Momentum Podcast: 582

Interview with Dr. Stephanie Estima

by Alex Charfen

Episode Description

There are times in an entrepreneur’s life when they can feel stuck, trapped, and suffocated by their business. In service-based industries, this reality can completely stifle growth and cause the entrepreneur to feel pain every time they think about their business. It can feel like there is no escaping the day-to-day issues of serving clients directly, but there is hope for every entrepreneur with a medical practice, law firm, or any other service business. In this episode, Dr. Stephanie Estima discusses the challenges of meeting those challenges head-on and how she overcame them.

By implementing processes, systems, and structure into her business, Dr. Stephanie Estima has grown past the feeling of being stuck. She created a business that has allowed her to step out of the day-to-day operation of her company and put all of her focus on the strategic growth of the empire she is creating. She went from the brink of giving up on her chiropractic practice entirely to fulfilling her mission of changing the world through her business. The reality is that, for entrepreneurs, feeling stuck in our business can feel like drowning. By implementing processes and systems in your business, you can breach the surface of the water and radically change your business.

Full Audio Transcript

This is the Momentum Podcast. One of the most common challenges that I see with people who are in a business delivering the service, is that they can start to feel stuck, start to feel trapped, start to feel like they can't get out of that service business. That happens to doctors, that happens to lawyers, that happens to people who are providing services for their clients and it happened to my next guest today, Stephanie Estima in her practice. She's gone through that decision, gotten to the other side, and I think you'll be impressed with what she's done, how she's done it and the decision she's gone through. This is going to be liberating and encouraging for anyone who hears it.

Alex Charfen: I'm Alex Charfen, and this is the Momentum Podcast, made for empire builders, game changers, trailblazers, shot takers, record breakers, world makers, and creators of all kinds. Those among us who can't turn it off and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and we are obsessed with creating momentum so we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution. Sure, we pay attention to their rules, but only so that we can bend them, break them, then rewrite them around our own will. We don't accept our destiny, we define it. We don't understand defeat because you only lose if you stop and we don't know how. While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority. The few who are willing to hallucinate there could be a better future and instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we endure the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real.

Alex Charfen: We are the evolutionary hunters. Clearly the most important people in the world because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent positive human evolution and we always will be.

Alex Charfen: Stephanie, I'm really excited to have you here today for so many reasons, but I think the most important one is, is that you've been through a life decision and then a life change that tons of people I know want to go through or are considering going through and that is, you were a doctor, a practitioner, a very successful practitioner, that had an itch. No longer wanted to practice, and you've made the transition into getting out of being a practitioner. Stephanie, what was that decision like for you?

Dr. Stephanie E: Well, I'll first off say that the decision was really borne from a lot of our coaching together. So we had engaged with you and the Charfen Group when we were in practice, in terms of how to grow and scale the team and how to grow the team and to create frameworks and systems within the way that... the cadence of our practice. So, with your-

Alex Charfen: [crosstalk 00:02:48] I think you're about to tell the story about how you engaged our coaching and now the business is out of business. So just go ahead and do that, that's totally cool.

Dr. Stephanie E: So using your frameworks, we were able to really grow and scale the business. I was able to remove myself from a lot of the day-to-day stuff, so we had a chiropractic clinic. My throughline of course is, or my love has always been rehabilitation and posture and brain, functional neurology and how we can get the brain healthier so we can get the body healthier. So we had implemented a lot of your frameworks, and what I was able to do from that was really to work more on the business and being in it all the time, and being very open and honest and transparent as you like to say. Very much had a yearning in my soul. I mean, I was in private practice for 16 years. Best patients, money was coming relatively-

Alex Charfen: [crosstalk 00:03:44] Let's stop. I'm going to pause you for a second, because you say money was coming in kind of flippantly, but I know the numbers of that practice, and you were in the top 1% of chiropractics worldwide.

Dr. Stephanie E: Right.

