Most success I dare to claim in this life is due to an explosive, and, for my folks, often nerve wracking, combination of fearlessness, and the soul sucking intolerance for wasting time. Go Execute, don’t “be ready”. Being “ready” was never a state I remember embracing, or rather remember at all. I’ve never been “ready,” as this requires organization, thinking things through, and, generally considering consequences.
Even hesitation, in any form, felt crippling. Starting a life shifting project, without knowing, or hell, even caring about how it should be done, was an impulsive trait I still can’t seem to shake. I would simply start being the person who does what it is I wanted to do.
When I was 27 years old, I landed the sweetest medical sales position, where I was literally paid to make friends. After three months, I was fired. As tenacity was never my weak spot, I was back to applying for similar positions within the hour. My parents are definitely to blame for instilling the idea that I could do anything I set my mind to. As I was applying furiously for my next career, my father calmly sat on the couch asking me questions.
Always thinking on a global level, my father wondered what I was planning to do now. . . you know, with the rest of my life. He always had the steady vision, that, no matter what someone does with their life, they should love it. Busy trying to, you know, land gainful employment, I responded quickly with how medical sales was fun enough, and I made serious money doing what came natural to me. Badgering me about this, incessantly, I finally took the deeper look I know I needed to.
My father is an interesting animal. Growing up, I remember him always creating the safest environment to discuss the most ridiculous dreams. He taught me that the first step to anything in this world was, first, to dream it. Without judgement. Just to start talking about it, but only with people who, you know, will support it.
“Dreams are fragile when they’re young, so you have to protect them.”
He would not only listen without judgement, he’d often challenge me to make my ideas bigger, and more ostentatious. What did I really want, now? I discovered this is still one of the hardest questions anyone can answer. Most will say money, but when asked what they’d spend it on, blank looks tend to take hold.
I came over to the couch to sit next to him, as I had done for so many years, and the dream gates creaked open. Within no time, I lost all adult reasoning, and reverted back to the dreamer he reminded me I was. He always had the uncanny ability to listen with a magical intensity, as though we were planning the largest heist in history. I remember telling him about this almost impossible place I had thought of.
People, sensitive like me with anxiety and other mental illnesses could come and recover their own way. My previous position was counseling young adults recovering from eating disorders, in which I found a common thread of very high sensitivity. The one common denominator I found among them, though, was their brilliance!
Given enough love and genuine support, I was able to watch hundreds heal themselves, using tools they came up with. The conversations we’d have regarding their thoughts enlightened me to the idea that I was indeed talking to the future of our world. These young people would be our next heroes and leaders. They were the ones who would heal the next generation. I loved this idea and always thought it would be cool to have a clinic dedicated to honoring their genius. Patients healing themselves and each other.
Without hesitation, and in true form, he added to the hallucination by describing the private island it could reside on, and that he would obviously captain the boat that would transport patients and their families. I told him, with absolute certainty, that the only job I wanted was to remind the patients about how powerful and brave they were.
He let me go on and on, for hours, just as he had my whole life, until the spark came to my eyes! As he was always one to argue, not simply for the possibility of my dreams, but for their probability, he wanted to start planning that moment! It still remains to be known how he found an island in the Canadian San Juan Islands for sale that very day.
As it remains a memory of immeasurable hope, this piece is important. He told me to get a notebook and pen that I wouldn’t mind carrying everywhere with me. He had wilder ideas than I could ever imagine, so I just went with it and found a really pretty journal I had been given. Tentatively, I asked for the next instruction.
I’m not sure how this was magical, but it changed my life forever after this. He said with complete confidence, “Write down EVERYTHING, every detail, down to the color of carpet you want for this clinic in your notebook. Carry it with you and any time something comes to you, write it down.” It’s not that he gave me permission to plan the impossible. It’s that he now expected it.
I. Became. Obsessed. Interrupting most focused conversations, I could be found ripping open my notebook and writing down something absolutely necessary to the fulfillment of this crazy dream. If my father was around, he’d shoot me a secret smile of excitement. I still have the journal containing my plans for world domination, or as close to what that would feel like at the time.
In order to raise the capital for this, I was definitely going to have to start on a “slightly” smaller scale, something I virtually had to spell out for my father. My mother, in all of her wisdom, had the answer. “Just start seeing patients. You don’t need an island to see patients. Grow into it.” Genius.
