About Jo Muirhead:
Jo Muirhead is all about connecting people to purpose through inspiration and innovation. Author of The Entrepreneurial Clinician and creator of The Book Of Evidence, she is also the Founder and CEO of PurpleCo
—a team of specialist allied health consultants dedicated to helping people who experience injury, illness, and trauma reclaim their lives through work.
Jo graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Health Science, Rehabilitation Counselling in 1994.
Jo is passionate about the health benefits of work and truly believes that everyone has the right to meaningful and rewarding employment including health professionals who choose to work in private practice. She is a much sought-after international coach, mentor, consultant, and speaker on how private practice, when done effectively, will be the change to health care that we are all seeking.
Visit Jo’s website
and find her on Instagram
Links and Resources:
[4:15] – What is rehabilitation counseling after illness or onset of disability
[6:01] – Entrepreneurial thinking has helped Jo in her recovery from bilateral breast cancer
[6:50] – What Australia has been through since November 2019
[11:53] – Jo’s discovery, diagnosis, three surgeries, and grueling chemotherapy treatment
[18:11] – When your treatment is finished, that’s when the real recovery starts
[22:03] – Jo was too ambitious about working and should have allowed more time for recovery
[24:13] – Clients still thought of Jo as the business, even though she had a team
[29:08] – Entrepreneurs are often aspirational leaders, not management leaders
[32:58] – Amber’s son’s scary accident and unexpected recovery
[36:27] – Jo say working professionals should stop looking for the miracle self-care hack
[40:29] – Health professionals are risk managers with intuitive contingency plans
[45:19] – How cancer and PTSD changed Jo’s priorities for her business and work
[54:33] – One day this will all be history
Amber Hawley 0:01
Business owners are increasingly being pulled in so many directions, feeling like they aren’t reaching their full potential in business and life despite their type A ways. With my background as a therapist, entrepreneur, and as a dotcom dropout with ADHD, I interview and coach high-achieving business owners like you who want to stop struggling for success by using psychological systems, strategies, and the occasional carefrontation. This is the easily distracted entrepreneur, your place to slay overwhelmed perfectionism and shiny object syndrome so that you can get done what matters most to you.
Amber Hawley 0:41
Welcome back to the podcast. Today I have with me a very, very special guest. One of my favorite people in the world and I call her JoJo, although everyone else calls her Jo Muirhead. But Jojo is, I met her at a conference I think six years ago, and fell in love with her because she is a take no prisoners, brilliant, but compassionate, kick you in the ass type of coach. And she is on today to share actually a very special story, her story of what she’s been going through in the last few years. But I’m going to bring you on and then let you tell people a little bit more about yourself. But welcome, Jojo.
Jo Muirhead 1:27
And thank you so much for that delightful welcome. And thank you for telling the world that I am compassionate, because I know I can sometimes come across strong and opinionated, a little hard, but I actually genuinely care.
Amber Hawley 1:40
Jo Muirhead 1:42
That’s important to me. Thank you.
Amber Hawley 1:43
I think that’s–
Jo Muirhead 1:44
Oh we probably need to tell people that I’m an Australian. So–
Amber Hawley 1:49
I’m sure they didn’t figure that out.
Jo Muirhead 1:53
So that’s why I sound a little different to you. And I will do my best to keep my Australianisms to myself, unless we need a really good laugh.
Amber Hawley 2:03
I’m all down for, I mean, I’m all into accents. I love vernacular. Bring it lady, bring it. But you know, it’s funny you say that. But for me, part of your charm, I mean, you were obviously very funny and forthright. I like people who are really direct, but it’s the compassion that actually made me just love you to death. And I do agree with you though, I think when you have really strong women, and I consider myself one of them to, who gives carefrontation, is very direct and uses humor, people can miss that there’s just a ton of compassion there. And so I guess that just stood out for me. But I appreciate you saying that because that’s, I think that is just one of those things we don’t, we, I think sometimes people just think it’s, the world is so black and white. It’s like no, we are very complex beings. So having said that, and I probably didn’t say, I think I did say coach, but she is a business coach extraordinare. But can you tell everybody just a little bit more about you?
Jo Muirhead 3:04
Sorry, my husband’s just gonna leave. We possibly didn’t have that conversation. Excellent. And now my puppy has arrived. Okay! So there we go. Entrepreneurship at its (inaudible).
Amber Hawley 4:01
Jo Muirhead 3:23
The flexibility and freedom that we’ve all been craving also creates like, oh, I possibly didn’t communicate to my husband what I was doing this morning. Yay, me. Anywho. So I am actually a rehabilitation counselor by qualification. So I went to university here in Australia with physical therapists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech and language pathologists. So I fall into the umbrella of allied health professional, not that anyone knows what that means. So I studied anatomy and physiology, and rehab, rehabilitation counseling. And in the US, it’s very vocationally driven. It’s a discipline that’s been around after the great world wars because we had these return service personnel coming back into our communities, learning how to live their life, and then one day going, Yeah, what do I do with myself now? And that’s how the discipline was actually born.
Jo Muirhead 4:15
So I like to explain to people that after any injury or illness or onset of disability, that there comes a time when people start going, what do I want to do with my life? And that’s where the discipline of rehab counseling can really add value. So we, I truly believe that everybody has the right and the responsibility to engage in meaningful work. That’s why I love being an entrepreneur and sprouting about being an entrepreneur, because it’s kind of who I am. I think work is good for us. And it needs to be good work. And there’s whole debates in the medical arena at the moment about what good work looks like. And then of course, COVID showed us what good work didn’t look like because none of us what to go back there, and we all want to stay at home. Anyway.
Amber Hawley 4:56
Yeah I was thinking, never has your job been, I mean, it’s always, it’s an important job, super important. But I’m thinking, what a couple of years for that, that niche. Right? Like that’s, that’s super, I mean, I can’t imagine anything more appropriate.
Jo Muirhead 5:11
It’s really, it’s a really big deal. And I had, so I have a clinical private practice we’re a consulting practice. So we go into organizations, we do some work here in Australia with life insurance companies, or disability insurance companies, we do a lot of work with industry. And then we do a lot of work with people who were injured, or have, were learning to live with a disability or chronic illness. And we help them make sense of their life, regain control of their life, do things that they want to do, which usually includes work, but it’s not just about work anymore for us.
