Business

Jo Muirhead: The Ultimate Business Coach for Health Professionals

Jo-Muirhead

Jo-Muirhead

Guest: Jo Muirhead

Presenter: Wayne Bucklar

Segment Overview: Jo Muirhead shares her background as a rehabilitation counsellor and promotes her company Purple Co, a team of specialised health professionals who help people return to work following injury, illness and trauma. Learn how Jo has used her skills to diversify her services offerings to help health professionals create successful, sustainable and profitable health care businesses.

Guest Bio: Jo Muirhead is a rehabilitation counselor, renowned business coach and the Director and Principal Consultant of Purple Co. (Purpose for People). She created the company in order to help allied healthcare professionals to create and grow their own allied health consulting practice, and take back control so that they can do the work they love without worrying about referrals.

Trasncript

Wayne Bucklar:  You’re listening to Business Radio Talkers.FM. My name is Wayne Bucklar. My guest today is Jo Muirhead. Now Jo is Founder, Principal Consultant, Trainer and Speaker and she does two things and we’re going to talk a bit about both of them. Joe, welcome to the show.

Jo Muirhead:  Thank you Wayne, thanks for making this happen.

Wayne:  Our pleasure. Now Jo, you’re an allied health professional and you’re also a business coach as well. Let’s talk about them both separately. Tell us about your allied health practice.

Jo:  Thank you. So I have an allied health practice. I have an unusual discipline. I’m a rehabilitation counselor by qualification and no that doesn’t mean drug and alcohol. So I went to school alongside occupational therapists, and physiotherapists and speech pathologists and rehabilitation counseling as a discipline, generally helps people make sense of the world after injury, illness, trauma or some sort of significant disadvantage. And what I chose to do was help people return to work following injury, illness and trauma. I’ve been doing this since 1994. I have always been really passionate and interested in people and their work and I’ve understood from a very young age that when we work, we get paid and we like it when we get paid. What I’ve learned throughout my career as a rehabilitation counselor is, quite often, there is a disconnect between work that’s good for us or work that doesn’t harm us and then we get lost along the way in trying to make ends meet, trying to when, then we get all sorts of horrible things happen, we’ve got lots of lifestyle diseases happening these days, stress-related diseases, autoimmune diseases and I think we’re going to find research will tell us that if we’re living very stressed out lives and very busy lives, then there’s going to be some health effects. So I built an allied health practice specializing in this about 9 years ago because I’d been an employee and I was actually unhealthy at work myself. I was incredibly ambitious and driven. And like a lot of technicians, like you find a lot of tradies do this or a lot of doctors do this, they just turn around and go, “That’s it. I don’t want to work for a boss anymore. I’ve got to be better doing it on my own.” So I went out on my own and I was told it wouldn’t work. I was told it could never work and I think I’m doing okay 9 years on.

Wayne:  And Jo who refers patients or clients to you or the people’s self-refer? Where do they come from to find you?

Jo:  So self-referral has become much, much bigger in the last couple of years in Australia. So we’ve got people who have just found us online or had experience with us and have gone, “I need your help.” Most of our referral sources come from third-party payers. So we specialize in the income protection market here in Australia. So a lot of those income protection insurers know of us and will ask us to work with their claimants or beneficiaries. We also do work here in New South Wales for a scheme called the “Lifetime Care and Support Authority” which road accident survivors who, funnily enough, need lifetime care and support. We do work with large organisations and government agencies helping them do what’s known as “absence management.” So these are people who may have extended sick leave or periodic sick leave and they’re absent more than they’re present at work and when we go in and help saw what that health issue is and is there something we can do to help that person become more productive or do we need to re-engineer their job? So it’s a variety of sources. I’m still exploring whether the NDIS here is something worthwhile getting involved here in Australia and we don’t do any New South Wales or federal workers compensation at this stage. That’s a whole mire of accreditation that I haven’t been particularly thrilled about up until now but they are changing my mind, slowly I will let you know. So that’s how we get clients.

Wayne:  ow that makes perfect sense to me because there are people who don’t need a physiotherapist, or an occupational therapist or an allergist. They don’t fit in to those neat little holes. What they need is a support to get the whole lot to work for them together.

Jo:  Yes, exactly and we’ve got all these silos that happen in healthcare. So you go to the GP and the GP says, “You need this specialist” and then you might need another specialist but nobody makes all those specialists talk to each other.

Wayne:  And the most horrible word in the health industry, “Comorbidity.” You never want to be a patient with a comorbidity. That’s code for too hard.

