Breaking The Taboo Of Earning Good Money As An Osteopath
Podcast Episode Transcript
As osteopaths, talking about money or making good money is a touchy subject. We spend our time helping people, so when it comes to earning a decent income, running a profitable business and business-minded, we find ourselves feeling like something isn’t quite right.
You can end up asking yourself things like: “Is this right?” and “Am I allowed to feel good about making a decent living being an osteopath?” Because earning or even wanting to earn a good amount of money or run a financially stable business can feel like you’re betraying your values. It’s like trying to figure out if wanting financial success in your career goes against what being an osteopath is all about.
Look, the truth is that we all have debt to pay, people who rely on us to provide and we all know that starting and running a practice is expensive. The point being that we all need money and we shouldn’t have a negative view on being business-minded. What I’m saying is that the narrative about earning good money and being business-minded as osteopaths must change if we want osteopathy to thrive in practice practice.
Let’s not kid ourselves here. We should feel zero guilt about earning a good amount of money and running a financially stable business because if you’re helping people in the most ethical way you know how and you’re charging a fair market price for it, you bloody deserve it.
So, I’m hoping that this episode will act as a catalyst for change about the relationship we have as osteopaths with money. In the spirit of doing so, the tenth and final book of this series I’m going to talk about is The Psychology Of Money by Morgan Housel.
Welcome back to Behind The Osteopath. My name is Alan Zaia, I’m an osteopath, Founder of Osteohustle where we plan, build and grow dream careers for osteopaths.
As you know, Behind The Osteopath is based on my belief that you should never open a clinic without fully understanding what it takes and a part of that means I’m covering 10 books I believe every osteopath should read.
The Psychology Of Money is, as I said, book 10 in the series. I first read this in 2022 and for this episode.
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And of course, thank you to those of you who have already rated and subscribed. I can’t express enough how much it means to me to have your support and I’ve loved reading your comments via the Q&A section. If you’re on your phone, tap on the episode, scroll down and you’ll find the Q&A section where this week I want to know how you feel about money as an osteopath? Do you feel guilty about the amount you earn? Do you want to earn more but there’s a mental weirdness about it you can’t overcome? Come and connect with me. I would love to hear from you.
With that being said, let’s dive into The Psychology Of Money.
So, The Psychology Of Money is based on the concept that doing well with money has little to do with how smart or how good at maths you are and instead a lot to do with how you behave.
Morgan says: “Financial success is not a hard science. The aim of this book is to convince you that soft skills are more important than the technical side of money so you can make better financial decisions because we think about money in ways that are too much like physics which has rules and laws and not enough like psychology which has emotions and nuance.”
One of the examples he gives is that no one can accurately explain why the stock market crashed in 2008, let alone what should be done about it. And that every very good explanation was met with an equally convincing rebuttal. Yet engineers can determine the cause of why a bridge collapsed and offer what needs to be done to fix it with extreme accuracy and agreement.
He’s explaining that we’ve been brought up to think of finances as a game rules and laws where in fact it’s an art and science that involves emotional intelligence and feelings.
So what he’s done with this book is put together a collection of 20 lessons each describing a component of the psychology of money. I’m going to share with you my top 6 lessons and how you can use them as an osteopath so you can make better sense of your finances. Because I’m only covering 6 of the 20 lessons, go grab yourself a copy of the book from your local library.
Lesson 1: We All See Money Through Different Lenses
The first thing we need to do as a profession is understand that how you feel about money, won’t be how everyone feels about money. Morgan says that people do crazy things with money, but here’s the thing: “people from different generations, raised by different parents who earned different incomes and held different values, in different parts of the world, born into different economies, experiencing different degrees of luck, learn very different lessons. Everyone is anchored to a set of views about how money works that vary wildly from person to person.”
