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Goal Attainment and Building Your Practice, with Dr. Chloe Carmichael

Goal Attainment and Building Your Practice, with Dr. Chloe Carmichael

Episode 20: Goal Attainment and Building Your Practice, with Dr. Chloe Carmichael

How do you manage stress? Dr. Chloe Carmichael is a clinical psychologist who specializes in goal attainment, stress and anxiety management. Her practice has grown significantly as a result of her hard work, making it an interesting case of entrepreneurial grit. In this episode she shares her career journey, how she grew her practice to include video therapy and coaching, and tips she has learned about building and managing teams.

Episode Transcript

00:00 Announcer: Welcome to the Ellevate Podcast: Conversations with Women Changing the Face of Business, and now, your host, Kristy Wallace.


00:13 Kristy Wallace: Hello and welcome to the Ellevate Podcast. This is Kristy Wallace and I'm here with Maricella Herrera. Hi, Maricella.

00:21 Maricella Herrera: Hey, Kristy.

00:22 KW: So there was recently a birthday in the office and there's a big cake sitting outside of the booth, so we're gonna get through this fast, right?

00:30 MH: We're doing this quickly, 'cause there are, they're actually, cup cakes and I don't know how many are left.

00:36 KW: Alright, so we're doing this.

00:37 MH: Running, running, but...


00:40 KW: But no, thanks for joining us today. We're really excited about the podcast. We've just been hearing great things from all of you, so thanks. Keep it coming, 'cause I love good things. If you have anything bad to say, don't tell me, but the good stuff, I wanna hear it.

00:55 MH: No, tell us, tell us.

00:57 KW: [chuckle] Fine, Maricella wants to hear the bad stuff. The good stuff, send to me, kristy@ellevate, and we really wanna hear it. If you like the podcast, one huge favor to ask, subscribe, tell your friends, rate us, five stars, five stars, folks. That helps us. It helps support the podcast. It helps generate awareness. So thank you in advance for your support and we are gonna get to introducing our guest today. Today, we have a long-time member, Dr Chloe Carmichael, who has been a supporter, a huge supporter of the Ellevate Network, since before I started, and she is a psychologist in New York, that specializes in stress management, anxiety, relationships, and goal attainment. But before we start, I know we have some really interesting stats and information from the Ellevate community, whom we poll every week to find out their thoughts and insights on topics relevant to women in business. Maricella, what insights do you wanna share with us today?

02:03 MH: Today, given the fact that we have Dr Chloe as our guest, I'm gonna share with you some of the info about what causes the most personal anxiety for our members. What do you think it is, Kristy?

02:18 KW: Oh, well, let me think. For me, personally, anxiety, bills, my kids, and I'm always stressed about where I'm going next in my career.

02:29 MH: Yeah, I can see that. I don't have kids, but money...

02:33 KW: Future, future...

02:34 MH: Future.

02:34 KW: Future and security and managing it all. I guess that's... Yeah.

02:38 MH: That's a lot, [chuckle] but it is the same. It is very similar to what our members say. 36% of our members say that work and/or their business causes the most personal anxiety for them. Another third of them say it's their personal finances, so money, similar to you. Another 11% say my personal relationships and another 11% said my kids. So family, money, where are you going next?

03:08 KW: Well, and you forgot about the 10%, which, actually, I'm gonna switch my answer to this, to D, which is all of the above.

03:15 MH: How about all of the above and some more? [chuckle]

03:17 KW: Yeah, I'm in that camp, all of the above. But not so much my personal relationships. I'm lucky. I've refined the art of surrounding myself with really kickass people.

03:27 MH: That's important.

03:28 KW: Yeah, I'm very lucky. All of you, you know who you are.

03:32 MH: Woo hoo. [chuckle] And I do have another poll I wanted to share with you, because I know that, for me, at least, this is something that I find very interesting, 'cause sometimes the days just get long, and tough, and we asked our members how they manage stress. How do you manage stress?

03:58 KW: [chuckle] Well, not the way I would like to manage stress.

04:01 MH: [chuckle] I don't.

04:01 KW: I would love to say, "I run," but I don't. I don't know. Maybe I'm not managing it, which is the problem, so let me...


04:10 KW: Does the Ellevate Network have some advice for me?

04:11 MH: Get some ideas from this. So 37% of our members say they exercise regularly.

04:18 KW: Okay.