Jo:  Yes. Nobody wants to be a generalist and there’s good reason for that. I personally, if I’ve got a medical issue, I want to see a specialist but I need somebody to help me interpret what that specialist is saying in light of what my other specialist is saying. So one of the skills that we have is doing that interpretation but then also, how does that actually affect you? So we work a lot with tradies that have had their own businesses and maybe have had a double hip replacement or a depressive episode, stuff that they didn’t see coming. And the first thing they think they have to do is just get rid of the business, “I can’t manage it anymore,” or their wife steps in because she’s been doing the books for a while and she tries to keep it running and all of a sudden, the apprentice stops turning up to work and people are defaulting on payments so they think that the only thing that they can do after 40 years is get this business shut down. So we want to be able to step in there and go, “Let us help you not only manage your health but put the right resources in place so that you don’t have to give up your 40 year old baby that you wanted to bequeath to your kids.” Let us help you resource that and make sure you’re making good decisions because there’s nothing worse, I cannot imagine what it would be like to come home after having a heart attack, and finding piles of bills, and unanswered phone calls and your website’s gone down and people saying, “When’s this going to get paid?” and feeling like it would all get too hard. So we can step in and put those resources in place and help people know that you don’t have to make any snap decisions, let’s work out how to keep this going. I hate seeing small business fall over because of an injury or an illness. It’s unnecessary. I’m a bit opinionated, you might get used to that.

Wayne:  Well, that’s what we love about having people on the air, is we can be opinionated. Jo, how did that link to your other business which is the coaching and mentoring business? How did one lead to the other?

Jo:  Yes, really interesting. So I’ve been in my own practice doing my own thing for about 3 years and people notice that I was doing something different. I wasn’t an early adopter of social media but I was an early adopter of social media for PR purposes. So I was putting out video, it wasn’t great content but it was going out. I was letting people know that we were unique and different. I was one of the very first people in my industry to actually talk to an ideal client or avatar as opposed to clinical speak which were all very good at which doesn’t say anything and people were noticing that. So I started getting requests from people. I’ve met occupational therapists, psychologists, speech pathologists, music therapists, chiropractors, osteopaths, “Jo, can you show me what you did? Can you show me what you did? Can you show me what you did?” So that, I started off with a 6-week program go from no referrals in 6 weeks have everything set up and then I realized, people needed more than that. So it was like, “Let me help you walk through your first 12 months.” And then I discovered, after doing that for a couple of years, that my patience for people trying to make that decision to new start had worn thin. I’ve been doing this for so long now, I’m not good at helping people make that angsty decision, “Do I leave my safe job and go into things for myself?” There are other people around there they’re better than that. So now, I get a lot of people who have been doing it for a little while and they’re not getting the results. They don’t understand why they can’t manage their lifestyle plus their practice, plus the work they’re doing, plus their professional development, plus their marketing and help them basically get all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle and then we put it into the right shape. So it’s kind of been a progression for me. I’ve been very good at helping people return to work. I’ve always understood the business case as well as the human case. So sometimes, it makes no sense for a person to go back to their pre-injury job or their pre-illness job. It doesn’t make sense for the employee or it doesn’t make sense for the business owner but sometimes it does and I’ve applied that to looking at health professionals because what scares me about health professionals is we have such high levels of health professionals leaving the profession every year. Hospitals do not have experienced clinicians treating us and it concerns me. I’ve been doing this for 20 years. I am now a really old fogey in this industry, I feel like it. But I’ve got 20 years of experience and I look at the people who are choosing to leave after three years and three years being called experienced, five years being like platinum on a gold cake and we’re not going to be able to sustain health care anywhere in the world if the experience we get to draw upon is only three years old and that concerns me. So health professionals notoriously will give of themselves until they bleed and they will keep doing it until they bleed dry. We’ve all been to university. Our university courses generally tell us that you provide the work whether you get paid or not and you do it until you die. We’re told that there’s this thing called “self care and compassion fatigue” but it’s only now being talked about as real and genuine and prevention is always better than cure, but there’s not really a lot out there in our workplaces in the way we practice healthcare that helps us do it in a way that is healthy. So I want to bridge that gap because I’ve seen what happens when people are not well and they continue to work and I’ve had to rehabilitate them. I’ve seen health professionals who continue to grind themselves into the ground, who don’t look after themselves and I just think it doesn’t have to be this way and if I can do something about it, I want to. I’ve also had some pretty horrible personal experience where I didn’t enjoy my life for a while that made me go, “I don’t want to do this anymore. Maybe there’s got to be a better way.” And funnily enough for me, becoming self-employed was the way I managed that and have continued to manage it for 9 years.

