have been easy for me to slip into negativity, but I try not to go there, and when I devote myself to improving my business as I do on a daily basis, I don't have time to be negative. When I feel like having a pity party, I allow myself five minutes to do it, and then I take a deep breath and get over it and get back on task.

I don't think too much luck has figured into the growth of my business. I am at my office every morning by 7:30, and most of the time I am there for 12 hours. Money isn't the only reason I do this job. I still clean my own office and do my own laundry. I file the insurance. I do the payroll for my 13 staff members. I handle every facet of my business with only an occasional part-time office worker who is usually just there to handle it if I'm on the road. So I'd have to say hard work, not luck, has brought me thus far. I have a plan for tomorrow, a one-year plan, and a five-year plan.

I don't know anyone who doesn't have problems, and that includes me and you. And I hope I have some compassion, or I wouldn't have lasted a year in this profession. I'm very plain-spoken (you can call that tactless if you want to) and I think people can choose to have a positive attitude, and I think it improves their circumstances when they decide to adopt one.
Comment by Robert Chute on August 6, 2009 at 11:49am
It's great to have a positive attitude, but maybe something else is missing. Maybe they don't have the knowledge or experience you have. Maybe you've been luckier or worked harder. Maybe they really are in a worse situation than you are and used their forum to vent some reasonable frustrations. When you're worried about paying bills and feeding kids, it's easy to slip into negativity. You're right that that's not where the solutions lie, but let's not lose hold of our compassion. Let's ease up and be gentler with our colleagues.

I'd be interested in reading these so-called "whiners'" complaints directly. If you know the link, please let me know. I'm glad things are going well for you, but, especially in this economic climate and the education gap in many massage schools, I'm not shocked that some therapists are having a bad time--and sometimes for good reason. Please don't condemn them. Maybe their pain has to be heard before they can move on to solutions.

It really is tough for some people and there are so many variables that contribute to those problems. Therapists who only work for the money do have problems, but so do therapists who insist it's not about the money aty all. Shaming anyone who dares to complain probably won't improve their attitude. I'm all for complaining. For instance, complaining has spurred others to write about improving attitudes.
Comment by Kathy Bradley on August 6, 2009 at 10:28am
It's amazing to me that there are therapists making negative comments and whinning. I work a full time job and also have my own massage business. I do what I need to so I can do the thing I love which is massage. It's sad that they may have lost their passion for massage because the money isn't coming in as they would like it to. I didn't want to be a massage therapist for the money, I wanted to help people. If their only focus is money, I am not surprised they are not getting out of massage what they want. It's a shame!

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