In this episode, Mike speaks with Joyce Marter about the psychology of success. Joyce explains how our beliefs about money shape our business and financial success— in both positive and detrimental ways. She also describes her experiences as a founder of a fast-growing company and as a woman in business and what she has learned along the way.
Joyce Marter’s Biography
Joyce Marter is a licensed psychotherapist with over 20 years experience and a successful entrepreneur. She is the founder of Urban Balance, an outpatient mental health company with 17 locations in six states. She also is the author of the Mental Wealth blog for Psychology Today.
In This Episode, You’ll Learn…
- The benefits of entrepreneurship
- How our beliefs about money shape our financial success
- How to prepare to take that leap into entrepreneurship
- How imposter syndrome can challenge you
- How to deal with perfectionism and look past the need to be perfect
- The challenges of growing a business too quickly without the infrastructure in place
- That business and financial advice is often necessary and not anything to be embarrassed about
- The challenges that women face in business
- How sexism and misogyny affects women in business
- How psychology can influence your life and help you be successful
- What financial trauma is and how it affects you
- How to acknowledge that you need help and how to ask for it
- Why therapy and counseling is helpful, even for business leaders
- “I made 1000 mistakes and applied psychology to help me save my business and sell it successfully.”— Joyce Marter
- “Our psychology of money largely shapes our business success and our financial success.”— Joyce Marter
- “I started my business with $500 and $50k student loans.”— Joyce Marter
- “ ”— Joyce Marter
- “What I really needed to do was practice a lot more self-awareness. I needed to take a deep hard look at myself and what I was doing to contribute to the problems. That’s when I realized that it was my fear, pride, not asking for help and support, so I had to shift that.”— Joyce Marter
Links & Resources Mentioned…
- Joyce Marter’s book, Amazon: The Financial Mindset Fix: A Mental Fitness Program for an Abundant Life and Joyce’s website: https://www.joyce-marter.com/book/the-financial-mindset-fix/
- Launch Your Inner Entrepreneur by Charlene Walters
- Joyce Marter’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/joyce.marter/
- Joyce Marter LinkedIn Profile – https://www.linkedin.com/in/joycemarter/
- Joyce Mater Personal website – https://www.joyce-marter.com/
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Mike O'Neill: Welcome back to the Get Unstuck & On Target podcast. I'm Mike O'Neill with Bench Builders and we're business coaches who love helping leaders sleep better because they've solved their tough planning process and people problems in this podcast. We're talking with thought leaders to get their insights on ways to help you or your business get unstuck. Joining me today is Joyce Marter. Joyce is an entrepreneur. Who's been a licensed psychotherapist for over 20 years and the founder of Urban Balance, an outpatient mental health company that has 17 locations in six states. Joyce also writes the Mental Wealth Blog for Psychology Today. Welcome Joyce.
Joyce Marter: Thank you so much for having me Mike.
Mike O'Neill: Joyce. I was particularly interested in speaking to you because you have a unique combination. a 20 year psychotherapist combined with entrepreneur. Yeah, that's the unusual combination. Is it not?
Joyce Marter: It is, it is. I think many therapists hope to be in private practice and some of us form group practices, but just like doctors and attorneys who form larger practices, we aren't trained in business and entrepreneurship. So I made a thousand mistakes and applied psychology to help me save my business and, and sell it successfully. So I love to share with others what I learned.
Mike O'Neill: Well, I'm looking forward to getting into that. It's for that reason, I'm kind of entitling. This segment is because you are an entrepreneur and because of the, kind of the background you have, is how does one cultivate the mindset of a successful entrepreneur? And as you, you know, our listeners are oftentimes business leaders and entrepreneurs so fire away, what you about.
Joyce Marter: I was going to say, I just wrote an article for psychology today called how to cultivate the mindset of a successful entrepreneur. And I interviewed my colleague and friend Dr. Charlene Walters, who is the, the author of Launch Your Inner Entrepreneur, which I would highly recommend. I think it's fantastic. And she and I are very like-minded. And my book has very similar recommendations, but more from a psychological perspective. So I, in my book, I provide strategies and exercises and tools and tips. It's, it's definitely a program that you have to work to shift your mindset from a, to a growth mindset. And from a mindset of scarcity to abundance. So something that I learned in my practice and in my own entrepreneurial journey is that our psychology of money largely shapes our business success and our financial success. So we often learn the meaning of money or belief systems about money from our families of origin or earlier life experiences and our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors with money shape, our financial reality.