04:20 MH: Great, good for them. [chuckle] 14% say they don't manage stress.

04:25 KW: Oh, there we go. That's where I am.

04:25 MH: So there you go, kind of in that camp. And another 14%, they do not work during weekends, so that's their hard and fast rule. I wonder if that's real though?

04:34 KW: Set your line in the sand and disconnect from everything.

04:39 MH: Yup. And then we have a few more people who answered. 10% said they understand that there are things out of their control, so they just accept it, and another 7% said they meditate, or practice other relaxation techniques. One thing we forgot to put in the answers here, which would be my answer, is I have a glass of wine, or two, or a few.

05:00 KW: Yes, that always works.

05:02 MH: That helps.

05:02 KW: Until the next day.

05:03 MH: Yeah.

05:04 KW: But it helps in the moment. [chuckle] No, it does help. Alright. Well, let's hear what Dr Chloe has to say about stress management.


05:22 KW: So why don't you share a little bit about your career?

05:25 Dr Chloe Carmichael: Sure, it's my pleasure. I'm a Clinical Psychologist and my practice is located on Park Avenue in Manhattan, although we actually see people all over the world, which is exciting.

05:36 KW: In person and Skype, right?

05:38 DC: Yes. We do in person, and then we also do a fair amount of video therapy, as well as coaching.

05:44 KW: So what's the difference?

05:45 DC: Well, that's an interesting question. I actually get asked that a lot. Coaching is really to enhance somebody's functioning. If you're a healthy, happy person, you have a job, and maybe you just want some assertiveness coaching, because you wanna learn how to be assertive without being obnoxious, that's something that we could absolutely coach you for. It's also something that somebody might go into therapy for. There are certain things that you could actually decide for yourself, if you wanted to take more of a coaching or more of a therapeutic approach. But what I do, is I offer a free 15-minute phone call to people that are interested in talking about which one would be right for them, and then I can help them figure it out.

06:27 KW: How'd you become a psychologist?

06:29 DC: I was actually eight-years-old when I first learned that there was job, where people would actually come, and tell you all of their secrets, [chuckle] and I said, "Wow, that sounds great." You know, what little girl doesn't like to have people come and share with her? At least, I very much did. And when I learned that that could actually be your job, I was really excited about it, but like most eight-year-olds, it didn't necessarily [chuckle] stick with me. I went on to do a lot of other things. Before I was a psychologist, I was teaching yoga, and as a yoga teacher, I was teaching individually. And I found that I actually got more interested in helping people with the meditative side of yoga, with the goal setting, and the centering side of yoga, than I actually, necessarily was, even with helping people with the postures themselves. And because I was teaching one to one, and having these really personal conversations, my yoga students were asking me to take on almost a therapist type of a role, which I was aware I wasn't really qualified to assume. So that was what was the trigger for me to go back to school, so that I could have the title, that I really actually realized I wanted.

07:41 KW: It's interesting, on the Ellevate Podcast, we've actually heard from a few of our guests that identified a career path or career interest very early in their life. As I know, Karen Finerman, I think knew she wanted to be in finance at a very early age and a few others. I love hearing that story. When I was little, I thought I wanted to be lawyer. Clearly, that did not pan out, but I'm okay with that. You're talking a lot about this online counselling and online courses. How do you see medicine and technology really intersecting? And I know it's changing in many ways.

08:18 DC: It is. It is. I take advantage of it as a consumer as well. My own therapist, I actually see online as well, because it was just something that worked out better for me. I find that, in many ways, doing therapy or coaching with people in person has obvious benefits. You get to see the whole person, you get to see more about their body language, you hear and see if they have a change in breathing, things that you wouldn't see necessarily online. However, when you're working with somebody online, you get to see that person in their home environment or in their office environment. So there's other information that you're getting, and plus, when people, just by walking into the psychologist's office, they kinda take on a little bit of a different feeling about them, because they're in my space, and maybe I call it "their Sunday manners." They have a little bit more of a reserved feeling, but when they're in their own home, they haven't even sometimes brushed their teeth yet, and they're having their session with me, I feel like I sometimes get to see things I wouldn't get to see, if they came into my office.

09:27 KW: That's interesting. We, anecdotally, have at Ellevate, a morning meeting every morning, and some of our team members work remotely, and they show up on the TV, and then the rest are in around the table, and you can see it is very different. Some are eating breakfast, or drinking coffee, or they might have their cat with them. It's certainly, you see the comfort when you're in your home, and you can understand more about that person, and where they exist.