Alex Charfen: So it wasn't a successful practice. We're talking pinnacle, top of the game, when you walked into a room of chiropractors, you usually were at the top of any room of chiropractors. Nine out of 10 times, you're going to be number one. And so, and the reason I stop you, and I want to really dig in here Stephanie, is because I think there's thousands, hundreds of thousands of practitioners out there who are feeling what you're feeling and I want to slow this down a little and get into the decision you made. Because here's what I hear from practitioners when I talk to them.

Alex Charfen: It's like, they feel guilty that they no longer love their practice. There's like this massive feeling of guilt and shame and blame, and it's like, "I'm so damaged because I did this thing that I was supposed to do, and now I don't love it. Something's wrong with me." Is that fair?

Dr. Stephanie E: It's very fair, and I think there's a lot of questioning what are you then, if you're not a clinician in practice?

Alex Charfen: What did that feel like for you?

Dr. Stephanie E: Well, it was, it's disorienting, because you go through school, you know that you're going to become a doctor. And then you become a doctor, and you spend all this time. I mean, I was in practice for 16 years, so when you first start out, you pretend like you know what you're doing. You have no idea what you're doing. But then over time-

Alex Charfen: You're just hoping not to hurt anybody.

Dr. Stephanie E: You're just hoping you're not going to kill someone, no babies are going to... You're just trying to adhere to some of the principles from school. And then as you learn, your clinical experience grows. Your hands, if you're a chiropractor, your hands just have their own mind. You're just sort of very able to flow and channel what the patient needs, and then you think, "God, if I close this, what am I going to do? Who am I, if I'm not Dr. Stephanie? Who am I?"

Alex Charfen: [crosstalk 00:05:36] Well, let's stop for a second. Stop, let's stop, because you went from like loving the patients and your hands go where they want to if I close this. Let's get in between there because here's what I've seen happen with practitioners, and I want to see if this happened for you. First, there's this feeling that starts to come up of, "I'm not really loving what I'm doing day-to-day, because it gets repetitive." Right?

Dr. Stephanie E: Yeah.

Alex Charfen: And then that repetitiveness starts giving way to a feeling of almost like animosity. Like, "I don't like this anymore." And then what happens is there's animosity towards the practice, and then here's the big transition. When a practitioner gets to animosity towards the patients, and let's get real. It happens whether you want it to or not if you're in a situation where those other conditions are there, you start to actually, these patients that you loved at the beginning, now it starts getting difficult to interact in a way that you did previously. Doesn't it?

Dr. Stephanie E: Yeah, and thank you for breaking down... breaking that down in that step-wise succession, because that's very honestly what started happening. I had patients that had been with me for years, and then I would get this influx of new patients. So what you just said triggered something. I had in the six, let's call it six to eight months before I said, "This is going to be the end day," I had a couple of new patients come in, and I would put a lot of love and attention into those first day one and day two, the day one and day two processes that we had established in the clinic.

Dr. Stephanie E: There was this kind of feeling, and I don't know if it's hubris. I don't know what it is, but I would be thinking in my head, "You have no idea how good you have it with me as your practitioner." And I say that with, I have 16 years of experience, I had like a 94% success rate, and you're here haggling me around costs and the frequency of treatments that I'm suggesting and the supplements that I'm suggesting for you. And so there was this kind of like, "God, I don't want to be dealing with... I don't want you to nickel and dime me. The price is the price, if you're not satisfied with that, then I will love you out the door." I'm going to say like, "Thank you so much, but here's your file, any questions that you ever may have about your file specifically, always here for you. But thanks, but no thanks."

Dr. Stephanie E: And yeah, so that was something that I noticed myself-

Alex Charfen: [crosstalk 00:07:59] What do you think that comes from, Stephanie?

Dr. Stephanie E: ... agitated. Say it again?

Alex Charfen: Do you think it came from for you, from that repetitiveness?

Dr. Stephanie E: I think part of it is from the repetitiveness, because you've been in practice for a certain amount of time, there's sort of four to five silos that most people are going to fall under, and even though I would do a relatively thorough work up in terms of, we would look at labs, we would look at hormone levels, we would look at x-rays, we would look at physical, functional tests. I knew on the first day whether or not I could help this person and whether or not they wanted to be helped. So it did sort of feel like a dance that I was no longer... I had checked out of. And I had this, and I still have it, very much a desire to help more people than that are just connected to me through geography.