Mike O'Neill: You know, we're speaking from an entrepreneurial standpoint and I can't tell you the number of times that people will come up to me and say, Mike, I really envy you. You have your own business. For goodness sake. You're an entrepreneur. I just wish, I hear that so often. What is it about entrepreneurship that has such broad appeal?
Joyce Marter: Well, I think there's so many benefits right now. Many people are complaining about the lack of work-life balance and we're going through the great resignation where over 4 million people left their jobs in April and over 1.1 million started their own businesses during the first quarter of 2021. So I think people are looking to be their own boss to set their own schedule. To have greater work-life balance. And that was one of my intentions. That's why I named my business Urban Balance. I felt that being a mother was my highest role and I wanted to be able to earn an income when I wasn't directly seeing clients. So my intention was to create work-life balance for myself, my staff and my clients. So I think that's definitely one of the reasons, and there are entrepreneurial characteristics. My best friend accuses me of psychotic optimism. And in the research, they say that entrepreneurs look past the barriers and the problems and they see solution and possibility. And that again is shifting from scarcity mindset where we protect ourselves from fear based thoughts and we have self limiting beliefs such as you said, I could never do that. Oh, that would never work for me. I wish I could do that, but I can't do that. Maybe people don't think they have the funds to get started. I started my business with $500 and 50,000 of student loans. So you also have to have a risk tolerance. Because you might not have the safety net of a full-time salary position. I started my business as a side hustle and eventually weaned off of my full-time salary job. And it was really scary to take that leap, but I think we have to have confidence in ourselves. And trust in our support network and the ability to have people send us referrals and business and, and employees. And we have to work hard at nurturing that network as well.
Mike O'Neill: You know, you shared that you set out from the beginning to have that sense of balance, but you mentioned that you started, you waned yourself off a full time job into this. A lot of people start that way, but from a person who's done it. What did you find were some of the leadership challenges that you faced as a new entrepreneur?
Joyce Marter: Oh, my goodness. I think from the beginning I felt I dealt with the imposter syndrome. I felt like my business was fake. Like it was something that I made up. I felt almost silly telling people that I was an owner of Urban Balance because it seemed like something I made up in my head. And so I dealt with a lot of that imposter syndrome, definitely some perfectionism thinking, oh my gosh. This up on my website until it's absolutely perfect. And that's something I've seen in my business coaching is that many people. Sort of want, they deal with that perfectionism and it prevents them from pulling the trigger when things are good enough. And knowing that we're all works in progress and our businesses are works in progress. And leadership challenges we were in the fortunate position of growing because we had a mission that aligned with a need in the world. We created insurance friendly counseling and mental health services. So we created a practice that was in network with most insurance, which makes therapy accessible and affordable for more people. And the universe supported that because it was a win-win for everybody. And so the business grew very quickly, but some of the challenges were that we didn't have the infrastructure in place. And we were building the policies and procedures as our company was growing and running. And I also made some huge mistakes and not seeking proper business and financial consultation soon enough and running into a cashflow pickle.
Mike O'Neill: I would say, I want to kind of pursue that little bit. So one of the things we're talking about is not just starting the business, but the challenges of growing a business. And I do hear this as a recurring thing. Can you elaborate a little bit? Your business is growing. Everybody thinks everything's fine. And all of a sudden you mentioned this cash flow pickle.
Joyce Marter: Yes, because we were insurance friendly. The larger we got, the more money was outstanding in insurance payments and in collect collections. And it was fine when we were smaller, it might be $10,000, but at this point became hundreds of thousands of dollars. We still needed to pay rent and our staff and didn't have the cash flow. So I laid awake at night worrying the whole week before the first of the month about payroll were therapists payrolls checks going to bounce. Are we going to have problems where we're going to make rent? And so that was enormously stressful. And it was then that I actually lost my business partner. She. Really couldn't handle the stress. It was horrible. And she said, you know what, I'm out. And so when she left, many of our staff left taking their clients with them. So I was already in a bad financial situation and I really thought I'd have to file business bankruptcy. And it was at this point that I had friends, colleagues, neighbors offered to help because I was practicing humility. And talking openly about my business problems. And a neighbor said, you need a business evaluation. And I didn't even know what that was, but I met with a CPA. I handed over my QuickBooks file. I was in tears and I was afraid he was going to tell me that my business model didn't work and that I'd have to file bankruptcy. And that's really what kept me from seeking business and financial support. I was afraid I had pride, ego fear. All of that kept me from asking for help. But once I did, he said, Joyce, truly your business model works. You have a cashflow problem, and I can help by getting you the proper lending so that you can make payroll. And they also provided some consultation to make certain aspects of my business more to scale. With what our profits were. And that was enormously helpful.