09:57 DC: Exactly.

09:58 KW: You're a great marketer. You write and we've worked with you a lot at Ellevate. Share with our audience how you grow your business.

10:06 DC: Well, I think that when I started my business, I gave it as a job to myself. I decided I was going to work 40 hours a week. [chuckle] Now, of course, I work a lot more than 40 hours a week, but when I was starting, I was coming from a job where I worked 40 hours a week, and so 40 hours felt like a good amount of time. So I said, "I'll work 40 hours a week, and if I don't have clients, then I'll spend that time figuring out how to get them. I'll spend that time researching things I could do online, talks I could give, or blogs I could write, or places online, and directories where I could list myself." Basically, I just... "Forced" is the wrong word, because I actually very much enjoyed it. It's a labor of love and I feel honored that I get to do what I do.

11:00 DC: But I just had a policy for myself, that for 40 hours a week, on a certain schedule, I was either at my office seeing clients or I was figuring out how to get them. My motto was, "I don't say no to work," and so if a client wanted to see me, and they wanted to be seen at 8:00 at night, I'd see them at 8:00 at night, [chuckle] because I had... When I opened my doors, I had a business plan, and I knew that I needed to see a certain number of clients every month, in order to, literally, pay my rent, and keep my doors open. I didn't have anybody bankrolling me. Obviously, if somebody wasn't a good client for me, somebody that was struggling with issues that were too intense... As I said, I work with high functioning people... If somebody was suicidal, obviously, [chuckle] I wouldn't see them. I would refer them to somebody that would be a better person for them. But as long as the person was a good fit for me, I worked Saturdays, I worked Sundays, I would see clients absolutely anytime.

12:00 DC: That's why I had to hire people eventually, is because I ended up with more clients than I felt like I could effectively see. But to answer your question, I just think that what's most surprising to me, is when people who wanna be in business, somehow have opportunities for work that they end up declining, that the calls that they don't end up returning, business cards that they end up just letting sit there. Whenever I had the opportunity to work, I would always make sure I followed up on it. That, I know, it sounds very basic, but I would actually say that was the most powerful thing.

12:40 KW: That's great advice, and you never know where that business card will lead you, or where that phone call will take you, particularly, in a business such as yours, businesses where it's referral based. You talked a little bit about your team that you have with you at the office. How do you convey those values that you were just, about following up, and the customer service... How do you develop a team that embodies those same values?

13:07 DC: Well, that's a question I'm still [chuckle] trying to figure out, which I love, because I feel like, obviously, I haven't stopped learning at all. I'm still trying to grow into all of this. The business grew faster than I expected. It's only been four years and we've grown tremendously. But I do think that hiring, obviously the right people, is really important. For example, when I first started hiring people, I feel silly even saying this, but I would literally just meet somebody, have an interview, and hire them on the spot, if I felt like they were a good fit. I would just say, "Well, okay, let's go ahead then." Whereas, now, I've learned that I have to interview people at least three times, and interview them at different times of day, and have a wider body of questions and materials. I've learned that I have to check people's references, things that I really just didn't used to do before, because I was used to trusting my instincts.

14:07 DC: So to answer your question about finding a team and instilling your values in them, I think the first part, is to make sure that I do my job, in terms of hiring the right people. I had to come to realize that delegating is not abdicating. Just because I delegate a task to somebody doesn't mean that I'm no longer responsible for it. And I teach my managers the same thing, that we have support staff for the managers, but that if they delegate something to a receptionist, or to an office support person, that doesn't mean that, if it doesn't get done, I'm gonna go to that person. No, I'm going [chuckle] to that manager. Learning that we have to watch over people, and nurture them, I think it's a real art to set boundaries, and be very firm with people, but also be very supportive, and be a big cheerleader at the same time.

15:02 KW: Yup, I agree, as you're looking to grow your business, you want a team that believes fully in the business, and is invested in the success of the business, and embodies the same values and viewpoints as a whole. And so you really have to work at that, it's not easy. It's finding the right people, it's creating the right culture, and the right environment, and the support network to help everyone grow and succeed.

15:30 DC: But it's so fulfilling to see employees growing, and blossoming, and feeling good, and developing skills, and building confidence. At my office, one of the things that we always joke to each other, is that we're like a therapy office within a therapy office.