Everyone in my family tree is working class. My mum has always been a youth worker. My dad is ex Army and now works as a school groundskeeper. My older sister was the first member of my entire family tree to go to university. I was the second. No one in my family has ever earned more than 35 grand a year. I got A*-D grades across the board at school but I never studied for anything, expect for maths, where I got a C because my mum told me that I need at least a C for Maths, English and Science. So, as you’ve probably guessed, I was brought up to think about money like this: Earn and save what you can. Work hard and be safe with your money. Which is why, and I’m sure many of you who have a similar background as me will probably associate yourself with these three points:
- Risk is mostly always bad, for example, the idea of investing in stocks is stupid in my family
- I put my feelings about money on patients by thinking: oh, things are getting quite expensive for them, so I’d better just say ‘see how you go’.
- When I see people spend money on things that I think are daft, I can’t even imagine why it would make sense to them, especially when it involves risk
And so it’s very assuring for Morgan to say: “The challenge for us is that no amount of studying or open-mindedness can genuinely recreate the power of fear and uncertainty. I can read about what it was like to lose everything during the Great Depression, but I don’t have the emotional scars of someone who actually experienced it. And the person who lived through it can’t fathom why someone like me could come across as complacent about things like owning stocks.”
It’s essential for you to know that “Every decision people make with money is justified by taking the information they have at the moment and plugging it into their unique mental model of how the world works.”
If someone talks about money in a way that doesn’t make sense to you, try to learn and understand it because we all see money through a different lens.
So when someone talks about wanting to earn more money, that’s okay.
When someone asks a question about money and finances on social media, that’s okay.
Or if an associate asks you for better pay or if your principal wants to have a talk with you about how much you’re bringing into the practice, that’s okay.
Of course there’s a lot of context to cover here, but the vast majority of the time, it’s coming from a good place and with the right intentions. If you’d like for me to talk more about this, rate and follow the podcast for season two!
To wrap this lesson up, it’s as equally challenging as it is rewarding in the sense of how you can break some of the bad habits you have with money and form new ones that better suit where you are in life now.
Lesson 2: Know When Enough Is Enough
Okay, so I’m going to be talking primarily to clinic owners here, and if you’re thinking of opening a practice of your own in the near future, learning this lesson will serve you well.
So Morgan describes a story about money that highlights something we don’t think about enough as a society let alone as osteopaths: “At a party hosted by a billionaire on Shelter Island, Kurt Vonnegut informs his pal, Joseph Heller, that their host, a hedge fund manager, had made more money in a single day than Heller had earned from his wildly popular novel Catch-22 over its whole history. Heller responds, “Yes, but I have something he will never have…enough.”
And on the back of that story, Morgan teaches us a few things about understanding what is enough.
The first thing he talks about is the idea that “there’s no reason to risk what you have and need for what you don’t have and don’t need”. This is a great one for all osteopaths in all kinds of situations.
If you’re an associate for example, and you’re in a time in your career where you’re perhaps a bit bored with work or frankly you’re not getting the amount of money you’d like and you’re thinking “well, I can earn a lot more money and face more stimulating challenges by starting a practice of my own”. And while that may be true, ask yourself: Is what I have enough? And if it isn’t, what does enough look like? Do I really need to change my circumstances dramatically to get what I want? What can I do in my current associateships that gets me closer to fulfilment before deciding that I need to make a huge leap? Make sure you communicate transparently with your principal—because if they’re like the principals we work with, they want to support you in every way they can. And if they’re a great principal, they’ll work with you to figure out how everyone can get what they want because believe me, they want you to stay and if you enjoy working there, give them and yourself an opportunity before jumping ship.
And no matter whether you’re a clinic owner, associate or both, what I’m about to say next applies to us all:
Morgan says that: “Enough is realising that an insatiable appetite for more will push you to the point of regret. The inability to deny a potential dollar will eventually catch up to you. There are many things never worth risking, no matter the potential gain:
- Reputation is invaluable
- Freedom and independence is invaluable
- Family and friends are invaluable
- Being loved by those who you want to love you is invaluable
- Happiness is invaluable
And your best shot at keeping these things is knowing when it’s time to stop taking risks that might harm them. Knowing when you have enough.”