Mike O'Neill: You mentioned that you had a business partner you've referred to her as a, her you, therefore you're a women, a woman owned business. And at the time you started that, versus now what insights might you have in terms of the challenges that you faced that might be unique to a female entrepreneur?
Joyce Marter: Well, I think they're, they're numerous, I think in the beginning. Actually my former partner and I both being women in our fields, it's a predominantly female industry, about 80% of therapists are women. And about 80% of clients prefer to have a female therapist. So it kind of works out well in that way. And I think that was part of our appeal for both people working for us and coming to see us. And so at first that worked in our favor. As I was networking for business development or media, you know, we do experience sexism in the workplace and we do experience discrimination and it wasn't until I was nominated for Crain's 40, under 40 list in Chicago that suddenly men were reaching out to me and willing to. To come to the table, bring, you know, invite me to the table and to do business with me. So once I, I hit a certain level of success. Then I had more collaboration with men. Previously I felt some somewhat dismissed from a business perspective. And then later on, I am so proud. One of the things I'm most proud of about Urban Balance is that our leadership team was all women. And we did an amazing job. We worked so well together and today, even after I sold Urban Balance, the leadership team is still women. And I spoke with a young male student intern and he was so lovely and said, Joyce, I think you built this amazing company. That's run by these kick-ass smart, powerful women and it's amazing to work here. So I loved hearing that. And I do think that when I went to sell my business, it was, I experienced some interesting things. My, I had 50 perspective buyers, all, but one were men. Wow. All of the attorneys and the accountants and my broker, everyone involved in the transaction were men. And there were times where even my business pro broker, who I love and I have great gratitude towards him. He made a comment in a meeting that I didn't need to be present for the financial discussion, because it was clear that I wasn't going to understand it anyway. And, and a group of men laughed. And that type of thing sadly still happens in the workplace it's improved, but the research shows that women are still paid 79 cents on the dollar. We're still dealing with a wage gap and there's a lot that needs to be changed in our culture so that both men and women feel respected and valued.
Mike O'Neill: You know, you shared a little bit about starting the business, growing the business, some of the challenges that you face as a female business owner. And now you've kind of introduced to the fact that you actually sold the business. People oftentimes don't go there. They there, they don't get to that point, but you chose to make that decision. What did you have to do to prepare yourself and your organization for sale?
Joyce Marter: Well, actually it was when my business partner left and I met with the CPA that he said to me, joyous, what's your exit plan? And I said, exit plan, what's that? And he said, well, when you build a business, you need to think about your end goal. What is it that you want to do? And so he started talking to me about who would buy group counseling practice and what might the, the value of that be? And I realized in my heart and soul that I was pretty burnt out on being a CEO and, and holding up the responsibility of all the leases and the liability. And I knew that I had five more years in me to work very hard with my leadership team, to strengthen the business model, to improve staff morale, to really tighten up all of our policies and procedures and prepare for sale. And that's about how long it took until our profit margin, which was much stronger. Our gross earnings were much stronger. And it was then that I started having conversations with brokers and with my CPA and people who might be good prospective buyers. Since then, I've wrote articles on LinkedIn about how to prepare a business for sale and how to select a buyer. And for me, I made a list of what it was that I really wanted out of the transaction. A piece of that. A financial reward. I wanted to get my chips off the table, but because I am in my forties, I, and still have a lot of my professional life ahead of me. I still wanted to be in the game. So I was looking for a buyer who would let me invest in the parent company. And who would also free me from the role of CEO, because I love being a public speaker. I love blogging. I've recently published a book and I want to share what I've learned from 25 years of counseling in these other ways. So selling the business when it was at a high point was I think really smart for me and financially I felt really good about my decision of which buyer I chose. I did have eight buyers and really contemplated and used actually a lot of my tools from psychology to make that decision, to make sure it was aligned with my heart and my soul and my mission for my company and that I was putting my employees in good hands. And I actually accepted an offer that was less in hand at the transaction. And, you know, there was a contingency on performance and also an escrow and it all worked out. And in the end I have made far more than I would have if I had chosen the highest buyer at that time of offer. And so I think people sell businesses at different times for different reasons, but if you can sell when you're at a ripe point and it works with the rest of your life, that's the optimal situation.
Mike O'Neill: Joyce you mentioned your book, but you also shared the kind of demeaning comment directed at you regarding finances. And you know, the name of your book is the Financial Mindset Fix and the tagline reads a mental fitness program for an abundant life. Can we talk about that a little bit? What led you to pen a book?
