The Secret comes to #physicaltherapy

In 2006, a phenomenon was spreading throughout the U.S. based on a book by Rhonda Byrne called The Secret.  Through a combination of her Australian accent that research suggests Americans attribute a special credibility bias and of course appearing on Oprah Winfrey, the book became a mainstream success.  The Secret posits that there is a natural law of attraction whereby that as we think and feel, a corresponding signal is sent to the universe and this attracts back to us on the same wavelength.  For example, if we hate middlemen like MisAligned Network, it will result in them sending us an unattractive contract.  The Secret was neither original or for that matter insightful but it was packaged brilliant enough that it became a best seller. Much to my dismay, we are seeing the The Secret re-packaged in physical therapy marketing.  

Some recent examples that are by no means complete:

-PR-RX: the PT Business Model Transforming Healthcare

-The Next Evolution of Patient Care: How to balance your practice with this Little Known Secret

and by the way, you better act fast as 463 territories have been blamed, LOCKING OUT 632 (and counting) private practice clinics FOREVER  

Cash based practice gurus who definitely appear to try to make their money teaching you how to be a cash based business rather than their own cash based business.  They offer seminars that have time ticker imploring you to reserve your seat now or you will never learn the business secrets.  By the way, to qualify as a guru, you have to offer a free download, e-book, or blueprint before they then try and extract money from you (all have apparently taken a course or page from the inventor of this direct marketing approach).

And lastly, for those PT’s who lack confidence in their business acumen several are now offering The Business Course that they didn’t teach you in PT school!  Of course, you do get a few free downloads on this as well.  The claims of the course remind me of the troubles that Trump University is experiencing.

Granted, it is a free world and I am all for the capital markets so to each their own.  My genuine hope is though is that PT’s will be highly differentiating in their desire to attain competitive advantage and not be driven by fear or fear of missing out (FOMO).  Physical therapy as a profession has worked incredibly hard to become evidence based and we need to extend this out to all aspects including the science of business. In the words of Atul Gawande’s recent powerful commencement speech, “Science is not a major or a career. It is a commitment to a systematic way of thinking”.  

Perhaps I have become a codger, but I can tell you there is absolutely no secrets to the practice or business of physical therapy.  Whenever I am asked for advice, my mantra is this:

-find a successful practice mentor. There are plenty of them who have stood the test of time and one of their hallmarks is that they love to give back. 

-join the Private Practice Section of APTA.  Yes, it is the most expensive Section and you won’t get any initial free downloads or an e-book but you will get opportunities that will shortcut learning curves and add tremendous value to your practice including their member mentor program.

Hopefully, the marketing techniques around the notion of The Secret will eventually go the same route of the 2006 book.




The thoughts in this blog are not necessarily shared by anybody affiliated with EIM 


4 responses to “The Secret comes to #physicaltherapy

  1. Lynn Steffes says:

    I agree with you Larry!
    I often say ” The elevator is broke.. You will have to use the stairs!”

    Be clinically excellent!

    Take exceptional care of your patients AND your team!

    Pay attention to financial matters!

    Work hard!

    Be passionate & joyful about your work!

    None of those are secrets!


  2. Scott Harmon says:

    Disregard every word in this comment because by Mr Benz’s definition of private practice guru I am one. That being said, I totally agree with Mr Benz in this article.

    For full disclosure (no secrets here) I am not a PT I am an OT. I know many of th PTs in the private practice guru space and each of them are entrepreneurs. It’s what they do. They are small businesses owners.

    Since each of them are entrepreneurs they each have businesses or ventures other than their private practice. One of those is teaching others about private practice.

    A “Secret” is simply a marketing tactic and often a very effective one. The secret knowledge technique is just one tool in the marketing bag. I tend to like the “here’s a bunch of free information and tools, let me know how I can help” tactic.

    My side gig of helping therapists be better practice owners will never replace the income of my clinics. I am a guru (a moniker I loathe) for 2 reasons: First, I am an entrepreneur. I Iike to start businesses and go on businesses adventures.

    Second, I like to help people which is why I became a therapist. Helping a therapist start or improve on their practice brings me great joy. I think the other gurus in the private practice space would say the same thing.

    Sure some tactics come across a little pushy or maybe even slimy. That’s why there is more than one guru in the private practice guru space so you can connect with one or two that you like. Each of them has something helpful to teach you.

    I think every PT who is interested in private practice should join APTAs private practice section. I wish the national OT association had something as good.

    At the same time, learn all you can from the guru’s. PT school is certainly not going to prepare you to be a business owner.

    1. Larry says:

      Scott, appreciate your candidness and reply. Agree with you on PT school not preparing you to be a business owner-but that’s not the job of PT school nor is it the purview of CAPTE!

  3. Chad Madden says:

    Hey Scott.

    “Secrets” is absolutely a marketing tactic.

    I used it simply because other owners voted that to be the title they would most likely read.

    As fellow information marketers sharing information with colleagues…I’ve found it best to first find out what people would want and actually invest in prior to creating it.

    (Similar to the Lean Start Up).

    Admire what you do…I’ve been listening to your podcast on the way to work.

    Keep it up.

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