Jo Muirhead 5:41
So I started that journey on 12 years ago, when, when the world here in Australia was telling me it couldn’t be done. There weren’t too many people like me, with this discipline out there in private practice or having my own health business, but being 12 years on, and now, you know, we’ve had a global financial crisis in that time. My husband had cancer, I’ve had cancer, we’ve had COVID, I mean, the COVID pandemic, we didn’t get COVID as well as cancer, because that’s just too much. I figure my business is here to stay, is what I’m trying to say. (inaudible) I’ve got the whole agility thing and I say agility with the inverted commas. Because, you know, aren’t we all sick of hearing that word? So there’s been a few things that I think I’ve been speaking to about how thinking entrepreneurial has allowed me to pick myself up and keep going and work out what’s next and how I do what’s next. So I think that’s what we’re going to talk about today. Right?
Amber Hawley 6:37
Absolutely. That is what we’re going to talk about. I was gonna say, also throw in there that like Australia tried burning down too, like I just–
Jo Muirhead 6:44
Amber Hawley 6:45
I mean, I just keep thinking about, talk about resiliency.
Jo Muirhead 6:48
Well it’s interesting. So I’ve started doing conference speaking again this year. So I’m excited to say that I’m well enough to do that now. And I’ve got this incredible timeline, because I’ve been speaking in Australian conferences at the moment, and I’ve mapped out what we actually dealt with since November 2019. That makes no sense. Yes it is, November 2019. So we had bushfires, which affected 50% of the country. And then the bushfires was so bad that people were homeless. We didn’t have enough resources to actually send fire crews into some communities. We just had to let them burn.
Amber Hawley 7:25
Jo Muirhead 7:27
It’s horrible. So we tried to deal with that. That was November. January, we had our first, so January 2020, we had our first case of COVID. And then we’re like, wait, what’s a Wuhan? We didn’t even know it was a place. It’s like, what, what is it?
Amber Hawley 7:39
Jo Muirhead 7:40
So in February, we had these torrential floods. So the floods put out the bushfires, haha, horrible joke. But then that meant people who were trying to live in tents, again, became homeless. And then we had all the first round of lockdown. And then we had a whole heap of change to the way our public, because we have universal health care here. Well, we have it of sorts. So there’s people needing mental health support, and then it was like, how do we access it? How do we deliver it? And then we have a disability thing here. And that got shoved and changed. And we had taxation opportunities and government subsidies for things.
Jo Muirhead 8:18
So all our health business, and when you put it all together, it was like something new was happening every month for 12 months. And if you were a health professional trying to deliver services, and you were trying to work out how the hell you manage your family, kids at home, kids not at home, can I go visit my parents, can I not visit my parents, we’ve got, it’s just insane. And it, just because we’re now out of lockdown. So we’ve only just come out of a lockdown situation where I live after another four months. People, people are just like walking around in a daze.
Amber Hawley 8:51
Jo Muirhead 8:53
So we don’t have enough health professionals in Australia, we relied on overseas talent. So the need here, we can’t let you in. So if you all want to come to Australia to work (inaudible) you’re not actually allowed in.
Amber Hawley 9:06
I was like dang it, I just saw my future!
Jo Muirhead 9:11
It’s coming. But it’s still a bit of a process to get here, and just, well to get here but then you’re kind of stuck in a not so pleasant hotel experience for 14 days at your own expense and you can’t even order real food, but anyhoo. So there’s just the community, our nation and our community has just been like just basically all the things that we knew about how to look after ourselves kind of went up in the air and we’re like, what do we do now? How do we do this? And what’s really interesting is that the general population in the community are looking for health professionals to lead the way and because they expect that health professionals know what to do. And so many health business owners that I speak to are going, I don’t like the pressure of that. I didn’t even realize that was happening. I had no idea that the snarky comments that I’m making publicly on a social media platform are having an effect on my marketing, like–
Amber Hawley 10:10
Jo Muirhead 10:10
Yeah, yeah. Well, see, we’re a population of 25 million people that’s less than the entire population of California.
Amber Hawley 10:22
Well when you put it that way.
Jo Muirhead 10:26
It’s not, there’s not as many of us as what people would like to think that. That’s also why we’re all over the world. It’s like you find an Australian everywhere. So there you go, some context about all the stuff that we’ve been through.
Amber Hawley 10:39
Yeah. I mean, it’s, yeah, it’s, and I think a lot of people have felt that way. But I guess when you describe it, what you guys have been going through, it’s like the hits keep coming. And they just keep coming and keep coming. And, and yeah, nobody really has their footing, or this foundation, because it’s a whole, you know, it’s a whole new world in many respects. And, but that it’s, I, it sounds awful to have such a shortage. I mean, I think a lot of business owners are experiencing that as well, like employee shortages and trying to deal with that. And, and then like you said, you know, the other thing you do, besides speaking at conferences is I, you do coaching for healthcare professionals. And so, you know, you’re having those conversations with them. I can only imagine how that feels like you’re needing this place to like, vent and like, you know, as long as I mean, obviously, I think if you vent on Instagram, you should know anybody can see it, but.
Jo Muirhead 11:37
A lot of education on how you tighten up your privacy controls, it’s like, I didn’t even know that was a thing. Yeah, let’s make it a thing.
Amber Hawley 11:46
Jo Muirhead 11:47
Let’s make it a thing.
Amber Hawley 11:50
Oh, that’s funny. Um, and then I know that you mentioned, so both you and your husband both got diagnosed with cancer. Can you share a little bit, like when was your diagnosis and what, you know, where are you in that process?
Jo Muirhead 12:05
Sure. So back in 20, November of 2019, when the world in Australia was on fire, that’s when my husband was diagnosed. And he had an unusual cancer, and he’s all good. And we got through his chemo and surgery. And he’s now into his yearly checkups, and everything’s been great there. So that happened in November. So while he was still in treatment, I was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer. So, no history of it in my family, totally out of the blue. Well, it wasn’t out of the blue, because I think putting off going and getting something checked, because you know, strong, independent woman, was way too much to do. I went, Ooh, that looks misshapen. And then went, We’ll deal with that one day, we’ll deal with that one day, we’ll deal with that one day. So as Australian healthcare started to shut down, I got the experience of being thrown into the great cancer conveyor belt of treatment and all things because it happens really fast. Like, you go, I went in, I’ve never had a mammogram before, I’m not, I’m not yet. 50. So I was still considered to be young.
