The Opportunity of Business
With Guest: Russell Brown and Renee Klorman
Many of us think that business is something we “have” to do. But really, it is something we “get” to do. It is a kind of privilege to create a life and practice that deeply reflects who we are. And it is an opportunity to work through any issues we might have with money, power and authority.
In this conversation we explore business as a creative process that allows us to bring our unique vision of health and healing into the world. And at the same time invite us to grow beyond self imposed limits and beliefs that keep us from growing into more skilled and able practitioners.
Listen in to this conversation about discovery, creativity, profitability and the resources we find in ourselves when we willing inhabit the opportunity of creating a business that allows us to bring forth our latent talents.
In this conversation we discuss:
- Russell and Renee's business background
- Creating an experience for patients
- Setting up systems that free you to do your work
- Going from community to private practice
- Making Chinese medicine relatable to American culture
- How do you demonstrate your generosity without lowering your prices
- The differences between price and value
- Finding success in tiny dares
- Unapologetically offering something with wonder and mystery
- Authentic connection
- The challenges of practice when we just don’t have it in us
Admittedly, I have an entrepreneurial streak, which made that first year of starting the clinic absolutely thrilling. And, I completely neglected to take care of myself. By the end of that year I was suffering major burnout. Measure for measure, my practice was a success. I was making a living, always busy, and genuinely enjoying the sensory overload of putting all of the book learning into clinical practice. However, I learned the hard way that passion is not enough and started to slow way down to get to know who I was as a practitioner and find the right work / entrepreneurial / life balance.
Building a satisfying and engaging career is a complicated thing to do! Trusting that hundreds of hours of unpaid work when I was starting out and thousands of spent dollars on school would result in a steady paying job was an uncomfortable leap of faith to make. You've heard of the 10,000 hours rule right? The theory is that if you practice something for 10,000 hours you become an expert. I don’t buy it. You could spend 10,000 hours doing anything and be able to do it better, but to be an expert requires more focus than clocking hours. The 10,000 hours rule is about deliberate focus and intention.
One of the reasons I was drawn to this profession is it's not a punch in and punch out kind of job. I knew that I could never claim boredom in my work, and if I am bored, then something in how I am practicing needs to shift. Of course, there are always peaks and lows, periods of stagnation and plateaus. That is the nature of this long term relationship. Growing with my work and putting in the hours of deliberate focus and intention is the hardest and most satisfying thing I have ever done.
And as this podcast airs, I’m about to make another leap. After 5 years of running a busy practice in Northern California, a new chapter is about to begin. I’ll be moving to Washington state to work with a dream team of practitioners and really look forward to seeing what comes from the collaboration.
After graduating from U.C. Berkeley with a degree in journalism, I came home to Los Angeles and enjoyed a career in feature film development. We made some fun movies—including the near-Academy Award-nominated The Fast and the Furious films and Cruel Intentions—and some terrible ones for which I secretly fear I may someday be karmically punished.
At breakfast one morning in 2002, I eavesdropped on a conversation at the table next to me where a woman was talking about going to acupuncture school, and -on a whim- quit my job and enrolled at Emperor’s College the next day. After working at a few other clinics including the Immune Enhancement Project in San Francisco, I opened Poke Acupuncture in Los Angeles in 2009.
When I started my practice, I was all-too-pleased to declare that I don’t use crystals or wear billowy lavender yoga pants. “I’m not one of those healers,” I’d think, while insisting that any Caucasian who says “Namaste” must be a tiny bit deranged. But the longer I work- and frankly the more constipated and nauseated I am by the news, the images, the world– the more honored I am to practice a medicine that exists a little outside of reason; that reminds people of wonder and mystery, and that maybe seeks to soften the pointy didactic edges of scientific certainty. I am so proud that the very nature of what we do- “pinning someone down” without distraction- is in defiance of the neon buzz of the modern world, whose virtues of speed, volume and productivity have given us much, but too-often rob us of the experience of living deliberately and fully. What a rare privilege it is to spend my days sitting together with a stranger in the dark, waiting for something to happen.
I am so thankful to serve as a reminder to my patients that more can be felt than seen, and that they are not just what they read the on the internet today. Rather, the grace and force that pushes them through their lives is the very same gravity that hung the moon in the sky.
My work has been heavily influenced by Johanna Hedva's seminal manifesto “Sick Woman Theory” which weaves together her biography of battling chronic illness with capitalism, white supremacy, sexism, and political resistance. In it, Hedva challenges the modern notion of “wellness” as a capitalist construct intended to bolster the instinct to go back to workfore capitalism, which is more-than-often the thing that causes disease and detachment to begin with.
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I’ve heard it said that for something to be heard — it takes someone to speak and another to listen.
Acupuncturist, Podcast Host
I've always been more drawn to questions than answers. And the practice of medicine seems to more lively when infused with a sense of curiosity and inquiry. It's been delight and honor to be able to discuss our medicine with so many thoughtful and skilled practitioners.