Dr. Stephanie E: So having a brick and mortar practice, you're only going to be able to reach a certain amount of people who are... and granted, I had people coming in from London, I had people coming in from these sort of... like the peripheral. I live in Toronto, so London is about an hour and half maybe away. So I had people coming in from different vicinities, but still, that's not the type of impact that I really wanted to have. And that gnawing, that consistent like, "You're not helping as many people, the impact that you want to make-

Alex Charfen: It's not enough.

Dr. Stephanie E: ... it's not enough," really became the... It became too painful to continue to ignore.

Alex Charfen: No, it's interesting Stephanie, I've talked to I don't know, hundreds maybe thousands of doctors in my career. It's probably closer to a thousand.

Dr. Stephanie E: Yeah, and you're very well known in the chiropractic community as well.

Alex Charfen: Yeah, yeah. And here's what I found, is when a chiropractor or when a practitioner in general, when a practitioner in general is bored, they usually stay in the position. It's like, "Yeah, I'm bored, but I can make it work, and I'm getting over it and I'll..." and when they're frustrated with it, they usually stay in the position. It's like, "I've done this forever," but when they want more, it's like you can't. When you want more, when there's this yearning to do more, to make a bigger impact, it becomes the only thing you think about.

Dr. Stephanie E: 100%.

Alex Charfen: Yeah, and-

Dr. Stephanie E: 100%.

Alex Charfen: ... what you just said, I just want to kind of reveal a little bit more about this for practitioners that are listening, but not just practitioners. If you're an accountant running an accounting shop, if you're a lawyer running a law firm, you get to this place where the thing that you do starts to be the thing that you don't want to do anymore. And I've heard it in something that you've said, here's what I've seen and felt from doctors and practitioners who talk about this, is that when you meet with a... You get to a point where when you meet with a patient, you know what they're going to do. You know what you're going to do, the whole thing's so predictable. The magic's gone, the excitement's gone. There's no... and you can pretty much say like, "This person is going to do things, they're not going to do things, I know where they're going to end up in two years." The whole equation is so clear now, it doesn't feel like it's enough of a challenge.

Dr. Stephanie E: 100%.

Alex Charfen: Were you feeling some of that?

Dr. Stephanie E: 100%. Yeah, so like I was saying before, on the first day within five or 10 minutes of speaking to them, I sort of knew what the problem was likely going to be, what the treatment plan probably was going to be, of course that's dependent on how severe things come back in terms of lab reports and stuff, but I also had a good sense of what working with this patient was going to be like and I was nine times out of 10, nine and a half times out of 10, I was right.

Dr. Stephanie E: And when things are already laid out for you, the challenge and maybe this is just my personality, this is my EPT, I crave momentum, and it really does feel when you know everything around you, all the factors are already figured out. You just feel like you're floating. You don't feel like you're moving forward or back, you're just kind of stagnant. And that for me was unbearable.

Alex Charfen: [crosstalk 00:11:44] Let's stop for a second, because I want to get right to what you just said. When you're in that floating stagnant place and this is again, for every practitioner listening, I want you to let yourself off the hook, because people get to this floating stagnant place. Stephanie, I want to confirm if you've had any of these feelings. Feelings of like I said earlier, blame, shame, guilt, "I'm doing the wrong thing. I'm a bad person, how could this possibly be happening?" Because this was the goal of your entire life?

Dr. Stephanie E: Yep, yep. It felt like I had climbed the ladder and I was like, "Okay, I'm at the top."

Alex Charfen: Right.

Dr. Stephanie E: And now I'm like, "(beep), it's the wrong wall."

Alex Charfen: I went the wrong direction!

Dr. Stephanie E: Yeah, and you feel guilty about that because then... and I've had moments of self-doubt even after closing the clinic where I'm like, "Who am I if I'm not a clinician, and how could I feel this? I chose the wrong profession. How could I feel this way?" And my thinking around it when I'm in my self-actualized, not in my baby Stephy, my forward-

Alex Charfen: [crosstalk 00:12:47] Not when you're channeling your inner child?