Jo Muirhead 13:06
So that was like, oh, that’s unusual. Oh, look at the size of that. And then you know, you go through lots of diagnostic procedures, because they want to make sure that they really understand what’s going on with the disease. And I had multiple tumors, two of which were cancerous. They were both different types of cancers, there are so many different types of–
Amber Hawley 13:26
Jo Muirhead 13:26
Hey, we’re overachievers.
Amber Hawley 13:28
I was just gonna say, you’re such an overachiever! You’re like, I don’t want one, I’ll take two!
Jo Muirhead 13:34
Yeah. But that resulted in a crash course in the public health system here in Australia. And purely because that’s the only way you can access a lot of cancer treatment here.
Jo Muirhead 13:45
And I have lots of things to say about that. So I’ve been through three major surgeries. I have had a double amputation and a reconstruction. I’ve been through, I started hormone therapy. That did not agree with me, I’m choosing not to do that. But I had a lot of chemotherapy too, well, I had chemotherapy. And chemotherapy was a really big deal for me. The surgery was a big deal. But the chemo is the thing that hangs around. Chemo for breast cancer is not like, it’s rough. It’s, so what I want to educate people on today is that the concern with women in breast cancer is not that the breast cancer will come back to your breast tissue. Because a lot of people go, But you don’t have breast tissue anymore. Why are you worried about it?
Jo Muirhead 14:28
Because breast cancer comes back to other parts of your body and lodges itself in other parts of your body that we don’t have a cure for. So it’ll come back to your bones, it’ll come back to your ovaries, it’ll come back to your brain. So it’s not, it’s not the location of the breast cancer. It’s the fact that the breast cancer has gone and lodged itself in another part of your body and we can’t cure it. So that’s when you end up hearing about people living with stage four breast cancer but they don’t have any breast tissue. So that’s why it’s super important that we get rid of it.
Jo Muirhead 15:02
So I know my personality well enough to know that I needed to hit this thing with everything that was possible for me to do, that I was very confronted by my mortality. During chemo, there were days where I was like, Oh, that’s it, the end, take me now, I’m done with this, because I just felt so sick. But, you know, coming, coming through it and being on the other side of it, I’m glad I did. So I don’t have this thing hanging over my head. It’s not in my thought every day, it turns up, where I’m like, I wonder if it’s coming back today. I wonder if it’s coming back today. I feel fairly quiet.
Jo Muirhead 15:38
And I have had a scare. I did find a lump about six weeks ago, under my armpit, which is where I had lymph notes taken. So I went through four days of freaking out totally convinced I was dying, uh, for that four days. And then my GP prodded around in there and she says, Oh, you’ve got an infection, here’s some antibiotics, you’re gonna need to be on them for a couple of weeks. I’ve never been happier to hear that I had a strong infection or a big infection and I needed antibiotics. I was just like, alright, that’s cool. Didn’t ask any questions about where did it come from? How did I get it? Still don’t care! Just, that’s all it was. I’m not, I’m not (inaudible) In my head I was like, I can’t do chemo again. I can’t do chemo again. Okay, so.
Jo Muirhead 16:22
There’s some stuff that keeps hanging around, there’s, because for women, it affects every part of your body. So it’s not just your breast tissue. When you have chemotherapy to fix every part of your body, you will notice a lot of women lose their hair. You don’t lose it from your head, you lose it from everywhere.
Amber Hawley 16:40
Jo Muirhead 16:41
And that that was really confronting for me. It’s not that I felt like I was, I’ve lost my femininity. It’s like I felt like I’d lost my humanity. I started to feel like some sort of cartoon character or cartoonish. So I had no hair and learnt how to stencil eyebrows because they became important to me.
Jo Muirhead 17:04
So it was a really, really confronting time. I worked through chemotherapy, I wouldn’t do that, again. Made some pretty, I made a four and a half thousand dollar error that, but because I know that my work is often good for me, it’s a great distraction, it helps me feel good about myself, the work I do is good for other people, I have this amazing team of people around me that I genuinely enjoy. So going to work for me, as long as I was doing things that I wanted to do, was positive for my mindset, positive for my mental health. I don’t think it was positive for my overall wellness. There are other things I think I should have done or thought about there. So but that’s a learning. Never been through chemo before, don’t plan to do it again. So that’s the lesson there.
Amber Hawley 17:51
Well, like you’re saying, I mean, there’s the trauma and the fear and all the stuff that comes up, the PTSD from that. And then like you’re saying, it impacts how you see yourself how you’re feeling about everything. I mean, it’s, it’s all encompassing, really.
Jo Muirhead 18:10
Yeah, it is. And I don’t think any of you can, you can be compassionate about it and empathetic about it. But until you’ve been through it, so I’ve been working with post cancer survivors for five or six years before my own diagnosis. And I was compassionate and empathetic and like, holy crap, these women go through what and men go through so much stuff. But there’s a whole new level of whoaaa, Wow. Okay. So when when you hear people talking about, Well your treatment’s over and you’ve got no evidence of disease. For me, that’s when your recovery starts.
Amber Hawley 18:43
Jo Muirhead 18:44
So yeah, okay, my active treatment finished. But I now have to recover from all of that. I have to recover from three major surgeries, I have to recover from 20 weeks of chemotherapy, I have to recover from the PTSD, because that’s real.
Amber Hawley 18:57
Absolutely. I think that’s a really good point. And, and I think, I feel like I hear you, like you heard other people saying this, and I can imagine it, you know, having worked with clients who have gone through cancer, where it’s like, that you’re not recovered when that part’s done. That’s when it’s starting. Because I think you’re in survival mode, right?
Jo Muirhead 19:19
Yeah, you are.
Amber Hawley 19:19
You’re just, you’re just trying to make it to the next minute, the next day. And then, then I think it’s, you know, this thing of like, now there’s this pressure of like, okay, quote, unquote, you’re fine. So now go back and, go back to normal and everything should be normal. And that, I mean, that’s just not realistic, right?
Jo Muirhead 19:41
Going back to normal is kind of a furphy anyway, because I don’t think you can go through, well, I couldn’t, I couldn’t change my body shape the way I did, have the relationship with my body that needed to change. I got all of those body image issues that I thought that I’d left behind as a kid, they all came back. Because every time you go into your chemotherapy session, they have to weigh you.