Joyce Marter: Well, thank you so much. And yes, I write this book. I've written this book as a psychotherapist, not as a financial planner or financial expert. I am an expert in the psychology of money, how our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors and relationship with money shape our financial reality. And this book is based on a talk that I've been giving nationally a keynote address called the Psychology of Success. In which I share 12 mindsets that I've identified from seriously, thousands of clients from all walks of life over the past 25 years that I see as the universal truths and the universal principles for success. And this talk has been so popular. I've given it for university is fortune 500 companies for therapists, continuing education. And so I had publishers approaching me to write a book on this and the book has the, again, these 12 mindsets, I hired a researcher who helps me discover that they all are empirically proven to improve both mental health and financial health. I really believe in holistic success. That includes work-life balance, mental wellbeing, physical health, supported relationships and financial abundance.
Mike O'Neill: You know, I know we're not have time to go through all 12 of those, but I do want to go back to the title, The Financial Mindset Fix. The implication is it needs fixing for many of us. Can, am I reading that correctly?
Joyce Marter: So many of us learn belief systems about money from our families of origin. You know, what are our thoughts about people who are rich? What are thoughts about people who are poor? Is it selfish to have money and how those belief systems have impacted our reality? Many of our families and ancestors have experienced financial trauma. And according to the research, even before the pandemic. A third of millennials and a quarter of adults said that they experienced financial trauma that meets the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder. Yeah. And then the pandemic added fuel to the fire. So financial traumas are things like a bankruptcy, a foreclosure, unemployment, poverty, discrimination based on racism or sex or, or sexual orientation, et cetera. And those traumas, we internalize that. And then it changes our thinking about our worth in the world and our deserving ness for more. And I believe we're all innately deserving of prosperity and a life of abundance. And I also believe that an abundant life is holistic. Again, you know, includes complete wellness. And not just financial prosperity. So many of us have to shift our beliefs about money and our perspective and understand that when having money is not selfish, when we have more, we can help more. We can be philanthropists, we can be employers, we can do good in the world. And that's where I'm coming from. It's not about materialism or the love of money.
Mike O'Neill: You know, you the tagline being for an abundant life. And you're trying to, to kind of recast abundancy, not necessarily purely from a financial standpoint, but with what you can do with the money that you have worked so hard of. And, this is, this is pretty rich. When, when people come up to you after you speak on this topic, what do you hear most often them say to you?
Joyce Marter: That they're motivated that they're inspired, that they're empowered and equipped to create positive change in their life. And that is so meaningful to me. And this idea of mental wellbeing and financial health is not new. The in Hinduism, the goddess Lakshmi is the goddess of abundance. And in her images, she's surrounded by gold and jewels, but she's also holding Lotus blossoms, which are a symbol of enlightenment. And so an abundant life is having an abundance of health, of love, of support. Experiences and living a vibrant life that is thriving and prospering. And I believe that that's attainable to all of us. I've had some older attendees of my talks. One woman came up to me and she was in her seventies and she said, oh gosh, I wish I heard your talk. 40 years ago it would have completely changed my life. And another woman came up to me and she's like, I'm 75 and I'm retiring and I loved your talk and I'm going to use it to create the next chapter of my life. Well, who's do you think is going to turn out better? It's about perspective.
Mike O'Neill: You know, as I'm listening to you, as you've kind of detailed kind of your entrepreneurial journey. What becomes real clear to me is that if you were still in the CEO role, It could have been a very much thriving company. You would not be able to tell this story, whereas you are speaking to people literally all over the country and perhaps beyond about your experiences. Coupled with marrying your understanding of how we have kind of wired ourselves, particularly from a financial standpoint and sometimes it needs rewiring. It sounds based on just the enthusiasm in your voice, that you are enjoying this chapter in your life, is that, is that accurate?
Joyce Marter: It is absolutely accurate. I believe it's my soul's purpose. I really do. I feel compelled to remove the shame and stigma of financial and mental health struggle and help people heal and recover and prosper. And I felt that my work at Urban Balance was complete and that business is continuing to grow without my leadership. And this is my next calling.
Mike O'Neill: You know, we've been talking about the upsides and lessons along the way. Can we go back to that a little bit in keeping with the theme of this podcast, would you kind of reflect on a situation by which perhaps you got stuck. And when that happened and you've probably already alluded to that maybe in part, but what did you have to do? What needed to take place to get unstuck?