Wayne:  Well, I’m always, I don’t know whether “surprised” is the word but I talk to doctors particularly because so many of them have these very varied long education periods, like where they’re 20 or 25 years of basically full time or very ongoing education. And in all that time, prior to them going to open their own practice, they never once looked at a balance sheet, they never once understood anything to do with marketing, they never once had any business in fact a lot of the times, business was a disdainful process, they looked down on the business students. And all of a sudden, they find themselves in that boat that’s really quite tough to make all the bits work together as you put it, to make the jigsaw puzzle look like the picture you want. Now Jo, I also understand you do some training and speaking. If I was the person unfortunate enough to be elected to organise speakers for the next staff conference, why would I choose you?

Jo:  That is a great question and no one has ever asked it quite that way before. I enjoy speaking but I don’t enjoy the sound of my own voice for the sake of it. So I have some quite specific topics that I am well-known for. One is, how do you make your work in your life work? I’m a very skilled speaker in talking around the health benefits of work. So work is actually good for our health when we learn to do it properly. But I really enjoy the engagement with people as a speaker. So I don’t do death by PowerPoint. I enjoy the genuine engagement of people in the room. I’m good at facilitating questions so most of my speaking opportunities are met with a Q&A session, or a tool or a resource so that people leave the room changed. It’s important for me that people take something away from any speaking training opportunity that they have with me otherwise, “Why am I bothering with this?” Like it doesn’t meet any need. So does that answer the question?

Wayne:  It does. I’m always thinking, at every conference there are two people nervous before the keynote speaker speaks. The keynote speakers in the wings of the stage having a few butterflies and getting a bit excited about speaking but down the back of the room is the conference organiser who’d booked them who’s completely terrified that if they’re a complete waste of time, their careers gonna be ruined and no one’s ever going to speak to him again. So I’m always sympathetic to the conference organiser who has to book a speaker you see. So that’s the basis of my question. What do they get when they book you? And as you said, a dynamic Q&A session about work.

Jo:  Yes, about why work is important and on my website, you’ll see that there are specific topics because they’re the things I’m asked to speak about all the time. But I don’t turn up to speaking gig A and speaking gig B and present exactly the same way because too in tuned with the people in the room, it’s just who I am. So speaking gig A may have this outcome and speaking gig B may have that outcome because the people in the room are different. So I really enjoy that. That’s fun to me, I find that easy. But I do get nervous beforehand because I want to do well.

Wayne:  Well, I think all the best speakers do because every session is a brand new challenge, that’s been my experience. Now Jo, they’ll be people listening to us who have heard you talking and have said, “You know, I really like that lady’s energy,” or “That’s a smart lady. I need some more of her.” How can most people talk and reach out to you Jo?

Jo:  Yes, about why work is important and on my website, you’ll see that there are specific topics because they’re the things I’m asked to speak about all the time. But I don’t turn up to speaking gig A and speaking gig B and present exactly the same way because too in tuned with the people in the room, it’s just who I am. So speaking gig A may have this outcome and speaking gig B may have that outcome because the people in the room are different. So I really enjoy that. That’s fun to me, I find that easy. But I do get nervous beforehand because I want to do well.

Wayne:  Well, I think all the best speakers do because every session is a brand new challenge, that’s been my experience. Now Jo, they’ll be people listening to us who have heard you talking and have said, “You know, I really like that lady’s energy,” or “That’s a smart lady. I need some more of her.” How can most people talk and reach out to you Jo?

Jo:  Yes. So the best way to do that is go to your web browser and go jomuirhead.com and you’ll find, that’s the link to my business coaching page. If you’re interested in what we were talking about with Purple Co, that’s helping people return to work, that is purpleco.com.au. Alternatively, you can search for me on LinkedIn, that’s probably another great place to find me and you’ll see some testimonials there just in case you’re interested in knowing what other people have to say about me as a speaker or a trainer. And I’m on Facebook but you know really, my website and LinkedIn are probably going to be the best places to come find me, easiest places to come find me.

Wayne:  And I’m sure there will be some people who are looking forward to finding you. Jo, thanks for your time today, it’s been a pleasure having a chat with you.

Jo:  Great, thank you Wayne.

Wayne:  If you just joined us and you’ve just missed my chat with Jo Muirhead, all is not lost. We have a transcript on the website and you can read the whole interview or if you prefer to listen, we have an audio archive on SoundCloud, YouTube and iTunes that you can treat like a little mini podcast well in fact, there’s a little mini podcast and you can download it and listen to my interview with Jo at your leisure. You’re listening to Business Radio Talkers.FM, my name is Wayne Bucklar.

 

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