So when it come to the potential of earning any sum of money, whether you’re thinking about cramming in an extra patient because they’ve rang you up in a desperate plea to see them outside of your normal working hours, ask yourself: is it worth not going home to dinner with my family on time? Or if you’re thinking about opening another location or buying another practice because it seems like too good to turn down, ask yourself: is it worth your freedom, your happiness, losing the financial cost of that investment, the financial stress on yourself and your family or risking burn out because you have to stretch yourself in order to make things work?
Know when what you have is enough.
One of the best parts of the book regarding any financial decision is what Morgan says next: “Manage your money in a way that helps you sleep at night. That’s different from saying you should aim to earn the highest returns or save a specific percentage of your income. Some people won’t sleep well unless they’re earning the highest returns; others will only get a good rest if they’re conservatively invested. To each their own. But the foundation of, “does this help me sleep at night?” is the best universal guidepost for all financial decisions.”
Lesson 3: The Power Of Compounding
Alright, let’s talk about compounding. So, this chapter hits you straight away with an amazing statement: $81.5 billion of Warren Buffett’s $84.5 billion net worth came after his 65th birthday. That’s only a 3 billion dollar difference. That seems unbelievable, right? And that’s exactly the point that Morgan is trying to make. He says: “If something compounds— if a little growth serves as the fuel for future growth—a small starting base can lead to results so extraordinary they seem to defy logic.” That’s the power of compounding.
So, Warren Buffett is obviously an investor, but I don’t want to talk about compounding and investing in the context of investing in the stock market.
I want to talk about compounding in the context of investing in two ways:
- Investing in yourself: In the sense of educating yourself by reading books, build your network, go on courses, practice your skills, learn from the people around you who you know things that you don’t, especially when they’re doing something that you want to do in the future.
- Investing your business: In the sense of reinvesting money back into the business so you can grow it in the ways it needs to which can be for growth or stability. Growth can be marketing and hiring more practitioners and staff like a virtual receptionist etc. Whereas stability can be paying to take yourself out of the business so you can take paid leave for that holiday you’ve been meaning to have but never had time for, putting money towards an emergency fund or starting a pension.
It’s important to know that investing in yourself and investing in your business work at their best when you invest early and with consistency.
Morgan says: “More than 2000 books are dedicated to how Warren built his fortune, but few pay attention to the simple fact: Buffett’s fortune isn’t due to just being a good investor, but being a good investor since we was literally a child. None of the 2000 books picking apart Warren’s success are titled ’This Guy Has Literally Been Investing Consistently For Thee-Quarters Of A Century’”. He continues by saying: “Good investing isn’t necessarily about earning the highest returns, because the highest returns tend to be one-off hits that can’t be repeated. It’s about earning pretty good returns that you can stick with and which can be repeated for the longest period of time. That’s when compounding runs wild.”
So, invest in yourself and your business as early as you can and in ways that allow you to keep doing so. Take advantage of compounding.
Lesson 4: Focus On Consistently Not Screwing Up
This is a very powerful lesson, so please listen in.
Getting money is one thing, keeping it is another. They are two totally separate skills.
Morgan says: “If I had to summarise money success in a single word it would be ‘survival’”.
Survival is the ability to stick around for long enough, without being wiped out or being forced to give up. There are two reasons why a survival mentality is so key with money”:
- Few gains are so great that they’re worth the risk of significant losses.
- Goes back to compounding. Compounding only works if you can give an asset years and years to grow. It’s like planting oak trees: A year of growth will never show much progress, 10 years can make a meaningful difference, and 50 years can create something absolutely extraordinary.
What Morgan is saying here is that by focusing on not screwing up, it allows you to stay in the game longer, where the longer you spend investing in yourself and your business, the bigger and more fulfilling the rewards. He’s also saying that there will be many risks that aren’t up to you that will affect your business, and that you’ve got to be ready for them, like economic downturns and pandemics.