Jo Muirhead 20:03
So if you’re like me, and you know, you had an unhealthy relationship with a set of scales for many years, putting yourself back on there again, that was confronting. Because in my head, you know, the 17, 18 year old Jo was going, Hope the numbers are lower, hope the numbers are lower. Whereas the nurse is going, I really hope they’re not, because that means we could kill you today.
Amber Hawley 20:24
Jo Muirhead 20:26
That totally messes with your head too. So it’s not just what you’re going through in the moment, it will bring, my, both my parents are deceased, they both died in tragic accidents. One was killed in a car accident, one was killed at work. I thought that I’d dealt with that. Found new things I needed to deal with. My sister lives, I have a sister, she lives in Vancouver, she’s been there longer than my son’s been alive, she’s been there over 20 years. But the fact that I couldn’t get to her, and she couldn’t get to me, that became a significant problem for me. And she’s (inaudible) here. So all, these, these are, it’s not just, you know, getting rid of cancer. It’s like, This is my life, this is how I exist.
Jo Muirhead 21:08
So it really does throw up for you an opportunity, if you want to take it as one. Or, you know, you basically get hit in the face with, well, what do you want your life to look like now? Because basically, you’re not going to be doing much of it for a while.
Amber Hawley 21:22
Right. And then you said, you know, like you said. I, I can only I can empathize or I can, you know, sympathize and have compassion. But I cannot imagine that it, it’s impacting every facet of your life. And you know, all of that stuff, like we know, as therapists, like, grief. And even if you work through something, and you work through traumas, this kind of, you know, crisis and traumatic event can bring it all back. It doesn’t mean like you’re back at square one kind of thing. But it’s going to bring all that back up. And it’s a, that’s an, a very emotional devastating time, I’m sure.
Amber Hawley 22:03
So you had said that going back to work on one hand, it allowed you, you know, because you love your work, and it gave you something to focus on, and that was positive. But, there’s, there’s also, this feeling of, maybe, was it maybe I shouldn’t have gone back to work? I should have allowed more time for rest or?
Jo Muirhead 22:22
Definitely allowed more time to rest and do the recovery. So my chemo regimen, so up until chemo, I’d take the time off to recover from surgery. And then I had some, I couldn’t work when I was trying the hormone treatment because I was so, that made me very sick as well. Like with migraines for six weeks and stuff and projectile vomiting and all sorts of things your listeners probably don’t want to know. When I was going through chemo, my cycle was every three weeks, so I’d have a chemo infusion and then three weeks later, I’d have my next chemo infusion. So I would find that the first week I couldn’t do much, the second week, I could do a little bit, the third week I could do a little bit more. So I had kind of a rhythm.
Jo Muirhead 23:05
What would have been smart for me to do was remove myself, like say there’ll be no new projects during this time. But I like doing new things, new things make me feel invigorated. So I wanted, I was going to redevelop our entire website.
Amber Hawley 23:20
I chuckled because you’re, you, I think about you’re, you’ve talked about being kind of a workaholic. And I just, like it makes me, well of course you would redo your entire website.
Jo Muirhead 23:30
Yeah, so I engaged a company out of New Zealand to help me with that, because we’re going to reverse engineer it all from a SEO style perspective, and they were great. It was a four and a half thousand dollar spend, and it’s not finished. Because there’s just, that was just, I needed to be able to just keep my fingers on the pulse of what was going on in the business, continue to serve my team really well. I didn’t see, I didn’t want to see any clients, I worked with one client during that time. It was not, it was not wise. I just wanted to see if I could do it, not the test I needed to take. And, and just basically it has the, rather than thinking that everything was going to grow and develop, just go, We need to maintain. We need to maintain.
Jo Muirhead 24:13
One of the scariest things during that time was, because I built this business for myself. And it’s always been, I did not realize that it was still all about me. So the consultant or the coaching part of the business I knew was all about me. Nobody else was doing that. So I really reduced what I was doing there and just made myself unavailable, apart from two clients and the mastermind that I run and that mastermind kept me sane. They were, they’re incredible women. And then, because they would actually get on the calls and go, Can you just go to bed, Jo, we can take it from here. Go to bed. We’ll take it from here.
Jo Muirhead 24:49
I’m doing that now. I’ve been told that because I wasn’t, I’m doing all the marketing and the relationship building that I had built my business on, I just, and I assumed that our content strategy would work without me being in it, it didn’t. So that was a huge lesson for me to recognize that I, that that needed to be handed over differently. And there needed to be an investment in someone else doing that for me. I just didn’t see it because I didn’t realize how ingrained it was in my daily life. Like responding to LinkedIn messages, responding to Facebook requests, responding to inquiries, even understanding the tone of someone’s email to know, well you’re asking for this, but what you’re really asking for is that, you know. That’s the sort of stuff that I can do intuitively that I don’t even feel like it’s work.
Jo Muirhead 25:41
But when that’s the relationship that you have with your referral sources, and people who trust you, to have that taken away, and not replace it with anything else. We saw a big dive in the way people were referring to us. Also, because I am such a compassionate, focused on relationship building referral person, that that’s what I believe is health professionals that other people want, my referral sources didn’t want to refer to us or didn’t want to talk to me about issues because they didn’t want to bother me.
Amber Hawley 26:12
Oh, wow. I don’t even think of that.
Jo Muirhead 26:16
Yeah. So I thought I was doing the right thing by communicating with everybody like, This is what’s going on. And this is what the team can do. And this is what we’re here to serve you with. And don’t, you know, it’s all okay, everything’s gonna be all, this is who’s taking over my role. And this is who’s doing that. I feel I communicated that really well. But still, that our biggest referral sources were going, We don’t want to bother Jo. We don’t want to bother Jo. Jo just needs a chance to get back to rest. We need, we just don’t want to be a problem. Because the work that the types of client, the clinical clients that we see, it’s not as simple as book a 15 minute call and we, we. Yeah. So there’s some complexities there. And there’s usually multiple multiple parties involved. So one referral means that we get to speak to about four people before we even speak to the person we’re going to be working with.
Amber Hawley 27:02
Right. So do you think that part of why, because it sounds like you did the right thing of communicating, and here’s my team, and this is what they can do. Do you think that goes back to the idea that they still, like, see you as the person? And so it goes back to that marketing piece. So even though you communicated it, which is really great, they were still like, no, no, no, she actually still is the person that runs everything. So we want to give her space.