Joyce Marter: Well, the time that my business partner left and I was in cashflow hell that was a time that I was really broken open, and what I really needed to do was practice a lot more self-awareness. I needed to take a deep, hard look at myself and how. What I was doing to contribute to the problems. And that's when I realized that was my fear and pride and not asking for help and support. So I had to shift that. I also had to improve my emotional intelligence, so improve my self awareness and also how I was coming across to my staff and my, my clients and my vendorsor referral sources and learning to increase my conscious leadership to practice empathy and compassion, and to really listen to the people on my team and the people involved in my business and non defensively received their feedback. And that takes a lot of work. It's something that I've been very committed to and practicing that humility recognizing when I'm not the best person to do something. And that's when my, my broker joked about me not understanding. He said the meaning of a acural, so more advanced accounting. Of course I don't fully grasp that. I'm not an accountant, but yeah. I know that's not my area. And so I've outsourced experts. And so we need financial experts and planners and advisors to help us, but we, we need to know what our strengths are and what they're not. And so, for me, it was creating the right team and then continuing to work on my practices of asking for help when I need it.
Mike O'Neill: Yeah, you use a word that I've never heard combined broken open. I always think of broken down, but you described broken open and that imagery is so much more powerful, but by being broken open, it sounds as if you were willing to be more vulnerable to ask for the right type of help. To acknowledge that you did not have all the answers. You mentioned emotional intelligence. It sounds as if that really didn't move you much further along the path of growing that, emotional intelligence, broken, open. I love that. Is that something that is heard for the first time, or is that a common term in psychotheraey?
Joyce Marter: It is the title of a book that I love that is exactly as you've described that sometimes a trauma or an experience can basically strip you of the mask that you wear around the world. And you know, it, it really, for me, it was the loss of some ego. And that detachment from ego allowed me to connect with my deeper, more authentic self, and then asking for others to help me allowed my relationships to deepen and my business to blossom and for me to grow and blossom. And so I think sometimes our traumas are opportunities for growth and learning. And part of resilience, which is one of the mindsets that I talk about in the book is being able to move through challenges and bounce back and recover and persevere even stronger than you were before.
Mike O'Neill: You know, Joyce, when we started this conversation, I wasn't quite sure where it was going to go, but I love where it has gone, but I want to give you an opportunity to kind of reflect on what we've discussed so far and maybe things that perhaps I should have asked. That hasn't come up. What might be some closing thoughts or takeaways you'd like to share?
Joyce Marter: Well, I'm an impassioned mental health advocate, and I believe that we all have mental health issues as part of the human condition. When I started graduate school I was afraid that my professors would see that I deal with an anxiety disorder and that they'd say, you know what? You can't be a therapist. You have your own issues, but we all do. And therapy and counseling is something that's incredibly helpful and you don't have to be in crisis. And certainly it doesn't mean that you're crazy. Being in counseling and therapy can help you be a better person, a more effective conscious person, and it can help you be a stronger business leader. So it helps you see your, your blind spots and become more aware. And have more support. So I think that having counseling or therapy or business coaching or mentors and people who give you honest feedback and help you promote your mental wellbeing and your leadership strengths is, is an ongoing process.
Mike O'Neill: Joyce you in a relatively short period of time have opened up to, people who are listening people who are watching can see that it comes through loud and clear. If folks want to learn more about you and, or your book. What's the best way for them to do that?
Joyce Marter: You can find my book at financialmindsetfixed.com. And from there it's available on Amazon, on Indie books and Barnes and Noble. It comes in audio book. I'm the narrator. It is coming out Spain and Korea as well. So some other languages and my website is joycemarter.com, J O Y C E M A R T E R. And I need some Instagram love. So if you're on Instagram, I would appreciate it. If you would follow me so hard to get followers, but I'm also on LinkedIn and all the other social media platforms.
Mike O'Neill: We will clearly include those links in the show notes. So be assured of, of that, this has been a great time together. Thank you so much, Joyce.
Joyce Marter: Thank you so much, Mike. I really enjoyed it.
Mike O'Neill: I also want to thank our listeners for joining us for this episode of get unstuck and on target every Thursday, we upload the latest episode to all the major platforms. So if you haven't already please subscribe. As we've been listening to Joyce, it's easy for us to kind of conclude that life is too short to let business problems keep you up at night. So if you've been listening to my conversation with Joyce and you're realizing that something's keeping you or your business stuck. Let's talk. You can go to our website, bench-builders.com or just go to your browser and type unstuck.show to schedule a quick call. So I want to thank you for joining us, and I hope you have picked up on some tips that help you Get Unstuck and On Target. Until next time.