I’ve mentioned these extreme examples on episode 7, and yes, they are extreme, but they happen – especially recessions. The same can be said for when a key member of your team decides that they’re leaving, how’re you going to survive? By challenging your stance on money while also understanding the finances of your business inside out.
Lesson 5: Paying Fees To Fast Track Success
So in this chapter, Morgan discusses the fact that nothing worthwhile is free and that most financial costs don’t have visible price tags. In translation, when you buy something, there’s always a feeling attached to it like doubt, regret and uncertainty. You know, you’re asking yourself: will buying this thing or working with this person really take me a step closer to what I want? Where there’s a financial risk, there’s emotion. Again, the psychology of money.
Morgan says that the next time you’re going to buy something, like for us that would be a CPD course, agreeing to bring on an associate, investing in a shockwave therapy machine, revamping your website, agreeing to a leasing agreement in a new space, working with a business coach etc, you need to switch your thinking. And the way you switch your thinking the next time you’re thinking about spending your money is viewing things as an admission cost rather than a fine.
Let me give you the example Morgan says: “Disneyland tickets cost $100. But you get an awesome day with your kids you’ll never forget. Last year more than 18 million people thought that fee was worth paying. Few felt the $100 was a punishment or a fine. The worthwhile tradeoff of fees is obvious when it’s clear you’re paying one. There’s no guarantee that it will pay off. Sometimes it rains at Disneyland. But if you view the admission fee as a fine, you’ll never enjoy the magic. Find the price, then pay it.”
Now of course, it’s easy to spend your money on Disneyland. But lets say, for example, because you can do this will all levels of spending whether it be £100 or £10,000 but let’s go with this example for now, you’re thinking about buying a new great big sign for the front window of your practice – rather than thinking of something as a cost like: “Oh god, you said it’s going to cost a grand?”, turn that thinking into the cost for admission: “okay, I pay a grand, what does that now allow me to do?” And in the example of signage, the right sign will increase your awareness, more calls, more online bookings, more website visits and people walk by and talk about the sign with the person they’re walking with, all because you’ve turned your thinking from a cost to an admission.
Lesson 6: Pay To Control Your Time
Osteopaths don’t do this enough. Morgan says that: “Money’s greatest intrinsic value—and this can’t be overstated—is its ability to give you control over your time.”
As a current or aspiring clinic owner, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you have to do everything yourself. But the truth is, trying to do it all can be one of your biggest mistakes. Not only can it lead to burnout and overwhelm, but it can also push you into a corner of bring the only person who can do what needs to be done, and let me tell you, it’s a very hard corner to get out of once you’re there.
Now of course, you’re not going to be able to outsource everything that needs to be done, but when it comes to things like, working with a web designer to make changes to your website on your behalf, hiring a cleaner, a virtual receptionist, a bookkeeper or accountant etc allows you to delegate, and I know many of you out there struggle to delegate, let me tell you that the feeling you get when you know you can just tell someone that this, this and this needs to be done, it’s an unbelievable weight off your shoulders. If you’re looking to get a grip of your time and get back to what really matters, things that, yes, only you can really do.
I want to ask you a question: Do you believe osteopathy as a profession would be in a better place if we were better at understanding our finances, encourage conversations about money and the average wage of an osteopath earns went up? Of course we’d be in a better place because we would have better businesses who are able to help more people. The more people we help through osteopathy, the stronger osteopathy gets. Get rid of that guilty feeling you have about earning the amount of money you want. Again, if you’re helping people in the most ethical way you know how and you’re charging a fair market price for it, you bloody deserve it.
If you want to run a better business or whether you’ve been doing it for 20 years or haven’t opened your doors yet – Osteohustle can help.
Before you go, and I can’t thank you enough for simply listening, if you want a season two, you need to rate and follow the podcast.
I’d love to hear from you too. If you’re on your phone, tap on the episode and scroll down and you’ll find the Q&A section. How you feel about money as an osteopath? I’d love to hear your experience.
Thank you for all of your support so far.
I’ll hopefully see you for season two.
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