Keep my plans, as I would need the blue prints once the time arrived, but get to work on raising the capital for this dream. I definitely hand it to my folks, as they often felt like they had created a monster with, what they thought, was solid parenting.
In order to get enough paying patients, my medical sales training would be needed. I would wake up at 7AM daily (even on weekends), drive to my parents’ house on the water and begin an entire day of phone calls to every single doctor and psychologist in the greater Seattle area. Excited about my tenacity for the first three days, the support was amazing! Calling me persistent, however, became an understatement for what they were in for.
The third week of me doing this, they had to make their concerns known. I was making over 200 calls some days to doctors all over the city. My father finally had to warn me that if each of them only gave me one patient, I’d be out of business. I had to slow down, and we were headed to Mississippi for Thanksgiving anyway, so maybe I could just enjoy the Holidays, and let my calls sink in.
I remember having an almost anesthetic look as he said this.
To call me.
How had he gotten this far in business thinking anyone ever actually calls back? I was genuinely concerned, though I got the gist of his message. We went to Mississippi and I did relax a little, all while remembering that even voicemails on Holidays are considered a sales touch, and I could get ahead if I just made some calls. Thanksgiving Day, November 22, 2007, I received two calls. One gal searching for me from the eating disorder clinic I’d worked at before, heard I was in practice from her therapist.
I scheduled her for exactly one week from then. Switching lines, as another patient called, was a mother who heard from her pediatrician that I was in practice and worked with eating disorders. She needed an appointment for her daughter ASAP. I scheduled her the same day, November 29, 2007. It was Thanksgiving, and within 4 minutes, I now had back to back appointments scheduled only 3 days after we would return to Seattle.
- I lost it!
- It really worked!
- I had a practice. . .
- I had patients I could help. . .
- I had no office.
Picture it: Mississippi, 2007. My flip phone shaking in my hand, my notepad filled with very important, yet completely illegible writing, and two patients ready to see me in four days. It was time to Go Execute.
No office for them to get directions to, phone number to call, website to gain more information, intake forms to fill out, or hell, anything they could even sit on. I had NOTHING.
“Sell the milk, make the milk, then invest in the milk.”
Selling the milk was just repetitive work I knew how to do. I now had to produce what looked like a professional environment and counseling that might actually help improve peoples’ lives… Gently walking downstairs to my large family enjoying Thanksgiving, I asked my parents to come into another room as my state of shock was somewhere between my throat and my stomach.
As they heard what had happened, the shock transferred over, as I felt so much better just letting it all out. “But Scarlett, you don’t have an office… or furniture… or payment processing…” Details.
We arrived back in Seattle, Monday, only for my sweet mother and father to be dragged on my wild goose chase. The immediate launch schedule went as follows:
Lease a space overlooking the marquee of a movie theater.
Get phone and internet set to arrive Friday.
Research the BARE minimum concerning necessities for a general look of proficiency.
Purchase an entire office’s worth of furnishings at IKEA.
Spend day putting together above’s furnishings.
Realize we need a plant.
Get dressed for my 11AM appointment.
Welcome first patient as my father casually leaves having JUST ripped off all the price tags.
It turns into a ten year story – Go Execute
This 10-year story actually began this way, and as the business needed its next steps, the resources simply came.
A family friend taught me how to bill insurance (by hand, if you can imagine), and, with my previous experience getting credentialed with all of the private insurances, I was able to work on this in my spare time. The bills I needed to send out became overwhelming compared to seeing patients, and it was absolutely dreadful work. The business now needed a biller.
“But Scarlett, you only made $278.00 this whole year. How are you going to afford a biller?”
It didn’t matter how. I had done this whole thing without knowing how. A biller was needed, and I had to get one. Focused on this intently, three days later, I ran into a high school friend who needed hours for his nutrition internship. Reeeeeally. . . He started that Monday.
As he did our billing, I could focus on growth, sales, and seeing patients. And as we grew, we were eventually in a financial place to afford him!
There is always a way. Focus on your next step, and don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be done because you don’t know how. The truth is if you truly want something, the next step has got to be done, and you are the only one to do it.