Jo Muirhead 27:28
Yeah. So what that helped me understand, because when I started coming back into my work, and I did it really gradually and really slowly. One of the things I did is I contacted our referral sources and just had a chat to them about their experiences, and What was going on for you during that time? Because I’m curious. Because some people were like, Well, I had to find another service provider because I knew you were sick, Jo. I’m like, So what made, I’m just curious to know why you felt like you couldn’t refer to us knowing that I’ve got a team of people here who you’ve been working with? And the response now, this is paraphrase, was, Because I don’t think of your team, I think of you.
Amber Hawley 28:03
Jo Muirhead 28:04
So I have a business called Purple Co but you’ve got, people have no idea that that’s me. Because every, it’s like Jo will (audible) to that, Jo will sort that out, Joe will fix that. Jo is the person you need to speak to. Have you met Jo? She’s got some business or something to do with purple, but you just need to speak to Jo. So not realizing that, that that is still how my business funds itself. And then having the Jo taken out of it, was like, whoa, I had not understood that.
Amber Hawley 28:36
Wow, yeah, I can imagine. Because, you know, like for many entrepreneurs who are, you know, solo entrepreneurs, are doing it themselves and they don’t have a team, they, they feel that pressure, and they know that. But you’ve had a team for a very, very long time. And so yeah, when you think, I build this team, and my business can run without me, and you know, here it goes. And then in the time when you really need it to be running without you. You know, this, this, you get smacked in the face with it, really. Oh, wow.
Jo Muirhead 29:08
That was fairly confronting. I’m being quite open and vulnerable about me, and I still have a business and we still get referrals. And we still do good work. But it really made me sit up and think, Huh, I had missed, and I think this is a danger that a lot of entrepreneurs have, that people who are entrepreneurial in their thinking, we’re often three or four steps ahead of the game. We’re often, we’re very future focused, and we’re not always good at bringing people along with us. We’re exceptional leaders, because we’re aspirational leaders. We’re not management leaders.
Jo Muirhead 29:40
So what it helped me understand is that I hadn’t brought my community with me, I hadn’t brought my followers with me, I hadn’t brought my referral sources with me on this journey of team. They just saw it as Jo, with this appendage that was a team. Whereas I saw it as Jo’s got this team, and everybody loves the team.
Amber Hawley 30:04
Yes. I really do appreciate you being so open about this, because I think that, you know, that’s something for people to look at, like, there can be this fallacy of, I’ve built this team, I’ve built these systems, but are you still the center of everything? Are you still touching everything and part of that process, and then, like you said, your business, I get that, having a team myself, you know, having a group practice, like, your numbers can go up and down, and you’re still okay. But it’s also very stressful, because, you know, anytime it goes down, that cuts into your profit margin.
Amber Hawley 30:38
And so it’s like, I imagine that was probably like, the not, the least best time for that to be happening that, you know, while you’re dealing with all of this, and like things are going down, you still have everything, all the infrastructure, but I’m sure that was also just another, this is just one more thing that you had to deal with and kind of look at and, and reassess. So thank you for being really honest about that.
Jo Muirhead 31:02
Well, I was able to do it, because I’m very well insured. So as an entrepreneur, we need to take that stuff seriously. And I know people resent paying insurance premiums, but don’t. It is, it is a tool of our trade. Because we now live in, in Western countries, we now live in a world where people don’t want to finish working at whatever the designated retirement age is. And we have, and I’ve been researching this because I am writing another book, haha, I’m thinking you and I should meet in Fiji and write our books.
Amber Hawley 31:32
I’m down. What? Yes.
Jo Muirhead 31:34
I did say Bali. But we’re not going there until COVID sorts it out, so. Anyhoo. But one, it’s 50% of the adult working-aged population in working, in our Western countries, are living with some type of chronic health or disability or injury that will impact their productivity at work. So if you have a team of 20, that is 10 people in your business, who at some time will not be able to produce income for you.
Amber Hawley 32:05
Jo Muirhead 32:06
And you and I both know that they won’t stagger their inability to work. Because nobody’s that thoughtful to go, Ooh, Sara’s recovering from her fractured hip over here, I better wait for my depressive episode to kick in. So this, so as leaders in our businesses, as managers in our businesses, just as future thinkers, you’ve gotta think of the workforce as people coming in with stuff.
Amber Hawley 32:33
Yeah, I, I’m so glad you’re writing that book, because that’s something that’s so important that, you know, in all the leadership books that I’ve read, they’re not really talking about that kind of stuff, the logistical stuff of what impacts our work. It’s, like you’re saying, there’s that aspirational stuff. There’s the like, you know, mindset and motivation. But then there’s the reality of what, what, when life happens, you know.
Amber Hawley 32:58
I think about this, like, going back to, you know, right after I met you, my son had his terrible accident. And that, he is fine now. I forget, I don’t know that I’ve talked about it on the, on this podcast, but I’ve talked about it in other places. But he had a terrible drowning accident. And they actually didn’t, they said, you know, he’s been without oxygen too long. And you need to say goodbye. And it was 12 days of horror. And then he was, he’s a miracle, like, then he just did this rapid recovery, right. But like things like that. I remember after, I think it was two weeks after he got to the hospital, because I, I was just there full-time. You know, I just wanted to be there.
Amber Hawley 33:41
And after two weeks, I was like, I need to start seeing clients again. And I have many stories of this. I mean, nothing like, nothing like dealing with breast cancer but, but in, on the upside for me is, it was like that acute. Like it was, it was this period in time, and we were told it would be this long recovery for him. And then it literally was just this miracle every day. It was like huge gains. They told us you’re gonna be in this recovery hospital for four to six months. And it was a few days later we left, like it was crazy. It was crazy after he came out of his coma and, but then I think about like, again, nothing like having cancer or going through that process.
Amber Hawley 34:22
But all of those times where I learned lessons about how my business was set up because I, my appendix was bursting and I like, I remember saying to my clients, Um, can I move you back to five o’clock? Because I didn’t realize that’s what was happening. And you know, like, things like that. And then two days later, after, no, that happened on a Thursday, my surgery, and then by Monday I was seeing clients again. And I was, I needed to rest, like you’re saying. But there’s this pressure of, But I need to make income and I have to provide for everyone and you know, and I have so many stories like that. And I think I’m always working on that to, where it’s like, when will I allow myself to rest?
