What started out as a career in physical therapy for Danielle Brooks evolved into becoming a published author, Nutritional Therapist, Clinical Herbalist, Professional Speaker and founder of Redmond Nutritional Therapy, Lake Washington Massage Therapy and Good Decisions, Inc. Today, the practice she began now has 12 practitioners and a referral network of over 600 doctors. Her interview inspires us to move through our fear and to reach out for coaching and mentorship in our own business.
What inspired you to enter the world of holistic health?
It’s interesting, I was never really inspired to it; it just kind of unfolded.
I originally went to school for physical therapy (PT) not because I knew a whole lot about it, it just sounded better than working in the grocery store for another 5 years.
When I finished my prerequisite work and was working in a PT clinic I really enjoyed figuring out the puzzle of people. For instance, if a girl came to me with radiating pain into her arm, it was fun to figure out if it was coming from a herniated disc, a nerve impingement, or something else. Because I was good with my hands, the group of PT’s I was working with encouraged me to enter the massage therapy program. I did, and loved it. I loved combining the manual therapy skills I had learned from my PT mentors and the massage techniques I learned in school.
I would have worked there for years if my mentors hadn’t encouraged me to open up my own practice. I faced a lot of fear at first, but with their support, I found the courage and Lake Washington Massage Therapy was born. When it grew, I faced fear once more at the thought of hiring someone to help. I had no idea how to hire! But I did it, and my practice continued to grow. I was definitely a reluctant entrepreneur at first!
The funny thing about fear is that when I am in the throes of it, it seems very powerful and ominous. But afterwards I look back and say to myself, “That wasn’t so bad!”
I almost lost it all when I was in a car accident and herniated a disc in my neck and couldn’t practice massage anymore. But my team kept the clinic together while I went through surgery and rehabilitation. I then ran the clinic for a couple of years, but hated it. I am not a paperwork person and being on the phone with insurance companies all day was like poking my eye out with a fork twenty times a day. Not my bliss.
Then one day a flyer came across my desk about a nutritional therapy program. I immediately signed up for it. I couldn’t perform massage anymore, but I could definitely figure out the nutritional puzzle of people. I was back in my bliss!
But then something else happened. My clients were unable to implement the diets and protocols I put together for them. Even worse, I was also having trouble walking the walk when it came to food. This sent me down another rabbit hole, another puzzle to solve! This is when Good Decisions Inc. was born.
So I wasn’t really inspired to it, it just seemed to be where my life took me.
Tell us about your business.
Today Lake Washington Massage Therapy has a team of 10 massage practitioners, an acupuncturist, and myself as a nutritional therapist on staff. We specialize in orthopedic rehabilitation and 90% of our clientele is referred by physicians. We have over 600 doctors that refer to us and we generally stay very busy. The best part is that I have a business manager and two lovely support staff who love paperwork! So they work in the business, while I work on the business and do nutritional consultations on the side.
I also launched gooddecisions.com this year, which will end up being a platform for an online course to help people overcome emotional eating and offer trustworthy products. It has been a fun place to blog about all that I learn. I am excited to see how this will evolve. I speak publically on emotional eating, and am looking forward to doing some workshops as well.
You authored “Good Decisions… Most of the Time” (an excellent resource for educating your clients on the basics of nutrition, for you practitioners out there). I’d love to hear your experience with that, and any advice you would give to a practitioner considering writing a book.
When I made the decision to write the book I felt overwhelmed and had no idea where to start. I kind of stalled in uncertainty for a while. The voice in my head kept telling me, “Who are you to write a book?” But, then I remembered the fear of starting my own business, and how looking back on it, it wasn’t as bad as my mind made it out to be. Funny how our minds like to stir up fear and drama!
So, I hired a writing coach to guide me through the process. I highly recommend this. It made the whole process so much easier and less stressful. This would be the advice I would give to anyone considering writing a book: Hire a coach. Hiring a coach made it real for me, gave me guidelines, homework, parameters and support when I felt stuck. Writing coaches also have abundant resources from editors and proofreaders, to printing houses and distributors. It really makes the whole process of writing a book easier.
If anyone wants the name of my writing coach, or wants to pick my brain on the subject feel free to reach out to me anytime. I love to help and be of service.
What were some of the first mistakes you made in running your own practice that you would tell a new holistic entrepreneur to avoid?
Hire people who are better than you. In the beginning my ego got in the way and I hired people who did not elevate my company or my game as a practitioner. When I stepped out of my ego and hired other amazing practitioners, my practice began to thrive. Good people = an effective and busy practice.
Hire slow and listen to your gut. My gut instinct told me who would be a good fit for my clinic, and when I listened it was magical and my team became very cohesive and effective. Taking your time to find the right person always pays off.
Fire fast. When you know you’ve made a hiring mistake, or have someone who has a bad attitude, is gossipy, or is just not cutting it, let him or her go. Don’t draw it out. Who you hire supports your clinic culture. I want my clinic culture to be positive, filled with talent, growth, fun, and professional fulfillment.
Is there a certain strategy you’ve found to be the most effective for growing your client base?
Communicating with our referring doctors. Sending them progress notes, thank you notes, respecting their diagnosis and approach, and not over-treating are ways we maintain our referral relationships.
Also, again, hiring talented practitioners and taking care of them. I pay a high wage, provide benefits, and create an environment conducive to attracting some of the best practitioners in the area. When people are good, clients come back. Word of mouth works in my book over any online marketing plan any day.
What has been the best piece of advice you’ve received as an entrepreneur?
Always do the right thing. There are times when a problem arises and a decision has to be made to either cut, grow, change, or adapt and whenever my business manager comes to me with a problem, the first thing I ask myself is, “What is the right thing to do?” This has guided me well and has kept me focused on not only what is right for the clinic, but also what’s right for my employees, clients, community, and myself.
What is your favorite indulgence?
A bacon cheeseburger with French fries and beer.
Most exotic thing you’ve ever eaten?
Exotic delicious: Babi Guling (Indonesian suckling pig)
Exotic not so delicious: Japanese fish eyeballs
Last book you read?
Kitchens of the Great Midwest. J. Ryan Stradal
If you could only have one kind of food for the rest of your life, it would be…
Oh man, that is torture! It would have to be Fish Cassoulet. That way I would get my bone broth, protein, carbs, fat, and vegetables all in one dish.
What is your go-to breakfast?
Eggs sautéed in coconut oil. It gives me energy and mental clarity until late afternoon.
What do you love most about being an entrepreneur?
Freedom. I have been fortunate to hire good people who know what they are doing, so my business is pretty hands off… most of the time. This gives me the freedom to follow my bliss and seek out new puzzles.
Danielle Brooks is an author, Nutritional Therapist, Clinical Herbalist, Professional Speaker, and founder of Redmond Nutritional Therapy, Lake Washington Massage Therapy, and Good Decisions, Inc. You can find out more about Danielle through her website, www.gooddecisions.com.