Dr. Stephanie E: Not when my inner child is running the show, but when actual adult Stephanie is around, is that was an act, a very important act or a very important chapter in my life to teach me about running a business, to teach me about personal development, and to teach me that it's okay to say when things are not okay.

Alex Charfen: Yeah, and Stephanie-

Dr. Stephanie E: And-

Alex Charfen: I'm sorry, go ahead.

Dr. Stephanie E: No, I just wanted to say, being a doctor is about teaching and giving, and it's okay if the medium in which you chose to deliver those teachings and those givings are no longer serving you.

Alex Charfen: I'd like to take it one step further, because here's... I love working with doctors, you know that.

Dr. Stephanie E: Yeah.

Alex Charfen: One of my favorite populations is any type of practitioner, because here's what practitioners do. Practitioners investigate, hypothesize, experiment, draw conclusion, and then do it again. And good practitioners get extraordinary at that to the point where then when they're walking up to somebody, the equation already ran in their heads and they had the conclusion. You're that person, I know you are. Now that same... and this is for, again, every practitioner who's like, "Now what do I do?" Well, check it out. If you transition, and usually when people get to the place where they want more, there's one of two things happen.

Alex Charfen: We either have them transition in the practice to becoming a leader, hiring people, not doing the thing anymore and growing it as a CEO, we have a ton of clients that are doing that right now, and we have a ton of clients who would go on to do another thing and move to the other part of the practice. However, in both of those cases, you are still investigating, hypothesizing, diagnosing, experimenting, and then gathering data and seeing what happened.

Alex Charfen: And so Stephanie, I would also put out there that that period of your life took what was a highly intelligent analytical mind and has tuned it into a machine. Is that fair?

Dr. Stephanie E: Yes.

Alex Charfen: And given you mental capacity that the average person walking around on the street, doesn't even have an awareness of.

Dr. Stephanie E: Well, thank you for saying that, and I agree with you.

Alex Charfen: And I just want to acknowledge that, because I think for so many practitioners, they're like, "If I don't do this anymore, it's all over." And I just want anyone listening who's in that thought process to know, not only is it not all over, everything you've done until now has prepared you for what you're going to do next.

Dr. Stephanie E: And I think, if we just think about this in terms of energy, right? Energy cannot be created or destroyed. So the energy that you've put into creating and to developing this persona of a doctor can also be... You can also contract and expand that into a different form. So your energy can be, you can move the energy from being a chiropractor, medical doctor, lawyer, whatever, and you can change that. It can morph into something else.

Alex Charfen: Yeah, absolutely. So I want to, two last things I want to cover before we're out of time. One is, you said earlier when I wrote out the end day, and I just want to get your thoughts on what that end day felt like, and then lastly, I just want to get an update on what you're doing now. So take us to the moment, because I think it might have been on a call with us. I'm not sure, but I think I was there.

Dr. Stephanie E: [crosstalk 00:15:57] It was a call with you.

Alex Charfen: It was, right? I was there the second-

Dr. Stephanie E: You were.

Alex Charfen: ... that you made the decision. And so, I just, I remember feeling this contrast of relief in that moment. I was like, "Oh my gosh, Stephanie's eyes just shifted." Your face literally shifted. The way you were carrying your face, I remember you said, like something declarative like, "Okay, well, I guess this is the decision." You looked down, and you looked back up and I'm like, "Oh my gosh. What just happened?" There was a complete shift, in energy but also in physical appearance. Do you remember that moment?

Dr. Stephanie E: Yeah, we were on one of our quarterly strategic direction calls and I think we were talking about what we wanted next for the next quarter and what we were going to be doing for the next iteration of the clinic, and one of the things that you said to me, I said, "One of the things I've always wanted to do is a podcast. One of the things I've always wanted to do is nerd out, learn about the pieces of material that I'm currently missing in the practice, and then bring that to the world." And I think I just got on some random tangent about how females are not little men, women are not little men and we're not research, and you're like, "Hold up, stop right there," the way that you've done today in this podcast. Like, "Stop, pay attention to what you just said. This is something, you just kind of randomly went on this tangent.