Amber Hawley 35:04
And just now, what was it, the last few weeks, I actually ended up getting COVID, even though I’m vaccinated and all of that, and it took me out for a few weeks, and I still would rally from, like, my therapy clients. And thank God, some of them have been with me for, you know, like six plus years. And there was one where I literally just asked, we were talking, I got up and I had to lay down in my bed while she was talking. But it was just so seamless, like at least it was somebody I knew. But, but I’m thinking, oh my gosh, because I didn’t realize it was COVID at the time. And so, but somehow, I still couldn’t give myself permission to rest. So I think a lot of people are dealing with stuff like that. But then there’s that other side of not only are you dealing with it, but so are your employees. So are your team members. And then what, right?
Jo Muirhead 35:52
And then what. Because you guys in the US and same here in Australia, we don’t have enough talent to fill all the vacancies, particularly in health. There’s just not enough people that, the competition for licensed mental health professionals is fierce. And seriously, if you think your recruitment is all about having the highest salary, I’m sorry, your people aren’t staying, and you’re putting yourself under insane amounts of pressure, and you’re putting them under insane amounts of pressure to actually be valuable to you as in, pay their salary. It’s not the answer.
Jo Muirhead 36:27
And that’s why that, this whole, before this experience of cancer and COVID, I had this, I was starting to think about this, about our relationship with our work. And for health professionals, we really need to move beyond self-care. I know we haven’t even caught up with self-care yet. But what do we need to do to be fit for our purpose? That’s what I’m speaking into now. It’s like, so for for mental health professionals, or people who do a lot of sitting and thinking and creativity stuff. What are the tools of our trade? They’re our brains and our ability to think, our ability to problem solve, our ability to be creative, our ability to do things quickly, our ability to see opportunities, our ability.
Jo Muirhead 37:09
So what are the things that affect that? Poor sleep. Poor diet. Not enough exercise. Like it’s really basic wellness stuff. But what frustrates the shit out of me, you did tell me I could swear, is that we are all looking for the miracle hack. When what we really need to do is learn how to rest. Learn how to drink enough water, learn how to eat in a way that nourishes our body, learn how to replenish ourselves and learn how to move our bodies.
Amber Hawley 37:38
Jo Muirhead 37:40
We really do need a throwback to the 1950s around that.
Amber Hawley 37:45
Yes, when it comes, absolutely. And, and it’s hard.
Jo Muirhead 37:48
It is hard! It’s so hard.
Amber Hawley 37:48
It’s hard to do that when you’re feeling all of that pressure and stress. And yeah, whether that’s financial pressure or not wanting to let people down. Whether that be clients or team or family. It’s, it’s a lot and like you said, it’s, those are the foundations of mental and physical health. We know that, that’s, whenever I work with clients, I always say that, you know, the foundations of mental and physical health are sleep, diet and exercise, you know, like, that’s definitely, those are like the, you have to work on those three pillars, right? And it’s so simple and so hard to do when you’re faced in these times, like what you went through.
Amber Hawley 38:24
And then you’re like, Oh, well, but I can do this. I can almost imagine in your head, and I could be wrong, you can correct me. But I almost imagine you saying, Well, in a way I’m in kind of like a downtime because I’m going through chemo and then I have this time to like, think and create. I totally, I swear I would be the same person going like, I’ll have this creative time as I just sit there and think, you know, and I don’t have to do the day to day.
Jo Muirhead 38:55
That’s exactly what I did! That’s why I went, 20 weeks of chemo, I can rewrite my entire clinical practice website! Please, please listen, here, the laughs with us. Because, you know, we’ve all done that before. And I know that the pressures are real. I live those pressures. I said I was really well insured. But you know, insurance only lasts for so long. And I actually don’t like having to prove my sickness to an insurance company every month. So I actually don’t like being on it. But anyhoo. It’s having that taken care of. Not so, the big piece for me was knowing if I, and I had this conversation before I got diagnosed, because it’s written up there on one of my boards. It’s still there because it’s a stark reminder that if I burn my business to the ground, if I stopped getting referrals, I would know what to do to rebuild. And then I could rebuild it however I wanted.
Jo Muirhead 39:58
So it almost feels like that was prophetic for me because it was actually, that was something I thought about six months before that, it all happened. And I went, Well, that’s an interesting thing to think about. And then promptly parked it over there and went about all the things and the stuff and the busyness and the pressure and, and then this hits me, and I can still see it. It’s a, I built it once, I can build it again. And I can do it however I want. And I think that’s the joy. And that’s the opportunity that learning to think entrepreneurially gives us.
Jo Muirhead 40:29
Because, and health professionals, we find this really hard because by trade, we’re risk managers. We’re always managing risks for people. So it doesn’t matter what this is if you’re a mental, you’re always asking people to do something that they’re uncomfortable with. So it might be reimagining yourself in a situation, or I want you to journal. If you’re a physical therapist it’s like, I actually want you to plant your foot on the, on the ground and let’s test out the strength of your knee. Or you’re respiratory physician, I want you to sit up and I want you to cough seven times and yeah, it’s gonna hurt but we need to do it so we can teach your the lungs how to be lungs again. We’re always teaching people how to take a risk, but they’re tiny risks.
Jo Muirhead 41:10
And in the back of our minds, we’re going, what will I do if this person falls down? What will I do with this person, but we’ve got contingency plans upon contingency plans upon contingency plans. We know what to do if somebody has a panic attack in your office. So, to have that confidence about our business, to go, I don’t need that process, I don’t need the step by step plan, I don’t need the disaster plan. It’ll be like I actually will intuitively know what to do because I’ve done this before. And for me, that has been the most significant, that allowed me to rest.
Amber Hawley 41:45
I could see that because there’s this. Well, there’s hopefulness. And there’s this optimism of, but I guess it’s like to me, that, you just, what you just described, I was like, isn’t that resiliency, like this knowing that I can do this. Because when you know that, if shit hits the fan, I can, I can rebuild, then it does allow you that space to take that rest. Whereas if what you’re telling yourself is I’ve got to push, I’ve got to rally, I got to do this, I can’t let, you know, this thing happen. And then you’re like, Oh, no, I can. It’ll be fine. And I will figure it out. Right?
Jo Muirhead 42:23
I will figure it out. We’re consummate problem solvers. We love solving problems. In fact, many of us will create problems to solve if we don’t have enough problems to solve.