15:48 DC: Because our practice does so much work to help clients, who are in professional positions with their own professional development, and their own professional goals, and maybe how they're struggling with how to speak up to a boss without seeming confrontational, or all those different types of things. And then within my own office, I know that we're also working on our own professional development, and working on... I'm working on my employees' professional development. There's always something to learn.

16:19 KW: Chloe, I know that you've something you've created called the "five session check in," what's that about?

16:24 DC: Yes, the five session check in, actually, this touches back to your question about the growth of the business, as well as hiring and mentoring people that are in the business, that my therapists, that are seeing clients now. So when I do, say, that first free 15-minute phone call, when I talk to somebody that's potentially interested in therapy, if for some reason, maybe because of budget or schedule, they're not going to see me personally, but they're going to see one of the therapists in my office, and the purpose of the free call would just be for me to figure out which therapist is the right fit for them. What I do, is I have a check in program. We can... It's somewhat flexible.

17:08 DC: But we usually find that five sessions is a good number, where every five sessions, I check in and I speak with the client, for usually a 20-minute phone or video session, to learn about exactly how their therapy is unfolding, to see, and make sure that it's unfolding the same way that we discussed, and planned out during our 15-minute call. And then, I also check in with the therapist, as well, to see how things are going. Because many people say that when they see a therapist, that at first, things are really great, and the therapist is interested in making plans and goals, and everything feels new, and shiny, and engaging. But then, after a little while, they end up just getting into a little bit of a rut, where they feel like they just come and talk about their week, and they're not even sure that things are really on track.

18:00 DC: I find that, by me checking in, it actually keeps the therapist, as well as the client, both very accountable and very focused on making sure that we know where things are going to end up, so when I conclude the five session check in call with the client, I always talk to them, and I say, "Okay, in five weeks, we're gonna have another five session check in. What do we want to be talking about at that time? What do we expect will have happened by that time?" And I find it's a really nice way that I can keep an eye on the clients, as well as to keep the therapists growing too, and be able to stay involved with it, even though I'm personally not able to be at every therapy session.

18:42 KW: And is there any right ratio, career vs personal goals?

18:47 DC: Well, that's an interesting question, because it assumes a dichotomy between your personal goals and your professional goals, whereas for many people, including me, my professional goals actually are really personal. I'm personally passionate, and motivated, and excited by what I do, and it feeds all of the things that I do. The balance is gonna change for people at different times. For example, I got married a couple of years ago, and so there's just been times that I've wanted to spend with my husband, obviously, that I don't wanna be at the office. However, my husband, he has an MBA from Harvard and I love talking to him about my business in our "personal time." I'm thrilled and excited to brainstorm, and be creative, and get advice, so I just really think it's important for people to define that balance for themselves, however it feels good. I think people, if they pay attention to themselves, that they're aware, if they're out of whack, and then it's gonna be a very personal choice of what they need to do to find balance.

20:03 KW: I'm coming up to a big birthday, and so I've been thinking, "What are my goals? What do I wanna accomplish?" And I actually had them separated, like career and personal, but I really like that perspective, because it's the same for me... I mean, it's all intertwined, right? And I think, even if it's working out, that is a great stress reduction, which helps you in your career. It helps you in your personal life. Everything can really be connected in that way.

20:31 DC: Absolutely, yeah, there's a really wonderful synergy between the two.

20:36 KW: Speaking of stress, what are some of the main causes of stress?

20:40 DC: Well, I would say the biggest cause of stress for clients, is when they have a goal, but not a plan, and that can be whether for personal or professional. Yeah, I work with a lot of women, that maybe have a goal of getting married, but they don't feel like they have a plan of how it's gonna happen. They know that they just keep getting into the wrong relationship, and things just don't work out, and the real stress for them, is less even about accepting that they've been through a break-up, but it's more about just a stress of saying, "I don't know how to stop this from happening again." The same thing would be true in a work situation. If somebody's at an unpleasant job environment, the stress of feeling stuck there, and not having a plan for getting out, or of managing the environment differently, is usually actually worse than the stress of the job itself. So I would say the biggest stress, is actually not having a plan.

21:40 KW: Great. Well, thank you so much for joining us today. I really enjoyed talking with you.

21:44 DC: Thanks! The pleasure was mine.


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