Dr. Stephanie E: You need to start this podcast, you need to start this podcast tomorrow and whether that gets into your waterfall items, or what have you, that has to happen." And I think we were also in that same conversation talking about how the clinic, what the future of the clinic was going to look like, and I was already feeling like I just, I had given everything to it and it just wasn't giving anything back to me anymore. It was interesting because when you were saying, "Yeah, you need to do this," I felt like someone other than myself had given me permission to dream and to think about, "Hey, you can actually do other things that you like. You don't actually have to run the clinic forever, you know? This is a possibility for you. You're not bound for life." And I was like-

Alex Charfen: There's not a lock on the outside.

Dr. Stephanie E: Yeah, there's not. There's not a parole officer that's like, "Hey, you're not going to the clinic today." So it was a profound sense of relief. It was relief, yeah. That I wasn't bound to this decision, and I think that there's a fallacy when we make... there's a decision that isn't working anymore, we tend to want to throw money and time and energy and focus at it, but sometimes you just got to cut, right? Sometimes you've got to cut and run. So what I did is we closed the clinic this year, April 24th, 2019. And took a couple weeks, maybe like a month or so off, and what I'm doing now is I have started my podcast. I'm loving my podcast, it's called Better with Dr. Stephanie if anybody... I'll just shamelessly plug my stuff, yeah.

Alex Charfen: [crosstalk 00:18:45] You got to go check it out. It is-

Dr. Stephanie E: You got to go check it out.

Alex Charfen: Stephanie's, like I don't, I hesitate to call Stephanie the female Dave Asprey, because I don't know, I think some of her stuff's so much better than Dave's, but you should go check it out. And better with Stephanie Estima is amazing and the... If you are a hardcore, like you want real information and you want the questions nobody else asks, you got to check out Stephanie's podcast.

Dr. Stephanie E: Thank you.

Alex Charfen: Yeah, for sure.

Dr. Stephanie E: Yeah, it's my baby. I love it. And then, the other thing that I'm working on right now is writing a book, which has also been something that I have dreamt about and was dreaming about for a long time. So we're going to go through all things fasting, nutrition, nutrigenomics, genetics, training, intimacy, all of the things that I geek out on.

Alex Charfen: I can't wait. And so, you've transitioned from full time practice to now you're running, kind of you and Gio are running Ark Angel together.

Dr. Stephanie E: That's right.

Alex Charfen: You're the personal side, he's the professional side.

Dr. Stephanie E: Yes.

Alex Charfen: To the practitioners that are out there saying, "Should I do this?" They're thinking about it, they've had the same thoughts you had for years, what advice would you give them?

Dr. Stephanie E: First, you need a coach like Alex who will give you permission to think about other options, but I also think it's really important to listen. Your body knows. Your body is smarter than your brain sometimes and if you can just attune to the messages that your body is telling you and have the courage to follow it, of course I'm not telling you to just drop it tomorrow, but there's certainly systems and things that you need to consider and people that you want to consider if you're closing a business, but definitely the cadence, the Charfen Cadence was instrumental for us in terms of how we grew things, but also how we contracted them. And so coach is important, and then also having the courage to listen to your body and following through on it.

Alex Charfen: Awesome. Stephanie, thanks so much for being here today.

Dr. Stephanie E: You are so welcome. Thank you for having me.

Alex Charfen: Yeah, this was fun. And we'll definitely do it again. I want to come back in a few months and get a follow up.

Dr. Stephanie E: Sure.

Alex Charfen: And if you're a practitioner or someone who's in a business and you are involved in delivery and you feel stuck and you either want to get out of delivery and move into leadership, or you think you want to transition to something else, something new, reach out to us. Go to Answer a few questions for my team and you can set up a call with one of us to understand the programs and the systems we have where we can help you like we helped Stephanie., and take a minute and go check out Better with Stephanie Estima, it is an incredible podcast. Stephanie has a view and a lens through which she asks questions that is highly unique, I know you're going to love it. Check out Better, and Stephanie, we'll have you back again soon.

Dr. Stephanie E: Looking forward to it. Thank you.

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