Amber Hawley 42:33
Why are you looking at me when you say that? Just so rude!
Jo Muirhead 42:39
So we can solve a problem. And instead we have this fear, we, and if it’s not always about finances it’s what the finances symbolize for us. So it’s, what will my peers think? Will there be food on the table? Well, chances are there will be food on the table. I spent a month selling stuff on Facebook marketplace, just to see what it was like, and I ended up with this cash. And I went, What do I do with it now? So I put it in a cryptocurrency fund. Now, that was just a bit of fun. I did need to pay for some medication out of those funds. Like being sick is expensive.
Amber Hawley 43:21
Jo Muirhead 43:22
So it did serve a purpose. But you know, there’s always, there’s always a way to get those needs met. And most of us are living in countries where you know, for a period of time we can get some sort of support, even if it’s from friends and family. So having that opportunity to go, What could it look like now? What are the things I don’t want to do again? So it’s very clear for me at the moment, I do not want to be working with clinical clients. So my, my levels of PT, or what I’m dealing with in my PTSD, I just don’t think it’s safe for them or for me.
Amber Hawley 43:57
Jo Muirhead 43:57
You know? PTSD, when you’re coming through cancer is not going to be simple. It’s always going to be complicated. And so you’re just always gonna have your C-PTSD. And I’ve only just recently acknowledged that that’s what I’m dealing with. So, you know, my nightmares and sleeplessness and needing to sleep for an extra four hours a day. What did we say one of the pillars of health and wellness is?
Amber Hawley 44:22
Right. You gotta get that sleep.
Jo Muirhead 44:24
Yeah. And when you’re fatigued, you don’t feel like eating nourish, well you don’t feel like preparing food. So you’re just going to do what’s easy. So you’re just going to eat simple calories, which when you’re going through chemo, let me assure you that is the best thing you can do. You just got to put the food in. That is not the time to go on the macrobiotic diet. You just need to get the food in. But so, it’s like how do you nourish yourself with food without making it even more difficult for yourself? So when your sleep is disturbed, it makes it harder for you to eat good, nourishing, healthy food, which means you’re going to be reaching for your sodas, or reaching for your sugary drinks, or in my case, reaching for the caffeine. Like I love my coffee, I’m very passionate about my coffee. Someone tried to take it off me, that did not go well.
Amber Hawley 45:14
I know about your love. We have a shared love in that.
Jo Muirhead 45:19
So I’m explaining that to help everybody understand just how easy it is for those killers to get ignored. And, and it’s, there’s no shame or judgment here. But they’re the things that we need to fix that allow resilience to flourish, that allow our businesses to grow, that allow us to be able to sit back and go, I don’t want to do this anymore. Or I don’t want to do it this way. And instead of going, Oh my god, I’m so tired, I have to just keep going and going and going, we can go, I’m going to take a month, I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing. But for four hours a week, I’m going to look at what else I could do. How could I do this differently.
Jo Muirhead 46:01
So I came out of this whole cancer experience. And we do a lot, a lot of our work has traditionally been with insurance companies here in Australia, with life insurance companies. I said that before. And I’m not sure I want to do that anymore. I’m just, I’m really not sure I want to do it. Now I’ve negotiated, it’s not about the fee, because I was the most expensive service provider, not anymore. It’s, it’s about, I just don’t like the way they dictate how we do stuff.
Amber Hawley 46:31
Well, yeah, I mean, sometimes when you go through something made like that big in your life, you realize like, even if it makes me money or is, quote unquote, success, you know, I’m successful at it, doesn’t mean that it fits with where I want my life to be, how I want my life to look, like, how I want my work to be. Right? And so looking at what are those other options. And I, you know, I like the, what you’re talking about is like, you’re you’re going into that maintenance mode, you know, and, and but you’re also leaving this space for yourself to kind of figure out the next step. There’s not there’s pressure of I have to know it now. Like there’s, you know, giving yourself that space to figure it out. And I think that’s just really important.
Amber Hawley 47:16
And I think about the rest thing, resiliency can’t happen in exhaustion. Like I just don’t think that when you’re exhausted, you’re doing your best problem solving or making the best decisions. So I think that that’s such a great piece of advice for people though, to, like, give themselves that space even to figure out what that next step looks like.
Jo Muirhead 47:37
Yeah. And just because I’ve announced or said this today about, you know, the changes I want to make in my business doesn’t mean that that’s fully confirmed or clarified. I’ve permission for me to change my mind in two weeks. It’s about having the space to go, What is it I like about this work? What is it that makes me feel good about what we’re doing? Is this the thing that I want to do? Are there other ways that we could be getting this message out? And you can’t go through what we’ve all been through, and what I’ve been through, without coming out the other side and going, Do I want to do this anymore?
Jo Muirhead 48:09
And unfortunately, people come to me when they’re at the brink of their worst burnout, or they’re depressed, or they’ve got nothing left in the tank. And they will say things like, I need to convert my $10,000, 15, 20, $40,000 a month private practice into an online education community where I’m just selling courses, and I need to do it in the next two weeks. And I’m like, When you find that answer, could you send it to me?
Amber Hawley 48:38
Exactly. Hey, if you, if they tell you, will you tell me?
Jo Muirhead 48:42
I will pay you for that knowledge. But $40,000 in the next two weeks without a list, without a course being built, without ever having done online marketing before. And you’re exhausted, and you need a holiday, and I probably need to send you back to your clinical supervisor or a medical professional. Hoo-weee.
Amber Hawley 49:05
Yeah, yeah. I know. As you say that, it makes me think about, in the last few years, that’s been a question for me, too, is, you know, do I want to keep my group practice? Do I want to let it go? My intention when I moved across the country was, my plan was to sell it. But then seven months after we moved, and you know, right after we moved, then we had to find a house and move in and, and I was super burned out. I was like, I needed rest. And then seven months after we moved, COVID happened. And so, and it changed fundamentally, you know, my practice as well. So. I know it’s one of those things. And you know, I like that you say that it’s like you could change your mind and go back and forth. And I think that’s something you know, that I’ve been talking to my really close friends about and kind of going back and forth.
Amber Hawley 49:55
There’s part of me that’s like, No, I can do this and rebuild and grow more and do XYZ. And then there’s part of me that’s like, But I was already done. I was planning on selling, you know. Like, so going back and forth, I think, even if you’re not dealing with, you know, a major trauma, or something else, you know, catastrophic happened, but you’re just dealing with all the changes that have been happening in the last few years. Yeah, you know, there’s still this, this needing to have that space and giving yourself permission. And, you know, there were times where every week it would change. Like, I was like, okay, yes, this is what I’m gonna do.
Jo Muirhead 50:32
Every week? With you, I would have thought it might have been a couple of times a day.
Amber Hawley 50:36
Okay. A little bit. Usually, once I like, once I felt like grasped something, that I would hold on to it for the day. At least that day. You’re right. But then if I would get like an irritating call the next day, then I was like, forget it. And then, conversely, when I would have amazing, you know, meetings with like, my staff, I’m like, Oh, I love them. I just want to keep going, you know. So it’s, yeah, it’s an emotional roller coaster, for sure.
Jo Muirhead 51:07
It really is. I went through, I had somebody make an offer on my private practice. And I took, I went through those, some processes around that for about six weeks. But it got to the point where it was like, actually I don’t want to. I have a saleable asset. I have something that somebody else wants, I’m not ready to get rid of, I actually want to reinvent it. That, and that, I went, Oh, cool. Okay. Now, that’s not today. In six months time–
Amber Hawley 51:34
You might change your mind.
Jo Muirhead 51:35
Might be different. Yeah. But that’s okay.
Amber Hawley 51:40
I like the playfulness, though, in which you approach things. I mean, even the selling on Facebook marketplace. That makes me think of somebody who’s like, I’m just willing to experiment and try and see how things feel. And I think that that serves you well, like that’s, I think that’s a, that’s a characteristic as an entrepreneur to kind of cultivate, instead of making everything so catastrophic. To be in that place of playfulness, or, you know, like, Okay, let me just see how this goes. And kind of, you know, just kind of pay attention and watch as opposed to, like, you know, trying to push everything.
Jo Muirhead 52:14
So many entrepreneurs, people who start on an entrepreneurial journey are craving certainty. And the only thing that we can be certain of is our ability to get up and keep going. Because the government’s not going to do it for us, even here in Australia, where many Americans would think we live in an almost socialist society. It takes forever for the government to make a decision. We actually, our communities cannot wait for governments to make decisions anymore. That’s why I’m so passionate about private practice. So we can’t wait for government. We can’t wait for international changes. We’ve got to take the responsibility for ourselves. I’m really strong on this. I’m very opinionated on it. Because it’s the only way that we’re going to be able to serve ourselves, keep going and serve the people who need us. And I don’t care if your business is not health professional, you’re in, you’ll be serving somewhere, somehow. You’re doing something that adds value.
Amber Hawley 53:11
Yes, exactly. And I think most of the people listening, yeah, they’re from all different industries. But a lot of people are service industry. But even I know people that have product based businesses, where they provide something that is very meaningful to people. And so you know, the work you do is important. I’m mindful of time because I mean, I would love to continue to talk to you forever, but I know you actually have work to do.
Jo Muirhead 53:38
Well I have a coffee that has my name on it.
Amber Hawley 53:42
Feel free to sip that, don’t let that go, I fantasize about coffee at night. I’m like, Oh I can’t wait til tomorrow when I can drink my coffee. Because now that I’m old, I have to stop, you know, at an earlier hour. I used to, I miss the days of having an espresso at 11pm and going to bed at midnight, like, Oh.
Jo Muirhead 54:04
Amber Hawley 54:06
No, no, I can’t do that anymore. In my 20s I was like, my body’s like, Anything you want, girl. I miss it. I miss it. But I guess you know, one last question that is coming to mind is you know, now that you have gone through all of this and you’ve had this space to kind of reflect and you know, kind of gather the learnings from it. If you were to go back to yourself right when you got that diagnosis, is there anything you would say to yourself or any advice you would give yourself on going through that process?
Jo Muirhead 54:44
The best advice I ever got was “One day this will all be history.” And I held on to that, that was my hashtag. I have continued to hold on to it. One day, this will all be history. And I think any, any event that I go through from this point forward, or any situation, it’ll be one day this will be history. And it just helps create a sense of being able to take a breath and go, it’s not going to be like this forever. And even if it was a diagnosis, a terminal diagnosis, it’s like, yeah, well, I’ve just learned about the diagnosis, now I get to learn to live with the diagnosis. So learning about the diagnosis will be history.
Jo Muirhead 55:23
So that was the best piece of advice. And that actually came from a cancer survivorship group on Facebook, where somebody went, one day this will all be history. And I just can’t thank that person enough because that, that just got me, that is the thing I keep remembering. That is the thing that I said, every time I had a narky surgeon, or somebody had a funny look on their face when they were looking at a scan, because you know, radiographers really need to learn how to have a poker face. It’s like, one day this will be history. Not one day I’m history, but one day this will be history. Yeah, that is a piece of advice. So if you’re going through something that feels insurmountable, you know, six months time, it’ll be history.
Amber Hawley 56:03
Right. Well, acknowledging the impermanence of things in, in a positive way. I mean, very profound, I can imagine. I’m glad that that person shared that with you. And that helped get you through it. It’s nice to see your face again. And to have all your, your energy and excitement. And this is before coffee. Wow.
Jo Muirhead 56:24
Amber Hawley 56:25
That’s so crazy. I just can’t imagine.
Jo Muirhead 56:27
Yeah. We would need subtitles for the subtitles if I’d had my coffee. I was aware that I can speak really fast.
Amber Hawley 56:37
I’m with you on that one. So if people would like to hear more from you, learn more about you, where can they go find you.
Jo Muirhead 56:45
So the best place to go and find all the places that I’m at would be my website, which is jomuirhead.com. I’m also on Facebook. I’m also on Instagram, if you like coffee pictures and puppy pictures. I do a little bit on LinkedIn, but not so much. So Facebook and Instagram, probably the places I hang out socially, but I have a lot of resources on my website.
Amber Hawley 57:14
Wonderful, wonderful. And all of those links will be in the show notes, of course. But thank you again JoJo for coming on. You will always forever be my Jojo. Hopefully that doesn’t (inaudible) you.
Jo Muirhead 57:25
Oh, I love it. I think it’s gorgeous. Thank you so much.
Amber Hawley 57:29
Yeah, thank you for sharing your story and all your wisdom and thank you again.
Jo Muirhead 57:34
Transcribed by https://otter.ai